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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...

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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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Mar 27
The 'iMac TV" makes sense in light of '...

TV programs have come to the Internet, and the Internet has gone to mobile devices. Now the Internet is coming back to TV, and savvy software engineers and smart TV producers are finding ways to create new "hybrid" services that bring it all together. Which is why the rumored "iMac television" and, down the pike, the "iTV," would make sense.

New NPD In-Stat (http://www.in-stat.com) research forecasts that 100 million households will actively use a hybrid service delivered to their TV set by 2016.

The next step in the viewing experience will be for TV sets and set top boxes to permit all of the traditional TV-related services, which is then expanded and enhanced by bringing in content from the Internet, or from Internet-like web services that provide a "walled garden" of authorized content and on-screen features, says Gerry Kaufhold, research director, NPD In-Stat. The research group notes that...

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Mar 27
Apple patents cover iPad Smart Cover, voicemail...

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

Apple has been granted two more patents (numbers 8143982 and 814983) for its iPad Smart Cover. The patent is for a foldable accessory device. A magnetic attachment mechanism and method is described. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach at least two objects together in a preferred configuration without fasteners and without external intervention. The inventors are Andrew Lauder, Matthew D. Rohrbach, Daniel J. Coster, Christopher J. Stringer, Florence W. Ow, Jiang Ai, Jonathan P. Ive, Elivs M. Kibiti, John P. Ternus and Sean D. Lubner.

Patent number 8145196 is for the creation and management of voicemail greetings for mobile communication devices. Per the patent, a user of a mobile communication device can create and manage multiple voicemail greetings. In one aspect, a user of a mobile communication device...

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Mar 26
Are you addicted to the Internet?

Are you addicted to the Internet? If you're reading this (and I'm glad you are), you could be.

SodaHead.com -- an online, opinion-based social community -- asked its users if they thought they were addicted to the Internet and 61% of respondents said "yes."  However, 39% said they could quit if they wanted. But isn't that what all addicts say?

When the numbers are broken down by gender, 64% of women admitted to an Internet addiction, compared to 55% of men. Internet addiction was present in every age group, however the younger voters were more likely to be hooked (73% of those between 13-17 and 71% of those between 18-24).  The numbers decreased for older respondents with only 39% of those between 55-65 admitting to the addiction.

Full results of the poll, including detailed demographic information, can be found at...

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Mar 23
Apple's 'great stuff' for 2012 should...

Worldwide computer shipment growth for 2011 ended on a slightly positive note, growing to 1.8% on the year, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) research group (http://www.idc.com). This year is expected to see only modest growth, though I suspect the Mac will continue to see higher-than-average sales.

After all, as CEO Tim Cook has pointed out, the company's global share of the personal computer market is in the single digits. That offers room for a LOT of growth. On Monday during a press conference, Cook said that Apple's pipeline is "full of stuff" and that customers will be "incredibly pleased" with what they see coming out. Let's hope that much of that great stuff involves the Mac.

Maybe that's the MacBook Pro Air. Maybe it's an iMac with television features that hint at the rumored "iTV." Maybe it's a hybrid iPad and MacBook Air. Maybe it's Macs with retina displays. The personal...

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Mar 22
Apple working on a media delivery system with improved...

Per a new Apple patent (number 20120070017) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Apple is working on ethods and systems for improved interaction between media devices and accessory devices.

In one embodiment, the improved interaction can operate to configure a user interface of a media device dependent on the type or condition of an accessory device. In the same or another embodiment, the improved interaction can exchange status information between a media device and an accessory device that can influence operation of either or both of the devices.

The invention pertains to methods and systems for improved interaction between media devices and accessory devices. In one embodiment, the improved interaction can operate to configure a user interface of a media device dependent on the type or condition of an accessory device. The configuration of the user interface can be automatically performed when the media device is connected with the accessory device. In the...

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Mar 22
Future iOS devices may sport more glass

An Apple patent (number 20120069517) shows that future iOS devices may sport more glass components. The patent is for a handheld computing device that includes an enclosure having structural walls formed from a glass material that can be radio-transparent.

The enclosure can be formed from a hollow glass tube or two glass members bonded together. A laser frit bonding process may be used to hermetically seal the two glass members together to create a water resistant electronic device.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "In recent years, portable electronic devices, such as laptop computers, tablet computers, PDAs, media players, and cellular phones, have become compact and lightweight yet powerful. As manufacturers have been able to fabricate various operational components of these devices in smaller sizes, the devices themselves have become smaller. In most cases, despite having a more compact size, such components have increased power as well as operating speed...

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Mar 22
Apple granted patents for the iPad Smart Cover

Apple has been granted several patents pertaining to the Smart Cover for the iPad.

Patent number 20120066865 is for a foldable accessory device. A magnetic attachment mechanism and method is described. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach at least two objects together in a preferred configuration without fasteners and without external intervention. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach an accessory device to an electronic device.

Patents 20120066873, 20120068797, 20120068798, 20120068799, 20120069502, 20120069503, 20120068919, 20120068942 and 20120069540 involve methods and an apparatus for configuring a magnetic attachment system. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach at least two objects together in a preferred configuration without fasteners and without external intervention. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach an accessory device to an...

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Mar 22
Greg's Bite: Sprint, hot iPads, Google's 1...

By Greg Mills

Dear readers, I have been busy writing a textbook on the process of invention using the new Apple App "iBooks Author" and have been spreading my tech articles around with various publishers.  When I read things about Apple that bug me, I sit down a write about it ... therapy of sorts. When that happens, my friends at MacNews and MacTech lend me a soap box to express my views.

Recently Sprint, the ugly duckling of the US cell phone industry,  has come under fire from the market due to Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett cutting Sprint's stock potential due to the high risk of bankruptcy. Moffett figures there is a 50-50 chance the iPhone deal with Apple will actually be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Sprint admitted they were betting the farm on the iPhone deal. The more iPhones they sell, the more financing they need until the new accounts go into the black.

Moffitt recounts the long laundry list of major mistakes Sprint...

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Mar 22
Customers not happy with Internet service, TV service...

If Apple ever works out the details work an a la carte television viewing/subscription service, it can't come too soon for many folks.

A new research report published by Temkin Group (http://www.temkingroup.com) rates the customer experience of 206 large companies across 18 industries. This is the second year that the research group has released these ratings.

The research, which is based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers in January 2012, includes ratings of 11 Internet service providers -- AOL, AT&T, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, EarthLink, MSN, Qwest, Road Runner, and Verizon - and 10 TV service providers: AT&T, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, DirecTV, Dish Network/EchoStar, Optimum (iO)/Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

While the study rated 21 organizations across both the TV and...

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Mar 21
An iBriefcase, perhaps?

Remember the briefcase? Sure you do. Since many folks -- including my buddy, J. Scott Anderson, who came up with the idea for today's topic -- do their work with an iMac/iPad/iPhone combination, I've been wondering what type of carrying accessory would be more appropriate than the old briefcase.

So what about a modern briefcase? An iBriefcase, perhaps? Rather than a focus on a legal folder, it would focus on today's electronics. Possible features could include:

° Solar panels on one side to provide power to internal USB ports for charging iOS devices;

° Security locks;

° A built-in Wi-Fi finder with an indicator on the exterior;

° Space for the inevitable folders/paper that you collect throughout the day;

° Space for a scanner and or printer (mobile versions, of course) that connect via Bluetooth to iOS devices;

° A configurable interior so that I can tailor it to fit a variety of iOS devices;

° USB ports internally for device...

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Mar 20
Apple patent is for tactile feedback

Some folks were disappointed that the new iPad didn't have tactile feedback features. However, a patent (number 8138896) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for tactile feedback in an electronic device shows that this is possibility -- for not just the iPad, but other devices.

An electronic device for providing tactile feedback is provided. The electronic device may provide tactile feedback using any suitable approach, including for example vibration, heat, electrical, visual, or any other type of feedback.

The electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to detecting any particular status of the electronic device, receiving any particular input, or detecting any suitable communication received by the electronic device. For example, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to identifying the current network of the device, the status of a particular electronic device component, or any other electronic device status.

As...

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Mar 20
Future Mac keyboards could have multi color display...

Future Mac keyboards may sport keys that light up with different colors depending on how they're being used, per a new Apple patent at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent number 8138687 is for a system for displaying multiple colors individually or in combination with one another. The system may emit red, green and blue light from light emitting diodes and may additionally provide white light to brighten the color provided by the red, green and blue light emitting diodes.

The white light source may also be used to increase the power efficiency of the system, thus increasing the lifetime of the system for displaying multiple colors. The white light source may be used to backlight the color provided by the red, green and blue light emitted by the light emitting diodes, or may also be used as an additional light source to the light provided by the red, green and blue light emitting diodes.

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

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Mar 20
Apple granted patent for iPad Smart Cover

Apple has been granted a patent (8138869) for the iPad Smart Cover, a front cover for the tablet that snaps into space with magnetic hinges and which "wakes up, stands up and brightens up your iPad."

In the patent, a magnetic attachment mechanism and method is described. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach at least two objects together in a preferred configuration without fasteners and without external intervention. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach an accessory device to an electronic device. The accessory device can be used to augment the functionality of usefulness of the electronic device. The inventors are Andrew Lauder, Matthew D. Rohrbach, Daniel J. Coster, Christopher J. Stringer, Florence W. Ow, Jiang Ai, Jonathan P. Ive, Elvis M. Kibiti, John P. Ternus and Sean D. Lubner.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "An accessory unit includes at least an accessory body and a magnetic assembly...

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Mar 20
Should the next iPhone have a larger display?

There have been rumors that a future iPhone would sport a bigger display. According to a new study by Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) that's what many consumers want.

Existing smartphone owners in the US and UK seek larger mobile phone displays, compared to displays on their current phone, says the research group. The Strategy Analytics Wireless Device Lab report, "Smartphone Owners Want Thin Devices with Larger Displays," found that surveyed smartphone respondents prefer device screens in the 4.0-inch to 4.5-inch range, as long as the device is also thin.

Some differences in size preference exist dependent on the segment. Females are more likely to consider slightly smaller devices than males. Existing Android owners are more likely to seek larger devices than existing Apple iPhone owners.

"Almost 90% of existing smartphone owners surveyed chose a...

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Mar 20
Apple patents are for slide show navigation, data...

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

Patent number 8140975 involves slide show navigation. 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. The inventors are Stephen Lemay, Gregory N. Christie, Marcel van Os and Hans-Werner Neubrand.

Patent number 8140809 is for computer implemented masked representation of data tables. In the computer software field, method and apparatus to obfuscate (mask or...

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Mar 19
This is how we waste our time at work

OfficeTime.net, creator of the popular OfficeTime time and expense tracking software for Mac and Windows computers and iOS devices, recently conducted a survey of working professionals on their Biggest Time Killers.

Fifty-three percent of respondents were business owners, freelancers or executives, while 39% work in professional "white collar" positions. Survey participants were asked to name their top-three time killers. "Email" was named as this year's biggest time killer by 47% of respondents.

Other top five time killers included procrastination (42%), social networking (36%), meetings (34%), and surfing the Internet (30%). Rounding out the Top 10 were non business-related conversations (24%), dealing with computer / technical issues (23%), "bureaucracy / red tape" (19%), travel time / commuting (14%), and playing computer games (10%).

To help counteract these Top Time Killers, OfficeTime.net offers its tips for prioritizing how people spend their time each...

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Mar 16
Walmart supports Ultraviolet; now the ball is in Apple...

In a move that will rev the iTunes-vs-UltraViolet battle, Walmart is offering a service that turns physical DVD/Blu-ray collections across the U.S. into digital movies.

The retailer's in-store disc-to-digital service offers the freedom to watch their DVD/Blu-ray collections from Internet-connected devices, including televisions, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and more -- just as iTunes/iCloud does. The service is powered by VUDU, a video streaming service, and involves the UltraViolet format.

UltraViolet is a cloud-based movie storage solution that the industry is betting (or at least hoping) will convince consumers to buy movies instead of renting them. How? The "digital locker" solution keeps copies of films you've bought on remote servers for viewing any time on various devices.

Walt Disney is the only major film studio not backing UltraViolet. Apple also hasn't announced support for the technology. There's speculation that Apple and Disney are...

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Mar 15
Apple working on ways for enforcing software licenses

When the success of the Mac App Store, Apple is looking for ways to crack down on software piracy. A new patent (number 20120066135) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a method and apparatus for enforcing software licenses.

Some computer software programs use so-called "resource libraries" to provide part of their functionality. There's usually a license fee required to use a resource library. Under current schemes, it's not always possible to charge the license fee to all users of a resource library, says Apple. This problem can be understood by comparing software structures that use resource libraries with basic software structures that don't.

The invention is for a method and apparatus for enforcing software licenses for resource libraries such as an application program interface (API), a toolkit, a framework, a runtime library, a dynamic link library (DLL), an applet (e.g., a Java or ActiveX applet), or any other reusable resource. The...

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Mar 15
Apple eyeing ways to let you momentarily enable a...

A new Apple patent (number 20120062206) shows that Apple is eyeing way to let you momentarily enable an electronic device. It relates generally to power control for an electronic device, and more particularly to a control mechanism providing momentary power and constant power states.

The invention is for a method and apparatus for providing intermittent or interruptible power to an electronic device. The circuit may provide power upon user initiation and interrupt that power in response to a user command, fault state, period of inactivity and so forth.

As one example, interruptible power may be initially provided to activate or "power up" an electronic device and constant power provided after the initial activation. The initial powering up of the device may be facilitated by closing two contacts. The circuit may continue to provide power after the button is released through a monitoring and/or feedback mechanism.

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

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Mar 15
There'll be no iCar, but more iPhone-equipped...

There have been scattered rumors over the years that Apple would enter the automotive market (the iCar?). Take my word: that's not going to happen. However, you will see an ever-increasing Apple influence in automobiles.

Integration of the smartphone into consumer vehicles will become all but standard on new models, according to a new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com/), which forecasts that 92 million vehicles will feature technology to integrate the smartphone into the head-unit by 2016. And you can bet the iPhone will be the most integrated smartphone.

New protocols such as MirrorLink from the Connected Car Consortium will help automotive manufacturers like  Mercedes and Toyota follow Ford in introducing technology that allows the smartphone to become a "hub," enabling mobile Internet, smartphone app and content access across the range of vehicles they...

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Mar 15
Apple patents involve tagging on mobile devices

Apple has won two patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office involving tags on mobile devices.

Patent number 20120062758 involves the relative positioning of devices based on captured images of tags and seems to involve the Places feature of iPhoto.

The patent is directed to determining the relative position of several devices by capturing representations of the device environments in which a tag is located. The devices can compare the captured representations to determine a perspective of the tag corresponding to each device. In some cases, a device can determine an absolute position relative to a coordinate system integrated in a tag. Using the positioning information, several devices can receive directions to come together at a particular meeting point. In some cases, several devices can operate an application that requires the interaction of several users of the devices (e.g., multi-player games).

The application can control the...

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Mar 15
Apple patent is for user interface for music sequence...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 2012006068) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for a graphical user interface for music sequence programming.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "If a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) user desires to create a musical pattern such as a complex drum pattern they can utilize MIDI programming and/or arranging audio loops. However, utilizing MIDI programming and/or arranging audio loops requires in-depth expertise in MIDI and audio editing, as well as some musical background including knowledge of complex rhythms to achieve musically pleasing results where all elements of a sequence fit together.

"Therefore users, particularly novice users, can benefit from a method and system for presenting a graphical user interface that allow a user to quickly program a musical sequence without music sequence programming expertise where all elements of the sequence fit together musically. Furthermore, experienced...

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Mar 14
iPad 3 will put more strain on corporate networks

Now that Apple has unveiled the new iPad, concerns continue to mount over the influx of mobile devices converging on the corporate network: namely whether companies have formal bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs that can handle the increased demand for bandwidth.

Brocade (http://www.brocade.com/index.page) -- a company that offers "network solutions that help the world’s leading organizations transition smoothly to a virtualized world where applications and information can reside anywhere" -- has revealed the results of a survey of 120 IT decision-makers, which found that:

° Almost 40% of respondents indicated that employees use mobile devices to access their corporate networks regardless of an official bring-your-own-device policy.

° More than 30% of decision-makers expect traffic on their networks to increase as a direct result of the iPad 3.

° Almost 40%...

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Mar 13
Apple patent is for transferring button status info

An Apple patent (number 8135891) for a method and system for transferring button status info between a media player and accessory has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present invention relates generally to electrical devices and more particularly to electrical devices such as media players that communicate with accessory devices.

"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 from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. Often, a media player acquires its media assets from a host computer that serves to enable a user to manage media assets. As an example, the host computer can execute a media management application to manage media assets. One example of a media management application is iTunes, version 6.0, produced by Apple Inc.

"A media...

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