iphone & ipad

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Over the last few weeks, rumors about the possibility of a smaller iPhone model continued to make their rounds in the tech world. According to a new report in the New York Times, however, Apple is "not currently developing a smaller iPhone." Instead, the New York Times' Miguel Helft and Nick Bilton report, Apple's engineers are putting the final touches on the next version of the iPhone.

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On January 19th, Starbucks launched its virtual Starbucks Card mobile payment app for the iPhone and select BlackBerry devices nationwide after running a number of tests in a few select markets last year. Today the company announced that it has already processed more than 1 million transactions since the

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Last month, Google launched an Android app for Google Translate, which allows users to write or speak a phrase in one language and then read or hear a translation in another. Today, Google also launched a native iPhone version of this tool, which works surprisingly well. The app accepts voice input in 15 languages (including German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese), as well as text inputs in over 50 languages. Spoken translations are available for 23 languages.

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According to research firm ChangeWave, 15% of AT&T's mobile subscribers plan to switch carriers in the next 90 days. Even worse for AT&T, 26% of its iPhone users plan to defect to Verizon once it gets the iPhone (41% within the 90 days after the release of the iPhone and 31% within a year). With numbers like this and the general undercurrent of dislike for AT&T in the tech blogosphere, these statistics are obviously catnip for the tech press and most outlets reported them as simple facts.

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After yesterday's Verizon iPhone announcement, it was already becoming clear that Apple would bring personal hotspots - that is the ability to use the iPhone as a WiFi router for up to 5 devices - to other networks as well. Today, Apple released the first beta of iOS 4.3 for iPhone and iPad to developers and this version does indeed offer personal hotspots just like the Verizon iPhone pundits got to gaze at yesterday.

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For the most part, today's Verizon iPhone announcement was in line with what most pundits expected: same phone, different network. One intriguing feature of the Verizon iPhone that AT&T doesn't yet offer, however, is the ability to turn the phone into a WiFi hotspot for up to 5 devices. Wouldn't it be nice if AT&T also offered this feature soon?

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Augemented reality was one of the most overused buzzwords of the year, but for the most part, the applications we saw weren't really augmenting reality. Instead, like Layar and others, they take a phone's camera picture, GPS coordinates and compass heading and provide users with an overlay of nearby sights and shops. For some apps - especially stargazing apps like Star Walk - this is fine, but for most use cases, it's not really useful. Another type of augmented reality (AR) app that's hot right now uses paper markers and replaces them with 3D animation on your phone's screen - even Hallmark is getting in this business now, but it's more of a gimmick than a useful application of AR. The real promise of AR reaches far beyond this, however.

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Rumor had it that Apple was about to release the much anticipated iOS 4.2 update this week. While this update will bring new capabilities to the iPhone and iPod touch, iPad users will benefit from this the most, as they will finally get Apple's version of multitasking and folders. For now, though, it looks like Apple users will have to wait a few more days. According to the rumor mill, the current build has a major WiFi bug that could be a show stopper.

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I used to think that location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and all of their clones represented the next big thing in mobile. The reality, however, is that even though these companies are still growing (or at least say they are), I just can't figure out why I should continue to check in when I arrive at a restaurant...