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Oct 16
Apple granted patent for 3D remote control

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8291346) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a 3D remote control system employing absolute and relative position detection.

The present invention can include three-dimensional remote control systems that can detect an absolute location to which a remote control is pointing in first and second orthogonal axes and an absolute position of the remote control in a third orthogonal axis. Remote control systems of the present invention can employ absolute position detection with relative position detection.

Absolute position detection can indicate an initial absolute position of the remote control and relative position detection can indicate changes in the position of the remote control. By combining absolute and relative position detection, remote control systems of the present invention can track remote controls more precisely than systems that only employ absolute position detection. The present invention also can...

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Oct 16
iMac rip-offs have some intriguing features

Vizio and HP announced what can only be described as iMac rip-offs -- Windows desktops that shamelessly borrow design elements from Apple's all-in-one. Well, if you're gonna rip off someone, might as well rip off the best -- and the iMac is the industry's best-selling all-in-one desktop.

Still, I have to admit that Vizio and HP's desktops have some intriguing features, especially when it comes to using the computers as entertainment systems. Since they've borrowed so freely from Apple for their desktop's design, I wish Apple would borrow at least one feature from Vizio's desktop and -- maybe -- another from HP's computer.

For example, the Vizio device (pictured) has a 2.1 surround sound system and comes with a subwoofer that doubles as a power supply to eliminate extra cords. I haven't had a chance to get up close and personal with the All-in-One Touch (and doubt I ever will), but I hear good things about its audio quality.

HP's new Spectre One desktop has a...

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Oct 15
Flexible displays? They're coming, just don'...

Sooner or later (well, okay, later) we'll see Macs with flexible displays. However, that groundbreaking achievement will come first with smaller devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

A flexible display is a thin, rollable display used in a variety of applications such as e-paper, digital signage, smartphones, TVs, and other consumer products. Flexible displays are on LCD, e-paper, LED or OLED. Out of these display technologies, flexible OLED display is the advanced type of display. These displays are looked upon as the future mainstream display for a number of consumer products.

There have been significant developments going on in the field of flexible electronics and printed displays. For the past few years, many industry participants and consumers have dreamed (and worked on) display technology that would break through the limitations of glass-based displays like weight, size, and ruggedness.

The advent of flexible display would overcome these limitations....

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Oct 12
Still more (unwarranted) death knells for the personal...

There were more death knells for the personal computer this week. They were unwarranted -- the personal computer will evolve, but isn't going away -- but make interesting reading.

Jim Van Meerlen, writing for "The Street" (http://macte.ch/ZVHXN) -- points out that almost every day the headlines read "The PC is Dead." He also wants to add "so is Dell."

"In the past nine months, Dell has had one bad earnings report after another and investors are leaving in droves," he writes. "... 'The Street' gives the stock a weak C rating. The company is trying to turn its battleship and change the product mix to be less PCs and more networking and server products but competition is high. The only bright spot is lower earnings will drop the company's tax rate."

Okay, so Dell may be dying (I imagine the company will survive, though in a much weaker form). Not personal computers. But back to that in a moment....

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Oct 11
What if Apple spent even more on R&D?

When we think of Apple, we think of a company that spends a big hunk of its profits on research and development as it develops the Next Big Thing. Well, perhaps not so much.

In a recent "MacLife" column, Rik Myslewski pointed out that Apple has about USS$117 billion in the bank, and its R&D budget for the previous fiscal quarter was 0.75% of that amount. In contrast, IBM had $11.2 billion in cash and spent 14.6% of that on research and development.

And a recent "CNET" column -- see http://crave.cnet.co.uk/mobiles/apple-spends-more-on-patents-than-randd-... -- points out that Apple now spends more money on patenting stuff "than it does on coming up with new ideas."

Admittedly, the whole patent situation is out of control and needs...

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Oct 11
Apple patent involves mobile device connection...

An Apple patent (number 20120258707) for multiple network mobile device connection management has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves connection management for mobile wireless devices that support multiple wireless networks where each wireless network can use a different wireless communication technology.

Per the patent, a mobile wireless device maintains registration on two parallel wireless communication networks that each use different wireless communication protocols. In response to a first connection request received from a first wireless network, the mobile wireless device tunes a single receiver contained therein from the first wireless network to a second wireless network. Subsequently in response to a second connection request received from the second wireless network, the mobile wireless device connects to the second wireless network.

Here's Apple's background and summary on the invention: "Wireless networks continue to evolve...

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Oct 11
Apple working to 'conceal' components of...

An Apple patent (number 20120258773) for providing access to an internal component has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems, methods, and devices are disclosed for concealing components of an electronic device.

In one embodiment, an electronic device may include a component that is disposed behind a window configured to selectively become transparent or opaque, such as a polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PLDC) window. The component includes an image capture device, a strobe flash, a biometric sensor, a light sensor, a proximity sensor, or a solar panel, or a combination thereof.

Additionally, the electronic device includes data processing circuitry configured to determine when an event requesting that the component be exposed occurs. Furthermore, the electronic device includes a window controller that may control the window to become transparent, to expose the component upon the occurrence of the event requesting that the component be exposed...

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Oct 11
Apple eyeing handwriting recognition technologies

An Apple patent (number 20120256944) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office showing that the company is working on handwriting recognition technologies.

The patent, for handwriting capture techniques, involves a set of rules used by a processor of a device to render a digital image of handwriting (e.g., handwritten signature) by connecting data points captured on a touch sensitive surface of the device with line segments or curves. A set of rules determines whether two given data points will be connected by a line segment or a curve. If a curve is used, the set of rules determine characteristics of the curve through the derivation of control points.

In some implementations, a smoothness adjustment factor can be applied to magnitudes of curve control points to reduce excessive smoothing for large distances between data points and maintain acceptable smoothing for short distances between data points. The magnitude can then be adjusted by multiplying by...

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Oct 10
'Ultra-slims' to account for quarter of...

"Ultrabooks" haven't taken the computer world by storm as some pundits predicted. However. ultra-slim computer shipments will grow from 3.4 million in 2011 to 65.0 million by 2015 -- a quarter of mobile shipments -- according to new data from NPD DisplaySearch (www.displaysearch.com).

The research group says the mobile computer landscape is transforming from a performance-driven market to a convenience-driven market, where easy access to content and usage are the new preferred characteristics. This fundamental change in preference is most noticeable in the slowing demand for notebooks and the increasing demand for tablets.

Tablet shipments are expected to exceed notebook shipments by 2016. Notebook makers are responding by adopting the features of tablets that consumers have appreciated the most. Apple is going its own way with both the iPad and the MacBook Air (its "ultra-slim" portable). That...

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Oct 09
Apple working on multicolor keyboard backlight

Apple has filed a patent (number 8282261) for a white point adjustment for a multicolor keyboard backlight. The patent provides systems, devices and methods for operating a light source to match a white point of ambient light.

In one embodiment, a light control system is provided. The light control system includes a light source and a light sensor. The light sensor is configured to operate in conjunction with the light source to provide a visual effect. A controller is electrically coupled to the light source and the light sensor and configured to determine the intensity and color of light to which the light sensor is exposed and dynamically adjust the output of the light source to match the determined intensity and color of light to which the light sensor is exposed.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Electronic devices, including desktop computers, notebook computers, personal digital assistants, cell phones and mobile media devices, among others, have...

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Oct 09
Apple wants to let you unlock your iOS device with a...

A new Apple patent (number 8286103) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is looking at new ways for your to unlock your iOS device -- and, conceivably, a Mac as well. The patent is for unlocking a device by performing a gesture on an unlock image.

Per the patent, the device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device.

The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Touch-sensitive displays (also known as 'touch screens' or 'touchscreens')...

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Oct 09
Mac growth unlikely to stall anytime soon

iOS devices get all the Apple love (and media attention) these days, but there's plenty of room for Mac growth. And it will happen.

In 2011, the UK computer hardware market was estimated to have increased by 1.5% on the previous year, according to new data by Research and Markets (www.researchandmarkets.com). This growth represents the second consecutive year of growth for the computer hardware market, following declining trading conditions in the sector during 2009, notes the research group.

Currently, the largest sector in the computer hardware market is personal computers, with relatively strong growth exhibited in recent years. Similar growth rates have also been experienced in the servers sector of the market, although the segment is relatively small in comparison to the personal computer sector.

However, the peripherals and add-ons sector, which has...

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Oct 09
Apple granted Time Machine patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8286127) by the U.S Patent & Trademark Office for a mirrored file system. It involves the Time Machine back-up feature in Mac OS X.

Per the patent, mounting and populating a mirrored version of at least a portion of a file system of a recruiter machine at a volunteer machine performing one or more data processing tasks for the recruiter machine is disclosed. In some embodiments, an input stored in such a dedicated file system for the recruiter machine at the volunteer machine may be locally retrieved and reused, if still consistent with a corresponding input stored in a file system at the recruiter machine, when performing a data processing task for the recruiter machine at the volunteer machine.

In some embodiments, if an input required by the volunteer machine to perform a data processing task for the recruiter machine is not cached in such a dedicated file system for the recruiter machine at the volunteer machine in a...

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Oct 08
Greg's Bite: Desktop 3D printing

By Greg Mills

As I have previously speculated in this column, I consider the desktop 3D plastic part printing revolution fertile ground for being one of Apple's next big things. I think Apple is uniquely situated to do for 3D printing what they did for desktop printing on paper 20 years ago.

3D printing is using a computer to create physical objects from software files utilizing a special 3D "printer." Star Trek's "replicators" were sophisticated voice-controlled, computer operated 3D printing devices, able to reproduce just about anything.  Replicator devices were as common aboard the starship Enterprise as microwave ovens are to us. Imagine the forerunner of such a futuristic device sitting on your desk and hooked up to your Mac or iPad.

References to cool new things in the R&D labs at Apple seldom give us enough information to do anything more than make our imaginations soar.  In the absence of actual tips on what is going on behind the...

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Oct 08
Americans: online stores more appealing for holiday...

SOASTA, which specializes in cloud and mobile testing, says, according to its "2012 Holiday and the Economy" survey of 2,346 American adults aged 18 and older, conducted online on its behalf by Harris Interactive, a majority (51%) of Americans will be shopping online this year because of the bad economy. 

This sentiment rang strongest with those 18-44 (55%), especially with women in that age group (64% for women 18-34; 57% for women 34-44).  Economic pessimism is so pronounced that only 2% of Americans don’t believe the economy is bad.
 
"The results of our Holiday and the Economy Survey have shown that more Americans will be relying on retailers’ online mobile and web presence for holiday shopping due to the bad economy than not," says Tom Lounibos, SOASTA CEO.  "With millions of Americans planning on using these websites, it’s more important than ever that they are fully optimized to make sure shoppers get the best experience possible.  SOASTA’s CloudTest...

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Oct 05
Could Apple be planning its own Mac chips? Given...

Apple has considered moving its Mac line-up to its own in-house developed chips, though such a change isn't in the immediate future, reports "Bloomberg Businessweek" (http://macte.ch/HaMlS). Makes sense to me -- over a period of time, at least.

Consider the A6 chip. A variety of reports say the processor has some Apple designed custom variants on a chip fabbed by Samsung. It's not hard to imagine the A7 chip being having an even bigger Apple influence. After all Apple bought PA Semi, a boutique microprocessor design company, in 2008, and Intrinsity, a specialist chip design company, in 2010.

On one hand, it's hard to see Apple deciding to use its own chips inside its Mac line-up rather than Intel processors. That would entail a major transition and lots of work on ensuring software compatibility. On the other hand, who believed the rumors that Apple would move from PowerPC chips to Intel processors...

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Oct 04
Apple wants it make it easier to use iOS devices in...

An Apple patent (number 20120249312) for tactile feedback in an electronic device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's designed for using iOS devices in dark environments -- and to help users of such devices who have poor vision.

Per the patent, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback using any suitable approach, including for example vibration, heat, electrical, visual, or any other type of feedback. The electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to detecting any particular status of the electronic device, receiving any particular input, or detecting any suitable communication received by the electronic device.

For example, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to identifying the current network of the device, the status of a particular electronic device component, or any other electronic device status. As another example, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to...

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Oct 04
Apple works on image capture using display device as...

An Apple patent (number 20120249855) for image capture using the display device as a light source has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a digital image capture system and method uses a display device to illuminate a target with light for improved image capture under poor lighting conditions. Various characteristics of the flash (e.g., brightness, color, duration, etc.) can be adjusted to improve image capture. Users are provided with feedback (e.g., live video feed, audio and/or visual countdowns, etc.) to assist them in preparing for image capture. The captured images are seamlessly integrated with existing applications (e.g., video conferencing, instant text messaging, etc.).

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Videoconferencing is one of the fastest growing segments of the computer industry. This growth is based in part on affordable digital video cameras. Digital video cameras (e.g., 'WebCams') can be...

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Oct 04
Apple patent involves adaptive mobile device...

An Apple patent (number 20120253665) for adaptive mobile device navigation has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Maybe it will help improve iOS 6 Maps. Per the patent, adaptive mobile device navigation system, methods, and apparatus provide location information for a mobile device performing location estimation using dead reckoning.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The role of traditional printed maps is being supplanted by modern devices capable of rendering dynamic map displays. Devices that include mapping or navigation applications provide information regarding an area selected by a user by recalling map data from local memory or networked services.

"Mapping devices often include the ability to provide directions from a point of origin to a destination. When coupled with any of a number of positioning technologies, a mapping device can display a current position on a map as well as deliver navigation instructions based...

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Oct 04
More folks willing to pay for streaming music

There are rumors that Apple is working on a streaming music service. While that doesn't interest me personally, a new study says that more people have access to a music streaming service, more listen to music through streaming, more are willing to pay and an increasing amount believe that streaming will be the dominant way to play music in 2-4 years. At least in certain countries.

The youngest generation, those under 30 lead the way. The new numbers are from a survey conducted in June for music streaming service WiMP (www.wimp.de), which runs the survey twice a year in its current markets -- this time Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

According to the survey results, Norwegians are the most likely to have access to a streaming service: 61% say they do, against 56% in Sweden, 35% in Denmark and 16% in Germany. Numbers have increased in all Scandinavian countries.

While the highest amount of Norwegians...

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Oct 04
Apple working on hybrid wireless headphones

A new Apple patent (number 20120250914) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on hybrid wireless headphones designed with athletes and very active folks in mind.

The described embodiments relate to a listening device that allows an end user to comfortably listen to an audio output of a portable media player. In particular, the listening device can be easily worn without inconveniencing the end user during physical activity.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "In one embodiment, a media apparatus is described. The media apparatus includes at least one listening device, a corded portion in communication with a host device arranged to provide an audio signal, and a detachable connector having a first part and a second part. In the described embodiment, the detachable connector is arranged to detachably couple the at least one listening device at the first part to the corded portion at the second part.

"When the listening...

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Oct 03
When will we be able to merge Apple iDs?

As noted by "TUAW" (www.tuaw.com) we're still not able to merge Apple IDs. Is it really that hard forApple to make this happen?

"TUAW" reader Glenn Thorpe nailed the problem when he wrote: ""My Apple ID account which I use to download apps cannot be used for FaceTime nor Messages. I had to create new AppleIDs for both of these applications. The frustrating issue is that I now have three AppleIDs to manage and I am not sure of what impact this will have when I buy apps or try to perform other transactions."

There were rumors last year that Apple was working on a solution. However, Apple's official word (http://support.apple.com/kb/HE37?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US) is still: "Apple IDs cannot be merged. You should use your preferred Apple ID from now on,...

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Oct 02
Apple working on streaming with compressed playlists

There are rumors that Apple is working on its own Internet radio/streaming music service. A new Apple patent (number 8280863) may add some weight to the rumor.

The patent is for real-time or near real-time streaming with compressed playlists. It involves methods and apparatuses that provide real-time or near real-time streaming of content using transfer protocols such as an HTTP compliant protocol. In one embodiment, a method includes providing a request for a playlist file (e.g. an updated playlist) and specifying a compression protocol with or for the request; the request can come from a client device which is requesting the playlist from a web server. The web server can provide the playlist in a compressed format.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Streaming of content generally refers to multimedia content that is constantly transmitted from a server device and received by a client device. The content is usually presented to an end-user while...

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Oct 02
Apple patent involves user interface for media...

Apple has filed a patent (number 8281244) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an user interface for media playback. It seems to involve potential changes to the iTunes interface.

The patent is for graphical user interface made up of icons representing individual files and collectively forming the shape of a spiral is described along with methods of using and creating the graphical user interface. The spiral 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.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Even as computer processors are becoming faster and programs more capable, space on computer displays continues to be limited. As programs become more complex there is a need to display more information in the same limited space.

...

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Oct 02
Some feature ideas for iOS Maps

Apple's much-maligned iOS Maps obviously needs work. Lots of it. Always glad to be of assistance to Apple, following is a list (thanks, in a great deal, to my pal, J. Scott Anderson) of improvements that could be made:

° A Mac App Store version for Mac OS X. It would let you make editing and correction suggestions right from your desktop/laptop.

° A "Map New Road" function. This is a mode you could turn on when driving so that you can map a road not currently on the Maps application.

° Social integration features How about live traffic reports and road hazard reports? Perhaps Maps could use Twitter/Facebook for the transport mechanism.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Oct 02
Apple awarded patent for wireless adapter

Apple has been awarded a patent (number 8280465) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a wireless adapter for interfacing between an accessory and a device. It seems to involve an adapter for the Lightning port on the iPhone 5.

The invention involves circuits, methods, and apparatus that provide compatibility among incompatible accessories and portable media players. One example provides an adapter having a connector receptacle to mate with an accessory's connector insert and a connector insert to mate with a portable media player's connector receptacle.

Another example provides an adapter having a direct connection between pins on the connector insert and pins on the connector receptacle that are used for compatible signals. Another example provides an adapter including a DC-to-DC converter that receives a first power supply from an accessory and provides a second power supply to a portable media player. Another translates signals using different signaling...

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Oct 02
Apple wins patent for the Mighty Mouse

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8279175) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a mouse with embedded touch sensors -- in other words, the Mighty Mouse.

Per the patent, the mouse is configured with touch sensing areas capable of generating input signals. The touch sensing areas may for example be used to differentiate between left and right clicks in a single button mouse. The mouse may further be configured with force sensing areas capable of generating input signals.

The force sensing areas may for example be positioned on the sides of the mouse so that squeezing the mouse generates input signals. The mouse may further be configured with a jog ball capable of generating input signals. The mouse may additionally be configured with a speaker for providing audio feedback when the various input devices are activated by a user.

The inventors are Christoph Horst Krah, Jeffrey B. Doar, Sean Corbin, Shin Nishibori and Wing Kong Low.

Apple has...

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Oct 01
The Northern Spy: The Pros and the Cats

By Rick Sutcliffe

More on the 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro

The Spy has had this machine a month now, and experience confirms his first impressions. The machine is computationally fast, though not spectacularly so. Having an SSD for a drive makes more of a difference than any internal changes. The display is crisp, better than anything he's had in a portable before, and the glossy finish not nearly as annoying as such once were, but the improvements are not as revolutionary as some have gushed.

Having no Firewire or ethernet connection and being required to use Thunderbolt adapters for both is a major annoyance, and the Spy regards this as a bad decision. A little extra thickness at the back to allow both would not have sacrificed much by way of design, and would have been far more user friendly. The adapters do work, but being tied to Apple for cable purchases is a second annoyance. Competition would be better, and Apple...

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Oct 01
Regarding privacy, U.S. consumers reveal surprising...

Research findings from LoyaltyOne show that when it comes to privacy, U.S. consumers are still protecting some of their personal information as much as they do their Social Security number.

Of the 1,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey, 50% said they’d be willing to give a trusted company their religious affiliation, 49% their political affiliation, 49% their sexual orientation, 36% health information, 26% mental health information, 24% browsing history and 15% for both smart phone location and number of sexual partners. Last on the list is their Social Security number at 11%.

Toronto-based LoyaltyOne, a global provider of coalition loyalty, customer analytics and loyalty services, completed online surveys in July 2012 with 1,000 American respondents. The research is designed to test consumer attitudes about personal data collection and use by marketers.

Several of the 2012 questions followed up on a 2011 survey and were structured to measure...

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Sep 29
AirPlay Mirroring a killer feature in Mountain Lion

Instead of the ill-fated "Mac Genius" ads that debuted during the Olympics, then vanished into the void, perhaps Apple should do a TV spot promoting AirPlay Mirroring in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. It could be a very attractive feature for a lot of folks.

According to a study by Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) 26% of all U.S. broadband households still connect a computer to their TV to enjoy locally stored or online content that's only accessible through their desktop or laptop. Mountain Lion makes this a breeze to do.

Its AirPlay Mirroring feature lets you send what’s on your Mac screen to an HDTV wirelessly with an Apple TV. Mirroring is great for classrooms, conference rooms, and your living room. For example, I have almost all my DVD collection ripped to a 4TB external hard drive. If I want to start a movie on my Mac, I can, then zap it over to the large screen HD in the...

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Sep 28
Greg's Bite: is Apple a patent bully?

By Greg Mills

Recent interviews with Google executives have pandered to the notion that Apple is doing something inherently evil asserting patent rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Without the ability to gain an advantage over competitors in making a profit from new ideas, innovation will not be sustainable.  

Rather than being a "patent bully," Apple has led the flock in the electronics segment for so long, somehow the followers have come to think stealing Apple's best ideas are in the public interest. That is nuts. It is in the interest of the companies that waste billions of dollars on R&D or have management that can't see the future when they hold it in their hands.  

Samsung struck a similar note when they said that Apple wanted to limit innovation. The opposite is actually true. Innovation costs money -- lots of money -- and there are ideas that copycats like Samsung don't have the right to steal. 

Research and...

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Sep 28
AirPlay Mirroring a killer feature in Mountain Lion

Instead of the ill-fated "Mac Genius" ads that debuted during the Olympics, then vanished into the void, perhaps Apple should do a TV spot promoting AirPlay Mirroring in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. It could be a very attractive feature for a lot of folks.

According to a study by Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) 26% of all U.S. broadband households still connect a computer to their TV to enjoy locally stored or online content that's only accessible through their desktop or laptop. Mountain Lion makes this a breeze to do.

Its AirPlay Mirroring feature lets you send what’s on your Mac screen to an HDTV wirelessly with an Apple TV. Mirroring is great for classrooms, conference rooms, and your living room. For example, I have almost all my DVD collection ripped to a 4TB external hard drive. If I want to start a movie on my Mac, I can, then zap it over to the large screen HD in the...

| Read more »
Sep 27
Apple files patent for image capture, manipulation

An Apple patent (number 20120243748) has been filed for systems, methods and program products for image capture and manipulation, especially in regards to video chats and calls.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many software applications now accept image data including animated icons such as head shots to identify, for example, the sender of an electronic mail message, an Internet chat buddy, or to identify a caller on a voice-over-IP communication link. Novice computer users may not know how to associate their picture with these applications.

"Furthermore, a user may wish to modify their picture before using it. While many software packages provide very sophisticated tools for image editing, novice users can find these packages too cumbersome, especially if the user wants to quickly experiment with different effects.

"In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in a method that includes...

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Sep 27
Apple patent involves accessory dependent display...

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120242701) for "accessory dependent display orientation" with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and methods are provided for orienting a display of a user device display screen.

A user device may be coupled to an accessory, and the display orientation of the user device may be managed. The display orientation may be determined based on a type of the accessory, accessory identification information, a supported communications protocol, output of an accelerometer, user information, or other information. Criteria may be stored, from which a criterion for orienting the display may be selected based on available information.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A user device such as a smart phone or personal media player may be coupled to an accessory, which may allow for communication, charging, or both between the user device and the accessory. For example, a mobile phone may be charged by plugging a...

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Sep 27
Apple files patent for a 'device foot'

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120243153) for a "device foot" with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. A moveable device foot for an electronic device is described, such as that on the Magic Trackpad.

The device foot can include a rigid weight bearing member and a flexible sealing member that is integrally formed with the weight bearing member. The device foot can be formed using a double-shot injection molding process. The weight bearing member of the foot can be mounted to an interior portion of the electronic device such that it extends through an external casing of the electronic device.

The flexible sealing member can be mounted to the external casing to seal the interior of the electronic device. During operation of the electronic device, the device foot can be configured to move relative to the external casing, such as in response to an external force applied to the electronic device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Most consumer...

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Sep 27
Apple eyeing electronic devices with flexible displays

An Apple patent (number 2012042592 for an electronic device with flexible displays has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. We may be looking at future iPhones and iPads -- perhaps even Macs -- with "bendable" screens and tactile keyboards.

Per the patent electronic devices may be provided that contain flexible displays and internal components. An internal component may be positioned under the flexible display. The internal component may be an output device such as a speaker that transmits sound through the flexible display or an actuator that deforms the display in a way that is sensed by a user.

The internal component may also be a microphone or pressure sensor that receives sound or pressure information through the flexible display. Structural components may be used to permanently or temporarily deform the flexible display to provide tactile feedback to a user of the device.

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

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Sep 27
HDTV market to surge more Than 10% in 2013

If Apple really is planning its own HDTV (the rumored "iTV") for late this year or early 2013, it's timing may be impeccable. The HDTV market will surge more than 10% next year, according to Global Information Inc. (www.giresearch.com).

During much of the first half of 2012, revenue from the LCD HD television segment -- the most widespread HDTV technology in the world -- remained poor. While some of this could be blamed on weaker than expected consumer demand and over-saturation, the primary problem for LCD manufacturers has been the rise of ultra-low cost production in places such as China, which has undercut already meager margins on LCD screens.

What's more, falling costs on alternate technologies including LED, OLED, and 3D TVs, is also leading some consumers away. In fact, with the exceptions of Samsung and LG, which benefit from a more competitive pricing model, every other supplier, including...

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Sep 27
Apple working on inductive charging mat

A new patent (number 2012024673) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on an inductive charging mat for its iOS devices. The patent is for device-orientation based docking functions.

Systems and method are provided for selecting one or more docking functions based on a physical orientation of a user device coupled to a docking device. The docking device may include a surface upon which the user device may be placed. Docking functions such as charging, data transfer, data synchronization, diagnostic checking, or other functions may be selected, performed, or both, based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A user device such as a smart phone, digital camera, or personal media player may be docked to a docking device, which may allow for charging and data transmittal. Some docking devices may provide induction charging to charge a user device, when the...

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Sep 27
Apple seeks patent for Siri personal assistant

Apple has filed for a patent for an "Intelligent Automated Assistant" (patent WO 2011/088053 A2) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves its Siri technology.

Per the patent, an intelligent automated assistant system engages with the user in an integrated, conversational manner using natural language dialog, and invokes external services when appropriate to obtain information or perform various actions. The system can be implemented using any of a number of different platforms, such as the web, email, smartphone, and the like, or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, the system is based on sets of interrelated domains and tasks, and employs additional functionally powered by external services with which the system can interact.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Today's electronic devices are able to access a large, growing, and diverse quantity of functions, services, and information, both via the Internet and from other sources....

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Sep 26
Why can't Siri check my call history?

I think that Apple has done a solid job of upgrading Siri in iOS 6. But there are still improvements that can be made.

For example, why can't Siri check my call history? I say: "Siri, have I missed any calls?" Siri says: "Sorry, I cannot check call history."

Missed calls shows up in my alerts, so why can't my "personal assistant" check that for me? Seems like this would be a very handy feature for Apple to roll into the next Siri update....

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 25
Apple patent is for smart dock for chaining...

An Apple patent (number 8,275,924) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a smart dock for chaining accessories.

Per the patent, a system for communicating between an accessory and an electronic device includes a first interface, a second interface, and a docking station. The first interface is configured to communicate with the electronic device. The second interface is configured to communicate with the accessory. The docking station is coupled to the first interface and the second interface. The docking station is configured to receive a set of preferences from the accessory and forward the set of preferences to the electronic device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "The present invention relates generally to media players, and more particularly, to docking stations for daisy chaining accessories for the media players.

"Electronic devices, such as portable media players, cellular phones, personal digital assists (PDAs), and...

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Sep 25
Apple working on radially-based chroma noise reduction...

Apple is working on ways to further improve photo taking on its iOS devices, per a patent (number 8274583) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's for radially-based chroma noise reduction for cameras.

Per the patent, a system, apparatus, computer readable medium, and method for radially-dependent noise reduction in image capturing devices involving an edge-preserving blur window are disclosed. In one embodiment, the edge-preserving blur includes only those pixels in the blur window that are within a threshold value of the blur window's current center pixel in its blurring calculation.

By creating a threshold function that varies radially from the center of the image sensor's light intensity falloff function, a more appropriate threshold value can be chosen for each pixel, allowing for more noise farther from the center of the image, and allowing for less noise closer to the center of the image. Light-product information taken from the image's metadata may...

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Sep 25
Apple takes the Microsoft approach with iOS 6 Maps

It's a darn shame that a company that claims to be more interested in making quality products than in making money did such a miserable job on the roll-out of the Maps app in iOS 6.

The Maps app has been roundly trashed by users and customers. It's been criticized for missing cities, botched search results and a plethora of geographic errors. Apple's excuse: "Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get."

Ah yes, the Microsoft ("it's good enough") approach. Is this Apple's new direction? If so, Cook and company need to seriously re-evaluate things.

It would actually be good for Apple in the long run if the Maps fiasco caused a major consumer backlash (not likely) and skimmed a little arrogance off the company's attitude.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 25
Apple wins patent for in-plane switching

Apple has won patent (number 8274492) from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for integrated in-plane switching.

This relates to adding multi-touch functionality to a display without the need of a separate multi-touch panel or layer overlaying the display. Instead, embodiments of the invention can advantageously utilize existing display circuitry to provide multi-touch functionality while adding relatively little circuitry that is specific to the multi-touch functionality.

Thus, by sharing circuitry for the display and the multi-touch functionalities, embodiments of the invention can be implemented at a lower cost than the alternative of superimposing additional multi-touch related layers onto an existing display panel. Furthermore, since the display and multi-touch functionality can be implemented on the same circuit, they can be synchronized so that noise resulting from the display functionality does not detrimentally affect the multi-touch functionality and...

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Sep 25
Apple eyes keyboard management for a multifunction...

An Apple patent (number 8274536) for smart keyboard management for a multifunction device with a touch screen display has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a method is performed at a multifunction device with a touch screen display. The method includes displaying a text entry interface with a soft keyboard in a first area and a viewing area with a first size to display scrollable information. The method detects a finger gesture on the viewing area, and responds to the gesture.

When the viewing area displays only a portion of the information, the response includes: (1) ceasing to display the soft keyboard, (2) expanding the viewing area to a second size, including at least some of the first area, and (3) scrolling the information in the expanded viewing area. When the viewing area with the first size displays all of the information, the response includes: (1) maintaining display of the soft keyboard, (2) keeping the viewing area at...

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Sep 25
Apple granted patent for gimballed scroll wheel

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8274479) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a gimballed scroll wheel. An input device that includes both a movement detector, such as mechanical switch, and positional indicator, such as touch pad touch screen, and/or touch sensing housing is disclosed.

These two input devices can be used substantially simultaneously to provide a command to the device. In this manner, different commands can be associated with depressing a moveable member in different areas and a single moveable member can perform like several buttons.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Several kinds of input devices are known for performing operations in a computing device. Some examples of input devices include buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch screens and the like. Each of these devices has advantages and disadvantages that may be taken into account when designing an input apparatus...

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Sep 24
Greg's Bite: iPhone 5 & iOS 6 issues

By Greg Mills

Whenever Apple drops its latest technological nuke on the floundering electronics sector, the usual pundits find something to whine about. For the iPhone 4 it was the antenna death grip for the iPhone 4s it didn't have enough killer new features.  

For the iPhone 5, the improvements didn't grab you by the lapel and shake you enough and besides, Steve Jobs wasn't there to sell it. Never mind the iPhone 5 hadn't even been released yet when the whining started.

The court jester of the tech world, John C Dvorak, began finding fault with the iPhone 5 clear back in June. Now that it is actually out, something compelling to complain about is certain to come out. Praise for anything Apple comes dear to readers of Dvorak's patter. If John hates it, Apple will sell millions of the product.  The data is thin about how Apple product will fare that Dvorak likes it, since I can't think of anything he liked until much later when he got to try it...

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Sep 24
Demand for mobile services in air travel hits new high

Demand for mobile services in air travel has reached an all-time high. FlightView (www.flightview.com), a provider of day-of-travel information, has released two new research reports -- specific to airports and airlines -- with feedback from more than 2,600 business and leisure travelers revealing incredibly high expectations for mobile communication and self-service capabilities. This presents airports and airlines with a major opportunity to generate ancillary revenue and strengthen customer service.

"We’ve seen a fundamental change in the way people travel, with a rapidly increasing dependence on mobile devices," says Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView. "That means airports and airlines need to move beyond showing static information on mobile apps and websites to pushing relevant, timely updates and offering key functionality for informing and empowering their customers to make better decisions on the go."...

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Sep 21
Tablets drive customer satisfaction with traditional...

According to a new report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)l the personal computer division in the Index rated an all time score of 80 out of 100. Could it be due to the fact that more folks are buying Macs? Perhaps. But the iPad also plays a part.

As the personal computer market continues to undergo its transformation toward smaller, more mobile computing and away from stationary desktop solutions, customer satisfaction with the personal computer industry as a whole gains further traction -- up 2.6% to an all-time high ACSI score of 80.

The improvement over the past year blasts away the industry’s former high point of 78 that was earned in both 2010 and 2011. ACSI measurement of the industry includes customer satisfaction with all types of personal computers: desktops, laptops and tablets.

"The recent stall in demand for desktop computers comes in conjunction with a surge of interest in small, mobile computers; in particular, devices that are...

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Sep 20
Apple granted patent for dual-sided trackpad

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120235949) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a dual-sided trackpad.

A system including a capacitive array element capable of sensing touch from either side is described. A connected processor unit, either in the device or the host system, may be adapted to interpret signals from the capacitive array element as a cursor or view movement with six degrees of freedom.

The track pad device may include a display element and the capacitive array element may be translucent. The display element and the array element may be configured with respect to each other, where different configurations can be associated with different operating modes. For example, when the array element lies over the display screen so that the display screen is viewable through the array element, the array element can function as a touch screen. In another configuration, the array element may generate signals indicating a user's touch from one or the...

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Kunin Review
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