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Jul 19
Apple patent is for info management with non-...

An Apple patent (number 20120185456) for information management with non-hierarchical views has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Apparently, it involves a modified Finder window in Mac OS X.

Per the patent, information items in a file system are arranged into groups that are created according to a grouping component. A non-hierarchical view displays visual representations (e.g., icons, thumbnail images) of the information items arranged in visually delineated groups according to an arrange type that can be specified for each group.

Various view formats are available including icon, list and column view formats. In each view format, a condensed mode can be selected for one or more groups, resulting in multiple visual representations of items being displayed in a fixed amount of screen space in the non-hierarchical view. In icon view, each condensed group includes a single row of visual representations that can be navigated separately from other...

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Jul 19
Apple patents involve ways to aid the hearing impaired

Two Apple patents have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office showign that Apple is working on ways to improve support for hearing impaired users.

Patent number 20120183164 is for a social network for sharing a hearing aid setting. Broadly speaking, the embodiments disclosed in the patent describe a social network tailored to meet the needs of individuals having impaired hearing. More specifically the social network provides a mechanism by which members of the social network can communicate with each other information related to improvement the overall quality of life of the members.

In a particular embodiment, audio processing characteristics of hearing aids worn by and used by members of the social network can be modified based upon at least some of the information passed between members of the social network.

Patent number 20120183165 is for remotely updating a hearing aid profile. Broadly speaking, the...

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Jul 19
Apple has gone from 'beleaguered' to top dog...

My, how things have changed. According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com), the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system will capture 4% share of 123 million smartphones sold in the United States market during 2012. That's up from 3% in 2011.

Remember when Apple was the beleaguered company and the Mac only had 3% market share in the U.S.? Those were dark days. It's nice that the sun is shining in Apple-land now.
Don't get me wrong. I certainly don't think that Microsoft is "beleaguered"; it's making money hand-over-fist. However, Apple is one of the great comeback stories in the business world -- arguably the greatest comeback of all time.

That said, Apple can't afford to rest on its laurels. Now or ever. There's always some young whippersnapper just waiting to take the top dog's place.

The great pitcher Satchel Paige...

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Jul 18
iPads cannibalizing PC sales -- Macs, not so much

Look for the iPad to continue dominating the tablet market, even as Mac sales grow faster than overall computer sales. Yes, per my crystal ball, Apple will continue to grow its computer market share in the U.S. and globally.

In a note to clients -- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) Evercore (http://www.evercore.com), an independent investment banking advisory firm, says personal computer sales for 2012 will remain flat while tablets continue to be hot sellers. Analyst Rob Cihra says the iPad will account for 60% of the tablet market.

Cihra thinks iPad/tablet sales are responsible for "at least half" of the computer market's current decline. He says consumer computer sales have struggled every quarter since they topped out in the third quarter of 2010, which is just one quarter after Apple...

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Jul 17
Apple working on slot antennas for electronic devices

Two new Apple patents have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that show Apple is working on different antenna ideas.

Patent number 8223082 involves slot antennas for electronic devices. The slot antennas may have a dielectric-filled slot that is formed in a ground plane element. The ground plane element may be formed from part of a conductive device housing. The slot may have one or more holes at its ends.

The holes may affect the impedance characteristics of the slot antennas so that the length of the slot antennas may be reduced. For example, the holes can be used to synthesize the impedance of the slot antennas so that the slot antennas have a resonant frequency that is different from their natural resonant frequency.

The holes may affect the impedance of the slot antennas in multiple radio-frequency bands. The inventors are Bing Chiang, Douglas B. Kough and Enrique Ayala Vazquez.

Patent number 8223077...

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Jul 17
Apple granted patent for power adapters for peripheral...

An Apple patent (number 8222773) for power adapters for powering and/or charging peripheral devices has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, the power adapter includes a housing that contains electrical components associated with the power adapter. The power adapter also includes a data port provided at a surface of the housing. The data port is configured to provide external power to the peripheral device.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The invention pertains to power adapters that allow a user to power and/or charge a peripheral device such as a portable electronic device without requiring any additional cables or connectors. The invention also pertains to a connection method for powering a peripheral without requiring a host, peripheral or hub to remain powered on. The connection method allows peripherals to operate on buses that do not supply power. The invention is particularly suitable for peripheral...

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Jul 17
Number of bandwidth hungry apps, broadband Internet...

An explosion of bandwidth-hungry applications and broadband Internet users is driving dramatic changes in the high-speed data transmission market. Meanwhile, fiber optic sensor technology is also expanding rapidly.

Monitoring and data transmission using fiber optic sensors and optical fiber in cabling have become commonplace in various applications. What does the future hold for optical networks and sensors? According to new data from Global Information (http://www.giiresearch.com) -- an information service company partnering with over 300 research companies around the world -- public and private networks are experiencing unprecedented end-user demand for bandwidth, resulting in a need to cost-effectively scale the capacity of communications networks.

The amount of backbone Internet bandwidth maintained by major Internet carriers has been expanding by 75% to 125% per year. 40 Gb/s networks...

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Jul 16
70% of teens hide online behavior from parents

McAfee (http://www.mcafee.com), a security technology company, has released findings from the company’s "2012 Teen Internet Behavior" study. They're disturbing, though not surprising.

The study investigates the online habits, behaviors, interests, and lifestyles of the first generation to truly grow up online, and discloses how teens are not only engaging in risky behaviors, but how they are hiding it from their parents, many of whom don’t realize they are being fooled. The study also exposes 10 ways teens are hiding their online activities from their parents.

Despite their awareness of online dangers, teens continue to take risks by posting personal information and risky photos online, unbeknownst to parents. Many teens are accessing inappropriate online content, despite 73.5% of parents whom trust their teens to not access age-inappropriate content online. Specifically 43% of teens have accessed...

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Jul 13
Greg's Bite: Google's got balls -- Nexus Q...

By Greg Mills

Google's got balls.

That crude statement has a whole rainbow of meanings, depending on who you are.  

To Steve Jobs it meant Eric Schmidt, Apple board member and CEO of Google at the time, had stolen the look and feel of iPhone to inspire Android. Apple's thermonuclear legal war was launched. Jobs appeared to be upset.

To Oracle, owner of Java, it means Google intentionally used bits of Java code to get the Android OS working without licensing the software. Will it also mean they fight infringement actions in court and win? Ouch! Now Google wants Oracle to pay Google's attorneys for their time.  

To the Federal Trade Commission, it means that the worst offender in high tech abuses of user agreements (other than Facebook) has again been busted. This time Google was fined for tricking Safari into accepting advertising cookies that over rode user preferences to not be tracked.

The long list of examples of...

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Jul 13
My crystal ball: no iPad cannibalization of Mac sales

In a note to clients -- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- BMO Capital analyst Keith Bachman said he expects Apple to post a "significant miss"for its fourth fiscal quarter of 2012 as Mac sales continue to be cannibalized by the company's iPad tablet line. I have to disagree.

Despite raising sales estimates for both the iPhone and iPad, Bachman said the June quarter and upcoming final fiscal quarter of 2012 will be "challenging" for Apple as the tech company Apple could see an US$5.5 billion miss from the $38.5 billion consensus for the company's fourth fiscal quarter ending in September if its third quarter performance is in line with the current $37.5 billion forecast, according to historical patterns and outlooks.

Bachman says his Mac sales estimate is expected to drop 1.6 million units over the same six quarter period. He dropped his Mac sales estimate from 18...

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Jul 12
Apple looking to improve iPhone handset/earpiece audio...

An Apple patent (number 201200177222) for dynamic audio parameter adjustment using touch sensing has appeared at the U.S Patent & Trademark Office. It's designed to improve audio quality in headsets and earpieces for the iPhone.

Per the invention, an audio communications device has a handset in which a touch sensing ear piece region is coupled to an acoustic leakage analyzer. The acoustic leakage analyzer is to analyze signals from the touch sensing ear piece region and on that basis adjust an audio processing parameter. The latter configures an audio processor which generates an audio receiver input signal for the device.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "People have long been accustomed to making telephone calls using a handset whose earpiece portion the user typically presses up against her ear (in order to better hear the voice of the other party.) As mobile phones became prevalent, the acoustic system that delivers sound to the user's...

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Jul 12
Apple patent involves cowling structures in portable...

An Apple patent (number 2012176277) for electronic devices having multi-purpose cowling structures and a compass mounted on a flex circuit has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's designed to offer more power, longer battery life and less weight in portable devices.

Per the patent, multi-purpose cowling structures are provided to minimize spacing impact within an electronic device, while maximizing functional utility. In one embodiment, an electromagnetic interference shield may provide one or more anchors for enabling a logic board cowling to apply sufficient downward force to one or more board connectors to prevent inadvertent disconnects.

In another embodiment, a cowling can electrically connect the ground plane of a logic board to the ground plane of a housing member and provide a pre-load force to a conductor connection existing on logic board. A compass mounted on a flexible printed circuit board is also provided. Mounting the compass on a...

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Jul 12
Apple eyeing iPhone case design with wind noise...

An Apple patent (number 20120177239) for a removable case design offering wind noise protection for the iPhone has appeared at the U.S Patent & Trademark Office. It would sport a windscreen over the smartphone's microphone to improve sound quality.

The invention (top graphic) is for a removable case for a mobile communications device includes an opening that aligns with a microphone port that is built into the device. The case includes a windscreen that is sealed across the opening of the case. The windscreen is designed to reduce wind noise, air blasts, vocal plosives, and other noise. Other embodiments are also described and claimed.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Handheld mobile communications devices, particularly mobile phones, have enabled users to engage in real-time two-way conversations while walking, running, riding in a car, or during other activities. In a number of these situations, a user may be conducting a conversation in...

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Jul 12
Apple, Google, Microsoft will challenge navigation...

There have been scattered rumors over the years that Apple would enter the automotive market (the iCar, perhaps?). Well that's not gonna happen, but major technology companies -- such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft -- are beginning to battle for share of the in-vehicle navigation market, according to the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com).

This may spell trouble for traditional tier one navigation manufacturers, like Continental, Denso, Harman, as well as Garmin and TomTom. The recent Apple announcement regarding its automotive original equipment manufacturer partnerships and the expansion of Apple’s mapping efforts could significantly change the in-vehicle navigation market.

"Previously major technology companies largely wrote off automotive markets," says John Canali, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. "However, with a growing emphasis on...

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Jul 11
Thanks, Apple, for the FireWire-Thunderbolt adapter

Apple’ is to be commended for its decision to provide a FireWire-Thunderbolt adapter (US$29) for Macs such as its revamped MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines -- which lack FireWire ports.

Apple's new, great love -- and understandably so -- is Thunderbolt. Still, a lot of folks have big bucks invested in FireWire products. The FireWire-Thunderbolt adapter allows those products to be used with the latest Macs.

At its June 11 Worldwide Developers Conference Apple introduced a new FireWire adapter, or cable, for use on MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and Mac minis. It can be used with the Thunderbolt links included on the new models, and also can be used on similarly equipped 2011 Macs. The cable adds a wired interface to the MacBook Airs now in use.

Alas, the new systems won't natively use FireWire target disk mode. I'm not sure if you could put a Thunderbolt-only system into FireWire target disk mode using the FireWire-Thunderbolt adapter, but it should be possible to...

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Jul 10
Apple patent is for portable devices with multiple...

An Apple patent (number 8,217,619) for portable devices having multiple power interfaces has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. One of those interfaces involves solar power.

According to one embodiment of the invention, a portable electronic device includes, but is not limited to, a processor, a memory coupled to the processor for storing instructions, when executed from the memory, cause the processor to perform one or more functions, a battery coupled to provide power to the processor and the memory, and a battery charging manager coupled to charge the battery using power derived from a plurality of power sources including a solar power source. Other methods and apparatuses are also described.

Wendell B. Sander and Daniel A. Warren are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Handheld computing devices typically use standard battery chemistries including ni-cad, lithium-ion, and nickel-metal hydride. In order...

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Jul 10
Apple investigating touch screens for laptops

An Apple patent (number 8,217,913) for an integrated touch screen has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple has investigated touch screens on Macs -- at least laptop Macs.

Per the patent, displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup are provided. Circuit elements, such as touch signal lines, such as drive lines and sense lines, grounding regions, in the display pixel stackups can be grouped together to form touch sensing circuitry that senses a touch on or near the display.

An integrated touch screen can include multi-function circuit elements that can operate as circuitry of the display system to generate an image on the display, and can also form part of a touch sensing system that senses one or more touches on or near the display.

The multi-function circuit elements can be, for example, capacitors in display pixels that can be configured to operate as storage capacitors/electrodes, common...

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Jul 09
Americans’ smartphone attachment altering our...

Okay, folks, it's time to set that iPhone down for a while. It's affecting your mind.

Lookout (http://www.mylookout.com), makers of an app to protect your smartphone, has released the "Mobile Mindset Study," which analyzes and explores data-based trends in the emotions and behavior driven by smartphones. As people rely more on their smartphones, they are increasingly checking their phones in bed, in the bathroom, at the dinner table, and while driving. Lookout found the frequency that people check their smartphones is increasing:

° 58% of smartphone owners said they don’t go an hour without checking their phone.

° 54% of smartphone owners said they check their phones while lying in bed: before they go to sleep, after they wake up.

° Nearly 4 out of 10 people (39%) check their phones while using the bathroom.

The smartphone attachment is also enabling a whole new genre of...

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Jul 06
New iMacs -- Retina displays or not?

Will there be new iMacs of any sort introduced this year? And, if there are, will there be a Retina display model?

With no new iMacs or Mac Pros (and, no, the slight processor bump of the latter doesn't count) introduced at the 2012 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, several sources -- including David Pogue of, among other places, "The New York Times" -- hinted that there would be no new desktops until 2013.

However, "DigiTimes" (http://www.digitimes.com) -- which, admittedly, has a sporadic track record on Apple prognostications -- says Apple's supply chain will start supplying components for a new iMac this month with the updated all-in-one going on sale in October. The article says there's a "high chance" that the new iMac will sport a Retina display.

A couple of months ago ABC News (http://macte.ch/nNPeB) reported...

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Jul 05
Apple patent is for media content flocking

An Apple patent (number 20120174010) for media content flocking has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to graphical user interfaces and digital video editing in applications such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro X.

According to implementations, a method can include displaying a first sequence of objects on a display of a computing device, receiving a selection of at least two non-adjacent objects from the first sequence, and animating the at least two non-adjacent objects to move along respective paths from the display of the first sequence to a current location of a cursor on the display. The objects in the first sequence can be video clips or other types of media, such as presentation slides, audio clips or any other media that can be manipulated in a timeline.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Video editing applications allow users to create, manipulate and aggregate video data. Vendors of video editing applications...

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Jul 05
Apple patent involves dual-mode iPhone headset

An Apple patent (number 20120171964) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple is working on a dual-mode wired/wireless headset for the iPhone and other devices. The patent is for a wireless communication headset with wired and wireless models.

Per the patent, the wireless headset can include a headset connector assembly that can be coupled to a cable connector of a cable, which can in turn be connected to a telephone. When the wireless headset is coupled to the telephone, it can advantageously be operable to exchange audio information with the telephone through the cable, receive electrical power from the telephone through the cable, or both.

In addition, the cable connector can advantageously be coupled to the wireless headset without obstructing airflow to a microphone that is located in the headset connector assembly, through use of apparatus of the invention located on the cable connector, such as an acoustic tunnel, a microphone-...

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Jul 05
Apple sound panner patent hints at simplified surround...

An Apple patent (number 20120170758) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a multi-channel sound panner. It shows that the company is working on simplified ways of implementing surround sound -- and may hint at a feature of the rumored "iTV."

A method and apparatus for multi-channel panning is provided. The panner can support an arbitrary number of input channels and changes to configurations to the output sound space. For example, the panner seamlessly handles changes in the number of input channels. Also, the panner supports changes to the number and positions of speakers in the output space.

In one embodiment, the panner allows continuous control of attenuation and collapsing. In one embodiment, the panner keeps source channels on the periphery of the sound space when collapsing channels. In one embodiment, the panner allows control over the path by which sources collapse.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Sound panners are...

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Jul 05
Tablet usage for TV viewing continues to go up

The iPad continues its march toward world domination. But Macs will continue to rule, as well, it seems.

Use of tablets such as the iPad and Android-based devices by consumers for viewing TV/video content more than doubled in 14 regional markets surveyed, according to the latest "Global TV Replacement Study," conducted by NPD DisplaySearch (http://www.displaysearch.com). The widespread tablet adoption was driven by improved connectivity infrastructure has facilitated use of these devices as alternate content-viewing devices, notes the research group.

Besides tablets, consumers are also leveraging other alternate electronic devices such as laptops and mobile phones to view TV/video content. The study indicates that more than 70% of consumers use alternate electronic devices such as tablets (about 12%) , laptops (42%), smart phones (22%), MP3 players such as the iPod touch (12%) and desktop...

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Jul 03
Apple patent involves ... DVDs?

An Apple patent (number 8213766) for embedded information for DVD independent of DVD player software has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Yep, for DVDs, even though Apple seems to be slowly phasing out built-in optical drives on Macs -- and Steve Jobs described Blu-ray as a "bag of hurt."

The patent has an original filing date of 2010. So perhaps it has simply outgrown its usefulness. Or perhaps Apple is planning some sort of DVD version of iTunes Match such as Wal-Mart's service that turns DVD/Blu-ray collections into digital movies (http://macte.ch/1CVUJ).

Per the invention, an operating system extension is used to implement embedded information on a DVD. The operating system extension examines DVD sector addresses requested from the DVD hardware. When address associated with an embedded link is requested, an application program that can run the embedded link is started, and the...

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Jul 03
Apple patent is for a head-mounted display

An Apple patent (number 8212859) for peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Could this have something to do with the rumored "iTV?" An iMac with television features? The Mac line in general?

The invention involves methods and apparatus, including computer program products, implementing and using techniques for projecting a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus for a user. A first display projects an image viewable by a first eye of the user. A first peripheral light element is positioned to emit light of one or more colors in close proximity to the periphery of the first display.

A receives data representing a source image, processes the data representing the source image to generate a first image for the first display and to generate a first set of peripheral conditioning signals for the first peripheral light element, directs the first image to the first display, and directs the first set...

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Jul 03
When will the iWork components get Retina display...

In a new "FAQ" page (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5266) about the Retina display MacBook Pro, Apple lists its apps that have been optimized for the high resolution screen.

These applications include Mail, Safari, iCal, Address Book, iChat, FaceTime, Photo Booth, and TextEdit, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, and Motion. But iWork components aren't among those listed.

C'mon, Apple, Pages, Numbers and Keynote should have been Retina display optimized when the MacBook Pro Retina display shipped. They're among the most used apps on the Mac.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 03
Apple files patent for device foot

An Apple patent (number 8213177) for a device foot has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. A moveable device foot for an electronic device is described, such as that on the Magic Trackpad and Apple keyboard.

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

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

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "...

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Jul 02
The Northern Spy: Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and imitators

By Rick Sutcliffe

What boundary is the link between young and old?

Is the Spy old because he hits a significant-sounding birthday number on July 3? Perhaps. After all, two nations celebrate his birthday annually, albeit one two days early, and another a day late. And, next year will be the thirtieth since he first typed this column on his Apple II.

Yet, perhaps after all, age is a state of mind. The Spy's father was a young-looking man at 65, retired that year, and died of old age and complications from Parkinson's and other ailments but six years after. So, the Spy has always said he wouldn't retire. And, in these uncertain times, relying on pensions funds/income carries a significant level of risk.

Yes, and he can still prove the fundamental theorem of calculus, explicate relativity, programming language design, electromagnetic equations, or the automorphism group of a graph, so...maybe not this year. A part sabbatical promises to be...

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Jul 02
Tablets helping shake up the traditional TV viewing...

If/when Apple releases its own branded HDTV, the product will almost certainly continue the trend of allowing Apple users to starting watching a video on device and continue watching it on another. And if the broadcast networks are smart, they'll work with Apple to move beyond today's outdated method of receiving content.

For example, new data from comScore (http://www.comscore.com), which specializes in "measuring the digital world, finds that tablets have quickly reached a critical mass in the U.S. with one in every four smartphone owners using tablets during the three-month average period ending April 2012. The study also found that tablet users were nearly three times more likely to watch video on their device compared to smartphone users, with one in every 10 tablet users viewing video content almost daily on their device.

"Tablets are one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies in...

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Jun 29
Most Americans doubt safety of cloud storage 

Apple, with its iCloud, and other companies that offer cloud storage apparently have some work to do convincing folks such storage is safe.

Following the latest report released on Monday by the Gartner research group (http://www.gartner.com), which focused on the future of digital storage in "the cloud," one of the leading coupon code websites in the US has conducted a flash-poll of Americans to discover more about their opinions towards cloud storage; and whether they would feel comfortable in using cloud-based services at home.
 
CouponCodes4u.com, a coupon code website, CouponCodes4u.com, a coupon code website, conducted a flash-poll of 2,007 Americans, aged 21-35, in a bid to discover more about their perceptions concerning data stored in the cloud and whether hey felt comfortable using cloud storage. Respondents were also asked whether such technology would make them leave their hard drives...

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Jun 28
Apple patent is for electronic device with two sensors

An Apple patent (number 20120162465) for an electronic device with two image sensors -- think laptop -- has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, the electronic device may include a black-and-white camera having a first sensor area configured to receive luma data pertaining to the object.

The first sensor area may correspond to a first pixel array, the luma data associated with the first pixel array. The electronic device may also include a color camera having a second sensor area configured to receive chroma data pertaining to the object. The second sensor area may correspond to a second pixel array. The chroma data may be associated with the second pixel array. The electronic device may also include first logic configured to correlate pixels in the first pixel array with locations on the second sensor area.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "An embodiment of the present invention relates to an electronic device for producing an...

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Jun 28
Apple files patent for text input using speech data

An Apple patent (number 20120166192) for providing text input using speech data and non-speech data has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It apparently involves the Dictation feature on the new iPad and the upcoming Mountain Lion operating system, as well as Siri on the iPhone 4S.

Per the patent, the interface can receive speech input and non-speech input from a user through a user interface. The speech input can be converted to text data and the text data can be combined with the non-speech input for presentation to a user.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Keyboards or keypads are often used to input text into computing devices. However, some software solutions enable the user to enter text data using speech. These software solutions convert the speech to text using speech recognition engines. However, these software solutions can be difficult to use when entering symbolic characters, style or typeface input because they...

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Jun 28
Apple patent is for an universal interface for info...

An Apple patent (number 20120166477) for an universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention provides convenient access to items of information that are related to various descriptors input by a user, by means of a unitary interface which is capable of accessing information in a variety of locations, through a number of different techniques.

Using a plurality of heuristic algorithms to operate upon information descriptors input by the user, the present invention locates and displays candidate items of information for selection and/or retrieval. Thus, according to Apple, the advantages of a search engine can be exploited, while listing only relevant object candidate items of information.

Here's Apple's sumary of the invention: "The present invention provides convenient access to items of information that are related to various descriptors input by a user, by means of a unitary...

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Jun 28
We'll store over 1/3 of our digital content in...

The desire to share content and to access it on multiple devices will motivate consumers to start storing a third of their digital content in the cloud by 2016, according to Gartner (http://www.gartner.com). The research group says just 7% of consumer content was stored in the cloud in 2011, but this will grow to 36% in 2016.

I'll be among that number. However, I'm not depending solely on "the cloud" to hold my data.

"Historically, consumers have generally stored content on their computers, but as we enter the post-PC era, consumers are using multiple connected devices, the majority of which are equipped with cameras. This is leading to a massive increase in new user-generated content that requires storage," says Shalini Verma, principal research analyst at Gartner. "With the emergence of the personal cloud, this fast-growing consumer digital content will quickly get disaggregated from connected...

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Jun 27
Apple falling behind when it comes to online...

Ben Kepes has an interesting article at "infosec Island (http://macte.ch/wXvqx) dubbed "The Cloud: It's Not About the Cost." The premise of the article is that cloud computing is more about collaboration than cost savings. Apple should take note.

The survey was commissioned by the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps and taken across a range of small and mid-sized businesses. Respondents reported that the ability to collaborate effectively was a stronger driver than the cost issues.

"Data security and end-user privacy were paramount," writes Kepes. "One-quarter of survey respondents in organizations with more than 200 workers listed security and privacy as their primary concerns. These issues were followed by system availability, reliability and service level agreements, which were cited by 17.5 % of respondents. Third on the list was interoperability with existing software, as mentioned by 15% of responding...

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Jun 26
Apple patent is for unlocking devices with a gesture

An Apple patent (number 8209637) for unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

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

The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture.
The disclosed embodiments relate generally to user interfaces that employ touch-sensitive displays, and more particularly, to...

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Jun 26
Apple granted patent for light sensitive display

Apple has won a patent (number 8207946) from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a light sensitive display. It relates to touch sensitive displays.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Touch sensitive screens ('touch screens') are devices that typically mount over a display such as a cathode ray tube. With a touch screen, a user can select from options displayed on the display's viewing surface by touching the surface adjacent to the desired option, or, in some designs, touching the option directly. Common techniques employed in these devices for detecting the location of a touch include mechanical buttons, crossed beams of infrared light, acoustic surface waves, capacitance sensing, and resistive materials." The inventors are Adiel Abileah and Willem den Boer.

Apple has also been granted:

° Patent number 8207906 for an antenna insert for the iPhone. Circuits, methods, and apparatus for adapters and docking stations that include...

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Jun 26
Viewing of paid video on computers down, but still...

As paid video content becomes more available via different distribution channels, tablet and wireless phone-viewing usage has increased, while computer viewing usage has decreased from 2011, according to the J.D. Power and Associates "2012 U.S. Residential Pay-to-View Study" (http://www.jdpower.com/). But the amount of people who watch TV on their Macs or PCs is still impressive -- and a good argument for my longed-for iMac with built-in TV features.

The study, now in its second year, provides insights concerning attitudes, viewing preferences, behavior patterns, awareness and experiences among pay-to-view customers of the major home television and video service providers in the U.S. The study finds that 18% of customers use tablets for viewing paid video content, making them the most-often-used handheld device, up from 11% in 2011.

Usage by wireless phone customers increases to 16%, up from 14%...

| Read more »
Jun 25
Demand for tiny tablets to fall, as will prices for...

If Apple is indeed planning an iPad mini, it shouldn't make it too small, based on some new research. In fact, it might be a good idea to just keep the iPad the same size and let those who want a smaller screen go for an iPod touch.

As the tablet market continues to heat up, manufacturers are striving to differentiate next-generation products to compete with the iPad, according to Stephanie Ethier, senior analyst, Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). Screen size has emerged not only as a key differentiator, but also the leading indicator of different tablet usages.

New data from the research group highlights top tablet usage scenarios based on device screen size and provides market insight based on the different tablet form factors. For example, tablets with smaller form factors in the 3.5-inch to less than 7-inch range best serve entertainment needs that...

| Read more »
Jun 22
Hey, Apple, open up a store in my end of town

This is a totally selfish column, so feel free to move on if you wish. But I want Apple to open a retail store in my end of Nashville (that would be the north side).

Apple has a retail store in the west side of Music City in the Green Hills Mall. According to the daily newspaper, "The Tennesseean" (http://www.tennessean.com) another is planned for Williamson County, the next county over. When the doors open it will be only the third Apple Store in the state, but the second in Middle Tennessee. (The third one is in Memphis, TN.)

"An Apple Store at the mall in Nashville’s posh Green Hills neighborhood is often crowded with customers," notes "The Tennessean." "A nearby location in Franklin, also an affluent community, could help Apple reach a greater chunk of the demographic drawn to its pricey, pocket-sized inventions."

A little condescending, perhaps. But there's a demographic in the north...

| Read more »
Jun 21
Apple working on high-speed connector inserts, cable

An Apple patent (number 20120152613) for high-speed connector inserts and cable has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, high speed connector inserts and cables having improved heat conduction, high strength, and may be manufactured in a reliable manner. One example may provide a connector insert having several paths by which heat may be removed from circuitry in the cable insert. In one example, heat may be removed from one or more circuits by forming a thermal path between a circuit and a shield of the connector insert.

Another path may include one or more pads on a side of an integrated circuit board that are soldered directly to the shield. A braiding surrounding a cable may be soldered or otherwise thermally connected to the shield. Another example may provide a cable having a braiding that includes one or more types of fibers, such as aramid fibers. Another example may provide for increased manufacturability by using a wire comb...

| Read more »
Jun 21
Apple patent is for Apple TV (and perhaps 'iTV...

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120154268) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for remote control systems that can distinguish stray light sources. It apparently involves the current Apple TV and perhaps the rumored Apple-branded HDTV ("iTV").

Remote control systems that can distinguish predetermined light sources from stray light sources, e.g., environmental light sources and/or reflections are provided. The predetermined light sources can be disposed in asymmetric substantially linear or two-dimensional patterns. The predetermined light sources also can be configured to exhibit signature characteristics. The predetermined light sources also can output light at different signature wavelengths. The predetermined light sources also can emit light polarized in one or more predetermined polarization axes. Remote control systems of the present invention also can include methods for adjusting an allocation of predetermined light sources and/or the technique used to...

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Jun 21
Movie attendance down -- what this could mean for...

If Apple launches its own HDTV (the much-rumored "iTV") it has a chance to not only revolutionize TV viewing IF it can offer a la carte TV programming (with channels being offered as "apps" instead of in "bundles") , but can also capitalize on a disturbing trend at the cinema.

An annual survey by the public relations firm Edelman -- as reported by the "Deadline" site (http://www.deadline.com) -- finds that frequent moviegoing has plummeted among entertainment options for Americans during the past three years. The study shows that TV remains the most-used source of entertainment (45% of Americans frequently turn to it for entertainment, and 58% in the UK), while the Internet continues to creep up in usage (34% of U.S., 27% of UK). 

The real loser, however, was “cinema/movies,” which now rate as a “frequent source of entertainment” among just 3% of U.S. consumers. That's drastically down from 28% in...

| Read more »
Jun 21
Apple patents involve battery technology, more

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

Two patents involve battery technology. Patent number 20120153728 is for balancing voltages between battery banks and involves a system that that balances voltages between battery banks. The system includes battery banks, including a first bank and a second bank, and a first capacitor. William C. Athas and Thomas C. Greening are the inventors.

Patent number 20120153898 involves a method and system for charging a series battery. Some embodiments of the present invention provide a system for charging a series battery, wherein the series battery is comprised of a set of banks which are connected in series, so that the same charging current passes through each bank. During the charging process, the system measures a voltage across each bank in the set of banks. The system then compares the measured voltage with a target voltage for each...

| Read more »
Jun 20
Could an 'iTV" sport a Retina display?

If Apple does indeed release its own HDTV (the rumored "iTV") could it sport a Retina display? That seems likely. The Retina display introduced with the Retina display MacBook Pro is the future of displays at Apple, especially as pricing goes down.

3D televisions haven't been a bust, but haven't sold in the big numbers expected. That should change when 3D TVs that don't require glasses eventually arrive. However, many people believe that ultra-high 3840 × 2160 definition (UD), also known as 4K×2K, will be a meaningful value-added feature on TV sets, according to the NPD DisplaySearch (http://www.displaysearch.com) research group.

4K×2K has four times as many pixels as FHD (1920 × 1080), which is the current prevailing resolution for LCD TV panels. Smart phones and tablets -- and, I'm betting, the Retina display MacBook Pro -- have proven that end users enjoy higher resolution; in fact,...

| Read more »
Jun 19
Greg's Bite: Microsoft's new tablets,...

By Greg Mills

Famous for pre-launching visionary vaporware products, still way back in the pipeline, that either don't actually launch or have serious flaws that slowly become apparent, Microsoft did it again.  

Hopeful that the Windows fan boys would stir up iPad killer anticipation and raise Microsoft's fortunes, CEO Steve Ballmer showed off yet another prototype tablet. Despite declaring Apple's iPad's market a "rounding error sized challenge to Windows," Microsoft now sees that Apple is indeed taking significant business sales away from them and their partners.  

The first thing you notice is that the latest iPad killer is 9 x16 in shape, due to the HDTV format screen. RIM picked that format for their failed PlayBook tablets, as well. Not only is the screen real-estate truncated for uses other than watching video, for reasons only Microsoft can fathom, they plan to release two versions of the Surface tablet that are platform incompatible,...

| Read more »
Jun 19
Apple patents range from conducting searches to remote...

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

° Patent number 8205157 involves methods and graphical user interfaces for conducting searches on a portable multifunction device. In accordance with some embodiments, a graphical user interface on a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display includes: an application interface of an application that includes an application interface region with an edge; and a search input area for entering a search query for the application.

° Patent number 8204684 is for adaptive mobile device navigation. Per the patent, adaptive mobile device navigation system, methods, and apparatus provide location information for a mobile device performing location estimation using dead reckoning.

° Patent number 8203094 involves switch assembly instructions. Electronic devices are provided with switch...

| Read more »
Jun 19
Tablet sales will eclipse those of PCs by 2015

The Yankee Group (http://ww.yankeegroup.com) says that tablets in use in the U.S. will climb from 25 million in 2011 to more than 134 million in 2015, with sales eventually eclipsing those of personal computers.

Of course they will. Tablets are less expensive and serve different functions for the most part. Smartphones will outsell tablets, but that doesn't bode ill for the tablet market. We're talking (no pun intended) apples and oranges.

Currently, iPads represent 51% of all tablets owned in the U.S., leaving all other makers battling for less than half the overall market. Still, almost 25% of respondents who intend to buy a tablet in the next six months say they don’t know what brand they will purchase, which presents huge opportunity for manufacturers looking to grow their base, according to the Yankee Group.

Other findings from the research group's report include:

° The...

| Read more »
Jun 18
Greg's Bite: Irritations of the Mac Internet...

By Greg Mills

I woke up crabby with a nagging neck ache this morning. I felt like taking it out on someone deserving and, thus, I sat down and wrote this article. 

Being a Mac user certainly insulates us from many of the ongoing frustrations PC users suffer. There are still things in the Mac Internet cosmos that are not as they ought to be, however. Spam, web pages that don't behave, advertising that is uncontrollably in your face, bad actor companies that still go viral, hackers, malware and advertising from he companies that depend on the fear of malware to survive, to name just a few issues, still rankle my nerves.

Since web sites can tell what hardware you are using to surf their pages, they can target you with platform specific advertising. To me, one of the most irritating such ads is the "Mac Cleaner" pop-under. They manage, at least twice a day, to serve me unwanted pop-unders, despite having pop-ups blocked in the Safari preferences,...

| Read more »
Jun 18
Small cells, Wi-Fi solutions to help offset mobile...

Small cells, Wi-Fi solutions to help offset mobile traffic
The ever increasing amount of mobile traffic is causing some "traffic jams." A new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com) has found that while the level of data delivered to mobile devices is expected to continue to expand dramatically over the next five years, service providers will offload nearly 60% of traffic in that period.

According to the report, service providers are increasingly seeking to reduce the strain on their network caused by the proliferation of connected smart devices by deploying their own WiFi hotspot networks and offering small cell solutions to end-users.

The report, "Mobile Data Offload & Onload: WiFi & Small Cell Strategies 2012-2016," notes that while small cells were developed primarily to enhance network coverage, service providers are increasingly offering them...

| Read more »
 
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