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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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Nov 07
Tablet owners increasingly viewing video on their...

In more good news for Apple, new research from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) reports that 50% of tablet owners are viewing not only feature-length movies on their device, but TV shows as well.

Tablet and smartphones are not only becoming vital new screens for video consumption, but are also functioning as personal interaction devices for video-centric social networking and applications, says the research group. Tablets, in particular, have become a primary video device, both inside and outside the home, says Keith Nissen, research director, Research and Markets.

As these devices become a center-point for video engagement and consumption, content providers, device manufacturers, and operators need to support a multiscreen usage model that reflects social interaction, screen interaction, personalization, and mobility. Additional research findings...

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Nov 04
Greg's Bite: Google 1 Gig to offer phone and TV

By Greg Mills

Since I live in Kansas City, Kansas, site of the coming Google 1 Gig Internet service, I have tried to keep my ear to the ground on developments. Getting information from Google about what they plan reminds me of the black hole at Apple R&D. "The Wall Street Journal" reports Google plans to offer phone and cable TV as well as super fast Internet when they finally get around to launching the project.

In Kansas City we see nothing on the ground to indicate they are actually doing anything but talking about it. The plan was to turn on locations with close connections to hubs by early January and then to finish the project fairly fast.

Then they added Kansas City, MO, to the project which is a much larger city than KCK. That they intent to offer phone and TV service isn't too surprising, but apparently they intend to involve Time Warner, who owns the soon to be obsolete wired cable system in town. "The Wall Street Journal"...

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Nov 04
Mac OS X 10.8 in the works? How about 10.7.5 ASAP?

"MacRumors" (http://www.macrumors.com) says Apple has already started work on Mac OS X 10.8. While I'm sure that's true, I suspect we'll see some major updates to Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") before 10.8 arrives.

Apple's major OS X releases are normally released every other year: 10.3 in 2003, 10.4 in 2005, 10.5 in 2007, 10.6 in 2009, and 10.7 in 2011. Based on this pattern, as "MacRumors" notes, we expect Apple to preview Mac OS X 10.8 sometime in 2012, with the final public release happening in 2013.

"9to5Mac" (http:/www.9to5Mac.com) says an upcoming version of Mac OS X may feature AirPlay Mirroring and iMessage application. AirPlay Mirroring for the Mac will allow a user to wirelessly mirror exactly what is shown on their Mac’s display to an Apple TV connected to a projector, television, or external monitor. AirPlay video streaming is also being integrated into QuickTime X, says "9to5Mac."

...

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Nov 03
Apple patent involves hot plug GPU power control

An Apple patent (number 20110267359) for systems and methods for hot plug GPU power control has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working on ways for Macs and iOS devices to more efficiently manage multiple graphics processors.

Per the patent, systems and methods include an electronic device having multiple GPUs and a GPU power control process that controls switching between a first GPU and a second GPU, such as a high performance GPU. The electronic device may be coupled to an external display by a passive adapter or an active adapter. The GPU power control process may determine if the second GPU is active and switch to the second GPU upon connection of the external display through either the passive adapter or the active adapter.

Upon connection of an active adapter, the GPU power control process may use hot plug functionality to determine connection of the external display to the active adapter and provide appropriate...

| Read more »
Nov 03
My crystal ball: the MacBook Air Pro is coming

The Japanese web site, Macotakara (http://www.macotakara.jp/blog/index.php?ID=14648) says Apple is working on a thinner, lighter version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro. I think they're on the money.

In fact, within 24 months, I predict that the Apple laptop line will consist of the MacBook Air (11-inch and 13-inch models) and the MacBook Air Pro (15-inch and 17-inch models). Yes, a 17-inch MacBook Air model.

Though Apple has filed a patent (http://macte.ch/wRzIE) for slimmer laptops with optical drives, I think the portable Mac's future is in devices without built-in portable drives. Those who need them will buy the US$79 standalone SuperDrive that Apple currently offers for the MacBook Air.

Apple’s future MacBook Airs will feature Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors,...

| Read more »
Nov 03
Future iPhone may have virtual SIM card

An Apple patent (number 20110269463) for methods and an apparatus for preserving battery resources in a mobile communication device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It hints that Apple is working on a future iPhone with "virtual" SIM card.

The patent involves preserving battery resources in a wireless device in communication with a wireless network by dynamically aligning a RRC connection status of a mobile wireless communication device in communication with a wireless network with a data traffic profile. The data traffic profile indicating a pattern of data transfer between the mobile wireless communication device and the wireless network. The inventors are Shiehlie Wang and Ben-Heng Juang.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "A method of conserving battery power in a wireless device in communication with a wireless network is carried out by performing at least the following operations. An operating state and an associated data traffic...

| Read more »
Nov 02
Greg's Bite: Duqu Trojan uses MS Word

By Greg Mills

To a hacker, an un-patched zero-day vulnerability is extremely valuable and never frivolously wasted. The Duqu worm seems to have used an unknown Windows vulnerability just to get information for a future attack from "secure" computer networks. No money was stolen. That who ever wrote the worm was more interested in information than money says a lot about who might be behind the project.

Microsoft is working on patching the rare kernel vulnerability as quickly as possible. The recently discovered Duqu worm, which only infects Microsoft Word documents, (.doc) files and then uses a vulnerability in the very kernel of the Windows PC OS to do its dirty work is very well written.

Duqu appears to have been written by the same group that launched Stuxnet last year based upon similarities and the sophistication of the newly discovered malware. No one took credit for Stuxnet but Israel and the US were widely blamed. Stuxnet set Iran...

| Read more »
Nov 02
Greg's Bite: Apple's evolution

By Greg Mills

There has been a lot of speculation in the press regarding the direction Apple will go under new leadership. New CEO Tim Cook, while presenting a firm hand on the day to day operations of Apple must rely upon the product instincts of his management team. The late Steve Jobs had the genius to see markets that begged to be fixed and had the gaul to revolutionize entire industries. Despite being a micromanager, Jobs' attention span was too short to follow up on minute details like Cook does. Apple needs Mr. Cook, but it also needs to boldly go where thinking different will lead Apple.

That it takes a team to replace Steve Jobs isn't a problem or even a liability; it will be a strength. The decision to encompass a new industry or market is a decision that has to be made crisply and timely to keep Apple relevant and growing. Apple has made some mistakes in the past; mistakes are survivable if not so major they take the company down due to...

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Nov 02
The Mac Pro's days may be numbered

I expect to see a revamped Mac Pro before the end of 2011. It will probably be the last incarnation of the pro desktop.

Despite the coming availability of a new generation of Sandy Bridge desktop CPUs suitable for advancing the Mac Pro line, Apple has reportedly been evaluating whether to continue to invest in its full-sized workstation line beyond this year in the face of limited sales, according to "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com).

That's not surprising. Except for a few users the iMac, Apple's best-selling desktop, has plenty of processing power. You can attach two Thunderbolt Cinema Displays to the Thunderbolt-equipped iMac for plenty of screen real estate. And Thunderbolt technology "will ultimately allow other, more popular members of the Mac product family to assume the vast majority of the roles that once required the Mac Pro's flexibility and architecture," as "...

| Read more »
Nov 01
The Northern Spy: Jobs' legacy, some Apple...

By Rick Sutcliffe

Prescience was not foreseen by the Spy when he titled last month's column, but said monicker now seems faintly evocative of a sad prophecy. The iCEO has not merely stepped down, he's left us altogether. 


Steve Jobs' legacy sees us all materially wealthier, for he had a unique talent for putting his finger on the pulse of the market two or three years down the road, then inventing the product to create the market his mind's eye saw. When the history of our time is written, Steve Jobs' name will be far more prominent than any of the politicians whose images and dulcet tones saturate the daily media, more lasting than any entertainment idol, have more footnotes and records than any athlete. Jobs was unique. He passes to the next life to no one's benefit and everyone's regret.

Meanwhile, back at the iCompany, business carries on and will carry on for years to come much as it has in the past. The workaholic culture of excellence...

| Read more »
Nov 01
Ultrabook sales to fall short -- is anyone surprised?

Shipments of ultrabook by Acer and Asustek are expected to reach 100,000 units each by the end of 2011, falling short of their targets of 200,000-300,000 units, due to relatively high prices, reports "DigiTimes" (http://www.digitimes.com), quoting unnamed "sources at channels." Is anyone surprised?

I mean why would you buy an ultrabook? If you want a compact device for content consumption, get an iPad. If you want a compact device for content creation and already have a desktop computer, get a MacBook Air. If you need a compact device for content creation and don't have a desktop computer, get a MacBook Pro. It's that simple.

Of course, to some folks it may not be that simple. Last month Acer Vice President Scott Lin said (http://macte.ch/StrCT) said that upcoming ultrabooks would eat the iPad's lunch. He said that ultrabooks will...

| Read more »
Nov 01
Apple patents involve authentication, ITO layer...

Apple has won several patents applications by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Two involve authentication and indium tin oxide layer forming, while several others are for iPod designs. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 8051097 involves a system and method for authentication using a shared table and sorting exponentiation. Disclosed are systems, computer-implemented methods, and computer-readable media for authentication using a shared table. The method receives an authentication challenge from a first entity including an accumulator with an initial value, lists of elements in a shared table, and a list of sorting algorithms, each sorting algorithm is associated with one of the lists of elements and modified to include embedded instructions operating on the accumulator.

The method then generates a temporary table for each list of elements in the shared table by copying elements from the shared table as indicated in each respective...

| Read more »
Oct 31
Smartphones, tablets pass laptops as airport Wi-Fi...

Chalk another win up for the iPad, iPhone and, I suspect, for the MacBook Air. Boingo Wireless (http://www.boingo.com), a provider of software and services worldwide, has released its Wi-Fi Snapshot, a data-driven infographic that provides detail related to significant trends seen among Wi-Fi users from its managed network of 60 airports and aggregated network of hundreds of thousands of hotspots worldwide.

Mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) surpassed laptops as the most widely carried Wi-Fi device in airports, reaching 58.9% of all devices in June. Mobile devices passed the 50% mark for the first time in February 2011.

The overall size of the Wi-Fi device market has increased fivefold in the last five years, with laptops doubling overall while the explosive growth of smartphones/tablets constituted the bulk of the growth.

iOS has a commanding market share of mobile devices actively using...

| Read more »
Oct 30
Greg's Bite: Siri For the rest of us?

By Greg Mills

People were still standing in lines around the block when iPhone 4S firmware was hacked to work with iOS 5 to allow Siri to run on iPhone 4. The first attempts were a proof of concept but the hacked iPhone had trouble connecting with Apple's servers that were configured to only allow Siri to work on the newest iPhone.

I speculated at the time, that restricting Siri to iPhone 4S was likely a marketing ploy to push people into trading up to the new iPhone. Apple indicated that the dual A5 chipset was required to process speech at the speed required for Siri to work properly. It appears now that just about any iOS device that can run iOS 5 can also run Siri.

There might be a slight hit on the processing speed and some problems also might be due to the quality of the microphones on early iOS devices. See...

| Read more »
Oct 29
Greg's Bite: No Margin, No Apple TV Set

Posted by Greg Mills

Those who predict Apple products tend to be wrong as often as they are right. Apple is famously secretive in its product development, for very good reasons. First the free publicity is worth millions when the curtain is drawn and months of speculation comes down to "oh, one last thing". If Steve Jobs had any fun in life that really mattered to him, it was in making monkeys out of the competition and us Apple tech writers in releasing the latest Apple device that we got wrong.

The second reason for the dark drapes of secrecy in Apple product development is that from the first products Apple put out years ago, the competition has reversed engineered or just plain stolen Apple's marketable ideas. Patents and trade secrets are the second line of defense as secrecy is the first. The competition hears about the latest Apple products at the public release and have no time to duplicate Apple products for some period of time,...

| Read more »
Oct 28
Ivy Bridge offers hope for 'retina display'...

Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processors may portend the coming of "retinan display" Macs -- in other words, Macs with ultra high resolution (4096 x 4096 displays).

"VR-Zone" (http://macte.ch/xfvzb) says that Intel recently revealed that they'll be able to support 4K resolutions and process video at that resolution."It's the vastly improved display capability, and associated ultra high resolution video processing, of the new chip -- in fact, so high it stands on an equal footing with the fastest high end discrete GPUs in this particular measurement: the 4K display resolution," the article adds.

Not only can the MFX engine display up to 4096 x 4096 pixels on a single monitor, but it can also handle video processing for 4K QuadHD video as well. Imagine a 27-inch iMac (my model of choice) with 4096 x 4096 resolution -- or perhaps "just" 3840 x 2160.

The current high-end model has "only" 2560 x 1440...

| Read more »
Oct 27
Apple patent involves peer-to-peer synchronization

An Apple patent (number 20110264623) for a method and system for using global equivalency sets to identify data during peer-to-peer synchronization has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

It involves systems and methods for synchronization including the use of a global equivalency identification datum or set of datum. A universally unique identification datum may be associated with each independently created associated data set. In some embodiments, a synchronization server software element may be responsible for maintaining synchronization for a plurality of clients, including software elements or devices.

A record believed to be new by the software elements may verify that the record is actually new. In some embodiments, verification of the record's newness involves assuming that the local ID is a global identification datum and comparing that datum to the all the sets of datum that the Sync-Server knows about. The synchronization server software...

| Read more »
 
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