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Aug 18
Greg's Bite: Want to buy Palm?

Posted by Greg Mills

I was somewhat taken back by the news that HP has pulled the plug on the TouchPad, so quickly. That the Palm OS smartphones and computer business were also cut by HP means the shake out of the mobile computing market is beginning in ernest. A massive shift to tablets is underway and when I say tablet, you can read that iPad.

That HP is planning to spin off its computer business is interesting as it was only 10 years ago they bought Compaq for $US25 Billion and became the largest computer maker in the world. Markets change and HP sees the mobile computing business gutting the conventional PC business and with the Palm/TouchPad disaster, they decided to cut their losses.

Apple has been sucking the air out of the room with the magical tablet no one else can match and people are discovering they can live without a PC or laptop. Certainly, there are still applications where a PC or laptop is better, but those situations are...

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Aug 18
Apple patent is for dynamic adjustment of video...

An Apple patent (number 20110202674) for dynamic adjustments of video streams has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to streaming video from a server to a client.

Per the patent, using both short term and long term thinning mechanisms, the server reduces its data transfer rate when bandwidth is reduced and increases its data transfer rate when bandwidth is available. In the short term mechanism, the server will dynamically adjust the transmission rate of the video or the quality of the video based on parameters returned by the client. These parameters include currently-buffered data-size, buffered-data duration, and packet loss rate.

In the long term mechanism, the server will adjust the current maximum quality level allowed depending upon the round trip times of data packets transmitted. This invention decreases client rebuffering and packet loss and increases the efficiency of available bandwidth. The inventors are George P. Su and John K...

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Aug 18
Apple eyeing augmented reality for Map + Compass...

A new Apple patent (number 20110199479) shows that the company plans to expand on its Map + Compass feature on iOS devices with augmented reality.

According to the patent, a user points a handheld communication device to capture and display a real-time video stream. The handheld communication device detects geographic position, camera direction, and tilt of the image capture device. The user sends a search request to a server for nearby points of interest. The handheld communication device receives search results based on the search request, geographic position, camera direction, and tilt of the handheld communication device.

The handheld communication device visually augments the captured video stream with data related to each point of interest. The user then selects a point of interest to visit. The handheld communication device visually augments the captured video stream with a directional map to a selected point of interest in response to the user input. Jaron...

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Aug 18
Greg's Bite: People who live in glass houses....

By Greg Mills

People who live in glass houses .... have a heck of an energy bill. The proposed new Apple store design for Santa Monica, California, will require a waver of energy related building codes as it far exceed the surface area allowed to be glass.

The problem is that in the summer, the new store with a glass roof, will absorb heat from the sun like a giant solar panel. In the winter, the heat will escape through the glass ceiling far faster than with conventional roofing materials.

While there are likely architectural solutions, such as dual pane glass panels and e-coatings that can help prevent energy losses, I would still hate to pay the energy bills for the Santa Monica Apple Store.

Apple is green when it suits them and flagrantly wasteful when something like an all glass building makes a statement. The concept of all glass walls is pretty common in high rise buildings but glass roofs are not so common. The traffic in...

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Aug 18
Blu-ray spending rises 10%

Disc sales continued to plummet throughout the first half of the year, as more consumers opted to rent or stream movies rather than purchase them on DVD or Blu-ray, though the latter is on the rise.

The Digital Entertainment Group reports an 18% drop in disc sales to US$3.9 billion in the first six months of the year. Overall spending dipped 5% to $8.5 billion during the period, with a double-digit gain in rental spending making up for much of the decline in disc sales.

The organization, backed by major studios, attributed the decline to a weaker slate of home entertainment debuts, notes "Reuters" (http://macte.ch/HPu24). However, according to the DEG report, Blu-ray spending rose more than 10% in the period.

Electronic sell-through -- also commonly referred to as digital downloads -- rose 4%, but remain a very small portion of the business, accounting for $270 million in the first six months of...

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Aug 17
Greg's Bite: HP Touch Pad "Like Nothing Else...

By Greg Mills

The illustration is an exploded view of the HP TouchPad.

For those developers thinking about developing apps for the Palm OS, which runs on HP's TouchPad, think a bit longer. Sales figures just are awful on HP's latest iPad killer that isn't. If you thought the Microsoft Kin cell phone was a success, you will really love the HP TouchPad. HP's slogan for the TouchPad, "Like Nothing Else," can sarcastically be interpreted by consumers as "nothing like an Apple iPad."

The Wall Street Journal's "All Things Digital" reports that of the 270,000 HP TouchPads Best Buy ordered, they have sold less than 25,000. Internal reports are that the 25,000 sold number does not include TouchPads that have been sold but returned for various reasons. (See http...

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Aug 17
A future OS X with no printer drivers needed? Sweet

Lots of Apple patents don't necessarily lead to finished products. But I certainly hope that two showing that Apple is working on ways to get rid of printer drivers come to fruition.

Patent number 20110194140 is for a system that supports printing from a computing device. During operation, the system uses a discovery protocol to identify printers that can be accessed by the computing device. Next, the system receives a selection of a printer that can be accessed by the computing device. The system then generates printer data for the print job. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.

The system can use a driverless printing technique, which involves obtaining printer capability information from the selected printer and generating printer data for the selected printer based on the printer capability information. Alternatively, the system can use a printer-specific driver for the selected printer to generate the printer data. The system can also send the print job...

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Aug 16
Apple eyeing ways to improve cameras in iOS devices

A new Apple patent (number 8000598) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is looking at ways of improving the cameras in its iOS devices.


The patent is for a lens baffle -- a lens assembly that includes a brush-like baffle between the lens and a transparent cover. The baffle at least partially surrounds the lens to prevent stray light from entering and causing flare or other image artifacts. If the baffle does not entirely surround the lens structure, an adjustment mechanism may be provided to rotate the baffle so as to "tune" a flare reduction effect. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Cameras, and imaging systems generally, typically use sun shields, such as shades or hoods, for shielding the lens assembly from stray light. Such sun shields protrude from the imaging system, thereby adding both volume and weight. In addition to sun shields, imaging systems may use multiple baffles...

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Aug 16
Apple considering wireless keyboards with cellular...

A new Apple patent (number 7999748) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple is considering integrating cellular antenna under the keys of its laptops and wireless keyboards.

Per the patent, key antennas are provided for an electronic device such as a laptop computer. The electronic device may have radio-frequency transceivers that transmit and receive signals using the key antennas. An antenna resonating element may be mounted beneath a keycap of each key antenna. The antenna resonating element may be spirally wrapped and integrated into the keycap. The key antenna may function as an antenna and may also function as an input key for an electronic device.

A flexible communications path may pass through a hole in a conductive housing of the electronic device and may be used to couple the antenna resonating element to the radio-frequency transceiver. The antenna resonating element may be coupled to the radio-frequency transceiver by a...

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Aug 16
Greg's Bite: Matching Apple's Winning Formula

By Greg Mills

The tech industry is collectively scratching its head trying to figure out just what the Google purchase of Motorola Mobility will mean. The other Android handset makers are now worried Google will favor Motorola with advanced features and that they will be left out of the loop. Uncertainty in business is a powerful thing.

The Apple led legal assault against Android has created concerns that it will take serious revisions in the Android OS and handset modifications to even get the phones imported into the US. The potential for breaking existing Android handsets and apps is worrisome. Android is already fragmented, and customers don't like incompatibilities in a platform.

Microsoft with its poorly received Windows 7 platform is waiting in the wings with Ballmer hoping the shifting sands under the Android platform will give them an edge. Indeed, a number of Android handset makers are looking at hedging their bets and supporting...

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Aug 16
Apple patent hints at OS X, iOS melding

Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek recently said that OS X and iOS would begin merging next year. It's obvious this is going to happen, but I didn't expect it that soon. However, an Apple patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints that Apple is working on such a move sooner rather than later.

Patent number 20110197153 is for user interactions with items displayed on an user interface instead of a device. Techniques for managing user interactions with items on a user interface are disclosed. In one aspect, a representation of an opening is presented in response to touch input. A display object is moved over the opening, and the display object is processed in response to the moving.

In another aspect, touch input pinching two opposite corners of a display object followed by touch input flicking the display object is received and the display object is deleted in response to the inputs. In another aspect, touch input centered over a display object is...

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Aug 15
Organizations realize benefits by adopting 'bring...

If organizations want to keep their employees happy, they'll let them bring their own devices to use at work such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac laptops.

Citrix Systems announced the results of the Citrix Bring-Your-Own (BYO) Index revealing that 92% of IT organizations are aware that employees are using their own devices in the workplace and 94%intend to have a formal BYO policy in place by mid-2013, up from 44% today.

The research found that attracting and retaining the highest quality talent, increased worker productivity and mobility and greater employee satisfaction, as well as reducing IT costs, are the primary drivers of BYO adoption.

“There are two reasons that BYO is being embraced within organizations,” says Mick Hollison, vice president, Desktop Marketing & Strategy, for Citrix. “There are those that are using BYO to keep up with the rapid consumerization of enterprise IT and then there are forward-thinking CIOs who have embraced BYO as a way to...

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Aug 14
Galaxy II, Samsung's iPhone Killer

Posted by Greg MIlls

Ever since iPhone 1 was launched, the competition has been searching of the Holy Grail of technology, a true iPhone killer. So far, the mythological device has never actually been launched, but perhaps, the Samsun Galaxy 2 Android handset has come closest.

Apple has sought to ban the import of Samsung Galaxy tablets and Galaxy touch screen phones as "slavishly stealing the look and feel of Apple products". The US International Trade Commission has taken the case and might issue it's ruing in time to stop Samsung from introducing the hottest Android handset yet, slated for release in the US on August 31.

The Samsung Galaxy 2 is larger, faster and has the newer high speed G4 radio chip set. Samsung intends to offer the new handset at a price identical to Apple's iPhone in the giant US cellular market. If the rest of the world's reaction to the new handset is any indication, the Samsung phone might indeed steal a lot...

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Aug 12
Greg's Bite: Android Platform Fragmenting

By Greg Mills

Apple is certainly on a roll. As the stock market has gyrated the last few days due to the downgrade of US Treasury debt, Apple replaced Mobile/Exon as the most valuable company in the world by market cap. Over the last week or so, Apple got Samsung's new touch screen tablet banned in Australia and Europe. HTC took a hit in the US International Trade Commission and may also face import bans on its Android handsets in the US market.

While the patent infringement suits Apple filed agains all the Android handset makers is drawing blood from a standpoint of infringement and potential damages, the effect is also fragmenting the Android platform. Cohesion and uniformity define a platform and make it attractive to developers.

Android is already fractured into various operating systems that aren't necessarily compatible with all the Android handsets that have come out. Further, apps that run on some Android operating systems might not...

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Aug 12
A year from now, iWeb and iDVD will be gone

I'll be surprised if iWeb and iDVD are still around in 12 months. When MobileMe is discontinued on June 30, 2012, some of its features will be rolled into Apple's iCloud, but iWeb hosting won't be one of them.

With iWeb you can move a site published to MobileMe to another web hosting service (read how to do this at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4686), but that doesn't sound good for Apple's web site creation tool. I've tried to get a comment from Apple's PR department about iWeb's fate, but no answer so far. Heck, I even wrote Steve Jobs hoping to get a terse answer sent from his iPhone, but -- again -- no dice.

The fact that, unlike the other iLife apps, iWeb isn't available for download or purchase at the Mac App Store probably says it all, however. iWeb users should probably be eyeing RapidWeaver (...

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Aug 12
Apple patents involve low image database migration,...

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

Patent number 20110194775 involves the migration of a old image database. Techniques are described for causing digital image data to be interpreted according to a particular technique of a plurality of techniques. According to an embodiment, digital sensor data is received, and user input is received that specifies which technique of a plurality of techniques to use to generate a display that depicts an unmodified image from the sensor data, wherein each technique of the plurality of techniques generates a display from the sensor data in a different manner than each other technique of the plurality of techniques. Nikhil M. Bhatt is the inventor.

Patent number 20110195612 is for low profile plugs. An apparatus, systems, and methods for assembling a plug with a low profile for use with an electronic device are provided. In some...

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Aug 11
Future iPhones may let you compare competing carriers

In the future iPhone users could compare the prices and features of competing carriers and service plans directly on their Apple smartphone, per a new patent for a "Method and Apparatus for Using a Wireless Communication Device with Multiple Service Providers."

The patent involves configuring a mobile wireless communication device using a carrier service configuration profile selected from a set of stored carrier service configuration profiles. Carrier service configuration profiles are selected based on one or more combinations of identifier values stored in the mobile wireless communication device. Carrier service configuration profiles are priority ranked based on a specificity of the one or more combinations of identifier values. Robert Kukuchka, Shuvo Chatterjee, Arun Godfrey Mathias, and Matthew Klahn are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile wireless communication devices, such as a cellular telephone or a wireless...

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Aug 11
Apple eyeing schematic maps for iOS devices

Apple is eyeing a new Maps app for iOS devices with "schematic maps," per a patent that's appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent, "entitled Schematic Maps," involves systems and methods for preparing and presenting schematic maps, which are maps that present information in a format that presents only information that is most relevant to a given situation in order to provide a simple and clear representation sufficient to aid a user in guidance or orientation. The schematic maps as described can be formatted based on the attributes of a display on which they are presented so that the map layout and presentation can be optimized for the particular display. T

The schematic maps can be “distorted” to better illustrate important maps areas in greater detail and using a relatively larger display area while deemphasizing less important map areas by illustrating them in less detail and using a relatively smaller display area, and thus the schematic maps...

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Aug 11
Apple may include projectors into iOS devices

An Apple patent (number 20110197147) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is considering integrating projectors into upcoming iOS devices -- and perhaps Macs, as well.

The patent, entitled "Projected Display Shared Workspaces," involves systems, methods, and devices that are provided for creating a shared workspace where images may be shared between projected displays. In one embodiment, electronic devices each may include a projector that produces a projected display and a camera that detects gestures made with respect to the projected displays.

The electronic devices may interpret gestures on the projected displays to identify image sharing commands for sharing images between the projected displays. The electronic devices may be connected through a communication link that allows the electronic devices to share image data for producing images on any of the projected displays included within the shared workspace. Anthony Y.S. Fai is...

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Aug 11
DealFinders -- and FileMaker Pro's Mac App Store...

A friend of mine recently got an e-mail from AA promoting a new DealFinder application that's compatible with both Mac OS X and Windows. It's designed to help you find better deals on flights. But there's a problem.

My friend went to install it and ran into a little problem: it requires Flash. Someone is not doing their homework and it makes me question their competency.

By the way, have you noticed that while FileMaker Pro's Bento is on the App Store, FileMaker Pro isn't? Strange.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Aug 10
Greg's Bite: Motorola looking at Windows 7

By Greg Mills

The legal problems the Android OS is facing over patent infringement is certain to help alternative smartphone platforms. The large market share Android now holds may soon be divided into market segments going to surviving smartphone platforms. If Apple manages to crush or seriously stumble Google's legally indefensible Android platform, the iOS is sure to be the biggest winner. iOS developers will come out on top.

The epic patent war going on, pitting Apple against every Android handset maker and Google itself facing Oracle, will, at a minimum, force a major recompilation of Android's OS, just to get around Apple patents. Android handsets themselves will also face revisions. Orphaned Android handsets, broken apps and further platform fragmentation may well be the result of the effort to get along with Apple.

Hedging your bet, when the stakes are as high as they are, makes perfect sense. Legal costs fighting Apple around the...

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Aug 10
Is my iServe ready yet?

In the past I've pondered that I wished Apple would release an "iServe." My opinion hasn't changed, even with the impending release of iCloud.

For example, the iPad is a great device, but even the upper end only has 64GB of internal storage. A home server would provide a way for keeping family media assets managed and available.

There are home server choices for the Mac, but all of them could be bettered by an Apple product. The Apple server could also be the next step to venture into another market, home control. For example, if Apple would offer a home climate control to your home server, you or the server could change the temperature in your home from a distance or in accordance with your iCal schedule.

An Apple home server could be a great companion for Macs, iPhones, iPods, iPads and other Apple devices. Heck, put it under the Apple TV division and let's move beyond the "hobby" category. In fact, an iServe would fit in nicely if the rumors are correct and...

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Aug 09
Apple working on 'dark' wake-up methods for...

Apple is working on methods to power up select components of a Mac from a sleep state, per a patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office.


Patent number 7996694 is for a "dark wake," or xemplary embodiments of methods, apparatuses, and systems for powering up select components of a computer from a sleep state, maintaining a network state, and powering down the select components of the computer to return the computer to the sleep state are described. For one embodiment, a network interface and a fan controller receive power during the network state maintenance but a display or audio components do not receive power during the network state maintenance. The inventors are Ethan Bold, Stuart Cheshire, J. Rhoads Hollowell, Joe Liu and Dean R. Reece.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The various embodiments described herein relate to power management of a processing system. In particular, embodiments include the processing system entering a dark...

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Aug 09
Apple wins patent for integrated touch screen

Apple has won a patent for an integrated touch screen from the US Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent (number 7995041), 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 electrodes, conductive wires/pathways, etc., of the display circuitry in the display system, and...

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Aug 09
What happened to making FaceTime an open industry...

During his 2010 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote, CEO Steve Jobs said, "We’re going to the standards bodies, starting tomorrow, and we’re going to make FaceTime an open industry standard.” So has any progress been made in this area?

In case you're not familiar with it, FaceTime is video calling that uses Wi-Fi. It was first introduced with the iPhone 4. FaceTime for Mac makes it possible to communicate with anyone on an iPhone 4, iPod touch, or Mac from your Mac. If you use one of the new MacBook Pros you get 720p clarity.

All you need is an Apple ID and an email address and you’re ready to roll. To start a video call with someone, find her entry in the contacts list. FaceTime works with Address Book so you don’t have to enter your contacts from scratch.

FaceTime is excellent technology. But Apple needs to rely on all computers -- Windows included -- to support the system in order to really become the revolutionary offering Apple has made it out to...

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Aug 09
Apple patents involve level shifter, NBTI reduction...

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

Patent number 7994820 is for a level shifter with embedded logic and low minimum voltage. Per the patent, in one embodiment, a level shifter circuit may include a shift stage that also embeds transistors that implement a logic operation on two or more inputs to the level shifter. At least one of the inputs may be sourced from circuitry that is powered by a different power supply than the level shifter and circuitry that receives the level shifter output.

Additionally, the level shifter includes one or more dummy transistors that match transistors the perform the logic operation, to improve symmetry of the level shifter circuit. In some embodiments, certain design and layout rules may be applied to the level shifter circuit to limit variation in the symmetry over various manufacturing variations. The inventors are Brian J. Campbell, Vincent R....

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Aug 08
Greg's Bite: when "open source" isn...

By Greg Mills

While much has been written about the Apple vs Android patent war going on in courts and trade commissions around the world, there hasn't been nearly as much written about Oracle's suit directly against Google over using Java code without a license. Apple has chosen to attack all the handset manufacturers in separate actions rather than going after Google, head on. Both points of attack are beginning to have some effect, if the level of retoric coming from Google is any indication.

Oracle is suing Google for using patented Java code without a license in the Android OS. The head lawyer at Google was famously quoted recently whining that in effect, patents shouldn't be applied against open source software. One has to imagine if it were Google's patents being infringed, the story would be quite different.

The allure of using the Android OS, from a handset maker's point of view, is that many of the platform elements required to...

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Aug 08
US consumers want more Wi-Fi services from mobile...

Seventy four percent of smartphone users in the United States are interested in a mobile operator-provided service that uses Wi-Fi to provide lower cost calls, according to a recent MarketTools Zoomerang survey of 420 smartphone owners. The survey, commissioned by Kineto Wireless, also showed 72% of smartphone users are interested in an application that uses Wi-Fi to improve cellular coverage.

Additional highlights from the online survey conducted May 2011 include:

Forty-four percent of iPhone owners would “definitely” be interested in an application that could be used to boost mobile coverage; and 47% would “definitely” be interested in a Wi-Fi service offering discounted calling.

Thirty percent have smartphones with a Google Android operating system (OS); 26% use iOS; and 22% use a RIM OS.

Nearly nine out of 10 (89%) of respondents have smartphones with Wi-Fi.

Seventy-seven percent have Wi-Fi at home; 54% have it at their place of work.

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Aug 06
Greg's Bite: Microsoft Mobile 7 fades

Posted by Greg Mills

Microsoft slept at the switch for so long, when they finally got into the smartphone operating system business many anayists speculated it was just too late. That may well be true, despite Microsoft throwing money hand over fist at the development of Windows Mobile 7. Things have not gone well lately for Windows 7.

Desperation and plenty of money flowing from the Windows PC operating system has resulted in very questionable decisions by Microsoft management. One of the most interesting was the deal Microsoft made with Nokia. Instead of selling rights to Mobile 7 to a desperate handset company, that had just given up on their own mobile OS, Ballmer, sensing blood in the water, gave Nokia 1 Billion dollars US to bribe them to not go with Android. Android would have made more sense, but heck, 1 Billion dollars cash and the promise of further development of the Microsoft Mobile OS was an offer Nokia couldn't resist.

That...

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Aug 05
Is a 'premium' iPad 2 coming? I doubt it

Apple has begun production on an incremental upgrade for the iPad 2, presenting the possibility of the first instance of mainstream and high-end iPad models, according to Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar. Maybe, but I'm dubious.

A "professional" iPad would have incremental improvements and possibly appeal to segments such as publishing, Kumar says in a note to clients -- as reported by "CNET News" (http://macte.ch/53YCJ).

"Apple is ... expected to roll out a premium version of iPad 2--a higher resolution screen, front/rear- facing HD cameras -- in the current quarter," he says. Because Apple won't "sunset" the current iPad 2, it will be a model that "probably appeals to the publishing vertical and some other select segments," Kumar adds.

I don't see this happening. Apple isn't going to confuse the market with a pro iPad in addition to the iPad 2. If a new iPad is introduced this year, it...

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Aug 04
Apple eyeing ways to improve air flow in upcoming Macs

A new Apple patent (number 20110189004) shows that the company is working on ways to improve air flow in upcoming Macs.

The patent involves a fan inlet and method. method and apparatus to improve air flow in an air circulating fan assembly by forming an inlet opening in a fan assembly is disclosed. A static air pressure profile is calculated along a top portion of the fan assembly configured to operate in an enclosure.

The shape of a section of the inlet opening in the top portion of the fan assembly is changed based on a pressure contour of the calculated static air pressure profile. The method is repeated iteratively one or more times using an inlet opening changed by a previously calculated static air pressure profile when calculating a subsequent static air pressure profile.

The inlet opening is positioned in the top surface of the fan assembly so that the centroid of the inlet opening is laterally offset with respect to the rotational axis of an impeller...

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Aug 04
Apple working on inductive charging system for...

Apple is investigating ways to create an inductive charging system for devices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, per a patent (number 20110188677) for "using an audio cable as an inductive charging coil" at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

According to Apple, the disclosed embodiments relate to a technique for inductively charging an electronic device. This technique involves winding an audio cable for the electronic device around a charging mechanism multiple times so that one or more conductors in the audio cable form an inductive receiving coil.

Next, a magnetic field is created through the charging mechanism to induce a current in the inductive receiving coil. Finally, the induced current in the inductive receiving coil is used to charge a rechargeable battery for the electronic device. The inventors are Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Anna-katrina Shedletsky, and Stephen Brian Lynch.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Rechargeable...

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Aug 04
Tablets will overtake consumer computers, but so what?

Tablet sales will overtake consumer desktop and notebook computer sales, according to Dr. Joseph Reger, Fujitsu's chief technology officer. He may be right, but I think that, in the long run, it's no big deal. At least for Apple.

According to "The Register" (http://macte.ch/zXRLI), Reger thinks tablet sales are going to cannibalize consumer desktop and notebook sales, because consumers want to consume content more than they want to create it with a keyboard and mouse. Reger cites the success of iPad as evidence of this. He's convinced that the "disadvantages" of the computer will help ensure that tablet devices sales will overtake consumer computer sales in 2016 or so, notes "The Register."

He's probably right, but those of us interested in content creation will still need a computer. The tablet is good at many things, but it can't handle all the chores a desktop can.

Besides, the iPad looks to...

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Aug 03
Greg's Bite: Explorer IQs story was bogus?

By Greg Mills

I was amused by a recent story that was picked up by major news sources as proven fact: that Microsoft Internet Explorer users were less intelligent than those who use other browsers. =CNN, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, Forbes and other major news outlets were also taken in by the hoax. Shades of April Fools' Day! It all seemed so logical and smacked of serious research. That most people bought the premise is quite telling. (See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14386833.)

People who tend to use software with a generally bad reputation, with constant malware attacks specifically targeting it, are as smart as people who use a browser that almost never has such problems? Who is spoofing whom? While the story seems to have been an elaborate hoax, intelligence is measured in a lot of different ways. Self-flagellation has...

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Aug 03
iTunes overhaul? It's about time

Rumor has it that iTunes will soon be overhauled, possibly resulting in full integration with the company’s upcoming cloud-based storage service, iCloud, reports "Digital Trends" (http://macte.ch/FoqI9). If an overhaul is planned, it's about time.

According to a post on iDownloadBlog, iTunes “will be revamped from the ground up,” resulting in a slicker and cleaner interface compared to previous versions. “The basic layout of the iTunes UI hasn’t changed since the first version,” the post says. “This new update will have a completely different UI and better iCloud integration. So we’re not looking at a simple lick of paint here; more of a total rebuild."

iTunes needs a major overhaul or else a new name. In fact, it should be broken up into several different apps as has happened on iOS devices.

When iTunes was launched in 1999, it was a simple music player with the ability to do MP3 conversions....

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Aug 02
A note about Lion and multiple Cinema Display...

"MacNews/MacTech" reader John Kitchen recently alerted me to a, er, situation, for lack of a better work, involving OS X 7 and Cinema Displays.

With the new 27-inch iMac, some pros and power users may wish to connect two 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays for a massive amount of screen real estate. This set-up works as expected in Snow Leopard, but Lion is a different story.

"Take the case of the Aperture (just as one example) user who likes to see his/her work in full screen detail on the center screen, while having access to, say, Mail, Safari, the Aperture User Manual and the APTS training for Aperture certification on the other screens," John says. "Makes sense, right? While this works just fine with Snow Leopard, under Lion, the second and third screen contents is overlayed with an impenetrable grey linen pattern, which reduces those displays to being very expensive fake linen.  There is no way to simultaneously view all three screens with any screen in full...

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Aug 02
Apple patents involve product design, iMovie, motion,...

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

Patent 7,992,097 is for select drag and drop operations on video thumbnails across clip boundaries and involves iMovie. A computer-implemented method includes displaying, within a user interface in a digital media system, a media pane, and a project pane, displaying, within the media pane, a thumbnail group representing a media item, the thumbnail group comprising one or more thumbnails, enabling a user to select, from the thumbnail group, a segment of the media item, and enabling a user to transfer the selected segment to the project pane. Randy Ubillos is the inventor.

Patent 7,990,398 is for matching movement behavior in motion graphics and involves Apple's Motion software. Computer-implemented methods and media bearing instructions for matching movements of objects are described. In one example, the method can include...

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Aug 01
Greg's Bite:Robots, Browsers and Demand for Apple...

Posted by Greg Mills

Robots to replace Chinese workers?
The assembly line in China got a rude wake-up call from Foxconn's founder recently. Terry Gou has announced that he intends to replace up to 1 Million hard working assembly line workers with robots, within three years. The economics of robots can be pretty compelling. The cost, maintenance and installation of robotic assembly line automation can be very competitive with human workers. See: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/china/2011-07/30/c_131018764.htm

However, given the wages of Foxconn workers in China running at about US $175 a month, one has to ask why doesn't Apple gear up with a hoard of robots and move assembly back to the Untied States? If the economics of automating makes sense for Foxconn in China, why not...

| Read more »
Aug 01
The Northern Spy: Lions, finances and a tech rant

By Rick Sutcliff

The Lion no longer sleeps tonight but has been released. This update will perhaps go a little more slowly than some, because of the large number of applications out there that require Rosetta to run under OS X -- an option no longer available under Lion.

The Spy himself has some such, and they have conveniences and/or functionality that has not yet been provided in newer applications. Besides, he has other fish to fry. How times have changed since he was a beta-testing, high risk adopter. The latest cat is not a high priority for him. Indeed, he has more interest in keeping his iPod Touch up to date with the latest and greatest, and has become far more conservative with his main work platform, where he needs rock solid stability with a suite of applications that do the job, and never fail.

Meanwhile, back at the financial statement,Apple recently released yet another quarterly result that blew...

| Read more »
Aug 01
Location analytics market to reach $9 billion in 2016

As a result of the recent “locationgate” controversy (centering on Apple’s and others’ logging of the location of mobile devices as they are used by consumers) the location-based services (LBS) and advertising (LBA) markets have come under intense scrutiny, with privacy legislation a major focus.

However, ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com) believes that this temporary debate won't prevent the future success of location-based services, marketing and advertising, all of which will be based on location analytics -- the aggregation and analysis of location information to identify trends that will enable new services and more effective advertising.”

The firm forecasts size of the location analytics market to reach US$9 billion in 2016. At the moment, the initial LBA trials are largely focused on geofencing, with impressive results. However, the real power of LBA will come through social,...

| Read more »
Jul 29
Greg's Bite: Apple vs HTC, S3 Patents invalid!

Posted By Greg Mills

Recently it came out that HTC won one in the legal mega-spat with Apple. HTC had just paid $300,000,000 to S3 for five patents, two of which, had been just found to be infringed by Apple in a separate infringement complaint by the US International Trade Commission. Eager to have something to hold over Apple, HTC bought the patents, apparently not knowing they had just been found to be invalid by the US Patent Office in a re-examination of the patents.

See: http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/s3_patents_apple_violates_rules_u... While this article mixes legal terms incorrectly, the basic information is sound. The correct term for issued patents that are later found to be "invalid" is not that they are "unpatentable". The term "...

| Read more »
Jul 29
Macs with double-high resolution displays may be...

OS X Lion incorporates support for displays packing four times as many pixels as they do today. So perhaps we'll see Macs with their own version of the Retina Display soon.

Currently the "HiDPI" mode remains inaccessible unless you've downloaded Apple's Xcode software development tool. It contains a graphics test application called Quartz Debug and it enables HiDPI modes -- which allow developers to supply 2x-enlarged images to support double-high resolution displays -- in Lion's Displays control panel.

Lion features icons in sizes up to 1024×1024, and a desktop background at a resolution of 3200×3200. Like the iPhone 4′s Retina Display, HiDPi modes mean that user interface elements will remain the same size, but everything will be twice the resolution and twice as detailed.

Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 3840 x 2160 resolution. The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440 resolution. Such a display requires quite a bit of processing...

| Read more »
Jul 28
Patents show Apple has 3D on its mind

Two new Apple patents (number 20110175902 and 20110182520) show that 3D is on Apple's collective mind. The former is for a multilayer display device.

Said includes a first layer operable to display a first display signal comprising a first group of data, a second layer positioned in front of the first layer and operable to display a second display signal comprising a second group of data, and a first graphics processing unit connected to the first layer. The first graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the first display signal to the first layer.

The multilayer display system further includes a second graphics processing unit connected to the second layer. The second graphics processing unit may be configured to transmit the second display signal to the second layer. Peter H. Mahowald is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic components, devices and/or systems utilize two-dimensional display...

| Read more »
Jul 28
Future Apple portables may have jelly rolls --...

A new Apple patent (number 20110123844) shows that Apple is eyeing ways to improve battery life in its laptops and iOS devices via a battery with multiple "jelly rolls" enclosed in a single pouch.

Disclosed embodiments in the patent -- entitled "pressure-relief mechanism to improve safety in lithium-polymer battery cells" -- relate to a battery cell which includes a weakness for relieving pressure. This battery cell includes a jelly roll comprising layers which are wound together, including a cathode with an active coating, a separator and an anode with an active coating. The jelly roll also includes a first conductive tab coupled to the cathode and a second conductive tab coupled to the anode. The jelly roll is enclosed in a flexible pouch, wherein the first and second conductive tabs extend through seals in the pouch to provide terminals for the battery cell.

This pouch includes a weakness which yields when internal pressure in the pouch exceeds a threshold to...

| Read more »
Jul 28
Apple, the auto industry needs your help

Perhaps Apple should approach car companies with a new division to create passenger environments. 

In an online journal (http://macte.ch/iFsXv), Alan Cooper, founder of the Cooper interactive design consultancy, says the Ford Motor Company has "just convincingly demonstrated that being an excellent industrial manufacturer doesn’t automatically mean that you are an excellent maker of digital technology."

Despite Ford’s improvements in manufacturing quality, their overall ratings fell drastically this year due solely to the poor software interaction on their dashboards, he says. What's more, a recent article (http://macte.ch/7mRSD) in the "New York Times" discusses Ford’s plummeting fall in user rankings this year, focusing the blame on their new touch screen interface.

"Primarily, the steep decline was attributed to consumer...

| Read more »
Jul 28
Apple patents involve cable structures, headphones

Several Apple patents involving cable structures and headphones have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patents number 20110180302 and 201108303 are for compression molded cable structures and methods for making them. Per the patents, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a jack, headphones, and/or a microphone and one or more cables that interconnect the non-cable components. The cables can be manufactured using different approaches. The inventors are Jonathan Aase, Paul Choinirere and Greg Dunham.

Patents number 20110180962 and 2011082459 involve molded splitter structures and systems and methods for making the same. Per the patent, wired headsets are commonly used with many portable electronic devices such as portable music players and mobile phones. Headsets can include non-cable components such as a...

| Read more »
Jul 27
Greg's Bite: high tech patent suits

By Greg Mills

The tech news has had a lot of stories regarding patent enforcement suits lately. Apple is plaintiff in a number of suits against almost every other electronic device company out there. The smartphone war is being fought in both the market place and in the court room.

You have certainly noticed the notation something like US 7,554,332 or Patent Pending on many of the products you buy. Those numbers are US patent serial numbers as some aspect or design element of the product has been found by the US Patent Office to be not obvious and both novel and useful. US Patents have evolved over the years, but, actually, the right to patent novel inventions is specifically provided for in the US Constitution.

The US government has the sole authority to issue US patents. The US Patent office wades through hundreds of thousands of patent applications each year. A lot of patent applications are denied, and a patent is never issued for the...

| Read more »
Jul 27
The value of 'freemium' games -- and the...

Digital distribution of games is disrupting the retail portable game category.  At the heart of this disruption is the proliferation of iOS and Android devices, which is doubling as a powerful portable gaming platform and challenging Nintendo DS and Sony PSP for gamer mindshare, according to the folks at Flurry (http://www.flurry.com), a mobile application analytics and recommendation-engine company.

Now if only my dream of having the ability to "upsize" iOS games for the Mac would come true.

In previous reports (2008 - 2009, 2009 - 2010), Flurry measured that iOS’s and Android’s revenue share of the U.S. portable game software category exploded to 34% in 2010 from just 1% in 2008. Over this same time period, the company calculated that Nintendo’s U.S. portable game revenue share contracted to 57% from 75%. 

All the while, Nintendo chief executive, Satoru Iwata, has remained outspoken, calling...

| Read more »
Jul 26
Mac will top 12% US market share within a year

The Mac's share of the U.S. personal computer market rose to nearly 11% during the second quarter of 2011, with Apple representing the only major computer manufacturer to report double-digit growth in a market that contracted by more than 4%. My prediction: by this time next year Apple will have 12-14% of the personal computer market in the US and will be in the top five global manufacturers.

The IDC research group says that Apple shipped 1.917 million Macs in the US during the three-month period that ended in June. That's a 14.7% increase over the year-ago quarter. That made Apple the number three computer vendor with a 10.7% market share. That's up from 9% during the year-ago quarter.

Rival research firm Gartner also gave the Mac 10.7% of the US computer market, but said Apple shipped 1.814 million systems stateside. Per Gartner, that represents 8.5% growth compared to its 1.671 million actual shipments during the year-ago quarter.

Neither research group...

| Read more »
Jul 26
Apple granted patent for H.264/AVC coder

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,986,731) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an H.264/AVC coder incorporating rate and quality controller.

A rate control system is disclosed for video coding applications. The rate controller assigns a quantization parameter for video data in a picture in response to complexity indicators indicative of spatial complexity, motion complexity and/or bits per pel of the picture.

A virtual buffer based quantizer parameter is proposed based on a virtual buffer fullness analysis and a target rate estimate, which is derived from the complexity indicators. A second quantizer parameter is proposed from a linear regression analysis of quantizer parameters used to code previously coded pictures of similar type (e.g., I pictures, P pictures or B pictures).

A coding policy decision unit defines a final quantizer parameter from a comparison of the two proposed quantizer parameters. The inventors are Barin Haskell, Adriana...

| Read more »
 
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