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Jan 11
Greg's bite: Verizon iPhone 4 hotspot mode

This morning I got my monthly emailed congratulations note from AT&T, notifying me that they had successfully charged my credit card for another month of 3G network service for my iPad. I have never fully understood why congratulations are required.  

Congratulations that my credit card took another US$29.99 hit from them? Congratulations that I signed up while unlimited data service plans were still available? Anyone who figures out what the basis for those AT&T congratulatory letters is, please email me, so I can fully appreciate my good fortune.  

When I asked an AT&T representative why I was being congratulated every month, the customer service guy was just as confused as I was. By the way, AT&T has still not given me an official response to my submission to them of my original advertising slogan "AT&T, no bars in more places." My relationship with AT&T is perplexing indeed. My advertising career aspirations have been put on hold due to...

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Jan 11
Future Apple devices may add solar power to their...

Future Apple devices may add solar power to their other power sources. An Apple patent (number 7868582) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Portable devices having multiple power interfaces are described in the patent. According to one embodiment of the invention, a portable electronic device includes, but is not limited to, a processor, a memory coupled to the processor for storing instructions, when executed from the memory, cause the processor to perform one or more functions, a battery coupled to provide power to the processor and the memory, and a battery charging manager coupled to charge the battery using power derived from a plurality of power sources including a solar power source. Other methods and apparatuses are also described. The inventors are Wendell B. Sander and Daniel A. Warren.


Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Handheld computing devices typically use standard battery chemistries including ni-cad, lithium-...

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Jan 11
Apple wins patents for iPod touch, earphones, more

Apple has won design patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office for the third generation iPod touch (patent D630630), the design and assembly of the iPod touch (7869206), and their earphones with a remote mic (7869608), an active enclosure for a computing device with an illuminable portion(7868905).

Inventors of the first patent are Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer. The inventors of the second patent are Teodor Dabox, Hui Leng Lim, Kyle Yeates and Stephen Lynch. The inventors on the third patent are Wendell Sander, Jeffrey Terlizzi, Douglas Farrar, Timothy Johnson, Brian Sander, Brian Connor and Jesse Dorogusker. Duncan Kerr is the inventor of the fourth patent.

Three has also been granted three other patents. Following is a summary of each.

...

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Jan 11
Greg's bite: What if Apple assembled its products...

By Greg Mills

On the day iPhone is likely to be announced for Verizon, a study I found looking at the profound effect on the US economy of Apple outsourcing assembly of iPhone to China is particularly interesting.  

Can you believe Apple CEO Steve Jobs could put Apple on track to hire as many as half a million Americans who are currently out of work, while only marginally decreasing Apple's stellar profits? Jobs could add over US$10 billion a year to the national payroll simply by bringing assembly of Apple products home. Our government should make such a move as easy as possible by making the US employer environment more conducive to such a move.

I did an article recently on Apple's industrial footprint in China. While the subject of that article was the nature of Apple's business dealings with contractor assembly companies and their employees in China, another issue came to light recently in a study done by the Asian Development Bank...

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Jan 11
Some initial thoughts on the Mac App Store

Overall, I think the new Mac App Store is a good idea (as long as it doesn't become the only way to obtain Mac software) and well implemented, though there are a couple of changes I'd love to see -- and some questions that need to be answered.

For one thing, Apple needs to add a Wish List or Shopping list, not to mention gifting to the store.

Also, strange as it seems, your Mac App Store account isn't linked to your iTunes account. So if I have money available on iTunes, I can't use it in the Mac App Store.

Perhaps all this integration will come in with Mac App Store 2.0. Still, you'd think Apple would have built on their previous experience with iTunes rather than starting from scratch again.

I also have a couple of questions, which may also point to Mac App Store improvements. Is there no way to transition the apps that you own to the Mac App Store version? If not, do I have to purchase them again if I want all my apps and updates centralized?

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Jan 10
Consumer electronics bring families closer together?


Consumer electronics, once seen as a barrier to family togetherness, have become a critical component of family life and now play a starring role in many popular family activities. At least that is what is indicated by a national survey of more than 1,000 parents (women and men ages 25-54 with at least one child under age 18 in the home) conducted online Dec. 13-15, 2010 by Memorex (http://www.memorex.com).

The survey shows consumer electronics are viewed as an integral component of family life, with 35 %of parents saying their families “could not function” without electronics and only 1-in-10 parents saying electronics “are a necessary evil” or “create an unwanted barrier between family members." Compare this to last year’s WeTime Parent Survey -- where 24% of families said they feel consumer electronics do not enhance WeTime -- and the change in attitudes becomes obvious.

For over half of families (...

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Jan 07
Greg's bite: Android, a fractured OS, PlayBook

By Greg Mills

Those of us who are looking intently at the various operating systems out there that can run on smart phones and slate computers are keenly aware of the surge in usage of Google's Android.  

All is not well in that platform, as users are likely to find out, especially as time goes on. While there are benefits to the open source software concept, the devil is in the tendency for divergent flavors of operating software to be developed, that lead to incompatibility issues in various hardware configurations. These problems sometimes can't be fixed by adjusting the software and will basically render recent hardware obsolete, within months of release. This is not good for any platform. 

Currently there are already four versions of Android out there -- Android 1.6, ViewSonic 2.0 and ViewSonic 2.1 and the 2.2 Froyo Android configurations -- likely to be seen on a slew of new tablets. This does not even take into...

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Jan 07
Five innovations that will change our lives: recycling...

IBM recently unveiled the fifth annual "Next Five in Five" -- a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years. The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as -- not surprisingly -- emerging technologies from IBM's Labs. Here's the fourth and final part of our look at what IBM predicts -- and how this might affect the Apple world.

Innovations in computers and data centers are enabling the excessive heat and energy that they give off to do things like heat buildings in the winter and power air conditioning in the summer. Can you imagine if the energy poured into the world's data centers could in turn be recycled for a city's use?

Up to 50% of the energy consumed by a modern data center goes toward air cooling. Most of the heat is then wasted because it is just dumped into the atmosphere. With new technologies, such as novel on-chip water-cooling...

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Jan 06
Apple looking at multiple speaker systems for Macs,...

Apple may be working on new speaker technology for Macs and/or its iOS devices. An Apple patent (number 20110002487) for a has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Embodiments of the invention relate to the field of audio output; and more specifically, to routing audio channels to multiple speakers in a movable device.

The patent involves a device that provides an audio output and includes a speaker array mechanically fixed to the device. The speaker array includes at least three speakers. An orientation sensor detects an orientation of the speaker array and provides an orientation signal. An audio receiver receives a number of audio signals that include spatial position information. An audio processor is coupled to the speakers, the orientation sensor, and the audio receiver.

The audio processor receives the audio signals and the orientation signal, and selectively routes the audio signals to the speakers according to the spatial position information...

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Jan 06
Greg's bite: Ballmer was right?

By Greg Mills

I bet that headline woke up some of my readers who hadn't had their coffee yet. I read yesterday, with amazement, that the high tech buffoon CEO of Microsoft made a good decision a few years back and invested in Facebook, before it become so popular.  

Investing about US$240 million in Facebook in 2007, Ballmer bought a 1.5% stake in the company, which then soared to about four times the valuation we see today.  See http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/01/05/lets-give-steve-ballmer-some-c... .  While Ballmer's leadership of Microsoft has largely been a "follow the leader" sort of management style, doing as many things as Microsoft does will, by default, include some good moves.

I don't know if it is the economy or just stingy Mac fans,...

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Jan 06
Five innovations that will change our lives: saving...

IBM recently unveiled the fifth annual "Next Five in Five" -- a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years. The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as -- not surprisingly -- emerging technologies from IBM's Labs. Here's the third part of our look at what IBM predicts -- and how this might affect the Apple world.

While you may not be a physicist, you are a walking sensor. In five years, sensors in your phone, your car, your wallet and even your tweets will collect data that will give scientists a real-time picture of your environment, according to IBM. You'll be able to contribute this data to fight global warming, save endangered species or track invasive plants or animals that threaten ecosystems around the world.

In the next five years, a whole class of "citizen scientists" will emerge, using simple sensors that already exist to...

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Jan 05
Greg's bite: no smart phone privacy in California...

By Greg Mills

In a stunning setback for Constitutional privacy rights regarding the contents of smart phones, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that if you are arrested on any charge and happen to have your smart phone on you, the police have the right to see and copy everything on it.  

Further, the contents of your phone may be used against you in a court of law, even if unrelated to the original charge they bust you on. All this without a warrant or probable cause. Business information, normally held secret, is also affected at this time.

While I believe in the necessity of the police being able to search a person they arrest to make sure they don't have a weapon on them, the notion that the incredible amount of personal data found on a modern cell phone suddenly and automatically belongs to the State, without probable cause and without a warrant, is counter to the Constitutional notion of a warrant being required...

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Jan 05
Five innovations that will change our lives, part two...

IBM recently unveiled the fifth annual "Next Five in Five" -- a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years. The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as -- not surprisingly -- emerging technologies from IBM's Labs. Here's the second part of our look at what IBM predicts -- and how this might affect the Apple world.

Ever wish you could make your laptop battery last all day without needing a charge? Or what about a cell phone that powers up by being carried in your pocket? In the next five years, scientific advances in transistors and battery technology will allow your devices to last about 10 times longer than they do today. Can you image an iPhone, iPod touch and iPad with that sort of potential?

Better yet, in some cases, batteries may disappear altogether in smaller devices. Instead of the heavy lithium-ion batteries used today,...

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Jan 04
Patent hints at 'cable/satellite' box...

An Apple patent (number 7865927) at the US Patent & Trademark Office for enhancing media system metadata hints at what could be the future of the Apple TV -- or perhaps an Apple TV successor -- that involves implementing "cable/satellite box" features.

Systems and methods for providing enhanced metadata to a user. Systems and methods can include extraction of data from metadata and searching for related metadata based upon the the extracted data. The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Claire Goldeen, Mihnea Calin Pacurariu and Jeffrey Ma.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Historically, video content for television was free broadcast video content. The revenue model for content providers was to sell advertising during the free broadcast content. The advent of cable television systems has significantly changed the business mode for content providers in many instances. For example, content providers such as Home Box Office (HBO), available...

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Jan 04
Apple granted iChat patents

Apple has been granted two patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office for its iChat audio and video conferencing app. Patent number 7,864,209 is for audio processing in a multi-participant conference.

Some embodiments provide an architecture for establishing multi-participant audio conferences over a computer network. This architecture has a central distributor that receives audio signals from one or more participants. The central distributor mixes the received signals and transmits them back to participants. In some embodiments, the central distributor eliminates echo by removing each participant's audio signal from the mixed signal that the central distributor sends to the particular participant. Hyeonkuk Jeong and Ryan Salsbury are the inventors.

Patent number 7,865,834 involves a multi-way video conference user interface. A videoconferencing application includes a user interface that provides multiple participant panels, each of which is displayed with...

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Jan 04
Apple wins patent for Cinema Display design

Apple has won a patent for the design of its Cinema Display and for displaying structured electronic documents by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The Cinema Display is, of course, Apple's standalone monitor, now available only in a 27-inch size. The inventors on its design patent are listed as Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iluiis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Douglas B. Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whange and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number 7864163 is for a portable electronic device (namely, the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), method and graphical user interface for displaying structured electronic documents. It involves acomputer-implemented method, for use in conjunction with a portable electronic device with a touch screen display, comprises displaying at least a portion of a structured electronic document on the touch screen display, wherein...

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Jan 04
Greg's bite: CES, iPhone EKG, MalcrosoftTV?

By Greg Mills

While I took an EMT-1 course, some years ago, I have never worked a single day as a paramedic. I thought it would be cool to be able to deliver babies or restart someone's heart if the emergency situation ever came up.  

My wife, being a nurse, and I talk a bit about medical care issues around here. My wife was blown away when I told her about a new iPhone app that converts an iPhone into an EKG device with an added $100 attachment mounted on the back of the iPhone. The iPhone is held against the chest and run an electro cardiogram test on the person's heart. The iPhone can then email the EKG trace to your doctor, who can look at it on his iPhone, iPad or computer.  See http://alivecor.com/ .

What a neat solution for people with heart issues that need monitoring. The phrase, "there's an app for that" never ceases to amaze. The wisdom of setting up...

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Jan 04
Five innovations that will change our lives, part one...

IBM recently unveiled the fifth annual "Next Five in Five" -- a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years. The Next Five in Five is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as -- not surprisingly -- emerging technologies from IBM's Labs. Let's look at what IBM predicts -- and how this might affect the Apple world.

Innovation one: you'll beam up your friends in 3D. In the next five years, 3D interfaces -- like those in the movies -- will let you interact with 3D holograms of your friends in real time. Movies and TVs are already moving to 3D, and as 3D and holographic cameras get more sophisticated and miniaturized to fit into cell phones, you will be able to interact with photos, browse the web and chat with your friends in entirely new ways.

Scientists are working to improve video chat to become holography chat -- or "3D telepresence." The technique uses light...

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Jan 03
Greg's bite: CES, iPad killers galore? Not!

By Greg Mills

The annual CES event begins this week in Las Vegas and, by some counts, as many as 40 to 80 iPad want to be devices are slated to be shown off.  Many of them are just concept prototypes, not even close to products ready to ship.  

The usual knockoff artists are showing the predictable "me too" products. Microsoft, will again show off slate format PCs that just don't get it as to what an iPad sort of device ought to be.  Running any flavor of Windows is a battery killer and results in a sluggish device due to a lousy user interface not really designed for touch screens.

Even Visio is launching a slate type computer running the Android OS. They hope to ship actual products this summer. Due to catching the entire PC industry sleeping at the switch, as they try to catch up with iPad 1, Apple is busy behind the scenes ramping up production of iPad 2. The entire year of not having any competition in the hottest product...

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Jan 03
Online gaming will be a $20 billion business in 2012

Driven by North American, European and Asia Pacific markets, online gaming continues its steady growth and the latest study from ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) forecasts revenues of slightly more than $20 billion in 2012. Technology developments will mean new opportunities for connected devices beyond the computer.

The Asia-Pac region, especially China, will be the engine behind much of this growth. However, in China, due to generally lower levels of personal computer ownership, the business models are evolving a little differently. According to industry analyst Michael Inouye, “World of Warcraft, for instance, generates significant revenue for Activision in Europe and North America on a subscription basis. But in China, despite a large ‘subscriber’ base, the revenues are far smaller: it's more of a pay-as-you-go model (prepaid game cards). This also creates a greater reliance on ‘cloud’...

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Dec 30
Crystal ball gazing: my 2010 predictions

Once again I'm gazing into my crystal ball to foresee what I see coming from Apple in the year ahead. Just remember: this is all for fun and I have no insider info, so these predictions are based on nothing but my experience and gut feelings.

Prediction one: The iPhone will come to Verizon at long last. Yes, it will actually happen by March.

Prediction 2: The second gen iPad will appear before the end of March. It will have a camera for FaceTiming, but NOT a second camera for taking photos; as svelte as it is, the iPad is too bulky to use as a camera. Speaking of size, there'll be no 7-inch iPad. The 9.7-inch version will sport a slightly tweaked form factor and a micro-USB slot. There may be a 128GB version (at least I'm hoping so).

Prediction 3: The iPod line-up will be overhauled in the second or third quarter. At long last the classic will disappear from the line-up. I also think the shuffle will vanish...

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Dec 30
Apple patent is for portable power source

Apple may be considering making its own portable power supplies. An company patent (number 20100327664) for a portable power source to provide power to an electronic device via an interface has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to portable power sources and, in particular, relates to a portable power source operable to selectively provide power to a device connected to an interface of the portable power source.

The portable power source cooperates and communicates with the electronic device via a peripheral bus to which the electronic device is attachable. The portable power source includes circuitry to process a power request signal from the electronic device to determine whether a device connected to a bus interface of the portable power source is requesting power from the portable power source. The inventors are David John Tupman, Doug M. Farrar, Joseph R. Fisher Jr., Jesse L. Dorogusker and Donald J. Novotney.

Here's Apple's background...

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Dec 30
Apple's online stores to get Ping-y?

Ping on iTunes hasn't exactly set the world ablaze, but Apple seems to be considering a similar feature for its online stores. An Apple patent (number 20100332283) for social networking in shopping environments has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

This is directed to a system and method for providing social networking services using a portable electronic device. In some embodiments, a user may identify one or more articles of interest and transmit identifying information for the articles to mobile or other devices of the user's friends. The user's friends can review the identified articles, and provide comments for the user.

For example, the user's friends can give a thumbs up/down, a star rating, a comment (e.g., text, audio or video), or any other type of comment. In some embodiments, the user can request the assistance of a salesperson using the social networking application device, for example to request recommended articles based on a...

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Dec 30
Apple patents involve track file data, virtual...

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100332124 involves analyzing and consolidating track file data. Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on computer storage media, are disclosed for track simplification and correction. In one aspect, a track data set having track points defining a course can be accessed and inaccurate track points and incorrect track points can be identified, wherein identifying inaccurate track points includes comparing, for one or more of the track points, a dilution of precision (DOP) value associated with the track point to a DOP threshold, and identifying incorrect track points includes performing an error correction process.

Also, a corrected track can be generated by removing identified inaccurate track points and incorrect track points from the track data set. Further, identifying an inaccurate track point...

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Dec 30
Apple patent is for playback control using a touch...

You can already use your iOS devices as remote controls for certain gadgets. And a new Apple patent (number 20100328224) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple wants to beef up these functions even more.

The patent is directed to controlling media playback based on particular touch gestures detected by a touch-sensing interface. The electronic device can identify particular touch inputs, such as combinations of tapping and holding a touch sensitive surface, or circular motions. In response to detecting a particular touch gesture, the electronic device can perform a playback operation specifically associated with the detected touch gesture. To provide a consistent user interface with the device, some of the particular touch gestures can match other inputs provided using a button, for example a button integrated on a wired headset. In such an embodiment, the same combination of tapping and holding a touch input and pressing and holding a button can control...

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Dec 30
My 2010 predictions -- how I'd do?

A year ago I made my predictions for what Apple would do in 2010. So let's see how effective I was.

First prediction: By spring we'll see new versions of iLife and iWork, which will probably be dubbed iLife X and iWork X instead of iLife '10 and iWork '10.

The truth: iLife wasn't introduced until October -- and it was dubbed iLife '11, not iLife X. iWork '11/X never showed up.

Second prediction: iWork.com will come out of beta and Apple will promote it heavily along with iWork. iWork is a service Apple is developing to share iWork ’09 documents online. Using your Apple ID, just click the iWork.com icon in the Keynote, Pages or Numbers toolbar to upload your document and invite others to view it online. Viewers can provide comments and notes, and download a copy of your document in iWork, Microsoft Office or PDF formats. A consolidated online list of all your shared documents indicates when your viewers have posted comments...

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Dec 29
Greg's bite: Apple TV vs NetFlix numbers

By Greg Mills

Apple TV numbers vs NetFlix: Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall estimated Apple is streaming magnitude of 500,000 TV shows and movies combined each day.  He estimates NetFlix streams 5.1 million programs a day.  

The difference is in the "go to market" plan which is charged per download with Apple and "all you can eat" with NetFlix. As I have mentioned in previous articles, the NetFlix plan makes a lot more sense than the Apple plan. Marshall extrapolates that Apple might see revenue of just over US$100 million per quarter, while NetFlix will see revenue of $550 million. The DVD in the mail from NetFlix is being phased out, so soon both companies will be strictly streaming content.  

Some have speculated that NetFlix's greatest asset is its smooth "DVD in the mail system" using the US Post Office. I can testify DVDs going both ways through the mail come as fast as the bills do. When NetFlix goes strictly...

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Dec 29
The Northern Spy: combatting spam

By Rick Sutcliffe

Spam is used either as a noun to refer to unsolicited bulk email, or as a verb to refer to the act of sending same. There are two categories of spam -- the difference depending on whether or not the mail has a commercial or monetary aspect;that is, the sender is attempting to obtain money from the recipients for a service, product, or cause.

There may or may not also be a fraudulent aspect to the spam -- generally one should expect that those who engage in one unethical activity would challenged where the truth is concerned as well. For instance, non-commercial spam is frequently sent to argue for or against some cause, and may be abusive of the recipient, or of some identifiable group or organization to which the recipient may be supposed to belong. Sometimes it's even a one-time friend or former fellow member of some organization who is now prosecuting a vendetta in semi-public fashion.

But no matter what the motivation for...

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Dec 29
Mac App Store a good idea -- but we don't need a...

I'm looking forward to the Mac App Store when it debuts next week. But I'm also hoping it doesn't become the only -- or even the main -- source of software for the Mac.

The Mac App Store will launch on Jan. 6 for Mac OS X 10.6 ("Snow Leopard") and will be built into next summer's Mac OS X Lion. By bringing the Apple App Store experience to Mac OS X, the Mac App Store makes discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The Mac App Store will be available in 90 countries at launch and will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.

Purchased apps can run on all of your personal Macs and updates are delivered directly through the Mac App Store. so it will be able to keep all of your apps up-to-date. For users who need consumer level apps and don't want to have to deal with DMG files, update notifications, etc., this will be a great thing...

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Dec 28
Apple patent is for 'touchless' touch...

An Apple patent (number 7,859,521) for an integrated touch screen has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. And it shows that Apple is at least considering "touchless" touch screen interfaces for some devices -- including Macs.

The patent relates generally to displays including display pixel stackups, and more particularly to touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup of a display. Per the patent, displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup are provided.

Circuit elements, such as touch signal lines, such as drive lines and sense lines, grounding regions, in the display pixel stackups can be grouped together to form touch sensing circuitry that senses a touch on or near the display. An integrated touch screen can include multi-function circuit elements that can operate as circuitry of the display system to generate an image on the display, and can also form part of a touch sensing system that...

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Dec 28
Apple granted patents for Time Machine technology

Apple has been granted two patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving its Time Machine backup and restoration technology in Mac OS X.

Patent number 7856424 is for an user interface for backup management. ystems and methods for providing a user interface including earlier versions of data are disclosed.

In one implementation, computer program product is provided. The computer program product generates a user interface. The user interface includes a view display area for presenting a current view and a history view display area for presenting a history view associated with the current view. The history view includes one or more first visual representations of corresponding earlier versions of the current view. The user interface also includes an input control for initiating a restoration of the current view according to at least a portion of an earlier version of the one or more earlier versions.

Here's Apple's background on the...

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Dec 28
Looking at the evolution of the digital home

Think the race for connected TV gadgets is crowded now? Think Blu-ray is doomed (as Apple CEO Steve Jobs seems to think). Perhaps you should think again.

In 2011, Facebook and other companies may join Apple, Google and Microsoft in the cloud TV arena. What's more, the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) notes that Apple’s iTunes will enter its second decade with challenges ahead, and Nintendo will have to decide what to do about the decline of the Wii. Social networks will pass one billion users, $10 billion will be spent on Blu-ray discs, and more than 500 million connected TV devices will be in use. Revenues from tablets will exceed netbooks, but on the downside, only 20% of 3DTV owners will be watching 3D content.

“2011 promises to be another exciting year in the evolution of the digital home,” says David Mercer, principal analyst, Strategy...

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Dec 28
Apple wins patent involving video sequence technology

Apple has won a patent (number 7,856,059) from the US Patent & Trademark Office involving determining the number of unidirectional and bidirectional motion compensated frames to be encoded for a video sequence and detecting scene cuts in the video sequence.

Methods for processing a set of successive video frames in two passes to determine the number of bidirectional (B) and unidirectional (P) motion compensated frames to be encoded in a video coding system. During the first pass, motion vectors and motion costs are computed for each frame and a derived cost value is computed based on the motion cost of at least one frame.

The derived cost value is used to determine the number (N.sub.B) of B-frames to be encoded in the set of successive frames. In the second pass, the set of successive frames are encoded where N.sub.B frames are encoded as B-frames and some or all motion vectors computed in the first pass are re-used in the second pass. A scene cut detection...

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Dec 27
Greg's bite: iPad cannibalism?

By Greg Mills

I am amused to read the ravings of clueless tech sorts like the court jester of high tech writers Dvorak, who are normally so very wrong about Apple and its products. A lot of PC minions are clamoring for news that iPad is cannibalizing Macs sales. That does not seem to be supported by the numbers. Mac, iPhones and iPads are all flying off the shelf.  

There is one sort of cannibalism I can relate to. Some of the time I would have spent on-line with my MacBook Pro I spend on my iPad these days. Since I have an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro, sometimes there is a certain calculous in my mind as I reach for one of them sitting on my desk to browse or do a certain task. There is a lot of truth to the statement that the Mac is for creating content and the iPad is for consuming content. The iPhone is for web content and a phone that fits in your pocket.

There are people who can clearly get by with just an iPad who might have popped for a...

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Dec 23
Upcoming iPhones could place antenna behind the Apple...

An upcoming iPhone could place the antenna behind the Apple logo, based on a new patent (number 20100321253) for a dielectric window antenna for electronic devices at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, logo antennas are provided for electronic devices such as portable computers. An electronic device may have a housing with conductive housing walls. A logo antenna may be formed from an antenna resonating element such as a patch antenna resonating element, a monopole antenna resonating element, or other antenna resonating element structure. A conductive cavity may be placed behind the antenna resonating element.

A dielectric antenna window that serves as a logo may be used to cover the antenna resonating element. The dielectric antenna window may be mounted in an opening in the conductive housing walls. A positive antenna feed terminal may be coupled to the antenna resonating element. A ground antenna feed terminal may be coupled to the cavity and...

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Dec 23
Apple patent is for push-based location update

An Apple patent (number 20100325194) for a push-based location update has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's generally related to location information updates for mobile devices.

Methods, systems, and computer-readable media for a location information server to gather location updates by sending location-update-requests through a push notification service to a mobile device are disclosed. The mobile device provides location updates in response to the push-based location-update-requests received through the push notification service. The mobile device can switch from a self-initiated location update mode to a push-based location update mode depending on the current state of the mobile device.

The mobile device can also choose an appropriate positioning system for self-locating based on the information embedded in the location-update-request received through the push notification service. The information embedded in the pushed location-update-...

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Dec 23
Apple investigating edge-lit backlight displays

A new Apple patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is looking at developing new edge-lit backlight displays for Macs and its iOS devices. Patent number 20100321609 is for an edge-lit backlight unit with a thin profile. The invention relates generally to backlight units of electronic display panels, such as liquid crystal displays.

An edge-lit backlight unit for a display is provided per the patent. In one embodiment, the backlight unit may include a light guide configured to receive light from a source and emit such light in a broad distribution to a turning film disposed over the light guide. The turning film may be configured to redirect light received from the light guide toward a normal of the turning film.

In one embodiment, the light guide may be configured such that peak light distribution therefrom occurs at an incident angle of approximately sixty degrees, with broad light distribution substantially occurring over an angular range...

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Dec 23
Apple files patent for display simulation system

Apple is apparently working on a new display standard, based on a patent (number 20100321395) for a display simulation system and method that has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to display devices and, more specifically, to techniques for simulating display devices on a computing device.

A display simulation system is provided having a flexible design for emulating and/or supporting any number of display types and/or display standards. The display simulation system may include one or more reference drivers that include a virtual graphics processing unit (GPU) and one or more virtual frame buffer drivers.

In one embodiment, the display simulation system may implement a virtual display in response to a user selection input. For instance, the user selection input may initiate a simulated hot-plug event on the display simulation system. Based upon the user selection, an appropriate display profile corresponding to the selected...

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Dec 23
Greg's bite: Streak, Vista 7 Mobile phones, more...

By Greg Mills

New high tech products are sold, first at the hopeful high price the manufacturer would like to hold as the "suggested retail price.". If the product sells like hotcakes at the high launch price point there is no reason to cut the price until the market is saturated. The market place is not kind to products that are not perceived as the best in their class. Why buy a Zune, for example, when you could buy an iPod for the same money?

Yesterday, blood was in the water again, as the realities of the market place -- read that the great white shark called Apple -- killed two more potentially competitive products.  I have dissed the Microsoft Vista 7 Mobile Phone platform as being just average, when exemplary had to happen. It didn't. The ramifications for Microsoft are bleak indeed.  Microsoft's aspirations for the mobile device market are over.

AT&T, in a move surely to be matched by other cell...

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Dec 23
Twas the week before a new year (a holiday poem)

The "MacNews" and "MacTech" sites will be closed Friday for Christmas. We wish all of you a happy holiday and offer this little holiday poem for your amusements.

Twas the start of a new year -- 2011
Yet another 12 months of good Apple heaven
Our wish stockings were hung in our brains without care
To answer all our wishes Apple hasn't a prayer

We Apple fans are nestled in front of our Mac
That "beleaguered" computer that's come roaring back
While rumors of Sandy Bridge processors sound mighty good
And Light Peak and Blu-ray, oh, they'd be soooo good

And out in Cupertino there arose such a clatter
Steve Ballmer jumped out of bed to see what was the matter
Away to his private jet he flew like a flash
Kicking through piles of unsold Windows 7 Phone stash

The sun beating down on the Infinite Loop of good buzz
Gave the luster of mid-day because, well, it was
When what to Ballmer's wondering eyes...

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Dec 22
AirPlayer and AirFlick needed along with AirPlay

Sometimes we talk about what companies Apple should buy. Well, maybe it should hire TUAW's Eric Sadun -- or buy too great apps that he's developing: AirPlayer and AirFlick. Both are in alpha testing and both make a great complement to Apple's AirPlay technology.

AirPlay lets you stream music, photos and video from your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch directly to the Apple TV. Unfortunately, you can't stream media from the iOS device to your Mac or from your Mac to the Apple TV with AirPlay.

AirPlayer (http://www.tuaw.com/2010/12/14/hacksugar-mac-based-airplay-service-allow...) lets you stream content from your iOS device to your Mac. Eric says that what AirPlayer does is create and advertise a custom Bonjour AirPlay service/app on the Mac that pretends to be an...

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Dec 22
Greg's bite: Net Neutrality, Stuxnet, Vista 7...

By Greg Mills

The FCC voted 2 to 3 to make the new rules regarding wired "Net Neutrality" official. It won't be know for some time if they even had the authority, since the radio waves are not in use for wired Internet, but the principles of the rules may be adopted by Congress, anyway. The Internet wants to be free of censorship by ISPs and not be controlled by carriers of broadband service.

NetFlix and others big in the downloadable content business are likely very glad to see the cable companies throttled back. Apple stands as much as any company to benefit from the rules, despite the potential for people claiming they are trying to manage the internet by allowing or not allowing iOS apps in the Apple App Store.

The Windows Stuxnet worm continues to frighten US experts due to the potential that it can be converted into malware that might attack our infrastructure and cause an unknown amount of damage. While...

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Dec 21
Apple wins several design patents

Apple has won patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office involving the Mail app, the Mac OS X interface, Time Machine and multi-touch displays.

Patent number D629419 involves an icon in the Mac OS X Mail app. Bas Ording and Steve Jobs are the inventors. Patent number D629396 is for a Bluetooth headset (since discontinued). The inventors are Bartley Andre, Bartley Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer. Patent number D629412 is for a user interface for a computer display (involving part of Mac OS X's drop down menus). Imran A. Chaudhri is the inventor.

Apple has also won a patent (number 7856424) that involves its Time Machine backup feature. The patent is for systems and methods for providing a user interface including earlier versions of data. In one implementation, computer...

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Dec 21
Greg's bite: Net Neutrality and Apple

By Greg Mills

The FCC is preparing to make rules for what is called "Net Neutrality." This is important to those of us who use the Internet and particularly those who might want to innovate in new services related to broadband, like Apple.  

There will likely be a vote today, and it is expected the FCC will move to ban wired broadband Internet providers from blocking or slowing down traffic they don't like. The notion is to make wired broadband unrestricted by ISPs to the benefit of streaming services.

Ironically, despite a lot of concern about what the FCC does in this area, a recent Federal Court ruling raises issues as to the jurisdiction of the FCC to make rules concerning broadband Internet, in the first place. This will play out in the courts and the Congress. As we have seen Apple launch into a number of download services over the last few years, with more on the way, the openness of the Internet will become more and more important to...

| Read more »
Dec 21
Odds good that we'll see iWork '11 on Jan. 6

Will we see the next version of iWork when the Mac App Store debuts on Jan. 6? Looks like a good possibility.

According to "9to5Mac" (http://www.9to5mac.com/43132/iwork-out-of-stock-at-apple-amazon), stock of iWork '09 is running low at retail Apple Stores. Also, promotional materials for the Mac App Store have shown the three iWork applications -- Pages, Keynote, and Numbers -- available on an individual basis for $19.99 each. Currently, they've only available as a boxed bundle for $79.

It would make sense to debut the app along with the Mac App Store. It would be a good promo for the store (not that it will really need any). And with Apple spotlighting the iWork (and iLife) apps on the much-ballyhooed store, the company will probably sell even more copies of the software than it normally wou.d.

Speaking of...

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Dec 20
Greg's bite: apps that call home

By Greg Mills

The day computers began to communicate with each other was an ominous day in the ongoing development of technology. No one could have realized the ramifications that would be the result of that connection.

The Internet, in its inception, was the linking of computers limited to the military and colleges.  Slowly more and more computers were hooked up. Then the age of personal computers was born in a garage in California and you know the rest.

The issues related to privacy of your computer has been a complicated and controversial issue.  When I tap my fingers on the keyboard of my MacBook Pro or tickle the touch screen of my iPad, it is hard to imagine that in the privacy of my home what I do can be tracked remotely, down to the last key stroke. Should that be? I think not. It turns out if you think privacy on your computer is a problem, your iPhone and iPad are far worse.  

This morning I noticed an interesting article on...

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Dec 20
US consumers now spending as much time online as...

A new study reinforces -- in my humble opinion -- my thoughts that Apple needs to add further television/film features to its iMac line -- such as offering a build-to-order TV tuner and Blu-ray support. This would probably make the Mac even more desirable to a populace that continues to devour media -- on-line and on-the-air -- at a ravenous pace.

The Forrester Research Group (http://blogs.forrester.com/jackie_rousseau_anderson/10-12-13-us_consumer...) says that, for the first year ever, the average time US consumers report that spending online is the same that they report spending watching offline TV. While Gen Yers have been spending more time online than watching TV offline for a few years now...

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Dec 17
Mac App Store's arrival should also make it...

When the Mac App Store rolls out for Mac OS X 10.6 ("Snow Leopard") next month and is built-into Mac OS X Lion when it begins prowling in 2011, let's hope Apple makes it simple to delete an app.

Right now removing an app doesn't involve simply dragging the app to the trash. There are preference files, documents and more that have to be removed. Some apps have an uninstall feature. Others can be removed by third party apps (AppZapper is my personal favorite).

But if Apple plans on making installing apps from the Mac App Store a no-brainer procedure a la iOS apps, then, hopefully, the company will do the same with apps purchased there. In other words, deleting an app ought to remove all accompanying files.

Of course, that will probably only apply to software bought at the Mac App Store. For software purchased and downloaded elsewhere, tools such as AppZapper will still be needed.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Dec 16
Apple eyeing fiber-based electronic devices

A new patent (number 20100315299) at the US Patent & Trademark Office for fiber-based electronic device structures show that Apple is investigating ways to form structures for electronic devices from fibers.

Per the patent, fibers may be intertwined to form structures for electronic devices and other parts. Fibers may be intertwined using computer-controlled braiding, weaving, and knitting equipment. Binder materials may be selectively incorporated into the intertwined fibers. By controlling the properties of the intertwined fibers and the patterns of incorporated binder, structures can be formed that include antenna windows, sound-transparent and sound-blocking structures, structures that have integral rigid and flexible portions, and tubes with seamless forked portions.

Fiber-based structures such as these may be used to form cables and other parts of headphones or other electronic device accessories, housings for electronic devices such as housings for...

| Read more »
Dec 16
Apple patents reflect new user interface for media...

Two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is considering a new "v-shaped" user interface for media playback to replace (or perhaps exist in addition to CoverFlow.

The patent obviously affects iTunes. However, it could impact the entire Mac OS X interface at some point.

Patent number 20100318908 and 20100318928 is for an user interface for media playback. According to the patent, a graphical user interface made up of icons representing individual files and collectively forming the shape of a “v” is described along with methods of using and creating the graphical user interface. The v-shaped interface is useful to display detailed information about many of the items in a list and facilitates manipulation of list order and selection of the active file in the list. The interface further permits the use of a representative icon associated with the list as a whole. Manipulation of the representative icon can cause modification or...

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