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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Our new favorite game app: addictive Bad Piggies

badpiggies.jpgYes, pigs do fly. If you're tired of Angry Birds, it's time to change your perspective and try out Rovio Entertainment's new offering.

Bad Piggies is from those menacing egg-stealing pigs' point of view. And it's delightfully addictive.

Here's the premise:

The Piggies finally got a map to the eggs that are all over Piggy Island. Now they have to collect them all, but to get to them, they have to build contraptions that will carry them to the eggs. They'll use umbrellas, bottle rockets, balloons, engines, wheels, wings to add to their wooden crates to create a flying machine which will hopefully carry them to their goals. Think of it as piggy flugtag. 


It's great for honing problem-solving skills, mixed with a bit on engineering. There are 60 levels plus 30 more if you get three stars on all levels.  

Android: Free for regular and HD versions

iOS: 99 cents, and $2.99 for HD version

Mac App: $4.99



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Google Play celebrates 25 billion app downloads with 25 cent sale

google-play-logo.jpgGoogle Play hit a milestone this week, officially reaching the 25 billion app download mark. To celebrate, Google has some top Android apps on sale for 25 cents. Titles are changing out frequently. At the time of this post, the list included Angry Birds Space Premium (no ads!), Sudoku, Granny Smith, OfficeSuite Pro 6 + (PDF & HD), and a few more.

In additon to apps, the market also put together some collections, including "25 movies you must own," "25 banned books," "25 albums that changed the world" and "25 top selling magazines."

Image: Google

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Google in no hurry to supply Maps app for iOS 6

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt says the company is in no hurry to create a version of its Maps application to be compatible with Apple's new iOS 6 and iPhone 5. Apple decided to go with its own version of a mapping service, removing the popular Google Maps app with the new operating system. But users and reviewers have found multiple flaws in the app, including wrong directions, bad labels, wrong geographical locations, and others.

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10 reasons why Apple is overpriced

goldapple.jpgApple products has long been criticized for being too expensive: Macs, Powerbooks, iPods, iPads, they usually are priced higher than some other manufacturers. Now with the iPhone 5 release, here are 10 more reasons from why Apple is overpriced (not to mention the $700 a share for stocks.) Key word here: accessories. 

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Do you really need that iPhone 5?

Apple sold 5 million iPhone 5 in a weekend, more than in the 4S launch, but a million less than market analysts expected. Now that most outlets are sold out, for now, it's time to slow down, take a break from all the hype, and ask: Do you really need the latest -- and some call greatest -- smartphone on the market today?

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Roundup: Google-Apple feud, phone makeover, gadgets for your house, more


Tech feud: Google-Apple rivalry results in disappearing apps.  New York Times

Give your old phone a makeover: Are you stuck with an old phone while your friends are showing off their new ones? Don't despair. Here are a few tips on making your phone feel like new.   Lifehacker

Big enough for a "-gate"? Analysts say Apple's ordeal without its mapping app is a debacle right up there with 2010's "Antennagate."  Computerworld 

iPhone sales: Apple on Monday announced that it sold 5 million iPhone 5s over the weekend, surpassing the numbers from the opening weekend sale for the iPhone 4S a year ago.   USA Today

Fixes for when phone's buttons stopped working: If you phone's physical buttons and controls break, there are ways to get around the problem.  Lifehacker

Gadgets for your house: Bring your home into the 21st century with these high-tech gadgets.


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One of the first in the Tampa Bay area


Tampa resident Ben Rives is first in line at the North Dale Mabry Verizon Wireless store, where Verizon's Rosanna Bria and John Flores served fresh apples to customers awaiting the new iPhone 5.

Photo: Verizon Wireless

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Launch draws Apple fans worldwide. Did you get an iPhone 5?

Apple fans jammed shops from Sydney to Paris to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone. Eager buyers formed long lines Friday at Apple stores in Asia, Europe and North America to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone.

Did you get in line to get your hands on one? Yes? Then you'll have to set it up the proper way. Here are some tips from Gizmodo. First tip: don't plug it in yet. 

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Apple Maps app lands with a bang... then a fizzle

applemaps.jpgApple Maps launched Wednesday along with the iOS 6 update. It looked pretty decent in launch demos, but now that it's actually out, what's the verdict?

Here are some initial impressions:

Side-by-side comparison of Apple Maps and Google Maps   Gizmodo

3D maps are full of deviations.   Gizmodo

Missing cities and other mistakes   CNet

So, just how bad is it?  Mashable

My two cents: One, it's probably better with an iPhone 5 (mine is on an iPhone 4 with no LTE), but it's slower than Google Maps. Two, Steve Jobs is probably rolling in his grave at the sight of these fonts. Some of the ugliest I've seen.

Meanwhile, Google updated its Android Maps app, and, according to CNet, it's even more amazing. Rub it in, why don't ya! 

If you're wishing you had Google Maps back, there's still a way. Check out CNet's solution. 

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Review: Sony Xperia Ion shows off multimedia strengths


Sony recently announced that it's expanding the Xperia line with its new flagship smartphone, the Xperia T, along with a waterproof Xperia V and a budget Xperia J. But until they become available in the United States, Xperia Ion sits at the top of the lineup. Ion is the first 4G LTE phone for Sony. Fast download capability is important here, since this smartphone emphasizes multimedia entertainment: photos, videos, music and games. 

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HTC's new WP8 phones are brilliant, inside and out


HTC announced its two new offerings with Windows Phone 8X and Windows Phone 8s, and boy, are they beautiful. Clad in polycarbonate with vibrant colors of purple, neon green or bright red -- oh, and black -- these unibody phones have a matte finish with soft and tapered edges. 

The WP 8X is the primo phone with a 4.3-inch Super LCD 2 1280x720 display. It's LTE ready, and comes with an 8 megapixel rear wide-angle camera (with a camera button) and a 2 megapixel front camera. The audio is clear with the Beats Audio technology. This phone has 16 GB of memory, but no expansion slot. 

htcwp8s.jpgThe WP 8S is the budget version with a lower-resolution 4-inch screen, 5 megapixel rear camera but no front camera or LTE. It comes with 4GB of memory, but has an expansion slot. The exterior of the phone has the "color dipped" two-toned look. 

CNet has a first hands-on look of the WP 8X.   

No prices have been announced yet, but the launch is expected to be in November. The phones will be available at T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon.

It's primary competitor will be the recently-announced Nokia Lumia 920, another Windows phone.



Photos from HTC


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Hooked on Skylanders? There's more on the way

Skylanders by Activision, which debuted in October 2011, has become a huge seller this year with more than $200 million in sales. Available on multiple platforms -- PS3, Wii, XBox, DS3, and PC -- the clever game uses a plastic USB-connected "portal of power" that reads RFID tags in Skylanders action figures which appear in the game. There are 32 characters (plus some special edition versions) are available now, and more are coming in October with the release of Skylanders Giants. 

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The new iOS6 is out today. Is it worth the upgrade?

ios6.jpgApple's iOS 6 is scheduled to be released today, and is available to upgrade your iPhone (GS3 and newer), iPad (2 and newer) and iPod Touch (fourth gen). But should you? The free upgrade includes:

Maps: Google maps is no more. With the new iOS, Apple has its own Maps app, which includes turn-by-turn spoken navigation, interactive 3D views, traffic, local searches, and flyover view for major cities. 

Phone: New phone features include the "Do Not Disturb" mode and an option to reply by text. 

Camera: Now you can shoot a panorama photo when you're on vacation. The camera will splice together shots you take and combine them into one image. 

Siri: Siri also is improved and works in more countries. It can also tell you the latest scores and stats of sports teams and players, movie reviews and showtimes, find the best restaurants and make reservations. It can also post Facebook updates and tweet. 

Facebook: And speaking of Facebook, that's more integrated, so you don't have to leave your current app to post statuses. 

Passbook: This is a virtual wallet that store information including coupons, loyalty cars, boarding passes and movie tickets.  …

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Stealing Apple's thunder? Samsung plans Galaxy S4 debut in February

Samsung is determined not to let Apple dominate the headlines. Korea Times broke a story Sunday that Samsung is already talking about the next Galaxy smartphone to succeed the very popular and successful Galaxy S3. Scheduled announcement is February 2013 at a European tech exhibition.

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Update: Wrapsol screen protector available for iPhone 5

apple_iphone_5_ultra_xtreme.jpgWe recently reviewed the Wrapsol, a transparent high-strength polyurethane film you can use to protect your mobile devices from scratches and drops. Wrapsol is on top of the new introduction of Apple's iPhone5, and now has the Ultra Xtreme, which is now available for preorder on their website. $14.95 for screen only, or $29.95 for front and back coverage. 

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