5 absolute last-minute gifts for Apple lovers on your list

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of disappointment ran through your head because you waited until the very very last minute to buy gifts. Here are some options for gifts that while thoughtful, don’t require you to meet shipping deadlines.

Get Netflix HD on a Galaxy Nexus and enjoy 720p vids

One of the biggest draws of the Galaxy Nexus is the 4.65-inch high-definition screen; literally a pocketable 720p HDTV display. But some video services still stream standard definition video. Here’s how to get HD video from Netflix on the Nexus and what it looks like.

Today in Connected Consumer

I went to a holiday lunch the other day held by a major Washington, DC, based trade association of which Amazon is a member, where the topic of Amazon’s price-check promotion came up. Even among that pro-business, pro-competition crowd, pretty much everyone agreed it was an obnoxious (albeit legal) tactic that could ultimately harm consumers by limiting retail choice. If it has a silver lining, however, it may be to spur some badly needed innovation in the online coupon business. Daily deals site Groupon is trying to help local retailers fight back against Amazon’s poaching with a Buy Local promotion that offers consumers $10 in Groupon bucks if they purchase any of the sites deals in a physical store. It’s good to see Groupon focusing on the needs of its merchant-partners rather than simply its own cash flow.

Today in Cloud

Originally an American phenomenon, retailers are now working hard to make Black Friday a fixture in other markets as well. My (UK-based) email inbox has been inundated with offers from the local branches of global retailers including Apple and Amazon. From an infrastructure perspective, this mad rush to spend money on a single day places significant pressure upon e-commerce sites. I’ve looked before at one of the leaders in the provision of cloud-based load testing, SOASTA. Other than a tweet noting that their customers are “ready,” the company is keeping surprisingly quiet about today. Presumably the press releases will follow next week, if all of their customers successfully negotiate today’s traffic spike.

Facebook’s Two Deal Weapons: The Social Graph and Credits

Facebook’s new Deals offering may or may not become a “Groupon killer,” but the social network has two major weapons in its arsenal that others do not: One is the power of the site’s social graph, and the other is the integration of Facebook Credits.

Today in Social

In the last few months Google has shown off a range of ways that its search products can be applied to the physical world, but one of the most interesting has to be Shopper, a combination of the company’s Goggles, character recognition, voice and search technologies. It’s the kind app that people have been trying to perfect for years – and opens all kinds of possibilities for smart startups.

Apple Store Gets A Facelift

Apple StoreApple launched a revamped online store on Wednesday, giving it a refreshed look and just the polish it deserves. Product categorization is greatly improved, making it much easier to visually make connections between products and accessories. More emphasis is being put on new and top selling products (taking a cue from Amazon perhaps?), and alot of the tabs and buttons got really big. Navigation has also greatly improved, with an obvious breadcrumb trail at the top of each page.
But overall the store just looks and feels rock solid. It’s big, beautiful and welcoming. I’ve always had issues with the organization (or seemingly lack thereof) and aesthetic of the online store in the past, and have cited it as the weakest part of the Apple online experience. It’s nice to finally see Apple rectify that and make a place where I want to shop even more.