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Google Voice Search Works Better For American Accents

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When you switch on Voice Search in Google’s Mobile App for iPhone, you see a little bit of warning text underneath which reads:

“Voice Search only works in English, and works best for North American English accents.”

Tish and piffle, I thought to myself when I read that. I’m sure it’ll understand my humdrum Estuary English accent perfectly well.

But you know what? The warning was put there for a reason. Because so far, every search I’ve done has failed when I use my normal voice, and worked when I put on my appalling attempt at an American accent.

So thank you Google for giving us voice search, which is officially the New Best Thing Ever (better than the last Best Thing Ever, at any rate). But curse you, Google, for making me sound like a complete idiot every time I want to do a voice search for something in public.

Life Photo Archive Pictures Steve Jobs Through The Years

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There’s loads of wonderful stuff in the Google LIFE photo archive, and Gruber’s warning is apt indeed: it’s a time-sink.

Needless to say, Apple has a presence within that archive.

How many times has Steve appeared on the cover of Time? Five, it seems: once in the early days, a second time in a candid shot, the third time with the first gen iMac, next reflected in the screen of a G4 iMac, and finally as the man who knows what’s next.

What’s The Best iPhone Twitter Client?

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The Fail Whale enjoying a well-earned break, yesterday.

Today’s big question: what is the best Twitter client for iPhone? I asked everyone in my house, but neither of them had an opinion. So I asked Twitter instead.

At the time of writing, there’s a lot of praise for Tweetsville and Tweetie (not actually publicly available yet, it seems) and Twittelator.

My favorite right now is Twitterfon. I only discovered it a few days ago, while discussing iPhone software over a pint in the pub, but it as soon as I’d got it installed, it replaced Twitterific as my daily quick-must-check-my-Tweets-else-I’ll-probably-die app. (Did someone say something about time and attention? No? Good.)

Why do I like Twitterfon? Mainly because it’s fast, also because it looks like an iPhone app. Twitterific was too pokey, too cramped, too dark, for my liking.

Annnnnyway. What’s your fave iPhone Twitter tweet-o-tron, oh lovely Cult reader? Hmmm?

SuperMate Spices Up TextMate

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Now, personally speaking, I find this very weird indeed. But some people might like the idea, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

You’re probably already aware of TextMate, which like most text editors eschews a lot of the user interface stuff you see in other apps. There’s a window, with text in it, and there are many many commands you can use, but there’s not much to see: there’s no toolbar.

SuperMate doesn’t add a toolbar, it’s more like adding a skin. It tinkers with TextMate’s panels and tabs and a few other things like the web preview window, and just Leopardizes them a little.

Personally, I think TextMate’s just fine as it is. But if you’d like to see it a bit more, um, purple, maybe this will be of interest.

Barclays Cuts Apple Price Target Again Amid Bleak Handset Outlook

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For the second time this month, Barclays Capital’s Ben Reitzes reduced his target price for Apple shares. Citing lower handset expectation and increased pressure on higher priced products, Reitzes

Cishore/Flickr
Photo: Cishore/Flickr
cut his target price for Apple to $113, down from $121.

On Nov. 7, Reitzes trimmed his target price for Cupertino shares to $121 from $125.

The Barclays analyst told investors he expects a two percent drop in first quarter 2009 earnings to $9.4 billion, down from $9.6 billion. Apple may earn $34.4 billion for 2009, a drop from $35.7 billion previously expected. In fiscal 2010, Apple earnings could rise 18 percent to $40.55 billion, a drop from $42.8 billion early estimated.

Slork Plays MacBook Music

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This is the sound of slork, the Stanford Laptop Orchestra.

All instrumentalists are equipped with a black MacBook and a hemispherical speaker pod made out of Ikea tableware.

The brain behind the orchestra is Ge Wang, and if his name sounds familiar that’s because you might have seen it mentioned recently in connection with the superb app Ocarina.

Recently highlighted at apple.com, slork makes use of custom software written by Ge Wang:

“I wanted to focus on the intersection of music and computer science. So I authored a language with my advisor, Perry Cook, and researchers at Princeton and beyond. We called it ChucK. It’s a programming language completely tailored for sound. It let us quickly synthesize sound and use various controllers in our performances.”

Chunghwa Telecom Claims To Have Inked Taiwan iPhone Deal

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The battle to bring the iPhone to Taiwan became a bit more crowded as that Asian nation’s top carrier announced it will start selling iPhone service “before the end of the year.”

December is the tentative launch date for exclusive sales deal, Digitimes reported Monday.

In a brief statement released over the weekend, Chunghwa Telecom said it “has signed a contract with Apple, and it will provide third-generation iPhone services in Taiwan before the end of the year,” according to the Dow Jones News service.

Apple Should Offer iTunes Subscriptions – For Video Only

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I took quite ill on Thursday, and literally didn’t leave the house at any point between Friday and Sunday mornings. And, like a lot of bed-ridden people, I was in far too much pain to actually think about reading, writing, or, well, thinking. Instead, I got caught up on all of the junky entertainment I never find time for otherwise. Comic I hadn’t yet read. DVR’d episodes of Top Design. And virtually all of the content on Netflix Watch Instantly.

Now, for those of you who still haven’t had the chance to try out streaming Netflix, I will say that it works incredibly well. Movies start quickly, the new interface allows you to scrub through looking for your exact place, it resumes play if you accidentally quit. (I had a few films with skewed soundtracks, but it was a rare occurrence). What’s astounding, however, is just how tiny the Netflix streaming library is compared to Hulu, iTunes, or, you know, Netflix DVD service. After a few days in bed, I’d watched literally everything that I had any interest in seeing that the streaming service had. I mean, there are only two seasons of 30 Rock.

And that’s when it hit me: everyone who’s called for Apple to start a monthly subscription model for iTunes has been almost right. There’s tons of money to be made there. But the opportunity isn’t from making its full music library available for $15 a month. It’s in charging $20-30 a month for unlimited TV show access.

Think about it: Apple has the largest library of digital downloadable video on the planet right now. Sales haven’t been as good as hoped. Apple has begun to rent movies, which means it has the DRM to prevent people from keeping a permanent copy of a rented clip on their hard drive. And yet TV shows are still available only for $1.99 each. While that’s a pretty good price, it’s not one that I’ve paid since Apple first made TV available through iTunes (I briefly had 10-pack passes for The Daily Show and Colbert way back). But I would gladly ditch my Netflix subscription and pony up the same $20 a month for unlimited rentals of the TV shows on iTunes, even without movies. That’s $240 gross from me that Apple and the TV studios wouldn’t see otherwise.

Now, if it were anyone but Apple, I would say that kind of price is too high to pay. But this wouldn’t be a streaming competitor to Hulu — it would be for files that could work on any iPod or iPhone. That’s a compelling proposition right there. It would further cement Apple’s vertical integration as the premiere agent for digital entertainment on earth. It would make an AppleTV as essential as a TiVo. It could even begin to make the cable companies nervous if Apple’s selection continues to improve (live sports being an obvious exception).

I think it’s a slam dunk. Does it make sense to you?

Opinion: Kids Make Perfect Low End Mac Users

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Dave at Newton Poetry makes a good point in his post One Used Mac Per Child about the culture of throw-it-away that pervades our society. We throw away so many old computers and monitors – still functional, most of them, but no longer fashionable – that we end up “poisoning another country and its people.”

What happened to the “make do and mend” attitude? It got swept away by cheap deals in malls, deals that made making do seem dumb.

Will Apple Turn To ‘Aggressive’ Black Friday Discounts?

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With consumer buying in the tank and computer makers reportedly readying $299 holiday PCs, can Apple afford to repeat its usual $100 discounts on Macs? One analyst thinks its time for Steve Jobs to get ‘aggressive’ during the all-important ‘Black Friday’ after-Thanksgiving sales.

Barclay Capital’s Ben Reitzes told investors Wednesday Apple should offer discounts on iPhones and iPods, as well as Macs.

“We would like to see Apple get more price aggressive in every product, including the iPhone, given obvious weakness in the economy,” he wrote in a note to investors.