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iPhone 5, iPad Mini and iPad 4 All Coming to China

iPhone 5, iPad Mini and iPad 4 All Coming to China


China is finally getting Apple’s latest toys. Apple said today it would begin selling both the iPhone 5, the fourth-generation iPad and the iPad mini in the country in December.

The two iPads officially go on sale Dec. 7, although only Wi-Fi versions will be available. There is no information on when or if the 4G LTE versions of the iPads will come to China. The iPhone 5 arrives on Dec. 14.

Tellingly, Apple’s press release announcing the news only highlights the iPhone 5 and iPad mini in the title — the fourth-generation iPad is mentioned only in the text. Apple is clearly downplaying its new flagship iPad, most likely to avoid potentially stealing the spotlight from the product it really wants to push this holiday: the iPad mini.

China has been a focal point for Apple’s business in the last few years. The potential market is obviously large, and Apple has opened flagship stores in major urban centers such as Shanghai and Beijing. Although the threat from knock-off gadgets (and knock-off stores) is much greater in China than other countries, it hasn’t hurt the appeal of Apple’s products in the country, and sales there have grown immensely.

Apple first introduced the iPhone 5 in September, and it’s now available in 47 countries. The iPad mini arrived in October alongside the blink-and-you-missed-it iPad Fourth Generation. All three products — as well as Apple’s new iPods — use the company’s new Lightning connector, a much smaller data and power port that allowed Apple to achieve the ultra-slim designs in both the iPad mini and iPhone 5.

Do you think Apple’s new products will be a hit in China? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS: iPad Mini Review

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Google to Political Campaigns: Get Online, Now

Google to Political Campaigns: Get Online, Now


Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been pouring money into television — long considered the most crucial place for a political campaign to advertise — to the tune of at least $125 million combined. However, Google is urging all political candidates not to overlook the importance of online advertising.

Google released on Tuesday the below infographic which shows how people’s appetite for media is changing — an evolution the company argues means that political advertising should change, too:

Google has been proselytizing the Internet’s political potential in “Four Screens to Victory,” an informational campaign which began in March. Throughout the campaign, Google has stressed the need for politicians to pay attention to the web and mobile devices, lest their message is lost given the increasing number of people who pay little attention to television in favor of personal computers and mobile devices.

“Access to political information no longer comes from one place — or one screen,” wrote Google in a blog post on Tuesday. “In just the four years since the last presidential election, the continued growth of the web and the proliferation of mobile devices has radically transformed when, where, and how voters access political information.”

To support that claim, Google published data about the increasing importance of the Internet and mobile devices vis-à-vis television, including:

1. More than 80% of eligible voters are online.
2. Similarly, 83% of mobile phone owners are registered voters.
3. One out of every 3 likely voters in November say that they didn’t watch television in the past week.
4. Voters are spending more media time on their mobile devices than with newspapers & magazines combined.

Google, of course, owns YouTube (a popular platform for campaigns to publish online videos) and sells online advertising, so it has a financial interest in convincing campaigns to bolster their web presence.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been spending unprecedented amounts of money on digital. A recent analysis by the marketing blog ClickZ found that the Obama and Romney campaigns are spending about 25% of their TV ad budget on digital — but should they be spending more? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, pagadesign

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Police Have Asked for 1.3 Million Cellphone Users’ Records

Police Have Asked for 1.3 Million Cellphone Users' Records


Police across the United States asked cellphone providers for the phone records, text message transcripts, location data and other information of at least 1.3 million customers during 2011, according to a Congressman investigating the practice.

Some of the data provided to Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), the lawmaker who carried out the investigation, indicated that the number of police requests to mobile carriers have exploded over the past five years. Law enforcement requests to AT&T alone more than doubled from 125,425 in 2007 to 261,365 in 2011 — approximately 700 requests every day.

One type of law enforcement request, wherein police ask cell providers for a so-called “dump” of information about subscribers near a certain cell tower at a given point in time, may mean that thousands more people have been involved in police requests.

Markey called the results of his investigation — the most thorough inquiry into the practice thus far — “startling.”

“We cannot allow privacy protections to be swept aside with the sweeping nature of these information requests, especially for innocent consumers,” said Markey in a statement. “Law enforcement agencies are looking for a needle, but what are they doing with the haystack? We need to know how law enforcement differentiates between records of innocent people, and those that are subjects of investigation, as well as how it handles, administers, and disposes of this information.”

Markey initially requested the information in May after reading about the practice. Nine carriers have returned letters detailing each company’s procedures when police request users’ information.

Verizon Wireless, for instance, has a “team of trained employees and managers” that responded to more than 700 police requests each day in 2011. The company noted that it requires a warrant from police in all but the most extreme circumstances.

“Unless a customer consents to the release of the information or law enforcement certifies that there is an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury, we do not release location information to law enforcement without a signed warrant or order from a judge,” reads Verizon’s letter, which also stressed that the company prioritizes customer privacy.

Other carriers also said they require a warrant in most cases and sometimes deny requests in the interest of customer privacy. Sprint, for example, detailed a sort of investigative Pong process in which some requests bounced between the company and police while escalating up the chain of command on either side.

About 88% of American adults now own a cell phone, while 46% of them own a smartphone. Both types of devices are capable of storing an immense amount of data that can be useful to police investigations.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the report an indication of a “privacy disaster” in a blog post on Monday. The EFF urged cell phone providers to follow the example set by Google and Twitter, both of which deliver transparency reports about police and government requests for users’ data.

Should cellphone providers publish reports about police requests for users’ information? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, anouchka

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Looking for a Dual-Sim Android Phone? Acer’s Got One

Looking for a Dual-Sim Android Phone? Acer's Got One


Acer has announced two Ice Cream Sandwich-powered smartphones — Liquid Gallant and Liquid Gallant Duo.

The two devices are actually the same except for the dual-SIM feature on the Duo, which makes this mid-range phone much more interesting. With the ability to use two SIM cards in one phone, the user can switch between two mobile networks and two different numbers with ease.

Both Gallants have a 4.3 inch display, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of storage memory, further expandable to 32 GB via microSD cards.

With specifications like that, we’re hoping for a fair price, which would make the Duo variant a nice option for those in the market for a dual-SIM Android device.

Both phones will be available in two colors: “Gentle Black” and “Ceramic White.” Liquid Gallant Duo will hit the market in September 2012, and its single-SIM brother will follow shortly thereafter.

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iPhone App Walker Aims to Boost Your Productivity

iPhone App Walker Aims to Boost Your Productivity


There are plenty of to-do apps for the iPhone but how many of them actually help you get things done? If developer Raul Rea has anything to say about it, his app Walker will boost your productivity. He just needs your help to complete it.

Rea has taken to Kickstarter to complete development of Walker for the iPhone. The app works by asking you one simple question when you type your to-do item into the app: is this actionable? Once you answer, you’re presented with several options. You can set a 2 minute timer to get the task done now, send it to your inbox or calendar or defer the item to a later time. The app also works with Siri and the Reminders app.

Rea is asking for $2,550 to finish his testing, license third party code and pay for other development expenses. With 28 days to go, he’s raised $225. Backers who give six dollars or more will receive the app and true believers who donate $100 or more will get their own private lesson from Rea on app development.

Are you addicted to productivity apps? Tell us what you think of the Walker app in the comments.

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Apple May Discontinue iPad 2 to Make Room for iPad Mini

Apple May Discontinue iPad 2 to Make Room for iPad Mini


Apple is set to drop the iPad 2 from its product lineup when the so-called iPad Mini launches, a financial analyst suspects. Eliminating the iPad 2 may also give a hint about how Apple intends to price the new tablet.

First reported by Apple Insider, analyst Rob Cihra said in a note to investors this week that he sees the introduction of a smaller-screen iPad as an opportunity to streamline its lineup into “clearer product tiers.” He goes on to say he predicts Apple will sell 7 million iPad Minis by the end of the year.

Killing the iPad 2 does make a great deal of sense. The product is a year and a half old — an eternity as far as mobile technology goes — and the upcoming iPad Mini is expected to have exactly the same screen resolution.

The iPad 2’s presence in Apple’s product lineup also creates an issue in how to position the iPad Mini. The iPod touch, which has a 4-inch screen, has a starting price of $299. The iPad 2, which has a 9.7-inch screen, starts at $399. That leaves little room for an in-between product.

However, if the iPad Mini is intended to compete with the likes of the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 tablets — which typically start at $199 — its price may be lower than that of the iPod touch in any case.

Do you think Apple will end-of-life the iPad 2 when the iPad Mini arrives? Share your thoughts in the comments.

BONUS: 10 Great Accessories for Your iPad 2

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3D Printer Creates Copies of Your Live Fetus

3D Printer Creates Copies of Your Live Fetus


Who needs ultrasonic baby pictures when you can have a resin-cast 3D model of your live fetus? That’s the latest development in 3D printing, now available at a health clinic in Tokyo.

The clinic, Hiro-o Ladies, is working with a 3D printing company called Fasotec to create what they call “Tensi no Katachi,” or “Shape of an Angel.” The printer renders the model in various shapes and sizes, all of which float in clear lucite.

It’s kind of like a snow globe — of your unborn child.

The service costs 100,000 yen, or about $1,300. A dual-resin extruder makes the baby part and the hardened amniotic part at the same time.

Clients can choose to have a 3D image captured of the baby’s entire body, or just focus on a single body part. So if you’re not ready to start the baby buzz around the office with your new full-body fetal paperweight, you can just opt for a foot or an ear. Much more subtle.

Perhaps the most novel part of all? The 3D models are also available as cell phone charms — so you can get your baby hooked on technology before they even leave the womb.

Would you want to print a copy of your fetus? How much would you pay for such a thing? Let us know in the comments.

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