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German iPhone App Guides Handicapped Around Cities

Raul Krauthausen, who has used a wheelchair since childhood, has always been uncomfortable with the services Germany provides for the physically handicapped, like special taxis and grocery delivery — saying they feel patronizing and further isolate him from the able-bodied world.

So Krauthausen took matters into his own hands and launched wheelmap.org, an iPhone application and website in German and English that allows users to share ratings and tips on how accessible shops, bars and other places are.

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Tickets, Coupons Among Uses for Tap-to-Pay Phones

Cell phones are usually used to communicate with people far away. This year, they'll get the ability to do the opposite: communicate with things that are close enough to touch.

It may not sound immediately useful, but phones will get some surprising capabilities with the addition of chips for so-called Near Field Communications, a wireless technology with a range intentionally limited to just a few inches.

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Space Weather Could Wreak Havoc in Gadget-Driven World

A geomagnetic space storm sparked by a solar eruption like the one that flared toward Earth Tuesday is bound to strike again and could wreak havoc across the gadget-happy modern world, experts say.

Contemporary society is increasingly vulnerable to space weather because of our dependence on satellite systems for synchronizing computers, airline navigation, telecommunications networks and other electronic devices.

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New Mobile Can Check Pulse, Send Ambulance

You probably have good reason to worry if you get a call on your mobile phone with the following message: "Sir, an ambulance is on the way."

That's the worst call you can receive if you buy a new EPI Life mobile phone, which comes complete with mini electrocardiogram.

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Japan May Send Chatty Humanoid Tweet-Bot to Space

Lonely astronauts on the International Space Station may soon be getting an android friend from Japan.

And for the folks back home, it will tweet.

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Apple Reports Labor, Safety Problems at Suppliers

Apple Inc. says its audits found labor, safety and other abuses by its suppliers in 2010, though it praised Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn for saving lives through its handling of a spate of suicides at its factories in China.

The findings, outlined in Apple's annual supplier responsibility report, prompted local reports Wednesday to decry the "high price" paid by Chinese workers who assemble hit gadgets like the iPod and iPad.

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Chrome Users Can Block Unwanted Websites

Google on Monday gave users of its Chrome Web browser the ability to block search results from low-quality websites known as content farms.

Google's principal engineer Matt Cutts said Chrome users can download and install an extension for Chrome that blocks sites which provide "shallow or low-quality content" from their search results.

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Apple Developing Smaller, Cheaper iPhones

Apple is developing a new line of smaller and cheaper iPhones and overhauling its software to facilitate users' access to entertainment, photos and video, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The new device -- code-named "N97" -- will be about half the size of the iPhone 4 and cost about half as much as Apple's main line of iPhones, the Journal said, citing a person who saw a prototype of the new gadget several months ago.

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Nokia Adopts Microsoft Smartphone Platform to Beat Competition

Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, said Friday it was joining forces with U.S. giant Microsoft in a major corporate strategy shake-up that left investors disappointed.

The Finnish phone maker said Microsoft's Windows Phone would now serve as its primary Smartphone platform in a "broad strategic partnership" destined to regain market share from competitors Apple and Google.

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Yahoo! Joins Tablet Craze with Digital Newsstand

Yahoo! is building a digital newsstand called "Livestand" that will turn tablet computers into personalized magazines rich with stories, images and video suited to individual tastes.

Livestand will launch by July with content from Yahoo! websites along with an undisclosed array of partners, chief product officer Blake Irving said on Thursday.

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