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Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.

iPad news: over 100,000 apps, possible sharing of data plans with the iPhone

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There are now over 100,000 apps for the iPad, including both those that are iPad-only and those Universal apps for the iPhone that are also tailored for the iPad. You can read more on MacStories.



Hot App Finder -- free app alerts you to those apps with most-improved sales

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You're likely often looking to find the best apps, and what better measure than those apps that are surging in popularity in the App Store? Hot App Finder (free) alerts you to the apps whose sales have had the highest rate of increase. The information is updated 4 times a day, and you can view the app descriptions and screenshots without leaving Hot App Finder. The app polls App Stores around the world, and ranks the top 100 paid and top 100 free apps in each of the 21 App Store categories.



Fring -- free app offers GROUP video chatting

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Fring (free) recently released a new version that offers the first ever group video chatting on the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android, and other devices. You can have up to four people chatting at the same time -- as long as they all have Fring. Video chat can be done over both 3G and WiFi. You can also use Fring to call regular phones by making in-app purchases of call time, with packages starting at $9.99. 



Film One Fest -- free iPad app gives you access to collection of one-minute films

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Film One Fest (free), a new iPad app released yesterday, gives you access to a collection of one-minute films from filmmakers around the world. In addition,  includes supporting stories, artists' statements, and interviews. The films are from an annual outdoor film festival of the same name that shows approximately 60 one-minute films chosen by a panel of judges.



im360 Lite -- another free, you-gotta-try-this app lets you view 360-degree videos

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I had no idea there was such a thing as 360-degree videos. Sure, I've seen 360-degree pictures: you move your device or swipe the screen to view a scene in every direction. That alone is pretty cool. But im360 Lite is more than that. These are 360-degree videos. I'm watching one right now — a helicopter view of Las Vegas. As the helicopter flies above the city, I can move my iPad in different directions and see forward, backward, up above, down below. Or if you prefer, you can swipe the screen in whatever direction you would like to view.



iOS 5 -- what you need to know

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If you have unanswered questions about the forthcoming iOS 5, check out this great article on Macworld: iOS 5: What you need to know. It gives an excellent overview of the new features and answers common questions, such as which devices it will work with, how Notifications will work, what the advantages are of the new messaging system, what some of the features are of the new Newsstand and Reminder apps, and what's new in the Safari, Camera, Photos, Mail, iPod, Calendar, and FaceTime apps. And more.



Leafsnap -- free app lets you identify trees by taking a photo

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In my ongoing series on novel uses of the iPhone and iPad camera, here's yet another: an app that lets you take a picture of a leaf and then gives you information about what type of tree it as. Leafsnap (free) returns the likely species name, as well high-resolution photographs of and information about the tree's leaves, flowers, fruit, seeds, and bark. The app was funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and was developed by the Smithsonian Institution, University of Maryland, and Columbia University.



Macworld -- what you need to know about iCloud

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In a sense, one can think of iCloud as a third platform, one that complements the desktop and mobile platforms, and that may eventually subsume them. It'll be interesting to see how this evolves. Macworld has a great article titled "iCloud: What you need to know." TidBITS also has a helpful introductory article, with a focus on iTunes in the Cloud — the only feature of iCloud that is now available.



iOS 5 cuts the cord -- no more need to connect to a desktop computer

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So much news came out during Steve Jobs's keynote yesterday that it's hard to assimilate. But if you want to get your head around it, I think the key idea is that iOS 5 and iCloud will cut the cord. it will no longer be necessary to connect your iPhone or iPad to a computer in order to put music on your device, sync contacts, update software, etc. Steve Jobs refers to this as the post-PC world, and Apple is giving us devices that are free of the PC. AND it's free! And automatic! And turned on by default! You don't need to think about it.



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