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IPhone

Facial recognition for random strangers, coming soon to Google Glass and your smartphone
January 8, 2014 | 9:39 pm

nametag_1Smartphones might be good for e-reading, but soon they’ll be able to read your face, too. Remember the uproar when Facebook announced plans to add face recognition identity tagging to its photos? It turned out only to be meant to tag people who you’d friended already, but to hear most people you’d have thought they were going to have their identities revealed to total strangers. Well, CNET Australia now reports on a forthcoming app for Android, iOS, and Google Glass that could reveal your identity to total strangers. Called NameTag, the app will allow users to snap photos...

Blackberry files suit over Ryan Seacrest-backed Typo keyboard case
January 3, 2014 | 7:12 pm

Remember that “Typo” Bluetooth iPhone keyboard case backed by Hollywood’s Ryan Seacrest? It essentially grafts a BlackBerry style keyboard onto an iPhone. Well, it turns out that BlackBerry is not amused that the Typo is effectively a rip-off of the iconic keyboard design from their BlackBerry phones. The layout and styling of the keys is remarkably similar, after all…so BlackBerry is filing suit for infringement of their design. As Matthew Panzarino points out on TechCrunch, it seems unlikely that any money they get out of this even if they win will be enough to slow Blackberry’s slide into obscurity...

Smartphones are growing into small tablets
January 3, 2014 | 2:04 pm

galaxynoteHere’s a GigaOm article by Kevin C. Tofel looking at why smartphones are getting bigger and bigger, in seeming reversal of the trend of technology making things constantly smaller. It used to be that the iPhone’s 3.5” screen was considered the ideal size for smartphones. The iPhone was made that size because it was the largest the phone could be for most people to be able to reach all corners of the screen with their thumb when holding it in their hand. But screen size crept up to 4 inches, now 5-inch screens are considered normal for many...

Review: Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution
December 22, 2013 | 11:11 am

coverI finished reading Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, which I mentioned in my post yesterday. I quite enjoyed it. Even though I read the news reports of the events it describes as they happened, you don’t get the big picture until you read a book like this, that looks back and puts everything together in the proper context. The book covers the development of the iPhone and Android phones, touches on the iPad and what it meant, goes over the Apple vs. Samsung patent lawsuit, and then wraps up...

The iPhone made Google rethink Android
December 21, 2013 | 10:12 pm

The Atlantic is carrying an excerpt from Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution. I found it interesting enough that I actually bought the book and have been reading through it, and will probably have more to say on that in a day or so. This except, from Chapter 2, talks about Google’s reaction to Apple’s iPhone launch. Essentially, they were poleaxed by Jobs’s demonstration. (How little they knew—Chapter 1 covered how that first iPhone demonstration was carefully stage-managed to disguise the fact that their demonstrator phone was half-baked with a...

Borderlands 2 bar code reader app is a clever new use for smartphones
December 13, 2013 | 4:16 am

Screenshot_2013-12-13-03-32-36Here’s an example of a game company doing something pretty clever with mobile technology to increase engagement on its PC game. Gearbox, the wildly creative company behind Borderlands 2, has released a free mobile app for iOS and Android that scans UPC or QR bar codes and associates them with a randomly-generated loot item from that game. The first time a code is scanned, it randomly generates a loot item; thenceforth, that code is associated specifically with that item so people can tell their friends what to look for. It’s completely agnostic with regard to the price of...

Voice Dream reader app can now play audiobooks
December 8, 2013 | 12:15 pm

Voice Dream reader appThe new version of the Voice Dream reader app, a superb iOS text-to-speech app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, can now play audiobooks, too. Even at $10, costlier than the typical app, Voice Dream is a Buy, capital B, at the Apple App Store. Voice Dream 2.9.2 can handle zipped MP3s as well as audiobooks in Daisy, thanks to help from a Swiss library organization, and navigation and general usability are excellent, just as in the regular text-to-speech mode for ePub files and others. Dozen of optional voices in common languages work with the app, and my favorite is the UK-accented “Peter” voice...

To solve a pet peeve, Ryan Seacrest funds development of Bluetooth keyboard case
December 6, 2013 | 3:48 pm

TYPO-CASES-DUALWhen most of us aren’t satisfied with the current state of mobile technology, we don’t have any recourse but to hope that someone comes up with something better. But if you’re a high-powered, wealthy Hollywood go-getter, you have a few other options. GigaOm and AllThingsD are reporting that Hollywood exec Ryan Seacrest was fed up with having to carry two cell phones with him all the time—one for typing and another one for everything else. He just couldn’t get used to the on-screen keyboard in his “everything else” phone, and needed a physical thumb board to type usefully....

Does the death of the PC herald a closed-device future?
November 17, 2013 | 10:30 pm

GEDC1556Oh noes! They’re killing the PC! Mass computing devices face the dark future of tablets with restricted operating systems that limit what you can do and what apps you can install! We must all run about in panic! Except…no, I don’t think that’s right. The article I linked above on ZDNet notes: Here's what I see happening: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft all want us to buy appliances, not PCs. An appliance is a closed box. It can only run the operating system they stick you with. It will only run the applications they approve for it. Apple and Microsoft are particularly strict...

Apple reality distortion field warps space, curves iPhone screens
November 12, 2013 | 2:44 pm

Those fearless innovators at Apple are at it again, bringing you a product form factor innovation that has already been ... ahem ... innovated elsewhere, but will probably be repackaged and respun by their hype machine and a legion of uncritical and unaware fans into a home-produced tech triumph. At least, so Bloomberg would have us believe. And yes, I'm speaking as a diehard Apple anti-fanboy, but then I always had this yen to knock holes in the walls of walled gardens ... According to Bloomberg, Apple may soon be bringing iPhones with curved screens to market. Woohoo, curvy. All beveled....

iPad success secret: Building on the iPhone, and replacing laptops
November 5, 2013 | 10:47 pm

ipadWired is running an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Fred Vogelstein, looking at how Steve Jobs made the iPad successful when no other tablet ever had been. There’s an interesting parallel with e-readers in this story. No dedicated e-reader had ever been successful before Jeff Bezos pushed the Kindle, and likewise no prior tablet had ever worked until the iPad came along. The tablet computer was the most discredited category of consumer electronics in the world. Entrepreneurs had been trying to build tablet computers since before the invention of the PC. They had tried so many times that the conventional...

Enjoying tablets and smartphones? Thank e-books!
October 31, 2013 | 11:24 pm

The world has been changing a lot. In the 98 years my grandmother has been alive, we've gone from cars as rickety novelties on dirt-track roads to polished metal eggs on highways that span the globe; the Wright Brothers' first flight to putting people on the moon and machinery on Mars. And we've gone from mechanical clocks and automated looms as state-of-the-art in information technology to having powerful computer/photo/video terminals in most peoples' pockets. Even over the course of my own lifetime, the rate of advance has been remarkable. When I was in grade school. having computers in the...