My, how far we've come from the days when only AT&T carried the iPhone. As 9to5 Mac reports, today Apple started the rollout of unlocked models of the iPhone 5s without SIM cards on the online Apple Store. There's a bit of a delay involved, however, as you'll need to wait around one or two weeks for the SIM-free phones to ship over the three to five business days for carrier specific models.
In theory, at least, this isn't the first time that Apple's made such phones available. 9to5 Mac points out that the iPhones carried by T-Mobile have been unlocked since they were launched, although the carrier (understandably) didn't play this up in its marketing. Apparently there was also a brief slip not long after the 5s' launch in which Apple declared some phones were unlocked and SIM-free, but it was quickly retracted.
And thus this marks the first time that Apple has ever expressed that it has unlocked, SIM-free phones available for sale (and from its own store, at that). But don't expect such freedom to equate into savings. According to Apple's page, the pricing for the SIM-free versions remains the same as it does for its carrier-specific siblings.
If there's one small catch, it's that the phones can only be used with GSM networks. If you're an overseas Apple aficionado (or at the very least, a frequent traveler), make sure your network is compatible before taking advantage of this offer.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.
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[This is an advertorial. Maclife gets a portion of each unit sold.]
All of your social media news feeds get overrun by the simple photos that your friends capture and apply filters to. It makes even the most basic of photos look professionally captured. But you can one-up everyone in your news feed and get some photos that really deserve attention, no filter necessary. Snap photos near and far with the Ultimate iPhone Photographer's Lens Kit. It's on sale now in our latest Deal.
There's no angle you can't master and no image you can't capture with the iPhone Photographer's Lens Kit. Coming enclosed in a lens wallet to carry all your gear, you'll find a telephoto lenses of 2x and 8x, a 60x microscope lens, a fish eye lens, a wide angle lens, and a tripod to keep your iPhone steady. Forget shots of the sunset or pictures of food, you'll be able to take photos of just about everything with this bundle.
The iPhone Photographer's Lens Kit usually retails for $199. If you head to our Deals tab now, you can save yourself 65% off. That makes your total just $69. That's a great price for all the great pictures you'll be able to take, so grab this offer today!
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One of the first news aggregator apps to take full advantage of the iPad's large screen, Pulse enjoyed tremendous early success, skyrocketing to the top of the paid apps list and grabbing a coveted spot in Steve Jobs' WWDC keynote shortly after its May 2010 launch. But competition, redesigns, and an untimely fight with the New York Times have= sent it on a bit of a rollercoaster ride, culminating with a sale to LinkedIn last April.
With version 4, Pulse fully embraces its corporate branding, with a new name, a fresh iOS 7-inspired interface, and a re-imagined way to read and find content. The first release may have been met with a loud backlash, but Alphonso Labs quickly responded to users’ complaints with a 4.0.1 update — and while it fixes many of the major gaffes, it still feels like a downgrade from the previous take.
Longtime users might be a bit taken aback by the interface, which ditches the trademark black background for a gleaming white, mostly colorless design. It’s still mostly recognizable as a Pulse app — with the familiar rows of square picture boxes overlaid with headlines — but the bleached look isn't nearly as easy on the eyes. The starkness is carried over to the article viewer, where the useful menu bar has been replaced with a series of buttons for sharing and a new comment board. Anything you write syncs back to your LinkedIn account, but since Pulse’s greatest strength is the ability to digest a day’s worth of news in minutes, we’re not sure how useful it will be to most.
Navigation is mostly the same — tap to read a story, swipe back to return to your feeds — but we found a few oddities that made us miss the old version. Editing channels is the most frustrating change, abandoning the easy sidebar for a hidden menu activated by tapping the centered Pulse icon. Searching is noticeably faster, though we found it easier to discover new feeds with the old layout. Also, the “View on Web” button has curiously been moved all the way to the bottom of the article (which kind of defeats the purpose), and the thinner font on the main screen makes it difficult to discern between read and unread articles.
The bottom line. LinkedIn Pulse skirted disaster with a quick update, but the new interface is still a step back.
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NEW YORK -- The stock market is poised for a "Perfect 10."
As stocks surge this year, putting them on course for their best annual performance in a decade, all 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) are closing in on gains of 10 percent or more for 2013.
That hasn't happened in almost two decades.
The last year that all 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 closed the year higher by 10 percent or more was in 1995, when the overall index rose 31 percent. There have been several years of big yearly gains since, but none that have seen all the sectors notch double-digit jumps.
The S&P 500 gained 26 percent in 1998, but materials and energy stocks fell. The broader index advanced 26 percent in 2003 but phone companies and makers of consumer staples fell short of the 10 percent hurdle.
The reason for the broad gains this year? It's the first time since the Great Recession that investors are starting to believe that the economic recovery, while tepid, is sustainable, says Natalie Trunow, chief investment officer at Calvert Investments, an investment manager.
The housing market is recovering,
"Only 12 months ago, the markets were not convinced that we were in recovery mode," says Trunow, who notes there were fears the economy could slide back into recession as recently as last summer.
Here are the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 index, which is up 26 percent so far in 2013. Here's how each sector has performed:
Health Care: Some stocks in this sector offer the prospect of explosive growth because of new drugs, or medical devices. Other more established names like Pfizer tempt investors with attractive dividend yields. Health insurers have also done well as the Affordable Health Care Act rolls out.
- This year's gain: 36 percent.
- This year's gain: 36 percent.
- This year's gain: 31 percent.
- This year's gain: 30 percent.
- This year's gain: 22 percent.
- This year's gain: 20 percent.
- This year's gain: 19 percent.
- This year's gain: 18 percent.
- This year's gain: 10 percent.
- This year's gain: 8 percent.
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ATM Hunter (free; iOS, Android, Windows phone): We all know how fast ATM fees can add up. Stop the bank madness with the ATM Hunter app (from MasterCard), which shows you where ATMs are located based on your current location. You can filter to find only your own bank's ATM so you can avoid an extra surcharge from using a foreign ATM.
Sample savings: $3 per ATM withdrawal.
Chegg (free, though textbooks are not; iOS, Android): The Chegg app can save you money and lighten your load -- literally. It allows you to rent or buy new and used textbooks, and many books are available for sale in digital form as well. You can also recoup some of your book budget by using the app to easily sell back books you no longer need.
Sample savings: $21.96 on a used copy of Campbell's "Biology," 9th Edition, from Chegg instead of Amazon.com (AMZN).
BillMinder ($1.99; iOS, Android): College is often the first time many of us become responsible for paying our own bills. But with a busy schedule and a host of distractions, it can be hard to stay on top of those new responsibilities, and that can quickly become an expensive problem: Not only will missing a due date trigger late fees, it can also damage your fledgling credit score, which could cost you next time you need a loan, apply for a credit card, or when a future employer or landlord does a background check. Track your bills easily with the BillMinder app -- it's not free, but if it saves you one late fee, it's more than worth the cost.
Sample savings: $5 a month (or 1.5 percent of your balance, whichever is greater) if your Verizon Wireless (VZ) bill isn't paid on time.
WhatsApp (free for the first year, $0.99 per year after that; iOS, Android, Windows phone, and more): Want to cut down on that smartphone bill in the first place? Get free texting from WhatsApp. Using your data plan or WiFi, with WhatsApp you can send free SMS messages to pretty much anyone else who has the app installed, even those who live overseas. Perfect for that cute exchange student you met last semester.
Sample savings: $10 per month (compared to an international texting plan from AT&T (T) Wireless).
Sample savings: $10 per month if you can get away with T-Mobile's cheapest iPhone data plan instead of the next one up.
DrinkOwl (free; iOS, Android): Never overpay for drinks again with the DrinkOwl app, which highlights local drink specials and happy hours by city and college campus as well as by type (beer, wine, liquor). Search for upcoming deals by day to plan out your weekend.
Sample savings: $1 off draft beer at Asylum in Washington, D.C.
Venmo (free; iOS, Android): When your friend showed up to happy hour without any cash, did you agree to pick up the tab if he paid you back later? Now make sure he really does settle up with you with this free app. Venmo makes it a snap to share payments (like rent or utilities), pay someone back for last night's dinner, or collect payments from those who owe you. Just hook up the app to your bank account or debit card (it uses bank-level security), then let your friends know who owes what.
Sample savings: Getting back the $5 your roommate borrowed last week.
Apps Gone Free (free; iOS): Got app envy? Sure, all these apps can save you money, but others, like games and other fun add-ons, can add up fast. Searching for free apps can be time-consuming, and many are duds. Find highly rated, expert-picked free apps (including ones that are temporarily free) with the Apps Gone Free app.
Sample savings: $0.99 on the next popular game.
Add it all up and these apps could easily save you more than $50 in just the first month -- perhaps a lot more if it's textbook-buying time (or going-out-drinking time). Now that's some smart savings.
Motley Fool contributing writer Robyn Gearey owns shares of Amazon.com. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
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NEW YORK -- Don't bet your shirt on a repeat performance.
That's the message from some of the nation's biggest investment firms as the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) has closed above 16,000 for the first time and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) is on the cusp of its best year in a decade with a gain of 25.9 percent.
Although investment professionals still are optimistic, investors shouldn't expect such outsized gains will be repeated.
The S&P 500, the Dow and other stock indexes have risen steadily as the Federal Reserve has maintained its economic stimulus to keep long-term interest rates low, and the economy has continued to strengthen. Although economic growth hasn't been spectacular, it has been strong enough enable companies to keep increasing their earnings.
We asked professionals at three big money managers, T. Rowe Price (TROW), Franklin Templeton (BEN) and BlackRock (BLK) for their thoughts on how the stock market will shape up next year.
On the Outlook for Stocks
A double-digit gain isn't out of the question.
Many of the tail winds for the stock market are still in place, but they may start to weaken next year. Corporate earnings are strong, but profit margins could be peaking. Interest rates are still low compared to historical levels, but will likely rise gradually, particularly if the Fed starts to pull-back on its bond-buying stimulus program.
However, the biggest challenge to the stock market is that valuations have risen so much this year, says Larry Puglia,
"We still find selected stocks attractive and think that the market's OK, but I would be surprised if the market ... was able to duplicate the type of gains we've had this year," says Puglia. He still thinks stocks could rise as much as 10 percent.
Conrad Hermann, a portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton says that statistics show that when the market logs an annual gain of 20 percent or more, it has been followed by another year of gains on two out three occasions -- for an average gain of 11.5 percent the next year.
On the Best Industry to Invest In
Technology companies are the big favorite.
The tech industry should benefit from rising spending in an improving global economy, says BlackRock's chief investment strategist Russ Koesterich. He also says that technology stocks are typically less sensitive to rising interest rates than other industry groups are.
Many tech stocks don't pay a dividend, making them less sensitive to higher bond yields, and with strong new products they should grow profits. That suggests if interest rates climb, tech stocks should perform better than the overall market.
Tech companies are also less richly priced than some other parts of the market, while still offering good growth prospects. Those in the S&P 500 are trading at 14.4 times their projected earnings over the next 12 months. That makes them less expensive than health care stocks, which are priced at 16.7 times expected earnings, and industrial companies, which are valued at 16.1 times earnings.
On a Reduction of Fed Stimulus
Investors have been obsessed with the Fed all year and the stock market's biggest setbacks have come when they thought that policymakers were poised to cut back on economic stimulus.
The S&P 500 has dropped in only two months this year, June and August. In both months investors sold stocks on concern that the Fed was about to stop its stimulus.
Instead, the central bank surprised investors in September by continuing its stimulus and now investors are getting more accustomed to the idea the Fed's efforts must end at some point. Sure, there may be a knee-jerk reaction when the Fed acts, but it won't last. Ultimately investors will see the end of stimulus as a sign that the economy is continuing to improve. Fed policymakers have also stressed that the end of stimulus will not necessarily be immediately followed by higher interest rates.
"It will be a positive signal to the market that the economy can stand on its own two feet and doesn't need this super aggressive Federal Reserve action," says Puglia of T. Rowe Price.
On the Biggest Risks
Unsurprisingly, the dysfunction in Washington is still at the forefront of investors' minds. The 16-day partial government shutdown in October hurt consumer confidence and crimped economic growth. A repeat of that political wrangling next year would likely hurt the economy again.
Stocks are also vulnerable to a sharp rise in interest rates. The market's rally from its lows in March 2009 has been underpinned by low interest rates which has made stock market returns more attractive. If bond yields were to rise suddenly the economy would suffer.
The Fed's policy is predicated on buying bonds to hold down interest rates. If investors get nervous as the central bank cuts its bond purchases, removing a support for the market, bond yields could jump as investors dump bonds.
"If interest rates were to [go] back up dramatically that would probably be a bad thing," says Franklin Templeton's Hermann. "We're still in a very fragile economy and we don't want to suddenly tilt into another recession."
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See The Advice Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, And 8 Other Tech Founders Gave To A Class Of Entrepreneurs
On Oct. 19, 2013, thousands of programmers, engineers, and designers joined a lineup of amazing speakers for Y Combinator's Startup School 2013.
The list of speakers included industry heavyweights like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter and Square's Jack Dorsey, and venture capitalist Chris Dixon, among others.
Gregory Koberger attended each of their presentations and put together a set of wonderful, illustrated notes using the Paper app for the iPad. He graciously provided high-quality versions of his notes for the benefit of Business Insider readers.
Phil Libin - Evernote
Dan Siroker - Optimizely
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
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Banks compete vigorously to differentiate themselves in order to gain greater market share and enlarge their deposit base. That's why mobile has becomes so important. It's the next battleground for consumers, and banks are rolling out the latest and greatest smartphone apps and mobile site features to gain an edge on the competition.
The banks that establish a reputation for mobile innovation now may benefit in the future from greater market share and more engaged — and high-margin — customers.
In a recent report from BI Intelligence, we take a look at some banking app pioneers and cutting-edge features, detail the competition to develop the best mobile banking tools, examine mobile banking's growth spurt, and analyze consumer adoption behavior and barriers
These are examples of the more advanced mobile banking features:
- Integration of capabilities such as all-in-one investment management.
- A payments hub that includes mobile payments and peer-to-peer payments.
- Real-time financial planning and notifications.
- Personalized, data-driven customer service and financial advice.
- Tablet-friendly banking apps and sites with richer feature sets. Chart and data-heavy research on stocks, bonds and mutual funds naturally lends itself to tablets' larger screen.
- Remote bill payment, or paying bills with a few clicks by taking a photo of them with a mobile app.
- Looks at the competition to develop the best mobile banking tools
- Examines mobile banking's growth spurt
- Analyzes consumer adoption behavior and barriers thus far
- Explains how banks are scrambling to differentiate their services and takes a look at some banking app pioneers and cutting-edge features
- Details how mobile banking could be bottom-up and encompass the 'unbanked,' expanding bank and credit access worldwide
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