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ExtraBITS for 17 May 2010

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This week's reading was eclectic, including news of Google Voice being opened up to students, Apple starting a MobileMe Mail beta, the lost iPhone prototype story getting ever weirder, Apple confirming (through court documents) AT&T's iPhone exclusivity, an explanation of why the C4 programmer's conference won't be held this year, and advice on how to reduce iPad 3G data usage.


Google Voice for Every Student -- Google has announced it is extending the availability of its Google Voice telephony service to anyone in possession of a .edu email address (previously, Google Voice was available only through elusive invitations). Google Voice offers features such perks as free text messaging, low international calling rates, SMS-to-email, and voicemail-to-text transcriptions, all of which could be particularly useful to peripatetic students. To sign up, simply send a request to Google from the linked page using your educational email address, and an invitation will be sent to you within 24 hours. Google Voice is currently available only to people in the United States.

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Apple Unveils MobileMe Mail Beta -- Apple has announced a beta update to its Web-based mail service, MobileMe Mail. The beta offers widescreen and compact views, single-click archiving, a message formatting toolbar, increased security via SSL, server-based rules, and overall improved performance. The beta is open to all MobileMe users and you can switch back at any time. To sign up, log in to MobileMe and click the "Request An Invitation" link in the lower-left corner of the page.

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Lost iPhone Prototype Story Turns Into Soap Opera -- The story of the lost iPhone prototype purchased by Gizmodo for $5,000 (with more promised, it turns out!) just keeps getting weirder. Wired reports on how the police recovered some of the evidence in the case after Apple's director of information security received a tip from a roommate of the guy who found the phone and claimed he wasn't able to contact Apple. Most amusing is that Gizmodo may have generated vast traffic based on its scoop, but the subsequent story has bolstered the traffic of every other publication reporting on the case.

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Five Year Apple-AT&T iPhone Deal Confirmed -- Engadget explains how documents revealed in an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Apple confirm that Apple and AT&T signed an exclusive five-year deal for AT&T to act as the U.S. carrier for the iPhone, starting in 2007. But contracts are easily broken or renegotiated - is the deal still in place?

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C4 Programmers Conference Falls to Apple Tool Monoculture -- Jonathan "Wolf" Rentzsch has announced that he won't be organizing the C4 conference for independent Mac developers this year, citing both the change in Apple's iPhone Developer Program License Agreement that bans apps built with third-party tools and the fact that the change didn't elicit much complaint from the developer community. The latter reason indicated that his interests overlapped less with those of the Apple developer community than he had hoped, eliminating his enthusiasm for organizing the conference.

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Strategies for Using Less Data on a 3G iPad -- TidBITS editor Glenn Fleishman offers strategies over at Macworld for how to cope with just 250 MB of cellular data a month on a 3G iPad when using AT&T's less expensive service plan. The advice is also worthwhile for non-U.S. plans that either have monthly usage caps or throttle to a lower speed after a preset monthly limit is passed.

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