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iPad competitors once again lining up for CES

CES 2011 starts in just a few days and once again the iPad competitors are lining up to take a shot at Apple's breakthrough tablet. I say "once again" because last year, even before Apple had announced the iPad, rumor of it alone was enough to get Steve Ballmer on stage showing off a Windows-powered HP Slate, and to line the halls with all sorts of in-development tablets based on Android, Linus, etc.

None of those materialized for the mainstream but now that Apple has launched iPad and sold millions upon millions of them, you can bet this year will be different, and here are just some of the players:

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Apple confirms iPhone alarm bug, says wait for tomorrow and it'll fix itself

That pesky iPhone bug that caused one-time alarms not to go off in 2011 has been confirmed by Apple (phew!), as has the "fix" -- either set a recurring alarm or wait, as it corrects itself on January 3rd and works properly thereafter:

We're aware of an issue related to non repeating alarms set for January 1 or 2. Customers can set recurring alarms for those dates and all alarms will work properly beginning January 3.

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Supposed iPad 2 case images pulled

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that those supposed cases for iPad 2, which show off a more iPod touch 4-like design, a camera cut-out, larger speaker, and possible USB port, have been pulled from Alibaba.com by parties unidentified (but easily speculated.

9to5Mac has also pulled their case mold images after similar, albeit "not so nice" demands.

Apple has had images removed from the web before, including the infamous iPod "fatty" nano leak, but in recent years hadn't bothered (or hadn't wanted a legal demand to prove the veracity of the pictures), even for the iPhone 4 leak. Is the tablet market about to become competitive enough that Apple doesn't want to take any chances, is this a third party getting involved, or is it something else?

(The image above is a concept design by TiPb.com, rendered before the latest round of rumors, coincidentally showing a more tapered, iPod touch-like design...)

Video of one of the cases after the break (unless and until YouTube is required to pull it).

[Wall Street Journal, 9to5Mac, via MacRumors]

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Latest Apple patent hints towards a social network for the retail world

The latest patent filed by Apple shows a possible Ping-like social networking tool for the retail world. It would allow for iPhone owners to share comments, opinions and recommendations for different products from different stores for their friends to view. Like any patent there's no telling when, if ever, this particular one will find its way into a real, shipping product, but it does hive us a glimpse at what Apple is working on.

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Monitor your heart with the iPhone 4 ECG case [video]

The iPhonECG by Lifetone Technology is a case that turns your iPhone 4 into a fully functional  ECG (Electrocardiography) device that can be used to monitor your heart. It works via  interpretation of the electrical activity of the heart over time captured and externally recorded by skin electrodes.

The case is a simple enough snap on type plastic case with two electrodes on the rear. The patient can hold the case in their hands, touching the electrodes, or hold it against their chest to capture the performance of the heart.

The information is displayed on the screen of the iPhone 4 with a dedicated app, again developed by Lifetone. It also has another app that works with the case. The second app is a personal heart rate monitor, to aid with relaxation; it is aimed more at the consumer than the professional market.

Both apps and the case will be announced at CES (Consumer Electronics Show), which begins in Las Vegas next week.

[MobileCrunch]

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RunKeeper Pro free until the end of January

RunKeeper Pro has been made available to everyone for free today. The offer lasts until the end of January 2011 so don’t delay, go and grab yourself a copy of this fantastic app for free.

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Rubyra1n the next Geohot Jailbreak tool?

It looks as if famed iPhone hacker George Hotz aka Geohot, might be coming back again with a jailbreak called Rubyra1n. According to Redmond Pie, Geohot registered the domain name for Rubyra1n on March 27, 2010 when he also registered for Limera1n.com.

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Skype for iPhone hits 3.0, adds video calling over Wi-Fi and 3G

It took a while but Skype for iPhone has finally hit version 3.0 and now includes video calling, not only over Wi-Fi like Apple's FaceTime but over 3G as well! Here's the complete update list:

  • Make Skype to Skype video calls on WiFi and 3G (Additional Data charges may apply)
  • Call Skype desktop users (Mac OS X or Windows) and other iPhone users.
  • Two-way video calls supported on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th gen.
  • Receive only video supported on iPad and iPod touch 3rd gen, with no camera.
  • Make video calls in portrait and landscape.
  • Skype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or above.

We're testing it out now and will update asap with results. How's it working for you?

UPDATE: First impressions after the break!

[Free - iTunes link, thanks @laniceto for the head's up!]

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Verizon iPhone to launch between mid January, early February 2011 [Rumor]

BusinessWeek is joining the Verizon iPhone game with a rumor that the near-mythical device will launch sometime after CES and before Valentine's Day -- in other words between mid January and early February 2011. Attributed to "a person familiar with Apple's plans" (boy he gets around!), BW says:

Apple (AAPL) will likely host one of its splashy product introductions to announce a new version of the iPhone that works on Verizon's (VZ) network. Customers are expected to stampede to the new pairing, leaving AT&T (T), until now the exclusive U.S. distributor of the iPhone, with an enormous problem.

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iPad based magazine subscriptions in a slump

iPad magazine sales seem to be in a bit of a slump. Many magazine publishers have made their content available on iPad as it's an easy way to read content without having to have paper copies littering your home or office. If it's more convenient, why are magazine sales on the iPad not doing so great?

In August, 10,500 users bought issues of Vanity Fair on their iPads. In August, only 8,700 copies were purchased via the iPad. Glamour magazine was in even worse shape with only 2,775 iPad issues sold in October. We all know that paper copies of magazines are on their way out, but shouldn't that mean that virtual copies should literally be flying off digital shelves?

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