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Aug 11
Apple eyeing schematic maps for iOS devices

Apple is eyeing a new Maps app for iOS devices with "schematic maps," per a patent that's appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent, "entitled Schematic Maps," involves systems and methods for preparing and presenting schematic maps, which are maps that present information in a format that presents only information that is most relevant to a given situation in order to provide a simple and clear representation sufficient to aid a user in guidance or orientation. The schematic maps as described can be formatted based on the attributes of a display on which they are presented so that the map layout and presentation can be optimized for the particular display. T

The schematic maps can be “distorted” to better illustrate important maps areas in greater detail and using a relatively larger display area while deemphasizing less important map areas by illustrating them in less detail and using a relatively smaller display area, and thus the schematic maps...

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Aug 11
Apple may include projectors into iOS devices

An Apple patent (number 20110197147) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is considering integrating projectors into upcoming iOS devices -- and perhaps Macs, as well.

The patent, entitled "Projected Display Shared Workspaces," involves systems, methods, and devices that are provided for creating a shared workspace where images may be shared between projected displays. In one embodiment, electronic devices each may include a projector that produces a projected display and a camera that detects gestures made with respect to the projected displays.

The electronic devices may interpret gestures on the projected displays to identify image sharing commands for sharing images between the projected displays. The electronic devices may be connected through a communication link that allows the electronic devices to share image data for producing images on any of the projected displays included within the shared workspace. Anthony Y.S. Fai is...

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Aug 11
DealFinders -- and FileMaker Pro's Mac App Store...

A friend of mine recently got an e-mail from AA promoting a new DealFinder application that's compatible with both Mac OS X and Windows. It's designed to help you find better deals on flights. But there's a problem.

My friend went to install it and ran into a little problem: it requires Flash. Someone is not doing their homework and it makes me question their competency.

By the way, have you noticed that while FileMaker Pro's Bento is on the App Store, FileMaker Pro isn't? Strange.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 10
Greg's Bite: Motorola looking at Windows 7

By Greg Mills

The legal problems the Android OS is facing over patent infringement is certain to help alternative smartphone platforms. The large market share Android now holds may soon be divided into market segments going to surviving smartphone platforms. If Apple manages to crush or seriously stumble Google's legally indefensible Android platform, the iOS is sure to be the biggest winner. iOS developers will come out on top.

The epic patent war going on, pitting Apple against every Android handset maker and Google itself facing Oracle, will, at a minimum, force a major recompilation of Android's OS, just to get around Apple patents. Android handsets themselves will also face revisions. Orphaned Android handsets, broken apps and further platform fragmentation may well be the result of the effort to get along with Apple.

Hedging your bet, when the stakes are as high as they are, makes perfect sense. Legal costs fighting Apple around the...

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Aug 10
Is my iServe ready yet?

In the past I've pondered that I wished Apple would release an "iServe." My opinion hasn't changed, even with the impending release of iCloud.

For example, the iPad is a great device, but even the upper end only has 64GB of internal storage. A home server would provide a way for keeping family media assets managed and available.

There are home server choices for the Mac, but all of them could be bettered by an Apple product. The Apple server could also be the next step to venture into another market, home control. For example, if Apple would offer a home climate control to your home server, you or the server could change the temperature in your home from a distance or in accordance with your iCal schedule.

An Apple home server could be a great companion for Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads and other Apple devices. Heck, put it under the Apple TV division and let's move beyond the "hobby" category. In fact, an iServe would fit in nicely if the rumors are correct and...

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Aug 09
Apple working on 'dark' wake-up methods for...

Apple is working on methods to power up select components of a Mac from a sleep state, per a patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office.


Patent number 7996694 is for a "dark wake," or xemplary embodiments of methods, apparatuses, and systems for powering up select components of a computer from a sleep state, maintaining a network state, and powering down the select components of the computer to return the computer to the sleep state are described. For one embodiment, a network interface and a fan controller receive power during the network state maintenance but a display or audio components do not receive power during the network state maintenance. The inventors are Ethan Bold, Stuart Cheshire, J. Rhoads Hollowell, Joe Liu and Dean R. Reece.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The various embodiments described herein relate to power management of a processing system. In particular, embodiments include the processing system entering a dark...

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Aug 09
Apple wins patent for integrated touch screen

Apple has won a patent for an integrated touch screen from the US Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent (number 7995041), 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 senses one or more touches on or near the display.

The multi-function circuit elements can be, for example, capacitors in display pixels that can be configured to operate as storage capacitors/electrodes, common electrodes, conductive wires/pathways, etc., of the display circuitry in the display system, and...

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Aug 09
What happened to making FaceTime an open industry...

During his 2010 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, CEO Steve Jobs said, "We’re going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we’re going to make FaceTime an open industry standard.” So has any progress been made in this area?

In case you're not familiar with it, FaceTime is video calling that uses Wi-Fi. It was first introduced with the iPhone 4. FaceTime for Mac makes it possible to communicate with anyone on an iPhone 4, iPod touch, or Mac from your Mac. If you use one of the new MacBook Pros you get 720p clarity.

All you need is an Apple ID and an email address and you’re ready to roll. To start a video call with someone, find her entry in the contacts list. FaceTime works with Address Book so you don’t have to enter your contacts from scratch.

FaceTime is excellent technology. But Apple needs to rely on all computers -- Windows included -- to support the system in order to really become the revolutionary offering Apple has made it out to...

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Aug 09
Apple patents involve level shifter, NBTI reduction...

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

Patent number 7994820 is for a level shifter with embedded logic and low minimum voltage. Per the patent, in one embodiment, a level shifter circuit may include a shift stage that also embeds transistors that implement a logic operation on two or more inputs to the level shifter. At least one of the inputs may be sourced from circuitry that is powered by a different power supply than the level shifter and circuitry that receives the level shifter output.

Additionally, the level shifter includes one or more dummy transistors that match transistors the perform the logic operation, to improve symmetry of the level shifter circuit. In some embodiments, certain design and layout rules may be applied to the level shifter circuit to limit variation in the symmetry over various manufacturing variations. The inventors are Brian J. Campbell, Vincent R....

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Aug 08
Greg's Bite: when "open source" isn...

By Greg Mills

While much has been written about the Apple vs Android patent war going on in courts and trade commissions around the world, there hasn't been nearly as much written about Oracle's suit directly against Google over using Java code without a license. Apple has chosen to attack all the handset manufacturers in separate actions rather than going after Google, head on. Both points of attack are beginning to have some effect, if the level of retoric coming from Google is any indication.

Oracle is suing Google for using patented Java code without a license in the Android OS. The head lawyer at Google was famously quoted recently whining that in effect, patents shouldn't be applied against open source software. One has to imagine if it were Google's patents being infringed, the story would be quite different.

The allure of using the Android OS, from a handset maker's point of view, is that many of the platform elements required to...

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Aug 08
US consumers want more Wi-Fi services from mobile...

Seventy four percent of smartphone users in the United States are interested in a mobile operator-provided service that uses Wi-Fi to provide lower cost calls, according to a recent MarketTools Zoomerang survey of 420 smartphone owners. The survey, commissioned by Kineto Wireless, also showed 72% of smartphone users are interested in an application that uses Wi-Fi to improve cellular coverage.

Additional highlights from the online survey conducted May 2011 include:

Forty-four percent of iPhone owners would “definitely” be interested in an application that could be used to boost mobile coverage; and 47% would “definitely” be interested in a Wi-Fi service offering discounted calling.

Thirty percent have smartphones with a Google Android operating system (OS); 26% use iOS; and 22% use a RIM OS.

Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) of respondents have smartphones with Wi-Fi.

Seventy-seven percent have Wi-Fi at home; 54% have it at their place of work.

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Aug 06
Greg's Bite: Microsoft Mobile 7 fades

Posted by Greg Mills

Microsoft slept at the switch for so long, when they finally got into the smartphone operating system business many anayists speculated it was just too late. That may well be true, despite Microsoft throwing money hand over fist at the development of Windows Mobile 7. Things have not gone well lately for Windows 7.

Desperation and plenty of money flowing from the Windows PC operating system has resulted in very questionable decisions by Microsoft management. One of the most interesting was the deal Microsoft made with Nokia. Instead of selling rights to Mobile 7 to a desperate handset company, that had just given up on their own mobile OS, Ballmer, sensing blood in the water, gave Nokia 1 Billion dollars US to bribe them to not go with Android. Android would have made more sense, but heck, 1 Billion dollars cash and the promise of further development of the Microsoft Mobile OS was an offer Nokia couldn't resist.

That...

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Aug 05
Is a 'premium' iPad 2 coming? I doubt it

Apple has begun production on an incremental upgrade for the iPad 2, presenting the possibility of the first instance of mainstream and high-end iPad models, according to Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar. Maybe, but I'm dubious.

A "professional" iPad would have incremental improvements and possibly appeal to segments such as publishing, Kumar says in a note to clients -- as reported by "CNET News" (http://macte.ch/53YCJ).

"Apple is ... expected to roll out a premium version of iPad 2--a higher resolution screen, front/rear- facing HD cameras -- in the current quarter," he says. Because Apple won't "sunset" the current iPad 2, it will be a model that "probably appeals to the publishing vertical and some other select segments," Kumar adds.

I don't see this happening. Apple isn't going to confuse the market with a pro iPad in addition to the iPad 2. If a new iPad is introduced this year, it...

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Aug 04
Apple eyeing ways to improve air flow in upcoming Macs

A new Apple patent (number 20110189004) shows that the company is working on ways to improve air flow in upcoming Macs.

The patent involves a fan inlet and method. method and apparatus to improve air flow in an air circulating fan assembly by forming an inlet opening in a fan assembly is disclosed. A static air pressure profile is calculated along a top portion of the fan assembly configured to operate in an enclosure.

The shape of a section of the inlet opening in the top portion of the fan assembly is changed based on a pressure contour of the calculated static air pressure profile. The method is repeated iteratively one or more times using an inlet opening changed by a previously calculated static air pressure profile when calculating a subsequent static air pressure profile.

The inlet opening is positioned in the top surface of the fan assembly so that the centroid of the inlet opening is laterally offset with respect to the rotational axis of an impeller...

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Aug 04
Apple working on inductive charging system for...

Apple is investigating ways to create an inductive charging system for devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, per a patent (number 20110188677) for "using an audio cable as an inductive charging coil" at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

According to Apple, the disclosed embodiments relate to a technique for inductively charging an electronic device. This technique involves winding an audio cable for the electronic device around a charging mechanism multiple times so that one or more conductors in the audio cable form an inductive receiving coil.

Next, a magnetic field is created through the charging mechanism to induce a current in the inductive receiving coil. Finally, the induced current in the inductive receiving coil is used to charge a rechargeable battery for the electronic device. The inventors are Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Anna-katrina Shedletsky, and Stephen Brian Lynch.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Rechargeable...

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Aug 04
Tablets will overtake consumer computers, but so what?

Tablet sales will overtake consumer desktop and notebook computer sales, according to Dr. Joseph Reger, Fujitsu's chief technology officer. He may be right, but I think that, in the long run, it's no big deal. At least for Apple.

According to "The Register" (http://macte.ch/zXRLI), Reger thinks tablet sales are going to cannibalize consumer desktop and notebook sales, because consumers want to consume content more than they want to create it with a keyboard and mouse. Reger cites the success of iPad as evidence of this. He's convinced that the "disadvantages" of the computer will help ensure that tablet devices sales will overtake consumer computer sales in 2016 or so, notes "The Register."

He's probably right, but those of us interested in content creation will still need a computer. The tablet is good at many things, but it can't handle all the chores a desktop can.

Besides, the iPad looks to...

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Aug 03
Greg's Bite: Explorer IQs story was bogus?

By Greg Mills

I was amused by a recent story that was picked up by major news sources as proven fact: that Microsoft Internet Explorer users were less intelligent than those who use other browsers. =CNN, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, Forbes and other major news outlets were also taken in by the hoax. Shades of April Fools' Day! It all seemed so logical and smacked of serious research. That most people bought the premise is quite telling. (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14386833.)

People who tend to use software with a generally bad reputation, with constant malware attacks specifically targeting it, are as smart as people who use a browser that almost never has such problems? Who is spoofing whom? While the story seems to have been an elaborate hoax, intelligence is measured in a lot of different ways. Self-flagellation has...

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Aug 03
iTunes overhaul? It's about time

Rumor has it that iTunes will soon be overhauled, possibly resulting in full integration with the company’s upcoming cloud-based storage service, iCloud, reports "Digital Trends" (http://macte.ch/FoqI9). If an overhaul is planned, it's about time.

According to a post on iDownloadBlog, iTunes “will be revamped from the ground up,” resulting in a slicker and cleaner interface compared to previous versions. “The basic layout of the iTunes UI hasn’t changed since the first version,” the post says. “This new update will have a completely different UI and better iCloud integration. So we’re not looking at a simple lick of paint here; more of a total rebuild."

iTunes needs a major overhaul or else a new name. In fact, it should be broken up into several different apps as has happened on iOS devices.

When iTunes was launched in 1999, it was a simple music player with the ability to do MP3 conversions....

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Aug 02
A note about Lion and multiple Cinema Display...

"MacNews/MacTech" reader John Kitchen recently alerted me to a, er, situation, for lack of a better work, involving OS X 7 and Cinema Displays.

With the new 27-inch iMac, some pros and power users may wish to connect two 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays for a massive amount of screen real estate. This set-up works as expected in Snow Leopard, but Lion is a different story.

"Take the case of the Aperture (just as one example) user who likes to see his/her work in full screen detail on the center screen, while having access to, say, Mail, Safari, the Aperture User Manual and the APTS training for Aperture certification on the other screens," John says. "Makes sense, right? While this works just fine with Snow Leopard, under Lion, the second and third screen contents is overlayed with an impenetrable grey linen pattern, which reduces those displays to being very expensive fake linen.  There is no way to simultaneously view all three screens with any screen in full...

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Aug 02
Apple patents involve product design, iMovie, motion,...

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent 7,992,097 is for select drag and drop operations on video thumbnails across clip boundaries and involves iMovie. A computer-implemented method includes displaying, within a user interface in a digital media system, a media pane, and a project pane, displaying, within the media pane, a thumbnail group representing a media item, the thumbnail group comprising one or more thumbnails, enabling a user to select, from the thumbnail group, a segment of the media item, and enabling a user to transfer the selected segment to the project pane. Randy Ubillos is the inventor.

Patent 7,990,398 is for matching movement behavior in motion graphics and involves Apple's Motion software. Computer-implemented methods and media bearing instructions for matching movements of objects are described. In one example, the method can include...

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Aug 01
Greg's Bite:Robots, Browsers and Demand for Apple...

Posted by Greg Mills

Robots to replace Chinese workers?
The assembly line in China got a rude wake-up call from Foxconn's founder recently. Terry Gou has announced that he intends to replace up to 1 Million hard working assembly line workers with robots, within three years. The economics of robots can be pretty compelling. The cost, maintenance and installation of robotic assembly line automation can be very competitive with human workers. See: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-07/30/c_131018764.htm

However, given the wages of Foxconn workers in China running at about US $175 a month, one has to ask why doesn't Apple gear up with a hoard of robots and move assembly back to the Untied States? If the economics of automating makes sense for Foxconn in China, why not...

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Aug 01
The Northern Spy: Lions, finances and a tech rant

By Rick Sutcliff

The Lion no longer sleeps tonight but has been released. This update will perhaps go a little more slowly than some, because of the large number of applications out there that require Rosetta to run under OS X -- an option no longer available under Lion.

The Spy himself has some such, and they have conveniences and/or functionality that has not yet been provided in newer applications. Besides, he has other fish to fry. How times have changed since he was a beta-testing, high risk adopter. The latest cat is not a high priority for him. Indeed, he has more interest in keeping his iPod Touch up to date with the latest and greatest, and has become far more conservative with his main work platform, where he needs rock solid stability with a suite of applications that do the job, and never fail.

Meanwhile, back at the financial statement,Apple recently released yet another quarterly result that blew...

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Aug 01
Location analytics market to reach $9 billion in 2016

As a result of the recent “locationgate” controversy (centering on Apple’s and others’ logging of the location of mobile devices as they are used by consumers) the location-based services (LBS) and advertising (LBA) markets have come under intense scrutiny, with privacy legislation a major focus.

However, ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) believes that this temporary debate won't prevent the future success of location-based services, marketing and advertising, all of which will be based on location analytics -- the aggregation and analysis of location information to identify trends that will enable new services and more effective advertising.”

The firm forecasts size of the location analytics market to reach US$9 billion in 2016. At the moment, the initial LBA trials are largely focused on geofencing, with impressive results. However, the real power of LBA will come through social,...

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Jul 29
Greg's Bite: Apple vs HTC, S3 Patents invalid!

Posted By Greg Mills

Recently it came out that HTC won one in the legal mega-spat with Apple. HTC had just paid $300,000,000 to S3 for five patents, two of which, had been just found to be infringed by Apple in a separate infringement complaint by the US International Trade Commission. Eager to have something to hold over Apple, HTC bought the patents, apparently not knowing they had just been found to be invalid by the US Patent Office in a re-examination of the patents.

See: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/s3_patents_apple_violates_rules_u... While this article mixes legal terms incorrectly, the basic information is sound. The correct term for issued patents that are later found to be "invalid" is not that they are "unpatentable". The term "...

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Jul 29
Macs with double-high resolution displays may be...

OS X Lion incorporates support for displays packing four times as many pixels as they do today. So perhaps we'll see Macs with their own version of the Retina Display soon.

Currently the "HiDPI" mode remains inaccessible unless you've downloaded Apple's Xcode software development tool. It contains a graphics test application called Quartz Debug and it enables HiDPI modes -- which allow developers to supply 2x-enlarged images to support double-high resolution displays -- in Lion's Displays control panel.

Lion features icons in sizes up to 1024×1024, and a desktop background at a resolution of 3200×3200. Like the iPhone 4′s Retina Display, HiDPi modes mean that user interface elements will remain the same size, but everything will be twice the resolution and twice as detailed.

Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 3840 x 2160 resolution. The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440 resolution. Such a display requires quite a bit of processing...

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Jul 28
Patents show Apple has 3D on its mind

Two new Apple patents (number 20110175902 and 20110182520) show that 3D is on Apple's collective mind. The former is for a multilayer display device.

Said includes a first layer operable to display a first display signal comprising a first group of data, a second layer positioned in front of the first layer and operable to display a second display signal comprising a second group of data, and a first graphics processing unit connected to the first layer. The first graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the first display signal to the first layer.

The multilayer display system further includes a second graphics processing unit connected to the second layer. The second graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the second display signal to the second layer. Peter H. Mahowald is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic components, devices and/or systems utilize two-dimensional display...

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Jul 28
Future Apple portables may have jelly rolls --...

A new Apple patent (number 20110123844) shows that Apple is eyeing ways to improve battery life in its laptops and iOS devices via a battery with multiple "jelly rolls" enclosed in a single pouch.

Disclosed embodiments in the patent -- entitled "pressure-relief mechanism to improve safety in lithium-polymer battery cells" -- relate to a battery cell which includes a weakness for relieving pressure. This battery cell includes a jelly roll comprising layers which are wound together, including a cathode with an active coating, a separator and an anode with an active coating. The jelly roll also includes a first conductive tab coupled to the cathode and a second conductive tab coupled to the anode. The jelly roll is enclosed in a flexible pouch, wherein the first and second conductive tabs extend through seals in the pouch to provide terminals for the battery cell.

This pouch includes a weakness which yields when internal pressure in the pouch exceeds a threshold to...

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Jul 28
Apple, the auto industry needs your help

Perhaps Apple should approach car companies with a new division to create passenger environments. 

In an online journal (http://macte.ch/iFsXv), Alan Cooper, founder of the Cooper interactive design consultancy, says the Ford Motor Company has "just convincingly demonstrated that being an excellent industrial manufacturer doesn’t automatically mean that you are an excellent maker of digital technology."

Despite Ford’s improvements in manufacturing quality, their overall ratings fell drastically this year due solely to the poor software interaction on their dashboards, he says. What's more, a recent article (http://macte.ch/7mRSD) in the "New York Times" discusses Ford’s plummeting fall in user rankings this year, focusing the blame on their new touch screen interface.

"Primarily, the steep decline was attributed to consumer...

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Jul 28
Apple patents involve cable structures, headphones

Several Apple patents involving cable structures and headphones have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patents number 20110180302 and 201108303 are for compression molded cable structures and methods for making them. Per the patents, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a jack, headphones, and/or a microphone and one or more cables that interconnect the non-cable components. The cables can be manufactured using different approaches. The inventors are Jonathan Aase, Paul Choinirere and Greg Dunham.

Patents number 20110180962 and 2011082459 involve molded splitter structures and systems and methods for making the same. Per the patent, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a...

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Jul 27
Greg's Bite: high tech patent suits

By Greg Mills

The tech news has had a lot of stories regarding patent enforcement suits lately. Apple is plaintiff in a number of suits against almost every other electronic device company out there. The smartphone war is being fought in both the market place and in the court room.

You have certainly noticed the notation something like US 7,554,332 or Patent Pending on many of the products you buy. Those numbers are US patent serial numbers as some aspect or design element of the product has been found by the US Patent Office to be not obvious and both novel and useful. US Patents have evolved over the years, but, actually, the right to patent novel inventions is specifically provided for in the US Constitution.

The US government has the sole authority to issue US patents. The US Patent office wades through hundreds of thousands of patent applications each year. A lot of patent applications are denied, and a patent is never issued for the...

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Jul 27
The value of 'freemium' games -- and the...

Digital distribution of games is disrupting the retail portable game category.  At the heart of this disruption is the proliferation of iOS and Android devices, which is doubling as a powerful portable gaming platform and challenging Nintendo DS and Sony PSP for gamer mindshare, according to the folks at Flurry (http://www.flurry.com), a mobile application analytics and recommendation-engine company.

Now if only my dream of having the ability to "upsize" iOS games for the Mac would come true.

In previous reports (2008 - 2009, 2009 - 2010), Flurry measured that iOS’s and Android’s revenue share of the U.S. portable game software category exploded to 34% in 2010 from just 1% in 2008. Over this same time period, the company calculated that Nintendo’s U.S. portable game revenue share contracted to 57% from 75%. 

All the while, Nintendo chief executive, Satoru Iwata, has remained outspoken, calling...

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Jul 26
Mac will top 12% US market share within a year

The Mac's share of the U.S. personal computer market rose to nearly 11% during the second quarter of 2011, with Apple representing the only major computer manufacturer to report double-digit growth in a market that contracted by more than 4%. My prediction: by this time next year Apple will have 12-14% of the personal computer market in the US and will be in the top five global manufacturers.

The IDC research group says that Apple shipped 1.917 million Macs in the US during the three-month period that ended in June. That's a 14.7% increase over the year-ago quarter. That made Apple the number three computer vendor with a 10.7% market share. That's up from 9% during the year-ago quarter.

Rival research firm Gartner also gave the Mac 10.7% of the US computer market, but said Apple shipped 1.814 million systems stateside. Per Gartner, that represents 8.5% growth compared to its 1.671 million actual shipments during the year-ago quarter.

Neither research group...

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Jul 26
Apple granted patent for H.264/AVC coder

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,986,731) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an H.264/AVC coder incorporating rate and quality controller.

A rate control system is disclosed for video coding applications. The rate controller assigns a quantization parameter for video data in a picture in response to complexity indicators indicative of spatial complexity, motion complexity and/or bits per pel of the picture.

A virtual buffer based quantizer parameter is proposed based on a virtual buffer fullness analysis and a target rate estimate, which is derived from the complexity indicators. A second quantizer parameter is proposed from a linear regression analysis of quantizer parameters used to code previously coded pictures of similar type (e.g., I pictures, P pictures or B pictures).

A coding policy decision unit defines a final quantizer parameter from a comparison of the two proposed quantizer parameters. The inventors are Barin Haskell, Adriana...

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Jul 25
Two Features Lion Didn't Deliver, yet?

Posted by Greg Mills

Lion delivered a lot of new features. However, some rumors and wish list items didn't get fulfilled upon Mac OS X 7 reaching Gold Master status. One of the most likely rumors that didn't pan out is a system wide "speech to text" feature. The text to speech feature has been around since before Apple even went to the Mac OS X from the older Apple Systems.

Speech to text is a lot harder to implement with the quality Apple demands before an app is launched. While there is a chance the Nuance / Apple connection will result in an Apple app sold for an additional price, recent leaks of iOS 5 developer releases indicate that feature might be an iPhone / iPad trick. I have an iPhone Nuance app that was free, but only works with short clips. It does work pretty well.

Having the feature on your Mac could be very powerful and useful. Imagine dropping an MP3 file onto a speech to text icon and having your computer spit out a...

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Jul 25
Apple's smartphone opportunities seem boundless

Good news for Apple: cellular handset shipments grew 12% in 2010 to 1.5-billion units, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). That's in comparison with 2009's negative 1.3% growth.

The research group predicts a strong, but more traditional growth in 2011 of 4.3%, but smartphones will continue to do better, growing 15.4% to the 318 million level this year. Though Samsung and Apple are growing faster, Nokia continues to be the leading handset vendor.

However, Nokia's average handset selling price is among the lowest because of their huge share of the low-end markets in China, India and Africa. Nokia still reigns as the largest vendor of smartphones, but smartphone vendor Apple is catching up.

The cellphone continues to be the physical and market magnet that is pulling in the functionality of digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, GPS navigators...

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Jul 22
Popularity of tablets changing consumer purchasing...

Six million U.S. broadband households are changing their 2011 consumer electronic purchase plans to get a tablet such as an iPad, which is cannibalizing sales in other device categories and inspiring an additional four million households who had no previous intentions to purchase a computing device this year.

That's according to data from the Parks Associates' research group (http://www.parksassociates.com). The group says the products at greatest risk of losing sales are other mobile Internet devices, including netbooks, notebooks, and e-readers. Tablets will also have significant impact on content publishing, including newspapers.

“One year after the launch of the Apple iPad, tablet adoption reached 13% of U.S. broadband households (approximately 10.5 million), slightly below current netbook and e-reader adoption rates,” says Jennifer Kent, a Parks Associates’ mobile research analyst...

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Jul 21
Greg's Bite: Apple to bid on 1300 more patents?

Posted by Greg Mills

Bloomberg reports that another patent auction is coming up where Apple and Google will be going head to head. This time it is over about 1300 patents being sold off by InterDigital. The power of the patent portfolio is well understood by the industry as the iOS and Android war goes forward. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-20/google-said-to-be-among-compani...

Google is long on innovation but short on patents to protect its projects. Apple has the advantage of having developed the iPhone and iPad under wraps and patenting the heck out of both ground breaking products before they were released.

Google is playing catch up, but has been caught using the logical but Apple patented...

| Read more »
Jul 20
China to be increasingly important to Apple

China is a country that's going to be increasingly important to Apple. For instance, according to recent report by the Distimo app store research group (http://www.distimo.com),t he download volume in Asian countries grew significantly in the past six months in the Apple App Store for iPhone.

While other (Western) countries saw a decrease in download volume during the same time frame. China recently became the second largest market after the United States. And let's not forget the Mac.

The Mac has over 10% market share in the U.S., but under 5% globally (though both those figures would skyrocket if you figured in iPad sales, as I think you should). I think that number will grow at a significant rate, especially with China figured into the equation.

Last year Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a report co-written with Mathew Schneider, that "China is undergoing a 'megatransition' from...

| Read more »
Jul 19
Mobile cloud services could challenge smartphone home...

Mobile handsets have become full-featured media servers capable of connecting automatically to other consumer devices such as TVs, picture frames, game consoles, and audio systems.

DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct certification programs are poised to simplify wireless connectivity for consumers. But new mobile cloud services may provide even easier access to consumers’ media content.

“Wi-Fi Direct enables a device to connect directly to another device without a wireless network. DLNA-certified devices discover other certified devices, eliminating the need for a consumer to configure the connection,” says ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) senior analyst Victoria Fodale. “Both programs help mitigate the difficulties that consumers often face when connecting devices at home, and both bring wireless technology further into the mainstream market.”

ABI Research expects that both Wi-Fi Direct-...

| Read more »
Jul 18
HTC Stock slides, Patent work around?

Posted by Greg Mills

HTC, reeling from the first actual finding that Android infringes upon the Apple iOS has seen its stock slide. HTC announced it intends to buy back as many as 20,000,000 shares of its stock to support the value.

It has been suggested that HTC and the other Android handset makers need to simply find a workaround for the infringed Apple technology. What those who suggest that a workaround will solve the problem really don't understand what is going on. The patents HTC was found to have infringed are older, much less significant patents than the ones yet to be heard.

One of the infringed patents relates to the software trick where web URLs and phone numbers are identified within text, they are colored and underlined then they then automatically become clickable links. This was a patent Apple already had in the portfolio when iPhone was developed.

When you click on a URL discovered in the text, Safari is opened to...

| Read more »
Jul 18
Consumers still positive on Blu-ray

Apple's not a fan, but, according to the NPD Group, there has recently been "significant and healthy growth" in the purchase and use of Blu-ray disc set top boxes and Blu-ray video content in the U.S.

Based on information from NPD's latest update to the "Entertainment Trends in America" report, 15 % of U.S. consumers reported using a Blu-ray player in the prior six months in March, up from 9% the prior year. By way of comparison, 57% of U.S. consumers reported using a standard DVD player in 2010, which is unchanged from 2009.

According to NPD's "Blu-ray Disc Report, 49% of PS3 owners are viewing Blu-ray movies on their game consoles at least once a month, which is also adding to the base of physical-disc users. Year-over-year sales of set-top Blu-ray player units increased 16%.

According to NPD's "Blu-ray Disc Report," there is evidence that Blu-ray is beginning to offset the loss of DVD customers. The research group estimates there are currently 116 million...

| Read more »
Jul 16
Greg's Bite: The Android Platform is in Deep...

Posted by Greg Mills

The recent US International Trade Commission finding isn’t the end of the war between Apple’s iOS platform and the Android platform, but drawing first blood may be significant. Had the ruling been related to something trivial like the shape of buttons, for example, HTC could have simply gone to round buttons instead of square buttons.

The particular patents found to have been infringed relate more to basic system organization that underly the very foundation of the Android OS. Further rulings will no doubt find additional infringement on more Apple patents that are even more specifically related to smart phones and mobile operating systems.

I looked up the Apple patents cited and they are so broad, Apple’s attorneys must be delighted. The ITC finding of infringement isn’t just related to HTC, but rather all Android phones. The finding is really more against the Android OS than HTC. See:
...

| Read more »
Jul 15
Cellphone privacy concerns only a short-term barrier

The recent kerfuffle over iPhone tracking and other privacy concerns will barely be a speed bump in the evolution of location-based services (LBS) because there is simply too much money at stake.

The Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) wireless media strategies (WMS) report, “The $10 Billion Rule: Location, Location, Location,” predicts consumer and advertiser expenditure on LBS to approach US$10 billion by 2016, with search advertising accounting for just over 50%. Although location providers will have to offer greater transparency to users about how they capture, manage and store user location information, this requirement won't deter growth of consumer LBS.

Amid fears that location data is being misused and that user privacy rights are open to abuse, location services have recently made headlines. However, mobile users are increasingly demanding search, map and...

| Read more »
Jul 14
Mobile media nearing the mainstream

On-the-go use of the Internet and apps is approaching mainstream status, according to new research from Knowledge Networks (http://www.knowledgenetworks.com). And that's good news for Apple, as it's the big dog among mobile media device makers.

The Knowledge Network study shows that 38% of U.S. homes -- roughly 45 million -- now have at least one Internet- or app-capable mobile device, such as a smartphone (such as an iPhone), tablet (such as an iPad), or iPod touch. The proportion grew five percentage points in one year, which equals an increase of over five million homes.

This technology puts the world of media -- video, audio, gaming, and text-based --in consumers’ pockets, almost everywhere they go. Its adoption is therefore providing a host of new opportunities for brand interactions.

During the same 2010 to 2011 timeframe, smartphone ownership grew by about 50% at the...

| Read more »
Jul 13
Greg's Bite: Law Enforcement Warrants for...

Posted by Greg Mills

FaceBook has secretly been providing complete files on its users to law enforcement. Most of the time the FaceBook users never know their information was given to the police. The policy decision to advise users or not of the warrant is for FaceBook to decide. FaceBook prepared a manual for warrant proceedures they appear to have reproduced for law enforcement. See http://cryptome.org/isp-spy/facebook-spy.pdf

I guess they figured it would be far better for FaceBook's pubic relations not to reveal the warrant disclosures of FaceBook users. People might get nervous about doing the FaceBook thing altogether if that were to be publicized.

Reuters found that Federal Judges authorized 24 search warrants for individual FaceBook accounts prior to 2011. So far in the year 2011 FaceBook has gotten 11 Federal Warrants for...

| Read more »
Jul 13
Apple may have iOS security perception problem

nCircle, a provider of automated security and compliance auditing solutions, recently announced the results of the nCircle 2011 Smartphone Study. And it shows that Apple may have a security perception problem.

The results are based on a survey of 551 respondents in the IT security industry, including senior management, IT operations, security professionals and risk and audit managers. Highlights of the study include:

° Seventy-one percent respondents identify Google Android devices as presenting the highest level of smartphone security risk, a considerable increase from 39% in 2010.

° Security concern about Apple iOS devices is also high, with 60% of respondents assigning the highest level of smartphone security risk to these devices.

° Sixt-two percent of respondents say their companies have a smartphone security policy, compared with 58% in 2010.

° Only 56% of respondents say their companies enforce their smartphone policy, a dramatic decrease...

| Read more »
Jul 12
Global computer shipments to grow just 4.2% this year

Worldwide computer shipments are now expected to grow by just 4.2% in 2011, down from a February forecast of 7.1%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) "Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker" (http://www.idc.com). But if the Mac continues to be the exception to the rule, it will grow even faster.

A combination of declining first quarter shipments, an increasingly conservative economic outlook, relative saturation among developed market consumers, and competing products will lead to slow growth in 2011 before a rebound in 2012, says the IDC research group. For 2012 through 2015, growth is still expected to fall in the 10 to 11% range.

Consumer computer purchases have been a cornerstone of computer growth over the past five years. During this time, a transition to low-cost portables helped drive purchases by new users in emerging markets as well as replacement and secondary systems in more mature...

| Read more »
Jul 11
Greg's Bite Is “.Secure” the solution for hacking?

By Greg Mills

Internet insecurity is such an issue with the US Government they are considering adding a new “.secure” main domain to the .com, .info and .gov that we are used to. Even the porno people have .xxx, so why not add a secure domain for the government and other agencies that require better security?

The problem the US Government has is that we in the USA are a nation that is build foundation-ally, upon a constitution that include certain “unalienable rights”. These rights are carefully crafted upon the bill of rights, which includes the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This...

| Read more »
Jul 11
Mac OS X 7 Lion, Update or not Logic

Posted by Greg Mills

With all the stories that are going to be posted in the next few days or weeks on Mac OS X Lion, the adoption of the newest system is a slam dunk for many of us. There are those however, who are still running the OS that came with their older computers.

Some people aren’t up on what is going on with the platform they are using and really don’t care. That is their right and hey, if email and surfing the web is all a person cares about, perhaps even $29 for an update to Lion is a poor investment for them. Some older computers won’t even run Lion, so the issue is moot for them anyway.

I have a sister-in-law who was storing her all her documents in the trash. The trash had never been emptied for a couple of years. When I updated her system for her, somehow the trash got emptied and the screams of anguish were gut retching to say the least.

Who is so detached from the proper workings of the computers they use...

| Read more »
Jul 11
Lion, iCloud, iOS/Twitter integration to impact...

Apple used June's World Wide Developers Conference to announce new tools that could impact the creation and flow of news and new business models for journalism.

Keith Politte, manager of the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Technology Testing Center, monitored the June 6 announcement and suggests that Apple’s new Mission Control, iCloud, and the iOS integration of Twitter offers many interesting opportunities for the media industry and the communities it serves.

“iCloud offers to lead many people, including journalists, to cloud-based services. Apple has a good selection of core and media apps to be integrated into the new service,” says Politte. “Regarding Lion, Apple seems to be applying lessons learned from iOS, such as multi-touch gestures and embedding into the Mac OS, which has interesting implications for interaction design and journalism information design.”

Politte is the manager of RJI’s Technology Testing Center, located at the University of...

| Read more »
 
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Bartender lets you organize your menu bar apps. Features: Lets you tidy your menu bar apps how you want. See your menu bar apps when you want. Hide the apps you need to run, but do not need to... Read more
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Vienna 3.0.0 RC 2 :be5265e: - RSS and At...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.1.5 - Popular multime...
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Chainsaw Warrior Goes on Sale & Ther...
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It Came From Canada: Tiny Tower Vegas
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Z Hunter Review
Z Hunter Review By Lee Hamlet on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RIGHT ON TARGETUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad While it might not necessarily break new ground, Z Hunter has enough tricks up its sleeve to ensure that... | Read more »
Huge Update Comes To Duet, Adding 48 New...
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Sharknado: The Video Game Available Now....
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Frog Orbs 2 Review
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Puzzix Review
Puzzix Review By Jennifer Allen on July 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NICE IDEAUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A little like Tetris, Puzzix is all about piecing together blocks and watching them vanish. It could do with... | Read more »
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To The End Review
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Apple Updates MacBook Pro with Retina Display...
Apple today updated its MacBook Pro with Retina display with faster processors and double the amount of memory in both entry-level configurations. MacBook Pro with Retina display features a Retina... Read more
Up to $250 price drop on leftover 15-inch Mac...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on 2013 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by as much as $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2349... Read more
Updated MacBook Pro Price Trackers
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Apple updates MacBook Pros with slightly fast...
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Apple drops price on 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro b...
The Apple Store has dropped their price for the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro by $100 to $1099 including free shipping. Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 MacBoo...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ 2013 MacBook Pros, with model now available starting at $929. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free... Read more
iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 To Support DuckDuckGo As...
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U.K. Hospital Using iPods and iPads To Record...
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13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1099,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $1099.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished MacBook Pros, th...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. Their prices... Read more

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