Mobile weekly wrap: Tablet makers want your vote (or money)

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Voters in swing states are going to have it bad for the next few weeks. Between the phone calls, mailers, and emails from campaigns looking to secure a vote that may help decide the outcome of the election. People that don’t yet own a tablet may have just as bad. Between Apple and Microsoft’s announcements this week, Google next week, and Microsoft again just because they can, every major player is looking to secure those last few tablet-less folks to vote with their wallets. It’s all about grabbing headlines at this point in a campaign, so here’s all the news from the week that was October 21-26, 2012.

New iPads in all sizes

In a completely unexpected and out of nowhere announcement that hasn’t been rumored for months, Apple finally made the iPad Mini a reality this week. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Apple with this product is its ability to make a 7-inch tablet that they don’t have to call a 7- inch tablet. The idea of such a pointless device was loathed by Steve Jobs, so Apple CEO Tim Cook made sure this wasn’t just any 7-inch tablet–it’s a 7.9 inch tablet. Speaking of innovation no one asked for, Apple also gave the bigger brother iPad a little refresh as well. Owners of the third generation iPad will notice a slightly improved processor, camera, and another $500 missing from their wallet. We have a feeling no matter how much we crack wise at Apple, it will get the last laugh in its profits.

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Microsoft announces Windows 8 to whoever will listen

Microsoft had perhaps the biggest announcement that got to live in the Apple-shaped shadow that was cast this week. It’s Windows 8 operating system was officially introduced to the world. This should be a moment of great excitement for the company. Bill Gates sure seems happy about it and there are definitely people rooting for Windows 8 to be the next big thing. What could possibly go wrong? What’s that? Microsoft over thought the naming process of the tablet OS choices and it requires far more explaining than it should? There’s a shocker. Growth of the Windows Phone Store is slowing with the new OS cycle starting? That’s promising. Despite being the maker of the flagship offerings for Windows Phone 8, Nokia just announced a new handset running Windows Phone 7? Seems like there would have been some sort of memo for that. Well it’s getting good reviews at least, right? Oh. Maybe Windows 9 will be the real winner.

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Everything good is illegal

The man’s always trying to keep you down. Things haven’t changed a bit with the new rules in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Everything cool that you like to do to your phones and tablets will be made illegal. If you plan on unlocking your phone without permission from your carrier, do it soon. As of January 2013, it’s going to be against the law. Here’s the irony: Most people unlock a phone to take it to another carrier. Odds are good that your current carrier won’t sign off on that. Adding to the irony is the fact that it’s still legal to jailbreak a smartphone, but doing so to a tablet will get you slapped with a fine. They also qualify everything from laptops to mobile gaming devices as “tablets,” so good luck trying to explain that your phone with a 5-inch screen isn’t a tablet. Maybe we shouldn’t allow people who barely know how to define technology make laws about it.

Fresh New App of the Week

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Dragon Mobile Assistant (Free, Android) – Siri who? Dragon Mobile Assistant essentially a direct answer to the popular iOS assistant. For Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich or Jelly Bean, this app will allow you to dictate commands to your phone and have it perform tasks without having to do the work yourself. From making calls or sending texts to receiving directions while driving, this app aims to give you all the help you need. Dragon has been behind tons of voice communication apps, so we expect good things from this one as well.

Xbox SmartGlass (Free, Android) – A must for any Xbox gamer, the SmartGlass app turns your Android device into an extension of your Xbox experience.

RedditNote (Free, iOS) – You already waste all your time on Reddit so you might as well make it a pleasant visual experience. Browse the site in style with this app.

Fresh New Game of the Week

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Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 ($3, iOS/Android) – The third installment in a game based on a web comic that talks about games has made its way onto the mobile platforms. Packed with to the brim with humor and inside jokes for readers of the comic and adventure and old-school gaming action for fans of throwback RPGs, this is a must-have game for fans and newcomers alike. It’s like taking your favorite RPG from the Super Nintendo and being able to carry it around with you everywhere you go. Prepare for a nostalgia overload.

Zombiewood (Free, iOS/Android) – It’s a game with zombies in it. You know what to do, right? Kill them. The game takes you across movie sets that have been infested by the undead. Lights, camera, shoot ’em.

He-Man: The Most Powerful Game in the Universe ($1, iOS) – Brawl your way across Eternia and through Castle Grayskull as He-Man. It’s a dream come true for every child of the 80’s.