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Dec 11
IEEE Computer Society: 13 technology trends for 2013

In the coming year, the "Internet of Things" will change how consumers and enterprises use technology, interactive displays will become common in public spaces, robots will be used to rehabilitate patients, and visualization will help solve the big data problem.

Those are just some of the technological advances that experts from the IEEE Computer Society, a membership organization for technology leaders, foresee in 2013.

"The promise for the coming years is not just technology," says incoming IEEE Computer Society President David Alan Grier. "But technology and data–how we get data from the right sources and get it to the right people in the right forms. That is the big issue that engages many of our members."   

Among the major advances that IEEE Computer Society experts forecast for 2013:

°  The Internet of Things will change how consumers and enterprises use technology. Promising to be the most disruptive technology since the World Wide Web, the...

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Dec 10
Image traffic growth surpasses video traffic growth

Flash Networks (www.flashnetworks.com), a global provider of intelligent mobile Internet solutions, says image traffic growth has surpassed video traffic growth for those markets with a high level of smart phone penetration. Image traffic grew 33% as compared with 5% growth for video traffic in the Americas and Europe for the last six months.

Where smart phone penetration is lower, primarily in Asia, video traffic is still growing faster than image traffic. Flash Networks has collected this data over the last six months from several Tier One Operator networks located in Europe, Asia and the Americas, collectively servicing over 200 million subscribers. Approximately 85% percent of the overall traffic was running on smart phones in saturated markets.

Mobile social networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are increasing the sharing of images, which is greatly contributing to the...

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Dec 07
Cumulative mobile app revenues set to exceed $30...

To-date revenues accumulated by the global mobile application market will pass the US$30 billion milestone by the end of this year, according to new Market Data from ABI Research (http://macte.ch/WrzYm).

The cumulative revenue base includes the money made from pay-per-downloads, in-app purchases, subscriptions, and in-app advertisements, and it is nearly double the amount that had been reached by end-2011.

"Consumers’ high interest in apps has for long time been obvious from download volumes, but it’s 2012 that will go down in history as the year when the economic side of the business finally took off," Senior analyst Aapo Markkanen says. "We’re no longer talking only about a short-term gold rush. Apps have become a major digital industry."

The catalyst behind the quest of turning apps into money has been Apple, which not only came up with a compelling OS, but also with well-executed...

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Dec 06
Global display market worth US$164.24 billion by 2017

According to a new market research report, "Global Display Market (2012 - 2017)" from MarketsandMarkets (www.marketsandmarkets.com) the total global display market is expected to reach US$164.24 billion by 2017, at a CAGR [compound average growth rate] of 3.1% from 2012 to 2017.

The global display market comprises the one by technology and the other by type. The display technology is differentiated as follows: e-ink display, OLED display, TFT-LCD display, LED-LCD display, LED display, DLP, LCoS display and Plasma display. The e-ink display is basically deployed in e-reader product applications while LCD and LED types are primarily involved in televisions products. LCoS displays have a high market share in projector equipment.

The OLED display has a huge market share in smartphone and related applications and is set to be the major display technology in future with more demand for...

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Dec 05
Tablets overtaking laptops as must-have holiday item

New research from Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) indicates U.S. consumers plan to spend over 33% more on CE [consumer electronic] devices this holiday season compared to last year, with the total amount increasing from US$793 per household in 2011 to $1,058 in 2012.

The survey of 2,500 U.S. broadband households, fielded in October/November 2012, found 63% of households plan to make a CE purchase, a 37% increase over last year. Tablets and smartphones are the hottest items, and consumers express the greatest preferences for the Apple iPad and iPhone.

"Twenty-six percent of U.S. consumers intend to spend more on CE, the best rate since 2008," says John Barrett, director, Consumer Analytics, Parks Associates.  "For the first time, more U.S. households plan to purchase a tablet than a laptop, netbook, or Ultrabook computer."

Parks Associates finds consumers want a device that...

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Dec 04
Tablets, HD televisions top consumer's holiday...

The holiday shopping season is off to a strong start for the consumer electronics industry thanks to a variety of new tablet and television offerings. Individuals are shelling out in a big way when it comes to the hottest, portable electronics, according to Abt Electronics (www.abt.com), one of the nation’s largest independent retailers.

The retailer experienced an increased amount of foot-traffic in store and online during Black Friday with consumers looking for the latest tablets, high-definition televisions and the always practical digital cameras.

"Consumers have a strong desire to get their hands on the newest technology and their spending habits will likely reflect this trend all season," says ABT Co-President Jon Abt. "In a multitasking world, consumers are looking for the fastest and latest way to connect to the internet while on-the-go. It’s not surprising to see consumers’ holiday spending leaning towards...

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Dec 03
The Northern Spy: Looking at global finances and Apple...

Some analysts are upbeat about RIM but the Spy doesn't understand why. The new Blackberry and OS are too little and too late to make any difference. Colour this one more or less DOA, along with the readers' choice of Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic. Both the smartphone and large appliance electronic markets are over-saturated with brands that are no longer viable.

Others have become downbeat about Apple. Well, the Spy can understand that the stock may have entered a more "mature" category, and might henceforth trade less as a speculative and more in accord with its P/E ratio, which is slightly higher than that of IBM. Assuming that as a rough benchmark, future stock price increases (smoothed) should be in accord with earnings growth, which might be in the 20-30% range, barring accidents. 'Course, what is an appropriate P/E ratio also depends on the larger stock market, and that's another story.

Then there are those who think that solving the Excited States...

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Dec 03
Greg's Bite: More Windows 8 misery

By Greg Mills

My PC friend, Shawn, who manages the electronics department at my local Sam's Club Warehouse, filled me in yesterday on the latest issues in the epic saga of his attempt to load Windows 8 on his PC.  Getting everything working turns out to be quite a trick.  

After installing Windows 8 last week, the "operating system" worked okay (just okay, more about that later), but Shawn noticed his optical drive wasn't working any more and that the user interface "sucked"." So he reloaded Windows 8. Then the PC wouldn't boot. Restart, restart, restart ... nothing. Shake the PC really hard, tap it with a rubber mallet, slap the screen just so, yet no luck. Dead meat. Pull the hard drive, remove your files with another computer, completely wipe the hard drive. Replace the clean hard drive into the old PC and reload Windows 8 for the third time.  

Shawn is by this time sort of perplexed. With all the work and cost of upgrading his PC, he really...

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Dec 03
Apple breaks new ground with iPhone 5, iPad mini

With the advent of new touch sensor structures driven by consumer demand for lighter and thinner devices, NPD DisplaySearch (www.displaysearchblog.com/) finds that in-cell touch technology and DITO (dual ITO) film are the wave of the future.

The research group reports that more than 7.5% of the mobile phone marketplacewill be using in-cell touch in 2012, a number that is estimated to grow to 16.7% by 2018. In addition, tablet computers, which primarily utilize projected capacitive touch technology, will see a5% shipment share of DITO film structure technology in 2012.

Apple’s, newest iPad and iPhone models incorporate these new touch sensor structures. The iPhone 5 uses in-cell touch technology, which is a major change to the touch structure since the first iPhone model in 2007. Meanwhile, the iPad mini features a DITOfilm structure.  

"These two new projected capacitive touch...

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Nov 30
Greg's Bite: Scott Forstall, CEO of Microsoft

By Greg Mills

A few columns ago, I mused that Scott Forstall could likely fix the Windows Mobile operating system and make it play nice with Windows for the PC. There aren't that many people in the world with the skill set to design and manage the development of an entire mobile platform.  

Scott is one of those people. With his abrasive personality (at least it's abrasive when it suits him) he could get rid of the dead wood hanging around Redmond simply drawing large pay checks and could actually make innovation happen there again. However, he ought to be CEO, not just a vice president.

It is clear that current CEO, Steve Ballmer, is just riding Microsoft's momentum down hill and needs to "retire" with a cheap commemorative Timex watch warmly presented by Bill Gates.  He should also get a get nice ceremonial plaque for his 10 years of cunning guidance of what used to be the world's largest company. Then he should then get 10 minutes to clean...

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Nov 30
Fewer than 2-in-5 PC owners plan to upgrade to Windows...

More bad news for Windows 8: while the vast majority of consumers (96%) own a Windows PC, only two in five (39%) of these are likely to upgrade to Windows 8. The findings were part of a study undertaken by Toluna QuickSurveys (www.quicksurveys.com) to assess consumer reactions to the announcement by Microsoft last month to upgrade to Windows 8.

The survey also revealed that when it comes to Windows operating systems, Windows 7 is a clear favorite, with over a quarter of consumers (28%) selecting this version as their preferred choice. This represents double the proportion who chose the newly launched Windows 8 (14%).

Part of the rationale behind the development of the new Windows technology was to improve the user experience on mobile devices such as tablets, but initial consumer reactions illustrate that Microsoft has not captured the interest of this market. The proportion of respondents planning...

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Nov 29
Apple works on ID'ing, locating users on a mobile...

An Apple patent (number 20120302256 at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on ways to identify and locate users on a mobile network.

A system and method of locating "friends" having mobile devices connected to a network and associated with a user account is disclosed. The method includes sending a request to a mobile device, the mobile device determining its present geographic location and responding to the requestor with this information. This information may be in the form of a coordinate location such as a GPS location or it may be in the form of a name that the mobile device owner assigned to a particular area (e.g., "home"). Having this location information, a user is able to view the location of the friend that is associated with the mobile device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Mobile devices have been adapted to a wide variety of applications, including computing, communication, and entertainment. Through...

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Nov 29
Apple patent is for carbon composite mold design

An Apple patent (number 20120302670) for a carbon composite mold design has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent a mold assembly or system includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. Mold inserts combine to form mold cavities that receive carbon fiber and resin components to form a carbon composite based part. A permanent release coating along a mold component surface that contacts the carbon fiber and resin components facilitates the release of the finished part from the mold component.

Guide pins and guide pin receiving holes facilitate accurate alignment of mold components. Ejector pins within respective ejector pin shafts help eject a finished part from a respective mold component. An ejector pin shaft cover transfers force from an ejector pin to eject a finished part and also prevents substantial passage of resin into the ejector pin shaft. A fluid actuated...

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Nov 29
Greg's Bite: Facebook a democracy? LOL

By Greg Mills

I sort of equate the notion of Facebook as a democracy in the same way I view Egypt's current "democratic" political struggle. Facebook's stab at user democracy flies in the face of a history of self-serving policies thrust upon its"community."  

The FTC has had to slap Facebook down over unauthorized changes to user agreement terms that were in the way of doing exactly what the supreme emperor, Mark Zuckerberg, wanted to do. It is all about making money, rather than user comfort, that consistently rules the day.   

Where was Facebook democracy when facial recognition was rolled out without Facebook even bothering to notify users? Zuckerberg has bowed in form alone to the notion of democracy, but I wager his heart isn't in it. Consent decrees tend to bend companies to at least appear to comply. 

As we have seen in totalitarian countries around the world, the notion of democracy sounds great in theory, but it sure gets in...

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Nov 29
The iPad helps Cyber Monday online shopping hit all-...

Holiday shoppers turned Cyber Monday into the biggest spending day ever with online sales growing 30.3% over the same period last year, according to cloud-based analytics findings by IBM. And you can thank, in part, the iPad.

With an increase in online sales across multiple channels, the digital consumer took center stage. Retailers, marketing departments and chief marketing officers (CMO) delivered a consistent customer experience across multiple channels from mobile devices, to online and to the show floor leading to the record shopping day.

On Cyber Monday more than 18% of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, an increase of more than 70% over 2011. Mobile sales reached close to 13%, an increase of more than 96 percent over 2011.

According to IBM, the iPad continued to generate more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, driving more than 7% of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 6.9% and Android at 4.5%. The iPad also...

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Nov 29
Apple looking into wireless charging technology

A new patent (2012303980) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Appel is looking into "realistic and practical" wireless charging. The patent is for "wireless power utilization in a local computing environment."

Various embodiments of a wirelessly powered local computing environment are described. The wireless powered local computing environment includes at least a near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power supply arranged to wirelessly provide power to any of a number of suitably configured devices.

In the described embodiments, the devices arranged to receive power wirelessly from the NFMR power supply must be located in a region known as the near field that extends no further than a distance D of a few times a characteristic size of the NFMR power supply transmission device. Typically, the distance D can be on the order of one meter or so.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Historically, transferring power wirelessly has been...

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Nov 28
Greg's Bite: Apple's nuclear winter

By Greg Mills

I carefully read the almost-daily Foss Patents emails when they come. Florian Mueller, the well known German patent attorney has excellent insight and carefully follows the Apple nuclear war against the Android gang. Check out his web site at fosspatents.com .  

Apple and HTC recently settled their differences out of court with a 10-year cross-licensing deal. Courts generally like out-of-court settlements as they are taken out of the loop and are not responsible for  appeals and the like. Far better for the parties to come to a conclusion they both are willing to settle for, than have a judgment against them they hate.  

Ironically, Apple settling with HTC for a financial deal might come back to bite Apple in the hind quarters. Samsung convinced a Federal judge that since Apple settled with HTC and made a patent licensing deal for each HTC phone sold, the sale of Samsung Android phones couldn't be worthy of an injunction...

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Nov 28
Global online video market will be worth US$37 billion...

According to the latest forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media (www.informatandm.com), the global online-video market will be worth US$37 billion in 2017, driven by the popularity of services like Netflix and YouTube.  

This figure is made up of the three key video-revenue streams of advertising, subscriptions and transactions. Despite the market maturing, advertising will continue to be a larger revenue generator than subscriptions in 2017, as it is in 2012.
 
Online video remains a small, but growing, proportion of total TV and video revenues. Informa estimates that it will account for 8% of such revenues by 2017. By the end of the decade, if current growth rates continue, it will account for over 10% of revenues. However, its value in the market today is concentrated among only a few players.
 
"It’s clear that online video, today, is worth much more than the digital cents...

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Nov 27
Apple eyeing enhanced Mac keyboard illumination

Apple has plans for enhanced keyboard illumination in its Mac line -- or so a new patent (number 831928) indicates. Per the patent, a keyboard may be generally illuminated while also providing for key-specific illumination of one or more particular keys.

The keyboard may be generally illuminated using any configuration of any number of suitable illumination sources. The keyboard may selectively illuminate any key or keys together with or apart from the general illumination of other keys. The keyboard may also variably illuminate certain keys to aid the user in navigating the keyboard.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Currently, there are a wide variety of known electronic devices that include a keyboard as a user interface component (e.g., cellular telephones and personal computers). The keyboard of many of these devices can be illuminated such that a user may be able to see and use the keyboard when provided with little or no ambient light. For example,...

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Nov 27
Apple working on better portable device-sports...

A new Apple patent (number 8317658) shows that the company is working on even better ways of interfacing portable media devices and sports equipment. The patent involves circuits, methods, and apparatus that allow sports or other equipment, such as gym or other cardio equipment, to write data to a media player.

Examples further provide the uploading of this data to a computer and third-party website. To monitor progress, the third-party website can be used to track workout data over time. The third party-website can also collect data from other users, which is particularly useful for providing a competitive environment. This data can then be graphically displayed in various ways to provide encouragement.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Portable media players have become very popular the past few years and their market penetration shows no signs of abating. People use them when walking, driving, and commuting by bus or train. They are also particularly...

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Nov 27
Apple wins patents for desktop widgets, more

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,321,801) for desktop widgets for presentation in a layer has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to graphical user interfaces, and more particularly to a user-activatable, configurable, unified layer containing items of interest to a user.

Per the patent, an user-activatable dashboard (also referred to as a unified interest layer) contains any number of user interface elements -- or "widgets" -- for quick access by a user. In response to a command from a user, the dashboard is invoked and the widgets are shown on the screen. The user can activate the dashboard at any time, causing the dashboard to temporarily replace the existing user interface display on the user's screen.

Once the dashboard has been activated, the user can interact with any or all of the widgets, and can configure the dashboard by adding, deleting, moving, or configuring individual widgets as desired. When...

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Nov 27
Apple, show us love, we'll love you in return

Supposedly, one of the reasons John Browett was dismissed as Apple's head of retail operations was because he spearheaded a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed.

True or not, the last thing Apple needs to do is make its customers feel under-appreciated. The more love you show, us, Apple, the more love we show you.

In fact, according to a survey by the polling firm IBOPE/Zogby International for rbb Public Relations, companies have to show consumers the love in order to attract -- and keep them -- in today’s dynamic marketplace. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, 83% are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. One fifth of respondents said they would pay 50% or more if they felt the company put the customer first.

The survey found that to stay competitive, companies are adopting marketing strategies that align...

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Nov 26
IEEE says 'supercomputers' may save us all

Members of the IEEE Computer Society (http://www.ieee.org.) -- the world's largest technical professional organization "dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity" -- think that "supercomputing" is a key technology driving future innovations including the development of perfect weather forecasting, limitless clean energy and smartphones that are 20 times faster than those used today. 

These potential advancements, and others, including advancements in medicine and deep space exploration, are part of IEEE's ideas on what "Civilization 2040" will look like. As supercomputing reaches new levels of advancement, it will play an increasingly critical role in driving innovation and impacting the well-being of society over the next 20 years, according to IEEE.

For example, supercomputing is at the heart of intensive research that will allow for near perfect weather forecasts. With such a...

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Nov 23
Apple working on ways to control reflections in LDC...

An Apple patent (number 201202987378 for controlling reflection reflection LCD devices has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and methods are provided for controlling the light reflected from a display panel.

In one embodiment, a prism mirror and a diffuse reflector are positioned between the bottom polarizer and the liquid crystal layer of a pixel to control the polarization of reflected light transmitted through the display panel. The diffuse reflector diffuses light towards the prism mirror, and the prism mirror affects the polarization of the light. When the pixel is on, the liquid crystals of the liquid crystal layer may shift the polarization of the reflected light such that it can be transmitted through the top polarizer.

When the pixel is off, the liquid crystals may not substantially shift the polarization of the reflected light, and the reflected light may be polarized to be absorbed by the top polarizer. Accordingly, reflected...

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Nov 23
Apple files 'custom stores' patent

An Apple patent (number 20120296744) for "custom stores" has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent a custom store web page uses an external administrator to provide configuration data for a custom store web page. The configuration data can include virtual bundles of products for sale.

Here's The present invention relates to electronic commerce sites, especially electronic commerce sites designed for the use of members of a group.

"Recently, with the expansion of the Internet, electronic commerce sites have become a powerful new way to buy and sell products. Typically, a consumer goes to a vender's web site, selects a desired product, and purchases it using a credit card. The credit card information is usually encrypted in its transfer across the Internet to provide security. Upon verifying the credit-card information, the product(s) selected by the consumer are mailed from the vendor's warehouse to the consumer.

"Typically,...

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Nov 23
Apple patent is for dynamic, location-based signage

An Apple patent (number 2012029677) for location-based signage has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, dynamic signage systems are provided for a sales environment. A dynamic signage device (e.g., a tablet computer) is associated with a product, e.g., based on a location of the device and/or the product, and can present information about the product to a customer in an interactive manner. The device can automatically check for updated product information and modify its display based on the updated product information.

Management of multiple dynamic signage devices can be coordinated within and across stores, and an interactive floor-map creation system incorporating dynamic signage devices can facilitate changing the associations between products and dynamic signage devices.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Retail customers sometimes find it hard to obtain the information they want about products they are...

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Nov 21
Reasons to be thankful

I've got many reasons to be thankful -- to many to list here.

So let me just say I'm thankful for the readers and advertisers of MacTech and MacNews. Your support of our two sites is much appreciated.

I'm also thankful that I'll be joining family for a Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. Which means, of course, that MacTech.com and MacNews.com will be closed for the holiday.

So have a great Thanksgiving. And we'll see you back here on Friday.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 20
Greg's Bite: Windows 8 -- ugly under the Surface?

By Greg Mills

While I try wax eloquent in my occasional digs at Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and all things Windows, it takes an actual PC fan boy to roast 'em right. Jakob Nielsen, described as a "user interface guru," slammed Windows 8 so hard the glass broke.I try to inject a little humor in my criticism, but Nielsen chops em up like stew meat on a butcher block. Nothing funny about it.

Calling Microsoft's business survival critical incremental release of Windows 8 a "monster and a tortured soul" goes beyond my normal bite out of Ballmer's hide.  Since I wouldn't even touch a PC without wearing rubber gloves, my information is pretty much second hand. You can see the Nielsen article at www.useit.com/alertbox/windows-8.html .

When you read the entire article, what jumps out is that Microsoft's attempt to merge what in the Mac world would be...

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Nov 20
Apple patent is for using a portable media player as a...

An Apple patent (number 8315746) for using a portable media player as a remote control has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a portable multimedia player is used to wirelessly access and control a media server that is streaming digital media by way of a wireless interface to a media unit such as a stereo/speakers in the case of streaming digital audio. In one embodiment, the portable multimedia player is wirelessly synchronized to a selected one(s) of a number of digital media files stored on the media server in such a way that digital media file metadata (song title, author, etc.) associated with the selected digital media file(s) only is transferred from the media server to be stored in the portable media player.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Due to the increasing capacity and capability of personal computers, it has become popular to use a personal computer as a repository for multimedia content, such as songs,...

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Nov 20
Apple picked the right time to support USB 3.0

Guess Apple released Macs with USB 3.0 support just in time. The global market for USB 3.0 devices will grow more than 500% through 2016, according to the Global Information Inc. (www.giiresearch.com) research group.

Since its introduction in 1996, USB has displaced a host of wired connectivity standards including FireWire, PS/2 and serial ports that were once used to connect everything from mice to printers to external hard drives. Although initial adoption of USB 3.0 was fairly weak (which may be one reason Apple delayed support), device shipments and the installed base will grow significantly by 2016, according to GIS.

Currently, USB 1.1 devices are still shipping low-end applications such as mice. Shipments of USB 2.0 devices will peak in 2012. As some 2.0 devices continue to grow, others, including notebooks will fall to virtually zero by the end of the forecast period.

However, I still...

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Nov 20
Apple granted patent for the iPad Smart Cover

Apple has been granted a patent (number D671,114) for a portable display device with cover -- the iPad and its Smart Cover, in other words.

The inventors are Jody Akana, Bartley K. Andre, Jeremy Batillou, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Julian Hoenig, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rorhbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Apple has also been granted the following patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office are:

° Patent number 8316321 for an user interface that includes elements whose appearance dynamically changes in dependence upon functions associated with the elements;

° Patent number 83163147 for techniques for synchronizing multiple time-based data streams with independent clocks wherein relationships between clock rates of timing devices associated with the time-based data...

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Nov 19
Of course Apple will continue to increase display...

With the launch of the iPhone and iPad, as well as the new MacBook, Apple has continued on its path of increasing its display resolution. And it will continue doing so.

Apple created the term "Retina display" not just as a marketing phrase, but to educate end users about high resolution. The company has been leading the trend in displays with high pixels per inch (ppi, the measurement of resolution), especially with the launch of iPhone 4, the first smart phone with a resolution of more than 300 ppi, and the new iPad, the first tablet PC with over 200 ppi.

However, other smart device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Google, Amazon, Sony, Lenovo, and ASUS are closely following Apple, and in some cases have introduced products with higher resolutions, such as Google’s Nexus 10 tablet PC, with a 10.1-inch 2560×1600 display at 298 ppi, and coming smart phones using 5-inch 1920×1080 displays at 490 ppi.

Some folks thought that Apple would introduce the Retina display...

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Nov 16
The future looks bright for iOS Passbook

The Passbook feature introduced in iOS6 hasn't been widely acclaimed (though it's not been lambasted the way the Maps app has). However, the future holds potential for the feature/service.

In case you're not familiar with it, here's how Apple describes it: "Passbook keeps things like airline boarding passes, movie tickets, and gift cards all in one place. Everything’s there -- ready for scanning -- right from your iPhone. You’ll find Passbook-enabled apps on the App Store. And you can get gift cards and more from participating merchants.

"Passbook is time and location based. So your passes and tickets automatically appear on your Lock screen when and where you need them. Arrive at the airport and your boarding pass pops up. If you’re waiting to board the flight and your gate changes, Passbook tells you. And if you decide to grab a coffee on the way to your new gate, your gift card appears when you walk into the cafe."

Passbook has been criticized for the small...

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Nov 15
Consumers favor Apple products for the 2012 holiday...

More great news -- moneywise, at least -- for Apple: price comparison shopping site, PriceGrabber (www.pricegrabber.com) has leased the results of its third winter holiday shopping survey, revealing consumers' expected shopping habits within the tech category this holiday season.

When consumers were asked whether they would rather receive a tablet computer or a laptop as a holiday gift this year, 59%indicated that they would rather receive a tablet. Seventy-one percent of shoppers also indicated that they believe tablet computers will replace e-readers as gifts this year. Conducted from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, the survey includes responses from 1,475 U.S. online shopping consumers.

iPad and iPad mini top-ranked overall tablets


The power of the Apple brand is likely to remain in full force again this holiday season, especially with the launch of the iPad 4 and iPad mini. When...

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Nov 15
An iPad that sizes visuals depending on how close your...

Would you like your iPhone or iPad to expand or shrink on-screen images depending on how close it is to you? That could eventually be possible. A new Apple patent (number 20120287163) is for mechanism for automatically scaling the size of a set of visual content based upon how close a user's face is to a display.

In one implementation, the mechanism initially causes a set of visual content on a display to be sized according to a first scaling factor when the user's face is at a first distance from the display. The mechanism then determines that the user's face has moved relative to the display such that the user's face is no longer at the first distance from the display. In response, the mechanism causes the set of visual content on the display to be sized according to a second and different scaling factor. By doing so, the mechanism effectively causes the display size of the visual content to automatically change as the distance between the user's face and the display...

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Nov 15
Apple eyes ways to improve battery life of iOS devices

A new patent (number 20120290792) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on further ways to extend battery life in iPhones, iPods and iPads . The patent is for a media device with intelligent cache utilization.

A portable media device and a method for operating a portable media device are disclosed. According to one aspect, a battery-powered portable media device can manage use of a mass storage device to efficiently utilize battery power.

By providing a cache memory and loading the cache memory so as to provide skip support, battery power for the portable media device can be conserved (i.e., efficiently consumed). According to another aspect, a portable media device can operate efficiently in a seek mode. The seek mode is an operational mode of the portable media device in which the portable media device automatically scans through media items to assist a user in selecting a desired one of the media items.

Here's Apple's...

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Nov 15
Apple working on 'sticky functionality' for...

An Apple patent (number 20120290961 for "sticky functionality" for its Mac line has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

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

The types of manipulation can include the moving of a window, the resizing of a window, moving an icon, and the scrolling through the visible portion of a window. Eric Schlegel is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "An important aspect of any computer system is the...

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Nov 15
Apple patent is for display with color control

Apple continues to work on methods of improving the screens of its Mac and iOS devices. A company patent (number 20120287605) for a display with color control has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Techniques are provided for controlling the colors of reflected light out of a display surface in a display device, such that display discoloration (e.g., green tinting) may be reduced, particularly when the display is operating in bright ambient environments. In one embodiment, a display device may include a color filter black mask layer having an arrangement of red, green, and blue color filter areas, where the red and/or blue color filter areas are substantially greater than the green color filter area.

In some embodiments, the display device may include red and blue color filter pigment resin areas which may be disposed over the reflective areas to increase the overall amount of red and blue light that will be generated by reflected light to result in...

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Nov 14
Could LaCie's File Access offer the 'iHome...

In the past I've written about my wishes for a true Apple home server – not something intended for a business, but something that anyone could run. Apple may have waited too long, as LaCie has announced (http://macte.ch/ldbPD) an all-new network storage solution that connects the entire family to their music, movie and photo files.

As far as Apple is concerned, there's been progress. We eventually got a Mac mini with a server on it, though it's targeted to businesses. We may still need the "iHome Server" (though we'll have to come up with a new moniker as there's already a company called iHome) if the LaCie products fall short (look for our upcoming review).

With Automator, it should be easy to create an appliance that can be the center of our media lives and to our home automation. Combine this with Apple's app stores, and you have an idea of what I'm talking about -- and something that Microsoft is...

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Nov 13
Greg's Bite: Apple's problem with '...

By Greg Mills

The late Steve Jobs famously stated that he intended to make "thermonuclear war over Android" since it was a stolen product.

Since then, untold millions of dollars on both sides have been spent trying to hash out Apple's valid smartphone and touch screen tablet patent rights. As Apple has become painfully aware, enforcing patent rights around the world is a very costly and highly unpredictable process. Radioactive fallout blows both ways in nuclear war.

Apple's patent litigation has sparked a bidding war the last few years over any patent remotely related to cell phones and mobile computing. Apple has patented everything patentable they can in the US and many other countries. A lot of intellectual property comes out of its R&D efforts. As the old order of dumb cell phone manufacturing companies fail, the legacy patents they hold are often the greatest asset left over when the dust settles.

The prospects for RIM and...

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Nov 13
Apple patent involves skin tone aware color boost for...

An Apple patent (number 8311355) for skin tone aware color boost for cameras has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The company obviously wants to continually improve the cameras in its portable devices.

As the patent notes, increasing color saturation and contrast in images generally leads to more pleasing images; however, doing so uniformly to all colors in the image can make skin tones appear with an overly red tint. One embodiment of an improved method of skin tone aware color boosting identifies areas of the image which look like skin tones and areas that do not look like skin tones. A blurred "skin tone mask" can then be created over the image.

One large boost operation and one small boost operation can be applied to the image. A final version of the image may then be created, applying the pixel values resulting from the small boosting operation to the skin tone regions and applying the pixel values resulting from the large boosting operation...

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Nov 13
Wearable devices to be worth over $1.5 billion by 2014

Now that the latest rev of the iPad nano isn't suitable for wearing as a watch, perhaps Apple will release an iWatch. It might be profitable.

A new report from Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com) has valued the next-gen wearable devices market to be worth more than US$1.5 billion by 2014, up from $800 million this year. These revenues will be largely driven by consumer spending on fitness, multi-functional devices, and healthcare, according to the research group.

Classified as a "future form factor" for computing devices, next generation wearables, including smart glasses and other head-mounted displays, will provide a multitude of functions either independently or in conjunction with a third party platform. Influential players such as Apple and Google have already made key strategic moves in this sector, notes Juniper Research.

The use of wearable devices connected to the...

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Nov 13
Apple wins Time Machine, screen rotation patents

Apple has won several patents from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 8311988 is for consistent back-up of electronic information. In other words, it's for the Time Machine feature of Mac OS X.

Patent number 8312371 is for a device and method for screen rotation on a touch screen display. This, of course, includes the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Patent number 8312302 for circuits, methods, and apparatus that provide for the powering of active components in connector inserts at each end of a cable may in various ways. This may involve the Lightning connector technology on the latest iOS devices.

Patent number 83118384 for devices and methods for identifying a prompt corresponding to a voice input in a sequence of prompts. This most likely involves the Dictation feature of Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

Patent number 8311657 for a method and...

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Nov 12
Greg's Bite: Apple's hardware prices matter

By Greg Mills

I was idly wandered through the brand new Sam's Club here in Kansas City, Kansas, Friday afternoon. The store is just around the corner from my home. A neighbor, living just a few doors down the street, is the proud manager of the giant new store.

I was there at the grand opening a couple of weeks ago and actually ate the first "tomane torpedo" sold at the food court. Where else can you get a large Nathan's hot dog and giant soft drink for $1.50? 

As I was sampling the free bites of food they give away, I stumbled into the electronics department. The products on sale were all the Apple tablets, iPhones and iPods, as well as the brands X, Y and Z semi-equivalents. Features and prices varied wildly. 

The electronics guy reads my Greg's Bite articles. He commented as soon as he saw me, that as far as he was concerned, I had hit the nail right on the head in my recent article regarding Microsoft's constant marketing gaffs.  I...

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Nov 12
Cell phones render household items obsolete 

There's a litany of products killed by Apple, but a new poll by CouponCodes4u.com, a coupon code website in the US, finds that the iPhone and others of its ilk has found that cell phones are replacing many traditional household items, with the average American no longer possessing items such as calendars, calculators, alarm clocks or landlines.
 
CouponCodes4u.com carried out a poll as part of ongoing research into the lifestyles of consumers around Americans. Approximately 2,362 adults from around the US took part and respondents answered questions about the gadgets and items around their home. All those taking part were cell phone users.
 
Those taking part in the study were shown a list of devices and items normally found around the home and were told to select the items that they felt they no longer used due to the same functions being available on their cell phone.

According to the study by CouponCodes4u.com, the top 10 items from the home that...

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Nov 09
Time for Apple to get Siri-ous about voice technology

From everything I've seen it's clear from the performance of Google Voice Search, that Apple is way behind in the area of voice technology.The performance difference between Apple's Siri and Google's Voice Search is like night and day.

Plus, Apple's reasoning for not putting its digital personal assistant, Siri (even in its currently lackluster state), on as many of its devices as possible makes no sense. Apple needs to address this.

For example, why is there only voice dictation on Mac OS X10.8? Shouldn't the full Siri come with Mountain Lion? They can't claim lack of processing power or memory. And Siri should be able to perform at least as well as does Google Voice Search.

Perhaps now that Eddy Cue is taking over the additional responsibility of Siri and Maps, things on both technologies will improve.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Nov 08
Apple patent is for power cable with a security...

An Apple patent (number 20120279780) for a power cable having a security feature feature has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The invention is for an pparatus that may help identify unauthorized removal of goods while maintaining a pleasing physical appearance, avoiding theft misidentifications, and allowing a high degree of customer interaction. One example may provide a signal path for conveying a signal that is active when a good or device is removed from a retail or other environment in an authorized manner. The signal path may be wired or wireless.

In another example, a signal path for a sensor may be inconspicuously combined with a power cable. In another example, theft misidentifications may be prevented by not relying on connections that a customer is likely to interact with to detect a theft. Another example may provide a security device that may allow a high degree of customer interaction by unobtrusively attaching a sensor to the back...

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Nov 08
Apple wants to protect your audio, video data

An Apple patent (number 20120281828) for the protection of audio or video in a playback device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves a method and apparatus to prevent hacking of encrypted audio or video content during playback.

Hackers, using a debugging attachment or other tools, can illicitly access encrypted data in memory in a playback device when the data is decrypted during playback and momentarily stored in digital form. This hacking is defeated here by methodically "poisoning" the encrypted data so that it is no longer playable by a standard decoder.

The poisoning involves deliberate alteration of certain bit values. On playback, the player invokes a special secure routine that provides correction of the poisoned bit values, for successful playback.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "The protection of digital content transferred between computers over a network and transferred from a computer to an associated...

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Nov 08
Apple eyes ways to improve podcasting

An Apple patent (number 20120284422) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on ways to improve podcasting. The patent is titled "techniques and systems for supporting podcasting."

Improved podcasts and techniques that facilitate their use are disclosed. The improved techniques can pertain to creating, publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts. According to one aspect, a client application can subscribe to podcasts and then automatically monitor the podcasts for updates to be downloaded. In the event that user interest in a podcast becomes inadequate, downloading of further updates can be restricted.

According to another aspect, a podcast can be subscribed to through use of a portable subscription file. According to still another aspect, podcast feeds can be enhanced to include segment elements and other metadata.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "media player...

| Read more »
Nov 08
Law firm CIOs back personal devices, pan Windows 8

This is good news for Apple, not so much for Microsoft: large law firms' chief information officers are supporting their lawyers’ use of Apple and Android personal devices for firm business, as 88% expect to provide less BlackBerry support over the next 12 months.

However, only 7% of technology managers plan to migrate their enterprise systems to Microsoft’s touchscreen-friendly Windows 8 operating system in the next year.
This is according to the annual survey of law technology in the November issue of ALM’s "The American Lawyer" and online at americanlawyer.com. Other highlights in The American Lawyer’s new issue include:

While allowing personal phone, tablet and other device use, law firm CIOs are still wrestling with the security issues they present, according to the survey. Nearly two-thirds of the firms prohibit lawyers from using cloud storage and synchronization services on mobile devices, and a similar number use mobile device management (MDM) software...

| Read more »
 
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