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Future iPads could have PS Vita-style touch controls on the back

Your next iPad? Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Your next iPad? Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

As we use our iOS devices for more and more tasks in daily life, a big question facing Apple is exactly how to squeeze more functionality out of limited screen real estate. The iPhone 6 Plus and the rumored 12-inch iPad Pro offer the simplest answer to this conundrum: make the devices bigger.

But a new patent application published today offers another potential way around the problem, without compromising the gorgeous one-button simplicity of Apple’s mobile devices.

Filed in August 2014, the “Configurable Input Device” patent application describes how Apple may consider incorporating sensor regions for user input on the back of iPads, thereby opening up a whole new way of using your favorite apps.

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5 short films that will blow your mind during your daily subway ride

Ever wanted to see the world through Superman's eyes? Photo:

Ever wanted to see the world through Superman’s eyes? Photo: Corridor Digital

Okay, so we live in something of a great time for epic movie storytelling — where a combination of the home video market, multiplex theaters, and multi-part franchises mean that filmmakers are no longer pressured to squeeze giant stories into single 90-minute movies.

But while that’s all well and great in some ways, there are definitely occasions upon which we wish movies were a bit more manageable in length: the kind of thing you can comfortably watch over, say, a lunch break.

With that in mind, here are five superb short films you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t watch. They may be short on running-time, but you’ll be surprised at just how many insane stunts, great plot setups and, err, creepy Russian robots they can manage to whip out during 5 or 10 minutes.

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6 ways Microsoft copied Apple with Windows 10 (plus some truly new ideas)

windows10

Microsoft just unveiled the future of Windows 10 today in Redmond. Along with some crazy holographic goggles that take on Google Glass and Oculus, company executives revealed the ambitious plan to make the next generation of Windows the first truly universal platform for desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones and more.

The 2.5 hour keynote was packed with new features coming to Windows 10 devices and the Xbox, but eagle-eyed Apple fanboys have already noticed a few ways Microsoft was influenced by some of Apple’s best features.

Here are 5 plays Microsoft stole from Apple’s playbook:

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Microsoft has seen the future, and the future is holograms

With HoloLens, Microsoft enters the age of holographic computing. Photo: Microsoft

With HoloLens, Microsoft enters the age of holographic computing. Photo: Microsoft

Forget about spreadsheets and Word docs — Microsoft thinks the world is ready for holograms.

“We’re dreaming about holograms,” said Microsoft’s Alex Kipman as he introduced Windows Holographic and HoloLens, the company’s new wearable holographic computer. He showed off the device, which is strapped to the head and includes see-through lenses and an array of built-in sensors designed to bring high-def holograms into the real world.

It looks like much more than a dream.

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iPhone 6 is doing better than ever on Samsung’s home turf

Samsung vs. Apple is looking more and more like a horrible mismatch. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Samsung vs. Apple is looking more and more like a horrible mismatch. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Thanks to Apple’s continued success in Japan, and Tim Cook’s big push to expand into China, everyone forgets about one of the most revealing markets the iPhone 6 has scored big in: South Korea. Why is South Korea so revealing? Because it’s none other than the stomping ground of longtime Apple rival, Samsung.

According to a report published Wednesday by Counterpoint Research, Apple is now firmly challenging Samsung in its home ground — with market share in the country rising to 33 percent, from less than 15 percent, based on the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Samsung’s market share meanwhile plummeted from 60 percent to 46 percent.

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How Apple would have made Google Glass a success

Photo: Google

Could Apple have done any better? We think so. Photo: Google

Now that Google has pulled Glass off the market, for the time being at least, we’re left with a handful of questions that can’t be easily answered — even by a face-mounted computer.

Questions like, “What went wrong?” And, “What didn’t go wrong?” And, perhaps most enlightening of all, “How would Apple have gotten Glass right?”

While Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of worldwide marketing, was not a fan of Glass, we’re certain Cupertino could have found success with a head-mounted wearable. Here’s how.

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Shoebox inventor’s kit lets your kids build their own iPad gadgets

All you need to build your own iPad inventor's kit.

This is everything you need to build your own iPad inventor’s kit. Photo: Adam Kumpf

Steve Jobs famously didn’t let his kids use an iPad, because he wanted them to avoid getting sucked into a netherworld of endless screens, without real-world engagement. It’s a feeling even the most tech-loving of parents likely knows — and it’s the inspiration behind a new project from MIT graduate Adam Kumpf.

I wrote about Kumpf’s clothespin iPad piano a few months back, and I’m fascinated by his concept for what he calls an iPad inventor’s kit. Essentially it’s a shoebox of easy-to-find household objects that, when paired with the right app, can help kids invent futuristic iPad gadgets — while also teaching them about the fundamental concepts of mechanical systems, physics, basic electronics, interface design and engineering.

Best of all, you can put it together yourself free of charge, thanks to Instructables.

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iOS 8 adoption slows to a crawl after hitting 69%

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

iOS 8 adoption is nearing 70 percent — but it’s slowing down. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple is already testing iOS 9, but in the meantime iOS 8 adoption continues to grow — although it’s starting to slow down.

According to Apple’s latest stats, 69 percent of active iOS devices are now using the latest version of the company’s mobile OS; up just 1 percent from January 5, when Apple last shared iOS 8 adoption stats. By comparison, 28 percent of users are still working on iOS 7, with a minuscule 3 percent using assorted earlier iterations.

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Astounding GIF shows just how far the iPhone has come in 8 years

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The iPhone recently celebrated its eighth birthday, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a mesmerizing animated GIF — showing the evolution of Apple’s mobile handset from the revolutionary but (now) small and slightly bulky device Steve Jobs unveiled in 2007, to the landmark iPhone 6 which racked up more than 10 million sales in its first weekend alone?

If you’re a long-time iPhone fan, or a relatively new user, it’s an astounding glimpse at just how far we’ve come in just a handful of iPhone iterations. To paraphrase The Simpsons, it’s hypnotic… almost like watching a lava lamp.

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How Apple is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Apple pays homage to one of history's greatest Civil Rights activists. Photo: Apple

Apple pays homage to one of history’s greatest civil rights activists. Photo: Apple

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and to mark the occasion Apple has changed the image on its homepage to one commemorating the beloved civil rights activist and pastor.

The black-and-white image is accompanied by a line reading, “Today we reflect on the life and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the work that continues in service of the broader concerns of humanity.”

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