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RIP YouTube iPhone App, 2007-2012 — Why You Won’t Be Missed


Mashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Back when the iPhone first launched, there was a joke about the YouTube app on it. One nerd, or tech reviewer, would describe it as a “dumbed-down YouTube experience.” To which another would shoot back: “is that even possible?”

Well, here we are, five years later. YouTube the service has gotten a whole lot stronger and smarter in so many ways (as well as a whole lot dumber in some of its corners — something which turns out to be exceedingly and eternally possible).

But the iPhone app, even transplanted to the iPad, has stayed exactly as dumb as it always was. It’ll find the YouTube content you want a third of the time, if you’re lucky. They should call it YouRoulette, because you never know what a search might bring.

No wonder iPhone users in the know long ago switched to simply going to on Safari, where a lot more stuff is available. When I heard about that fix, I was mad as hell at myself for all the wasted time on the app.

And from whom did I hear it? From YouTube staffers themselves. Even they didn’t believe in the thing.

So it’s really not such a bummer to hear Monday’s news — Apple has dumped the YouTube app from the next iPhone/iPad operating system, iOS 6. It’s ostensibly because “our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended,” according to an Apple spokesperson.

I’m sure it has, but I’m also sure Apple couldn’t be more relieved about that. This is a company that cares about great design, about stuff that just works, and the YouTube app was never that. It was so hobbled, it reminded me of the awful old WAP mobile web browsers that Apple effectively destroyed with the iPhone.

I’m also sure it’s just a coincidence that Apple is distancing itself from Google in general, for example replacing the Google Maps app in iOS6 with its own (called, confusingly enough, Maps). If you want the Google Maps iPhone app, chances are you’ll have to download it again — though what we don’t know is whether you’ll be able to make it the default for maps.

We do know that Google is working on a new YouTube app, according to the same Apple source. We’re still waiting for confirmation from YouTube.

Regardless, we’ll soon see the end of an app experience so poor, it couldn’t have made the iPhone look worse if the Android team had planted it there.

You’ll notice it’s one of the few original apps you can’t actually delete on your iPhone? Consider it deleted now, and good riddance.

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Apple Sells Out of All iPad Mini Models


Apple iPad mini

Apple has sold out of its initial inventory of all iPad Mini models just three days after the new device became available for pre-order online.

The shipping times for all three Wi-Fi versions of the black and white iPad Mini have now been pushed back to two weeks, indicating that the initial stock is sold out. The LTE-enabled iPad Mini models have not yet gone on sale.

Apple worried some investors with its decision to the price the new 7.9 inch tablets starting at $329, significantly more than competing tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, but the sales so far suggest that demand for the iPad Mini is strong even with the higher price.

Have you ordered an iPad Mini? Let us know in the comments below.

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Why the iPod Still Matters to Apple


Apple was widely expected to announce a press event for a brand new product on Wednesday — the iPad Mini. Instead, the company doubled down on an old and sometimes overlooked product, the iPod.

Apple aired a new commercial for the iPod on Wednesday night, which was the first new iPod ad since November of last year, according to TBWA/Media Arts Lab, the agency behind it.

The commercial is the latest sign that Apple isn’t giving up on the 11-year old product just yet. Apple announced a major refresh of the iPod line last month, updating the iPod Touch with a bigger screen and several new color offerings, and releasing a much thinner iPod Nano with built-in fitness features.

The iPod re-energized Apple’s brand in the early 2000’s and helped kick start its transformation from struggling has-been to the world’s most valuable company. In recent years though, the iPod has taken a back seat behind Apple’s two other hugely successful mobile i-Products, the iPhone and iPad. The ads showing silhouettes dancing to music on their iPods are a distant memory, replaced now by lonely celebrities yammering to Siri on the iPhone.

Even though the iPhone and iPad now account for far more of Apple’s revenue than the iPod, the line of music players does still have a role to play in Apple’s business.

A Billion Dollar Business

For the most part, iPod sales have declined year-over-year since 2008 — the year after Apple released the original iPhone — but the product still brings in more than $1 billion in revenue each quarter for the company.

Apple sold 6.8 million iPods in the June quarter of this year, resulting in $1.06 billion in revenue. That represents about 3% of Apple’s overall $35 billion in revenue for the quarter, but it’s still more than the company makes from software and peripherals.

However, those numbers don’t give a complete picture about the value of the iPod.

Dominating the MP3 Player Market

As Apple pointed out in its last earnings call, the iPod continues to dominate the market for portable music players, making up more than 70% of the market in the U.S. Some might roll their eyes at the idea that Apple touts being the leader of a market that it itself is cannibalizing. That said, the iPod continues to be one of the leading ways that people consume music.

According to the most recent data from the NPD Group, 43% of online users 13 and older listen to music on portable music players, a category that does not include smartphones or tablets. The same percentage of those surveyed say they consume music through online radio services. So the iPod dominates a means of music consumption that is as popular as Pandora and Spotify.

Russ Crupnick, an analyst covering the entertainment and music industries for NPD Group, suggests that part of the reason for this is that many consumers continue to prefer to have a “dedicated music device” for specific use cases.

“Apple has usage situations that are unique to the form factor of the iPod,” Crupnick told Mashable. For example, many consumers may be more comfortable taking the iPod Shuffle to the gym than their iPhone, for fear of losing or breaking the latter, not to mention the fact that the Shuffle is smaller.

A Gateway to Apple’s Ecosystem

Perhaps the biggest reason that the iPod is still useful to Apple is that it serves as a gateway to its brand, and more importantly, its ecosystem of products.

Crupnick and NPD have found that the iPod and iPod Touch are far more popular among children 14 and younger than the iPhone, iPad or Android smartphones. In total, about 28% of U.S. households surveyed by NPD say their children use iPods and iPod Touches regularly, compared to 7.4% for iPhone and 7.5% for iPad. The iPod Touch is particularly popular among those at the upper end of that age bracket.

“When the kid starts to get older and deserves their own device, parents aren’t spending the money on a full-blown tablet, or on a data plan, but an iPod Touch is a perfect compromise,” Crupnick said. As a result, he says that the iPod gives Apple a way to reach younger consumers.

Children aren’t the only demographic that Apple can reach with the iPod. As Crupnick points out, half of Americans still don’t own smartphones. “There are lots of people who think the economics of a smartphone don’t make sense, or they don’t have a need for it, or else the kids are a little too young or the adults are a little too old,” Crupnick says. For many of these consumers, an iPod — or more likely an iPod Touch — can serve as a substitute.

What’s more, considering that the iPod Touch is essentially an identical experience to the iPhone minus the data plan, it may just condition some of these hesitant consumers to eventually transition to the iPhone, which is now Apple’s core business, even if it’s not as exciting as a new iPad Mini.

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Motorola Unveils Kevlar-Clad Atrix HD for Business Users


Motorola has officially introduced the Atrix HD, an Ice Cream Sandwich-based model geared toward business users.

The company unveiled the model, which boasts a 4.5-inch 1280 x 720 HD Colorboost display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, LTE, 8 GB of storage and an 8-megapixel camera, as well as Kevlar-clad back side, on its website on Wednesday. The Atrix HD is billed as “business ready” partially because it comes preloaded with Webtop an app that, with an HDMI display and Bluetooth peripherals, can make the phone a PC replacement.

Pricing has not yet been set for the model, which will be distributed via AT&T.

In targeting business users, Google is no doubt looking for remaining BlackBerry defectors. Android’s share of the overall market topped 50% in the U.S. in April, while BlackBerry’s was 13.4%, a huge drop from the previous year’s 28.9%.

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Martian’s Smartphone Watch Will Make You Feel Like James Bond [HANDS-ON]


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What’s Next For Google’s Nexus Brand Of Devices?


When Google introduces a new Nexus-series device, we know we’ll have a fresh Android revision to play with, along with all the new features and improvements that arrive with such a release. But that’s only a part of what makes Nexus models so captivating.

Google’s been taking full advantage of the high-profile spot these devices take to draw attention to new hardware, which we often see subsequently adopted by manufacturers all across the Android spectrum. You can call it “Google leading the direction the market’s heading,” or just acting as inspiration, but there’s no doubt that its Nexus hardware often serves as a trend-setter. With the Nexus 7 now a reality, our thoughts are already turning to the next Nexus device (the Nextus?), and we find ourselves asking, “just what might Google be planning for its future Nexus hardware?”

Taking Stock: Past Nexus Models

For starters, let’s look at what Google’s accomplished with its Nexus devices so far. The HTC-made Nexus One was bound to hold a special place in the Android history books, solely by nature of being the first smartphone of its kind. With the phone’s release, Google set the bar for the level of software support we’d continue to see with the rest of its Nexus lineup, featuring front-line exposure to the latest Android releases often weeks — if not months — before any other phones receive similar manufacturer support.

As for the Nexus One hardware itself, it may not have offered many brand-new features, but it highlighted a few key manufacturing choices that were just then becoming more important. It featured an early AMOLED screen, exposing users to the kind of great contrast such components offer. There was also a big focus on reducing handset thickness. It’s easy to forget just how chunky some early Androids were, and measuring more than half-an-inch thick was par for the course; the Nexus One slimmed things down to just under 12 millimeters, and things have only been shrinking since.

Switching manufacturing partners to Samsung, Google continued this trend with the Nexus S in late 2010. The handset was one of the first smartphones around to support NFC (a feature we’re still waiting to see widespread acceptance). It highlighted the importance of ergonomics with its Contour Display curved screen, and was an early example of the move manufacturers have been making away from microSD support.

The Motorola Xoom has special relevance as the first Honeycomb tablet, and while it continues to get Nexus-level software support, as a non-Nexus device, it’s a bit outside the scope we’re dealing with here.

The Galaxy Nexus introduced many of us to 720p displays on phones, and invited manufacturers to do away with hardware Android buttons on their handsets in favor of on-screen software controls. More recently, the Nexus 7 gave us a similar example of Google removing unneeded hardware, this time the rear camera. While that’s reportedly a cost-saving decision, rather than a pure design choice, it’s encouraging manufacturers to look past the status quo, and really think individually about just what features each device really needs.

In What Direction Is Google Steering Android’s Future?

OK, that brings us pretty much up to date. So, where do we go from here?

Some of the things Google’s done, like axing hardware Android buttons, are the type of change that’s going to be hugely tricky to predict. On the other hand, there are some hardware innovations just coming to the forefront of smartphone design that Google could always grab and run with.

We’re going to be seeing 1080p screens in smartphones in the near future, and there’s still a lot of confusion regarding them. Largely, we’re just not sure how much use they’ll actually be, or if we’ll even be capable of readily appreciating the improved resolution. Maybe Google will adopt such a component for the next Nexus, and make a point to deliver it alongside software that finally convinces us of the value of such super-high-res displays.

Google hasn’t really used Nexus devices to push next-generation SoCs, and we’re not sure there’s any reason for it to start now. Chances are, we’ll be looking at a bit of a cool-down in the race for cores, with manufacturers settling on quad- or dual-core designs for now and focusing more on improving things like power consumption and execution efficiency.

What about RAM? The move to 2GB feels like it should have been a bigger deal than it was, and its recent arrival on a couple Androids (like the GS3) didn’t get much fanfare. By the time the next Nexus arrives, we’ll likely have seen even more phones debut with this kind of memory, but maybe Google can still find a way to make it special; that doesn’t necessarily mean adding even more RAM, but it could try something with higher speed, lower latency components, or introduce changes to Android that let it take advantage of such a glut of memory in more impressive ways.

Google may not see a need for a big camera on a tablet, but smartphones are another beast entirely; maybe Google will try to bring the kind of imaging quality we see on the Nokia PureView 808 to Android. Perhaps it could even try something a bit out-there, like pairing such a powerful image sensor with a standardized way to attach mini add-on lenses, extending the phone’s abilities as a camera even farther.

Then there’s the issue of just how the next Nexus will be made. We’ve heard rumors that Google might be planning to team up with multiple manufacturers for a series of Nexus models, all arriving at once. Would each one come up with their own take on a similar design, or would each focus on just a few key elements? Maybe LG would have the 1080p Nexus, and Sony would have the super-camera Nexus?

There are a ton of directions Google could take with its next phone. We could keep guessing up until the model’s actually revealed, and still never hit on just what the company’s been planning. Whatever it is, though, you can bet that the rest of the Android world will be watching closely, and be ready to follow Google’s lead.

Thanks: Pocketnow staff
Image: XDA-Developers forum

This article originally published at Pocketnow

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Skype Fixing Bug That Sends Messages to Wrong Person


Skype announced on Tuesday it will be rolling out a fix over the next few days to correct a system bug that is sending private instant messages to the wrong recipients.

Following a series of reports from Skype users that their accounts were misdirecting messages to others on their contact list, the video-chat company will be releasing updated versions of Skype likely later this week.

The Skype versions affected by the bug that will receive an update as follows: Skype 5.10 for Windows, Skype 5.8 for Mac, Skype 4.0 for Linux and Skype 1.2 for Windows Phone.

“The hotfix addresses an issue that occurs only when a user’s Skype client crashes during a Skype IM session, which may in some cases result in the last IM entered or sent prior to the crash being delivered to a different IM contact after the Skype client is rebooted or logged in as a new user,” Skype said in a statement on its company blog. “Although we cannot determine precisely how many users may have been affected by this error, we believe the number is small given the very specific circumstances under which the error occurs.”

Skype also noted that not all versions were affected — users of Skype 5.9 for Windows, Skype 2.8 for Android and Skype 4.0 for IOS have not experienced any issues.

The company has also corrected an issue with File Sending on the desktop versions of Skype, which prevented users from saving files if they used a hard disk drive in FAT32 format.

BONUS: 10 Skype Chat Tricks for Power Users

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Manchester United Bans iPads From Home Games


A journalist takes photos with his iPad as FC Barcelona team players practice during a training session at Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.
Image: Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

Bad news, Manchester United fans: You can no longer bring your iPads to home games.

Citing security advice, Manchester United announced Monday that large electronic items, “including laptops and tablets” have been added to an existing list of prohibited items for games played at the teams’s Old Trafford stadium. Manchester United is one of the wealthiest and most valuable soccer clubs in the world.

The team says it took its cues from UK airports (which, like U.S. airports, ban uncharged devices from coming on board planes). The team says that the configuration of the stadium would make it impractical for users to demonstrate that a device is genuine by powering it up upon request.

The teams says that a “large electronic device” is designated as one that is 150mm x 100mm (5.9 x 3.9 inches) in size and specifically cites the iPad and iPad mini as being banned. By our calculations, the size constraints mean that any tablet 7 inches or larger won’t be allowed into the stadium. For Manchester U fans who really like phablets — even giant phablets like the Samsung Galaxy Mega — you should be safe.

Smartphones and cameras are still allowed in the stadium as long as they don’t exceed the specified dimensions.

The no-tablet ban seems to be limited to Old Trafford for now. Other stadiums set their own regulations and rules. Manchester United says that the venue’s size and profile make it a bigger risk than other venues.

This isn’t the first time tablets have been banned from stadiums. The New York Yankees, which won’t even let users in with a commuter bag, banned iPads back in 2010. The team acquiesced in 2012, allowing spectators the ability to use the world’s most impractical mobile camera unfettered.

For now, fans seem to be reacting to the ban positively. It makes sense. Trying to enjoy a game if the person in front of you has a huge tablet in front of her face might be annoying.

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How Google Fiber Stacks Up Against Verizon FiOS


As residents in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., have three more weeks to petition for Google Fiber’s service to come to their neighborhood, many are stacking it up against Verizon FiOS network and its existing packages.

But because Verizon FiOS is not likely to enter the same markets as Google Fiber — and if they do overlap, it won’t be anytime soon — it’s hard to label the services as direct competitors.

Google announced in July that it would be bring ultra-high Internet speeds first to residents in the Kansas City area and will likely grow to more regions in the future (an effort that will certainly take time to build), while Verizon isn’t looking to enter new states anytime soon.

Google Fiber’s offering is not only priced more competitively than FiOS, it also features impressive specs. It boasts speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, 162 TV channels including Showtime, a DVR that records up to eight channels at once, 500 hours of HDTV and a free Nexus 7 tablet that serves as a remote.

Meanwhile, FiOS — which launched its bundled Internet, telephone and TV service via a fiber network in 2005 — features speeds up to 300 Mbps, 380 channels including ESPN, NFL RedZone and Showtime, a DVR that records two channels at once and features 60 hours of HD for $318 a month.

Google Fiber offers several option packages, including Internet for $70 a month, and Internet along with television for $120. In addition, it is offering a slower 5 Mbps package for a seven-year period at no monthly cost. (Note: A $300 installation fee is required.)

But Google Fiber isn’t readily available just yet and it’s taking some work from potential customers to bring it to their community. In fact, those who want the service in the Kansas City area have to rally and petition for it to come to their community, which Google is calling “fiberhoods.” Each fiberhood needs a high majority of their residents to pre-register to get the service, and those communities with a high pre-registration percentage will be among the first to get Google Fiber.

Households in those communities can register for the service until September 9.

As for FiOS, if you are not one of the 12 states or Washington D.C. that currently runs over its fiber-optic communications network, you probably won’t ever get it, according to a Verizon spokesperson.

“Our FiOS network follows our traditional landline network, so we aren’t in every state or even some pockets of states where we have connectivity,” John Bonomo, director of media relations for Verizon, told Mashable. “I don’t anticipate building and growing that network into other states.”

This means that Verizon FiOS won’t be competing against Google Fiber in the Kansas City region because it doesn’t have plans to enter that market, Bonomo confirmed.

It’s also been widely reported that Verizon’s cable spectrum deal with Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House networks would restrict the carrier from growing its FiOS network.

However, Bonomo said Verizon does have plans to grow more within the communities in which it already has services: “We are nearing our objective to have FiOS capabilities pass through 18 million households,” he said. “As we continue out, our focus is building further out into those communities where we already have TV franchises and don’t have full accessibility.”

To find out if FiOS is available in an area, consumers can type their home address into Verizon’s site. For those with accessibility, orders can be made over the phone or online. Verizon is currently marketing to those communities with mailers, hosting local events at places such as strip malls, hiring door-to-door sales staffers and sending emails to expand its user base.

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iPhone Case Doubles as a Stun Gun


Looking to ward off attackers? Well, there’s no app for that, but there is this.

A couple of inventors in Baton Rouge, La., are offering limited-edition Yellow Jacket iPhone cases that double as stun guns.

The case will emit 650K volts, which is enough to take down an attacker. Not only that, but it will add 20 hours of battery life and come in three colors — black, white and pink. Prices start at $85 and there’s even a Family Pack of four for $380. However, you can only get those deals if you contribute at least $1 to Yellow Jacket’s Kickstarter-like funding program. The inventors — Seth Froom and Sean Simone — are trying to raise $100,000. So far, they’re about 5% of the way there. (And yes, an Android version is in the works.)

Before you rush to buy one, though, you might want to take note of your state’s laws regarding stun guns. The company provides a list of the states that prohibit the weapons when you order.

Another thing you might want to keep in mind is the possibility that the case may accidentally stun you while you’re making a call. The site offers some reassurance: “If used properly, the Yellow Jacket should not come in contact with any part of your body while on a phone call. Because stun guns have to essentially make contact with the skin in order to shock a human we designed the device to face up and away not down and in. The safety cover should also prevent unintentional shocks from occurring. There are always exceptions that we cannot account for. Please be mindful that this is not a traditional iPhone case!”

So, use with caution.

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