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Dec 08
Apple working on its own Kinect-like technology

A new patent (number 20110298798) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on its own Kinect-like technology. Kinect is a motion sensing input device by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 video game console.

Per Apple's patent a three-dimensional imaging and display system is provided in which user input is optically detected in an imaging volume by measuring the path length of an amplitude modulated scanning beam as a function of the phase shift thereof. Visual image user feedback concerning the detected user input is presented. Christoph H. Krah is the inventor.

The invention provides a three-dimensional imaging and display system. User input is optically detected in an imaging volume by measuring the path length of an amplitude modulated scanning beam as a function of the phase shift thereof. Here's Apple's background on the invention:

"Modern three-dimensional ('3D') imaging and display technologies are employed in widely diverse...

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Dec 08
All-in-one sales slowing, but the iMac will defy this...

After experiencing strong growth of 45-50% in 2009 and 2010, demand for all-in-one computers has already started cooling down with shipment growth for 2011 expected to reach only 31.1%, according to a new report from "DigiTimes" (http://macte.ch/2sMz3). I'm predicting that one all-in-one will defy that trend: the iMac.

"DigiTimes" says that the all-in-one segment will face an even bigger slowdown as it continues trying to penetrate into the desktop market in 2012, with annual shipment growth dropping below 20%, on shipments of 15.8 million units, adds the research group. This year shipments of all-in-ones will only account for 9.3% of the desktop market, lower than previous forecasts that expected double-digit penetration in 2011, according to the research group.

While the proportion will rise slightly in 2012, reaching 10.5%, the growth of the segment has reached a stable point and the AIO penetration...

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Dec 08
Apple eyeing high contrast liquid crystal display

A new Apple patent (number 20110298833) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is investigating a high contrast liquid crystal display.

According to Apple devices and methods related to high-contrast liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are provided. For example, such an electronic device may include an LCD with two liquid crystal alignment layers not symmetric to one another and upper and lower polarizing layers respectively above and below the alignment layers. The inventors are Enkh Amgalan Dorjotov, Zhibing Ge, Ming Xu, Cheng Chen, Bai Young Park, John Z. Zhong, Wei Chen and Shawn Robert Gettemy.

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

"Such LCD devices...

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Dec 08
Apple patent involves noise cancellation in portable...

An Apple patent (number 20110299695) for active noise cancellation decisions in a portable audio device show that the company continues to look at ways to improve the sound quality in its iOS and portable devices.

Per the patent, active noise cancellation (ANC) circuitry is coupled to the input of an earpiece speaker in a portable audio device, to control the ambient acoustic noise outside of the device and that may be heard by a user of the device. A microphone is to pickup sound emitted from the earpiece speaker, as well as the ambient acoustic noise. Control circuitry deactivates the ANC in response to determining that an estimate of how much sound emitted from the earpiece speaker has been corrupted by noise indicates insufficient corruption by noise.

In another embodiment, the ANC decision is in response to determining that an estimate of the ambient noise level is greater than a threshold level of an audio artifact that could be induced by the ANC. Guy C....

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Dec 08
Most of holiday budgets will be spent on electronics

TechBargains (www.techbargains.com), a deal aggregation website for electronics products, released its 2011 Holiday Survey, revealing that despite the weak economy consumers are still buying large amounts of consumer electronics this season. And since tablets are among the hottest items, it looks to be a happy holiday for Apple, as well as Amazon.

At least a quarter of all consumers’ holiday gift budgets will be spent on consumer electronics with 52% of shoppers expecting to spend between US$250 to $500. More than 50% of men and women surveyed plan on spending half or more of their budget on electronics, completely unimpeded by the economic downturn.

Electronics products will consume a large portion of the holiday gift budget for men and women with 39% of women and 37% of men stating that they will spend half of their holiday budget on consumer electronics. However, while they're spending...

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Dec 08
Apple patents involve cell power control, removing...

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

Patent number 20110300805 is for adaptive cellular power control. The patent involves a method of mitigating interference in a mobile wireless communication device by adaptively adjusting transmit power levels of a wireless cellular transceiver. A receive signal quality for a wireless non-cellular transceiver that includes interference from signals transmitted by the wireless cellular transceiver is estimated. The wireless non-cellular and wireless cellular transceivers are co-located in the mobile wireless communication device, and both transceivers are active.

An actual transmit power of the wireless cellular transceiver is adjusted based on the estimated receive signal quality to a level less than a requested transmit power. The estimation of the receive signal quality and the adjusting of the actual transmit power is periodically...

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Dec 07
Mobile device security issues slowing enterprise...

A survey conducted by the Enterprise Device Alliance revealed that IT administrators believe that the challenge of securing mobile devices is the largest impediment to acceptance by enterprises. This seems to be an area in which Apple could turn the tide -- especially if the rumors are true that new CEO Tim Cook is more amendable to the enterprise than was Steve Jobs.

Fifty-four percent of the respondents replied that preventing access to sensitive data from unauthorized users is the top concern slowing adoption smartphones and tablets for enterprises. Fifty-nine percent of the IT professionals said that another source of concern is the security risk should the devices be stolen or lost.

Despite these concerns, more than 90% reported that tablets are being tested in pilot or production deployments at their organizations. Though the respondents indicated that only 6% of the employees currently have tablets, they expect that number to increase 250% by the end of next...

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Dec 06
Apple patents involve GUIs, magnet array, more

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

Patent number 8072471 involves processing cursor movements in a graphical user interface of a multimedia application. Per the patent, amethod for processing a selected item in a graphical user interface of a multimedia application is provided. The method includes receiving a hot key input that specifies a function that is to be applied to the selected item and displaying a set of control guidelines associated with the hot key input. The set of control guidelines indicates cursor movement inputs needed to specify particular aspects of the function.

A method for transforming a received cursor movement in a first coordinate system to a transformed cursor movement in a second coordinate system is provided. The received cursor movement specifies a particular manner (e.g., aspect and extent) of a function to be applied to an item in a workspace of a...

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Dec 06
Prediction: Apple will roll out carrier billing in...

2011 was a year of unbelievable growth in the apps market. Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) estimates that more than 30 billion apps were downloaded across various connected devices.

This explosive growth will lead to increased competition for the coming year, along with validation that the app economy is real and here to stay, with more players entering the app space, according to the research group. Three predictions from the report, "2012 App Predictions: Phones, Tablets, TV’s, and Cars -- Oh My!" include:

° Apple will roll out carrier billing in emerging markets;

° Amazon and Nook app stores will account for more than 25% of Android downloads in the US; and

° A car manufacturer will partner with Android for a dedicated automotive app market.

Manufacturers, developers, and content owners recognize apps opportunities in...

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Dec 05
Greg's Bite: Mobile Device Insecurity

By Greg Mills

The location insecurity flap last summer really set the stage for the current public reaction to the Carrier IQ issue, which is going on right now. Frankly, when you fully understand the motives for the likes of AT&T, Sprint and other cellular networks in diagnosing and improving service, you can excuse them adding such software to the smartphones running on their systems. What is less forgivable is the lack of transparency in users knowing what software is lurking in the smartphones we pay a pretty penny for and trust with a growing amount of personal data.

While Apple responded within a day of the issue becoming a hot topic in the tech press, the Apple customization and use of Carrier IQ appears to have been more intrusive in the past. The major difference between Carrier IQ's function in Android phones and iPhone are strikingly different. Informed consent to diagnostic software being turned on and exactly what it does should be a...

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Dec 05
Consumers more connected to TV sets than ever

American consumers continue to expand the number of devices and platforms they use to view TV shows and movies, yet report no significant change in the total time they spend watching on the traditional TV set. Which is good news for Apple if, as myriad rumors suggest, it's planning its own HDTV set in 2012 or 2013.

An annual study of consumer video consumption habits conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates (http://www.magid.com) reveals that while more than 50% of online consumers watch TV shows and movies online at least occasionally, there is still growth in their use of On Demand, DVR, and DVD options. Surprisingly, the more alternative platforms that consumers use, the more they tend to spend on traditional TV subscription services.

Notably, satisfaction with HD service is at an all-time high among customers of pay television providers, including cable, satellite, and telco TV. TV purchase intentions...

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Dec 02
Greg's Bite: Carrier IQ info

Posted by Greg Mills

I contacted Apple Media Relations Thursday morning requesting comment on the Carrier IQ privacy issue on Apple products and got a phone call back with an official statement from Apple, at 4:30 Central time. This is Apple's Official Statement on Carrier IQ:

"We stopped supporting CarrierIQ with iOS 5 in most of our products and will remove it completely in a future software update. With any diagnostic data sent to Apple, customers must actively opt-in to share this information, and if they do, the data is sent in an anonymous and encrypted form and does not include any personal information. We never recorded keystrokes, messages or any other personal information for diagnostic data and have no plans to ever do so."

Apple iOS users can turn off diagnostic software on their devices. Go into the Settings menu and follow these instructions. On an iPhone or iPad with the 3G radio, turning the Carrier IQ software off is very...

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Dec 02
Solid Mac, 'disappointing' iPhone sales over...

I don't understand most analysts. The consensus opinion among pro pundits seems to be that iPhone sales for the holidays will disappoint while Mac sales will thrill.

Overall iPhone shipments in the holiday quarter could come in around 30 million units or below Wall Street expectations. I'm not sure what the Street was expecting, but 30 million units sounds like a lot of iPhones sold. (Academic studies have shown that insiders traditionally make higher investment returns than ordinary investors.)

Meanwhile, Barclays said that it continues to believe Apple can see further gains as it extracts more profits out of the traditional computer and mobile phone industries. According to its checks, sales over Black Friday and Cyber Monday were quite solid for Apple, largely in line with their own expectations. Barclays believes Macs have momentum overseas in the Apple's December quarter, as it expects unit growth of 22% year-over-year.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Dec 01
Apple eyeing ways to improve iOS device cameras

Two Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is working on methods of further improving the cameras in its OS device.

Patent 20110292246 involves automatic tone mapping curve generation based on dynamically stretched image histogram distribution. An apparatus, method, computer useable medium, and processor programmed to automatically generate tone mapping curves in a digital camera based on image metadata are described.

"Rather than having a static tone mapping curve for all images, the curve can be varied automatically based on, e.g., the brightness histogram of the image. In one embodiment, a certain percentage of the least bright pixels and a certain percentage of the brightest pixels can be disregarded, while the remaining pixels can be linearly stretched to encompass the original range of brightness values. Based on the distribution of the resultant stretched brightness histogram, slopes for the low end (S.sub.0) and high end (S.sub....

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Dec 01
Apple patent is for 'digital handshake'...

An Apple patent (number 20110293094) for a "digital handshake" between devices shows that Apple is looking at new ways sharing data between handheld devices -- and perhaps Macs.

The patent is is directed to a digital handshake for establishing a secure communications path between two electronic devices. Each device can capture an image of the other device using a camera (e.g., a front facing camera or a back facing camera) and extract, from the captured image, a key or seed associated with the other device.

For example, each device can display a seed to be identified from an image taken by the other device. Using the extracted keys or seeds, each device can generate, using a same process, an identical digital handshake key. The digital handshake key can then be used to define a secure communications path between the two devices and share information securely.

In some embodiments, a digital handshake key can be shared among several devices to create a multi-...

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Dec 01
Apple looking into automatic avatar creation

A new Apple patent (number 200110292051) shows Apple's continued interest in avatar creation. An an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character.

The patent involves a three-dimensional (“3D”) avatar can be automatically created that resembles the physical appearance of an individual captured in one or more input images or video frames. The avatar can be further customized by the individual in an editing environment and used in various applications, including but not limited to gaming, social networking and video conferencing. The inventors are Alex Tremain Nelson, Cedric Bray, Thomas Goossens, Merwe Rudolph Van Der, Richard E. Crandall and Bertrand Serlet.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Avatars are increasingly used in online social networking, gaming, and other communications, typically as a surrogate for an actual photograph of the user. Avatars offer a measure of privacy, while allowing the user to have...

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Dec 01
The Northern Spy: surplus G5s, Apple IDs, The...

By Rick Sutcliffe

The Spy recently acquired a few surplus G5s, and in the process of setting them up to be useful file servers and replacements for even older G4s at his home and church, (re)-discovered some interesting things about memory, disk drives, and both hardware and software compatibilities.

First is that all disk drives are not manufactured equal, quite apart from the Thailand flooding that means many aren't being manufactured at all. Two 250G Maxtor drives in an old G5 Quad, when inserted into a new (well, one year old) MacPro, could not be recognized. Evidently this is a known problem with this brand--they play well with some machines and not with others. 'Course, the Maxtor name is gone now, absorbed by Seagate, but perhaps this finicky behaviour is one reason why.

So, the Spy went out to his local NCIX store and picked up a new Western Digital Caviar blue 500G drive for the Quad. No problem getting that recognized, partitioned,...

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Dec 01
1-in-3 online consumers to use a tablet by 2014

How big can this iPad thing get? A lot bigger still, apparently, based on new data from eMarketer (http://www.emarketer.com), a "digital intelligence" research firm. The company says 1-in-3 online consumers will use a tablet by 2014.

Tablet devices, in their current incarnation, have only been available for a couple years, but the iPad has propelled them to rapid increases in ownership and usage. eMarketer estimates that by the end of 2011, 33.7 million Americans will use a tablet device at least monthly -- a rise of 158.6% over last year, the year the iPad was released.

Growth will slow to double digits beginning in 2012. However, the number of users will rise to nearly 90 million, or 35.6% of all internet users, by 2014. eMarketer’s previous tablet-related forecasts have focused on unit sales and the total installed base of devices.

These current estimates deal instead with usage, and...

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Nov 30
Should Apple pay more taxes? Create more US jobs?

Economist Martin Sullivan says Apple is no better than other multinationals that have been "painted as corporate tax dodgers by major media outlets." This would seem to contradict a Nov. 3 report in which Citizens for Tax Justice estimated that Apple paid an average effective U.S. tax rate of 31% between 2008 and 2010.

That's close to the ostensible corporate income tax rate of 35%, notes the "San Francisco Chronicle" (http://macte.ch/coRY2). Out of 280 companies in the study, only 49 had a higher effective tax rate than Apple.

However, Sullivan says "despite outward appearances, Apple enjoys enormous foreign tax benefits, just as GE and Google do. By taking advantage of lax U.S. and foreign tax laws, Apple has been able to book a large share of its foreign profits in low-tax jurisdictions and greatly reduce its tax liability in the United States and other major countries where it conducts most of its...

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Nov 29
Apple patent is for accessory power management

An Apple patent (number 8069356) for accessory power management has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It includes methods, apparatus, and circuits for managing power among portable computing devices and one or more accessories.

One example provides commands to improve power management between a portable computing device and one or more accessories. Other examples provide commands that may allow a portable computing device to charge at a maximum available current level while providing an accessory with sufficient current for its proper operation. Another may help prevent a portable computing device from drawing a high level of current that could be detrimental to an accessory, while others provide commands that may allow a battery pack to instruct a portable computing device to not charge its internal battery.

Another example may allow a portable computing device to determine which power supply among multiple power supplies should be used to power an...

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Nov 29
Greg's Bite: RIM PlayBook hits the dust

Posted by Greg Mills

The RIM PlayBook is being sold off at $99 as paperweights. Best Buy sold their existing PlayBook inventory that they had tried to return to RIM, unsuccessfully it seems. When they sold out at $99, it appears Best Buy has washed its hands of the worst dud since the Kin Phone Microsoft pulled from the market after about 6 weeks of humiliation and abuse in the press.

RIM has taken the "gang that can't shoot straight" title away from Microsoft as every BlackBerry and the PlayBook have failed to gain market share for the once big gun in the enterprise arena. The outages that mysteriously took down the RIM network and repeated dud smartphone models have really hurt the reputation of RIM. With a bill of materials for PlayBook of about $205, retailing them for $99 amounts to dumping them to clear shelf space.

It is hard to imagine PlayBook coming back at this stage of the game. The promised software that RIM failed to launch...

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Nov 29
CD format to be dead by end of 2012?

Take this one with a grain of salt, but "Side-Line Music Magazine" (http://macte.ch/r31IY) says the CD format will be abandoned by major labels in just over a year.

The article says the major labels plan to abandon the CD-format and replace it with download/streaming only releases via iTunes and related music services. That would, of course, tickle Apple immensely. The only CD-formats that will be left over will be the limited edition ones, which won't be available for every artist, sys "Side-Line." The distribution model for these remaining CD releases would be primarily Amazon, which is already the biggest CD retailer worldwide anyhow.

"It's a move that makes completely sense. CD's cost money, even when they don't sell because there is stock storage to be paid; a label also pays money to distributors when CDs get returned to the labels when not sold and so on," says "Side-Line." "In short, abandoning...

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Nov 29
Apple granted patents for shock avoidance, I/O...

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

Patent number 8068125 involves luminescence shock avoidance in display devices. Per the patent, a luminescence shock avoidance algorithm selectively limits the brightness level of a display device when the display device is activated in a dark environment to prevent the temporary vision impairment that can occur when a display device is activated in a dark environment. The algorithm receives the state of the display (e.g. on or in standby mode), and can optionally receive an ambient lighting value from an ambient light sensor and a user-selectable manual brightness adjustment setting to determine whether luminescence shock avoidance should even be triggered, and if it is triggered, how much should the brightness level of the display be limited. Kai Achim Pantfoerder is the inventor.

Patent number 8067701 is for an apparatus...

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Nov 28
Greg's Bite: Apple Frightens the TV Industry

Posted by Greg Mills

The tech rumor mill is in overdrive right now over the prospects of Apple revolutionizing another major industry: television. The television manufacturers, according to reports, is in full panic mode not knowing what Apple is going to do their market share.

Razor thin margins are the norm, so losing market share without being able to quickly pare down expenses could be disastrous. Not knowing what magic Apple will do leaves them very worried. The 3D and internet connected TV never really pushed sales and these days, 55 inches and up displays are not that big a deal .... so what does Sony or the other TV hardware companies do?

The TV "software" business is so fragmented it is bewildering to both consumers and the industry as well. NetFlix and other internet downloaded video content providers struggle to keep up with innovation and they all know Apple, at least, has its feet wet in that industry. What revolutionary...

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Nov 28
Consumers plan slight holiday budget increase

Shoppers expect to spend approximately US$748 this season compared to plans of spending $730 at this time last year, according to the Discover 2011 Annual Holiday Shopping Survey, which examines holiday spending intentions and trends for the upcoming holiday season.

Twenty-three percent of respondents indicated they intend to spend more in 2011, up from 13% that planned to spend more in 2010. Fifty percent of consumers intend to spend the same or more as they did last year; up from 43%.

One of the most important insights the survey revealed for consumer shopping intentions is Americans’ propensity to look to sites such as Groupon or Living Social for gift purchases. When asked if they would buy a gift through a group-buying site, more than half, 55%, of consumers gave a jolly nod to the idea, up from 22% who said the same last year. In 2010, just 6% of those surveyed said they had purchased a gift through a group-buying site, which more than tripled in 2011 to 20...

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Nov 23
Things for which I'm thankful

Thanksgiving is almost here in the US and the "MacNews" and "MacTech" web sites will be "closed" on Thursday and will be operating on a limited schedule Friday so the entire gang can celebrate the holiday with our families.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope you do, too. I'm grateful for my family, my friends and my church. They're what life is all about.

I'm thankful for having a job when so many people don't. Which means I'm grateful to you, our readers, and to our advertisers.

I'm grateful that there are cool Apple gadgets in the world. They make life much more productive -- and fun.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

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Nov 22
Apple patents involve text input, web feed content,...

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

Patent number 8065143 involves providing text input using speech data and non-speech data. Systems, methods, and computer readable media providing a speech input interface. 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. Kazuhisa Yanagihara is the inventor.

Patent number 8065392 is for methods and systems for managing web feed content with an email client application. Per the patent, a web feed manager formats web feed contents from a web feed to allow a user on the email client application to read web feed contents as email messages with all the controls typically provided by the email client application for an email message, such as displays...

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Nov 22
Consumer Reports holiday poll looks good for Apple

Twice as many consumers will be spending less money this season (33%) than more (15%), according to a previous poll by Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm). However, electronics and gadgets will be popular items this year -- and that's good news for Apple.

Seventeen percent of respondents to the pool plan to purchase an iPad. The Leapfrog LeapPad is on the shopping lists of 14 percent of adults, while one in ten (10 percent) plan to purchase the Apple iPhone 4S. Other items that were near the top of the list include: the Sesame Street Let's Rock! Elmo, the Amazon Kindle Fire, a 3D television set, Fisher-Price's Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, and an Internet-ready television.

The new Consumer Reports poll found that nine in ten (94%) Americans will shop in stores this holiday season, while 55% plan to shop online. Of those who will make trips to...

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Nov 21
Don't blame me, blame my smartphone

In an always-on, connected world with a surplus of new devices fit for every function, location and context it’s no surprise that mobile phones are helping people multi-task and even duck out of awkward situations. A recent Yahoo! Mobile/Razorfish study (mobile.yahoo.com) reveals some intriguing gender differences in usage and ranks the smartphone as the highest rated device in the home with 75% of votes.

The more than 2,000 U.S. respondents that participated in the study -- which revealed that the iPhone 4S is the top searched mobile phone -- were asked questions on their multi-tasking habits and device preferences, bringing to light some interesting trends and valuable insights. The study found 52% of consumers use their mobile device to escape awkward situations. Women are more likely to use their phone as an excuse than men.

Overall men (59%) are using their web-enabled mobile devices most frequently for navigational purposes. And, not surprisingly, men were...

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Nov 21
Consumer Reports holiday poll looks good for Apple

Twice as many consumers will be spending less money this season (33%) than more (15%), according to a previous poll by Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/index.htm). However, electronics and gadgets will be popular items this year -- and that's good news for Apple.

Seventeen percent of respondents to the pool plan to purchase an iPad. The Leapfrog LeapPad is on the shopping lists of 14 percent of adults, while one in ten (10 percent) plan to purchase the Apple iPhone 4S. Other items that were near the top of the list include: the Sesame Street Let's Rock! Elmo, the Amazon Kindle Fire, a 3D television set, Fisher-Price's Sing-A-Ma-Jigs, and an Internet-ready television.

The new Consumer Reports poll found that nine in ten (94%) Americans will shop in stores this holiday season, while 55% plan to shop online. Of those who will make trips to...

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Nov 18
Greg's Bite: Apple Mobility

By Greg Mills

Bit by bit more inside information is leaking out as to the various visions Steve Jobs had for Apple technology. The massive authorized book about Steve had a lot of insight into the grandiose directions he saw ahead for Apple. I read it on iPad, a fitting tribute to Steve Jobs. His life cut too short by cancer, it is hard to imagine the full spectrum of things he might have done if he lived to a ripe old age.

One news story that has recently hit the internet is that Jobs was thinking at one time of competing with the existing cellular networks using unlicensed spectrum. He would launch iPhone exclusively to work outside of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint using Wi-Fi and other public free frequencies to connect iPhones to the internet and thus the telephone network.

As I mentioned in a previous blog Tony Fadel filed a patent that Apple recently received for reselling unused bandwidth Apple hoped to buy wholesale from...

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Nov 18
Smartphones moving toward world domination

An overwhelming 95% of people around the world now own cell phones, according to a new nine-country study by SSI. And smartphones are heading toward market domination, which is nothing but good news for Apple and the iPhone.

Hong Kong (99%), China (98%) and Sweden (98%) have the highest cell phone ownership rates, while the US (89%) has the lowest. Findings show that, among cell phone owners, 42% currently have smartphones -- and 58% are planning to make their next cell phone a smartphone.  

The highest rates of smartphone ownership are in China (68%) and Hong Kong (57%), while Japan (16%) and Sweden (33%) fall at the opposite end of the spectrum. Those countries that are lagging are likely to catch up soon, however, with almost half of respondents in Japan and Sweden intending to make their next cell phone a smartphone.

Of those planning to buy smartphones, iPhones are the preferred brand. If money were no object, almost a third of respondents globally say...

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Nov 17
Apple eyeing weld check stations for laptop...

Apple is working on ways to make its Mac laptops even more durable, as evidenced by a new patent (number 20110285293) for weld check stations has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A method of manufacture for a portable computing device is described. In particular, methods and apparatus for assessing a quality of weld joints used to connect one or more components of the portable computing device are described. The weld joints can include one or more weld points. At a weld check station, using a vector network analyzer, a test signal generated can be passed through the weld joint and a response signal can be measured.

The measured characteristics can be used to assess a quality of the weld joint. In one embodiment, the vector network analyzer can be used to generate a number of high frequency test signals that are passed through the weld to perform a time domain reflectometry measurement where the weld joint can be accepted or rejected based upon the...

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Nov 17
Apple power adapter would charge both a laptop, iOS...

Apple is working on an universal power adapter that could simultaneously charge a Mac laptop and an iOS device, per a new patent (number 20110278923) for a multi-output power supply at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, an apparatus for providing power to an electronic device may include a power input configured to receive an input voltage from a power supply, and a rectifier operatively connected to the power input and configured to convert the input voltage to a first voltage. The rectifier may further be configured to transmit the first voltage to a first power output operatively connected to the rectifier.

The apparatus may further include a power converter operatively connected to the rectifier and configured to convert the first voltage to a second voltage different than the first voltage and a first relay operatively connected to the rectifier to selectively prevent the first voltage from being transmitted through the first power output....

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Nov 17
Tablets replacing notebooks for multi-screen TV users

Not surprisingly, but still good news for the iPad, is a a new study by Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) that says that tablets are replacing notebooks for multi-screen TV users.

TV viewers who use a gadget to surf the web or chat on Facebook while watching TV are migrating away from the laptop and toward the tablet as the preferred personal device, according to new research published by the research group. The report, "Multi-Screen User Behaviors in the Home," also found that, for those who own a laptop or a tablet, smartphone use while watching TV is limited to "alert" functions, like text or voice messages, rather than as a TV companion.

"The tablet is clearly becoming the primary TV companion device for advanced users," says Caroline Park, senior analyst and the report’s author. "Designers wishing to engage consumers while in the home/TV-watching...

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Nov 16
The Mac's potential in the enterprise arena is...

The popularity of Apple products -- Macs, iPhones and iPads – among consumers has begun to spill over into the enterprise arena. Younger workers in particular are demanding hardware flexibility in the workplace, remote access and the ability to bring their own devices.

New figures from MokaFive (http://www.mokafive.com), which makes a virtual desktop solution that runs corporate Windows on a Mac, shows the incredible market opportunity for Apple. To wit:
 
° About 90 million computers are purchased for the enterprise annually;

° The Mac is in high demand -- let’s say 33% of enterprises ultimately elect to enable Mac in their business;

° That’s 30 million Macs at US$1,500 each, leading to a $45 billion market opportunity for Apple.

That's a huge opportunity for Apple. And it certainly shows that the Mac may not have the flash of the iOS platform at the present, but has a...

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Nov 15
Apple working on beefing up laptop antennas

Three patents have popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office showing that Apple is working on better antennas for its laptops.

Patent number 8059039 is for a clutch barrel antenna for wireless electronic devices. Per the patent, wireless portable electronic devices such as laptop computers are provided with antennas. An antenna may be provided within a clutch barrel in a laptop computer. The clutch barrel may have a dielectric cover. Antenna elements may be mounted within the clutch barrel cover on an antenna support structure. There may be two or more antenna elements mounted to the antenna support structure. These antenna elements may be of different types.

A first antenna element for the clutch barrel antenna may be formed from a dual band antenna element having a closed slot and an open slot. A second antenna element for the clutch barrel antenna may be formed from a dual band antenna element of a hybrid type having a planar resonating...

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Nov 15
Granted Apple patents include one for the iTunes...

Apple has been granted three patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office, one of them involving the iTunes interface.

Patent number 8060375 involves an enhanced visual feedback of interactions with an user interface (the iTunes interface). Per the patent, n item in a user interface is visually enhanced in response to an interaction with the item or in response to a request. In some implementations, the item (e.g., an icon, button, text, etc.) is visually enhanced and displayed in the user interface at a conspicuous location (e.g., the center of the user interface).

Optionally, the user interface can be altered (e.g., darkened) to improve the visibility of the enhanced item. In some implementations, visual enhancement includes displaying enhanced feedback (e.g., text, data, graphical objects or images, etc.) associated with the item in a caption panel. The caption panel can display enhanced feedback associated with any items in the user interface...

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Nov 15
Internet-connected TV market set to explode

If Apple is indeed planning to make its own HDTV as many pundits are predicting, next year might be a great time to enter the market. The number of TV sets connected to the Internet will reach 551 million by 2016, up from 124 million at end-2010, according to new data from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com).

This translates to 20% of global TV sets by 2016, up from only 6% at end-2010, notes the research group. Despite all of this rapid growth, only 8.9% of global TV sets will be connected to the Internet by 2016.

However, this is up from a mere 1.4% at end-2010. Proportions will vary considerably from one country to the next, with South Korea the market leader in 2016 (boasting 15.0% penetration), according to Research and Markets.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Nov 14
Growing consumer electronics market good news for Apple

The US consumer electronics devices market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$239.4 billion in 2011, according to new data from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). And that's good news for Apple.

What's more, the market is expected to increase to US$276.6 billion by 2015 at a CAGR of 3.0%, driven by premium TV sets, smartphones and notebooks. And that's even better news for Apple.

The research group forecasts US computer hardware sales of US$144.8 billion in 2011. CAGR [compound annual growth rate] for the 2011-2015 period will be about 2.5%, but multimedia and entertainment notebooks are growth areas. Computer sales grew strongly in 2010, boosted by a revival of the business market. And the Mac is outgrowing the computer industry as a whole. By more than six times,...

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Nov 11
A 3D iMac for 2012, perhaps?

Apple plans to completely overhaul its product lineups, including the iMac, iPad, iPhone and MacBook Air in 2012, according to "DigiTimes" (http://www.digitimes.com). I'd say that's a safe bet, although I'm not sure what a radically overhauled iMac would be like.

It could be even slimmer. Perhaps Apple will eliminate the built-in optical drive as it has with the MacBook Air and Mac mini, offering the $79 SuperDrive for those who want such a drive. Or perhaps -- though much less likely -- Apple will give us a 3D iMac -- something akin to the US$1,899 Touchsmart 620 3D Edition from HP.

The Touchsmart 620 3D Edition sports a 23-inch, 3D-enabled display that swivels up to 180 degrees and reclines up to 60 degrees. The 1920-by-1080 (1080p HD) resolution screen is purportedly great for playing back Blu-ray movies or TV from the built-in tuner. Yep, unlike any Mac offering, the all-in-one has a Blu-ray...

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Nov 10
Greg's Bite: Steve Jobs wins, Flash discontinued

By Greg Mills

Adobe finally blinked after Steve Jobs didn't. As a young man Jobs actually practiced staring people down without blinking for long periods. He knew it freaked people out and so mastered long blinkless pearcing stares. Figuratively, he did that with Adobe by refusing to pre-load Flash on Macs, and Apple didn't allow Flash to even run on the iOS platform. Wretched whining from various quarters didn't get Apple to change its stand, as there really were technical issues that Adobe wouldn't or couldn't fix.

Apple was of the opinion that HTML5 was the way to do web animation and, finally, Adobe gave up, announced that Flash was dead and fired 750 Flash platform employees. Flash, in addition to being a battery hog also had security issues, kept cookies in a place that made it harder to police what you picked up on the web by simply running a Flash-enabled browser.

You don't have to use an iPhone or iPad on the web very long to run...

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Nov 10
Apple patent is for iPod nano or shuffle with built-in...

An Apple patent (number 20110274303) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple may be planning clip-on iPod nano or iPod shuffle with a built-in speaker.

Per the patent, certain embodiments may take the form of an electronic device having a main housing encapsulating operative circuitry for the device. The electronic device includes an attachment member moveably coupled to the metal housing. The attachment member has an acoustical device located therein that is communicatively coupled to the operative circuitry. The inventors are John Benjamin Filson, Eugene Whang and Matthew Rohrbach.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Small form factor electronic devices such as personal digital assistants, cell phones, mobile media devices and so on have become nearly ubiquitous in today's society. Among other functions, they may serve as work tools, communication devices and/or provide entertainment and are commonly carried in a hand, with a...

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Nov 10
Apple patent involves framework for graphics animation

An Apple patent (number 20110273464) for a framework for graphics animation and compositing operations has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Apparently, Apple has plans for further animation in the Mac OS X user interface.

Per the patent, a framework for performing graphics animation and compositing operations has a layer tree for interfacing with the application and a render tree for interfacing with a render engine. Layers in the layer tree can be content, windows, views, video, images, text, media, or any other type of object for a user interface of an application. The application commits change to the state of the layers of the layer tree.

The application doesn't need to include explicit code for animating the changes to the layers. Instead, an animation is determined for animating the change in state. In determining the animation, the framework can define a set of predetermined animations based on motion, visibility, and transition. The...

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Nov 10
Real-Time Entertainment and the post-PC era

According to a new report from Sandvine (http://www.sandvine.com) -- a company that makes "network policy control solutions focus on protecting and improving the quality of experience on the Internet" -- we've entered a post-PC era.

In this era, the majority of Real-Time Entertainment traffic on North America’s fixed access networks is destined for devices other than a laptop or desktop computer. Game consoles, set-top boxes, smart TVs, tablets, and mobile devices being used within the home combine to receive 55% of all Real-Time Entertainment traffic. Real-Time Entertainment is described as "]applications and protocols that allow "on- demand" entertainment that is consumed (viewed or heard) as it arrives (think streamed audio and video and specific streaming sites such as Netflix and YouTube).

However, that doesn't mean that the computer is being left out of the picture. Far from it. According...

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Nov 09
Newsstand a hit for Conde Nast; now let's see it...

Here's a good sign for NewsStand, a feature Apple introduced with iOS 5: publisher Condé Nast saw a significant increase in both digital subscriptions and single copy sales since the launch of Newsstand. Now let's see Newsstand on the Mac.

iOS 5 organizes your magazine and newspaper app subscriptions in Newsstand: a folder that lets you access your favorite publications. It also offers a place on the App Store just for newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

You can get to it straight from Newsstand. New purchases go directly to your Newsstand folder. Then, as new issues become available, Newsstand automatically updates them in the background -- complete with the latest covers.

Monica Ray, Condé Nast’s executive vice president consumer marketing, says i the two weeks since Newsstand was introduced, new subscription sales, per week, across all nine digital editions, rose 268%, with single copy sales up 142% compared to the previous eight weeks.

"We couldn...

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Nov 08
Apple looking into an telephonic antenna for its...

An Apple patent (number 8054232) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is working on a telephonic antenna for its laptop line.

Per the patent, antenna window structures and antennas are provided for electronic devices. The electronic devices may be laptop computers or other devices that have conductive housings. Antenna windows can be formed from dielectric members. The dielectric members can have elastomeric properties. An antenna may be mounted inside a conductive housing beneath a dielectric member. The antenna can be formed from a parallel plate waveguide structure.

The parallel plate waveguide structure may have a ground plate and a radiator plate and may have dielectric material between the ground and radiator plates. The ground plate can have a primary ground plate portion and a ground strip. The ground strip may reflect radio-frequency signals so that they travel through the dielectric member. The antenna may handle radio-...

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Nov 08
Apple working on satellite navigation system for...

As evidenced by a new patent (number 8054221) at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows Apple is working on satellite navigation system for portable devices.

Per the patent, a portable user device may provide Global Positioning System (GPS) services. The device may include a GPS receiver. The GPS receiver may provide accurate information about the current location of the device. A user may use the device to perform tasks. Certain tasks may generate excess heat or de-generate heat that causes the GPS receiver to perform unsatisfactorily. Methods are provided that can test GPS receiver performance during acquisition mode and during tracking mode.

During testing, the GPS receiver may be given a predetermined amount of time to acquire a GPS fix. The GPS receiver may be tested repeatedly to acquire successive GPS fixes. After a desired number of tests are performed, a success rate may be calculated. If the success rate is satisfactory, the GPS receiver satisfies...

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Nov 08
Time for Apple to do some Dashboard polishing

One thing that I keep hoping for with the Mac OS X Dashboard that never materializes is an "every man's executive decision making tool." In other words, a tool similar in concept to a customizable web page (think iGoogle) where widgets are able to connect with various resources both on your computer and externally to display information and results.

When Dashboard was announced years ago, I hoped that Apple would lead the way in using it for just this kind of thing. In other words, a place where I can fit various widgets that would display information that I want, whether it be a direct display or an aggregated display of many things.

An example of a direct display would be displaying something like a widget created by your bank to display your account balances and alerts/messages. An aggregated one would be akin to the Mint service that would show all your financial data. The point here is that it would be my choice for how I set up my Dashboard.

However, I...

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Nov 08
Apple wins several patents for product design and more

Apple has won several patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office. Two are for the design of the MacBook Pro line.

The inventors include Steve Jobs, Jonathan Ive, Bartley Andre, Daniel Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent 8054299 is for a digital controller for a true multi-touch surface useable in a computer system (the iPad's Multi-Touch control, in other words). Invented by Christoph H. Krah, it embodies an improved touch surface controller for controlling a multi-point touch surface such as a touch screen or a touch pad in a computer system is disclosed.

The improved touch system controller detects signal capacitance from the pixels in the touch surface digitally, and therefore is easier and simpler to implement then previous approaches relying on analog detection and...

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Go to Bed – An Interview With Touchfight...
Touchfight Games is an exciting new indie studio that was co-formed between game journalist and author Nathan Meunier, artist Leonard Kenyon, and programmer Jon Kenyon. Their debut game Go To Bed will be released this fall, and with all the... | Read more »
Assault Vector Review
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It Came from Canada: Galaxy Dash
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PromptSmart Review
PromptSmart Review By Jennifer Allen on August 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SNAPPY SPEECHGIVINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Offering you a teleprompter in your pocket, PromptSmart is immensely helpful for those who do... | Read more »
The Firm (Games)
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Razer Taipan Mouse For Gamers And Non-Gamers...
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