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Apple has entered into a voluntary agreement that means it may add a new anti-theft "kill switch" to its iPhones from next year, meaning if anyone steals your handset you can wipe everything off it unless it's returned later.

Cult of Mac reports that Google, HTC, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and Apple all agreed to make global changes to the way they help facilitate security measures.

Apple's commitment is hardly surprising given it already has an Activation Lock built into iOS 7, making it hard for thieves to use iOS devices they've stolen.

texting-and-walking.jpgOver the weekend, Cult of Mac revealed details of an Apple patent that would make texting and walking a little safer.

The idea behind the patent was that a live feed from your camera could be piped through to the background of your texts, so you can see if something dangerous, like maybe a road or a cliff, is coming up. Granted it's not a fail-safe method and you might see something hazardous after it's a little too late, but text-related injuries are allegedly on the rise and we're clearly not capable of putting down our phones, so surely any crazy idea is worth the punt?

Well, it seems Apple's patent application really inspired some developers, because if you're impatient and can't wait for the tech giant to introduce this new kinda of transparent texting into its devices then you're in luck. Those that are feeling daring can now jailbreak their phones (don't do this unless you're really serious about it) and get a tweak called CamText, which automatically replaces the default background in Messages with a live stream of their camera's video feed.

According to iClarify, the CamText app will soon be available from Cydia (the jailbreak app store) for $1.50.

No one knows for sure what the newest iphone - rumoured to be unveiled in a few months - will look like, but there are plenty of design concepts already online and these from iCulture are our favourites so far.

Teaming up with Martin Hajeck, iCulture has published a series of photos showing off a handset that looks a little like a beefed up iPad Nano. It has curved edges, a narrow bezel, a larger screen and a much slimmer body.

Let us know what you think of the concept in the comments below.

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For months we've heard rumours that Apple is on the brink of launching its first mobile health product. Known as HealthBook it's tipped to track everything from sleep to fitness to hydration and given Apple's current hold over the smartphone market it could be game-changing. Earlier this week, Apple fans at 9to5 Mac published a really detailed rundown of many of HealthBook's key features, which prove it could well be the app that forces mobile health well and truly into the mainstream.

According to 9to5 Mac, the app will include a number of different cards all contained within the "book". Each card represents a different area of your health, and from the screenshots it looks like all kinds of areas will be covered, including bloodwork, heart rate, hydration, activity, nutrition, sleep, blood sugar and much, much more. If these screenshots are part of a yet-to-be-released app (and not redundant or awaiting much more tinkering), then it looks like Apple could bring all of the experiences we're slowly getting used to with other apps and products into one handy hub. It's not clear whether third party apps or devices will feed into the HealthBook, but it would seem necessary to gather such comprehensive data - unless Apple has a line of hardware up its sleeve too of course. Many are already worried this could signal the death of every other mobile health app out there, but it could actually lead to even more validation for the health and fitness tracking industry.

You can check out the full post on 9to5 Mac here for more screenshots, speculations about the data collected and rumours about its launch.

apple-biometric-big.jpgApple's iPhone 5s already has Touch ID - a fingerprint identity scanner - but according to one of the company's recently published patent applications, biometric data could soon play a key role in how we use our iDevices.

Cult of Mac reports that Apple plans on acquiring a patent for a method of wireless pairing and communication between its devices all with the help of biometric data. This includes the likes of palm prints, face recognition, retina scans and voice signatures.

The patent also describes the user requiring different levels of security for different content - so let's say face and voice recognition for financial documents and just a palm print for everything else.

Although plenty of third party apps have attempted to implement these kinds of security sensors, Apple is yet to experiment with anything more than Touch ID - but that looks likely to change in the near future.

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Today Apple announced that a number of leading car manufacturers, like Honda, Ford, Ferrari, BMW and Nissan, will soon be introducing CarPlay into their motors, an intuitive in-car iPhone system that uses helpful little Siri to make driving easier and more fun.

CarPlay will provide iPhone users with a way to add Apple's iOS right into their cars, which includes music, messages, calls and much more all from an interface that's designed to be as eyes-free as possible. Obviously Apple's Maps will be integrated into your driving experience too and with the help of Siri will work to replace any kind of GPS system you already have by providing you with turn-by-turn navigation to get you where you need to go.

"CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car," said Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing.

Apple CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, which includes iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. CarPlay will debut at this week's Geneva Motor Show and will be available in select cars that'll begin shipping throughout 2014.

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Earlier in the month it was revealed that Apple isn't just working on an iWatch to track our fitness habits, but also filed a patent for a pair of earbuds that can monitor movements and vital signs through a series of advanced sensors.

The patent reveals that Apple plans on fitting a pair of earbuds with accelerometers for detecting subtle motions, as well as temperature, heart-rate and perspiration sensors to keep an eye on exactly how your body is doing throughout the day and how well it's responding to exercise.

Interestingly, the patent was filed way back in 2007, but has only just been granted. Of course there's no way of knowing whether Apple is still taking its earbud tracking plans seriously, but voucher website vouchercodespro.co.uk has worked with a patent and trademark insider to produce a few concept designs to give Apple fans a glimpse of what the new earbuds could look like.

Check out the simple white earbuds that are true to Apple's current design and the added subtle but sturdy arm that could rest against the skin and track what's going on under the surface.

Let us know what you think of the concept design in the comments below.

The rumour mill is churning out nuggets at full capacity this morning as chatter about what we can expect from the iPhone 6 does the rounds. Word on the street is that there will be two versions - one of which will be a jumbo-screened phablet.

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(One artist's made-up interpretation!)

The South China Morning Post are the source of the latest murmurs - though given they're based in China, where the factories that will be producing the iPhones will be manufactured suggests that they might be on to something - as apparently the design "freeze" - the date by which Apple won't be able to make any more design changes if they want a September/October release is April... which isn't too far away now.

So word on the street is that the iPhone 6 will come in two sizes - one the standard 4.7", roughly similar to what we currently have with the iPhone 5S, and the other 5.5" - making it the first product from Apple that would fit into the "phablet" (phone/tablet, geddit?) bracket.

It's an exciting move if true as it would mean iPhone users will be able to use the phone they love, but with none of the, umm, size envy that they might experience when meeting Samsung Galaxy Note and Sony Xperia users.

Apparently it isn't just size that matters too - the screens on the new devices will be boosted to 441 pixels-per-inch, putting it on a par with the rival Galaxy S4 - and up from the iPhone 5S's 326ppi screen. The other rumour is that the glass will be made from sapphire crystal, which is apparently second in hardness only to diamond. According to the South China Morning Post, despite earlier rumours, the screen definitely won't be curved.

Word too is that when the new phone launches Apple will drop altogether the cheaper iPhone 5C, which has seen relatively lacklustre sales figures. Of course - when the iPhone 6 does land though, the 5S will inevitably receive a pricedrop - so would-be buyers may be able to get that instead.

We'll keep you posted on any more rumours or announcements - but we're still expecting a release towards the end of the year.

Is Apple planning a MASSIVE iPAD?

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Intriguing news from Product Reviews, who reckon that Apple are busy cooking up an even bigger iPad - this time with a 12.9" screen.

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The iPad Pro, as they claim it would be known would be two inches larger than the 10.9" iPad Air, and nearly twice the size of the relatively new iPad Mini, which clocks in at 7".

The speculation has been prompted following reports that Apple are considering also increasing the screensize on the iPhone 6. It seems as though someone at Apple is a little size-conscious after checking out one of the many 5-6" phablets that are available running Android, like the Galaxy Note 3, or the beautiful but limited Nokia Lumia 1250.

The story on Product Reviews claims that "Most of the rumors suggest that an imminent iPad Pro launch is very likely, although when we say imminent, we mean some time this year", but we're going to take that with an enormous grain of salt - this is the first that we've heard.

If Apple did go for a jumbo option, it would be no means be the first 12.9" tablet. A number of manufacturers have already produced such devices running Android - though none of the big players (the Samsungs and HTCs of this world) have done anything yet.

Of all of the Android tablets, the most well known is probably the HANSpress HANDSpad - which is a 1.6ghz Android device with a 12" screen. Though I guess back just before the original iPad launched commentators were pointing out that nobody series had tried doing a tablet either.

The other thing counting against these rumours is when you think about it from Apple's point of view. At the moment they have to produce apps that work for four different screen sizes: iPhone 1-4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini and normal iPad - will they really want to fragment things further and insist on developers building apps for their platforms on two more screen sizes (iPhone 6, iPad Pro) in addition to this? Won't they face the same sort of fragmentation that Android struggles with?

We'll keep you updated with any more MASSIVE NEWS (literally) when we hear it.

10 Christmas apps to enhance the festive season

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Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat... so you should probably think about getting it a Nike Fuelband or a Fitbit for Christmas. But even if you can't, technology can still enhance the festive season thanks to the power of apps. Here's our pick of ten of the best.

ipad-mini-retina-iphone-5s-2.jpgIf you are after an iPad Mini 2 with that glorious Retina screen Three may be quite a good bet. The network has quoted the following prices. The iPad mini with Retina screen will be on sale from the network by Friday.

16GB:
£129 and £25 a month, 15GB data 24 months
£79 and £29 a month, 15GB data 24 months
£419 upfront cost on a one-month rolling contract that is available with either 1GB of data for £7.50 a month or 10GB data for £15 a month.

32GB:
£199 and £25 a month, 15GB data 24 months
£149 and £29 a month, 15GB data 24 months
£499 upfront cost on a one-month rolling contract that is available with either 1GB of data for £7.50 a month or 10GB data for £15 a month.

64GB:
£269 and £25 a month, 15GB data 24 months
£219 and £29 a month, 15GB data 24 months
£579 on a one-month rolling contract that is available with either 1GB of data for £7.50 a month or 10GB data for £15 a month.

We are still waiting to see how the other networks respond. The cheapest price for the iPad mini Retina on the Apple store is £319 for the 16 Gigabyte version.

BUKCase iPad 4 review

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BlueiPadOriginalOpen_large.jpgIf you're a fan of Dragon's Den, then you may remember a certain product called the 'BUKCase', a bespoke tablet case, designed and built in the United Kingdom! And I've been lucky enough to get my hands on one for my beloved Apple iPad 4.

Design

The case has been created to specifically replicate an old-fashioned book, undisguisable if you were to hide it away on an ordinary book shelf. And I literally mean that - it can actually confuse people! I've been using my iPad in the case, and people have come up to me and asked, "what book are you reading there, kind sir?" - I'm not at all lying. Trust me on that. But in all fairness, it does add a lot of quirkiness to the concept of protecting your tablet PC.

But before I actually talk more about the case in terms of its overall appearance and the materials used that make it so luxurious to own, I have to commend the team behind the packaging, because the feeling of quality is right there before you actually have the case in your hand. I was especially impressed with the cute pamphlets that you also get.

The case itself is made from high-quality leather, built in the same way that you would manufacture a book. However, as a nice as it might feel, not everyone is going to agree with the fact that it adds a lot of bulk to the tablet. For me, this isn't a huge problem, but there are quite a lot of fussy people out there, if you know what I mean. But more on a positive note, it's also great to see the added extra of the smart cover function. I found it very useful.

Usability

In all honesty, the BUKCase isn't complicated at all to get the tablet into, but I wasn't really a fan of the fact that you need to use four fiddly pieces of plastic to keep the tablet in place. I'm not really sure if there's any other ways around this, but it's something I find annoying.

Again, trying to be as positive as I can here, I think it's great that you get a piece of elastic to firmly close the case. It's something that adds a bit of character when you're using the case.

Verdict

The BUKCase speaks for quirky and creative people alike, offering up a great overall package for the price that you pay for it. Not only does it look and feel good, but it's actually a very practical idea that just goes to show how quirkiness deserves merit. I really do like it.

£40 from here.

Review by Nicholas Fearn of GadgetXpert

Top 10 iPad apps for women

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iPads aren't just for fun - they can be used to make your life better too. Here's our pick of the top ten iPad apps for women.

You've got a Macbook Pro. You've already won the lottery of life - you have the best computer. But can you make it even better, and even more useful? Here's our pick of the most useful Macbook Pro accessories.

Finally, the other alternative is to go the other way entirely and splash out on an iPad Mini. A 7.9New Apple iPad launches in a couple of weeks! Well that's what big US blog AllthingsD is claiming. It says that its sources say Apple will deliver the fifth generation iPad and the second gen iPad mini - with a possible side of other new products ((Mac pro?) on October 22nd.

AllThingsD has had a good track record at predicting Apple launch event days and were bang on with the September 10th date for the iPhone 5s and 5c.

If you are expecting some huge new technological advance from the new iPad think again. The 5th gen iPad is likely to be thinner and lighter and look a little more like the iPad mini. Meanwhile the mini will most likely sport a retina display. Anything else would be a major surprise. It is interesting too that very little has recently been heard of the iWatch.

There have been rumours recently that the display has caused Apple issues and that it won't have enough of the iPad mini 2 this side of Christmas. If this isn't rubbish then maybe we will see the new iPad mini 2 in limited quantities for a few months. Apple is highly unlikely to unveil a iPad mini 2 without a Retina display.

itunesradio.jpgSome interesting rumours from Bloomberg this morning. It claims that Apple is set to bring its iTunes Radio service to the Uk (and Australia and New Zealand) in early 2014.

As you may remember iTunes Radio is a service that is integrated into iTunes and iOS7 software - if you are in the uS - which basically analyses your music tastes and then rustles up some tunes it thinks you will like.

The service is quite customisable too, so you can set it to just play stuff you know, or instead focus on discovering new music. You can personalise it more too by pressing the incorporated Play More Like This or Never Play This Song tabs.There are also some existing radio stations thrown in and the service is free and supported by ads.

Apple does need to get a move on as iTunes Radio already has plenty of rivals in the UK including Spotify which celebrated its fifth birthday yesterday. Another rival, Pandora, is also expected to launch over here in the spring too.

If you want a bit of a comparison between the services and to work out whether you are going to benefit from iTunes Radio click here.

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So Spotify today celebrates its fifth birthday. Well done to a start up whose obituary has been written many, many times. The platform hasn't just survived this far though, it is starting to thrive. According to this report in The Guardian it has 24 million active users, 6m paying subscribers, and 1bn playlists created by those people.

In the future it will have many more rivals and ones with deep pockets (think Google and Apple) but for now it has become the byword for online music streaming.

From a personal perspective although I have a few reservations about the service I think it is quite possibly the best thing to happen to online music ever. Well from a user's perspective. If you are a musician, and your name is not Bowie, you probably see Spotify in a different way. Not suprisingly, for a service that is part-owned by several major labels, it tends to feed the big artists and just throws tiny crumbs to the smaller ones.

Yet while there are lots of great artists who now struggle to make a living from music, I don't think this is entirely Spotify's fault. Even before it launched, piracy and the changing nature of music distribution had chipped away significantly at the revenues of lesser known and cult musicians. Spotify certainly isn't the solution for funding new music and I can understand why some musicians are very anti the service.

I also think that it needs to innovate again. Focussing on the bottom line has given its stability but there are many ways in which it can improve.

Nevertheless for the user it is a truly wonderful thing - here's why...

1 It is cheap - Come on, just a fiver to stream all that music. You can't even get a pair Starbucks Lattes for that. From a punter's perspective Spotify is exceptional value for money. Remember the £50 man? Chances are he is now a £10 man with a premium Spotify subscription.

2 It has access to all those wonderful archives - Sure there might be a few high profile omissions, but many of the greatest recordings ever made are available for very little on Spotify. And it gives music lovers access to albums that they might never have had heard before. If the bands you love are influenced by say Captain Beefheart, Nick Drake and Sun Ra you no longer have to spend a fortune finding out what the originals sound like.

3 It tries to preserve the concept of the album - IMO the album was the ultimate artistic statement of the late 20th century and a bit off this century too. Spotify at least tries to offer music as the musicians intended the listener to hear it. As long as you keep away from that random button.

4 It has helped the music industry tackle piracy - Only in a small way, but there is evidence to suggest that Spotify has helped reduce the amount of piracy in some countries

And if you want to plug Spotify into your home hi-fi go here

iPhone5s-firstpic.jpgFancy an iPhone, but put off but its rather titchy (when compared with its rivals) four inch screen? Well the evidence is mounting that the next generation of iPhone is very likely to have a much bigger screen.

The latest person to claim that an Apple Phablet is on the cards is Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek. Now Misek has been quite a good source of Apple info in recent times so it is worth taking what he says seriously.

His latest note to investors contained the following...

"Despite still seeing risk to CQ4 and FY13 revs, we now believe better [gross margins] will allow Apple to skate by until iPhone 6 launches with its 4.8″ screen."

He goes on to add that he thinks that the large screen will spark a significant upgrade as Apple owners surge to buy the bigger model. He also thinks that the brand has just about enough to keep consumers onside with the iPhone 5s and 5c too.

Misek isn't the first to claim that Apple is working on a bigger screen iPhone. The WSJ has also run a story about it and quite frankly it would be surprising if the next iPhone didn't have a bigger screen considering the way most of Apple's rival have moved.
We'll just have to wait and see.

Spin_Gathering_2_iPad.jpgThese days it takes quite a lot to get me excited about an iOS app. However I can realy see the potential of Spin a brand new app for both iPad and iPhone that has launched this week. It is an app that might just take video communication via phones and tablets to a new level.

On one level it is a video chatting app that enables the user to chat to a group of people. The difference between Spin and say Skype is that the unlike other video-chatting apps such as Skype, is that Spin presents each person in the conversation in a square which can be moved around the screen. It works superbly on the iPad, less well on the titchy screen of the iPhone. However the smart bit is that it lets the users do so much more such as sharing video or image content.

In this way Spin lets you easily access Facebook and Flickr photos or YouTube videos which you can then shares with up to nine other people. So for example you could share holiday snaps with you entire family or share your latest music video with a posse of your fans.

There's also some interactivity options too so you can throw paper aeroplanes at people or send them visual messages.

The company is also taking the high ground in terms of quality claiming its HD visuals and 44kHz audio are superior to its rivals.

The platforms works seamlessly on the iPad but does highlight the limitations of the small screen of the iPhone. Hopefully an Android version is imminent so we can see how it works on the Galaxy Note and the Sony Xperia Z Ultra.

It is available for free from here, but sadly only if you have access to the US app store.

iPadmini-reuters.jpgThere are lots of rumours buzzing around about when Apple will unveil its next generation of iPads. We do know that Apple has an event booked for October 15th and there is a strong likelihood that we will see a new 10inch iPad. It is likely to be thinner and lighter that its predecessors, but beyond that any other upgrades are at the moment a complete mystery.

A great deal has then been pinned on the Apple iPad mini 2 which rumour has it will feature a Retina display.

However Reuters is reporting that delays on display manufacturing in China has crippled production of the new mini. They believe that it is very unlikely to be on sale in any large numbers this side of Christmas.

That isn't to say that it won't be unveiled on October 15th, but then again does it make sense for Apple to parade a product that won't be available in any numbers for months?

It might even be that Apple will unveil the iPad mini2 without a Retina display.

We'll have to wait and see on that one.

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