Walmart now offers iPhone 5 for $127, 4S for $47, and third-gen iPad for $399; Target to discount Virgin’s Prepaid 4S to $399 (updated)

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Walmart is continuing to slash price tags on Apple products this holiday season, as the global retailer just announced it is now offering the 16GB iPhone 5 for $127.

Walmart also cut the iPhone 4S from $89.97 to $47 starting today, with both smartphones sales subject to the usual two-year contract, and it further lowered the (update below16 GB third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi to $399. Walmart said its iPad deal would feature a bonus $30 iTunes card beginning Dec. 17, but all special rollback prices are in-store only.

Target plans to offer an Apple product sale, as well. It will discount Virgin Mobile’s Prepaid 16GB iPhone 4S from $449.99 to $399.99 starting Dec. 16, but the deal is only available at Target Mobile locations.

Update 1: Walmart’s story continues to evolve. We’ll continue to update.

Update 2: Walmart’s PR agency made multiple corrections to its original announcement today. While the first press release said the third-generation iPad would go on sale for $399 on Dec. 17, a later correction indicated the deal actually started today for the fourth-generation iPad. Now, this evening, Walmart’s PR agency has made another correction: today’s $399 sale is for the third-generation iPad. The rollback prices for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S remain correct.

9to5Mac contacted Walmart directly today on multiple occasions to verify the sale prices advertised in the press release, but only its PR agency would comment on specifics and make subsequent corrections. Read more

Giant Retina MacBook Pro window display goes up at Apple Store

Apple has created oversized window displays in the past following its latest product launches, including the iPhone 4S, and we snapped some photos today of the new Retina MacBook Pro signage.

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Siri vs S-Voice on Samsung’s Galaxy S III

The Verge recently went hands on with Samsung’s new flagship Galaxy S III launched earlier this month and during its review put the device’s new Vlingo-powered “S-Voice” feature up against Siri on the iPhone 4S. Other than the striking resemblance to Siri’s UI and canned responses, the first thing we notice is Siri appears to be much quicker than S-Voice running on the Galaxy S III.

When asked “Who is the president of France”, Siri quickly asks to search the web, while S-Voice takes a little longer but comes up with the correct answer. However, in most scenarios, both Siri and S-Voice request to search the web for the majority of the same queries. You’ll also notice S-Voice has no problem keeping up with Siri when scheduling appointments, but both have some of the same issues understanding The Verge’s commands.

S Voice consistently chews up my words when I try asking it questions, although it works better when instructed to schedule an appointment or set an alarm. It can also be used as an unlocking mechanism once you pre-record a pass phrase. That adds to the face unlocking option that’s native to Android 4.0 in being frustratingly unwieldy and planted firmly within gimmick territory — more than once I was stuck repeating “hello” without any recognition from the phone.

While we don’t have all of the info on S-Voice, we know it is using voice recognition technology from Vlingo, the same as the previous Voice Commander feature for the Galaxy S II. Last December Nuance acquired Vlingo. It’s no secret Apple is currently using Nuance to power speech in Siri, and Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky told us in October that Siri originally used Vlingo, but that Nuance has by far the most IP in speech synthesis technologies”. However, he also noted Apple could likely easily replace Nuance if something better was available.
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Is Siri a success for Apple? [Poll]

Oh, Siri. Apple’s little voice-activated personal assistant in iOS can handle questions, give recommendations, and delegate requests, but does it really live up to expectations?

The folks in Cupertino like to roll out advertisements that show Siri capable of compiling individual preferences with personalized results, and even completing basic tasks like finding a nearby restaurant, but the software met very mixed reactions after it Beta-débuted on the iPhone 4S in October. Those who felt misled by Siri’s functionality depicted in commercials eventually sought reimbursement by filing a class action lawsuit against Apple earlier this year.

Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky wrote about how chief executive Tim Cook is changing Apple in an interesting piece this morning, but he also touched upon the contention surrounding Siri. He noted Apple’s future relies on the quality of its products, which holds true for any company, but then he pointed to the iOS-maker’s knowledge navigator:

“Those looking for deficiencies have found them in Siri, a less-than-perfect product that Apple released with the rare beta label in late 2011, a signal that the service shouldn’t be viewed as fully baked. Siri’s response time has been slow, meaning the servers and software powering it are inadequate. ‘People are embarrassed by Siri,’ says one former insider. ‘Steve would have lost his mind over Siri.'”

It is interesting that an unnamed insider claimed Jobs would “lose his mind” over Siri, especially because it is well-known the late CEO worked with former Siri founder and subsequent Apple Engineering Director Dag Kittlaus on the project. Kittlaus admitted last March at Network World that Jobs felt they “cracked it” in regards to Siri, which alludes to the chief’s satisfaction with the voice assistant and contrasts with the insider’s opinion.

The poll is after the break.

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Meta Watch announces first Bluetooth 4.0 smartwatch for iOS, ships to devs this month

Run by former Nokia and Fossil execs, and previously available in beta for Android devices only, Meta Watch officially launched its smartwatch platform today that interfaces with iOS—the first of its kind to utilize the low energy Bluetooth 4.0 technology. The watch works with an iOS app for customizing which notifications will pop up on its display. Notifications consist of the usual phone calls and messaging, but developers have access to an API that will allow them to send almost anything to the device.

The company previously had issues getting the platform to run smoothly due to limitations of iOS. However, thanks to Bluetooth 4.0, the device featuring a 96-by-96-pixel LCD display is now slated to ship sometime this month for $199. The Meta Watch is clearly still more of a development kit than an end-user product at this point, but with six fully programmable buttons, a 3-axis accelerometer, vibrating motor, ambient light sensor, and of course Bluetooth 4.0, there is a ton that devs will be able to do with the device.

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T-Mobile TV ad compares iPhone 4S on AT&T to its 4G network

As part of its new “Alter Ego” ad campaign, T-Mobile posted the above TV commercial comparing the speed of the iPhone 4S on AT&T to devices on its 4G network. The carrier recently did a similar comparison when launching its Test Drive tool for comparing its 4G devices with the iPhone on other networks. In related news, yesterday we reported T-Mobile was preparing to rollout an iPhone-compatible 4G HSPA+ 19000 MHz network to various markets by the end of the year.

Although many thought the comparison of the 3G iPhone on AT&T to 4G Android devices on T-Mobile was unfair, Apple is rumored to launch a new LTE iPhone following the introduction of the new 4G iPad last March. Recent reports indicated Qualcomm was having trouble meeting demand for LTE chips likely to land in the next-gen iPhone, indicating T-Mobile will likely have to take a new approach to its ads come October.
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