Black Friday Deal: $20 off Custom Cases

Regular readers may remember my recent roundup of custom cases available for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. (Say that 10 times fast).  As part of their blitz(en) of Black Friday deals, Zazzle will be slashing the prices of their custom iPhone and iPad cases by $20.  Prices start at $39.95, with iPad cases running $49.95, or $19.95 and $29.95 after the discount.  Considering these are quality cases by Speck, it’s an awesome deal.  The price reduction will take place starting at 10:01 AM PST and end at 12:01 PM PST.  Free shipping may no longer be an option, unless you spend $50 or more.  Upload your favorite family photos and make personalized Christmas presents, or perhaps a picture of yourself for a loved one for Valentine’s Day.  At $20, even if the relationship doesn’t last until February, it’s not too much of a committment!

Update: due to the popularity of this deal, it will be repeated tonight until 10 PM PST.

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Switch, a Multi-User Web Browser

For many people, the iPad is more of a communal device than a personal one. After a quick web browsing session, you may leave it on the coffee table for another member of your family to use, but when you come back to pick up where you left off, you may find all your tabs closed, accounts logged off, and bookmarks changed. For a multi-user gadget, Apple hasn’t really supplied the necessary multi-user safeguards.

Switch, a new web browser available in the App Store for $4.99, aims to remedy this by allowing users to create individual password-protected accounts, keeping the browsing habits for each user safe. Having to sign on and off every account you own each time you use your iPad is very tedious—but necessary, if you want to maintain security. Switch allows you to keep all your information safe with a single master password (just like user accounts on a desktop operating system). Your tabs, bookmarks, history and cookies are all isolated to your individual account, keeping them safe from prying eyes.

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AT&T Black Friday Sale: Refurbed iPhone 4 for $99

If you don’t mind purchacing a refurbished phone, then AT&T has a pretty sweet Black Friday deal for you: 16GB iPhone 4s for just $99 on a 2-year contract (A full 50 percent off the price of a brand new one—which is not too shabby). 32GB models will run you double that, (which is also a $50 discount from the regular refurbished price of $249.

For those who don’t care about the latest-and-greatest gadgets, iPhone 3GSs will be available for just $49.

AT&T iPhone Black Friday Deals & Sales
These are Black Friday only prices, so to get the discount you have to buy through AT&T on Friday, November 26:

    iPhone 4 32G Refurb – Sale: $199 (normally $249)
    iPhone 4 16G Refurb – Sale: $99 (normally $149)
    iPhone 3GS 8G Refurb – Sale: $49 (normally $79)

It is not clear if this will include brick and motar stores as well as online, but it would be wise to call your local AT&T store ahead of time to make sure, and get specific opening hours depending on your location.

[OS X Daily]

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iOS 4.3 Launching Next Month?

According to a source for MacStories, the next release of iOS, 4.3, will be released on December 13th. This is surprisingly close to the release of the current version, 4.2.1, which just went public this week. Of course, the current release had a few delays due to bugs, so Apple may have been thrown off schedule by quite a bit.

The update will supposedly include needed bug-fixes and code maintenance, along with support for News Corp’s tablet-only publication, “The Daily”.

News Corp. has spent the last three months assembling a newsroom that will soon be about 100 staffers strong. The Daily will launch in beta mode sometime around Christmas, and will be introduced to the public on the iPad and other tablet devices in early 2011. It is expected to cost 99 cents a week, or about $4.25 a month. It will come out — as the name suggests — seven days a week.

An update to iOS would be necessary due to a possible change to iTunes’ back-end, in order to support a new recurring subscription model, which could also affect App Store application. (Changes in code would need to be made to add the necessary API.)

Optimistically, Apple may also be using this release to introduce the long-awaited iTunes cloud music service, though there are no additional rumors of this happening at this point.

[MacStories]

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Facilitate the Exchange of Contact Info with the Business Card Reader App

At a recent business luncheon, I was handed no less than six business cards from representatives of the same company. In the past, I would have felt overwhelmed with the mundane task of adding their contact information to my bloated database. Fortunately, I had recently purchased the Business Card Reader app ($3.99 on iTunes), and all that data was directly imported, and with fair accuracy to boot.  I just placed a business card on the table, opened up the app and centered the card in the camera crosshairs.  The app “scanned” the card and saved the information in appropriate fields.  It may not be as effective with super-stylized cards, and I wouldn’t want to try it with the Woz’s stainless steel business card (oh, that I would ever get the chance), but so far this little app has been supremely useful.  It does help to have very good lighting and a steady hand.

The app is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad running iOS 3.1 or later.  It currently has a three star rating in iTunes.

For more apps like this, directed towards independent contractors, check out the “90 Awesome iOS Apps for Freelancers” from Appstorm.  The list includes apps for time tracking, invoice generating, expense tracking, databases, calendars, to-do lists and more.  Watch here for reviews of some of their recommendations.

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Design Your Own iDevice Case Graphic

Most people like to protect their iDevices with a case.  For some, it’s all about protection, while others prefer something that reflects their personalities.  Ideally, a case does both.  Several manufacturers allow customers to choose from a variety of pre-made designs from sports logos to works by renowned artists, as well as the ability to create their own designs by uploading images or pictures.  Here are some options for preventing scratches and dings with style:

Skinit – Offering minimal protection, skins are adhesive vinyl stickers that are cut to precisely fit on the back of your device.  The advantage Skinit presents is skins for nearly the full spectrum of iDevices including the Classic, Nano, all generations of iPod Touch, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad.  Prices for skins for the iPad are $29.99 with the option of an additional clear hard shell for $15.  Skins for the iPhones run $14.99.  Hard shells in black or white are $15.

Read on for additional vendors.

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iPad Now Available at NEX

The Navy Exchange has begun to stock the the iPad at retail outlets across the US, for a whopping $5 off—$10 if you’re interested in the 3G version. (Of course, the lack of sale tax at the Navy Exchanges really does make it a considerable money-saver, if your lucky enough to have one in your area.) As noted by 9 to 5 Mac, it’s unknown if NEX is an authorized reseller, or pulling the same antics as TJ Maxx, though a measly $5 off is nothing compared to $100.

The following locations will carry the iPad:

JEB Little Creek, Norfolk NS, Oceana NAS, Pearl Harbor NB, San Diego NS, Naval Base Guam Orote, Jacksonville NAS, Mayport NS, North Island NAS,  Pensacola NAS, Port Hueneme NCBC, Whidbey Island NAS, Yokosuka FA, Lemoore NAS, Great Lakes NS, Kitsap-Bangor NB, Everett NS, New London NSB, Sigonella NAS, Naples NSA, Bahrain NSA, Rota NS, Atsugi NAF, Sasebo FA and Charleston NWS

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The Quest for a Better Keyboard Continues for iPad and iPhone Users

Adding a real keyboard to the iPad is nothing new.  The same day Apple released the iPad, they offered other essentials including a keyboard dock.  However, numerous vendors have produced improved devices,  incorporating Bluetooth to free the dock for charging, and adding innovations. 

The ClamCase essentially turns your iPad into a netbook.  It encases the iPad and hinges it to a Bluetooth keyboard.  The hinge is versatile, providing the ability to twist the iPad 360 degrees.  Unfortunately, the item is in pre-production with price and availability only listed as “coming in Fall 2010.”

The ZAGGmate is a hard screen protector and stand sold with ($99) or without ($69) the Bluetooth keyboard.  It is distributed by – wait for it – ZAGG, the creators of the InvisibleSHIELDS.  One of the features that sets this keyboard apart from others is the ability to use the iPad in portrait or landscape mode.

Former BlackBerry owners, jonesing for tactile keyboards, also have alternatives.  ThinkGeek ($49.99) and more recently, Boxwave ($69.95), have released their iPhone cases complete with flip keyboards.  Supply is an issue with both retailers, as ThinkGeek’s cases are currently out of stock, and Boxwave expects to start shipping December 14th.  Sure.  Both items have cases to accomodate the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.

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TJ Maxx iPads not Authorized by Apple

Unsurprisingly, the $399 iPads over at TJ Maxx have not been authorized by Apple, according to Steve himself (who seems slightly perturbed by TJ Maxx’s shenanigans). It’s likely that the store is taking a considerable hit on each iPad they sell, but this publicity stunt probably helped out overall profits—a ‘loss leader‘ as they call it in the business.

This doesn’t effect the end user at all, so if you manage to find one, snag it. (And stick it to Apple!)

Looks like you’re going to have to buy your turtlenecks elsewhere, Mr. Jobs.

[9 to 5 Mac]

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Free MobileMe Coming Soon?

MacRumors has found additional evidence supporting the rumor that Apple will start offering MobileMe for free (or, at least a ‘lite’ version). Earlier this month, changes to iOS 4.2 hinted at the possibility that users would be able to create an Apple ID directly from their iDevice, or link it with their MobileMe account.

New evidence uncovered in recent iOS 4.2 builds and the iOS 4.2.1 golden master seed is suggesting, however, that Apple will be offering a free MobileMe tier to users. The evidence comes in the form of a new private framework known as AppleAccounts.framework that includes a series of device-specific error messages referring to free MobileMe accounts. In particular, the error messages include alerts regarding having reached “the maximum number of free accounts” for a given device and certain devices not being “qualified for free MobileMe service”.

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