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Apr 07
Apple plans to simplify back-up navigation on the Mac

Apple plans to simplify back-up procedures -- and finding files in back-ups -- per two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110083088 is for navigation of electronic backups. Systems and methods for navigating within snapshots are provided. In one implementation a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a history view associated with the current view be displayed. The history view is displayed in response to the first user input, the history view including at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view, the earlier version including a hierarchical structure wherein a first element of the earlier version includes a second element.

There is received, while the history view is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the second element. The method...

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Apr 07
Greg's bite: Google Gigs KCK, town meeting notes

By Greg Mills

One Gig per second fiber optic Internet is coming to KCK starting late in the year or very early next year. Google picked Kansas City, Kansas, for a number of obscure reasons that have a lot more to do with our blind luck than anything else. As it turns out a number of odd factors in combination, led Google to choose KCK to test the notion of: what happens if you provide 1 Gig Internet at typical cable modem prices to Americans?  

We are a test bed for innovation in applying super fast Internet access to do who knows what?  They are going to follow closely to see what happens here to figure out what would happen if 1 Gig was common in the entire US. What novel applications and businesses will result? 

Google is betting, and I expect rightly so, that serious internet  based innovation will result.   That innovation will get more people on line viewing Google ads and doing other things that makes their cash registers ring. Google is...

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Apr 07
One MacBook Pro or an iMac plus an Air?

Earlier this week storms and tornadoes raged through Tennessee, causing a great deal of damage. Two trees toppled on the road where I live, tearing down electrical, phone and cable lines. I was without power and Internet for over 24 hours, which is very inconvenient for an on-line editor.

For some time now, I've been using a 27-inch iMac as my main work machine (and only Mac) and using my iPad for a minimum amount of work when I'm on the road (which is rare). I love my Apple tablet, but quickly found out it doesn't cut it when I need be running Safari, Pages, Pixelmator and Mail -- and jumping back and forth between the apps.

To keep MacNews.com and MacTech.com updated as best I could, I borrowed my wife's aging MacBook Pro and worked from my church building, which still had electricity and Internet service after the storms passed.

This was very inconvenient, as I had to set up my Mail preferences and move various files over to my wife's MP Pro. It's made me...

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Apr 07
Apple granted patent for pulsed control of a camera...

Apple granted patent for Apple has been granted a patent (number 20110081142) for pulsed control of a camera flash by the US Patent & Trademark Office. An embodiment of the invention relates generally to electronic devices having a camera function (referred to here as an electronic camera device), and more particularly to techniques for controlling the camera flash.

Per the patent, input from a user is received, to take a picture. A camera flash is signaled to produce multiple flash pulses during a single shutter cycle of the picture. The amplitudes of at least two of the flash pulses are different relative to each other.

The picture is stored, including in its metadata information that describes the variable amplitude of the flash pulses that illuminated the scene when taking the picture. The information describing the variable amplitude of the flash pulses is used to deblur the picture. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the...

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

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Apr 07
Apple wins patent for newsreader for mobile device

Apple has won a patent (number 7921187) for a newsreader for a mobile device.

Per the patent, providing information to a mobile device can include receiving a translation request from a mobile device, wherein the translation request includes a resource locator identifying information in a native format; accessing the information identified by the resource locator, wherein the information is retrieved from a local cache if available and otherwise is retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator; translating at least a portion of the information identified by the resource locator to generate a translated file in a supported format; and transmitting the translated file to the mobile device.

Further, the information retrieved from a source associated with the resource locator can be stored in the local cache. Additionally, the information identified by the resource locator can be cleared from the local cache after a predetermined amount of time. The...

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Apr 06
Apple eyeing combo USB 3.0/DisplayPort connector

An Apple patent (number 7918689) for a reduced size multi-pin male plug connector has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It would combine DisplayPort and USB 3.0 connectors -- and, perhaps, Thunderbolt, as well.

Per the patent, receptacle connectors and male plug connectors having a reduced size in at least one direction can be provided. One example reduces height by not including a center contact tab or tongue, but instead places contacts on an insulator that is adjacent to a bottom portion of the receptacle. Another example may reduce width by reducing contact pitch, and may use a particular shape of contact to achieve god signal quality.

Receptacle connectors and male plug connectors can also provide support for one or more new high-speed communication standards, such as USB 3.0 and DisplayPort. Methods can provide one or more standardized connector components to speed connector design and manufacture of new electronic devices such as media players...

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Apr 06
Greg's bite: Apple's new touch screen...

By Greg Mills

Apple just had four more touch screen patents added to its portfolio yesterday. Touch screen patents are going to be gold in the coming federal lawsuit Apple has filed against every Android handset maker out there.  

The notion of inventing things and then patenting the ideas are what the US Constitution has given the right for inventors to sue if anyone uses those protected ideas. The timing of filing and receiving patents is longer than the patent office would like and the result is often unintentional infringement. Designing things that stumble upon the filed but not issued patents of others is always an issue for high tech firms.

When everyone in the high tech industry is struggling to come up with novel touch screen technology for smart phones and tablets, Apple with its head start, scarfed up a lot of somewhat obvious technology early on. This was long before the competition got to work on their products and parts.  

...

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Apr 05
Greg's bite: Google gigs Kansas City, Kansas

By Greg Mills

When out of the blue someone offers you a horse, it is rude to immediately check the horse's teeth right in front of them. Eventually, however, one takes a look at the finer details of the critter. Is it a broken-down, sway-backed hay burner or a fine race horse worth more than the family farm?

After a couple of calls to Kansas City Kansas City Hall, I got a city clerk to send me, by email, the 25-page agreement in PDF format, between Google and the city.  Considering the promised fiber optic network installation is worth several million dollars and represents a long term business deal for what amounts to a new Internet city utility, the document is pretty blunt and short. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  I have digested the contract and present an executive summary with numbered lines below.

As I scrutinize the document it is clear that Google holds the high cards in making the deal with KCK.  While the obvious...

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Apr 05
SSDs not going to replace HHDs any time soon

Apple loves SSD [solid state device] storage, which is one of the darlings of the tech world right now. But the fact is that flash SSDs aren't going to replace traditional hard disk drives (HHDs) any time soon.

Why? They're much more expensive and most of us are continually increasing our amount of digital media so we need roomy, inexpensive storage.

Of course, if we all store our music, videos and other data (including apps and valuable documents) "in the cloud" as some predict, SSD-based computers might take the lead. But as I've said repeatedly (and I won't rehash that argument here), I don't think cloud storage is going to replace traditional storage, but will, instead, complement it.

That's why hot selling, SSD-based items like the iPad and the MacBook Air are rarely used as a primary machine. They're usually companions to a Mac or (gulp) Windows system.

There's no denying that the SSD has some advantages over the HHD. Mechanical failure is the...

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Apr 05
Apple granted patents for thin touch sensor panels,...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving touch sensor panels, keystroke tactility arrangements,

Patent number 7918019 is for a method for fabricating thin DITO or SITO touch sensor panels with a thickness less than a minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment. In one embodiment, a sandwich of two thin glass sheets is formed such that the combined thickness of the glass sheets does not drop below the minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment when thin film process is performed on the surfaces of the sandwich during fabrication.

The sandwich may eventually be separated to form two thin SITO/DITO panels. In another embodiment, the fabrication process involves laminating two patterned thick substrates, each having at least the minimum thickness tolerance of existing manufacturing equipment.

One or both of the sides of the laminated substrates are then thinned so...

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Apr 04
Home Wi-Fi 30% slower than wired connection

If you want the fastest possible home network, you'll want to go wired, not wireless. Download speeds for consumers using Wi-Fi stations are on average 30 percent slower than they are for users of fixed connections, because of physical barriers and interference from devices like microwaves, reports "Reuters" (http://macte.ch/CNPg4).

Broadband research firm Epitiro said the differences are rarely visible when surfing Internet, but higher latency and bigger loss of data transferred over WiFi connection could well hurt usage of online gaming, Internet telephony or video streaming. He says the advice to consumers is simple.

"Set up your laptop at location at home where you get a good signal," said professor Andy Nix from Bristol University. "When you are far from the WiFi station, on battery, and your microwave is on -- the connection is not that great."

For the study Epitiro monitored performance of...

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Apr 01
Greg's bite: 1 Gigabit Internet issues

By Greg Mills

As I mentioned in my article yesterday, I live in Kansas City, Kansas, where Google is planning to launch a state of the art "1 Gigabit fiber optic Internet" system as a test. As news of this development came out questions came up that are slowly finding answers. The cost per month for residential service is expected to be similar to what broadband cable Internet costs now. That is from US$30 to $50 per month.  

One older city council member was quite upset that he only had 48 hours to decide how to vote on accepting Google's offer. I suspect he would slam the door on the Publisher's Clearing House $10,000,000 award team, as to not encourage door-to-door salesmen. Who needs all those tacky balloons anyway?

Yesterday I mused that the bottle neck for such blinding speed for a lot of people would be their computers and Wi-Fi routers, and that turns out to be true. The notion that one small fiberoptic strand coming into your home...

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Apr 01
The Northern Spy: the worth of a word

By Rick Sutcliffe

"The word processor is mightier than the sword" or so it has been said. (Well, the Spy just said it, didn't he?). More than that, the words a person speaks or writes are a window on the soul -- from one acquainted in the spirit with the spirit of love and truth come both; from one not so, the opposite. The lips, pen, and typing hands of the blessed yield blessings, praise, encouragement, and exhortation--a stirring to decency, honour, valour, and all things both good and sanctified.

In the hands of a great wordsmith like Winston Churchill, they become weapons, whether by directly attacking a foe, or by inspiring others to do the same. In the hands of an orator the likes of John Diefenbaker they are things of wonder, rapiers with which to conduct verbal fencing to the delight of all but the hapless opponent. (Who could forget "terminological inexactitude"?) Debates are not won merely by word selection, but by the skill and the...

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Apr 01
Study of iPad users identifies obstacles for The Daily

I like The Daily -- the first iPad only, digital magazine -- well enough, but to attract a large number of users and generate substantial subscription revenue, The Daily -- released by News Corp. in February -- will need to overcome a few obstacles with iPad owners who consume news online.

These obstacles include the perception among those with the greatest interest in news that The Daily’s content is lacking, that superior content is available elsewhere online for free and the expectation that apps are purchased through one-time transactions, as opposed to the recurring subscription model The Daily employs. Identifying these obstacles comprises the major finding of research on The Daily released by knowDigital, which funded and independently completed the study. A report detailing this and other key findings is now available for free download from the company’s website (http://www.knowDigital.com...

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Apr 01
Greg's bite: One bad apple to discontinue iPad

By Greg Mills

Craig Mundie, the chief research and strategy vice president at Microsoft lowered the boom recently and caused Apple management and Steve Jobs himself to reconsider the folly of manufacturing and selling iPads. The Apple iPad has no keyboard and Mr. Mundie thinks touch screen tablet computers are just a fad that won't last.  

Shaken to the core at that sage revelation, Apple hastily pulled the plug on the faulty iPad device, worldwide. Apple stock went into a tail spin and long, rowdy lines formed swiftly for people trying to return their iPad 2 at Apple stores around the world. The frantic rush was to get their money back before the refund reserve is gone and Apple goes stone broke.  

Since Apple also decided to abandon the Apple iOS in favor of Windows 7 Mobile, all iPads are now junk and iPhones are reportedly no longer working on the AT&T network. (Did the iPhone ever really work on AT&T?)

Mr. Mundie stated in a...

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Mar 31
Apple investigating 3D cameras for iPhones, iPads

An Apple patent (number 20110074931) for systems and methods for an imaging system using multiple image sensors has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is considering future iPhones and iPads that can take 3D photos.

Per the patent Systems and methods may employ separate image sensors for collecting different types of data. In one embodiment, separate luma, chroma and 3-D image sensors may be used. The systems and methods may involve generating an alignment transform for the image sensors, and using the 3-D data from the 3-D image sensor to process disparity compensation. The systems and methods may involve image sensing, capture, processing, rendering and/or generating images.

For example, one embodiment may provide an imaging system, including: a first image sensor configured to obtain luminance data of a scene; a second image sensor configured to obtain chrominance data of the scene; a third image sensor configured to obtain...

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Mar 31
Apple patent is for a self-adapting alert device

An Apple patent (number 20110077055) for a self-adapting alert device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. In other words, Apple is working to make sure that you don't miss an iPhone call even in a noisy environment.

Methods and apparatuses are disclosed that allow an electronic device to autonomously adapt one or more user alerts to the current operating environment of the electronic device. For example, some embodiments may include a method comprising providing a plurality of alert devices in an electronic device, determining an operating environment of the electronic device using a sensor of the electronic device, and actuating at least one of the plurality of alert devices that corresponds to the determined operating environment. The inventors are Dave Pakula, Matthew Hill, Ethan Larry Huwe, Fletcher Rothkopf and Richard Hung Minh Dinh.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Electronic devices are ubiquitous in society and can be...

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Mar 31
Apple eyeing Spaces type feature for the iPad

An Apple patent (number 20110078624) for a device method and graphical user interface for manipulating workspace views has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It indicates that Apple is thinking of bring the Spaces feature of Mac OS X to the iPad. Actually, the patent could also mean Spaces for the iPhone and iPod touch, but, with their smaller screens, that doesn't seem practical.

On Mac OS X, Spaces lets you group application windows together according to the way you work and easily switch between them. You can organize each space just the way you want it.

Per the patent, in some embodiments, a multifunction device with a display and a touch-sensitive surface creates a plurality of workspace views. A respective workspace view is configured to contain content assigned by a user to the respective workspace view. The content includes application windows.

The device displays a first workspace view in the plurality of workspace views on the display...

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Mar 31
Greg's bite: Google fiber optic test city

By Greg Mills

I live in Kansas City, Kansas. I pay US$49.90 a month to Time Warner Cable for "Road Runner Turbo" Internet service. We had download speed this morning of 26.45 Mbps and an upload speed of .94 Mbps and a ping in 42ms. My iPad came in at 6.24 Mb/s download and .56Mb/s upload. Lithuania has an average speed three times what I do now. Just wait, Lithuania.

Our connection speeds vary, but while not super fast, we get by. Our Internet service comes in by cable modem. There is a coaxial cable that runs from the street overhead to the house and threads through the walls to a cabinet in the master bedroom. A little black box has blinking lights and a number of ethernet out ports.  

I have an Apple Wi-Fi device hooked up as well as an Earthlink phone box. We get passable speeds for Wi-Fi to a MacBook Pro, an iMac, an iPad and various iPhones. My daughter downloads movies a lot through NetFlix on her iPhone. We are a sort of typical Apple...

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Mar 31
Apple working on a power adapter with an internal...

An Apple patent (number 20110074360) for a power adapter with an internal battery has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working on a integrating rechargeable external battery pack -- with solar power features, no less -- into its standard charging cable for laptops and iOS devices.

Per the patent, the power adapter typically includes the battery as an integral component that is connected to a plug or other interface capable of mating with a power source, such as a wall socket. Thus, the adapter battery may provide power either to operate the device or charge a battery within (or otherwise associated with) the device even if the adapter is not connected to a power source. The inventors are Duncan Kerr, David Robbins Falkenburg and Michael Nugent.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Rechargeable batteries may be found in a variety of portable electronic devices, including laptop computers, personal digital...

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Mar 31
Are tablets just a fad? No, but ....

Katherine Noyes, writing for "PC World" (http://macte.ch/byR2m), says tablets are just a fad. I disagree with her basic premise, but she does have some good points.

Among Noyes' reasons for doubting the future of the tablets are:

° Limited functionality: "As far as I can tell, tablets do not offer any significant functionality that's not already available on a smartphone or notebook computer, yet they lack critical components like keyboards. In fact, you can get a laptop with considerably more memory and storage and a much better CPU for a significantly lower price, as my PCWorld colleague recently pointed out."

° They're inconvenient: "Unlike smartphones, the tablet form factor is too large to fit in a pocket or purse, yet it doesn't offer anywhere near the functionality of only slightly larger devices like notebooks and laptop computers."

° Waning excitement: "It's true that other...

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Mar 31
Apple patents involve unibody design, map layouts

Two Apple patents involving computer housing and map layouts have appeared at the US Patnet & Trademark Office.

Patent number 20110073575 is for a computer housing and involves the "unibody" design of recent Apple laptops and iMacs. A visually seamless method of joining a first piece of metal and a second piece of metal is described. The first piece of metal is placed in contact with an edge of the second piece of metal. In some embodiments, the edge includes a sacrificial lip.

The first piece of metal forming a junction area with the edge of the second piece of metal, applying a forging force to the first piece of metal, the forging force having an effect of creating an extremely tight fit up between the first and the second pieces of metal, welding the first and the second pieces to form an assembly and forming a cosmetically enhancing protective layer on the surface of the assembly, the protective layer obscuring any visible artifacts on the surface of the...

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Mar 30
Greg's bite: correction -- PlayBook runs Android...

By Greg Mills

Sometimes I miss something major, lost in the small print when I do my research. I discovered this morning that I made an understandable error in yesterday's post when I bluntly stated that RIM's soon-to-be-launched, PlayBook would run Android Apps.  

RIM announced with great fanfare on March 24 that PlayBook would be able to run Android apps. Well, that is sort of true, but sort of isn't completely true at this time, maybe ever.  Don't buy a RIM PlayBook based upon the promise of running Android apps.

With all the other "got ya" problems with PlayBook, even stating that it would run Android Apps isn't without major complications. It seems RIM is promising an "Android platform runtime app" (to be released this summer) that will enable Android v2.3 apps that have been specifically "adapted" by their developers for RIM's PlayBook OS to run in a "sandbox" environment. That means the Android apps may not be full featured when run on...

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Mar 30
Anticipating the next iMac

In a series of Tweets (via MacNews.de), CNET's Brian Tong says he's received word from a "reliable source" that new iMacs will arrive in late April or early May. That's no surprise, and it's easy to guess at some of the features, though others I would love to see probably won't make the cut.

The updated iMacs will doubtless feature dual and quad Sandy Bridge processors, as well as Thunderbolt technology. The lower end iMacs will probably sport 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5s, while the high-end iMacs will tout 2.0GHz and 2.3 quad-core Intel Core i7s. The low end models will most likely sport integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with the main memory. The higher end models will likely come with an AMD Radeon HD 6490M graphics processor with 256MB of GDDR5 memory or an AMD Radeon HD 6750M graphics processor with 1GB of GDDR5 memory.

The revved iMacs will certainly sport Thunderbolt I/O technology. Developed by Intel with...

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Mar 29
Apple patent involves antenna isolation for future...

An Apple patent (number 7916089) for antenna isolation for portable devices has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is far from finished with antenna implementations in future iPhones.

Per the patent portable electronic devices are provided with wireless circuitry that includes antennas and antenna isolation elements. The antennas may include antennas that have multiple arms and that are configured to handle communications in multiple frequency bands. The antennas may also include one or more antennas that are configured to handle communications in a single frequency band. The antennas may be coupled to different radio-frequency transceivers.

For example, there may be first, second, and third antennas and first and second transceivers. The first and third antennas may be coupled to the first transceiver and the second antenna may be coupled to the second transceiver. The antenna isolation elements may be interposed between the...

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Mar 29
Apple patent is for dock that operates in multiple...

An Apple patent (number 7916467) for methods and apparatuses for docking in a portable electronic device that has a planar-like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A docking system is disclosed. The docking system includes a portable electronic device capable of operating in multiple orientations including vertical and horizontal. The docking system also includes a docking station configured to mechanically accept and operatively interface with the portable electronic device in any of its multiple orientations including vertical and horizontal. The inventors are Steve Hotelling and Gus Pabon.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic devices include a docking station for providing a convenient interface for transferring data between the electronic device and other devices, such as a computers, speakers, monitors, and printers. The docking station may also include...

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Mar 29
Greg's bite: bomb threat at Apple shipping -- and...

By Greg Mills

People do the strangest things. Yesterday the shipping department at Apple's Elk Grove, California, shipping facility got a bomb threat. After evacuating the buildings and doing a thorough bomb squad search, an explosive device was not found. Was someone pissed off about Apple's shipping delays? Hopefully, the cops will catch the hoax perpetrator.  

Allegorically speaking, suggestions that iPad 2 was going to "bomb" in the market place have been just as false at the explosive sort of empty threat. The Apple iPad 2 is flying off the shelf around the world.  The lines of eager Apple fans are queued up to pay up for the latest tablet computer that seems to be redefining what a computer means to consumers of downloadable digital data. The tablet computers doomed to "bomb" in the market place aren't found at Apple.

Naysayers incorrectly panned the iPad 2 as only a minor update to the iPad 1. Frankly, the iPad 1 was so far ahead of the...

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Mar 29
2011 Apple Design Awards: the good news and the bad...

Apple has announced the dates of its 2011 Worldwide developer Conference (June 6-10), which will be home to, among other things, the 2011 Apple Design Awards. There's good news and bad news about the awards.

The good news is that, unlike last year, Mac apps will be eligible for the awards. In 2010, Apple caused quite a stir and a stink by only giving out awards to iOS-based apps. This increased the hoopla that Apple had lost its love for the Mac and that the company's focus would soon be on iOS devices only.

That's certainly proven to be incorrect. And the 2011 Apple Design Awards will honor both iOS AND Mac OS X software, which is great news. Unfortunately, those awards seem to be limited exclusively to titles available via the Mac App Store or Apple App Store, based on the wording at Apple's 2011 Design Awards website (http://developer.apple.com/wwdc/ada/).

That'...

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Mar 29
Apple patents range from user interfaces to web clip...

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

Patent number 7917892 is for a user interface driven by dynamic state changes. A method for responding to changes to properties of component instances is disclosed. A routine, that is to be informed of changes that occur to a particular property of a plurality of properties of a component instance, is registered. The value of the particular property is detected as changed when the value of the particular property changes because of a change to another property of the plurality of properties. A call is made to the routine to indicate that the particular property has changed. Bradley D. Ford is the inventor.

Patent number 7914320 involves a cable connector assembly with sticky film. It includes an insulative housing, a plurality of contacts received in the insulative housing, a cable electrically connected with the contacts...

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Mar 28
Will Apple license AirPlay to TV makers?

Apple is considering allowing TV makers to build its AirPlay media-sharing protocol into their sets, according to a "Bloomberg" (http://macte.ch/i3UoT) report last week. However, I'm dubious for two reasons.

But let me back up. AirPlay is a feature for streaming music, video and photos wirelessly from an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to the Apple TV. The wireless technology is being integrated into speaker docks, AV receivers, and stereo systems from companies such as Bowers & Wilkins and Denon -- for audio only.

Under the expanded AirPlay plan, Apple would license its AirPlay software to consumer-electronics makers that could use it in devices for streaming movies, TV shows and other video content, says "Bloomberg." An expanded AirPlay would let users stream programming wirelessly from an Apple mobile device to a TV that carries the technology.

However, I have my doubts. Reason one: it would...

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Mar 25
Greg's bite: RIM falls 10% over PlayBook flaws

By Greg Mills

As I have maintained, the prospects for RIM's PlayBook appear grim. The stock market took it out on them yesterday savaging RIM's stock prices. Analysts seem to agree with my assessment that RIM's days are numbered and that PlayBook is fatally flawed.  RIM's cell phone sales numbers have declined five quarters in a row.

Meeting Apple's iPad price points on PlayBook sounds like a great idea, but is there any profit left? RIM also has to cut in retailers and compete with Apple's sleek industrial manufacturing footprint.

As I pointed out yesterday, native RIM apps are lame. Just today it comes out they are going to enable Android apps to work on PlayBook. Forgive me if I miss something in PlayBook specs, as they are announced and changed on the fly.

From the latest information I have, PlayBook still requires a BlackBerry to work. That sounds nuts to me as it prevents wider assimilation in the market as one would have to put...

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Mar 24
There's still LOTS of room for Mac market share...

I've long contended that the Mac is the most underestimated of Apple's crown jewels, lost in the adoration of the iPad and other iOS devices. Sure, there's room for growth of the iPad, the iPhone, certainly the Apple TV, and, yes, even the iPod. But there's also incredible room for Mac growth.

Eric Jackson, the founder and managing member of Ironfire Capital, has nailed it in a recent column (http://macte.ch/LaAHk) for "Forbes." He had this to say: "We know that Apple has focused on the education segment for a long time. The idea is to seed the next-generation of Mac buyers. Admittedly, such a strategy requires patience.  But, with the Baby Boomers retiring, the college kids coming into the workforce in increasing numbers, and a critical mass of Apple products (iPhone, iPad, and TV), there is likely to start to be a rapid increase in Mac usage. The last quarter saw Macs set a new record (3.47 million sold in...

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Mar 24
Future iOS devices may be even more graphics driven

Per a new patent (number 201110071977) at the US Patent & Trademark Office, Apple is considering using graphics and multi-touch gestures in lieu of, or perhaps in addition to, text on future iDevices for accessing music, contact lists and more.

According to the patent, entitled "Segmented Graphical Presentations for Recommending Elements," systems, methods and machine-readable media are disclosed for providing segmented graphical representations of elements, such as songs, videos, pictures, graphics, or address book contacts. In some embodiments, an electronic device may identify remote and/or local elements based on a seed element and may display a segmented graphical representation of the seed element (e.g., a tiled album cover).

At least one of the segments may be associated with one or more of the identified elements. In response to receiving a user selection of a segment, the electronic device may perform any of a number of suitable actions based on the...

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Mar 24
Apple planning further facial recognition enhancements...

Apple is already planned to beef up its Face recognition technology in iPhoto and perhaps iMovie, as indicated by a new patent (number 20110069085) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent is for generating slideshows using facial detection information.

Methods and systems are presented for automatically generating a slide associated with a slideshow. In one aspect, a method includes selecting an image for inclusion in a slideshow, where the image has associated facial detection information. A face location is determined in the selected image based on the facial detection information and the selected image is cropped based on the determined face location to generate a cropped image depicting the included face. The cropped image is inserted into a slide associated with the slideshow.

Further, an animation having a defined animation path can be associated with the slide. Also, the face location can be identified as a position in the animation path and the...

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Mar 24
Greg's bite: the freedom of the app

By Greg Mills

Apple takes heat for about anything they do, it seems. A conspiracy theory built upon the design of iPhone security screws blew over a few weeks ago. Apps that take political points of view or make a social statement tend to be the latest point of dispute. Political correctness seems to be in the eye of the offended.

The latest tempest in the Apple tea pot involves a ministry portal app to Exodus International, (ExodusInterntional.org). The Exodus organization offers help for people who want to exit the gay life style. The Exodus app was approved with a score of 4 by Apple, some time back.  It got yanked yesterday for not meeting unwritten Apples standards for apps (not being too controversial). As long as no one objected, Apple seemed okay with it. It is hard to meet undocumented standards for apps that support opinion without being politically un-correct.  

The gay community got wind of one purpose of the app, offering helping...

| Read more »
Mar 24
iPhone 5 likely to sport a bigger screen

Rumors are that the iPhone 5 will have a 4-inch screen compared to 3.5-inch screens on the Apple smartphones that came before it. If so, it's a screen expansion that's perfectly timed.

According to The NPD Group (http://www.npd.com), a market research company, U.S. consumers are willing to give up room in their pockets and handbags to gain a richer media experience on their mobile devices. The U.S. market share for iPhones and other smartphones with screen sizes between 3.5 inches and 3.9 inches have remained steady, but smartphones with the largest screens (four inches or larger) have grabbed market share from devices with screen sizes that are less than 3.5 inches.

Based on the latest information from NPD's Mobile Phone Track, smartphones with 4-inch-or-larger screens, like Samsung's Galaxy S, HTC's EVO 4G and Motorola's Droid X, which debuted in the second quarter (Q2) of 2010, quickly grew to encompass 24...

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Mar 24
Apple patent is for LED backlight for display systems

An Apple patent (number 20110069511) for a LED backlight for display systems has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to device display systems, and more particularly to an LED backlight with highly uniform color for illuminating display systems.

The patent is for a LED backlight method for display systems comprising receiving a plurality of light emitting diodes categorized into a plurality of bins, wherein each bin references a separate range of white point colors, and determining an optimal order for mounting the plurality of light emitting diodes at spatially distributed positions, the plurality of light emitting diodes comprising white point colors associated with separate bins, wherein the optimal order of the plurality of light emitting diodes produces a light of a desired white point color when the light outputs of the plurality of light emitting diodes are mixed. The inventors are Wei Chen, Jun Qi, Victor Yin and John Zhong.

... | Read more »
Mar 23
Greg's bite: Xoom Fades to Black

By Greg Mills

Remember all those tablet computer "iPad killers" showcased at recent electronics shows? As many as 100 tablets were shown in various states of development. Since then, only a handful of tablets have actually been launched, and the iPad is absolutely creaming them in the market.  

The Motorola's Xoom tablet seems to have met an early end. The Xoom was really ill-fated coming out just before iPad 2 hit the market. It seems Motorola has just scaled back the parts on order required to assemble more Xooms. They killed all the parts orders that were not already in the supply chain. It appears Apple's hammerlock on the tablet market and poor Xoom sales caused them to pull back. Ouch, that is sure to hurt the bottom line and Motorola stock prices.

This does not bode well for Motorola's stab at entering the tablet computer market or for the Android HoneyComb OS. From what I hear the new Android HoneyComb OS crashes a lot...

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Mar 23
Magazines look to join books in transition to digital

As far as I know, there are no stats on how successful the iPad-only publication, The Daily, has been. But there's more evidence that digital newspapers and magazines are part of the wave of the future.

E-book distributor LibreDigital (http://www.libredigital.com) says that its business in distributing digital magazine content generated 175% more revenue November through January that in the previous 12 months combined. Surge in demand for digital magazines from LibreDigital’s tablet and e-reader partners drove the increase.

“Demand for digital reading is exploding,” says Russell P. Reeder, LibreDigital president and CEO. “LibreDigital’s goal is to bring scalable solutions to publishers and marketplaces to meet that demand. We are excited to be bringing our experience as the leader in the e-book distribution business to the early stages of an exciting digital periodicals market.”

...

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Mar 22
Apple patent involves the ol' soft shoe

As a runner, I know to replace my running shoes every 400 miles or so. Evidently, Apple wants to simplify that process for me. A new Apple patent (number 7911339) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for a shoe wear-out sensor, body-bar sensing system, unitless activity assessment and associated methods.

Per the patent, a shoe wear out sensor includes at least one detector for sensing a physical metric that changes as a sole of a shoe wears out, a processor configured to process the physical metric over time to determine if the shoe is worn out, and an alarm for informing a user of the shoe when the sole is worn out. A body bar sensing system includes a housing with at least one detector for sensing a physical metric that indicates a repetition movement of the housing when attached to the body bar, a processor for processing the physical metric over time to determine repetitions thereof, and a display for informing a user of the repetitions.

A system assesses...

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Mar 22
Apple wants to provide an universal container for...

Apple wants to provide you with an "universal container for audio data," per a patent (number 7912730) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Pre the patent, storing audio data encoded in any of a plurality of different audio encoding formats is enabled by parametrically defining the underlying format in which the audio data is encoded, in audio format and packet table chunks. A flag can be used to manage storage of the size of the audio data portion of the file, such that premature termination of an audio recording session does not result in an unreadable corrupted file.

This capability can be enabled by initially setting the flag to a value that does not correspond to a valid audio data size and that indicates that the last chunk in the file contains the audio data. State information for the audio data, to effectively denote a version of the file, and a dependency indicator for dependent metadata, may be maintained, where the dependency indicator indicates the...

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Mar 22
Apple patent is for display that emits circularly-...

An Apple patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a display that emits circularly-polarized light. The invention generally relates to liquid crystal displays.

More specifically, the present invention relates to a liquid crystal display that emits circularly-polarized light and thereby reduces perceived distortion when the display is viewed through linearly-polarizing filters such as polarized sunglasses. One embodiment of the present invention provides a display that emits circularly-polarized light. This display includes a display mechanism that emits linearly-polarized light and a layer placed in the path of the linearly-polarized light.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Explosive growth in the popularity of mobile communication and computing devices has created a burgeoning demand for low-power displays. Most portable digital devices include at least one display screen to output information to users. Liquid crystal displays (LCDs...

| Read more »
Mar 22
Apple patents involve input devices, Bonjour, audio...

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

Patent number 7910843 is for a compact input device, specifically input devices utilizing three conducting layers and formed on flexible substrates. The input devices may be formed using three or more conducting layers. By including three or more conducting layers, the diameter of the input device may be minimized. In addition, to improve the flexibility of portions of the input device mounted, some portions of the input device may be made to have fewer layers than other portions of the input device. The inventors are Fletcher Rothkopf, Jan Moolsintong, Joseph Fisher,Wendell Sander, and Erturk Kocalar.

Patent number 7912501 involves an audio I/O headset plug and plug detection circuitry. A single prong, multiple signal conducting plug and plug detection circuitry is provided. The plug may be electrically coupled to a stereo...

| Read more »
Mar 22
Buying iOS apps, then not using 'em? You're...

If you're buying apps at the Apple App Store hand-over-fist, then find you rarely use them, you're not alone.

In a mobile application analytics study of the iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 markets, Localytics (http://www.localytics.com) found that while smartphone and tablet owners are very willing to give applications a try, 26% of the time they never use the same application again. In this study, the research group found that another 26% of people become very loyal, repeat customers, using a new application more than 10 times. And many go on to use an app hundreds of times.

With over 10 billion downloads from just Apple’s App Store, it’s clear that people are willing to try new apps. It’s equally clear that app developers and publishers need to look beyond downloads and focus marketing resources on attracting and retaining the quarter of customers who tend to become...

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Mar 21
Greg's bite: AT&T gobbles up T-Mobile

By Greg Mills

The only constant in the cell phone market is that amazing changes come quickly. Remember that cute dark headed girl in the red and white striped dress (Carly Foulkes) that lampoons AT&T in T-Mobile commercials? I guess she really got to them, so AT&T spent US$39 billion in cash and AT&T stock to buy out T-Mobile and get her off the air. 

The move makes sense, as T-Mobile and AT&T use the same GSM format and that makes their cell towers and backbone compatible with little effort.

T-Mobile, the fourth in size in the USA if merged into AT&T, makes AT&T larger than Verizon, formerly the largest cell phone company in the US. Sprint remains a distant #3. Soon former T-Mobile customers can buy and use iPhones with their existing T-Mobile accounts. This is assuming AT&T can get the government to allow the merger. Some experts think AT&T may be quite disappointed as network monopoly issues will certainly...

| Read more »
Mar 21
Shipments of smartphones grew 74% in 2010

According to a new research report by Berg Insight (http://www. berginsight.com), global shipments of smartphones increased 74% in 2010 to 295 million units. And the future looks good -- and that's good for Apple.

Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.4 percent, shipments are forecasted to reach 1,200 million units in 2015. The global user base of smartphones increased at the same time by 38% year-on-year to an estimated 470 million active users in 2010. In the next five years, the global user base of smartphones is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.9% to reach 2.8 billion in 2015. And you know Apple isn't going to let this opportunity slip by.

Smartphones are receiving more attention from handset manufacturers, network operators and application developers. Most importantly, an increasing number of users are now discovering how smartphones can act as personal computing devices...

| Read more »
Mar 18
Consumer boxed software sales not dead just yet

There is still life in the consumer boxed software market, despite reports of the demise of the industry, according to market research company the NPD Group (http://www.npd.com). Some reports of that demise are due to the success of the Mac App Store and Apple's reduction of space in its retail stores for boxed software.

But don't weep for the box just yet. According to NPD's Retail Tracking Service, total consumer retail software (excluding games) increased 1% in 2010, to US$2.42 billion. The slight growth comes after two years of steep declines of 8% in 2008 and 10% in 2009.

Sales of business products led the way with 14% revenue growth on the strength of Microsoft's launch of Office 2010. Imaging and graphics was also a strong category with a 10% increase in revenue, as product launches from Adobe and Apple bolstered sales in the high-end professional segments of the market. And, so far, products like...

| Read more »
Mar 17
Apple patent involves rendering system log data

An Apple patent (number 20110066973) for rendering system log data has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, messages generated by processes on a computer system are aggregated into process groups. The process groups can be displayed in a single user interface using a number of graphs and plots to provide a holistic view of message activity for a given process group, and for all processes running on the computer system. The inventors are Richard Plom and ALi Sazegari.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Modern computer systems can have many processes running at the same time. Some of these processes generate system log data, which describe the health or status of the process. Conventional operating systems may include a simple message or log viewer that displays system log data as a flat list of messages. A flat list of messages, however, does not provide the user with a sense of trends or interaction between processes...

| Read more »
Mar 17
Projected 14% growth in computer market will be good...

Okay, when is the next iMac update going to be out? Soon, I'm sure. That -- coupled with the fantastic market reception for the revamped MacBook Airs and 2011 MacBook Pros -- should keep the Mac's momentum going at a fortuitous time.

In a new report from Canalys (http://www.canalys.com), the research group estimates global computer growth of 14% for 2011. The Mac is already doing better in incremental growth than the industry overall. New Macs and the "halo effect" of the iPhone and iPad should keep the Mac in solid growth figures.

That said, the Canalys analyst firm predicts that much of the global computer growth will come from pad/tablet shipments, which will increase to 52 million units worldwide in 2011. Of these shipments, Apple is expected to account for over 75%, leaving approximately 12 million units for other vendors.

Canalys anticipates that the iPad’s success will continue, and...

| Read more »
 
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