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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 10
Apple investigating touch screens for laptops

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

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

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

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

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Jul 09
Americans’ smartphone attachment altering our...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 06
New iMacs -- Retina displays or not?

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

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

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

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

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Jul 05
Apple patent is for media content flocking

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

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

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

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Jul 05
Apple patent involves dual-mode iPhone headset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 05
Tablet usage for TV viewing continues to go up

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

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

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

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Jul 03
Apple patent involves ... DVDs?

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

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

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

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Jul 03
Apple patent is for a head-mounted display

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 03
Apple files patent for device foot

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

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

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

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

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

By Rick Sutcliffe

What boundary is the link between young and old?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 29
Most Americans doubt safety of cloud storage 

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

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

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Jun 28
Apple patent is for electronic device with two sensors

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

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

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

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Jun 28
Apple files patent for text input using speech data

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 26
Apple patent is for unlocking devices with a gesture

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

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

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

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Jun 26
Apple granted patent for light sensitive display

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

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

Apple has also been granted:

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 25
Demand for tiny tablets to fall, as will prices for...

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

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

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

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Jun 22
Hey, Apple, open up a store in my end of town

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

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

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

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

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Jun 21
Apple working on high-speed connector inserts, cable

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

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

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

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Jun 21
Apple patent is for Apple TV (and perhaps 'iTV...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 21
Apple patents involve battery technology, more

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

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

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

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Jun 20
Could an 'iTV" sport a Retina display?

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

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

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

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Jun 19
Greg's Bite: Microsoft's new tablets,...

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Jun 19
Apple patents range from conducting searches to remote...

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

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

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

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

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Jun 19
Tablet sales will eclipse those of PCs by 2015

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

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

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

Other findings from the research group's report include:

° The...

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Jun 18
Greg's Bite: Irritations of the Mac Internet...

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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Jun 18
Small cells, Wi-Fi solutions to help offset mobile...

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

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

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

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Jun 15
No Apple love for Mac desktops? Time to license OS X (...

The big disappointment of this week's Apple Worldwide Developer Conference was the lack of love for Mac desktops. Which has led some folks to predict that Apple will abandon its desktop line in favor of nothing but laptops -- which Apple denies.

Neither the Mac Pro nor the iMac was mentioned during the WWDC keynote. The former did receive a very minor update (http://macte.ch/jwtmP) that's been roundly criticized (the phrase "half-assed upgrade" has been seen more than once).

This has prompted one Mac journalist to suggest that Apple once again license the Mac OS X to other hardware venders. Jonny Evans, writing for "Computerworld" says: "As Apple focuses on the mobile segments I'm wondering if it hasn't once again become time for the company to license out its OS and technologies to hand-picked firms in order they produce high-end Mac desktop clones. After all, last time Apple licensed its systems to...

| Read more »
Jun 14
Apple patent is for light isolating protective cover

An Apple patent (number 20120148225) for a light isolating protective cover for a small form factor electronic device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

A portable device has a rear facing camera assembly and a front facing display assembly that includes at least a protective cover layer, a display stack that includes a plurality of display components arranged in a plurality of interconnected layers, the display stack providing an imaging service, and a flat support chassis arranged to provide support for the display stack.

In the described embodiment, a protective cover can wrap around and protect at least the rear portion of the portable device without adversely affecting an image capture process carried out by the rear facing camera assembly. The inventors are Chong Yip Chow. Hongqin Zhang, Shizhe Shen and Michael DiVincent.

Also concerning cameras and mobile devices is new patent number 20120147193, which involves a back panel for a...

| Read more »
Jun 14
MacBook Air has nothing to fear from latest ultrabooks

It's no surprise, but in a note to clients -- as reported by "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com) -- Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian J. White says latest batch of Windows-based Ultrabooks won't undercut Apple's ultraportable MacBook Air enough on price to win away most consumers.

"Our checks thus far indicate that the price points for the new releases will be well over the $699 price threshold that we deem necessary for this new category to be a big success," White wrote in a note to investors. "... "In our view, if consumers are not getting a significant discount for a Windows-based Ultrabook, they will simply opt for the best and pay $999 for Apple's... MacBook Air."

I think White is right. I mean why would you buy an ultrabook? If you want a compact device for content consumption and a limited amount of work, get an iPad. If you want a compact device for content creation and...

| Read more »
Jun 14
Apple applies for flat panel display patent

Apple has applied for a patent (number 20120145841) is for a flat panel display including a hinge assembly, such as that in the current generation iMac and the Apple Cinema Display. An apparatus for a flat panel is disclosed.

The apparatus comprises a flat panel assembly and a hinge mechanism coupled to the flat panel assembly. The hinge mechanism is adaptable to an industry standard mount and a non-industry standard mount. A system and method in accordance with the present invention allows for the replacement of a non-VESA standard compatible display mount with a display mount that is compatible with the VESA standard. Utilizing the system and method in accordance with the present invention, such a replacement can be accomplished with minimal effort, and in an efficient manner.

The inventors are John Ternus, Eric Knopf, Sean Corbin, Brett Degner, Danielle De Iuliis, Shin Nishibori, Amy Aimei Han, Michael David Hillman, Daniel Lynn McBroom, Michael David MacBroom and...

| Read more »
Jun 13
Tech companies shouldn't underestimate the over-...

When it comes to advertising, most tech companies -- including Apple -- want to target the young crowd. Maybe it's time to reconsider and modify those ads a bit.

Grandparents.com, an online resource for grandparents, says research conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project has revealed that, for the first time in Internet history, more than half of all U.S. adults over the age of 65 use the web. The Pew report found that 53% of the over-65 set use the Internet.

In addition, about 70% of web-oriented seniors say they go online every day. What's more, Pew reported that over one-third of seniors on the Internet, age 65 and older, use social networking websites, and 18% do so every day.  

According to Mashable.com, "This is a high number, especially considering 66% of all adult Internet users access social networking sites." 

So companies such as Apple should keep these stats in mind. Hey, we're seeing a virtual geezer revolution. The Beach Boys...

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Jun 12
Apple working on ways to improve videoconferencing

According to a new patent (number 8199249) Apple is working on ways to improve videoconferencing The patent is for image capture using the display device as a light source.

A digital image capture system and method uses a display device to illuminate a target with light for improved image capture under poor lighting conditions. Various characteristics of the flash (e.g., brightness, color, duration, etc.) can be adjusted to improve image capture. Users are provided with feedback (e.g., live video feed, audio and/or visual countdowns, etc.) to assist them in preparing for image capture. The captured images are seamlessly integrated with existing applications (e.g., video conferencing, instant text messaging, etc.).

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Videoconferencing is one of the fastest growing segments of the computer industry. This growth is based in part on affordable digital video cameras. Digital video cameras (e.g., 'WebCams' can be...

| Read more »
Jun 12
Apple patent is for computers with spring-mounted...

An Apple patent (number 8199477) for portable computers with spring-mounted displays has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. This invention relates to electronic devices and, more particularly, to electronic devices that have displays such as portable computers.

Per the patent, an electronic device housing may contain a display module. The display module may contain layers of material such as a color filter layer and a thin-film transistor layer. These layers of material may be mounted in a display module chassis. A cover glass may cover the display module. The housing may have springs that mate with corresponding holes in the chassis of the display module to hold the display module in place within the housing.

The springs may flex about a flex axis that is perpendicular to a planar rear housing surface and the planar layers of the display module. A disassembly tool may be inserted into a gap between the cover glass and housing sidewalls. When the...

| Read more »
Jun 12
Apple wins design patents for the iPad, Cinema Display

Apple has been granted several patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, including one (D661693) for the design of the iPad and one (D661305) for the design of the Apple Cinema Display.

The inventors of the former are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Costner, Daniele De Iulis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Duoglas Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

The inventors of the latter are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Costner, Daniele De Iulis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Duoglas Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Apple also won patents for the following:

° Patent number 8200986 for a computer related method and apparatus to transmit a logical...

| Read more »
Jun 12
Some thoughts on the WWDC keynote ...

Needless to say my predictions (http://macte.ch/mGHbx) on what would be unveiled at the 2012 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference were off by quite a bit. I was (mostly) right about MacBook Air updates, the apparent demise of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, Mountain Lion details and iOS info.

However, I had predicted a peak at a software development kit for the Apple TV (didn't happen), as well as iMac and Mac Pro updates. There was no mention of the former. And I want my Retina display Mac!

The Mac Pro went from eight cores to 12, but didn't add Thunderbolt or USB 3.0. Really, Apple? You're offering a "pro desktop" that lacks features of the new MacBook Air?

Also ...

° With the incredible Retina display on the new MacBook Pro, it sure would be nice if Apple brought Newsstand and iBookstore to the Mac.

° Retina display options for the current gen MacBook Pros and MacBooks Airs would be...

| Read more »
Jun 11
More than 1-in-4 mobile users will pay in-store using...

Apple is reportedly working on NFC (near field communications) functionality for the upcoming iPhone. If so, it may be a timely feature addition.

A new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com) has found that more than 1 in 4 of US and Western European mobile phone users will use their NFC-enabled mobile phone to pay for goods in-store by 2017, compared with less than 2% in 2012.

Worldwide, more NFC payment pilots are being launched and transitioning to full commercial service being spearheaded by both mobile network operators and financial institutions. The Juniper report found that, while mobile retail payment services of all types are growing in popularity, the ability to "tap" an NFC phone against a POS terminal to make a purchase has tremendous user appeal.

For mobile wallet providers and partners, NFC payments also provide new and personalized retail...

| Read more »
Jun 08
My WWDC predictions

Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off Monday, and there'll be a keynote at 10 am (Pacific). I'm expecting a big ol' gang of Apple execs to be on hand for the party. So what will they be celebrating?

"9to5Mac" (http://www.9to5Mac.com) says that, in a first, Apple will update four of their five Mac lines. They're probably right. I think we'll see refreshes of the iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and, yes, the Mac Pro. (Sorry, Mac mini, you'll have to wait).

Per my crystal ball, the iMac, MacBook Pro lines and MacBook Air will all get Retina displays. There have been reports that the 13-inch MacBook Pro won't get a Retina Display. I'm going out on a limb here and taking it one step further: I think both the 13-inch and the 17-inch MacBook Pro models will vanish. My guess: Apple's laptop line will include 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs and 15-inch MacBook Pros in a variety of...

| Read more »
Jun 07
Apple patent is for morphing user interface control...

An Apple patent (number 20120144330) for morphing an user interface control object has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and techniques are disclosed for morphing a first control object in a user-interface into a second control object.

According to some implementations, the first control object is provided for display on a graphical user interface presented on a display of a device. The first control object can be configured to control a parameter of a presentation of media content in response to a first input. An interaction input is received indicating a user interaction with the first control object. In response to the interaction input, the first control object can be morphed into a second control object, replacing the first control object.

A second input can be received, the second input indicating an intention of the user to change a value of the second control object. And, the value of the second control object can be adjusted...

| Read more »
Jun 07
Who are the 'beleaguered' companies now?

Remember not-so-long-ago when Apple was the "doomed" tech company with a shrinking share of the computer market. Dependent on the Mac, the company was soon to be extinct, according to many pundits.

How the worm has turned. Microsoft still rules the personal computer world with Windows, but Apple is the dominant force in the smartphone and tablet worlds.

The lost enthusiasm for developing smartphone apps is being replaced by a new passion for tablets, according to the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). The percentage of developers primarily supporting tablets is growing from 13% last year to 36% next year.

According to the Strategy Analytics report, “App Developer Survey: Developer Attitudes - 1H2012,” when Windows 8 and BlackBerry 10 are released, both
Microsoft and Research in Motion will seek to take advantage of the battleground...

| Read more »
Jun 07
Apple files for patent for slide show navigation

A new Apple patent (number 20120144297) for slide show navigation has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, a slide show, integrated into an email application, displays images such as those included as an attachment to an email message.

The user can view the slide show without exiting the email application. Slide show navigation controls are provided. An index sheet mode can be activated wherein a number of thumbnails are displayed, allowing easy navigation to any image within the slide show. Transition animations can be provided for clarifying operations such as activating and dismissing the index sheet.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Conventionally, there is no convenient way to browse and view a series of image attachments received via email without leaving that email application. Images can appear inline in the body of the email, but browsing through a series of image attachments is restricted to vertically...

| Read more »
 
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