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Sep 07
iBook support for the Apple TV? Fine, so how '...

An error message displayed in the latest beta of iOS 6 for Apple TV suggests that support for iBooks may be coming to Apple's set-top box. But what about the Mac?

After downloading an e-book from Apple's iBookstore, an Apple TV tied to the same iTunes account will present users with a notification, according to "AppleInsider" (www.appleinsider.com) The prompt tells the user that the Apple TV attempted to automatically download the iBooks content, but it couldn't be accessed because the device doesn't have the necessary software installed.

That's all well and good, but I'd still like to see iBooks, the iBookstore and iTunes U available on Mac OS X, as well as Newsstand. I want to be able to buy books, textbooks and magazines and have them -- via iCloud -- synced across all my iOS and OS X devices so I can read them whenever and wherever I choose. It makes much more sense to have ebooks and e-mags...

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Sep 06
Apple patent is for 'display snooping'

An Apple patent (number 20120226774) for "display snooping" has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's designed to provide displays that may be used as secondary display devices.

Per the patent, circuitry may be placed in a communication pathway between a host computer and a second display device external to the host computer. One example provides an interface circuit that receives communication signals from a host computer. These signals may be AUX signals sent over a DisplayPort or Thunderbolt connection. The interface circuit may pass these signals to the second display device directly, it may modify them before passing them on, it may ignore them, or the interface circuit may pass them to a processor associated with the second display device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Computing environments continue to evolve. One of the latest evolutionary steps is the use of more than one display screen to view data generated by a computer...

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Sep 06
Apple working on new wireless headset design

An Apple patent (number 20120224710) for a wireless headset device that includes an earbud assembly and a primary housing assembly, fixed to the earbud assembly, has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The present invention relates to headsets and methods for manufacturing the same. Headsets are communication devices that are worn on a user's head in order to allow hands free data and/or voice communication with a host device such as a computer, phone handset, cellular phone, an automobile and/or the like. Headsets can include one or more speakers (in proximity to one or both ears) for audio output and/or one or more microphones for audio input.

"Headsets can come in a variety of form factors or shapes. In some cases, headsets can be embodied as an earpiece that serves as the primary support mechanism for wearing the headset. For example the headset may be supported on the head by an earpiece worn over or in...

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Sep 06
Apple looks to sync mobile, vehicle devices

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120225677) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for synchronizing mobile and vehicle devices -- especially in regard to mapping features.

Per the patent, location information is received at a mobile device from the memory of a vehicle device. The mobile device is updated based on the location information. Sensor data is received from at least one sensor measuring movement of the mobile device, and an estimated location of the mobile device is calculated based at least in part on the location information and the sensor data.

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 include appropriately configured...

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Sep 06
Over 30% of iPad owners want other screen sizes -- do...

Strategy Analytics' (www.strategyanalytics.com) latest tablet survey -- which covered six countries across three continents-- found that demand for 7-inch screens among future tablet owners was slightly stronger than for current iPad owners.

The "Strategy Analytics Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies Service Report" found that 10-inch screens remained the most popular preference across all countries. However, across all six countries, 20% of the sample of 923 tablet owners (including iPad owners) would prefer a 7-inch screen device for their next purchase.

The Strategy Analytics research showed marked differences between countries, particularly between US/UK, France, Germany, and Asian markets, including desired screen size, the most popular applications, distribution channels used, brand perceptions and timeframes for replacement tablet purchase.

The interest in 10-inch screens...

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Sep 06
Apple patent is for configurable input device

An Apple patent (number 20120227006) for a configurable input device has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working on methods and systems related to having an input device configured according to a position of a user's hand relative to the input device.

In particular, in some embodiments, a method of operating a computing system is provided that includes determining an operational context of the computing system utilizing a processor of the system and configuring an input device for the system based on the operational context. The input device includes a plurality of discrete input members.

The method also includes displaying a virtual image representative of the input device on a display of the system. A position of a user's digits relative to the input device is sensed and the input device is reconfigured based on the sensed position of the user's digits. An image of the user's digits overlaying the virtual image...

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Sep 06
Apple investigates haptic feedback, electronic...

Two new Apple patents show that the company is investigating further haptic feedback and electronic percussion input methods for its devices.

Patent number 20120223824 is for a linear vibrator providing localized haptic feedback. The invention involves an apparatus for providing haptic feedback, including: a shell defining an aperture; a driver disposed within the shell; a mass disposed within the coil; and a projection connected to the mass and extending through the aperture. Also described is a method for providing generalized and localized haptic feedback, including the operations of: receiving an input signal; determining if the input signal corresponds to a generalized haptic feedback; if so, providing a first input to a linear vibrator; otherwise, providing a second input to a linear vibrator; wherein the linear vibrator outputs a generalized haptic feedback in response to the first input; and the linear vibrator outputs a localized haptic feedback in...

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Sep 06
Apple granted patent for composite design of the iPhone

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120222985) for a composite enclosure; the invention involves the build of the iPhone.

Per the patent, a composite enclosure for housing electronic devices, and methods related thereto, are provided. In particular, in some embodiments, a method of manufacturing a composite enclosure for housing electronic devices includes winding composite material about a mandrel and curing the composite material to create a composite hoop.

A panel is formed in a separate process that includes stacking a plurality of composite layers in a mold and curing the composite layers to create a composite panel. The composite hoop and the composite panel are bonded together to form the composite enclosure.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "A typical mobile phone enclosure consists of a back panel, four side walls, and a glass front panel. Generally, the enclosure may be made of molded plastic, metal or other materials. Composite...

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Sep 05
What will it take to get the Apple TV out of the...

In a "Bloomberg" analysis (http://macte.ch/2Rk4z), Mark Milian notes that Apple, Google and Roku see an untapped market in set-top boxes that deliver online entertainment to the television, but they've yet to make a major impact.

Still, the overall market for such devices, which compete with hardware from cable and satellite TV operators, is growing. Research firm IHS ISuppli (www.isuppli.com) said sales of these set-top boxes rose 39% last year to 8.6 million units globally. However, Applesold 32 million iPads in fiscal 2011, its second year on the market. The company sold around 2.8 million Apple TVs during the same span, and so far has sold four million of the devices this fiscal year.

Milian notes that technology executives and analysts say that if these boxes could just offer more cable programming, then they could succeed. On the other...

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Sep 04
Apple patent is for hybrid antenna for electronic...

Apple has filed a patent (number 8,259,017) for a hybrid antenna for electronic devices.

Per the patent, the hybrid antenna may include a slot antenna structure and a planar inverted-F antenna structure. The planar inverted-F antenna structure may be formed from traces on a flex circuit substrate. A backside trace may form a series capacitance for the planar inverted-F antenna structure.

The antenna slot may have a perimeter that is defined by the location of conductive structures such as flex circuits, metal housing structures, a conductive bezel, printed circuit board ground conductors, and electrical components. Springs may be used in electrically connecting these conductive elements. A spring-loaded pin may be used as part of an antenna feed conductor. The pin may connect a transmission line path on a printed circuit board to the planar inverted-F antenna structure while allowing the planar inverted-F antenna structure to be removed from the device for rework or...

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Sep 04
Apple granted patent for updating multiple computing...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8255571) for updating multiple computing devices. It seems to involve the features of iCloud that lets you keep various types of data in sync among all other OS X and iOS devices.

The patent is for a system that system includes a server site that includes a memory for storing update data sets that correspond to data sets stored on multiple computing devices of a user. The system also includes a synchronization manager for determining that one computing device associated with the user and another computing device associated with the user are absent one or more data updates stored in the memory at the server site. The synchronization manager is configured to send in parallel, absent establishing a data transfer lock, the one or more data updates to the both computing devices of the user for updating the corresponding data stored on each computing device.

The inventors are Christopher Brooke Sharp, Karl Groethe, Andy Belk and...

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Sep 04
The Northern Spy: yet another migration

By Rick Sutcliffe

Last Month the Spy recounted his adventures with changing his Linux server to a bigger, badder machine running a much more recent OS. This month, he bit yet another migration bullet, moving into a new laptop.

Why an issue? Software. The longtime reader may recall the iconoclast Spy has continued to use good old reliable Eudora for his mail client, lo these many years. Well, he cannot do that even with Lion, much less Mountain Lion. BTW, the new machine is a 15-inch Retina PowerBook Pro tricked out with 16G of RAM and a 500G SSD.

Retinal impressions are somewhat mixed. The Spy has been using a 17-inch, mid-2007 vintage MacBook Pro, and going down a size causes a noticeable reduction in screen real estate -- though when in desktop mode hooked up to a larger monitor this is scarcely an issue. The new screen is sharper and more readable. with the glossy finish not so much a problem as it was in past years....

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Sep 04
Greg's Bite: Samsung whines, Google blinks and...

By Greg Mills

In the wake of a devastating loss to Apple in Federal Court, Samsung has blustered with threats and a publicity campaign that simply whines lies. There have been stories in even the national press that "Apple seeks to limit customer choice" in the smart phone and tablet market. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing Apple seeks to limit is Samsung and other companies freeloading on Apple technology and innovation.  

I was surprised to see, in a recent on-line poll, that among young adults, a majority think Apple was not entitled to have won in court and that Samsung ought to be able to sell infringing phones. They just don't get it. It costs money to run research labs and hire smart people to come up with the iPhone magic we carry in our pockets. Even those Apple does this so well, we shouldn't reduce their ability to protect their inventions from others who steal those ideas. 

As the attorney for Apple so...

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Sep 04
Mobile device use growing in the workplace

The use of iPhones and iPads in the the workplace has seen a steady rise. That looks to continue, especially with regards to the Apple tablet.

S&P Capital IQ -- a provider of multi-asset class data, research and analytics -- recently released the results of a new survey detailing industry professionals' preference, use and likely future purchase intentions of financial apps and delivery systems.

Responses to the survey -- with more than 400 respondents from S&P Capital IQ's investment banking clients -- underscore the growing relevance of mobile devices in the workplace and how smartphones, tablets and investor-directed apps have become an integral part of users' personal and professional lives. Among the results the S&P Capital IQ survey uncovered are: 

° BlackBerrys still matter, but iPhones play a significant role as a dual-use device: Devices used for work vary as 39% of respondents use a BlackBerry and 36% use an iPhone for business matters;...

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Sep 04
Apple wins patents for iPod nano, laptop design

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8259444) for a highly portable media device and a patent (number 8256913) for a housing for a computing device. They involve, respectively, the iPod nano and a laptop design.

Patent number 825944 is for an improved portable media device and methods for operating a media device are disclosed. According to one aspect, the portable media device can also function as a solid-state drive for data storage. The form factor of the portable media device can be hand-held or smaller, such that it is highly portable. The portable media device can use one or more status indicators.

The portable media device can also include a peripheral bus connector, a rechargeable battery, and one or more input devices. According to another aspect, the portable media device has the capability to store media device status information in persistent memory before powering down.

Thereafter, when the portable media device is again...

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Sep 04
Apple considering carbon fiber housings for laptops

An Apple patent (number 8257075) for a carbon composite mold design has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. IT shows that the company is at least considering carbon fiber housings for its laptop line.

The patent involves a mold assembly or system includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. Mold inserts combine to form mold cavities that receive carbon fiber and resin components to form a carbon composite based part.

A permanent release coating along a mold component surface that contacts the carbon fiber and resin components facilitates the release of the finished part from the mold component. Guide pins and guide pin receiving holes facilitate accurate alignment of mold components.

Ejector pins within respective ejector pin shafts help eject a finished part from a respective mold component. An ejector pin shaft cover transfers force from an ejector pin to eject a...

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Aug 31
Apple could rule the gaming world by 2012

Last year Phil Harrison, former president of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios, said that the growth rate of Apple’s ecosystem is so large that in a decade's time there’s a chance Apple may "own" the gaming industry, as noted by "AppleHeadlines" (http://macte.ch/QvCZv).

"At this trajectory, if you extrapolate the market-share gains that they are making, forward for 10 years -- if they carry on unrestrained in their growth, then there’s a pretty good chance that Apple will be the games industry," he said. "... The fact that the consumer purchase and discovery mechanism is so well integrated – you see something on the App Store, you click a button, the product delivers to your device. That end-to-end shopping experience, if you want to call it that, has been so elegantly built by Apple and they will continue to refine it ... I think the future for the dedicated console as it is currently...

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Aug 30
Apple patent is for backlight control of an electronic...

An Apple patent (number 20120218239) for backlight control of an electronic device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Embodiments are provided in the patent that may be utilized to eliminate stray light emissions from an LED while ambient light is being sensed. As such, dynamic backlight control systems for use with an electronic display are presented including: an ambient light sensor for sensing ambient light intensity; a backlight for illuminating the electronic display; a switch for controlling the backlight, the switch configured to set a backlight condition to ON or OFF in response to a backlight-off frequency such that the ambient light sensor senses the ambient light intensity in the absence of the backlight; a logic module for determining a backlight level in response to the ambient light intensity; and a backlight control circuit for adjusting the backlight to the backlight level in response to the ambient light intensity.

Here's Apple'...

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Aug 30
Apple working on accessory power management...

An Apple patent (number ) for accessory power management has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The patent is for methods, apparatus, and circuits for managing power among portable computing devices and one or more accessories.

One example provides commands to improve power management between a portable computing device and one or more accessories. Other examples provide commands that may allow a portable computing device to charge at a maximum available current level while providing an accessory with sufficient current for its proper operation.

Another may help prevent a portable computing device from drawing a high level of current that could be detrimental to an accessory, while others provide commands that may allow a battery pack to instruct a portable computing device to not charge its internal battery. Another example may allow a portable computing device to determine which power supply among multiple power supplies should be used to power an...

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Aug 30
Study: 3D not considered when folks buy a new HDTV

Only 11% of customers who purchase a high definition television do so because of its 3D capabilities, according to the J.D. Power and Associates' "2012 High Definition Television (HDTV) Report." I'm not surprised as people don't like wearing those wonky 3D glasses at home. Who knows? Perhaps Apple can change this.

The J.D. Power report examines satisfaction with HDTVs among customers who purchased one in the past 12 months. The report measures HDTV satisfaction across six factors (listed in order of importance): performance and reliability; ease of operating; competitiveness of the price paid; styling and appearance; variety of features; and warranty.

The report finds that 75% of customers indicate price was a reason they purchased their HDTV, followed by brand reputation (60%); positive reviews (37%); past experience with the brand (36%); quality of construction (33%); availability (31%); styling of the TV (29%); ease of use (21%); and 3D capability (11%).

"...

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Aug 30
Apple patent involves automated email sorting

An Apple patent (number 20120221961) for addressee-based message prioritization at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, showing that the company is looking to automate email sorting on its various devices.

Per the patent, in some implementations, messages received by an electronic messaging user (e.g., recipient) can be displayed in a user interface of an electronic messaging application. In some implementations, received messages can be prioritized based on how the messages are addressed to the user. In some implementations, received message can be displayed and highlighted based on the priority of each message. In some implementations, messages can be grouped and/or sorted based on the priority of each message.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The volume of electronic messages (e.g., e-mail, text messages) sent and received by users can be overwhelming. As the volume of electronic messages received by users increases, it becomes...

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Aug 29
Consumer Watchdog wins right to oppose $22.5 million...

A U.S. District Court Judge has granted Consumer Watchdog (www.ConsumerWatchdog.org ) the right to oppose Google's record US$22.5 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission because it allows the Internet giant to deny any wrongdoing.

"Google executives want to buy their way out of trouble with what for them is pocket change and then deny doing anything wrong," says John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director. "Allowing this settlement undercuts the entire regulatory process. Companies and their executives must be held accountable when they violate legal agreements."

U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston gave attorneys for the nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest group until Sept. 21 to file an amicus, or friend of the court, brief opposing the settlement. In her order filed late Tuesday she said Google and the FTC would then have a week to respond. The judge...

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Aug 29
Do iPads beat TVs for watching TV shows?

Apple’s iPad and other tablets could have a positive impact on the television industry because viewers who use tablets to watch TV are more engaged in TV shows, according to Strategy Analytics’ latest research (www.strategyanalytics.com) into tablet owner behavior. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but that's not the case for me.

The report, "Users More Engaged with Video Consumption on Tablet than on TV," found that how people choose shows and how they watch them on tablets is very different from how they behave with the traditional "big screen" TV. Viewers are much less likely to be distracted when watching TV shows on the smaller tablet screen.

When they are 'watching' TV on the big screen, however, attention is often diverted towards second screen activities. The Strategy Analytics research also observed a clear distinction between the "alpha state' of TV viewers (deep relaxation) and the "beta...

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Aug 28
Apple patent is for motion-based payment confirmation

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8255323) for motion-based payment confirmation by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Methods and devices for confirming payment transactions are provided, such as those used at Apple retail stores.

In one embodiment, an electronic device may include a graphical user interface (GUI) with one or more graphical elements that may be moved by a user to confirm or decline a payment transaction using a selected payment instrument. For example, a user may drag the graphical element to a confirmation position via a touch screen of the electronic device. In another example, a motion sensing device, such as an accelerometer, may sense movement of the electronic device and move the graphical element in response to the motion.

Upon confirmation, payment information for the payment transaction may be transmitted to a merchant or payment recipient. Various additional methods, machine-readable media, and devices for confirming payment...

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Aug 28
Apple granted patent for Smart Cover design

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,253,518) for a foldable cover for an electronic device. That would be the company's Smart Cover for the iPad.

A magnetic attachment mechanism and method is described in the patent. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach at least two objects together in a preferred configuration without fasteners and without external intervention.

The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach an accessory device to an electronic device. The accessory device can be used to augment the functionality of usefulness of the electronic device.

The inventors are Andrew Lauder, Matthew D. Rohrbach, Daniel J. Coster, Christopher J. Stringer, Florence W. Ow, Jiang Ai, Jonathan P. Ive, Elvis M. Kibiti, John P. Ternus and Sean D. Lubner.

Also popping up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office are:

° Patent number 8255360 for methods, systems, and apparatus, including...

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Aug 28
Other technologies will battle Apple's AirPlay

Consumers increasingly want to bring content from their mobile devices to the big screen TV. No company has made this easier than Apple with its AirPlay technology, but competitors are coming.

Wi-Fi Direct supports peer-to-peer connections between Wi-Fi devices, while Miracast (Wi-Fi Display) supports display of video content from tablets, smartphones, and other devices to the TV. By 2014 over 66% of connected CE devices (non-mobile/computing devices) are expected to support Wi-Fi Direct, with the majority of those devices Miracast certified as well, according to ABI Research (www.abirearch.com). Miracast will facilitate developers bringing small screen content to the TV, according to the research group. Miracast certification is expected to come within the next few months, with Wi-Fi "services" coming in 2013 -- services that will enable new functions, such as printing or gaming.

"Part of Apple’s...

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Aug 28
Apple patent hints at more iOS location-aware settings

A new Apple patent (number 8254902) for an apparatus and method for enforcing policies on a wireless device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It hints at further location-aware settings for iOS device.

The patent is for an apparatus and methods for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event. In one embodiment, the event comprises detecting that the wireless device is within range of one or more other devices. In another variant, the event comprises the wireless device associating with a certain access point.

In this manner, various aspects of device functionality may be enabled or restricted (device "policies"). This policy enforcement capability is useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater), for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless...

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Aug 27
Older adults least likely to use the Internet

Researchers at Public Health Management Corporation’s (PHMC) Community Health Data Base (CHDB) determined from its 2010 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey data that one in five SEPA adults, or 20%, that they never use the Internet, representing approximately 563,000 adults.

This is significant because, when it comes to finding information about personal health, more and more Americans are turning to the Internet as a valuable tool. According to a 2010 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, eight out of 10  Internet users have looked online for health information. Through Internet searches, consumers can access information on conditions, disease prevention, nutrition, physicians and more.

"Our results parallel those found in national data," says Rose Malinowski Weingartner, research associate at CHDB. "Internet usage and health may seem unrelated, but as more and more people use it to make informed decisions about health, it’s crucial...

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Aug 25
Greg's Bite: Samsung and Android Lose, Big Time

By Greg Mills

Steve Jobs anticipated the eventual copy cat problem, should the iPhone and iPad be successful. I really don't think anyone at Apple knew at launch just how successful the new platform would become. Jobs gave fair warning at the launch of the first iPhone that Apple had patented the phone and software lavishly with numerous patents. The competition panned iPhone, but also began to reverse engineer the device.

Google had a head start developing the Android OS since their CEO was on the board of Apple. Steve Jobs had been vilified for not trusting people in various writings about his life. When you consider the crown jewels of technology that have been stolen right from under his nose, a lot can be excused. It is not paranoid to think you can't trust outsiders with your trade secret, but simply good business sense to work in absolute secrecy when you have been burned before by those who call themselves friends.

Steve Jobs and Eric...

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Aug 24
Time to turn iWork into a true Office 'killer...

I love Apple's iWork apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I use them whenever possible instead of Microsoft Office, and I know of several other folks who prefer Apple's own software titles. So now it's time for Apple to concentrate on making iWork a true Office "killer."

Of course, Pages, Numbers and Keynote aren't going to truly "kill" Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, they could offer more serious competition. After all, Microsoft's Office software is bloated and hasn't been updated to take advantage of the features of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, much less Mountain Lion. As for Retina display support, well, according to Microsoft, you shouldn't hold your breath.

The last update to the iWork apps came in 2009, so it's time for some revamping. For one thing, the apps -- especially Pages -- could load faster. As Alexis Kayhall so eloquently put in in a "Mac360" (http://macte.ch/ElLsn) blog, "I use Calendar to...

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Aug 23
Apple eyes wireless headset having adaptive powering

Apple is working on a wireless headset having adaptive powering, according to a new patent (number 20120212063) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

A system that includes a bus, a battery, core processing circuitry, radio frequency (RF) processing circuitry, first power regulating circuitry, second power regulating circuitry, and control circuitry is provided. The bus can be coupled to receive power from a source external to the system. The core processing circuitry and RF processing circuitry can be selectively coupled to each other via a switch. The switch can be operative to turn ON and OFF based on a signal level received on the bus.

The first power regulating circuitry can be electrically coupled to the bus, the core processing circuitry, and the switch. The second power regulating circuitry can be electrically coupled to the battery, the RF processing circuitry, and the switch. The control circuitry can be operative to selectively turn ON and OFF the...

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Aug 23
Apple working on improved networking techniques

An Apple patent (number 20120215950) for cross-over and bypass configurations for high-speed data transmission has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working ways to improve networking techniques for transferring data among various electronic devices.

One method involves daisy-chaining devices together. That is, several devices may be connected to each other through a series of cables to form a chain of devices. In this physical configuration, data may be shared among multiple devices using a series of single-hop virtual tunnels.

Another method: a number of tunnels may be formed by a host device, each having a target device in the daisy chain. Each tunnel may originate at the host device and terminate at their target device. Each tunnel may bypass devices between the host device and the tunnel's target device. These two techniques may also be combined. Another example may provide a method of simplifying the routing of high-...

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Aug 23
Apple needs to shore up the chinks in its armor

This week Apple became the most valuable company ever and its stock hit an all-time high (see http://macte.ch/bTrs0), but the company should beware: there are chinks showing in its armor.

The biggest is a blunder so colossally stupid that the powers at Apple have to be wondering if replacing retail guru with John Browett was a mistake. Browett came to Apple from European technology retailer Dixons Retail, where he has been CEO since 2007. Dixons isn't exactly famous for customer service or quality.

"Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met," Apple CEO Tim Cook said when announcing Browett's hiring. Recent events make you wonder exactly how many people they met.

Last week "Dow Jones" reported that Browett, had spearheaded a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail...

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Aug 23
Apple patents involve hearing assistance systems

Two Apple patents involving hearing assistance systems have appeared at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Both apparently involve iOS devices.

Patent number 20120215532 is for a hearing assistance system for providing consistent human speech. It describe san apparatus, system, and method that allows a user of a hearing assistance system to perceive consistent human speech. The consistent human speech can be based upon user specific preferences.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Broadly speaking, the embodiments disclosed herein describe providing individualized consistent speech patterns to a user of a hearing assistance system. More specifically, a method performed by a portable computing device for providing consistent speech is described. In one embodiment, the portable computing device includes an audio processing component coupled with an audio input device.

"The method can be performed by carrying out the following operations...

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Aug 23
Apple patent is for video acquisition with integrated...

An Apple patent (number 20120212481) for video acquisition with integrated GPU processing has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent involves systems and techniques for processing sequences of video images involve receiving, on a computer, data corresponding to a sequence of video images detected by an image sensor. The received data is processed using a graphics processor to adjust one or more visual characteristics of the video images corresponding to the received data.

The received data can include video data defining pixel values and ancillary data relating to settings on the image sensor. The video data can be processed in accordance with ancillary data to adjust the visual characteristics, which can include filtering the images, blending images, and/or other processing operations.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Image sensors can be used to detect video sequences that can be used by various client processes in a...

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Aug 22
Still not the time to license OS X

Recently "MacDailyNews" (macdailynews.com) posted an interesting theory: it's time for Apple to consider licensing Mac OS X, an experiment it tried in the past, but which failed. However, it's an idea whose time still hasn't come.

Here's the scenario from "MacDailyNews": "Imagine if Apple then executed a controlled licensing program (Apple approval required) of OS X to interested parties. OS X is now just a fraction of Apple’s revenue stream, yet it is the only serious alternative to Windows. Apple no longer needs OS X exclusivity to survive. By licensing OS X correctly and at this crucial time, Apple cause extensive damage to Microsoft and Windows."

Apple makes most of its money from hardware, not software. iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, etc., are all goodies to entice you to buy OS X and iOS devices. And Macs have hardly reached the status of being a "fraction of Apple's revenue stream."

For example, the current apple of Apple's eye is the iPad. In the last...

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Aug 21
Apple wins patent for edge-lit backlight unit with...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8248554) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an edge-lit backlight unit with a thin profile.

In one embodiment, the backlight unit may include a light guide configured to receive light from a source and emit such light in a broad distribution to a turning film disposed over the light guide. The turning film may be configured to redirect light received from the light guide toward a normal of the turning film.

In one embodiment, the light guide may be configured such that peak light distribution therefrom occurs at an incident angle of approximately sixty degrees, with broad light distribution substantially occurring over an angular range between incident angles of thirty-five and eighty-five degrees. Additionally, in one embodiment, the turning film may include multiple prisms that receive and redirect the light emitted from the light guide, and that include apex angles of less than or about 60 degrees. Additional edge...

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Aug 21
Apple granted patent for podcasting

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8245924) for techniques and systems for supporting podcasting.

Improved podcasts and techniques that facilitate their use are disclosed. The improved techniques can pertain to creating, publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts. According to one aspect, a client application can subscribe to podcasts and then automatically monitor the podcasts for updates to be downloaded.

In the event that user interest in a podcast becomes inadequate, downloading of further updates can be restricted. According to another aspect, a podcast can be subscribed to through use of a portable subscription file. According to still another aspect, podcast feeds can be enhanced to include segment elements and other metadata.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention:

"The invention pertains to improved podcasts and techniques that facilitate their use. The improved techniques can pertain to...

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Aug 21
Apple patent involves migration of old image databases

If you have trouble migrating an old image database, Apple seems to be working on a solution. Patent number 8249385 involves techniques a for causing digital image data to be interpreted according to a particular technique of a plurality of techniques.

According to an embodiment, digital sensor data is received, and user input is received that specifies which technique of a plurality of techniques to use to generate a display that depicts an unmodified image from the sensor data, wherein each technique of the plurality of techniques generates a display from the sensor data in a different manner than each other technique of the plurality of techniques.

The inventors are Nikhil M. Bhatt and Curtis A. Bianchi.

Also appearing at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office are:

° Patent 8249237 for an architecture for establishing a multi-participant conference. This architecture has one participant's computer in the conference act as a central content...

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Aug 21
Apple patent lets you skip commercials

An Apple patent (number 8249497) for seamless switching between radio and local media has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. As it involves technology that lets users skip unwanted audio and video broadcast segments such as commercials it may hint at features of an upcoming revamp of the Apple TV set-box box or the rumored "iTV."

Per the patent, systems and methods are provided for seamlessly switching media playback between a media broadcast, such as a radio broadcast, and media from a local media library. When an electronic device determines that an upcoming media item in a media broadcast is not of interest to a user, the electronic device can switch playback from the media stream to a media item from the electronic device local library.

The selected local media item can be related to a previously broadcast media item to ensure continuity in the user's listening or viewing experience. The electronic device can switch away from the local media...

| Read more »
Aug 21
43% of companies worry about employee devices...

The results of a study released by Lieberman Software Corp. says that BYOD (bring your own device) increases costs to businesses. Perhaps that wouldn't be the case if those devices were all Apple devices -- although the folks at Lieberman seem to disagree.

Respondents were asked if they believed allowing employees to connect their own devices (such as USB drives, mobile phones, portable computers and home computers) to the corporate network increased costs -- with 67% saying that it did increase costs.

When asked what caused the organization the biggest headache, almost half (43%) cited an employee device introducing a virus; more than a quarter (26%) pointed the finger at employees losing a device, and employees stealing data the biggest concern for 22% of respondents.

The survey was carried out by Lieberman Software of nearly 250 IT professionals in London. Philip Lieberman, president and CEO of privileged identity management software vendor Lieberman...

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Aug 20
HTML5 no threat to native app dominance?

Though preferred by Apple, HTML5 will have a minor impact on the apps ecosystem, according to new data from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). I'm not sure I buy it, but the research group says the feature-rich superiority of native apps and the risk HTML5’s open standards creates for existing revenue streams will confine HTML5 to niche status.

Instead, Strategy Analytics predicts that a third type of application, the hybrid, will exhibit strong growth. Already services -- such as PhoneGap, Sencha, Brightcove and Marmalade -- are allowing developers to combine an HTML5 core with native APIs [application programming interfaces] to leverage the best of native and open standards.

"HTML5 is not the future of apps," says Josh Martin, director of Apps Research at Strategy Analytics. "While developers dream of 'write once run everywhere' the fragmented support for and...

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Aug 17
I'd love to see Ultra-D on an iTV

Now here's a technology I'd love to see if/when Apple ever releases an HDTV (the rumored "iTV").: Ultra-D. It's 3D without the glasses.

Stream TV Networks has made a technology partnership with Hisense (the leading TV brand in China) for a range of televisions and other products featuring Ultra-D technology. The first product to market will be a 42-inch 1080p autostereoscopic 3D display with plans for additional 3D without glasses displays, smart televisions, tablets and smartphones incorporating the Ultra-D technology.

Ultra-D televisions will be bundled with the SeeCube Auto Converter. The SeeCube Conversion Box auto converts 2D and 3D stereoscopic (with glasses) into autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D format in real-time. Ultra-D supports nearly every kind of video feed including cable & satellite TV channels, Blu-ray, XBOX, PS3 and sites like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. The Ultra-D technology can convert content from iTunes and devices such as the iPad and...

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Aug 16
Apple wants more sticky functionality in Mac OS X

An Apple patent (number20120210264) for sticky functionality has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to graphical user interfaces for computer systems, and more particularly to a user interface which allows easier manipulation of elements of the user interface via a cursor control device such as a mouse.

Per the patent manipulation of elements in a graphical user interface is aided by allowing the graphical user interface to treat certain mouse button actuation and releases as holding the mouse button in an actuated state. When predetermined conditions are satisfied, the graphical user interface will treat a mouse button actuation and release as if the mouse button were held in an actuated state.

A user can then manipulate elements in the graphical user interface as if the user held the mouse button in an actuated state. The types of manipulation can include the moving of a window, the resizing of a window, moving an icon, and the...

| Read more »
Aug 16
Apple patent is for transport control of a media...

An Apple patent (number 20120207444) for transport control of a media device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves manipulating a media processing device to control the presentation of content.

The patent is for a method of scanning content comprises receiving an input signal indicating that content being displayed is to be scanned, sensing a duration of the received input signal, and scanning the content at a rate based at least in part on the sensed duration of the received input.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Media processing devices embedded with media applications capable of playing audio and visual content enhance user experience. The content can include music, video, photographs, and the like. Such media processing devices can be configured to play either a single type of content. For example, certain DVD players can play back only video content stored on a DVD. Other devices can be configured to play a...

| Read more »
Aug 16
Would you buy an Apple Watch?

Kate MacKenzie of "PixoBebo" (http://macte.ch/PMQYf) thinks Apple's "next insanely great thing" will be a watch.

Wait, you say: Apple already makes a semi-watch in the iPad nano. There are lots of third party "watch bands" that allow you to wear it on your wrist. And the iPad nano comes with digital clock faces range from classic analog looks to your favorite Disney characters including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

My problem with using the nano as an iWatch is that the screen frequently goes dark to save battery power. So you have to “wake up” the nano to see what time it is. I prefer a wristwatch I can simply glance at to check the time. So perhaps there's an opportunity for an Apple watch.

MacKenzie envisions the Apple watch "as not much more than a dumb screen on your wrist that receives signals via Bluetooth from your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or even your Mac." This would allow phone...

| Read more »
Aug 16
Apple eyeing illuminated touchpads

Apple has given us illuminated keyboards, so why not illuminated touchpads? An Apple patent (number 20120206392) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company may be working on just that.

The invention pertains to improved feedback mechanisms for touch pads. One aspect relates to devices capable of illuminating the touch sensitive surface of the touch pad. Another aspect relates to methods for providing visual feedback at the touch pad.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The invention relates, in one embodiment, to an illuminated input device. The illuminated input device includes an object sensing mechanism capable of sensing a user input over an input surface. The illuminated input device also includes a visual feedback system configured to illuminate the input surface in association with a user input.

"The invention relates, in another embodiment, to a method of operating an input device. The method includes sensing an object over...

| Read more »
Aug 16
Is Apple working on a Photoshop competitor?

An Apple patent (number 20120206471) for systems, methods and computer-readable media for managing layers of graphical object data has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It hints that Apple may be working on a Photoshop competitor.

Systems, methods, and computer-readable media for managing layers of graphical object data are provided. For example, a graphical display system may be configured to implicitly manage various graphical object layers. In some embodiments, any new graphical object of a first type of graphical object may be generated in a current top layer of a stack when the current top layer is associated with the first type of graphical object. However, when the current top layer of the stack is not associated with the first type of graphical object, any new graphical object of the first type of graphical object may be generated in a new top layer of the stack. Moreover, any new graphical object of a second type of graphical object may similarly...

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Aug 15
Do we still need Office apps on our Macs?


In a recent Tech Night Owl (http://macte.ch/FbSAz) Gene Steinberg questioned whether we still need Office for Mac software.

Some folks, especially in the business world do, but for most end users, Office is no longer a necessity. Many, like me, prefer the simplicity of Pages, Numbers and Keynote to their Office alternatives. Plus, at US$20 a pop, the Apple iWork apps are a lot cheaper than Microsoft's offerings.

"Certainly, Microsoft appears to be running out of ways to make Office more compelling," Steinberg writes. "The most notable change in Office 2013 for Windows is half-hearted support for touch. But it appears to be limited to expanding the ribbons to improve your aim if you choose to activate those functions with your fingers. What a waste!"

However, he points out the fact that "if you work at a company that requires Office, there's no real choice" and, per Pages, "fidelity with Word...

| Read more »
Aug 14
Apple working on ways to for multi-touch input...

An Apple patent (number 8243041) for multi-touch input discrimination has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to data input methods and devices for electronic equipment and, more particularly, to methods and devices for discriminating between various inputs to a multi-touch touch-surface input device.

Techniques for identifying and discriminating between different types of contacts to a multi-touch touch-screen device are described. Illustrative contact types include fingertips, thumbs, palms and cheeks. By way of example, thumb contacts may be distinguished from fingertip contacts using a patch eccentricity parameter. In addition, by non-linearly deemphasizing pixels in a touch-surface image, a reliable means of distinguishing between large objects (e.g., palms) from smaller objects (e.g., fingertips, thumbs and a stylus) is described.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There currently exist many types of...

| Read more »
 
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