Tag Archives: reviews

Get a chance to win Voice Dream Reader TTS App [REVIEW-GIVEAWAY]

30 May

How to enter Voice Dream Reader Text-To-Speech App Giveaway:

1. Subscribe to RJMarmol.com’s newsletter here.

2. You will receive a “Welcome/Thank You” email. In it, you will see the iTunes Redeem code at the email banner area.

3. Click on it, copy the code and redeem* it.  First person who gets/redeems  the code gets the Voice Dream Reader Text-To-Speech App.

4. That’s it! So hurry and get it before someone else does!

*Don’t know how to use an iTunes/App Store Redeem Code? Here’s how:

1. Just to the App Store as usual, by tapping on the App Store icon on your iOS device.

2. Tap on “Featured” option located on the bottom of the screen.

3. Scroll all the way down and tap on the option that says “Redeem” just above the “Apple ID” field.

4. You’ll see the “Enter your Gift Card or Download Code:” prompt.

5. Type or paste the Download Code and the specific app will be downloaded to your iOS device.

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It’s been a busy day in the app review world and I sure have a lot of apps to review in the coming weeks. But… I am excited to share that there’s one particular app that’s helping me make sure I have one less thing to worry about when it comes to keeping abreast with all the buzz around me: Voice Dream Reader. It’s a text-to-speech app that lives up to its name because it works like a dream.

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Here’s why:

I’ve come across (and actually bought many) other TTS apps in the App Store and most of them have hefty price tags attached to them…and perhaps rightly so considering all the convenience they promise to provide you, it seems to make sense.

Voice Dream Reader [iTunes link] is one such app but without being overpriced.

And while I normally save the price for last, I wanted to get that consideration out the door this time because this just might be your lucky day! The good developers of Voice Dream Reader app have been generous enough to provide me with an additional promo code! :)

GIVEAWAY PROMO IS OPEN WORLDWIDE!

So stay with me and I’ll let you in on the details of this Voice Dream Reader App Giveaway later in this post. But first, my review:

What does the Voice Dream Reader app do?

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It’s a text-to-speech app. Like most TTS, it converts text to audio and read it back to you.

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You mean like an audiobook? YES but better! If you have ebook collections, there’s no need to buy separate audiobook versions of it. Just import your ebooks to the Voice Dream Reader app and voila! Instant audiobook.

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Don’t care for ebooks, don’t have any?

Well the good thing about the Voice Dream Reader app is that it can do so much better than just read out imported ebooks or ePub ebooks, it can:

1. Read articles, blog posts, reports, papers, and books using the best available text-to-speech technology that comes out amazingly natural.

2. You can download trimmed articles from Pocket (Read It Later). All you have to do is set up your Pocket account in the app settings and from then on, all articles from your Pocket will be synced to the Dream Reader app each time you open it. Instapaper also supported (subscription account required).

3. Once imported, articles are stored locally for offline listening.

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4. It can extract text from PDF, ePub, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, Apple Pages, RTF, HTML and plain text files.

5. Import files directly from your Dropbox.

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6. It can extract text from a Web page directly with a built-in browser.

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7. You want certain portions of articles read to you? You can add new articles using copy and paste via “In Editor” option.

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8. It can also translate articles (using translation credits, that can be purchased in the app).

9. You can read using a playlist from all your articles.

10. Easily adjust text size and choose between light and dark themes.

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11. It comes with a female American English voice with option to buy additional voices (52 voices to choose for) for English, or for Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Catalan, Polish, Turkish, Greek, and Arabic for an in-app purchase of $0.99 per voice.

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Can I import books from iBooks or Kindle?

Import from iBooks or Kindle is currently unsupported because third party apps are not allowed to access the content in these apps.

Like:
1. Fast import from DropBox.
2. Fast sync with Pocket.
3. Fast extraction and conversion of text from websites.
4. In over a month of daily use, the app never hanged or crashed.
5. Easy adjustment of reading voice pace.

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6. Very useful as tool for checking written articles (for spellcheck, grammar, flow of thought). Since having the app, I no longer have to re-read drafted blog posts for error-proofing prior to publishing. I just open the editor, paste the article and let it read to me. It’s easier to spot errors this way than in relying with my tired eyes. As you can see here, I actually used it as the main text editor for writing this post!

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7. Just like Safari’s Reader, it supports the “Define” button.

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Don’t Like:
1. This is actually more of a “wish” than a “don’t like”: I hope the developers would add support for other third party apps, mostly cloud storage similar to DropBox like SugarSync, Google Drive, SkyDrive and even EverNote.

The Verdict:
A full-featured, highly-reliable and very efficient text-to-speech app — the best I’ve used so far. It’s an indispensable tool for the voracious reader, perpetual news junkie and pro blogger. It simply makes so many things easier from consuming information to creating your own. Priced at $1.99, it is worth all that and more.

I’ve never given this rating before in RJMarmol.com but the Voice Dream Reader app simply deserves no less than a perfect score: 5/5 stars.

AND NOW, THE VOICE DREAM READER APP CAN BE YOURS FOR FREE!!!

I have one promo code courtesy of VoiceDream.com ready and waiting for the lucky winner.

How to enter Voice Dream Reader Text-To-Speech App Giveaway:

1. Subscribe to RJMarmol.com’s newsletter here.

2. You will receive a “Welcome/Thank You” email. In it, you will see the iTunes Redeem code at the email banner area.

3. Click on it, copy the code and redeem* it.  First person who gets/redeems  the code gets the Voice Dream Reader Text-To-Speech App.

4. That’s it! So hurry and get it before someone else does!

*Don’t know how to use an iTunes/App Store Redeem Code? Here’s how:

1. Just to the App Store as usual, by tapping on the App Store icon on your iOS device.

2. Tap on “Featured” option located on the bottom of the screen.

3. Scroll all the way down and tap on the option that says “Redeem” just above the “Apple ID” field.

4. You’ll see the “Enter your Gift Card or Download Code:” prompt.

5. Type or paste the Download Code and the specific app will be downloaded to your iOS device.

Good luck! :)

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Facebook Camera: New iOS Stand-alone Camera App [REVIEW]

25 May 20120525-222137.jpg

Facebook Camera: New iOS Stand-alone Camera App [REVIEW]

As if Facebook’s recent $1B purchase of phenomenal camera app Instagram isn’t enough, here comes Facebook Camera.

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And you thought Facebook Messages wasn’t necessary! Or even Facebook Pages!

This must be the trend right now — disintegration. Specialized apps spun from other apps. Not so long ago, social networks and even search engines are at each other’s throats trying to be the “ultimate launchpad” for every Internet user.

“Step right here folks! Photos, videos, music, blogs, news! We have it all! We can do it all! In just one app! ”

Now, it looks like everyone but the clueless in Social Networklandia is avoiding “integration” like the plague.

Why this sudden flip? Don’t ask me. I’m not the one who bought Instagram and launched a separate camera app soon after. Maybe all these separate Facebook apps are actually betas — just waiting for the right time to reintegrate with its Mother Monster. All in due time, my little apps.. All in due time! *evil laugh*

So anyway, since Facebook Camera is here I see no reason why we shouldn’t take it out for a spin.

Here’s a quick review of Facebook Camera — the-sort-of-but-not-quite-Instagram-for-Facebook:

What it is:
1. It’s your Facebook Photos stream high-jacked into a separate world via an app.

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2. It’s a batch uploader for your existing local gallery. This is a major improvement mind you. This hasn’t been possible using the native Facebook app. Prior to this app’s release, batch photo uploads have only been possible using 3rd party apps.

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3. It uploads batches incredibly faster than the native Facebook app ever does with just ONE photo.

4. It’s a camera app with sensibly-named “filters” that attempts to beautify your photos.

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4. It allows simple editing like crop and rotate. And delete!

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Tap and hold photo to easily delete it.

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5. Like I said, it’s your same photo stream on Facebook only better because this app aggregates purely photos from your Facebook stream (no whiny, emo, funny or politically-flavored status messages or SocialCam video views alerts).

So that “Like”, “Comment” and “Tag” buttons you’ve come to love (or hate) were carried to the Facebook Camera app.

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What it isn’t:
1. It’s not (yet) as beautiful as Instagram.
2. It’s not painfully slow in displaying and uploading photos.
3. It’s not capable of displaying photos in landscape orientation.
4. It’s not overly user-friendly. The UI may look easy enough to use but the “tap twice for full screen view” and “tap thrice for stream view” gestures prove to be a bit tedious (unless I’m doing it all wrong…oops!).

What it can be and should be:

While I still can’t say that Facebook Camera is an Instagram killer by now, I can’t discount that possibility in the future. And the way I see it, this is a move in the right direction for Facebook, whose IPO by the way has since been rocked by all sorts of issues.

Should you download it?

Well, for someone who spends far greater time on Google Reader than Facebook, let’s just say I spent 3x more time on Facebook Camera since I’ve downloaded the app. Yes. You should.

Final Verdict:
For a 1.0 release that got its first update this morning, I give it 4.5/5 stars! App-solutely app-laudable!

Snap2PDF: Convert Your Documents to PDF In A Snap! [REVIEW] #app #review #iphone

15 May

This is a review of Snap2PDF — an iPhone app that scans (takes a snap) of your documents and converts them as convenient PDF files for easy view, storage or transfer. It’s your own portable scanner.

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If you’re stuck behind a desk holding a mountain load of files you can’t organize for some reason — you know, those random “important” files you just can’t classify right now but can’t throw away either because you just might need it in the future, have I got the iPhone app for you! :)

Snap2PDF puts order in that pile of chaos you call your “files”. Whether it be in the home or office, no longer should you need to suffer in silence. You now live in a world of apps, of unlimited possibilities of fixing everything from the mundane to the charitable so quit whining and take action! :)

How does Snap2PDF work?

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As simple as its name implies, all you have to do is snap a photo of your “paper” document, and like magic, Snap2PDF will convert it to a PDF file, after which you can do whatever it is you desire — store, email, send to DropBox, etc. And as a bonus feature, it also comes with OCR (optical character recognition) for search.

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Snap2PDF features mentioned on the Apple App Store include:

- Effortless scanning and management
of multi-page documents
- Speedy data transfer to searchable PDF files
- Smart recognition of text in 21 languages
- Easy document search
- Convenient file management
- Special image enhancing feature
- Handy anti-shake function
- Simple upload of files to Cloud storage such as Dropbox
- Quick sharing of documents through email
- Innovative functions like Image rectification and Gamma correction

This app does the job of organizing your whiteboards, receipts, business cards, magazine articles, posters, print outs, coupons and newspaper clippings. Scanning multi-page documents can now be done continuously, with no waiting whatsoever.

You can search for scanned PDF files by keywords, document name, description and OCR text.

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Snap2PDF recognizes text in 21 languages that include English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Dutch, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Slovak and Swedish.

Other features:

1. You can create categories and groups; add document description and keywords.

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2. It has an image enhancing function that provides additional clarity and eliminates data recognition issues.

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3. It has an anti-shake feature.
4. Allows rotation of scanned images.

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5. Supports file upload to Cloud storage and email.

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Price: $1.99

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Like:
Fast. Never buggy. Very reliable. OCR search.

Don’t like:
This is actually more of a recommendation than a “don’t like” but I’ll mention it anyway: For the price of $1.99 and since they support OCR, I wish they integrated document image-to-text conversion. If you can export extracted text to email or Evernote, that would be awesome. That would make this a killer app — something like Snap2PDF2TXT. :)

Final Verdict: Snap2PDF is an indispensable app for home or office. Definitely app-laudable!

Vibe Technologies Officially Launch Vibe Tablet, Vibe Reader (app) and E-Bookstore (vibebookstore.com)

7 May

I got an invite to attend the press launch of Vibe Tablet and its accompanying Vibe E-Bookstore (vibebookstore.com) at the Philippine Normal University (Taft) this afternoon.

You can watch the Vibe Tablet, Reader and EBookStore promotional video here shown during the conference.

Consider it as our local version of Apple’s iBookStore and Amazon’s Kindle Bookstore. Apple has the iPad, Amazon has Kindle, Barnes and Noble has the Nook and Vibe Bookstore has the Vibe Tablet.

And like Apple and Amazon, Vibe’s books are not limited to its tablet — because Vibe is also an app for tablets and smartphones of various platforms, much like Kindle. :)

But the similarity ends there. For Philippine education, Vibe isn’t just an app or a tablet — it is the new frontier of education — the so-called “brave new world”, if you will.

Vibe aims to revolutionize classroom learning as we know it and Vibe is probably just one of many other ideas to come.

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But what is Vibe exactly and how does it differ from other tablets out there?

“Vibe is the first Philippine electronic bookstore. With Vibe, Filipinos will be able to access and buy all kinds of reading material through their smartphones and computing devices. Vibe is also the name of a reading application (app) that can be downloaded for free and installed on PCs, Mac computers, Android devices, iPhone and iPads.”

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Please refer to below press release for more info on the conference.

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PRESS RELEASE

PNU Holds Digital Education Conference for Teachers

May 7, 2012, Manila, Philippines -The Philippine Normal University (PNU), the country’s National Center for Teacher Education, conducted a conference today billed as Teaching Powered by Technology: 21st Century Skills and Tools for Teachers at the AV Theater of Edilberto P. Dagot Hall, PNU campus in Taft Avenue, Manila. This event is in collaboration with Vibe Technologies, the technology arm of Vibal Publishing House, Inc.

The event is also in support of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) thrust towards the integration of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in education. DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro has issued DepEd Advisory No. 212 s. 2012, calling for the participation of school administrators, supervisors, principals, school heads, coordinators and classroom teachers from both public and private schools all over the country.

Among the speakers in the conference are Dr. Erico Habijan (Director, National Educators Academy of the Philippines), Hal Plotkin (Senior Policy Advisor, US Department of Education), Michelle Casio (Education Lead, Microsoft Philippines), Fr. Johnny Go, S.J (President, Xavier School) and Michael Xia (Regional Sales and Marketing Manager, McGraw Hill).

Highlights of the event include the launch of Vibe Tablet, the first Philippine tablet specifically meant for school use, and the formal donation and turnover of the open courseware repository of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to the PNU for the use of their teachers and students. MIT is recognized as a leading engineering and technology university globally.

In further collaboration, Vibal Publishing House, Inc. is donating a “classroom of the future” concept which will serve as the of icial home of the continuing year-long course with degree units at PNU. The facility will be equipped with mobile PC tablets, an interactive whiteboard and LCD projector. The project is also in line with PNU’s objective to enter into a twinning agreement with Columbia University s Center for Technology and School Change, which has a reputable international technology curriculum. #

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Do You Manage Multiple Cloud Storage Accounts? iExplorer Is For You. [REVIEW] #iphone #app #appreviews

4 May

DropBox vs. Box.net vs. SkyDrive vs. Google Drive: Managing Multiple Cloud Storage Accounts Making You Crazy? Meet iExplorer — the iPhone App that will keep you sane. [REVIEW]

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Sure, your data may be a lot safer offline locked away in some vintage treasure chest along with your vintage coats, but you can’t deny how demanding our lives have become — so much so that everybody expects us to carry our files wherever we go — otherwise, we might just miss out on that next big job interview or lose a girlfriend (depending on how lousy you are at keeping her “stuff”).

So we reluctantly wave the white flag and surrender our data to that big white Cloud because we can no longer ignore its importance (or we simply got tired of fighting it).

And if you’re like me, you probably signed up with every other cloud storage service out there hoping to find that “one perfect cloud service” for you.

But of course you eventually realize that it’s a pipe dream. There’s no “one perfect cloud storage service” after all — not yet anyway.

You are then left with bits and pieces of your online treasure chests scattered in a sea of disarray. You know you want to create some semblance of order but as you look around you wonder where in heaven will you start???

Wheew, I thought you’d never ask!

Enter iExplorer.

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Just as the name suggests, it works pretty much like your Windows Explorer. The iExplorer app is like “the Windows Explorer for inter-cloud services” — it manages your files within different cloud services — copies, renames, moves, deletes — that sort of thing.

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It’s very useful for a lot of file management requirements like:

1) Data security via redundancy, that is keeping multiple copies of files across multiple cloud services — in simpler terms, backing up your backups. Say, if DropBox closes, you still have backups in SkyDrive and Google Drive.

2) Optimizing data space. This is the opposite of redundancy. Here, your goal is to eliminate duplicates that eat up too much space on your accounts. You can compare existing files across multiple cloud services and immediately remove duplicates. After all, how many copies of the original RPG (Ridiculously Photogenic Guy — meme) do you really need?

3) Makes the mundane task of regular file maintenance (rename, copy, move, delete) so much easier and worry-free. You wouldn’t have to worry if you’re deleting the wrong and solitary file in this or that service because comparing is a breeze — you can always check your files at a glance in one app. No need to open all cloud mobile apps. This one app does that for you.

iExplorer Performance Review:

PROS:
1) Let’s you manage files on local and most remote servers — FTP server, NAS server, WebDAV server, Cloud server (SkyDrive, DropBox, Box.net, Google Docs, CloudMe, Google Drive).

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2) Fast file transfers (varies with file size and network speeds of course).

3) Supports streaming of photos, audio, video from NAS/FTP/Cloud servers.

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4) Supports file-viewing for most file types and allows you to print and tweet viewable files.

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5. Supports file search.

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CONS:
1) Can’t stream my audio files with Box.net.
2) App crashes/freezes sometimes.
3) File transfers to Google Docs not supported. Only view, edit and save as another format.

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4) Currently doesn’t support SugarSync and EverNote and no web browser (under development, hopefully addressed on next update).
5) Had previous issue with SkyDrive — it doesn’t list files. But it has been fixed with the recent update (Version 2.3) and now works fine.

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PRICE: $4.99USD

FINAL VERDICT:
iExplorer works as advertised, is fast and efficient and saves you a lot of time. It’s perfect for people who manage a lot of files in multiple servers, either at home, work, school or practically everywhere else. If file management is making you crazy, iExplorer is sure to restore your sanity.

I give it 4.5/5 stars.

Highly-recommended. This app is definitely App-laudable!

Are you looking for serenity in a sea of
chaos? There’s an app for that! Download iExplorer today. [iTunes AppStore link]

Great iPhone Apps for Wasting Time

2 May

Great iPhone Apps for Wasting Time

While iPhones can be a useful tool for finding directions, checking emails, and taking quality pictures, they are also an excellent way to stay entertained while waiting in line. Whether you just got your first iPhone, or you had one for years but you are looking for some new games, these great apps will help you waste time and annoy your friends. If you don’t like any of these options, consider learning some web development ;and make some cash creating your own apps.

Angry Birds

If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds, you probably don’t have an iPhone, or Facebook, or internet, or a computer. This app has become such a hit, that the makers are now cashing in by developing a feature length film. Basically, you use your finger to sling funny little birds at evil pigs sitting on various structures. The object is to destroy the pigs and take down the structures to get the birds their eggs back. The game is super addicting, and can be a fun way to pass some time.

Risk

If you grew up in the 80s (or had kids the 80s) you probably have heard of the strategic Hasbro game called Risk. Created for 2 to 6 players, each person gets an assortment of army pieces that they can use to take over the world. The problem with the board game is that it is only fun if you recruit at least 3 or 4 players, and it takes a long time to end a game. Problem solved! This genius game is now available as an iPhone app, complete with a clever feature that allows you to move your phone to shake the dice. You can play via Wifi, pass-and-play, or turn on some computer players and set the difficulty of the game. If the game is running too long and you need to interact with the real world for a bit, the app allows you to pause it and return later. ;

PocketWhip

If you would like to use your iPhone to annoy your friends, Pocket Whip should be your next download. Incredibly irritating (to others) and utterly useless, this free app is loads of fun. If you would like to show your roommate who’s boss, simply move your phone in a whip-like motion and giggle hysterically as it makes a whoosh and cracking sound. Fans of The Big Bang Theory might recognize this from Howard and Sheldon’s iPhone arsenal.

Draw Something

Based on guessing games like dictionary, Draw Something is a fun social game that lets you draw a picture and let your friend, or computer-matched opponent guess what you have illustrated. Coins are awarded based on the difficulty of the drawing. These coins can in turn be used to buy an assortment to new drawing colors.

When you get sick of playing these fun time-wasting games, use your iPhone’s built-in browser to find an online college class that will make your time more profitable. ;

Sources:

Techcrunch.com

Apple.com

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