Sunday, November 2, 2014

Small Screen Tablets Might Have To Succumb To The Almighty Phablet

Today, when you think about mobile technology, you more than likely think about tablets and smartphones. Gone are the days that you attribute laptops to the term "mobile technology". Tablets have been at the forefront of mobile devices now, for quite some time it feels. The companies that design these tablets have become smarter and done their best to make sure that they deliver products that we want. Because of that, we now have devices that come with all sorts of new features. Our tablets come in different colors, contain different processors, and can be used for just about anything that we need. Then again, our smartphones can do just about the same thing now. Tablets are getting smaller and thinner, and our smartphones are getting smarter and bigger. The line between the two has almost gotten to the point that it's become blurred.

The Small Screen Issue
When the iPad first came out, it literally changed everything about how we look at and operate mobile technology. Fast forward a bit to the iPad Mini. This is where things got a bit redundant to some users. "It's just a smaller iPad and a bigger iPod Touch." Oddly enough, many people took to this smaller screen as it made the device more "mobile". On top of that, it helped Apple figure out what people wanted in terms of size and mobility along with their functionality. Naturally many of the competitor companies saw this a chance to jump into the small screen tablet market after seeing the success of the mini. Now fast forward again to today, where the iPad Mini 3 just came out and left a lot of people wanting a bit more. There was no updated processor. The only real update was the camera and the screen resolution. Not only has that hurt the small screen tablets, but the larger smartphones are what's really pushing this category out of the market.

What's a Phablet?
The phablets are here, and it looks like they might be taking over the small screen tablets spot. What even is a phablet though? It's essentially a large screened smartphone that ranges around 5 to 6 inches in screen size. It's like a fun-sized tablet, because again, our smartphones basically do everything that our tablets do. Apple's iPhone 6 has completely overshadowed the release of the new iPad Mini 3. The small screen tablets are being overtaken by the new phablets, and the iPhone 6 isn't the one to start it. Look at the Galaxy Note 3 from Samsung. This too was a phablet and they know that were doing something that was eventually going to change the way that we use our devices. You're performing all of the same features and functions of your tablet on your smartphone, and you have a stylus for extra precision. Many people took to using their phones to perform their mobile technology needs, instead of the tablet.

Is There A Shift Happening?
I, for one, personally feel that we are indeed seeing a shift in what the next big thing in mobile technology will be. Small screen tablets are going to fall too short since phablets are becoming more and more relevant. Now that Apple has stepped into this market, everyone else will start to follow suit if they haven't already. Why? Simple really. Since Apple still remains on top of the the consumer electronics market, they're allowed to make the rules of the game essentially. Should someone else step up and overthrow them, then they'd be able to "make the rules so to speak". That being said, Apple kind of stuck their metaphorical foot into their own mouths with the creation of their phablet, as now their Mini sales have started to dwindle. If this isn't a sign of a shift, I don't know what is.

I love Apple. I love Samsung. I generally love mobile technology. The fact that small screen tablets were even an idea in the first place seem so redundant and unnecessary now that phablets have become a thing. I still feel that large screen tablets such as the Google Nexus series and the iPad Air series will remain going strong. The smaller screen tablets will soon see their downfall though. Remember you read it here first. It was a good run small screen tablets, but it's time to step down.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Microsoft And Samsung In Lawsuit Over $1 Billion Royalties Agreement

According to a recent court document it appears as if Samsung has been paying Microsoft $1 billion per year in royalties in order to use its technology in Samsung's Android smartphones and tablets. In addition to that, the filing also shows that Microsoft also offered to reduce Samsung's payments if the company developed Widows tablets and phones in addition to Android ones.

This information was recently brought to light during a lawsuit that Microsoft filed against Samsung back in August. The original complaint from Microsoft was partially blacked out in order to hide confidential business information, though the revised filing that was made available is unredacted. Both companies signed an agreement in the latter part of 2011 where Samsung agreed to pay royalties to Microsoft for seven years for the use of its patented technologies.

For years Microsoft has claimed that Android infringes its patents and that many other companies, in addition to Samsung, have signed such agreements. These contracts are usually highly confidential, meaning that it is unusual to get a peek at any of the numbers behind them.

According to the filing, for the second year of the agreement that spanned July 2012 to June 2013, Samsung was required to pay Microsoft a little over $1 billion in royalties. That number is based on the number of Android devices Samsung sold and the prices it charged for them. Microsoft is claiming that Samsung was lagging behind and was late on the payment. Part of the lawsuit was so Microsoft could recover nearly $7 million in interest that it says Samsung still owes it.

An the other half of the argument, Samsung claims that Microsoft invalidated the agreement due to the fact that it bought Nokia's handset business. As a result, Samsung is refusing to make further payments for this year and the years to follow. This would mean billions of dollars in lost revenue for Microsoft.

Microsoft is retorting, stating that its acquisition of Nokia's handset business does not breach the agreement it made with Samsung and says that there are "explicit provisions" that cover the acquisition of other companies. The original deal between Samsung and Microsoft was a cross-license agreement, meaning that Samsung was also agreeing to license technologies to Microsoft. With this deal broken, Samsung is threatening to sue Microsoft for using Nokia's technology.

Google developed Android and is currently the world's most popular smartphone operating system. However, Microsoft believes that the company infringes on a lot of its patents and, in 2010, it started a licensing program in order to collect royalties from Android smartphone makers. Samsung isn't the only company to pay Microsoft royalties. Twenty-four additional companies also pay royalties, including HTC, Acer and Barnes & Noble.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Microsoft Removed 1,500 Fake Apps And Is Refunding Money For Them

Have you ever been on the app store searching for something, and then paid for it, only to realize that it isn't anything like the description said? Many of us have been completely screwed over is some sort of scenario like this. Finally, it Microsoft has taken notice and has actually done something to solve the issue and make sure that it never happens again.

Microsoft has finally decided to take a stand against misleading apps in the Windows Store. They changed their policies on apps, and the result was the removal of 1,500 fake apps.

Along with the revised policy, there are also different Windows Store app certification requirements now. There are three big changes that are going to make things a lot better. The first big change is that apps have to be named in a way that clearly defines what the app actually does.

Apps now also have to be organized in the correct category for the apps function and purpose. That way nothing stupid is popping up in a category that it doesn't belong in. That alone will cut down on a lot of sketchiness.

Another huge thing is that apps are not allowed to have icons that look too similar to other apps.

Microsoft said that most of the developers of the apps in the Windows Store have already agreed to comply with all of the new rules. Some developers didn't decide to comply, and that is why the company removed 1,500 apps. They are done playing games, and it's going to make life a lot better for all of the users.

Another super cool move that Microsoft is making is the fact that they are going to refund the cost of any app that was downloaded because of a misleading title or description. That is pretty cool of them.

They are also working on speeding up the review process and they encourage users to report any problems they have with any suspicious app that might have slipped by somehow. If you run into anything like that, just use the "report concern to Microsoft" link in the Windows Store.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Samsung's New Smartphone May Be A Lot Like An iPhone

Recently there were some photos that popped up on a Chinese social media site called Weibo that claim to show the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone. In the pictures we see a very familiar grooved metal design. It is familiar because it is something that was exclusive to the iPhone 5 and 5s until now. None of the past Samsung Galaxy phones have had a design anything like that.

As it stands right now, the images are not verified to be real or anything. But at the same time, Samsung has not commented on the existence of a new Galaxy phone one way or the other. Normally if a picture of something that isn't real is floating around, companies are pretty quick to come out and say that it is fake.

If the pictures are real, then the metal exterior is going to signify the death of the plastic Galaxy phones on Samsung's past. That was one of the big reasons that they couldn't ever come close to killing the iPhone, people want a product that doesn't feel like a cheap toy. In my opinion, that is probably the only real reason that more people would prefer the iPhone over the Galaxy series.

If you are super eager to find out all about the phone for yourself, there is a British retailer called MobileFun who is now offering pre-orders for the phone, which is for now being called the "Galaxy Alpha". The pre-order costs $939 and doesn't come with a SIM card. The site says that the Alpha is going to have a fingerprint scanner and a 12 megapixel camera, which are two things pretty similar to the Galaxy S5.

SamMobile is a Samsung rumor site. They released a few images a while back that apparently showed really early prototypes of the Galaxy Alpha. Those photos only showed images of a black version of the phone though, and these newer photos that have leaked show the phone in white. This means that Samsung may be planning to offer the Galaxy Alpha in both white and black like the previous Galaxy phones. So far though, no Gold pictures have popped up. Everyone thought they might do that. Is Your Leading Supplier In IT/AV and Telecommunications, Call 888-882-0102

The new Galaxy Alpha is so far expected to run on Android 4.4 "KitKat", and it is also supposed to start at 32GB and go up from there. On the Weibo page that leaked the pictures, they claim that the Galaxy Alpha will come in both 4.7 inch and 6.7 inch sizes.

Samsung hasn't said anything about the official release date of the phone, but SamMobile originally reported that the phone would be officially announced on August 4th. Obviously, that was yesterday. But a few days ago they changed it and said that it would now be announced on August 13th. I guess we'll see!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Apple Has Ramped Up YOUR Cloud's Security!

Security is a very big thing these days. We all want to make sure that our loved ones and belongings are always safe and secure. People may not realize it, but these days physical belongings are exactly the top priority of thieves now. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying to not keep an eye on your purse or wallet. There are some other things that people could take from you without you even knowing. Your virtual information. Your personal documents. Your passwords. Even the smaller, less important things such as your music. It's all been susceptible to virtual theft. It's a scary thought to know that someone can come in and steal your personal information like that. For those of you out there who work with the iCloud, you are normally pretty safe. Even still, you may be a bit nervous. Don't worry, Apple has gone ahead and made a small upgrade for your security.

Are you unfamiliar with Cloud technology? Well here's the crash course. The "Cloud" is a way to store information and have it sync up with multiple devices, ultimately making it easier for you to access respective account information from different devices. Apple's iCloud has done a pretty remarkable job of not only performing its basic functions, but also remaining a relevant service in Apple's market. Their website has done something a bit more to increase the security of your iCloud though, and with good reason it seems. A reporter for Wired had all of his information hacked and wiped on all of his Apple devices. The hacker was able to weasel his way past the Apple security questions and access all of the reporters information from his iCloud. Needless to say, the people who found out about this weren't too excited to hear about how easy it was for the hacker to get the information he needed. This is where Apple decided to come up with their plan.

Now, Apple has a two-step verification process to ensure that you are, in fact, who you say you are when accessing your iCloud account information. So what exactly does the two-step process involve and how will it help ensure better security for iCloud users?

Any type of web app that you access from, including Notes, Contacts, and even Mail, will now be met with a 4 digit code via text message. You'll then be prompted to enter the code via the iCloud website before you are able to access any of the web apps. So now, any users that have already enabled the two-step verification process will now have this extra step to go through before they are fully identified as who they are. As long as you are constantly attached to your phone (and lets face facts, 99% of us are) there should be no worry of someone accessing your account from a different location.

With how much information we send and save via email, its a very import thing that personal web apps like these remain private. Any hacker that is able to get a hold of emails and contacts, can immediately ruin your life. Credit card numbers, business associates, family members, and medical records could all be accessed through some or all of these apps. The fact that they can be synced up with all of our devices is a nice touch, but it can also be a very dangerous feature if the wrong person is able to access your account information.

Apple's new two-step verification process is definitely a huge help now, and I recommend that anyone who uses iCloud take the time to set this feature up. It's always much better to be safe than sorry. Protect your assets. Protect your information.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Apple Acquires Beats Music, Plans On Continued Support And Development For Android And Windows Phone Devices

So some big news recently was the fact that Apple was acquiring Beats Music, which left many Android and Windows Phone users scared that Apple would have exclusive rights to anything and everything Beats related, leaving anyone else out in the cold. Well according to recent word from Apple, the Cupertino company plans to continue to offer Beats Music apps for both Android and Windows Phone after it finalizes the deal which also includes Beats Electronics.

Apple Executive Eddie Cue was at Code/Conference recently and was caught stating that the apps would continue to be developed and supported for devices other than Apple's. Code/Conference is a conference headed up by Re/Code, the website that was founded by the folks who previously hosted All Things Digital for the Wall Street Journal.

The Beats Music apps were recently updated on May 22 for the Windows Phone and on May 28 for Android. The updates for iOS and Android that followed the next day extended the previous 7-day free trial to 14 days and reduced the annual subscription fee from $119.99 to $99.99, a 17% reduction. Beats Music launched in the United States at the end of January and is a music streaming service similar to Spotify in that it offers users access to millions or songs and albums while also letting customers play an unlimited amount of music.

Cue, who is the head of Apple's Internet Software and Service group, will take up leadership for Beats Music. The two co-founders of Beats Electronics, renowned record executive and producer Jimmy Iovine and rapper/entrepreneur Dr. Dre, will join Apple as employees and report directly to Cue.  The deal itself, which totals $3 billion, should close later this year, according to Apple, and is said to be primarily cash with some stock to invest over time.

Beats Music attempts to differentiate itself from rival offerings like Spotify and Rhapsody, among others, with its music curation. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who did multiple interviews with different publications, cited the curation of Beats Music as a reason why Apple wanted the service in the first place. According to Cook, "We've got a streaming service that we believe is the first to get it right. They had the insight that human curation was very important. We think they've done an A+ job."

The most interesting thing about this whole deal is the fact that Apple has decided to continue supporting Android and Windows Phone, which goes against the entire business model of the company. Traditionally when Apple acquires the rights to cross-platform technologies it closes support to anything that isn't Apple. The main beef of Apple's revenue comes from hardware sales with the main focus of the company being the sale of more iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

However, Beats Music is still young. At Code/Conference Iovine stated that the service has 250,000 paying subscribers, which is less than 3% of Spotify's 10 million. If Apple wants Beats to grow its paying accounts then that means support for the service on devices outside of Apple, like Android and Windows Phone, is necessary, especially when you realize that Android is the dominant mobile operating system in the world. According to Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, this is as much an opportunity for Apple as it is a reversal of past practice.

According to Bajarin, "What makes this interesting is, for Android in particular, that service could serve as the first experience with an Apple product for hundreds of millions and soon to be billions of potential customers. I would argue that Apple paves the way for their future success in iPhone and iPad by bringing iTunes to Windows. It helped get iPods in the hands of millions of people who never owned an Apple product. Much great research exists that point out that once a customer tries one of your products they strongly consider more in the future."

Apple is undoubtedly hoping that the success of iTunes on Windows resonates the same way with Beats Music on Android and Windows Phone. And who knows, maybe this will be the first seed planted into something that grows into an Apple/Android/Windows Phone merger that completely takes over the world! (But let's hope not because world domination never works out).

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lenovo Has A New Tablet Coming Soon That Aims To Keep You As Productive As Possible

I feel as if it's way too easy to get distracted nowadays, isn't it? I know I can tend to have a slightly lacking attention span every now and again. With all of the new technology that we have constantly coming out, and all of the social media that we use today, it can be hard to stay on track when business needs to be taken care of. 9 times out of 10, you more than likely use your tablet for entertainment and web browsing. There have been some tablets to emerge with the prospect of productivity in mind. Normally, these types of "productive" tablets have come with an attachable keyboard dock to make it more of a laptop. The keyboard would naturally add a sense of increased productivity. Lenovo plans on adding another to the "productive" tablet roster.

The new Lenovo ThinkPad 10, dropping in June, will offer some competition to the normal sized tablet market. The ThinkPad 10 is also aimed to be a more business oriented tablet.

The ThinkPad 8 launched back in January as a way to compete with Apple's iPad Mini. The new ThinkPad 10 is a 10 inch tablet that will be going head to head with the reigning champ; the 9.7 Apple iPad. Yes, most people who get tablets just find it to be a more mobile laptop, and they are quickly becoming more of the main computing device. It should come as no surprise that many consumers use it as such; Facebook, web browsing, eBooks, game apps, etc. That being said, Apple does have its own share of people who view the iPad as a business tool. It's this business crowd that Lenovo's new ThinkPad 10 is targeting. But to say that they will be able to go up against the tech giant has yet to be determined.

Spec wise, this tablet is pretty darn solid. Working with 4GB of RAM and an Intel quad-core processor means that you'll be able to take care of basically any business task. The new tablet comes stock with 128 GBs of storage space, as well as an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera and a 2 megapixel front-facing camera.  It will be offered in 4G LTE and 3G services. It also comes with a nice 10 hour battery life. The screen resolution sits at 1,920 x 1,200 pixels. While it may not be quite as good as the retina display models from Apple, it definitely isn't lacking in image quality.

Even with their upgraded displays, the new ThinkPad has something that Apple doesn't: the ThinkPad Tablet Dock. This nifty little dock basically turns your tablet into another desktop, should you need it. When docked, it offers the use of an external keyboard and mouse. Then, there is also always the option of using it as another monitor to help make things less cluttered on your normal screen. This type of docking station definitely adds a bit more of a "business-y" feel to the new ThinkPad.

Retail will be sitting at $599, so be ready to shell out a bit of cash if you choose to buy it. If you're still on the fence, you can rent the ThinkPad 8 and get an idea of what the new ThinkPad 10 will be like. It can only be expected that the new ThinkPad 10 will be directly modeled after the ThinkPad 8, so renting the 8 might not be a bad choice. At least then you can get a feel for what the 10 will be like!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Rufus Cuff Makes The Claim That It Is The Smartwatch Successor

Have you ever sat and looked at all of the ways we communicate with each other? Remember the days of the landline? A few of us might, but the younger generation has no clue, mainly due to the fact that there are now 9-year-olds running around with iPhone 5s. We used to send letters. We used to use the "home phone". That age has passed and now we are in an age where communication and technology may as well be next to each other in the dictionary. We text. We tweet. We message each other. We post statuses. We post pictures. The point being that recent technology has given us a much more networked way to communicate with others. Around 20 years ago the idea of being able to connect and become friends with someone on the opposite side of the world was impossible. Now, as long as you have a Facebook, you can talk to anyone you want.

Some of the tech that has helped us with this extended level of communication is still on its way up. Take the smartwatch for example. The thought of the device is a brilliant one, however, there are some drawbacks as most of us are aware. Most smartwatches have screens that are roughly an inch or so in display size. This alone is enough to push some of its possible customers away. There is a new device that aims to offer more than most smartwatches can even begin to offer however.

The Rufus Cuff is what the makers would call a full on "wrist communicator". I know that sounds a lot like what you would hear on those Saturday mornings when you would get up early to watch Power Rangers, but they don't seem to be joking. As of right now, the company Rufus Labs is funding the project with an IndieGoGo campaign that has all of the information on the device in depth.

Upon further inspection of the device, it does seem to offer quite a bit more than its more well known competitors. Take the Galaxy Gear models, the Pebble Smartwatch, and even Google's smartwatch. All of these big names have put a lot of effort into ensuring that their products are available and offer a good sense of practicality. The Rufus Cuff does a bit more than these though. A 3-inch display, coupled with full on apps, video calling, texting, regular phone calls, web browsing, and more. Already the Rufus Cuff is ahead of the game by maintaining what all of its competitors are offering but with a larger, easier to manage screen. It works by tethering directly to your phone and works with both Android and iOS devices.

The claim that they are making that this is the "next step" in smartwatches is a pretty big one. Having said that, they are putting a lot of effort into making this a promise and not just an empty statement. Upon time of writing this, the company is already at $122k of their $200k goal with 13 days left to go. It's safe to say that people are definitely interested, but the bad part is that it seems a bit to hard to mass manufacture such a device to the point that it gains notoriety. It's a sad truth, but the devices that are more readily available will remain on top, especially with the big brand names backing them. Unfortunately it may not matter how good the device is, it may be another gem swept under the rug by the big name competitors. Hopefully that won't be the case, as it looks quite promising.

Smartwatches are getting hotter and hotter as the days go by, but they are still in the early stages. If  you're not sure if they may be right for you, renting tech like that may be better than just walking into the nearest electronics storing and buying one outright. Renting, to be sure, is always the best option.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Huawei Pokes Fun At Samsung And Apple, Promises Big Things For Mobile World Congress 2014

So apparently the cool thing to do in the mobile world these days is to compare yourself to Apple while simultaneously mocking the company and berating its products. Samsung has been doing it for years (with actual success) and, to be completely honest, I have dipped my toe in the Apple mockery pool once or twice so I'm no different. But while it is expected for big name companies like Samsung or little bloggers like myself to mock Apple, it is a little less acceptable for smaller tech companies to take a jab at arguably the biggest tech company in the world.

Well, that's exactly what Huawei decided to do, though the Chinese company took it a step farther by throwing Samsung into the mix as well. Huawei recently posted a video to its YouTube channel letting people know that it plans on creating "revelatory excitement" in Barcelona at the upcoming Mobile World Congress.

The video, which can be seen below, features an ambient voice similar to that of Apple's Siri explaining that Huawei will debut a beautiful, slim tablet at the congress. In addition to that, the voice also foretells of a smartphone with an "amazing" front camera and a multimedia tablet that is perfect for entertainment use.

The video is where the jabs at Apple and Samsung can be found. A male voice is asking the Huawei device all these questions about Mobile World Congress and after the voice tells of the new tech, the male voice asks, "What are they? Fruit or Somesong?" Obvious jabs at Apple and Samsung here, but you didn't need me to tell you that. The voice replies to the inquiry saying, "No. They are Huawei. It looks like Huawei is ready to amaze the world again."

While Huawei may have the technology to stand toe-to-toe with Apple and Samsung (emphasis on the may), the bigger question is whether or not the company has the brand following necessary to throw jokes like this around. If there is one thing techies know, it's that a product is only as good as the followers it has. That is why companies can make a totally crap device and people will still buy it, because they are buying the name, not the product.

Huawei is definitely not a well-known brand here in the states, especially not like Apple or Samsung. However, there is a much bigger variety on names in foreign markets, especially in Huawei's native China. While I don't see many US consumers scoffing at Apple and Samsung and jumping on the Huawei train anytime soon (even with the witty commercial), I do believe that the company will find bigger success in foreign markets. I guess we can only wait until Mobile World Congress to truly see what Huawei has to offer.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

iOS7's White Screen Of Death?

Everyone knows that a tech product is only as good as how it operates. That means that it needs a good operating system and the inner workings to back it up when the time comes to get work done. A product's OS is a bigger deal than most people think. It is what controls everything in the device. When iOS7 dropped, it was met with mixed reviews. For the most part, it was met with mostly positive reaction but there were obviously flaws that people were able to pick out. Any OS is going to have bugs when it first releases. Now a certain issue has gotten so serious that Apple is finally going to address a problem that some have been having since September.

Enter the notorious "White screen of death".

We are all familiar with the infamous "blue screen of death". Whether you have been a victim of it yourself or if you have seen it through memos, the "blue screen of death" is very well known. Should it pop up on your screen, 9 times out of 10, you are going to need a new computer. The "white screen of death" is essentially the same thing, but for Apple users on iOS7. Reports have shown that the "color" of the screen depends on the actual color face of your phone. If your iPhone has a black face, it is a black screen of death, and likewise it will be white if your iPhone has a white face.

So what does the bug actually do? It essentially causes your iPhone to have a "soft reboot". A "soft reboot" is an action that causes a software on the OS to trigger a restart without removing any of the power from the actual device. It is not necessarily a TERRIBLE thing, but it is annoying none the less. This issue is only following those who currently run iOS7 on their iPhones. Some users are even claiming that when their phones drop below 30% power, that is when their "white/black screen of death" takes place.

Apple has made a plan to fix this issue, though. The plans for the iOS 7.1 update not only include slight design and UI changes, but also a fix to this bug. There is no release date as of yet for the new update, but developers have the new update in its 4th beta so it should be soon.

Apple has already had a lot of backlash from a lot of people with its release of iOS7 at the start. This paired with its other mishaps, such as the fingerprint scanner, does not put forward a good look for the company. Just know that if you are suffering from this bug on your iPhone, help is coming soon. We just have to be a bit more patient.

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