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Sep 10
Nearly 59 million mobile WiMAX subscribers predicted...

According to new projections from ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com), the number of subscribers to mobile WiMAX services will approach 59 million in 2015. And I think the technology will come to Macs in the not-too-distant future.

That represents a positive forecast in light of recent economic conditions, although research analyst Xavier Ortiz notes, “WiMAX’s growth has not been as early or as strong as many would have hoped several years ago.”

The recession certainly played a role, making investors wary and delaying some deployments, he says. On top of that, delays in the formation of the new Clearwire have constrained the rest of the ecosystem to some degree, from subscribers to devices and chipsets. The factors impeding WiMAX’s growth haven’t been technological, according to Ortiz, but economic and psychological.

"The recession certainly played a role, making investors wary...

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Sep 09
Apple eyeing ways to beef up song options, menus on...

Two Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple wants to beef up the viewing options in iTunes on Macs.

Patent 20100229088 is for graphical representations of music using varying levels of detail. Systems, methods, and machine-readable media are disclosed for providing graphical representations of music of varying levels of detail. An electronic device can determine the attributes of a first type (e.g., genre) associated with the music.

The electronic device can display a graphical representation of the music using the attributes. The graphical representation can be based on a spiral, helix, map, or any other geometric shape or curve. A user can zoom into a portion of the graphical representation to select the music of a particular genre in which to view more detailed information. In response, the electronic device can determine the attributes of a second, more detailed type (e.g., artist) associated with the selected music...

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Sep 09
Apple patent involves duplex audio for mobile devices

An Apple patent (number 2010027643) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office involving duplex audio for a mobile communication device and accessory.

Duplex audio is provided for a mobile communication device and an accessory. In some embodiments, the accessory can selectably operate in a duplex audio mode, concurrently sending audio to and receiving audio from the mobile communication device, or in another audio mode. In duplex audio mode, the accessory can enable its internal audio processing operations (e.g., echo cancellation) while the mobile communication device disables its corresponding internal operations or vice versa. The mobile communication device can control when the accessory transitions into and/or out of duplex audio mode. The inventor s are Jason Y. Yew and Lawrence G. Bolton.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates in general to mobile communication devices that interoperate with...

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Sep 09
Apple working on dual mode technology for LCD screens

An Apple patent (number 20100225657) for systems and methods for operating a display has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's for LCD screens on computers and TVs to be able to run in two different modes.

Embodiments of the electronic device include a display driver with the ability to receive image data in a streaming display mode or a frame-buffered display mode. In some embodiments, the electronic device may switch seamlessly between the two display modes based on which display mode will provide reduced power usage given the type and/or variability of the image data being received. The inventors are Kapil V. Sakariya and Wei H. Yao.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are commonly used as screens or displays for a wide variety of electronic devices, including consumer electronics such as televisions, computers, and handheld devices (e.g., cellular telephones, audio and video players, gaming...

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Sep 09
Apple wants to improve camera features on its idevices

An Apple patent (number 20100225429) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows the company is looking at ways and accessories to improve the camera features of the iPhone and iPod touch (and probably the next gen iPad).

Systems and methods are providing for aligning an accessory to an electronic device interface. In particular, some accessories such as optical filters and lens require specific alignment to operative properly. Using a first magnet array positioned around the periphery of the interface and a second magnet array positioned within the accessory, a user can position an accessory on the electronic device and rotate the accessory until the magnets of each array exert a force on an opposing magnet of the other array. By distributing the magnets in a manner that includes no repeating segments, only a single alignment of the accessory relative to the interface can allow the magnet arrays to be properly in opposition. Richard Tsai is the inventor...

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Sep 09
App Store needs a Playlist feature

I haven't yet decided if iTunes 10 is, for me, an good upgrade or not. Quite frankly, I doubt I'll use Ping. I'm on Facebook and that's about enough social networking for ome.

However, it occurred to me that the Apple App Store needs playlists like the Music Store has. In other words, if I'm a very successful real estate agent that others are trying to emulate, and I want to share my setup, I should be able to create a playlist of apps that others can see.

Now maybe this will be taken care of once Ping adds Apps, Books, etc. In that case, I might use Ping after all.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 08
There's such a thing as too much love for your...

Samsung Mobile has announced the results of a new online survey that showed working Americans who own smart phones are breaking old boundaries on when and where it’s appropriate to make and take business calls. And some folks are a bit too enamored of the phones.

According to the results, these professionals conduct their business far, far away from the office setting including while on vacation, the bathroom, during a date, at church or even during -- now, c'mon, folks, get a life -- sex. Respondents admit the need to stay connected and productive with their jobs led them to take their business calls into more private settings than ever before, such as a trip to the bathroom or during an intimate moment with their significant other.

Close to three quarters (72%) were comfortable taking calls on the commode, while at least one out of every 10 people came clean about doing business over the phone at a funeral (16%) or in the throes of passion (10%). Other taboo...

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Sep 08
The Apple TV as game console

The new Apple TV has met with a very mixed bag of advance notices (I have one ordered; when it arrives I can give you an in-depth report). However, "VentureBeat" (http://games.venturebeat.com/2010/09/06/how-apple-could-undermine-consol...) thinks the device could compete with game consoles if Apple plays its cards right. They may be onto something.

"VentureBeat" says that all Apple would have to do is launch an Apple TV version of the Apple App Store on Apple TV with downloadable game apps. The article says that Apple might "further disrupt the business by selling its own Apple-branded connected TVs with Apple TV built right in." Since Apple has cool touchscreen and motion-sensing controls in its iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone devices, it already has lots of...

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Sep 07
Apple patents involve file extensions, latency...

Three Apple patents in addition to those already covered have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7792881 is for a method and apparatus for managing file extensions in a digital processing system. An exemplary method of managing file extensions in a digital processing system involves a user interface and a plurality of files, each file having a name that comprises a filename and an extension. The method includes associating a file with an indicator which is user selectable for a single file in a plurality of files in said digital processing system and which indicates how to display an extension of the file, and assigning a value to the indicator, and displaying a displayed name of the file in the user interface in a style determined by the indicator. The inventors are Scott Forstall and Edward D. Voas.

Patent number 7792024 is for IO Latency Reduction. It involves an...

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Sep 07
Apple wins QuickTime-related patent

Apple has won a QuickTime related patent from the US Patent & Trademark Office for "One-Click Full Screen Video." The invention provides a method and system for playing full-screen video on a user computer.

The method includes displaying in the user interface at the user computer a web page containing at least one link to electronic video file, selecting the link to request the video file, downloading the video file to user computer in response to the request, detecting by the user computer receipt of the video file, opening in the user interface to window of the video player in full-screen mode in response to the detecting, and reading the video file by the player to play the video in the window.

A feature of the present invention is that the video player may not have its preferences preset by the user to open in any particular mode. The mode in which the video player opens will be determined by the downloaded video file. The inventors are Robert Douglas Werner...

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Sep 07
Apple patent is for dock fixture for testing handheld...

An Apple design patent (number D623,128) for a dock fixture for testing handheld electronic devices (top graphic) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The inventors are Richard Hung Minh, Tang Yew Tan and Michael M. Lee.

Apple has also been granted a design patent (D62,136) for a USB power module (bottom graphic). The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

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Sep 07
There's such a thing as too much love for your...

Samsung Mobile has announced the results of a new online survey that showed working Americans who own smart phones are breaking old boundaries on when and where it’s appropriate to make and take business calls. And some folks are a bit too enamored of the phones.

According to the results, these professionals conduct their business far, far away from the office setting including while on vacation, the bathroom, during a date, at church or even during -- now, c'mon, folks, get a life -- sex. Respondents admit the need to stay connected and productive with their jobs led them to take their business calls into more private settings than ever before, such as a trip to the bathroom or during an intimate moment with their significant other.

Close to three quarters (72%) were comfortable taking calls on the commode, while at least one out of every 10 people came clean about doing business over the phone at a funeral (16%) or in the throes of passion (10%). Other taboo...

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Sep 07
Greg's bite: my thoughts on the Apple TV

By Greg Mills

In preparing this article, I have come to view Apple TV/Netflix as not a replacement for Dish but as a cheap "pay for view" movie channel option to replace a satellite channel I am currently subscribed to.

I am going to drop one movie channel (US$12 a month) to pay for a subscription to NetFlix ($8.99 + $2.00 for HD). That revelation allowed me to make a personal decision to go ahead and buy the Apple TV device and subscribe to NetFlix. Here is my take on this.

As was anticipate by many in the Apple fan base, Steve Jobs recently announced a new and improved version of Apple TV last week. The new device is much smaller and more powerful than the previous version, but still does not support full 1080HD. It steams up to 720p video from either Wi-Fi or ethernet, so connecting it to the web is easy.  

You can stream content from a computer through Wi-Fi to the AppleTV box or directly connect the Apple TV box to the web, through...

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Sep 06
Is 4K the next big thing in HDTV instead of 3D?

Toshiba working on a 3D TV that doesn't require glasses, and this could be a game changer for 3D technology, if it works. However, some folks think that Quad HD/4K could be the next big thing in HDTVs. And -- who knows? -- it might filter over into Macs.

As noted by "ZDNet" (http://macosg.me/2/sn), Quad HD/4K provides more than four times the resolution of 1080p HD at 3840 x 2160 (slightly less than the 4K digital cinema standard, but way more than the 1920 x 1080 of today's HDTVs). While it will require its own set of infrastructure updates (new TVs, additional bandwidth to get the content into your home, etc.), it won’t require any pair of glasses on the end user’s face.

In August Marseille Networks demoed its its complete, end to end 4K-over-HDMI prototyping system, stimulating the rapid adoption of Quad-HD resolution in Blu-ray and audio video receivers (AVRs) for the next wave of high definition...

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Sep 04
Why iTunes Ping stinks... but has potential

While 1 million people have already enabled Ping in iTunes 10, plenty of picky early adopters have found it lacking.

On Wednesday, following a keynote address from Steve Jobs, Apple released iTunes 10, the latest version of the popular media management software. One of its major features is "Ping," a new music social network from Apple.

According to an Apple press release, over 1 million people have already enabled Ping in iTunes 10, making it a pretty successful launch by most standards. Nevertheless, plenty of Ping's pickier early adopters have found it to be lacking in a number of ways, citing major perceived failures and sundry minor annoyances, including the following.

1) No way to "like" or "post" podcasts on your profile. This is a major FAIL for anyone who...

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Sep 03
The looming battle for the TV OS

Andrew Eisner, Retrevo.com's director of Community and Content, predicts the next platform for apps will be connected TVs. Retrevo sees a living room where TV viewers click on a weather app or sports app instead of watching the local news.

A home where families play a board game together on the TV using the Monopoly app, or stay in touch with their friends with a FaceBook app, all from the comfort of the living room couch. Following are some of Eisner's thoughts on the looming battler for the TV OS.

"Microsoft unlikely to win this battle

"Unlike the battle for the desktop OS it doesn't look like Microsoft has much of a chance of winning this battle for the TV OS. Competition over who will provide a TV OS is heating up with Google TV getting set to take on all comers for control of the living room. Meanwhile Apple may soon lob a salvo with an updated version of their Apple TV that will plant Apple iPhone/iPad apps firmly in the living room TV...

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Sep 02
Apple patent involves rearranging idevice apps on your...

An Apple patent (number 20100223563) for remotely defining an user interface for a handheld device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves using your Mac to arrange the icons on an idevice and also thinks at an Apple watch, though I'm not holding my breath on this.

In some embodiments, a host computer can be used by a user to arrange icons among a plurality of home screens or views. For example, a representation of each of the home screens available at a handheld device can be displayed on a host computer along with a representation of the available icons usable at the handheld device. A user can select representation of icons at the host computer and arrange the icons among the representations of the home screens. Icons and/or home screens can be added and/or removed. The arrangement created by the user at the host computer display can be sent to the handheld device when completed. James Green is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and...

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Sep 02
Apple patent relates to GarageBand features

An Apple patent (number 20100223400) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office regarding features -- both present and future -- of Apple's GarageBand app. The app is for correlating changes in audio.

Exemplary embodiments of methods and apparatuses to correlate changes in one audio signal to another audio signal are described. A first audio signal is outputted. A second audio signal is received. The second audio signal may be stored in a memory buffer. The first audio signal is correlated to conform to the second audio signal. The first audio signal may be dynamically correlated to match with the second audio signal while the second audio signal is received. At least in some embodiments, a size of a musical time unit of the second audio signal is determined to correlate the first audio signal. At least in some embodiments, the adjusted first audio signal is stored in another memory buffer. Chris Moulios is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary...

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Sep 02
Patents relate to Apple TV updates -- and perhaps its...

Three Apple patent applications at the US Patent & Trademark Office tie in with Wednesday's Apple TV announcements and may point to future developments. They describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Patent number 20080301260 is for a method and user interface for accessing groups of media assets. Improved systems and methods to navigate, browse, search and/or playback digital media assets (e.g., media items) hosted on a media server are disclosed. One embodiment of the invention pertains to a user interface arrangement, such as a hierarchical menu system, that facilitates navigation, browsing and playing of media items remotely stored on a media server.

The user interface arrangement enables user scrolling or browsing with respect to a list or set of information pertaining to media items, where the list or set can be expanded to include information for additional media items that are subsequently...

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Sep 02
Some musings on yesterday's Apple announcements

Now that I'd had a few hours to think about all the announcements from Apple at yesterday's special event, here are some random musings about them.

Despite rumors of the iPod shuffle's demise, it lives on. For now. I still think that its days are numbered, now that the nano has gotten so small. Eventually, I think we'll see a 2GB nano replacing the shuffle entirely.

Hmmm, the new nano trades its camera for a touchscreen. Is that a good swap?

The iPod classic is still around, but received no update. As soon as the iPod touch reaches 128GB of capacity (it's only half that right now) you can bid adieu to the classic, which Apple seems to regard as the ugly ducking in the iPod line-up.

The new iPod touch sounds great, but I was hoping for a 128GB version now. And if the teeny nano can have an FM radio feature, why not the touch? Yes, that's right, I want it all and I want it now!

As for the Apple TV update, overall, I think it's a great step forward....

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Sep 02
Editorial: The looming battle for the TV OS

By Andrew Eisner
Retrevo.com's director of Community and Content

Everyone loves apps! A library of 225,000 iPhone/iPad apps and five billion downloads are impressive numbers for such a young platform and confirm the fast growing interest in apps-based computing.

Not only can apps run on smartphones, tablets and laptops but we predict the next platform for apps will be connected TVs. We see a living room where TV viewers click on a weather app or sports app instead of watching the local news. A home where families play a board game together on the TV using the Monopoly app, or stay in touch with their friends with a FaceBook app, all from the comfort of the living room couch.

Microsoft unlikely to win this battle

Unlike the battle for the desktop OS it doesn't look like Microsoft has much of a chance of winning this battle for the TV OS. Competition over who will provide a TV OS is heating up with Google TV getting...

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Sep 01
The Northern Spy: iOS 4, iBooks, Apple's special...

iOS4

iOS4 has recently been released to the iPod, providing the new features to a larger number of existing Apple customers. Of most importance to the Spy were multitasking and folders, the former in operational terms, the latter in organizational.

He wasted no time in reorganizing his five home pages down to two, with most applications in folders. To do this, hold a touch until the wiggle effect starts, then drop one app on top of another. A folder with both will be created, which can then readily be renamed to suit, and additional apps can be dragged into it. Most people will wonder how they got along without application folders.

Double clicking the bottom application switching button is now supposed to produce the multitasking bar, providing quick access to currently running processes. However, within individual applications the implementation of this feature is inconsistent. Even within the same application, sometimes a single press...

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Sep 01
What I'm expecting at today's Apple event

Apple will hold a special event today at 1 pm (Pacific) and speculation has been rampant about what will be announced. I've read pretty much all the predictions, mulled 'em over and decided this is what we'll see -- and won't see.

We will see:

° A new iPod touch with a front-facing camera, higher rez display and support for FaceTime;

° A revamped iPod nano that lacks a click wheel;

° A web-based version of the iTunes Store that will -- as "All Things D" put it -- "sync up easily with the rest of the Internet and make it much easier for customers to share their musical tastes (but not songs) with friends." It could offer easier integration for services like Twitter and Facebook, allowing users to link to the store and share playlists, songs and albums.

°An Apple TV in a sleeker case with more storage, cheaper TV show rentals, running iOS with Apple TV specific apps available.

We won't see:

° iLife '11 or iWork '11 (but look for these...

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Aug 31
Apple patents range from image rendering to icons

Apple has been granted eight patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.
Patent number 7,788,656 is for a system for reducing the number of programs necessary to render an image. Disclosed is a system for reducing memory and computational requirements of graphics operations. The system provides techniques for combining otherwise individual operations to apply filters to images. The combined filter emerging from the combination spares the processor time and the creation of an entire intermediary image. The system further provides for application of these techniques in many contexts including where the operations are fragment programs in for a programmable GPU. John Harper is the inventor.

Patent number 7,788,582 involves techniques and graphical user interfaces for improved media item searching. Improved techniques and graphical user interfaces that assist users in searching through a group of media...

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Aug 31
Sandy Bridge chips could bring Blu-ray playback, USB 3...

At a recent developer conference, Intel said its next-generation laptop chips based on the Sandy Bridge architecture will be able to play Blu-ray 3D movies while preserving battery life. Could this mean Blu-ray playback might finally arrive on the Mac? Probably, not but I'll keep hoping.

You won’t need to buy a separate graphics processor to specifically view 3D content. Sandy Bridge chips are slated to go into production later this year, and computers with 'em could arrive in the first half of next year.

Intel’s current laptop chips are capable of 1080p video, and improvements in Sandy Bridge chips could bring a noticeable graphics improvement to computers, according to "PC World" (http://macosg.me/2/so).

Sandy Bridge will be the first mainstream Intel chip to integrate the graphics processing unit (GPU) onto the same piece of silicon as the main processor, or CPU. This is possible thanks to...

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Aug 30
Computers haven't overtaken TVs for video viewing...

More U.S. households are watching online video and on a wider variety of devices now than two years ago, but we're not sacrificing our TV viewing to do so, according to international research firm Parks Associates (http://www.parkassociates.com). At least not just yet.

The firm's "Digital Media Evolution II" study found 40% of all U.S. broadband homes now regularly watch long-form video on a computer. However, service providers can allay their fears of cord cutting for now as high use of computer video doesn't yet correlate with decreased TV viewing. "Yet" may be the key word here.

"People are using online video to fill in the gaps," says Kurt Scherf, vice president, principal analyst, Parks Associates. "When it comes to watching TV shows and movies, nobody's first choice is the computer. People will watch this content on a computer when it is not convenient or feasible to watch on a TV...

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Aug 27
Greg's bite: publishing iBooks update

By Greg Mills

I have gotten a lot of feedback on my article regarding publishing iBooks. One conclusion I made was spot on: that Pages would soon offer an Export option in the ePub format required to publish books on-line.

An update of iWork 9 that went on line last night does just that. This makes it a snap to write books in Pages and simply choose ePub as the output format. One just creates an ePub format file directly from Pages and uploads to Apple's servers. I don't know if the process of uploading the ePub file has been streamlined or not. That would be cool and typical of Apple thoughtfulness.  

Two interesting issues came up from my readers that I have not been able to answer.  How does a non-US citizen publish iBooks since they don't have a Social Security number or US Tax Number required to open an iTunes account used for iBook publishers? Once an iBook is published and an ISBN number is assigned, can the book be modified or have...

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Aug 27
Perhaps Apple will skip USB 3.0 entirely and go with...

I still haven't bitten the bullet and upgraded to a new iMac for a few reasons. One is that I was certain that USB 3.0 would be included, but wasn't. At first I felt that another iMac revision might be coming sooner than expected (early 2011?) with USB 3.0 support, but now I'm not so certain.

The more I think about it, Apple likes to push the envelope, and it's possible the company will forego USB 3.0 entirely and make the quantum leap to LightSpeed sooner than anyone expects.

Developed by Intel, Light Peak paves the way for a new generation of extreme computer input and output (I/O) performance, delivering 10Gb/s of bandwidth, with the potential ability to scale to 100Gbs over the next decade, according to David Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager, Intel Architecture Group. At 10Gb/second, a user could purportedly transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds (of course, Steve Jobs doesn't' like Blu-ray, but still....). Intel says...

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Aug 26
Apple wants to shrink the size of a system's...

An Apple patent (number 20100213958) systems and methods for providing a system-on-substrate has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Offices. It involves shrinking the size of a system's circuitry by providing all of the components of the system on the same microchip -- such as the A4 processor used in the iPad.

The patent relates to systems and methods for providing a system-on-a-substrate. In some embodiments, the necessary components for an entire system (e.g., a processor, memory, accelerometers, I/O circuitry, or any other suitable components) can be fabricated on a single microchip in “bare die” form. The die can, for example, be coupled to suitable flash memory through a substrate and flexible printed circuit board (“flex”). In some embodiments, the flex can extend past the substrate, die, or both, to allow additional, relatively large components to be coupled to the flex.

In some embodiments, the die can be coupled to the flash memory through the flex...

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Aug 26
Apple patent involves audio jack with included...

An Apple patent (number 200100216526) for an audio jack with included microphone has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Embodiments of the invention relate to the field of electrical connectors; and more specifically, to electrical connectors that include a microphone.

Described is a connector for receiving a cylindrical plug includes a body defining a plug aperture and a cavity for receiving the cylindrical plug. A plurality of electrical contacts in communication with the cavity make electrical connections with the cylindrical plug and retain the cylindrical plug. A microphone is coupled to the body such that the plug aperture and the cavity provide an acoustic path to the microphone. The microphone may be at an end of the connector opposite the plug aperture or on a side of the connector adjacent the plug aperture. The connector allows a microphone to be added to a device, such as a mobile telephone, without the need for an additional external aperture....

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Aug 26
Apple patent involves improved video quality for...

An Apple patent (number 200100214448) that involves video acquisition with processing based on ancillary data has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The company seems to be investigating ways to improve the features of its video editing titles.

The patent relates to processing video images, and more particularly to acquisition of video data with integrated processing using a graphics processing unit. Systems and techniques for processing sequences of video images involve receiving, on a computer, data corresponding to a sequence of video images detected by an image sensor. The received data is processed using a graphics processor to adjust one or more visual characteristics of the video images corresponding to the received data.
The received data can include video data defining pixel values and ancillary data relating to settings on the image sensor. The video data can be processed in accordance with ancillary data to adjust the visual characteristics,...

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Aug 26
I won't be ready to give up my Mac any time soon

One of my favorite columnists (and a friend) is Gene "The Tech Night Owl" Steinberg. Usually, I agree with the Owl, but in a recent column (http://macosg.me/2/rz) he predicted that, by 2015, most of us will rely on an iPad or its successor for most computing-related tasks. However, I just can't see it.

Gene says that only a small number of high-end content creators will continue to depend on the old fashioned personal computer and input devices like current Macs. "Certainly the stellar success of the iPad shows that a lot of people are ready to embrace different user interfaces," he writes. "... On the long haul, the natural evolution of the iPad and iOS are sure to cause a revolution in the personal computer universe."

As I've said before, I find the iPad to be a great, portable device for media and content consumption. For content creation, well, not so much. I do lots of writing/reporting/researching...

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Aug 25
Greg's bite: My dearest apologies to Mattel

By Greg Mills

In recent articles I attributed the embarrassingly flubbed Ken smartphone Microsoft  launched as being a product of Mattel, when actually  Sharp produced it. I was frankly deceived by the toy like quality of the Kin/Ken, thus never attributing the toy phone to a serious manufacturer like Sharp.  

Actually, I am joking at the expense of Mr. Ballmer and the copycat software firm responsible for the Ken's release. Those folks, instead of being fired, were put to work building the (too late to be relevant) Windows 7 Mobile OS. I can't wait to see what wonders they can perform.

Microsoft has lost half its market cap since Mr. Ballmer took over the company from the other Steve. To their credit, Mattel never sued me for defamation or some other legal theory for embarrassing them with my insinuation they had anything to do with the Ken Phone.  (I never seem to spell "Kin" the same way Microsoft did). The dilution of the "Barbie" brand...

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Aug 25
Regarding tiltable, touchscreen iMacs

The reports this week of an Apple patent for “transitioning between modes of input" underscores my conviction that we'll see touchscreen iMacs in the near future. I think Apple is preparing us for this with the release of its Magic TrackPad for Macs.

Some feel there's little demand for a touch screen computer. However, the growing popularity of iPhones, iPod touches, iPads and similar devices from Apple and other companies are making touch technology second nature to many people, especially young folks. It's just a matter of time before they want said technology on their computers.

Just as importantly (if not more so), Apple CEO Steve Jobs obviously LOVES touch technology, so it's inevitably going to find its way into all of Apple's line-up.

The patent mentioned previously provides a transition between input modes when the orientation of the display crosses a predetermined threshold. In other words, the display changes when the screen is tilted. Presumably,...

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Aug 25
Greg's bite: Android app store hacked again

By Greg Mills

As I mentioned in this column in the past, the biggest problem Android will face in its attempt to be the "iPhone killer" that actually cuts into Apple's pie is being open source. In the debate over closed vs open software platforms, the issue that comes to the top, in terms of business success, is security for developers.  

Android's app store is much smaller: 100,000 compared to Apple's 250,000 apps. What's more, while free apps in both stores are common, far and away the best paid apps are in the Apple App Store. There are a number of good reasons why this is -- and why it matters.

First of all, every app was written by someone called a developer. These people work hunched over a computer keyboard all day, consuming pizza and coffee in mass proportions. It is hard work, and there is a steep learning curve to writing apps that are professional in quality. These apps are more likely to be sold than given away.  

There are...

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Aug 24
Patent hints at upcoming 'iMac touch,'...

I've been predicting that we'll see a touchscreen Mac in the near future. And an European Apple patent (W)/2010/006210) -- first reported by the "Patently Apple" site (http://www.patentlyapple.com/) -- reinforces the idea that Apple has plans for a touch screen iMac, as well as a tablet style laptop.

The patent is for "transitioning between modes of input." Transitioning between a high-resolution input mode, such as a mouse-based interface, and a low-resolution input mode, such as a touch-based interface, is described. A change of orientation of a touch screen between a first orientation and a second orientation is detected. Transitioning between the two input modes and corresponding user interfaces (UIs) is based on the detected change of orientation.

A change of orientation can be detected with one or more sensors, such as an accelerometer, position sensors, etc. Transitioning from...

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Aug 24
Apple patents cover gradients, index processing,...

Apple has been granted patents for a variety of items, including the design of the original iPod and iPod touch. Summaries of each are below.

Patent number 7782337 involves multi-conic gradient generation. Disclosed is a technique for computing a complex gradient using multiple conics. In connection with a computer system having a graphics processing unit (GPU) in addition to the normal central processing unit (CPU), gradients can be computed in real time. The conics may be rendered and adjusted in a number of ways, providing a rich palette for creation of gradient graphics. The computational efficiency of the algorithms disclosed herein, when executed on typical GPU hardware, allows rendering frame rates high enough to provide animated gradient images. The inventors are Mark Zimmer and Ralph Brunner.

Patent number 7783589 is for inverted index processing. Systems and methods for improving indexing are described. In one exemplary...

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Aug 24
Apple wants to simplify connecting media players,...

Apple wants to make it easier to connect media players to external devices, as evidenced by a patent (number 7783070) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's for a cable adapter for a media player system.

One aspect of the media player system pertains to a docking station that allows a media player to communicate with other media devices. Another aspect of the media player system pertains to a wireless media player system that includes a hand held media player capable of transmitting information over a wireless connection and one or more media devices capable of receiving information over the wireless connection.

Another aspect of the media player system pertains to a method of wirelessly connecting the hand held media player to another device. The method includes selecting a media item on the hand held media player; selecting one or more remote recipients on the hand held media player; and transmitting the media item locally to the hand held media player, and...

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Aug 24
Greg's bite: Clear's new iSpot 4G Mac Wi-Fi...

By Greg Mills

Clear, the new 4G wireless Internet provider "Clear" (associated with Sprint), provided me with a test unit of their new portable WiFi router.  I tried it out in Kansas City, Kansas, and when I was able to actually hook up with their new 4G network, it worked fine and is fast. The problem is not with the cool looking 4G device, but with the limited radio coverage available at this time.

As AT&T users can testify to, the wireless device is only as good as the network that supports it.  Clear is still building out their 4G network; when it is built out, it will be state of the art.  There are a number of devices Clear offers that hook up to the faster 4G network cellular and then pump out a WiFi signal that will run up to eight iPhones, iPads or laptops at pretty much at full Wi-Fi speeds within Wi-Fi range. 

The device they loaned me is very cool, something Apple's design guru, Johnny Ives, might have created. It is slick, jet...

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Aug 24
Greg's bite: Apple's Bumping corrections

By Greg Mills

My Bump and pay by phone article that run on Monday had some factual errors that I must correct. I got an email from a nice Lady from Bump Technologies with interesting insight into the "Bump" App I briefly described (http://itunes.apple.com/app/bump/id305479724?mt=8) , as well as interesting information she had regarding pay by smart phone that I must pass this on to you, my readers.  

My assumption that the contact information traded between iPhones is done locally turns out to be wrong. It happens in the cloud! My assumption was that iPhones or Androids used Bluetooth to trade contacts. Here is the information Sadie Bascom sent me: 

I did however want to offer a correction in a couple of places regarding the Bump app. Firstly, regarding this quote "Then comes Apple with a new Bump to Pay concept." PayPal is responsible for...

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Aug 24
Could the next rev of the Apple TV move me away from...

I'm a Comcast subscriber. I have their "Triple Play" bundle, but the cable company's creep up every month (and, in fact, leapt up instead of creeping last month), so I'm considering making a change. Perhaps the future Apple TV would be my impetus to switch.

Silicon Alley Insider (http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-itv-metered-broadband-2010-8?utm_so...) says the rumored rev of the Apple TV (which some think will be redubbed iTV should at least make a lot of people excited about the idea of using their TVs as living-room computers, especially...

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Aug 23
Greg's bite: Apple's Bump to Pay?

By Greg Mills

We know Apple and other companies have been working on ePay systems using smart phones and some sort of electronic "radio bridge" to make it possible to pay for small things or even a tank of gas, by using your cell phone to pay.  

RFID chips already make short range radio information reading devices possible for electronic checkout of a whole cart of goods, for example, simply by walking past an electronic check out point. Each item in the cart has an RFID chip on it that transmits an identification code containing a lot of information when it is hit by strong radio waves of a certain frequency.  Bluetooth is another way to do the trick. Sounds cool, but the whole thing has sort of a "big brother," heavy handed feel to it. Can this be the Mark of the Beast or the next big bunko target, stealing you blind while you walk the streets unaware you have been just been financially mugged?

Bank of America and Visa are soon offering a new...

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Aug 23
Computer, videogame degree programs on the rise

If you like video and computer games, the years ahead could be good ones for you as there'll be more and more folks working on 'em.

Approximately 300 American colleges, universities, art and trade schools will offer degrees in video game design, development, programming and art during the 2010-11 academic year, according to new research from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The degrees offered at 300 institutions represent an almost 20% increase over 2009-10.  

The growing number of educational programs comes as no surprise to Rich Taylor, senior vice president for communications and industry affairs at the ESA (http://www.theESA.com), which represents computer and video game publishers.

"The steady increase in higher education programs is an important indicator about the expanding role computer and video games play in today's world," he says. "While computer and video games have...

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Aug 20
Greg's bite: affordable digital magazines

By Greg Mills

As I have mused in previous articles, digital download content must have reasonable economic market value to flourish. The old concept of "everything on the Internet needs to be free" has slowly evolved into a mixture of both free and paid content.  

Apple was really the first to create a "go to market" scheme that worked, selling digital music on line for a dollar a song. It was due to a combination of a serious intellectual property protection system, a neat iTunes interface for both Macs and the PC, iPods that just worked and (Steve Jobs, who was personality able to hammer the music industry into accepting his pricing structure). While there is still some bitching and moaning, Apple's iTunes store is just too big a market for serious music labels to not participate in.

Now, the same sort of pricing issues are being worked out in the publishing industry.  Magazines that are currently printed on downed trees are struggling to...

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Aug 20
Waiting for Mac OS X to TRIM down (or up)

I haven't bought one of the new iMacs yet. The SSD options are tempting, though solid state drives are still way overpriced. Plus, I'm waiting for Apple to add support for TRIM technology to Mac OS X.

A TRIM command allows an operating system to inform an SSD which data blocks, such as those belonging to a deleted file or affected by a format command, are no longer being used so can be wiped internally. That's important because the low-level operation of SSDs differs from traditional hard disk drives in the way operating systems handle operations like deleting and formatting. TRIM enables the SSD to handle garbage collection overhead which would otherwise significantly slow down future write operations to the involved blocks, in advance. In other words, it helps maintain optimal performance and extend the life of your SSD.

Or, as Bit-Tech (...

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Aug 19
Apple granted patent for widget manager, more

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20100211886) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for management of user interface elements in a display environment.

A widget manager facilitates management of widgets in a dashboard layer. Management functions can include enablement, preview, importation, exportation, organization, installation, deletion, acquisition, etc. The inventors are Scott Forstall, Imran A. Chaudhri, John O. Louch and Eric Steven Peyton.

Several other Apple patents have also appeared. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20100211700 involves methods and systems to dynamically manage performance states in a data processing system. It involves data processing systems that operate in different modes, including a mode which supports providing an output of images through a port on the systems. In one embodiment, a data processing system includes a processing system, a cellular telephone transceiver, and a port which is...

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Aug 19
Apple patent is for 'sticky functionality'...

An Apple patent (20100211910) for sticky functionality has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. And it shows that Apple still has plans for the mouse in upcoming Macs.

The patent relates to graphical user interfaces for computer systems, and more particularly to a user interface which allows easier manipulation of elements of the user interface via a cursor control device such as a mouse. Manipulation of elements in a graphical user interface is aided by allowing the graphical user interface to treat certain mouse button actuation and releases as holding the mouse button in an actuated state.

When predetermined conditions are satisfied, the graphical user interface will treat a mouse button actuation and release as if the mouse button were held in an actuated state. A user can then manipulate elements in the graphical user interface as if the user held the mouse button in an actuated state. The types of manipulation can include the moving of a window,...

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Aug 19
Future idevices could received 'pushed' info...

Future iPhones and iPods may be able to receive "pushed" info to you based on what location you're at. Unfortunately, the pushed info could include ads.

An Apple patent (number 20100207782) for a system and method for situational location relevant invocable speed reference has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves a system for pushing situational location dependent content to data processing system devices traveling to locations for, or in directions of, that place which delivery content is designated as deliverable.

Situational location dependent information is transmitted from a server data processing system to a receiving data processing system. The server data processing system communicates with the receiving data processing system in a manner by pushing content when appropriate. A candidate delivery event associated with a current positional attribute of the receiving data processing system is recognized and a situational location of the...

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Aug 19
Future iPhones, iPads could ID unauthorized users

Upcoming iPhones and iPads could recognize individual users and adjust accordingly, per a new patent (number 20100207721) for systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is generally directed to identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device. In some embodiments, an unauthorized user of the electronic device can be detected by identifying particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior. In some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected by comparing the identity of the current user to the identity of the owner of the electronic device. When an unauthorized user is detected, various safety measures can be taken.

For example, information related to the identity of the unauthorized user, the unauthorized user's operation of the electronic device, or the current location of the electronic device can be gathered. As another example, functions of the...

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Aug 19
We need more connectivity for our iPads

Despite the talk that we'll see a 7-inch iPad in time for the holidays, I'm dubious we'll see any new incarnation of the Apple tablet before early 2011 Even then I'm not holding my breath for an "iPad mini." However, I would be willing to hold my breath for more connectivity.

Right now you can only use one wired peripheral at a time with an iPad and very few wireless ones. I hope the iPad 2 will support wireless syncing and file exchanges with Macs. Currently, shuffling Pages documents -- among other things -- between the two, is a major pain. And wouldn't the ability to send files to a networked printer be nifty-keeno?

Even though the iPad can't replace my Mac (desktop OR laptop), I'd love to see a hub that lets you connect multiple devices for simultaneous use by the Apple tablet. Sort of like the Camera Connection Kit on steroids. Perhaps said dock could support: a wired keyboard (for those who want to use one; my Apple Wireless Keyboard works just fine with the...

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