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Jul 05
Apple looking into macroscalar processor architecture

A new Apple patent (number 7975134) at the US Patent & Trademark Office involves a macroscalar processor architecture.

In one embodiment, an exemplary processor includes one or more execution units to execute instructions and one or more iteration units coupled to the execution units. The one or more iteration units receive one or more primary instructions of a program loop that comprise a machine executable program. For each of the primary instructions received, at least one of the iteration units generates multiple secondary instructions that correspond to multiple loop iterations of the task of the respective primary instruction when executed by the one or more execution units. Other methods and apparatuses are also described. Jeffry E. Gonion is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background of the invention: "As clock frequencies continue to rise in response to increased demands for performance, power has also increased, while deeper pipelines have exhibited a...

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Jul 05
Apple patent involves music synchronization...

An Apple patent (number 7973231) has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a music synchronization arrangement. The invention generally pertains to a hand-held computing device.

More particularly, the invention pertains to a computing device that is capable of controlling the speed of the music so as to affect the mood and behavior of the user during an activity such as exercise. By way of example, the speed of the music can be controlled to match the pace of the activity (synching the speed of the music to the activity of the user) or alternatively it can be controlled to drive the pace of the activity (increasing or decreasing the speed of the music to encourage a greater or lower pace). One aspect of the invention relates to adjusting the tempo (or some other attribute) of the music being outputted from the computing device.

By way of example, a songs tempo may be increased or decreased before or during playing. Another aspect of the invention...

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Jul 05
Apple patent is for multi-point of sale software

An Apple patent (number 7971782) for a multi-point [of sale] transaction system has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to temporarily pairing devices to complete transactions; and more specifically to temporarily pairing at least one handheld communication device selected from a plurality of handheld communication devices with at least one payment terminal selected from a plurality of payment terminals.

Computer implemented systems and methods for conducting transactions are disclosed in the patent. In one exemplary embodiment, a method includes receiving transaction information corresponding to a transaction initiated with one of a plurality of handheld computing devices. The handheld computing device is associated with one of a plurality of payment terminals. The transaction is completed and the association between the handheld computing device and the payment terminal is terminated. Khawaja Shams is the inventor.

Here's Apple's...

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Jul 05
Greg's Bite: Microsoft loses strategy VP

By Greg Mills

When I read stories in the press about defections from Microsoft's executive suites, I consider the overall long term business situation at the Redmond campus. Since Ballmer took over from Bill Gates in 2000, Microsoft has shed half its market cap.  That is a fact. 

Rather than a string of successful new product launches, it looks more like a laundry list of epic product disasters when one considers Microsoft's failed strategies and dismal product failures. Anybody want a Kin phone?

There is a "me, too" element in Microsoft's genetic makeup. From the Windows OS inspired by the early Mac OS, Microsoft has followed the leader.  

From a strictly financial theory, attempting to emulate only successful products ought to be cheaper and more successful than actually innovating in-house.  Flawed planning, marketing and execution of product development has plagued Microsoft since Bill Gates retired to spend his money.

If I...

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Jul 05
E-book reader use in the US hits double digits for...

If Apple's iBookstore can keep expanding the number of titles it carries (I think it has around 100,000 titles compared to 700,000 or so at Amazon), it could have a bright future. The share of adults in the United States who own an e-book reader doubled to 12% in May 2011  from 6% in November 2010.  

This is the first time since the Pew Internet Project (http://pewinternet.org) began measuring e-reader use in April 2009 that ownership of this device has reached double digits among U.S. adults. Tablet computers haven't seen the same level of growth in recent months. 

These findings come from a survey conducted from April 26-May 22 among 2,277 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. The margin of error for the sample is plus or minus two percentage points.

Both e-book reader and tablet computer adoption levels among U.S. adults are still...

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Jul 05
Apple wins iPhone, Migration Assistant patents

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

Patent number 7975242 is for a portable multifunction device, method and graphical user interface for conference calling -- in other words, the iPhone. Per the patent, in some embodiments, a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display performs a method that includes: displaying a phone call user interface on the touch screen display, wherein the phone call user interface includes: a first informational item associated with an active phone call between a user of the device and a first party, a second informational item associated with a suspended phone call between the user and a second party, and a merge call icon; upon detecting a user selection of the merge call icon, merging the active phone call and the suspended phone call into a conference call between the user, the first party, and the second party, and replacing the phone...

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Jul 01
Greg's Bite: California's Internet sales tax 

By Greg Mills

Benjamin Franklin said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Margret Mitchell, in her book "Gone with the Wind," written in 1936, added another given us guys have a pass on: childbirth. She glibly stated, "Death, taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them."  True and true, do I ever hate April 15!

The Internet has been a boon to the US economy for both giant online stores and the smaller mom and pop e-stores that pop up. E-commerce has become such a factor in the national economy that states that are scraping the bottom of the barrel for money are taking a fresh look to see if they can apply more taxes to the Internet cash flow.

California leads the other state governments in innovative ways to tax the poor chumps who live in their respective states. Having lived in California for a good chunk of my lifetime, I saw for myself the effects of invasive and over-...

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Jul 01
The Northern Spy: the scythe of time

By Rick Sutcliffe

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die…" -- Ecclesiastes 3 : 1-2a.

Last month the Spy reflected on this theme and its implications for individuals. This month he returns his attention to products and companies, but with the same air of impermanence.

How many readers recall when every wag with a column for a pulpit (excepting this one) was predicting the demise of Apple? Seems unlikely today, does it not? Well, at least for a while. If Apple's sales stopped tomorrow (and they won't because of substantial banked mindshare) it would take a long time to use up all that cash in the bank accounts. On the contrary, iSteve's little company looks to grow substantially in both relative and absolute terms.

Indeed, when the stock began testing the $250-$350 range, the Spy worried that it was overvalued, but even that concern seems to have little foundation...

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Jul 01
Desktop not going to be obsolete anytime soon

"The desktop computer really will become obsolete," Amy H. Tabor, director of facilities planning for RNL, a global, full-service design firm, tells "Infoworld" (http://macte.ch/Ey8gW). "This change is driven by the way we work, the need for more flexibility and space use, and the younger generation expecting the difference."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we're not entering a desktop-less world. Even in a "post PC" world the desktop will have a place for years to come. It will only disappear when we totally replace desktops with laptop computers -- which we'll then connect to large displays when we want to use them as, well, desktops.

Daniel Burrus, business strategist, technology futurist, and the author of the new book "Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible," tells "Infoworld": "The workplace is changing dramatically, and the tipping point is now. In 2010 more...

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Jun 30
Apple offers remote conference center patent

An Apple patent (number 20110161074) for a remote conferencing center has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to audio and/or video recording and, more specifically, to determining sources of audio signals for audio and/or video recordings.

Certain embodiments disclosed herein relate to systems and methods for recording audio and video. In particular, in one embodiment, a method of recording audio signals is provided. The method includes recording audio signals with a plurality of distributed audio transducers to create multiple recordings of the audio signals and providing each of the multiple recordings of the audio signals to a computing device.

The computing device combines each of the multiple recordings into a master recording and determines a source for each audio signal in the master recording. Additionally, the computing device stores each audio signal in separate audio files according to the determined source of each...

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Jun 30
Apple patent involves local device awareness

An Apple patent (number 20110162048) involving local device awareness has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Aspects of the present disclosure (think iOS devices) relate to the operation of electronic devices and, more particularly, to identifying and placing electronic devices located within a particular vicinity.

Per the patent, certain embodiments may take the form of a method of operating an electronic device to find and determine an identity of other local devices. The method includes transmitting electromagnetic signals from a first electronic device to find devices within a prescribed distance of the first device and receiving electromagnetic response signals from a second electronic device within the prescribed distance from the first electronic device.

The method also includes identifying the second electronic device using information received in the electromagnetic response signals. Additionally, the method includes determining if the second...

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Jun 30
Apple patent is for location-based 'smart'...

An Apple patent (number 20110162035) for a location-based dock for a computing device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Designed for Apple laptops, the dock would dynamically change the interface and settings of a portable device for different activities like working or driving a car.

One particular implementation conforming to aspects of the present disclosure takes the form of docking station for a computing device that maintains an indication of a docking station location. The location of the docking station may be utilized by the docking station and/or the computing device coupled to the docking station to configure the functionality and other aspects of the computing device.

For example, the functionality of the computing device may be altered in response to the location of the docking station.
Additionally, security features, display configurations and the availability of software applications may also be configured in response to the...

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Jun 30
Greg's Bite: HP's New 'Me Too' Pad

By Greg Mills

Remember all the breathless "iPad killers" announced a year ago? Seems like it was over 100 different prototypes shown. Well, Apple's iPad is still over a year ahead of the strongest competitor and gaining traction in the market place. The problem for competitors is that the hardware of iPad is pretty awesome, and Apple has bought up so much of the touch screen production even finding parts to build competitive pads is hard.  

When you build a device you want uniformity in the parts to prevent problems in quality control and parts compatibility nightmares. When Apple buys up touch screens with cash a year in advance, manufacturers would be foolish to not play ball with them.  

Apple is either first or second in total electronic parts purchases around the world and approaching US$70 billion cash in the bank, so they call the shots on whatver they want to buy. They even loan money to touch screen manufacturers to build new plants to...

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Jun 30
U.S. CEOs like Apple products

Seems America's chief executive officers (CEOs) prefer Apple products when it comes to mobile and computing products. Among the various mobile communication and computing products/services surveyed in new research from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com), 99% of U.S. CEOs use/own laptops/notebooks.

Almost half of CEOs have one or more tablet computers, although very few have more than two.The 10% of CEOs who own two or more tablet computers most frequently cite family needs as the reason for owning more than one. About 40% of CEOs have e-readers, or use tablets as e-readers.

Of these, almost all use them during resting time, but rather few use them while commuting. Compared to 2010, in 2011 the U.S. CEOs respondents perceive the smart phones as more of personal purpose phones and the standard feature phones, that are still owned/used, are perceived more as...

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Jun 29
Greg's Bite: The Final Cut Flap

By Greg Mills

Apple does so much right, it really takes a black eye when perceived to have screwed up. The new Final Cut software has been completely re-written and has some great new features, but lost some legacy features that avid video editing people miss.  

Note that the new Final Cut stands alone and isn't a replacement for the old Final Cut. When software titles are completely rewritten from the ground up, there may be changes in the basic architecture that make previous features obsolete or hard to reproduce right away.

I recall being flummoxed by iMovie 11 that, like the new Final Cut, abandoned familiar features and the look and feel of what was familiar in iMove. I ranted and criticized Apple roundly at the time. I left the new version on my hard drive and some months later found that a new USB Sony Camcorder worked with the newer version of iMovie when it didn't work with the old familiar version. I grumbled but learned the new...

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Jun 29
Final Cut Pro X -- meet The Cube, Mobile Me and Ping

On June 1 Apple announced Final Cut Pro X (http:www.apple.com/finalcutpro), a new version of the company's professional video editing software. Based on the early reactions, it seems to have joined the Cube, Ping and MobileMe in a handful of company products that have been soundly blasted.

It seems that most video pros aren't happy with the software -- or at least how Apple has handled the whole product introduction. Apple blew it on this one, and needs to take steps to correct the situation. Pronto.

There's an online petition stating that, "Final Cut Pro X is not a professional application" (http://www.petitiononline.com/finalcut/). As I wrote this, there were over 3,000 signatures.

First of all, Final Cut Pro X is a MAJOR change from its predecessors. That scares some people. But what really scares them is that Apple cancelled Final Cut Studio and pulled it...

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Jun 28
Apple patents involve iPhones, keyboards, more

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

Design patent D640,695 is for a keyboard -- more specifically, Apple's keyboard with a numeric pad. The inventors are Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Richard Howarth, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Calvin Seid, Vincent Keane, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number 7,969,453 is for partial display updates in a windowing system using a programmable graphics processing unit. Techniques to generate partial display updates in a buffered window system in which arbitrary visual effects are permitted to any one or more windows (e.g., application-specific window buffers) are described. Once a display output region is identified for updating, the buffered window system is interrogated to determine which regions within each...

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Jun 28
An Apple version of Touch-to-Share would be sweet

I have to admit that I'm jealous of HP's Touch-to-Share technology. With it you can, for example,"bump" a paired Pre 3 into an HP TouchPad slate, and the data beams over the air. In other words, Touch-to-Share offers the capability for sharing web addresses between HP TouchPad and compatible webOS phones.

It's a feature I'd love to have on OS X and iOS. I'd love to be able to "grab" a contact or iMessage event on my iMac, drag it to an iOS device and have it show up there.

Combine this with a Citrix Receiver capability and you could have a huge AutoCAD simulation on your main computer. You could drag it to your iPad and have the full thing show up there complete with the ability to continue editing the simulation and/or watch it run even though it requires a lot more CPU power than the iPad (or any tablet) would have.

This would work because using the Citrix Receiver, the actual horsepower would come from the desktop. The iPad would just provide the user...

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Jun 27
Greg's Bite: revolutionary light field...

By Greg Mills

Photography has come a long way since the pioneer days of silver emulsion on glass plates. First came those antique box cameras and the flash powder photography where exposures were so long you could just about go to sleep before the picture was completely exposed. Don't blink!

Then photographic film came along, and chemicals were improved offering faster exposures for black-and-white pictures and increasingly fine detail. Then color film processing came on the scene. Kodak famously introduced the point-and-shoot camera and "snapshots" became the rage.  

Kodak got rich, and the film industry matured and was lulled to sleep until digital photography came on the scene a decade ago. Now, even cell phones have 8 to 10 
megapixel camera sensors with incredible color capable chips -- and they even record video.

Yet, even with modern self-focusing digital cameras, some legacy photographic boo-boos still occur. How many times...

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Jun 27
The 'Net evolves from online directories to...

Although the Internet entered the mainstream 15 years ago, life without it today is nearly incomprehensible, And our use of the web has rapidly changed as well, as shown by new data from the Flurry research group (http://www.flurry.com). 

Flurry says that, in simple terms, the Internet has evolved from online directories (Yahoo!) to search engines (Google) and now to social media (Facebook).  Built on the desktop and notebook computer platform, the web’s popularity is significant.

Today, however, a new platform shift is taking place.  In 2011, for the first time, smartphone and tablet shipments exceed those of desktop and notebook shipments, says Flurry. This move means a new generation of consumers expects their smartphones and tablets to come with instant broadband connectively so they, too, can connect to the Internet.

In a new report, Flurry compared how daily interactive consumption has...

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Jun 24
iPhones, parenting and social media

By Andrew Eisner

A parent's job is never finished, especially when it comes to keeping up with the technology that children so easily seem to understand. If you're a parent today, chances are, you're well aware that your job has grown far beyond making sure homework is completed and everyone gets to school on time.

Today's parents have Facebook, Twitter and a whole new world of social tools to consider when it comes to raising their children and even getting some well-deserved socializing in for themselves, and leading the way in most digital activities are iPhone owning parents, or "iParents" as we affectionately call them.

In an effort to help parents understand what other parents are doing (and not doing) in the social space, Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping and review site commissioned a Gadgetology study to look at the changing role of parents in this new age of technology.

iPhone parents collect more Facebook...

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Jun 24
Android more likely than the iPhone to develop...

In a big "oops" for the Android platform, a year-long study by WDS (http://www.wds.co) of more than 600,000 technical support calls has found that Android devices are more likely to develop a hardware fault than many of their smartphone competitors.

Fourteen percent of all technical support calls for Android devices related to hardware faults in contrast to just 3.7% for RIM BlackBerry, 8% for iPhones (iOS) and 9% for Windows Phone 7 devices, according to the wireless industry's provider of specialist managed services. The greater propensity for hardware faults is, says WDS, a symptom of the platform's fragmentation across a broad range of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Both Apple and RIM control their hardware ecosystems and Microsoft mandates minimum hardware specifications for Windows Phone deployments. In contrast, Android is widely deployed by more than 35 OEMs globally under an open source...

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Jun 23
Apple eyeing ways to tie media items with geographical...

Apple is working on even more ways to associate media content items with geographical data, per a new patent (number 20110148936) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to presenting digital media, for example, digital photographs, digital video, and the like.

Systems and techniques are disclosed for associating and presenting media content items with locations on a geographical track path. For example, the frames of a video segment can be associated with locations on a track path. The track path can be based on position data, including position coordinates and a corresponding time coordinates, obtained while the video frames were captured.

Locations for the video frames can be determined based on a start time of the video segment, a frame rate of the video segment, and the position data. The video segment can be displayed with user controls that enable a user to manipulate the frame of the video segment being displayed including a time indicator and a...

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Jun 23
Apple patent is for audio interface for iOS devices

An Apple patent (number 20110153044) for a directional audio interface for a portable media device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves controlling iOS devices through an audio interface.

Methods and apparatus for a user to interact with and control a portable media device through an audio user interface are discolsed. The audio user interface includes one or more audible control nodes perceived by the user to be spatially located at different points about the user of the portable media device.

A sensor in the portable media device senses a movement of the portable media device by the user toward one or more of the audible control nodes. The operation of the portable device is modified in accordance with the sensed movement of the portable media device. Aram Lindahl and Richard Powell are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The increased density and lower cost per Mbyte of storage media,...

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Jun 23
Apple patent hints at future Apple TV features

A new Apple patent (number 201110154200) for "enhancing media content with content-aware resources" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows what Apple is considering for future versions of the Apple TV (or perhaps an Apple-branded television set, if you buy the latest rumors).

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In the realm of computer software operating systems and application programs, light-weight, single-purpose applications referred to as 'widgets' or 'gadgets' have gained some prominence as useful resources with which users can interact to obtain information (e.g., weather, stock ticker values), perform a particular function (e.g., desktop calculator, web search interface) or interact with others (e.g., send messages back and forth among friends on a social networking website).

"Apple Inc., for example, provides an environment known as 'Dashboard' that enables users to choose from among a wide assortment of widgets,...

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Jun 23
An Apple-branded TV set? It might happen

Apple is reportedly teaming up with a "major" OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to make Apple-branded television sets, reports "DailyTech" (http://macte.ch/qon3M), quoting an unnamed "former Apple executive."

According to source Apple plans to "blow Netflix and all those other guys away" by bundling Apple TV + iTunes inside physical television sets. "You'll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV," the unnamed source reportedly told "DailyTech." "It's perfect."

I'm still dubious that Apple will make its own television sets -- but not as dubious as I once was. After all, Apple has conquered the smartphone, MP3 player and music fields. The Mac continues to grow in the computer industry. Apple is working on the ebook and e-magazine arenas. That leaves TV and console gaming as two markets left to take on. (The Apple TV has made some progress, but not enough.)

As "DailyTech...

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Jun 22
Let's add some premium audio to upcoming iMacs

This week Toshiba’s Digital Products Division (DPD) introduced the DX1215, the company’s first all-in-one PC. Forget some options I'm a bit jealous of (an HDMI port and optional TV tuner), there's one feature I REALLY wish Apple would add to the iMac: better speakers.

I haven't actually heard the DX1215's speakers, but they sound promising (pun intended). The Toshiba all-in-one has "a premium audio system with Onkyo stereo speakers professionally tuned by experts at Waves and featuring Waves MaxxAudio processors that provide users with unparalleled performance, delivering sound that is louder, clearer, fuller and more intelligible."

“We are honored to work with Toshiba to tune the audio system in its first All-in-One desktop for the U.S. market to create an impressive audio experience,” said Tomer Elbaz, general manager of Waves Semiconductor and Licensing Division. “Whether listening to music, watching a movie, playing a game or talking on Skype, users expect...

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Jun 21
Greg's Bite: RIM and Nokia death throes

By Greg Mills

All the major competitors to Apple's iOS platform are struggling right now, including Android. The almost laughable RIM PlayBook has been panned by just about every tech writer on the Internet and press.  

Stories of high return rates, furious customers and cell networks that won't even stock the darn thing are coming out every day. RIM stock prices are falling as the RIM market cap collapses to historic lows. Some have even speculated that Apple might buy RIM. I think Apple would be interested in RIM patents, once they fail, but would you buy a sinking ship? Why not just let it fail?  

I have read insider stories of RIM cramming stock down the supply chain to networks that can't sell PlayBook and aren't even satisfied with the technical issues of running the darn thing on their networks. One tech writer had RIM sample him a PlayBook on a loner basis, but then couldn't get RIM to tell him where to ship the darn thing back to them...

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Jun 21
Facebook could have a Ping killer in the works

Facebook, after consolidating its position in three major Internet sectors -- retailing, news and games -- is now getting serious about music and media, according to a "GigaOm" article (http://macte.ch/CM8j6). And they could offer a "Ping" killer.

At The Cable Show held recently in Chicago, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts extolled the values of cloud-based services and explained why cloud-based guides and interfaces are going to be key to television’s future. He showed off a deep integration with Facebook that can make television more social with recommendations from your social graph, says "GigaOm." The article also expects FaceBook to offer more features for listening to music, sharing music and discussing music.

That sounds like Apple's Ping, doesn't it? In case you're not familiar with Ping, it was introduced with iTunes 10. It's a music-oriented social network for following your favorite artists and...

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Jun 21
Apple granted patents involving the iMac, iPhone,...

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

Patent number 7,965,498 is for a cover glass to housing an interface system -- the iMac's edge-to-edge glass cover. Todd Gotham, Shin Nishibori, Christopher Stringer, Michael McBroom, Daniel McBroom, Brian Sudderth and John Ternus are the inventors.

Patent number 7,963,809 is for a MicroDVI connector which is probably the Mini DisplayPort. The inventors are Dave Hardell Glen Wheelock, Chris Ligtenberg, Steve Sfarzo, William Cornelius and Bartley Andre.

Patent number 7,966,578 is for a portable, multifunctional device, method and graphic user interface for translating displayed content. Think iPhone. Francisco Ryan Tolmasky, Richard Williamson, Chris Blumenberg, and Patrick Coffman are the inventors.

Patent number 7,966,577 is for a multimedia control center-- Front Row...

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Jun 20
iPhone Owners Ready For Mobile Wallet, Will Apple...

By Andrew Eisner

Despite the fact that Google was out in front of the pack with a mobile wallet announcement, a recent Pulse study from Retrevo, a shopping and review site specializing in consumer electronics, found that not only are iPhone owners more enthusiastic about a mobile wallet, but they want Apple to provide it.

What's NFC?

NFC, which stands for Near Field Communication, puts a chip in devices, like cell phones, that makes it possible to, not only use your phone to make purchases in a store, but ultimately replace a lot of other things you normally carry around in your wallet like a bus pass, library card, insurance cards, and lots of other things. The first major implementation of NFC in the U.S. will be primarily as a payment method when Google wallet roles out trials this summer in San Francisco and New York. The big question of whether or not Apple will put NFC in the rumored iPhone 4S remains unanswered and at...

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Jun 20
Do you care about live video streaming on your iOS...

Do you watch live TV on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad? One research group is dubious that many of us do.

Eager to fend off the threats of non-traditional distribution platforms such as Hulu and Netflix and remain relevant, US pay TV providers have recently begun launching their own iPad apps -- allowing subscribers to access their recorded and video-on-demand content from a tablet device.

This move hasn't exactly been welcomed by content creators, and the well-publicized battle between Time Warner Cable and Viacom appears likely to be decided in the courts. However, a recent report by Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) indicates that the debate might be nothing more than a distraction.

Central to the current dispute is the live video streaming feature, enabling subscribers to view live real-time content on a mobile device -- just as if they were...

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Jun 17
Could iMessage be a Growl substitute?

iOS 5, when it arrives this fall, will sport iMessages. Could it also be a Growl replacement of sorts?

As described by Apple, iMessage is a new messaging service for iOS 5 users. You'll purportedly be able to send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G from your iOS device to anyone with an iDevice.

iMessage is built into the Messages app, so you can send text, photos, videos, locations and contacts. You can do group messaging. You can track your messages with delivery receipts and optional read receipts, see when someone's typing and encrypt text messages.

Obviously, iMessages is set to take on Blackberry's BBM. But what about Growl? It's a notification system for Mac OS X that allows applications that support Growl to send you notifications.

Growl is something that has filled a hole in notifications on the Mac for a long time. Will the aforementioned mentioned features be flexible enough to allow developers to replace Growl with them? After all, iOS...

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Jun 16
Apple working on new social networking app

An Apple patent (number 20110142016) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on a new social app. The patent is for methods, program products, and systems for ad hoc networking based on content and location are described.

A user of a mobile device can identify another user using another mobile device who is close by, if both users have requested to participate in networking. Common interests and experiences of two or more users located close to each other can be identified from content, including automatically created usage data of the mobile devices. Usage data of a mobile device can be created based on activities performed on the mobile device (e.g., songs downloaded), a trajectory of the mobile device (e.g., places traveled), or other public data available from the mobile device (e.g., pictures shared).

Each of the users can be notified that another user having the common interests and experiences is close by. A means of initiating...

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Jun 16
Apple wants to use face detection to stabilize chat...

According to a new Apple patent (number 20110141219) at the US Patent & Trademark Office the company is working on a way to use face detection as a metric to stabilize video during a video chat session.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many handheld wireless communication devices that are in use today provide video capturing capabilities. An example of such a handheld wireless communication device ("device") is a mobile phone that includes a digital camera for capturing still images and videos. With such a device, a user can record a video or conduct a live video chat session with a far-end user.

"During a video chat session, the image of the user (typically, the face of the user) is captured by the camera of a near-end device, and then transmitted over the wireless network to a far-end device. The far-end device then displays the image on its screen. At the same time, the image of the far-end user (typically, the face of the far-end user...

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Jun 16
Comic books and the iPad could be match made in heaven

Recently, DC Comics announced that on Aug. 31 it will launch a "historic renumbering" of the entire DC Universe line of comic books with 52 first issues -- and that digital versions will appear alongside print versions.

The roll-out will start with release of "Justice League" by writer and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee. The publication of "Justice League" #1 will launch day-and-date digital publishing for all these ongoing titles, making DC Comics the first of the two major American publishers to release all of its superhero comic book titles digitally the same day as in print.

I have to think that DC is eyeing the iPad as the main focus of its digital publishing effort. Other devices will also figure into the equation, but the Apple tablet and comic books could be a match made in heaven.

I grew up reading comic books. Since I was a kid who worked (summers mainly at my Dad's sawmill), I had...

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Jun 16
Future Apple products could incorporate flame...

An Apple patent (number 20110144244) for halogen-free, flame retardant material has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows what future Mac and iOS products could be made of -- at least in part.

The disclosure describes halogen free flame retardant resin compositions comprising at least one thermoplastic polymer; an inorganic filler; and a flame retardant additive, wherein the flame retardant additive is an alkali metal nitrite; an alkaline earth metal nitrite; an alkali metal nitride; an alkaline earth metal nitride; an alkali metal borate; an alkaline earth metal borate; an alkali metal silicide; an alkaline earth metal silicide; an alkali metal silicate; or an alkaline earth metal silicate. Also described are computing systems having components formed of such a halogen free, flame retardant resin. Jean L. Lee is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background of the invention: "It has been estimated that about 10% of fires are caused by electrical...

| Read more »
Jun 16
Apple eyeing ways to beef up wireless communication...

Apple is looking into ways of improving the robustness of a wireless communication link, according to a new patent (number 20110143805) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent is for a method and apparatus to improve the robustness of a wireless communication link between a base station and a mobile communication device.

The method increases power selectively on portions of an uplink communication signal transmitted from the mobile communication device to the base station. The method monitors a quality metric value at the mobile communication device and sets the transmit power level of the first portion of an uplink communication signal to the first power level, if the monitored quality metric value is in a first range of quality values, or sets the transmit power level of the first portion of the uplink communication signal to a second power level, if the monitored quality metric value is in a second range of quality values.

The first portion of the...

| Read more »
Jun 15
Add Faces and Places features to OS X Address Book

Have you ever wondered why the OS X Address Book doesn't have a Faces and/or Places feature like iPhone? Also, why isn't it linked to iPhoto?

Wouldn't it be great to see the current group on a map with pins to show where people in your Address Book reside? Or to be able to click on a link in Address Book and have it take you to iPhoto to show that person's photos?

Finally, where is iWork '11? I thought it would have debuted by now. Perhaps Apple will release it along with Mac OS X Lion next month. Or perhaps I should say "them" instead of "it," as I suspect Pages, Keynote and Numbers will sold as separate items from now on -- and will available only on the Mac App Store.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Jun 14
Apple patent is for custom content gift cards

An Apple patent (number 7,959,065) for custom content gift cards has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's for a customized gift card and methods for customizing the gift card with buyer-selected downloadable content.

Per the patent, a buyer may associate pre-purchased downloadable content with a gift card such that the card is “preloaded” for a recipient. The recipient may then redeem the customized gift card and download or access the pre-purchased content. The customized gift card may also include a buyer-selected image and/or personalized message on the face of the card. Alternatively, the customized gift card may have a generic design.

Various methods are provided for producing the cards and selecting the downloadable content, including purchasing the card online and having it delivered; buying a generic card and associating content with it online; and purchasing and preloading the card at a dispenser, or kiosk. The inventors are Michael...

| Read more »
Jun 14
iWork and iCloud could be best buddies

I know of a few folks that hope that iWork will go the way of MobileMe and simply become part of Apple's upcoming iCloud service. I wouldn't mind an iCloud tie-in, but I don't want iWork apps to be "just" cloud-based apps; I still want copies of the software and the documents I produce on all my hardware.

That said, it would be great if iWork gets a real on-line collaborative component (or equivalent) that will make it a real small business and student targeted competitor to Google Docs. Perhaps a finalized, mature, iCloud-integrated version of the iWork.com service that's been in beta for about 100 years. Combined with free e-mail (.me and .mac), that would be a sweet public response to Google's Android.

Sure, the iAd thing was a shot at Google, but the general public doesn't really care about that. Public perception will be impacted more with real alternatives to things they see as useful to them -- e-mail, documents, calendars, etc.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Jun 14
Apple patents involve antennas, camera flashes, more

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

Patent number 7,961,151 is for antennas for compact portable wireless devices and involves the technology behind the Nike + iPod program that includes a special transceiver that embedded in a running shoe. Shu-Li Wang, Juan Zavala, and Christopher Prest are the inventors.

Per the patent, the compact portable wireless device may be part of a piece of sports equipment. A compact portable wireless device may include a transceiver module that is used in communicating with equipment such as a handheld electronic device. An antenna for a compact portable wireless device can have a relatively small size while exhibiting high efficiency. A planar ground structure for the antenna may be formed from a circuit board on which integrated circuits have been mounted. A curved inverted-F resonating element may be attached to the ground structure. A battery...

| Read more »
Jun 13
Greg's Bite: Apple obsoletes entire market...

By Greg Mills

I read an interesting story about the most damaged industrial sectors in the US economy. While Apple's name wasn't mentioned, several sectors in decline are either directly falling victim to decline because of Apple's business -- or Apple represents the possible salvation of those businesses.

The market research company IBISWorld did a study of the 200 market sectors in the US that had seen the most decline in the past 10 years, and then compiled a worst of the worst preforming sectors. Among the 10 greatest economic disaster zones are: record retailers, wired communications carriers, newspaper publishers, DVD game and video store rentals, video post-production companies and photo finishers.

Thus, 60% of the worst preforming market sectors are directly related to Apple.  While these sector companies are failing across the United States, Apple is thriving. What is going on here?

Record companies are going under since they...

| Read more »
Jun 13
WWDC musings: I want iBooks on my Mac

It annoys me that I can't read my iBooks on my OS X devices. But unless I missed something in the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on June 6, that still won't be possible with Mac OS X Lion.

During the keynote, Apple bragged about the number of books that have been downloaded since the the iBookstore opened: about 130 million. iBooks, along with other digital content, will be able to be stored online via the upcoming iCloud service.

iCloud will let you download your iBooks to any device, but you can only read them via the iBooks app. And there's no Mac OS X version of the app.

Apple needs to change this. They may prefer that we read our ebooks and e-magazines on our iPads, but some of us want to be able to read e-publications on our Macs. In fact, a recent Forrester survey found that laptops are still the most-used device for doing so.

So, c'mon, Apple show the Mac some iBook love.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Jun 13
Greg's Bite: the difference in opt-ing in and opt...

By Greg Mills

Personally, I don't do FaceBook.  However, my wife does FB and loves it.  Therefore, privacy issues in FaceBook's new geotagging pictures with names using facial recognition software residing on FaceBook servers, affects me as well as her.  Since I tend to show up in the pictures she posts on line, my pictures are included quite often.  

Someone on FaceBook can geotag pictures associating names with what were posted as anonymous pictures, and suddenly pictures have your name emblazoned on them.  This is done without your consent, soon name-tagged pictures will pop up anywhere on the net beyond your control.  Not everyone will like that idea.

FaceBook will soon recognize you, by default, on any of the anonymous millions of pictures found globally on FaceBook servers.  How do you opt out of that?  Some 200 million pictures a day go on line at that site.  

While FaceBook plans to ask the account holder if it is okay to tag...

| Read more »
Jun 10
Greg's Bite: Apple roadkill

By Greg Mills

The press is full of interesting stories of Apple's roadkill this week. Leading the long list of the serially flummoxed is RIM, which has continued to lose market share and stock value due to stumbling about the market with lackluster products.  

One tech product reviewer likened the RIM PlayBook to a venereal disease. No one wants it. He has tried to return a loaner PlayBook he was asked to review by RIM, without success. In his words, "It (the PlayBook) is the herpes of tablets -- once you have it, you can't get rid of it."

He speculates that they don't even want that PlayBook at RIM's headquarters. The dual headed CEO situation at RIM is sort of like a troll, I guess. RIM has recently lost one-third of its value. Management at RIM places the blame squarely at the feet of Steve Jobs. They don't think Steve is a nice man. He ruined their thriving BlackBerry business. The truth is that, RIM has squandered its business due to not...

| Read more »
Jun 10
WWDC musings: the Lion download only strategy

Apparently, Mac OS X Lion will be available via download only at the Mac App Store. I don't think that's a good idea for a variety of reasons.

What if you have slow online access? Apparently, Steve Jobs & Company think that everyone lives in an urban environment and has high-speed Internet access. That's not the case. According to the latest figures from the Office of Planning, Environment & Reality (HEP), approximately 21% of US citizens still live in areas with under 2,500 in population. That's one-fifth of Americans who conceivably may have trouble downloading Lion.

Apple may argue that they can go to the nearest Apple retail store or Apple dealer and download it there. Sure, but that's not nearly as convenient as ordering it on DVD and having it delivered to your door.

What if I want to do a clean install? How do I do that with a downloadable OS update (and apparently you have to be running Snow Leopard to install Lion)? Also, if your hard drive won...

| Read more »
Jun 09
Greg's Bite: security breaches as a way of life?

By Greg Mills

CitiBank has just admitted it had 200,000 credit card accounts breeched early in May. It took them a long time to admit it and even now, they are keeping details about exactly what was compromised a secret.  

Confirming what was stolen is a problem for the pubic relations reputation of the company, and it confirms to the hackers exactly what they got. Citi has admitted they got account numbers, names, and contact information.  

With that information it is possible to charge against those accounts to the full extent of the credit lines. Those accounts can now be sold to unscrupulous individuals who will do just that.  

What is going on here? The list of hacked computer systems lately is like a who's who of American business and government. CitiBank, Google's GMail, Sony PlayStation and even the US Government have all been hacked recently. Insecure data storage is actually often because of lapses in the computer systems of...

| Read more »
Jun 09
Apple looks to simplify displaying, navigating items...

Apple is looking at simpler ways to display and navigate items in a ordered list per a patent (number 20110138330) for the display of relational datasets has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. This could apply to both Mac OS X and iOS devices.

Displaying and navigating items in an ordered list within a graphical user interface for viewing and utilizing the data are disclosed. An ordered list of data items can be used to generate an icon that represents the contents of the list. The icon can comprise images that best represent the items in the ordered list by choosing images associated with the highest ranked items in the ordered list.

When the ordered list is selected by selecting the icon with a pointing device or keyboard the icon transforms to display an image of a currently selected data item with navigational controls. The navigational controls can receive inputs from a pointing device or keyboard to allow a user to navigate or browse through the...

| Read more »
Jun 09
Future iOS devices could contain magnetometers

An Apple patent (number 20110131825) for magnetometer accuracy and use has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Future iOS devices could contain magnetometers.

According to the patent, a parameter related to the Earth's magnetic field can be used to determine accuracy of a magnetometer of a mobile device. In one aspect, a first instance of a parameter related to Earth's magnetic field is determined using data generated by the magnetometer. The magnetometer data can be based in part on a position of the mobile device with respect to the Earth. A second instance of the parameter can be determined using data generated by a model of Earth's magnetic field.

The model data can also be based in part on the position of the mobile device with respect to the Earth. The first instance of the parameter can be compared with the second instance of the parameter. An accuracy metric for the magnetometer can be determined based on a result of the comparison. An...

| Read more »
 
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