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Apr 26
Apple eyes ways to improve communication between...

An Apple patent (number 20120102236) involving communication between an accessory and a media player with multiple protocol versions has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to connector interfaces and more particularly to a connector interface system which is utilized in conjunction with media players and their accessories.

Per the patent, an interface and protocol allow a media player to communicate with external accessories over a transport link. The protocol includes a core protocol functionality and a number of accessory lingoes. Examples of accessory lingoes include a microphone lingo, a simple remote lingo, a display remote lingo, an RF transmitter lingo, and an extended interface lingo.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "A media player stores media assets, such as audio tracks or photos, that can be played or displayed on the media player. One example of a media player is the iPod media player, which is available...

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Apr 26
Apple wants to make it easier to process media gifts

With iTunes slated to take over the entire digital world of entertainment, a new Apple patent (number 2012101944) shows the company wants to make it even easier for you to "gift" people with items from the store.

Per the patent -- for a system and method for processing media gifts -- various techniques are provided for the gifting between multiple electronic devices of media content provided by an online digital media provider. An offer and acceptance of a selected gift file is accomplished between a gifter device and a receiving giftee device using a near-field communication (NFC) connection.

If a connection to the online provider is available, the gifter device may transmit a gift request by which the gifter's account is charged for the gift file. Thereafter, a gift file created using DRM keys associated with the giftee's account may be downloaded to the giftee device. If a network connection is unavailable, the giftee device may transfer a locked gift file and a...

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Apr 26
Apple granted patent for the MacBook Air

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120099264) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the MacBook Air. The patent is for a portable computing device includes at least a base portion of a lightweight material that includes at least a wedge shaped top case having a trough formed at an interfacing edge thereof.

The trough includes a raised portion having a first contact surface and a receiving area, and a bottom case coupled to the top case to form a complete housing for at least a portion of the portable computing device for enclosing at least a plurality of operational components and a plurality of structural components. The portable computing device also includes at least a lid portion pivotally connected to the base portion by a hinge assembly.

In the described embodiments, the lid portion has a display in communication with one or more of the plurality of components in the base portion by way of or more electrical conductors that electrically connect...

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Apr 26
Is Apple running out of juice? Nope

Apple's explosive rally from near $350.00/share last November to well over $600.00/share earlier this month has left many traders talking about whether the stock is now in a bubble and whether it will burst. The answer to that is "no."

"Fundamental and technical indicators have been sending conflicting signals about whether Apple is in a bubble From Nov. 25 through April 9," says Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets (http://www.cmcmarkets.co.uk/) Canada. "Apple shares gained 74.9%. Over the same time frame, the Dow Industrials went up 15.1%. The company also has blasted through the high end of a channel and the chart has gone parabolic or nearly vertical. Technically this suggests that Apple is probably in a bubble and vulnerable. In contrast,fundamental indicators suggest that the stock could still have room to run for a while.”

To me, it looks as if the stock will run...

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Apr 25
Let's see a tweaked Dashboard in Mountain Lion

The OS X Dashboard is a bit of a mess, although one with potential. There are lots of possibilities, but it's somewhat disorganized in its current iteration. Could this be tweaked in the upcoming Mountain Lion?

The opportunity there is for Apple and any application company to create widgets that can show various bits of information that can fit together into a cohesive tiled system for giving users quick, at-a-glance information. Mountain Lion's alert system will be useful, but from what I can tell it doesn't provide the level of general information that a full screen of live updates would.

I've not the time to create a mock-up of the idea, so you'll have to use your imagination. But if you need a little help, use this image (yes, it's Windows Tiles, so forgive me), but imagine it in the Dashboard.

The key seems to be using standardized sizes so that everything can fit together. Dashboard already has many widgets that do the very things that Windows Tiles do....

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Apr 24
Apple granted patents for Time Machine, GarageBand,...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8166415) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an user interface for backup management -- namely, for its Time Machine software in Mac OS X.

The patent involves methods and a computer program product for providing a user interface including earlier versions of data. In one implementation, a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a backup interface be displayed. In response to the first user input, the transition from displaying the current view in the user interface to displaying the backup interface is animated.

The backup interface is displayed including a display area for presenting at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view, where the earlier version includes a first element. While the backup interface is displayed, a second user input is received requesting that the current...

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Apr 24
DVD, Blu-ray sales continue to decline

Okay, maybe I've been wrong. Though I've long been a fan of Blu-ray -- still the best home viewing choice for movie lovers when it comes to top quality -- and have long hoped Macs would offer Blu-ray playback support, apparently I'm in the minority.

Fewer U.S. consumers are buying and collecting DVD and Blu-ray discs, according to new data from the IDC research group. Less than one-third of survey respondents report buying a DVD or Blu-ray more than once or twice a year, and over half of purchasers say they are buying less than they did a year ago.

The reason? Digital options such as the iTunes Store. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I still like to have physical media. Guess if all my movie purchasing goes digital, I'll have to invest in some big honkin' hard drives.

(As for the survey, it was conducted entirely online in September 2011 with individuals over the age of 18 who subscribe to broadband Internet service at home in the United States. The 2011 U.S....

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Apr 23
iPad users shop different

Forget Think Different. iPad users Shop Different, according to new data by RichRelevance, a provider of dynamic personalization for the world’s largest retailers and brands.

The company's report, "The 2012 Q1 Shopping Insights Mobile Study" (http://www.richrelevance.com/insights/mobile-shopping/), finds a steady rise in mobile share of revenue from 1.9% in April 2011 to 4.6% in March 2012, with the iPad driving nearly all shopping, browsing and purchasing in this emerging channel.

According to the study:

° iPad users spent significantly more time and money on retail sites than other mobile users.

° iPad users constitute the bulk of all mobile shoppers -- accounting for about two-thirds (68%) of shoppers.

° The iPad accounts for 90% of all mobile revenue (and 4% of total retail revenue).

° Conversion rates...

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Apr 20
Can Apple dominate the digital movie/TV market?

Is Apple on the verge of dominating the digital movie market and revolutionizing television, as well? Those answers are "looks like it" (digital movies) and "outlook cloudy" (television viewing).

When it comes to digital movie sales, Apple already controls 65% of the market, according to research by IHS Screen Digest. Now as as Apple expands digital offerings into the cloud via iCloud, it threatens to dwarf Hollywood's own UltraViolet cloud initiative with the only credible challenge coming from Amazon and Google, not the movie industry.

"If they do this right, Apple is in the lead position," James McQuivey, an analyst with of Forrester Research told "TheWrap" (http://macte.ch/G8qU4). "They're already in a strong position. The dark horse here is Amazon, not UltraViolet."

UltraViolet is a cloud-based movie storage solution that the industry is betting (or at least hoping) will convince consumers...

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Apr 19
Apple's gonna make sure you follow its app usage...

Download an app from the Mac App Store or the Apple App Store, and Apple plans to make sure you're using it per the company's enforcement policy, according to a patent (number 20120095877) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Disclosed are systems, methods, and non-transitory computer-readable media for enforcing application usage policies. As part of an application purchase transaction, the application distributor creates a unique proof of purchase receipt. This receipt can be bundled with the application and delivered to the purchaser. Each machine can maintain an authorization file that lists the users authorized to use applications on that machine.

A system configured to practice the method verifies that a user is authorized to use an application on a machine based on an application proof of purchase receipt and the authorization file. If the application proof of purchase receipt and the authorization file are both valid, the system checks if the user...

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Apr 19
Apple patent involves generating geographically based...

If Apple follows through on a new patent (number 20120096361) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, you may soon be able to generate a geographically based slideshow of the digital media items -- such as photos and videos -- on your OS X and iOS devices.

Per the patent, a slideshow framework receives user-specified digital images, ordering them according to time of capture, organizing the ordered images into groups, each group corresponding to a different geographical region, and generating a slideshow of the user-specified images using maps of the different geo-graphical regions and visual transitions between the different geographical regions.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Digital photography and digital videography have simplified taking, viewing, storing, and reproducing media content such as still images and video. Photographs can be taken either using high-end equipment such as digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, low resolution cameras...

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Apr 19
Apple working on a means of capturing digital...

Apple is working on ways to easily capture digital signatures, per a patent (number 20120093409) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Systems, methods, and computer-readable media are provided for capturing a signature, and placing a representation of the captured signature in an appropriate field of a document. A camera or other appropriate sensor can capture an image of a signature provided by a user on a piece of paper. The signature can be digitized to create a representation that a device may use in a displayed document.

To determine where to place the representation, a horizontal line of a document can be identified by selectively rendering portions of the document adjacent to an input position, and identifying one or more boundaries for a detected horizontal line. The representation can be scaled to fit in a detected field of the document.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Some electronic devices can be used to enter data in documents...

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Apr 19
Apple goal: pretty, lightweight, environmentally...

An Apple patent for a computer housing that's aesthetically pleasing, lightweight and environmentally friendly has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

A multipart computer housing is described. The multipart computer housing includes at least a structural support layer and a body. The body includes at least an outer layer formed of lightweight flexible material and an inner layer attached to the outer layer.

The inner layer is connected to the support layer forming a load path between the inner layer and the structural support layer. A load applied to the multipart computer housing is transferred by way of the load path to the support layer without substantially affecting the outer layer.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: The outward appearance of a portable computing device, including its design and its heft, is important to a user of the portable computing device, as the outward appearance contributes to the overall impression that...

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Apr 19
Apple applies for rolling shutter distortion...

An Apple patent (number 20120092559) for rolling shutter distortion correction has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and apparently involves the camera in the iPad. It relates to correcting for a rolling shutter distortion in digital images; for example, a video clip composed of a sequence of digital images.

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for performing rolling shutter distortion corrections are described. A video clip captured by a user is received and each of a plurality of predefined affine transforms for rolling shutter distortion correction is applied to the received video clip. Further, a visual indication of results from each of the plurality of the predefined affine transforms is presented to the user and input is received from the user selecting one of the visual indications.

Furthermore, the predefined affine transform corresponding to the selected visual indication is...

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Apr 19
IF the next iPhone is LTE ready, the timing may be...

If the next gen iPhone is 4G LTE-enabled, it will arrive at the perfect time. LTE smartphones will top 65 million units in 2012, led by the anticipated LTE-enabled "iPhone 5" (though I bet it will be simply called "the new iPhone") and Samsung’s LTE smartphones, according to ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com).

"Mobile wireless royalties for GSM, WCDMA, and LTE smartphones were just under $20 billion in 2011 but the increase to 65 million LTE smartphones will help push the 2012 royalty total higher," states research director Philip Solis. "Even though LTE handsets will only total 4% of the total handsets shipped in 2012, total royalty rates will be 14% higher."

Although some 2G royalties are expiring, the growing base of 3G handsets and acceleration of LTE handsets -- with combined, but not quite additive, royalties for 2G, 3G, and 4G patents -- will keep total mobile wireless royalties...

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Apr 19
Apple eyes ways to evaluate printer performance

Apple hasn't made printers in years, but it's at least working on diagnostic targets for evaluating printer performance per a patent (number 20120092701) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, print performance is evaluated by printing a diagnostic image comprising color patches. Colorant usage in the printed image is measured by, for instance, scanning each patch. Measured color values are then compared to target color values. Based on the comparison, groups of patches whose color values vary significantly from expectations are identified.

Variant groups are then analyzed to identify, in addition to color quality control problems, spatial problems that affect only a localized area of a printed page. Such spatial problems may include, for example, problems with contrast or streaks. A heat map illustrating the differences may be generated to help an operator visualize the spatial problem. A template for the diagnostic image may be selected from a...

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Apr 19
Apple patents cover variety of topics

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

Patent number 20120094684 is for location based operation of a wireless mobile system. Per the patent, operating parameters of a wireless mobile communication device can be adjusted to comply with requirements defined by a local regulatory regime. Location information can be received by the wireless mobile communication device and be used to determine local operating requirements.

In one embodiment, location information in the form of MCC-MNC information can be used to query a local database to determine values of local operating limits such as, for example, a local value of a maximum allowable transmission power limit. Vusthia Sunil Reddy is the inventor.

Patent number 20120096189 is for a method and system for allowing a media player to determine if it supports the capabilities of an accessory are disclosed....

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Apr 18
Do tablets offer a 'post PC wonderland'?

Interpret (http://www.interpretllc.com/), a cross media research firm, has released "Tablet Computers: Post-PC Wonderland or Utopia?," a report that examines whether Steve Jobs' "post-PC era" statement is a marketing ploy or a likely reality.

The report takes an in-depth look at how tablet owners differ from traditional computer owners, both demographically and behaviorally. For example, tablet owners watch nearly two fewer hours of traditional TV per week versus traditional computer owners. Not surprisingly, however, they engage in more digital behaviors, such as watching TV on the Internet, gaming and social networking.

"It's no secret that tablets are a hot technology, and the growth over the past year alone has been extraordinary," says Interpret CEO Michael Dowling. "However, tablet owners tend to be much more affluent than the average traditional computer owner, and the crossover...

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Apr 17
Apple granted patent for antenna diversity systems

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8159399) for antenna diversity systems for portable electronic devices -- namely, iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

Per the patent, antenna diversity systems are provided for portable electronic devices that have wireless communications circuitry and environment sensors. The wireless communications circuitry may include multiple redundant antennas that operate in one or more overlapping radio-frequency communications bands. The environment sensors and redundant antennas may be used in implementing an antenna diversity system.

For example, an electronic device may use environment sensors to select an antenna for use in handling wireless communications. The electronic devices may monitor the wireless performance of an active antenna. When the wireless performance of the active antenna degrades, the electronic devices may select a new antenna for wireless communications using the antenna diversity system and environment...

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Apr 17
No Retina displays Mac until next year? Noooo ....

Those of us hoping to see a Retina display Mac may have to wait until next year, at least for a desktop version -- unless Apple is ahead of the curve, which is always a possibility.

According to the "Liliputing" site (http://macte.ch/g0p2Z), by 2013 Intel sees handheld and tablet devices targeting resolutions in the range of 300 pixels per inch (ppi), while notebook computers target roughly 250 ppi and all-in-one desktop computers register around 220 ppi ini 2013. The company, per "Liliputing," sees this happening in the computer space over the next few years: 

° Tablets with 10 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel displays 
° Ultrabooks with 11 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel displays 
° Ultrabooks with 13 inch, 2800 x 1800 pixel displays 
° Laptops with 15 inch, 3840 x 2160 pixel displays 
° All-in-one desktops with 3840 x 2160 pixel displays

Retina display MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros would be great. But I'd also like...

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Apr 16
Apple should build corporate museum on its '...

Computer historian David Greelish thinks Apple should build a corporate corporate museum on its new campus. I think that's a great idea. What about you?

"Apple needs to build a public museum to celebrate its past and present. It also needs to create a dedicated public space at the new campus," he writes. "A space where visitors can spend a couple of hours learning more about the company they respect, and about the past products and leadership which brought Apple to the here and now. A wonderful place for visitors to relax and learn about Apple’s exciting past, while standing in the exciting present, and future of the company."

The new campus will be at Cupertino and will have a "spaceship" design. It will accommodate 12,000 employees in a four-story building. Greelish's museum idea would be a great addition to what is shaping up as one of the world's most intriguing company headquarters. Read more at http...

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Apr 13
Commoditization of phones, tablets to hurt Apple? Nope

ACI Research analyst Ed Zabitsky says (http://macte.ch/81NIa) you should sell Apple stock because it's destined to fall due to increased competition. I beg to differ.

I'm not sure Apple stock will hit the US$1,000 mark some pundits are predicting, but it's certainly heading well above $600. Zabitsky says Samsung is destined to be the smartphone leader, that smartphones/tablets/web usage are destined to become just another commodity, and that folks will turn away from Apple's "closed" systems.

Let's think this through. Computers (such as Macs) and portable music players (such as iPods) have all been commoditized for a long time. Still, Apple manages to make a huge amount of profit from them -- far more than the competition.

The smartphone (namely the iPhone) and the tablet (the iPad) won't be any different. Apple still provides the best experience for a great price on all these devices. (Thanks...

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Apr 12
Apple patent shows possible iWeb replacement

iWeb, Apple's entry level web page creation tool, seems to be languishing. However, a new Apple patent (number 2012008993) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that a replacement may be in the works.

The patent, for "content configuration for device platforms," includes a digital content authoring tool for authoring digital content without the need to understand or access computer code. According to the patent, the present technology further includes creating digital content that can be modified with animation of assets.

Each animation can be controlled by an action, and the actions can be tied to a time axis for execution. By relating actions to a time axis, animations based on the actions can be more easily viewed and reviewed. In some embodiments, the system can clear a page of all but a selected asset so that it may be more easily worked with.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates to an...

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Apr 12
Apple applies for high-speed card connector patent

Apple has applied to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a high-speed card connector having a wide power contact. The patent involves connectors to connect optional or daughter cards or boards to main or motherboards.

One example provides a connector that is capable of supporting high-speed data rates by employing contacts that provide short signal paths and a ground plane to improve signal quality. The space consumed in electronic devices may be reduced by providing a connector having a low profile, while another example may provide a connector having mechanical stability. Another example provides a connector having an increased manufacturability. Other examples include wider contacts for increased current capabilities.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "he number and types of electronic devices on the market have grown tremendously the past few years. Tablet, netbook, laptop, and all-in-one computers, media players, handheld media players, cell...

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Apr 12
Mountain Lion must improve Lion's poor multiple...

When Mountain Lion arrives this summer, let's hope that Apple gets serious again about multiple monitor support on the Mac. When Lion arrived, to say such support was an afterthought is being kind to afterthoughts.

For example with the 27-inch iMac, some pros and power users may wish to connect one or 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 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. Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, while this works just fine with Snow Leopard, under Lion, the second and/or third screen contents is overlayed with an impenetrable grey linen pattern. This reduces those displays to little more than expensive fake linen....

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Apr 12
Apple patent is for wireless device pairing between...

An Apple patent (number 20120083208) for wireless accessory device pairing transfer between multiple hosts has appeared today at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a wireless communications system includes an accessory device and multiple host devices. A host device pairs wirelessly with an accessory device using a unique link key, detects a primary trigger event and responds by transferring automatically its pairing with the accessory device to a second host device while all devices remain within wireless range of each other.

The pairing transfer involves communicating the link key to the second host device, unpairing the accessory device from the first host device, and establishing a wireless pairing of the accessory device to the second host device. The primary trigger event can involve establishing a ported connection between host devices. A secondary trigger event results in the first host device automatically reclaiming its pairing with...

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Apr 11
Apple Mail: folders verses labels

Why is Apple so reluctance to fully embrace labels for Mail (and objects in the Finder, too)?

Folders are holdover from the early days of the graphical user interface. Don't get 'me wrong; they work so I'm not knocking them.

However, labels are more versatile. Normally, an item can only go into one folder unless you copy it to multiple folders -- which is a waste of space and a pain to manage. However, a single item can have many labels. This works better with Spotlight and Smart Folders.

So, c'mon, Apple, go ahead and jump onto the label bandwagon. (Thanks to J. Scott Anderson for the idea for today's column.)

-- Dennis Sellers

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Apr 10
Apple patent is for flash control for electronic...

Apple is working on improving the flash in its iOS device cameras per a new patent (number 8,150,255) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

According to the patent, a method performed by an electronic camera in flash mode is as follows. A scene ambient lighting indication is obtained. An integration time interval and a flash pulse-on time interval for taking a picture is then set. The set integration time interval is shorter when the indication is bright than when the indication is dark; and the set flash pulse-on time interval is longer when the indication is bright than when the indication is dark.

An image is captured using the set integration time interval and the set flash pulse-on time interval in accordance with an electronic rolling shutter (ERS). Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Apple has also been granted these patents:

° Number D656,501 for the flat panel iMac (the current...

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Apr 10
Mac sales stagnant; we need some exciting new hardware

According to some reports, Mac sales have slowed a bit. Though still growing above the industry average, apparently the computer platform isn't flourishing as hardily as it has for months. Of course, there have been no substantial hardware updates for months. Hopefully, Apple has some Macs coming soon that will have folks salivating for the computers. Hmmm. Perhaps ...

° A 32-iMac/television Mac with a Retina display, built-in TV tuner (to warm us up for the rumored iTV/iPanel), Ivy Bridge processor, beefed-up graphics, better speakers (surround sound, perhaps, as indicated in a patent discussed at http://macte.ch/ZpSQP) and an anti-glare option. I'd also love to see Blu-ray support (but that won't happen) and an Apple joystick/gamepad. The latter would require an OS X upgrade with "hooks" by which game developers could offer support for the peripheral. This is probably a pipe dream, but I know some users are...

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Apr 09
Still plenty of room for wireless home network growth

Wireless home networks are now commonplace in many global markets, according to new research from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). By the end of 2011, 439 million households worldwide had installed home Wi-Fi networks, equivalent to 25% of all households.

This report predicts that the total worldwide number of Wi-Fi households will reach nearly 800 million in 2016, a penetration rate of 42% Which shows that Apple still has plenty of opportunities to sell lots of Time Capsules, AirPort Extremes and AirPort Expresses.

South Korea, where broadband networks are almost ubiquitous, had the highest Wi-Fi household penetration in the world in 2011. On the other hand, even though China’s Wi-Fi network penetration stood at only 25% in 2011, it will become the main growth driver in the global Wi-Fi home market over the next five years, adding another 110 million Wi-Fi...

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Apr 06
The iPad may actually be helping laptop sales

Is the iPad cannibalizing Mac sales? Perhaps a little, though the Mac grew its revenues 26% year-over-year in the last quarter and 22% for the last fiscal year. In fact, according to one line of thought, the Apple tablet could actually be helping Mac sales.


According to Eric Jackson, founder of Ironfire Capital and a hedge fund manager, many consumers who are purchasing iPhones and iPads are also becoming increasingly interested in buying laptops, as well. He says that he expects iPad ANd Mac sales to continue booming over the next few years.

Jackson thinks Macs could sell 50 million units by 2015 and that 500 million tablets would be sold by that time. If that's cannibalization, I doubt anyone at Apple is worried about it. (Read more at http://www.cnbc.com/id/46879999?...

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Apr 05
Future Apple packaging may charge the devices inside

Future Apple products may arrive fully charged. A patent (number 20120081213) for active electronic media device packaging shows that the company is working on packaging for supplying power, data, or both power and data to an electronic media device while the device is housed within the active packaging.

Per the patent, the active packaging may include one or more electrical traces in-molded or printed onto the packaging that couple to a suitable connector on the device. Power may also be provided via one or more wireless power techniques. Multiple active packages may be conductively stacked to transmit power, data, or both power and data to a row or stack or devices. POM sensors integrated with or attached to the device (or the active packaging itself) may detect various movement events. Coordinated and synchronized display effects may be presented while the devices are housed within the active packaging.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "This invention...

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Apr 05
Apple applies for patent for Mini-SIM connector

Apple is competing with Motorola Mobility, Research in Motion and Nokia on a smaller SIM card standard. To that end, the company has applied for a patent for a Mini-SIM connector.

Apple wants a "nano-SIM" that would let it design even smaller products, the article adds.The MicroSIM card, with a design smaller than traditional SIM cards, was pushed by Apple in 2010 with the launch of the iPhone 4.

Patent number 20120083145 involves connectors that may allow SIM cards to be easily removed and replaced, may be resistant to damage by an improper insertion of a SIM card, and may provide reliable mechanical performance. One example may provide a plunger system where a user can push on a plunger rod and eject a SIM card. Another example may provide contacts that are not damaged by improper insertion of a SIM card. Another example may provide a plastic housing, the housing reinforced by a metallic shield and having a relatively uniform thickness.

Here's Apple's...

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Apr 05
Apple eyeing ways to launch apps in conjunction with...

Based on a new Apple patent (20120081207), Apple is working on ways in which attaching a peripheral to an iOS device would launch a specific application.

In some embodiments, the mobile computing device can determine whether it is in a state that allows launching of an application and/or can determine whether the application or application type requested in the launch command is available for launching. In response to the request, and if the mobile computing device is capable, the mobile computing device can launch the application.
The mobile computing device can also send a positive acknowledgment message to the accessory indicating that the application may be launched.

An open communication session message may also be sent to the accessory. In response thereto the accessory can open a communication session and interoperate with the application. The inventors are Shyam Toprani, Paul Holden, Emily Clark Schubert, Thomas Alsina and Scott Forstall.

In a...

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Apr 05
A hybrid iPad/MacBook Air? A dockable 'iPad Pro...

As Macs get more iOS features, you have to wonder if Apple has considered entering the "hybrid" market? What's a hybrid? Glad you asked.

The term refers to either tablets that can be docked into a keyboard, turning them into a laptop or a laptop with a detachable keyboard. Of course, we already have the former thanks to dozens of keyboards -- usually built into cases -- that pair with the iPad.

If Apple entered the hybrid market it might consider a Mac laptop with a removable keyboard. Imagine an 11-inch MacBook Air that, with its keyboard removed, could double as an iPad-like tablet. Of course, that begs the question: would such a device sport the iOS or a touch-enabled version of OS X?

Perhaps Apple might offer what I call an "iPad Pro" -- an iPad that would dock with a larger display and more storage. An Apple patent (number 20080278899) appeared in 2008 for methods and apparatuses for docking a portable electronic device that has a planar-like...

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Apr 04
Macs are the most ignored part of Apple's...

The Mac gets some of the least publicity of all of Apple's products. Some even predict the demise of Apple's computer line is on the horizon.

Don't bet on it. Macs will evolve -- adding more iOS-like features and probably more integration with iOS devices to spur sales -- but there's LOTS of room for Mac growth. Eric Jackson writing for "Forbes" (http://macte.ch/cDzpG) correctly points out that the Mac is the most ignored part of the Apple portfolio.

He notes that the computer line has consistently grown faster than the PC industry.  Macs grew their revenues 26% year-over-year in the last quarter and 22% for the last fiscal year. In fact, Jackson points out that the Macs’ growth rate is actually increasing over time, as "the Apple halo effect is truly starting to take hold."

What's more, the much-publicized death of the personal computer isn't going to happen. The personal computer industry grew...

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Apr 03
Apple eyeing 'beamforming' audio for an...

An Apple patent (number 8150063) for stabilizing directional audio from a moving microphone array has appeared at the U.S Patent & Trademark Office From the accompanying graphics, it at least hints at some interesting features -- including Siri voice technology -- that could make it into the rumored "iTV," an Apple-branded HDTV.

Embodiments of the invention relate to the field of audio beamforming; and more specifically, to the aiming of audio beamforming. Beamforming is a general signal processing technique used to control the directionality of the reception or transmission of a signal on a transducer array. Using the technique, you can direct the majority of signal energy you transmit from a group of transducers (like audio speakers or radio antennae) in a chosen angular direction.

Per the patent, a device includes a microphone array fixed to the device. A signal processor produces an audio output using audio beamforming with input from the microphone array....

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Apr 03
Apple patents involve cameras, microphone in iOS...

Apple has been granted three patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office regarding the cameras and microphones in their iOS devices.

Patent number 815255 involves a flash control for an electronic rolling shutter. A method performed by an electronic camera in flash mode is as follows: a scene ambient lighting indication is obtained. An integration time interval and a flash pulse-on time interval for taking a picture is then set. The set integration time interval is shorter when the indication is bright than when the indication is dark; and the set flash pulse-on time interval is longer when the indication is bright than when the indication is dark.

An image is captured using the set integration time interval and the set flash pulse-on time interval in accordance with an electronic rolling shutter (ERS). Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Patent number 8150058 involves mode...

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Apr 03
Online video to overtake disc viewing this year

The new Apple TV's 1080p support may not quite match Blu-ray quality, but it may be good enough for most folks. Especially as online video will overtake DVD and Blu-ray disc viewing this year, according to a new study by industry analysts at iHS (http://macte.ch/HAsKV).

In 2012 Americans will pay to consume 3.4 billioni movies online, per the research group. This equates to over one billion movies per year than are consumed on DVD and Blu-ray combined. iHS says this "puts the final nail in the old idea that consumers won't accept premium content distributed online."

The principal driver of this surge in consumption was the growth in Netflix's digital subscribers, and the corresponding change in movie consumption towards something more TV-like along. Nevertheless the growth of online SVOD (streaming video on demand) does create some potential concerns going forward, notes iHS. As consumers are greeted...

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Apr 02
The Northern Spy: the 10 kinds of people in the world

By Rick Sutcliffe

There are 10 kinds of people in the world -- those who understand binary, and those who do not; programmers and users, the differentiators and the integrators; those who put people into categories and those who do not (which are you?) n-- and that's as far as the Spy's April Fools' Day will go this year.

More important, there are the self-absorbed and the empathetic, the honourable and the dishonourable, the wise and the fools, the noble and the ignoble, the theoretical and the practical, the secure and the insecure, the saints and the sinners, the technophiles and the technophobes, the just and the unjust, the repentant and the defiantly self-righteous, the builders and the destroyers -- one may categorize the the whole sweep of the human race (the only race of humans, BTW) in a series of such bifurcations. All of us are from time to time in one or the other of such polar opposites, or perhaps both at the same time. Such is the...

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Apr 02
Tablet owners to drive home audio product deployment

The Parks Associates research group (http://www.parksassociates.com) says that over 60% of U.S. tablet owners use devices such as the iPad weekly to listen to music -- and these consumer habits will drive deployment of home audio products with embedded networking technologies.

The research firm's report "Networked Audio Products: Market Update," says audio product manufacturers will add networking in order to connect their products to popular mobile devices and streaming services such as iTunes and Pandora.

"The continuing popularity of music services is pushing consumers to find new ways to enjoy their growing libraries of audio content," says Kurt Scherf, vice president, principal analyst, Parks Associates. "Consumers are using products such as smartphones and media tablets for music access and playback, and they want ways to distribute that content around the home. Networked audio...

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Mar 30
Retina display Macs may be getting closer

The iPhone 4S boasts a Retina display, as does the new iPad. Perhaps the Mac is next in line for such technology.

"Ars Technica" (http://macte.ch/TQTWE) says a new clue found within in the latest developer release of OS X 10.8 ("Mountain Lion") suggests that 2012 may bring us the "summer of retina display Macs." A source with access to the latest Mountain Lion preview alerted "Ars" that double-sized graphics have popped up in some unexpected places, once again suggesting that Apple may be close to releasing laptops with high pixel-density screens.

Retina display MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros would be great. But I'd also like to see a Retina display iMac. Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my Mac model of choice) with 3840 x 2160 resolution. The current high-end model "only" has 2560 x 1440 resolution. Such a display requires quite a bit of processing power. But a top-of-the-line iMac with Ivy Bridge processors...

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Mar 29
Siri to come to the Mac via the iPhone?

According to "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com), a patent (number 20120078635) shows that Apple has shown interest in bringing Siri functionality to other devices, like Macs, by pairing them with an iPhone to share its voice control abilities. The describes the current Siri system -- which Apple calls a voice activated personal assistant -- found on the iPhone 4S, but adds the new element of pairing with a second electronic device to grant it voice control.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Portable electronic devices, such as digital media players, personal digital assistants, mobile phones, and so on, typically rely on small buttons and screens for user input. Such controls may be built into the device or part of a touch-screen interface, but are typically very small and can be cumbersome to manipulate. An accurate and reliable voice user interface that can...

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Mar 29
Apple eyes ways to improve the 3D experience

Two new patents at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is eyeing ways to enhance a 3D-like experience on its iOS and OS X devices.

Patents 20120079378 and 20120079377 are for systems, methods, and computer-readable media for integrating a three-dimensional asset with a three-dimensional model. Each asset can include a base surface and either a protrusion or a projection extending from the base.

Once the asset is placed at a particular position with respect to the model, one or more vertices defining a periphery of the base surface can be projected onto an external surface of the model. Then, one or more portions of the asset can be deformed to provide a smooth transition between the external surface of the asset and the external surface of the model.

In some cases, the asset can include a hole extending through the external surface of the model for defining a cavity. A secondary asset can be placed in the cavity such as, for example, an...

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Mar 29
Apple patents involve digital photography

Two Apple patents involving digital photography have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Patent 20120075521 is for a mechanical camera shutter mechanism. A camera shutter mechanism for covering and exposing an imaging sensor array is disclosed.

The camera shutter mechanism includes a rotary motor, a crank mechanism, a cover, a guide, and a drive circuit. The rotary motor is coupled to the crank mechanism to rotate the crank mechanism about a central axis. The cover is coupled to the crank mechanism at a point away from the central axis.

The drive circuit controls the rotary motor so that the cover moves back and forth repeatedly in a substantially linear motion along the guide between a shutter closed position and a shutter open position over the imaging sensor array. Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Patent number 20120079416 involves displaying image thumbnails in re-used screen real estate....

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Mar 29
Siri-style voice commands for TV? Some iPhone 4S users...

Over 50% of U.S. users of Apple iPhone 4S are "very satisfied" with the Siri voice-command feature, according to new consumer research from Parks Associates (http://www.parksassociates.com). What's more, 37% percent of iPhone 4S owners also want to have a similar voice-command interface for their TV set, though about 20% wouldn't, notes the research group.

Consumers like Siri because it's convenient, easy to use, and helpful for remembering important information (e.g., birthdays) and its hands-free capability makes it easy to send texts, emails, and phone calls, according oto John Barrett, director, Consumer Analytics, Parks Associates. He says that Apple could soon be launching a TV set with a Siri voice interface.  The popularity and usability of the company's natural-language user interface could determine the extent of Apple's impact on the TV market.

"People are expressing some...

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Mar 29
Three Apple patents involve iOS features, technology

Three Apple patents have popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office involving iOS features and technology.

Patent number 20120079410 is for a scrolling virtual music keyboard such as that in GarageBand for iOS. Disclosed are systems, methods, and non-transitory computer-readable storage media for scrolling a virtual keyboard on a touch screen device including a display. A first aspect allows detecting a user contact swipe motion in a predetermined direction along said keyboard, scrolling said keyboard across said display in accordance with said motion, and stopping said scrolling upon termination of user contact swipe motion.

A second aspect allows scrolling of a virtual keyboard to snap to an intelligent position based on a song key or relative minor of the song key. A third aspect allows a note to be held when a user's finger remains in contact with the display even though the finger is no longer in contact with a key linked to the note on...

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Mar 28
They tell me of a home with an iCloudy device

Cloud-based file-sharing services like Dropbox and iCloud are popular; however, organizations with sensitive data say they're reluctant to turn it over to cloud services. Instead, they're buying file-sharing products they manage on their own for bulk file transfers among business partners, reports "Infoworld" (http://macte.ch/da579).

Said businesses are setting up their own large-file transfer services using products from Biscom and Accellion, among others, to allow password-protected access to upload or download large amounts of data, the article adds. Among the advantages to these products, according to enterprise IT managers using them, is they can be integrated with Active Directory or LDAP for role-based end-user authentication privileges.

I'm an iCloud user and fan. However, I don't trust all my back-ups to the cloud. Local storage offers me 100% control over my data. Cloud storage is extremely...

| Read more »
Mar 27
Apple granted patent for wired headset with integrated...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8144915) for a wired headset with an integrated switch.

Per the patent, headsets are provided with integrated switch assemblies. An integrated switch assembly can include a switch hidden from view by a housing. The switch can be activated when a user applies pressure to the housing. The housing may include a flexible housing cover that, when depressed, may engage the switch contained within the housing. When engaged, the switch may move or snap to a switch activation position within the housing.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Switches that can be incorporated in wires, that can feature small and unobtrusive profiles, and that can control one or more functions of devices coupled to the wires, are provided. Switches that can be easy to use without requiring users to look at the switches are also provided.

A wired peripheral assembly with an integrated switch assembly is provided. The integrated switch assembly...

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Mar 27
Apple patent involves femtocell technology

Is Apple working on femtocell technology to boost reception for its iPhone line? Maybe, if a patent (number 8144725) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a wireless femtocell setup methods and apparatus is any indication.

The invention relates generally to the field of wireless communication and data networks. More particularly, in one exemplary aspect, the present invention is directed to the implementation of a femtocell radio frequency setup procedure so as to minimize interference between other femtocells and/or base stations of the primary network operator.

The patent involves methods and apparatus that enable a wireless femtocell to operate in its designated frequency so as to minimize interference between the wireless femtocell and neighboring base stations (and other femtocells or nomadic cells). In one exemplary embodiment, the femtocell cell comprises a UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) femtocell which has the ability to scan the...

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