Friday, January 28, 2011

Winners of Due app promo code giveaway

Congrats to the following people for winning promo codes to Due, the reminder app by Lin Junjie:

- Vincent Yee
- Oliver John Lim
- Roy Ong
- Alfred pbody
- Clement Tan

You should have already received your email with the promo code.

If you tried but didn't win, don't give up. Keep checking the website, the iMerlion app or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get the latest updates.

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Round-up: iTunes updated; The Daily launching Feb 2; iPads will be sold in India

- Apple updates iTunes to 10.1.2 to provide "stability and performance improvements" and support for the CDMA iPhone 4. (Mac Rumors)

- News Corp is launching The Daily on Feb 2 in New York. News Corp chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch will be there, as will Eddy Cue, Apple's VP of Internet Services. The Daily is an iPad-only newspaper that people can subscribe to. (The Loop)

- Apple now worth 12 times Dell's market value. (MacDailyNews)

- Apple will start selling the iPad in India from Friday, partnering with BSNL for 3G. (IDG News Service)

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Due app updated; Due promo codes to give away

Developer Lin Junjie has updated Due, his well-reviewed reminder app with a bunch of nice enhancements. It now does over-the-air syncing via Dropbox, has undo support, and the ability to backup, restore and email the reminders database, among other things.

With the OTA syncing, people with both iPhones and iPads can sync their reminders so that both devices share the same alerts. Junjie promises that the next update will make Due a universal app for the iPhone and iPad. That update will be free for existing users.

If you haven't gotten Due yet, it costs just US$2.99 in the App Store. You can buy it here.

However, if you are feeling lucky, we are giving away five promo codes for this app. The first five people to email editor at imerlion dot com gets the promo code.

Good luck and start typing!

Update: And just like that, all the promo codes have been snapped up. Congrats to the five lucky iMerlion readers. Winners will be notified by email!

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You must download/update WeatherLah app

Let's face it, we don't update our apps regularly because we have too many apps. Currently, I have 99 apps that I haven't bothered to update and probably never will.

However, the latest update to WeatherLah is one update you don't want to miss.

WeatherLah has a bunch of new features but one in particular stands out - cloudcasting, ie, a crowd sourced weather report.

The previous version of this app gave the forecast as predicted by the National Environment Agency. Note however that this is only a prediction.

The new version of this app does one better, it tells you whether a particular region is actually experiencing rain.

How do they do this? By relying on users to report the weather where they are. Users essentially vote to say if it is raining or not. By harnessing the reports from multiple people, you can get a real-time weather report.

As a result, this app now doesn't just give a weather forecast, it delivers a real-time weather report too, very useful for knowing what the actual weather is like at different parts of Singapore.

Apart from cloudcasting, the app also has improved its interface subtly and introduced a croaking frog to announce that it's raining where you are (the frog is hidden though so you might have trouble finding it).

Amazingly, the developers of this app have done something I didn't think was possible: they took a great app and made it even better.

Everyone who has WeatherLah needs to upgrade their app. The more people who use this app, the more useful it will be to everyone. And if you haven't already downloaded this app, what are you waiting for?

WeatherLah is free. You can download it here.

Round-up: NFC coming to iPhones and retailers?; Pegatron cancels holidays to meet Apple schedule; Office 2011 for Mac free on 30-day trial

- According to a Bloomberg story, Apple is planning to add Near Field Communication to iPhones and iPads this year. They are also planning to introduce a service for retailers that would allow them to accept payment via NFC. The source of the story is Richard Doherty, a director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group. (Bloomberg)

- Pegatron, a manufacturer of iPhones for Apple is cancelling holidays (presumably Chinese New Year) and tripling salaries to meet schedules, according to DigiTimes (via AppleInsider).

- White iPhones are now possible thanks to a new painting process, according to Japanese blog Macotara (via Mac Rumors)

- You can now get Office for Mac 2011 for free on a 30-day trial. (Microsoft)

- Pixelmator grossed US$1 million in 20 days from the Mac App Store. (Pixelmator)

- Apple is now approving iOS 4.3-compatible AirPlay apps. (Mac Rumors)

- Apple seeds new 10.6.7 build to developers. (Mac Rumors)

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Round-up: iPad 3 rumours?; App Store tweets; Apple hires IT security head; more about white iPhone 4

- Doubled resolution only coming in iPad 3? (Mac Rumors)

- Apple's App Store has just started a Twitter account that promises to highlight new apps and exclusive offers. Over 48,000 followers and counting.

- Apple hires David Rice as its IT security head to beef up its cred with CIOs. (All Things Digital)

- More evidence that the white iPhone is on its way. UK carriers Three and Orange are now listing it on their websites. (Cult of Mac)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

My NTUC helps you find merchants and accumulate Link Points

If you like accumulating NTUC's Link Points, then the app My NTUC is for you.

This app allows you to look up merchants who offer Link Points nearby, find special promotions and take part in polls.

Click on any merchant and the app will tell you how much you need to spend or what you need to do to earn Link Points.

It also has an Augmented Reality feature. Turn the app sideways and it will activate the camera and overlay  information over the view so you can see which direction to head to for specific merchants.

My NTUC is free. You can download it here.

(Thanks to Victor again for the tip-off!)

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Makansutra finally gets iPhone app

Makansutra, the Michelin guide to local hawker food, has finally decided to produce an iPhone app.

The app, also named Makansutra, enables you to find well-reviewed hawker food around Singapore. You can search alphabetically by name of dish, by restaurant, or you can scroll through the photos.

Using its search engine, you can also search by region, type of food, rating or all the above.

The app also seems to be aimed at tourists as it incorporates walking tours of Singapore and suggestions for places to visit and things to do.

Makansutra is free. You can download it here.

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SPH AsiaOne app needs much more work

Hot on the heels of RSS reader NewsApp Singapore is SPH AsiaOne, an RSS reader for the news stories that can be found on the AsiaOne website.

However, unlike NewsApp Singapore, SPH AsiaOne by Lotus Partners is eminently missable. It sports a hard-to-use interface, an incomplete database and a colour scheme that actually hurts your eyes.

Give this one a miss. If you don't believe me, you can download it here. The app is free.

(Thanks to Victor for the heads-up!)

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Round-up: Apple screwing around?; 10.6.7 beta out; Giffords using iPad; Apple invested in LCDs?

- Apple is screwing you over by using a special screw on the MacBooks and iPhones. They are Pentalobe security screws, rather than the normal Torx screws or its variants. (iFixit)

- Apple has released a beta of 10.6.7 to developers. (AppleInsider)

- US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head on Jan 8, is making progress. According to doctors, she can now stand with assistance and is using an iPad. (Reuters)

- Did Apple invest US$3.9 billion in getting LCD displays? That's what Mac Rumors thinks. (Mac Rumors)

- A Chinese environmental group has criticised Apple for poor environmental and work safety standards. (Macworld)

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

High cost of COEs getting you down? Teck Wei app helps you find secondhand cars

If you're in the market for a secondhand car, check out the iPhone app Teck Wei.

This app will allow to see the cars that Teck Wei Credit has on sale.

The interface is basic but serviceable. Interestingly, you can't get this information from Teck Wei's own website so the iPhone app is the only way to find out what's available.

Teck Wei is free. You can download it here.

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Round-up: 2nd beta of iOS 4.3 released; Playboy's iPad app will be SFW; Starbucks enables payment via iPhone

 - Apple has released a second beta for iOS 4.3. Documentation accompanying this beta notes that the four and five finger gestures for the iPad first seen in the original beta release of 4.3 will not be included in the final version. (9to5Mac)

- The beta also mentions a MobileMe-based photo sharing feature called Photo Stream, as well as FaceTime and PhotoBooth for iPad. (AppleInsider)

- A story about an uncensored Playboy for the iPad being available soon got many people, well, excited. Unfortunately, it seems like the excitement was a little premature. The Playboy app does not signal a more liberal Apple. Instead, uncensored access to Playboy and its archives will be available via Mobile Safari for subscribers to the magazine. (Macworld)

- Good news for caffeine addicts. Starbucks in the US will now allow people to pay for their lattes through an app. The app has a barcode that can be read at the point of sale. Let's hope this comes to Singapore soon. (Macworld)

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

ChooseEZ lets you track your ez-link card transactions

You can now check the balance on your ez-link card with the company's new ChooseEZ iPhone app. This app allows you to see your transactions for the past three days, excluding the day you're using the app to make the query.

You can thus use this app to get a good sense of your balance your ez-link card. You can also record up to three cards in the app, so you can see if your kids are using their ez-link cards for stuff other than taking the bus or train.

ChooseEZ is free. You can download it here.

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Round-up: Apple's blowout quarter; Tim Cook on Android; More on iPad 2 resolution; the white iPhone resurfaces

- Another record quarter for Apple. Sales were US$26.74 billion (up 71 percent), net profit was $6 billion (up 75 percent). Apple sold 7.33 million iPads, 16.24 million iPhones (up 86 percent) and 4.13 million Macs (23 percent).  (Macworld)

- During the earnings call, Tim Cook talked about Android tablets, and discussed Apple's performance in different markets. For example, sales from the greater China region (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) grew four times to US$2.6 billion. (Macworld)

- iPad 2 will have the same resolution as the old iPad says Daring Fireball's John Gruber. Interesting analysis by one of the best sourced bloggers on Apple. (Daring Fireball)

- If you've been waiting for the white whale iPhone 4, your wait may be over soon. US retail chain Best Buy's inventory database puts Feb 27 as the day the 16GB and 32GB white iPhone 4s will be in stock. (Macrumors)

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Newsapp Singapore is a fast RSS reader for Singapore newspapers

Newapp Singapore usefully combines Singapore's main newspapers in one application. The app is an RSS reader that combines the feeds for Zaobao, Channelnews Asia, Today, the Straits Times and the Business Times.

It presents news in tiles that you swipe leftwards in order to see more headlines. Tap on the headline and you will see the first two paragraphs with a Read More link that brings you to the original story.

When you're in a story, you can also swipe to see the next story, which is a nice touch.

The app will also allow you to share interesting stories via Twitter, Facebook and email.

What's nice about this app is its speed; going from story to story is very fast. However, be warned that the news can be hard to read because it uses white text on black.

The app is currently free. You can download it here.

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Round-up: NYT on Jobs; iPad 2 case clues; Nokia's Comes with Music going away

- According to the New York Times, Steve Jobs is on medical leave because he suffers from "immune system problems common in people who have received liver transplants." Because of this, his health suffers from "frequent 'ups and downs'". (New York Times)

- Comes with Music goes away as Nokia pulls the plug on its music service in most markets. (AppleInsider)

- iPad 2 case has slots for what might be SD card and Mini DisplayPort ports. (AppleInsider)

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Round-up: iPad 2 and iPhone 5 rumours abound

Tis the season for iPad 2 and iPhone 5 rumours!

- According to Engadget, iPad 2 will have a "new screen technology that is akin to (though not the same as) the iPhone 4's Retina Display and will be 'super high resolution screen'." It will have front and rear cameras and an SD slot. It will also use a dual GSM/CDMA chip set by Qualcomm. (Engadget)

- Again according to Engadget, the iPhone 5 is a "total rethink from a design standpoint" and will run Apple's A5 CPU, a Cortex A9-based multi-core chip. The new phone will also use a Qualcomm chipset that will handle CDMA, GSM and UMTS. (Engadget)

- Somewhat sketchy evidence in the iOS 4.3 beta suggests that the iPad 2 will have double the resolution of the current iPad. This would put the resolution at 260 DPI, less than the iPhone 4's 300 DPI. By doubling the resolution to 2048 by 1536, it would make it easier for developers to support because older apps could simply be pixel-doubled. (Mac Rumors)

- Based on the increasing evidence of a higher resolution, it makes sense that Apple will upgrade its chip to handle the additional load. AppleInsider cites a source saying that both the iPad 2 and the iPhone 5 will sport an enhanced version of the custom A4 chip that will move from the SGX535 (used in the 3GS and iPhone 4) to the SGX543 graphics and video core. Another source says Apple is going to go multi-core as well, for graphics and general computing. AppleInsider)

- The iPad 2 might also have a vibrating motor. (Mac Rumors)

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Where to find the best deals at Apple's Chinese New Year sale

Let's face it, Apple's one-day, online Chinese New Year sale is a little 'meh'. However, there are some bargains if you look hard enough.

For the best deals on computer items, check out the iPods and iPads.

Apple is offering $60 off the iPod touch, which translates into an 18.3 percent discount over the listed price for the cheapest iPod touch in the store. The next biggest discount is on the iPod nano where $30 translates into a 13 percent discount. The iPad has been discounted $61 which is an 8.4 percent on the cheapest model.

The smallest discounts are on the Macs. Today's sale offers a savings of $140 on iMacs, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. So the best deal on Macs are the entry level iMacs or MacBook Pros, where you can  save 7.8 percent on the original price.

In terms of Apple-branded accessories, zoom in on the iPad keyboard dock (15.3 percent discount), the iPad camera connection kit (14.6 percent discount) and the iPad dock (also 14.6 percent discount).

There are a whole bunch of other stuff on sale so check it out  here.


For non-Apple branded items, a lot of stuff is being sold at a 20 percent discount. If you buy software, Microsoft Office and Parallels Desktop 6 are both being offered at 20 percent off.

The biggest hardware discount we've seen is on the HP Photosmart Plus e-All-in-one, which is enjoying a massive 26 percent discount, though if you buy this printer with a Mac on a normal (ie, non-sales) day, you get a mail-in rebate of $200, which amounts to the same thing.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hotspot in iOS 4.3 beta can be used in Singapore

The hotspot functionality in the latest beta version of iOS is already usable in Singapore.

A local developer has reported being able to connect his iPad to his iPhone 4 running iOS4.3 beta. He described it as being very fast. Given that the beta software has just been released by Apple, he has yet to test the impact of using the hotspot on his phone's battery life.

This developer also reported that iBooks is broken when it comes to PDFs. The colours on a third of his PDFs are off, he said.

We'll report any other findings as they come in.

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Round-up: New iOS beta released; Apple gains US marketshare

- Apple releases iOS4.3 beta with personal hotspots, ability to change iPad's mute button to orientation lock and new multitouch gestures. (AppleInsider)

- Apple takes either 9.7 percent or 8.7 percent of US PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2010, depending on whether you take Gartner's or IDC's numbers. According to Gartner, Apple grew 23.7 percent compared to Q3. IDC puts Apple's growth at 15.2 percent. (AppleInsider)

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Round-up: Verizon gets iPhone; Apple offering CNY sale in SG, HK; iPhone 4 to get WiFi hotspot capability?; Google dropping H264

Apple is teasing customers in Singapore with a special Chinese New Year, one-day only sale at the online Apple Store on Jan 14. According to the promo copy, "You'll find dozens of iPad, iPod and Mac gifts for everyone on your list. The event is also happening in Hong Kong and Malaysia. (Apple)

- The iPhone 4 will be available on Verizon in the US on Feb 10. Yippee. Apart from being a CDMA phone, the other major difference is that Verizon will allow the phone to be used as a WiFi hotspot. This is something you can't do with the GSM flavour of iPhones unless you jailbreak them.

- Will the GSM version of the iPhone 4 allow it to be used as a WiFi hotspot in the near future (without jailbreaking)? That's the rumour that's going around. (AppleInsider)

- Google has announced that it will drop support for H264 in Chrome and support WebM and Theora instead. (Google)

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Monday, January 10, 2011

2359 Media scores funding from SingTel Innov8

Local development house 2359 Media has secured approximately S$800,000 in Series A funding from SingTel Innov8.

The funding will help 2359 to continue working on MobDis, its mobile advertisement creation platform, and to expand its distribution into the US market, said a statement from Innov8.

"We are excited that an industry leader has recognised the growing importance of the mobile advertisement space and the value that MobDis brings in terms of creating richer mobile advertisements in a shorter time frame," said company co-founder Zhou Wenhan.

2359 Media, which was founded in 2009, is responsible for a number of iPhone apps including SG Malls and iHealth SG. It is also responsible for the iMerlion app.

This is Innov8's first investment since it was launched in September last year.

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iPhone 4 unavailable in SG and HK online Apple Store

If you want to buy an iPhone 4 from Apple in Singapore or Hong Kong, you're out of luck. The iPhone 4 is currently not available for sale in the Singapore and Hong Kong online Apple Store.

If you go to either the Singapore or Hong Kong site, you will see that below "Estimated ship", it says "Currently unavailable." The option to select it is also absent. However, in both stores, you can still buy the  3GS straight from Apple. In contrast to Singapore and Hong Kong, the iPhone 4 is still available in the US online Apple Store.

We have heard from a reliable source that this is temporary. If you are interested in buying an iPhone 4 from Apple directly, keep checking your respective online store; it should be available again. Our source was unable to say when stocks would become available again though. If you are in a hurry, the iPhone is available from carriers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Carriers in both Hong Kong and Singapore are selling the iPhone 4, but buying them will involve signing up for a dataplan. If you do not wish to be handcuffed to your carrier, you'll have to wait for Apple to start stocking them again.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Round-up: Mac App Store launches; Skype acquires Qik

- The Mac App Store is now available. You will need to update to 10.6.6 to access the store. If you don't have Snow Leopard, AppleInsider has posted a first look at the store. (AppleInsider)

- Macworld has an excellent FAQ on the Mac App Store. (Macworld)

- TUAW has an analysis of the UK Mac App Store looking at prices and what the early applications are. (TUAW)

- Skype acquires Qik. (Macworld)

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

CPF Tools app upgraded. Now actually useful.

Who says that the government doesn't listen? After the app CPF Tools was panned for being nothing more than a calculator, the CPF Board went back to the drawing board. They have just came back with version 2.1 and it is a vast improvement (not difficult).

This latest version is now actually useful. You can check your contribution history and your account balance on your iPhone, which is pretty neat, given that you can't do either on your iPhone.

Note that you will have to get a phone PIN from the CPF website first. But once you've done that, you're golden.

Hopefully, the CPF Board will continue to add more functionality to this app. On the CPF website, you can get things like transaction histories, the yearly statement of accounts and investment transactions statements. It would be great to see these on the app someday.

Nonetheless, kudos to the CPF Board for making their app actually useful. Now all I need to do is figure out where all my money went to...

CPF Tools is free. You can download it here.

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Round-up: Next gen iPhone and iPad sightings; Mac App Store on Thur

- Global Parts Direct had a video of what appears to be parts of the Verizon iPhone or the iPhone 5. Unfortunately, the video appears to be have been pulled from YouTube but at least one photo is still available on the Boy Genius Report. (BGR)

- SmartPhone Medic has bunch of photos about a similar product. (SmartPhone Medic)

- Engadget has found a mock-up of the iPad 2 accompanying Dexim's iPad 2 cases at CES. The iPad 2 mock-up is slimmer with a repositioned home button. (Engadget)

- Report: The Mac App Store will launch on Thursday at 12pm, ET. (The Loop)

- Apple is restricting vacations for retail employees from the last week of January, suggesting that new products are on the horizon. (AppleInsider)

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NeedFood finds places that deliver

NeedFood SG is an app for people who don't cook and who can only remember the number for Pizza Hut.

It's a directory of places that deliver around Singapore. Apart from the usual suspects like Pizza Hut and Dominos, it also covers Japanese, Chinese, Indian and Western restaurants that deliver.

The app allows you to call the restaurant and will tell you the delivery fee but there is no menu or information about delivery restrictions (some places won't deliver if you're too far away from them).

NeedFood SG costs US$0.99 You can download it here.

Tips for travelling with an iPhone through South Vietnam

A pond for prawns next to the house we lived in.

You may have noticed that iMerlion has been a little quiet since Christmas. That's because I've been away on a short family holiday to Vietnam. My daughters and I got back on New Year's Day, just after midnight and after resting for a few days, I'm ready and raring to go.

As the first real post for the year, I thought it would be useful to share what I've learned about travelling with the iPhone (and sans Macbook) through urban and rural South Vietnam. (I was in Ho Chi Minh City and Vinh Binh Nam commune in Vinh Thuan district, Kien Giang province.)

1. Get a prepaid card, either from Vinaphone or Vittel. Both of these will give you pre-paid data. Don't get Mobiphone if you want data. 3G is available in most places I went to in Ho Chi Minh City.

2. 3G is not available everywhere though. Vietnam is a big country. Vinh Binh Nam commune, where I spent three days, is a 10 hour bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City. (You can take a taxi that will only take 6.5 hours, but will cost you US$140). At the market at Vinh Binh Nam, there was only GPRS. At the place where I was staying, some 10 minutes by fast boat from the market, there wasn't even that.

3. FaceTime is awesome. Many places have Wifi, especially in the tourist areas and at the airport. Being able to FaceTime with my wife from the hotel room, from the street outside Saigon Notre Dame Basilica (thanks to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf nearby) and from Tan Son Nhat International Airport was pretty cool!

4. iMovie for the iPhone is impressive. Being able to shoot and edit video on the iPhone is amazing. I'm no Peter Jackson, but I managed to make decent videos fairly quickly. I made this video of duck being prepared for lunch in the home I was living in. You can view the video in SD. (Warning: not for vegetarians or the squeamish.) Update: Here's an HD version of that same video. And for the squeamish, here's a video of a trip to the market at Vinh Binh Nam commune. Vegetarians should still avoid though....)

5. Get an external battery. The iPhone 4 has excellent battery life, but obviously it won't last very long if you're shooting and editing video on it all the time.

6. There are no good downloadable maps for Ho Chi Minh City. I had maps from Lonely Planet and NavFone Ho Chi Minh downloaded on my phone. However, the Lonely Planet map wasn't terribly detailed while the NavFone map had a bad interface. And neither map allows you to reorient the map according to the direction you are looking at, which is particularly important when you're in a strange city. (I didn't use the Maps app on the phone because I didn't want to use up the data allowance).

Overall, I've been really happy with my iPhone as my main travel companion. The only time I missed my Macbook was when I wanted to extract the photos from my iPhone so that I could get it printed at the local photo development place. Of course, that would involve having to carry a Macbook around and who wants to do that on holiday? A Macbook Air though....

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Round-up: Apple at US$300b; Alibaba pulls 'iPad 2' listings

- Apple's market capitalisation breaks through US$300 billion on the first day of trading on Monday. On Tuesday, Apple shares rose to a new closing high of US$331.39 and at market close, the company was worth US$303.89 billion. Apple is now the second most valuable publicly traded company in the US and its market capitalisation is US$63.59 billion more than Microsoft's (US$240.3b), the third most valuable publicly traded US company. Apple still has some way to catch up with the leader, Exxon Mobil, though. Exxon's market cap of US$377.69 billion puts it ahead of Apple by US$73.8 billion. (MacDailyNews)

- pulls listings of "iPad 2" cases, reported the Wall Street Journal. "We do not know whether these products are what they say they are, but we have received a legitimate takedown request and are removing the listings," Alibaba Group spokesman John Spelich said Wednesday. (Wall Street Journal)

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