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Tuesday sure was a day filled with emotion. For those who weathered Hurricane Sandy the night before, it was a real-life experience; then came the fantasy-based shocker that Disney was buying Lucasfilm and making a new Star Wars film. And if that wasn't enough, we had to endure the news that Apple would be delaying the release of iTunes 11 into next month, which certainly ended the day on a bummer note.
Okay, so it may not be strictly tech-related, but for pop culture fans, it sure was the talk of the town on Tuesday. The Walt Disney Company announced its acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. in a cash and stock deal worth $4.05 billion, bringing the Star Wars saga under the same shingle as Pixar, Marvel and ABC. While that alone would be newsworthy, the story has another twist: Disney is moving forward with Star Wars Episode VII, which is expected to hit theaters in 2015. George Lucas, the creator of the sci-fi series, retained 100 percent ownership of Lucasfilm and even though he's essentially now retired from the film business, will serve as a creative consultant on the new film (and apparently, others to come in the future), leaving the production in the capable hands of former Steven Spielberg producer Kathleen Kennedy. Ironically, Steve Jobs purchased Pixar from Lucas back in the '80s, which the Apple CEO eventually sold to Disney, who now owns Lucasfilm. That's pretty weird, right?
Look out, Siri -- you've got come competition on your own home turf now. The Google Official Blog announced an update to the Google Search app for iOS, and the big feature is "fast and accurate voice recognition technology." Based on a few minutes tinkering around with the app update, it works amazing well, and even better, words appear on-screen as you speak them so you'll know right away if the recognition isn't taking. Google has also one-upped Siri when it comes to speed, with results appearing almost instantly. The free universal app works on the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, available now in the App Store.
Sure, we may haver fewer DVDs, Blu-rays, CDs, books or video games than we used to, but there's still the occasional thing you want to own in physical form. That's where Bruji's Pedias come into play, keeping a catalog of the stuff you own while making it convenient to loan to others. The company's Pocketpedia3 iOS app syncs that catalog so it's with you everywhere you go, and a new version 3.0.3 update makes it even better, with iPhone 5 support, a new barcode scan feature for camera-equipped devices and the ability to use that device as a remote barcode scanner with one of the desktop Pedias on the same network as your Mac. That means no more dragging your Mac around the house to catalog your collection -- just open your iDevice, point it at a barcode and start scanning. The $3.99 app is available in the App Store, and as always, it's a free update for current users.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has sure got a mouth on him, and in addition to calling Apple a "low-volume player" in the PC and smartphone market, he's known for boasting about how his company will dominate in every market it enters. Last Friday, the company launched Windows 8, and judging from a keynote slide posted by The Verge on Tuesday, Ballmer claims the new operating system is off to "a spectacular start" with four million upgrades sold in the first weekend. Curiously, the CEO refused to give any specific numbers on the company's new Surface with Windows RT tablet which also launched the same day. Does Ballmer realize that Apple's iPhone alone is now worth more than everything Microsoft produces? We're just sayin'...
We're not the type who uses a web-based email client much, but for those who do, the Official Gmail Blog had a bit of good news on Tuesday. Google has introduced a completely redesigned compose and reply experience for the web version of Gmail, which pops up in its own window just like a chat so the user can easily reference other emails without having to save a draft, open the other email and then reopen the draft. The new compose is also easier to use, keeping the focus on your message while making it easy to add recipients with autocomplete. A preview of the new compose and reply started rolling out yesterday, and is expected to roll out for everyone in "the coming months."
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