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May 25
SSDs won't replace hard drives anytime soon

Solid state drives are one of the hot technologies of the day. However, "hotness" and "the cloud" aside, look for hard drives to maintain their importance for months to come. No, make that years to come.

Maximum areal densities in hard disk drives (HDD) are expected to more than double during the five-year period from 2011 to 2016, spurring continued growth for HDDs in storage-intensive applications such as video and audio systems, according to the iHS iSuppli (http://www.isuppli.com) research group.

HDD areal densities measuring data-storage capacities are projected to climb to a maximum 1,800 Gigabits (Gb) per square inch per platter by 2016, up from 744 Gb per square inch in 2011. This means that from 2011 to 2016, the five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for HDD areal densities will be equivalent to 19%. For this year, HDD areal densities are estimated to reach 780 Gb per square inch per...

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May 24
Apple eyes ways to improve speakers on portable...

Apple is working on ways to improve its speakers, especially on its small, mobile devices such as the iPhone. An Apple patent (number 20120128190) for a gas filled speaker volume has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a speaker enclosure includes a gas cavity and an air cavity separated by a flexible membrane. A diaphragm is located roughly in an opening of the enclosure surrounding the gas cavity and attached to the enclosure by an outer suspension member. The enclosure, the flexible membrane, the diaphragm, and the outer suspension member are gas and air impermeable. The enclosure surrounding the air cavity has a vent hole to allow air to travel into and out of the air cavity for barometric pressure equalization of the gas cavity.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "n most speaker systems, a vibrating diaphragm is mounted at an opening of a speaker enclosure. A common type of speaker enclosure is a sealed...

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May 24
Apple continues work on resolution independent user...

An Apple patent (number 2012013147) for a resolution independent user interface design has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to graphical user interface design and more particularly to a means for specifying a graphical user interface object in a procedural and largely display resolution independent manner.

Per the patent, graphical user interface material map objects are specified by a collection of attribute-value pairs, the collection of which comprises a complete description of the material map and may be used by a rendering engine to create a visual representation of the material map at any resolution.

That is, material map representations in accordance with the invention are resolution independent. Another benefit of representing material maps in accordance with the invention is that they may be encrypted to prevent unauthorized inspection or use.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "n one embodiment, the...

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May 24
Apple patent involves 3D effects on the OS X desktop

Apple has applied for two patents at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office involving windows in Mac OS X. They involve 3D-ish effects on the desktop.

Patent number 20120131496 is for methods, systems and computer-readable media for managing open windows in a desktop graphical user interface (GUI) are disclosed. In various implementations, open windows displayed within a 2D desktop plane can be organized into one or more 3D browsable stacks in a 3D desktop space, where each stack includes open windows associated with a common value for a grouping property. A graphical representation indicating the respective value of the grouping property associated with each 3D browsable stack can be displayed in proximity to the 3D browsable stack.

As the user browses through the open windows in the browsable stack, one window is displayed in a frontal view at a time while the other windows are displayed in a side view. When the user selects an open window from the stack, the 3D...

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May 24
Mountain Lion: why I'm looking forward to AirPlay...

I expect Mountain Lion, the next major rev of Mac OS X, to be prowling by the end of July (hopefully even sooner and on some Retina display MacBooks Pros and iMacs). One of the features I'm most looking forward to is AirPlay.

AirPlay is, currently, a feature for streaming music, video and photos wirelessly from iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to the Apple TV. The wireless technology is being integrated into speaker docks, AV receivers, and stereo systems from companies such as Bowers & Wilkins and Denon.

With Mountain Lion, AirPlay will come to the Mac, at last, allowing users to wirelessly mirror the screen of their Macs onto their televisions using an Apple TV.  There are several advantages to this.

I've ripped my entire collection of (legally purchased) DVDs to an external hard drive attached to my Mac, so I can watch a film any time without having to go get the DVD. Once Mountain Lion arrives I can start watching a "ripped" movie on my Mac, then move to...

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May 24
Apple patent is for location-based tracking

An Apple patent (number 20120131510) for location-based tracking has appeared at the U.S Patent & Trademark Office. According to Apple, location information is used to build a database of locations having associated audio, video, image or text data.

In some implementations, a device includes a touch-sensitive display and collects data associated with a geographic location of interest. The geographic location of interest can be displayed on a map using an indicator. A touch selection of the indicator provides access to the data through an interface displayed on the touch-sensitive display. One or more locations of interest can be displayed and grouped together by an attribute.

The inventors are Scott Forstall, Gregory N. Christy, Robert E. Borchers and Imran A. Chaudhri.

Along the same lines are patents 20120129548 and . The former is for locatioin estimation wherein a current location of a mobile system in a wireless network can be determined by using...

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May 23
Greg's Bite: why should Apple buy Sprint?

By Greg Mills

For the better part of a year now, I have been advocating that Sprint is prime takeover bait for the likes of Apple. The landscape in the smartphone -- or, for that matter, the mobile computing business, including tablets -- is evolving very quickly and Apple has to "think different" to stay on top.  

Vertical development in the mobile computing market must include an Apple Mobile business segment, in some form, for Apple to stay the leader of the industry. A number of other tech writers and industry analysts have recently come out confirming buying Sprint has merit. You have to know Apple has people thinking about such acquisitions.

Tony Fadell, formerly the head of the iPod division at Apple, came up with a scenario, a couple of years ago, where Apple could buy unused bandwidth from the various cellular providers, repackage those minutes for sale to consumers and managed the "virtual network" over the Internet. The Apple server...

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May 23
OLED, 3D and iTVs

In a recent blog (http://macte.ch/5I7Yx), NPD DisplaySearch Analyst Paul Gray asks, “Will OLED Revitalize the TV Industry?” It dives into the question of whether OLED is the solution to the woes of the industry. It also begs the question of whether Apple might one day release an OLED "iTV" -- assuming, of course, that Apple has any plans to release its own HDTV at all.

An OLED TV screen uses a new display technology called OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). Proponents say that OLED televisions are brighter, more efficient, thinner and feature better refresh rates and contrast than either LCD or Plasma. However, Gray raises some topical points, such as while OLED has the potential to offer images with high contrast and superb colors in a very thin package, much of this can already be done with LCD technology. 

In addition, he points on that the industry may do well to learn its lesson from the 3D TV...

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May 22
Apple working on user controllable switch

Future iOS devices may have a user controllable switch, per an Apple patent (number 8185149) that's popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention is for devices which, in at least certain embodiments, may include at least one mechanical switch for user to select a user profile interface setting and at least one processor for causing the device to respond to the mechanical switch.

The mechanical switch may be dedicated for the purpose of switching profiles and may allow for a selection of a plurality of profiles. Further, in conjunction with an optional shift key, the user may select preferences programmed within a profile.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Portable devices, such as cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and in general, devices with wireless communication capabilities are becoming increasingly common. These portable devices have grown more complex over time, incorporating many features including,...

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May 22
Apple patent is for wireless headset featuring...

An Apple patent (number 8185084) for a wireless headset featuring adaptive powering has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

A system that includes a bus, a battery, core processing circuitry, radio frequency (RF) processing circuitry, first power regulating circuitry, second power regulating circuitry, and control circuitry is provided. The bus can be coupled to receive power from a source external to the system. The core processing circuitry and RF processing circuitry can be selectively coupled to each other via a switch. The switch can be operative to turn ON and OFF based on a signal level received on the bus.

The first power regulating circuitry can be electrically coupled to the bus, the core processing circuitry, and the switch. The second power regulating circuitry can be electrically coupled to the battery, the RF processing circuitry, and the switch. The control circuitry can be operative to selectively turn ON and OFF the first power...

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May 22
Nearly half of iPhone users likely to buy the '...

Apple hasn't announced -- or even hinted at -- plans for a branded HDTV (the widely rumored "iTV"), but a recent survey shows it could be a hit if it does indeed arrive.

The Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices (CHD) advisory service (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) shows that nearly half of existing iPhone users would be very or somewhat likely to buy an Apple iTV soon after its launch. The report, "Apple's Smart TV: Assessing Purchase Intention and Willingness to Pay," provides results from the latest Strategy Analytics ConsumerMetrix survey of 6000 consumers across the US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK, fielded in March 2012.

"Although the details of a possible Apple smart TV are still unknown, existing Apple customers clearly demonstrate strong interest," says Jia Wu, director and report author. "Meanwhile, consumers are still sensitive to price, even if Apple does...

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May 22
Apple patents involves iMovie, iPods, more

A plethora of Apple patents has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 8185823 involves zoom indication for stabilizing unstable video clips in apps such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro X. Randy Ubillos is the inventor.

Patent number 8182638 is for a media player with a machine windowed undercut and transparent wall disposed therein. Think the iPod classic and iPod nano. The inventors are Douglas Joseph Webere, Pinida Jan Moolsintong and Stephen P. Zadesky.

Patent number 8184943 involves a method of scanning content comprises receiving an input signal indicating that content being displayed is to be scanned, sensing a duration of the received input signal, and scanning the content at a rate based at least in part on the sensed duration of the received input. The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Jeffrey Robbin, Thomas Michael Madden, Rachel Claire Goldeen...

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May 21
Streaming TV, Internet TV to see substantial growth

A new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com) finds that the number of streamed mobile TV users on smartphones will increase to 240 million by 2014. This increase will be driven by a rise in smartphone penetration and a growth in the usage of internet TV and IPTV services.

Not only does this bode well for mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, increased use of Internet TV could also benefit the rumored "iMac TV" and the "iTV" -- assuming, of course, either really exists or will exist.

The report found that the substantial growth in streamed mobile TV users would arise from a combination of both increased smartphone penetration and, critically, an increasing usage of live and on-demand services both on TVs and computers. These catch-up and live Internet TV services are already allowing users to become their own program schedulers. Mobile allows consumers to...

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May 21
Greg's Bite: the crazy politics of solar energy

By Greg Mills (gregmills@mac.com)

May 18, 2012: the US Department of Commerce places high tariffs on imported Chinese photovoltaic cells. In one of the most stunning, counter-intuitive, anti-green, anti-free enterprise moves the Obama administration has ever made (is that saying something or what?), the US has just placed tariffs of up to 249% on imported Chinese photovoltaic cells. Cheap photocells are bad for the US market? 

Three US photocell manufacturers whined to the Department of Commerce that Chinese photovoltaic cell manufacturing is being "subsidized" by the Chinese government, which allows them to "dump" cheap photovoltaic cells on the market.  What a terrible thing: dumping cheap photocells and cheap solar panels! The choice between dumped cheap Chinese photocells that produce "free" electricity for 20 years or more vs. expensive oil (which will only go up astronomically in cost over time) makes the...

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May 18
Apple sued for 'deceptive' practices...

Another day, another lawsuit. A complaint was filed this week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by plaintiff Danyelle Comer accusing Apple of participating in "unfair, unlawful, deceptive, and misleading practices" in promoting the simplicity and reliability of its iCloud service, reports "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com).

The lawsuit claims that Apple "misrepresented" its iCloud service in advertising it to customers. Specifically, it argues that paying MobileMe customers experienced "devastating consequences," and that Apple should have been better prepared for the transition, notes "AppleInsider."

The lawsuit blasts iCloud occasional downtime, which means users can get their e-mail and other services. It accuses Apple of indicating that iCloud and MobileMe e-mail accounts are online and operational, when in fact users are unable to send or receive...

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May 18
Why Apple Specialists remain so important

Apple recently reported that the Mac App Store has seen over 100 million downloads in 340 days. This makes Apple the biggest Mac software retailer. That may be bad, on one hand, for Apple Specialists, but let's face it: Specialists are needed more than ever.

When the Mac App Store opened for business, it offered 1,000 applications; now it hosts 10,000 apps. The Mac App Store is included with Mac OS X 10.7 and is available as a software update for any Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.

Basically, I like the Mac App Store; it's convenient to be able to load purchased software on a new Mac without digging out CDs and registration codes. However, some developers cringe at Apple's rigid control over the online store and the inchessandboxinginches of software titles. (A sandbox is a security mechanism for separating running programs. In Apple's case, it provides a tightly controlled set of resources for guest programs to run in. Network access, the ability to inspect the host...

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May 17
Apple working on ways to improve speakers in all its...

An Apple patent (number 20120121121) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on a speaker having a horizontal former. In other words, the company plans to beef up the speakers in all its iOS and OS X devices.

Per the patent, the speaker includes a frame, a sound radiating surface, and a suspension that couples the sound radiating surface to the frame. A horizontal former is coupled to the radiating surface. The former extends substantially horizontally outward of a peripheral portion of the radiating surface, to a peripheral portion that is separate from the suspension. A coil is coupled to the peripheral portion of the horizontal former.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In modern consumer electronics, audio capability is playing an increasingly larger role as improvements in digital audio signal processing and audio content delivery continue to happen. There is a range of consumer electronics devices that...

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May 17
Greg's Bite, The inevitable iOS app shakeout

As the iOS Platform matures, app categories are due to mature as users get more particular with what they download. One of those categories already in decline is the specialized news channel app.  

Most every local TV channel and newspaper has attempted to enter the fray with a specialized iOS app for accessing their content. The problem is that iOS users are becoming jaded with such narrowly focused apps.  

While this has been a bonanza for app developers, the bottom line is that browsing the Internet to check the news is good enough for most of us. The novelty of specialized single web site apps wears thin after a while. I typically access 20 to 30 news web sites a day. Do I really want to have 20 to 30 different news apps on my iPad? Launching and shutting down that many apps just to read the day's news isn't going to happen. When I moved to the new iPad I junked a bunch of apps that were just using up memory.

Since web browsers tattle on users when they...

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May 17
Businesses turn to iPads -- but not at the Mac's...

The future for the iPad in the business environment looks great. Better yet, it apparently won't be at the expense of the Mac.

Results from the latest CDW IT Monitor (http://www.cdwitmonitor.com) indicate that nearly six in 10 organizations use tablet computers. While more prevalent among medium and large-size businesses (62%), nearly half of small businesses reported tablet use (47%). A

mong government IT decision-makers, tablets were more commonly used at the state level (59%) than the federal level (48%). While the popularity of tablets has grown steadily, only 19% of IT decision-makers reported that tablets have replaced some of their organization’s personal computers. Among those not currently using tablets, 31% plan to do so in the next six months.

Nearly three-quarters of the IT decision-makers surveyed thought that the use of tablets and smartphones has led to an increase in...

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May 17
Apple eyes remote management of media devices

An Apple patent (number 2012012415) shows that Apple is working on ways to remotely configure a media device. Improved techniques for controlling operation of a portable electronic device are disclosed.

Portable electronic devices which interact with a host electronic device can have their operational settings (e.g., configurations or preferences) remotely controlled. As a result, a host electronic device can offer a more sophisticated user interface and portable electronic devices need less local user interface features because these operational settings can be remotely controlled. The remotely-controlled (i.e., host controlled) operational settings are transferred to the portable electronic devices, whereby the portable electronic devices can thereafter operate in accordance with such settings.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Today, portable media devices, such as Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) or hand-held media players, are battery powered and...

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May 17
Apple patent involves app management interface for...

A new Apple patent (20120117504) for an user interface for application management on mobile devices has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

It describes technologies relating to user interfaces for mobile devices. In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of receiving a touch input to access an application management interface on a mobile device; presenting an application management interface; receiving one or more inputs within the application management interface including an input to install a particular application; installing the selected application; and presenting the installed application.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Conventional mobile devices are often dedicated to performing specific functions. For example, a mobile phone provides telephony services, a personal digital assistant (PDA) provides a way to organize addresses, contacts and notes...

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May 17
Apple looks to improve electronic back-up of...

A new Apple patent (number 20120124507) shows that Apple is working on better ways for electronic back-up of applications. Per the patent, systems and methods are provided for storing and restoring digital data. In some implementations, a method is provided.

The method includes receiving, while a current view of an application is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a history view associated with the current view of the application be displayed, retrieve data associated with the history view, determining a presentation format for the data, and displaying the history view in response to the first user input in accordance with the presentation format, the history view including data associated with at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view of the application.

Here's Apple's background of the invention: "Modern graphical user interfaces allow a large number of graphical objects or items to be displayed...

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May 17
Apple files patent for multi-touch focus

An Apple patent (number 20120120277) for multi-touch focus has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to image capturing electronic devices, having a touch sensitive screen for controlling camera functions and settings, such as the iPhone and iPad.

Per the patent, camera includes a lens arranged to focus an image on an image sensor and a touch sensitive visual display for freely selecting two or more regions of interest on a live preview image by touch input. An image processor is coupled to the image sensor and the touch sensitive visual display.

The image processor displays the live preview image according to the image focused on the image sensor by the lens. The image processor further receives the selection the regions of interest and controls acquisition of the image from the image sensor based on the characteristics of the image in regions that correspond to at least two of the regions of interest on the live preview image.

The...

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May 16
No end in sight for iPhone, iPad growth

The future looks increasingly bright for the iPhone and iPad. The mobile handset, smartphone, and tablet chip markets have seen tremendous growth in the last five years, driven by innovative new products like Apple's smartphone and tablet, and Google's Android phones and tablets.

GBI Research's (http://www.giiresearch.com) new cell phone and tablet market research report says declining growth in cellular handset shipments (6.5% in 2011 compared with 12% growth in 2010) is largely offset by a predicted 17% growth in smartphone sales. Baseband chips constitute the largest non-memory cellphone chip market, valued at US$15.9 billion for 2011.

Power management units account for a $5.5 billion market value. Other major cellular chips are RF transceivers ($3.7 billion), RF power amplifiers ($3.6 billion), image sensors ($2.9 billion),  standalone application processors ($2.8 billion), and  touch-...

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May 15
Apple wants to help you sync your mobile, vehicle...

An Apple patent (number 8180379) for synchronizing mobile and vehicle devices has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, location information is received at a mobile device from the memory of a vehicle device. The mobile device is updated based on the location information. Sensor data is received from at least one sensor measuring movement of the mobile device, and an estimated location of the mobile device is calculated based at least in part on the location information and the sensor data.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The role of traditional printed maps is being supplanted by modern devices capable of rendering dynamic map displays. Devices that include mapping or navigation applications provide information regarding an area selected by a user by recalling map data from local memory or networked services.

"Mapping devices include appropriately configured personal computers as well as dedicated mobile...

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May 15
I'm expecting Retina display Macs to be...

Hidden within the latest Mac OS X update (version 10.7.4, released last week) is a Retina-display-caliber icon for Apple's built-in TextEdit application, reports "AppleInsider" (http://www.appleinsider.com). This makes the possibility of Retina display Macs in the near future even more likely.

In OS X 10.7.3, the highest-quality version of the application's icon was 512-by-512 pixels, but after updating to 10.7.4, its resolution has been doubled, notes "AppleInsider." The doubling of pixels in application icons suggest that Apple is planning to introduce new Macs with ultra-high-resolution screens, much like the Retina displays currently found on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch lineup, the article adds.

Retina display laptops seem very likely. Although current MacBooks are known for their high-quality displays, the largest (17-inch) MacBook Pro sports a 1920 x 1200 resolution. Compare that...

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May 15
Apple patent is for wired pairing of wireless devices

An Apple patent (number 8181233) for the pairing of wireless devices using a wired medium has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to wireless devices and, more particularly, to pairing wireless devices for authorized data exchange.

Techniques that facilitate pairing of wireless devices with other wireless devices are disclosed. According to one aspect, a pair of wireless devices can be paired for wireless data exchange using an available wired link. Advantageously, the wired link can be used to transport a pin code from one of the wireless devices to the other. Consequently, pairing of the wireless devices can be completed without necessitating user entry of a pin code so long as the wired link is available.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The invention pertains to improved techniques that facilitate pairing of wireless devices with other wireless devices. According to one aspect of the invention, a pair of wireless devices can be...

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May 15
Apple patent involves podcast management

An Apple patent (number 8180895) for managing podcasts has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Improved techniques that facilitate the use of podcasts are disclosed. The improved techniques can pertain to publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, organizing, searching, browsing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts.

According to one aspect, tags are embedded into syndication feeds (e.g., RSS feeds) that may be made available for distribution by an online media store to facilitate the management of podcasts. Such tags can include a block tag that may be embedded into a syndication feed to indicate whether the feed is to be blocked from being included in the online media store.

According to another aspect, management of podcasts may be facilitated by other mechanisms. In accordance with one embodiment, a user may challenge the ownership of a podcast to block or remove a podcast from the online media store. In accordance with another...

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May 14
The iPad is hot, but not yet ready as a laptop...

A new study underlines what I've been saying: the tablet category has yet to quell interest in portable computers. One in three respondents in an ongoing tracking study by ABI Research (http://www.abirsearch.com) said they plan to purchase a laptop in the first half of 2012.

Additionally, 16% of respondents also said they plan to acquire a media tablet. Consumers expressed greater purchase intent in both computing form factors compared to a previous survey.

"US consumers are holding on to home computers longer," says consumer research group director Jeff Orr. “"his has created a near-term opportunity for the incremental purchase of media tablets. Consumer interest also remains strong for laptops, which include the new, slimmer ultrabook segment."

Media tablets, however, are taking market away from the US netbook opportunities, which continue to see less purchase intention from consumers...

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May 11
C'mon, Apple. lavish some gaming love on the Mac

Market Research company Newzoo (http://www.newzoo.com) says Apple is dominating the mobile gaming market with 84% of the revenue coming from iOS devices, rather than Android. Now I'd love to see Apple lavish some real gaming love on the Mac.

Of all American mobile gamers, 19 million play on an iPhone, which is 28% of all smartphone gamers, according to NewZoo. An additional 18 million plays games on an iPod Touch. In the tablet gaming space, the iPad is dominant with a share of 60%, or 12.7 million Americans.

Apple’s position is strongest when it comes to revenues. In March 2012, all iOS devices combined earned 84% of mobile revenues generated by the top 200 grossing games in the three stores combined: iPad, iPhone/iPod App Store and Google PlayStore.

With the "halo effect" of the iPad and iPhone, Mac sales are increasing. But I think an Apple push for gaming on the Mac would spur them on more...

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May 10
Future OS X, iOS devices may sport 3D object...

Future Macs -- and perhaps iOS devices -- may sport 3D object recognition. An Apple patent (number 20120114251) for a method, device, system, and computer program for object recognition of a 3D object of a certain object class using a statistical shape model for recovering 3D shapes from a 2D representation of the 3D object and comparing the recovered 3D shape with known 3D to 2D representations of at least one object of the object class has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present invention relates to automated object recognition and in particular to automated object recognition of 3D objects using statistical shape information.

"There exist extremely reliable methods for personal identification using biometric data such as e.g. fingerprints, retinal patterns or similar unique features of the subject that rely on the cooperation of the subject. Face recognition may be an effective way of...

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May 10
Apple working on wireless transmission of media

A new Apple patent (number 20120115414) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on wireless transmission of media from a media player.

Per the patent, a handheld media player includes a storage medium for storing a plurality of media items, a user interface for selecting one or more of the media items, a playback device for playing a selected media item for a user of the handheld media player, and a wireless transmitter configured to wirelessly transmit the selected media item to one or more media devices. The wireless transmitter can be configured to wirelessly transmit the selected media item while the playback device plays the selected media item for the user of the handheld media player.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The hand held consumer electronics market is exploding, and an increasing number of those products are including mechanism for expanding connections thereto. By way of example, hand held...

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May 10
Apple patent is for mobile device user interface

Several Apple patents have popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Among them is an application for a patent for an user interface for a mobile device.

In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of receiving a touch input to access an application management interface on a mobile device; presenting an application management interface; receiving one or more inputs within the application management interface including an input to install a particular application; installing the selected application; and presenting the installed application.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "This specification describes technologies relating to user interfaces for mobile devices. In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of receiving a touch input to access an application management interface on a...

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May 10
A new, $799 MacBook Air? No way

According to "DigiTimes" (http://macte.ch/uxNwD), Apple is considering responding to the upcoming second-generation ultrabooks by launching an US$799 MacBook Air in the third quarter of 2012. This has some folks speculating that a new Air model may be in the works. Perhaps a 9-inch or 10-inch version.

Sorry, but no way. Tablets are putting the hurt on ultrabook sales as it is. Apple has no good reason to introduce a new model of the Air.

What MAY happen is a price cut on the entry level, 11-inch 64GB MacBook Air. Currently, it's priced at US$999 with a 128GB version selling for $1,199. The 13-inch 128GB model costs $1,299 with a 256GB version offered for $1,599. Perhaps the prices will drop to $799 for the entry level model, with the other models seeing a $100-$200 price drop. Along with this we'll see a 15-inch MacBook Air arrive.

But a new Air to do combat with ultrabooks? Not needed, and it...

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May 09
How about the 'Apple Shark Tank' reality...

Reality TV is a sign of the impending doom of civilization; any society where "Jersey Shore," "Toddlers and Tiaras," and "My Redneck Vacation" are hits can't survive for long. Still, I figure I might as well jump on the bandwagon and make a boatload of money as long as civilization is still standing.

So here's my idea for a new reality show: "Apple Shark Tank." Developers pitch their ideas for hardware or software products of all sorts to a panel of Apple execs. Sitting on the panel would be Tim Cook, Scott Forstall, Phil Schiller and Jonny Ive. Andy Ihnakto or David Pogue would fill a Ryan Seacrest-type role of ringleader.

Contestants have three minutes to pitch their idea to the Apple exec panel complete with mock-ups, specifics on the app/hardware specs, and reasons why Apple should fund their idea. Winning ideas would become the property of Apple with the idea originators getting a cut of sales.

Think you've got a game of "Angry Birds" potential? Bring it...

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May 08
Apple patents involve cavity antenna, mixing sound,...

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

Patent number 8174452 is for a cavity antenna for wireless electronic devices (top graphic). Wireless portable electronic devices such as laptop computers are provided with cavity-backed monopole antennas.

A wireless device may have a housing. Conductive portions of the housing such as a conductive outer metal layer and internal frame structures may form a cavity having conductive walls. An antenna resonating element structure may be formed from monopole antenna resonating element arms of dissimilar lengths. One of the arms may be straight and another of the arms may be implemented using a meandering path. The antenna resonating element may be mounted over the cavity to form a cavity-backed monopole antenna.

A display within the device may be covered by a cover glass. An opaque bezel region around the periphery of the cover glass may...

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May 08
Should Apple kill the 17-inch MacBook Pro?

There are rumors -- and I don't doubt them -- that the 17-inch MacBook Pro is nearing its end. According to the predominant speculation, Apple will basically turn its entire laptop line into MacBook Airs with 11-inch, 13-inch and 15-inch models differentiated by different specs, but all lacking an optical drive.

I do believe that's where Apple is heading. Like the Mac Pro, the 17-inch MacBook Pro has a limited market. But it's a powerful, creative market with specific needs Apple has met for years. In writing for "Redmond Pie" (http://macte.ch/V67VQ), Paul Paliath offers these reasons for not killing the biggest Apple laptop:

° Despite Apple's obvious desire to get away from all physical media such as CDs and DVDs, many people, especially creative professionals, need to be able to tackle CD and DVD burning on their Mac.

° People in professions that require performance laptops and that type of...

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May 07
There's a divide between employees, businesses...

There's still a big divide among employers and employees on the whole concept of bring your own device (BYOD.

Mimecast (http://www.mimecast.com), supplier of cloud-based email archiving, continuity and security for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365, has released findings from a survey of 500 IT professionals and administrators from the 2012 DevConnections conference held in Las Vegas. The survey highlights that BYOD is still a hotly debated enterprise issue and unveiled a divide between employees and the business.

While 47% of respondents find consumerization of IT important to highly important to the enterprise, when asked about the risk BYOD is perceived to bring to the enterprise, 21% said BYOD has been a risk to the business. A separate 26% say their business doesn't allow employees to use their own device for corporate tasks.

These results shows a significant disconnect; while employees...

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May 04
Desktop/tablet combos may be the future of computing

Ben Bajarin, writing for "Techpinions" (http://macte.ch/ZfOzV) predicts that desktops are going to make a comeback and that it's notebooks that are "the past" as tablets such as the iPad continue to grow in popularity. I think he's onto something, despite a more-common line of thinking that the desktop is the past of personal computing as ever more folks move to laptops.

"I see desktops making a comeback due to a role change," Bajarin says. "There is an interesting trend emerging around desktops. Consumer all-in-one desktops (like the iMac) are being designed to be showcased prominently in the house rather than stuck in the den or office. These computers will be very elegant, very powerful, and very affordable. So rather than try to converge a notebook and a tablet, I think a better create a solution is to pair a desktop all-in-one with a tablet."

Under this scenario, when you want a big screen,...

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May 03
Apple granted patent for 'jelly roll'...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120107654) for a rechargeable battery with a jelly roll having multiple thicknesses.

This battery cell includes a jelly roll enclosed in a pouch, wherein the jelly roll includes layers which are wound together, including a cathode with an active coating, a separator, and an anode with an active coating. The jelly roll also includes a first conductive tab coupled to the cathode and a second conductive tab coupled to the anode.

The jelly roll is enclosed in a flexible pouch, and the first and second conductive tabs are extended through seals in the pouch to provide terminals for the battery cell. Furthermore, the battery cell has two or more thicknesses, wherein the different thicknesses are created by removing material from one or more of the layers before winding the layers together.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Rechargeable batteries are presently used to provide power to a wide variety of portable...

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May 03
Apple files patent for Mac mini

Apple has filed a patent at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the design of the Mac mini. Patent number 20120106067 is for a small form factor desktop computer.

An "aesthetically pleasing small form factor desktop computer" is described. The small form factor desktop computer can be formed of a single piece seamless housing that in the described embodiment is machined from a single billet of aluminum. The single piece seamless housing includes an aesthetically pleasing foot support having at least a portion formed of RF transparent material that provides easy user access to selected internal components as well as offers electromagnetic (EM) shielding.

According to Apple, this simplicity of design can accrue many advantages to the small form factor desktop computer besides those related to aesthetic look and feel. Fewer components and less time and effort can be required for assembly of the small form factor desktop computer and the absence of seams in the...

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May 03
Apple patent is for media management, routing in an...

An Apple patent (number 20120109349) for media management and routing within an electronic device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The invention relates to routing audio within an electronic device using a variety of sources and outputs. The routing is responsive to a set of logical and physical policies which are stored in data tables which can be updated as needed.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "The approaches described in this section are approaches that could be pursued, but not necessarily approaches that have been previously conceived or pursued. Therefore, unless otherwise indicated, it should not be assumed that any of the approaches described in this section qualify as prior art merely by virtue of their inclusion in this section.

"Computing devices can often handle playback of multiple types of media. The media that may be played back by computing devices often includes numerous forms/formats of video, and...

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May 02
The Northern Spy: tools and the Fourth Civilization

By Rick Sutcliffe

The Spy’s tools provide this month's entertainment, both for his consistency and their diversity. You see, his two sons recently had their birthdays, and predictably, they got tools.

After all the well-equipped householder needs his drills, saws, screwdrivers, hammers, power strips, sockets, the box to organize it all, a good work bench and proper ladders. Now, no matter that one is a software engineer, and the other a high school math and history teacher -- how else can they get jobs done around the house?

The Spy himself has built two houses for his family, helped construct a church, and assisted said sons and others in reno projects on various scales, particularly with electrical work. He's also done not a little auto and tractor maintenance. So he's acquired hand tools, power tools, air tools, and mechanic's tools; tools for building, wrecking, and repairing, for house, car, lawn, and garden; tools for plumbing,...

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May 02
Mountain Lion needs better keychain syncing

One thing I hope to see in the upcoming Mountain Lion is better keychain synchronization.

Sure, there are solutions such as Dropbox and 1Password, but it would be nice to have a solution built into the operating system. This would let me sync my desktop Mac with my laptop and my iPad without resorting to a third party solution. And that seems more in tune with the Apple way.

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May 01
Apple wins patent for touch screen device, graphical...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8171432) for a touch screen device, method and graphical user interface (UI) for displaying and selecting application options. embodiments relate generally to computing devices with touch screen displays, and more particularly, to selecting application options on computing devices with touch screen displays. Based on the graphics, it make you wonder if Apple is planning bigger iPads.

Per the patent, in accordance with some embodiments, a flat version of an application interface is displayed. In response to detecting a user gesture on a view options icon while the flat version of the application interface is displayed, a curled version of the application interface is displayed. The curled version of the application interface includes an image of a curled page that obscures a first portion of the flat version of the application interface, and a roll-up region in a display region formerly occupied by a second portion of the flat version...

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May 01
There's still lots of room for growth of Apple...

According to a new study by the NPD research group (http://www.npd.com), one in four iPad purchasers say it's their first Apple product. The study also shows that there's lots of room for growth for Apple products.

NPD's "Apple Ecosystem Study" found that just 33% of U.S. homes own Apple products. But that number is growing well past the 37 million American households Apple devices are currently found in, thanks in large part to the iPad.

"iPad sales are growing much faster than any other Apple product has this soon after launch," says Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis at NPD. "In fact, one-in-five Apple owner households has one -- nearly equivalent to the number that own an Apple computer. This demonstrates the appeal of both the new form factor and Apple’s app ecosystem."

A majority of the U.S. households that do have Apple products (67%) own an iPod, and 82% of iPod owners polled said the...

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May 01
Apple patents involves power management, audio

Various Apple patents have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office showing that the company is working on ways to improve power management and sound on a range of devices.

Patent number 81717322 is for portable electronic devices with power management capabilities. Per the patent, an electronic device may operate in standby and active modes. A headset may be coupled to the electronic device. The electronic device may have audio codec circuitry. The audio codec circuitry may use general purpose input-output circuitry in handling button and headset activity during active mode. Processing circuitry may be used to reconfigure the audio codec in real time.

When the electronic device is in the standby mode and activity is detected, the codec may be configured to provide an interrupt signal to a power management unit that wakes the device. When the electronic device is in active mode and no user inputs are received within a given period of time, the central...

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May 01
Apple granted communications, information patents

Apple has been granted a handful of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office involving communications and information sharing.

Patent number 817216 involves techniques for validating and sharing secrets. Per the patent, a secret is divided into a plurality of parts. Each part is represented by a unique value. Each value is distributed to a unique user that shares in the secret. The secret is recreated when each user presents each user's unique value. Each unique value is then used to recreate its corresponding part of the key and when all parts are present and validated, the secret is reproduced. The inventors are Vardhan Itta Vishnu and H.B. Puthali.

Patent number 8170588 is for contact information updating via SMS. Per the patent, a source mobile telephone detects that a telephone number of the telephone has changed to a new number, and in response, sends a text or short message service (SMS) notice message to contacts...

| Read more »
Apr 30
Americans want more wireless broadband

The amount of wireless data transmitted by Americans continues to increase at an impressive rate -- but we want more -- as the CTIA-The Wireless Association semi-annual survey revealed.

The annual U.S. wireless data traffic grew 123 percent from 2010 (388 billion megabytes) to 2011 (866.7 billion megabytes). According to the survey, there was a 43% increase in the number of active smartphones and wireless-enabled PDAs in 2011 (111.5 million) compared with 2010 (78.2 million). With almost 95% of these devices capable of transmitting wireless data, Americans' voracious appetite for anywhere and anytime mobile access is why the wireless industry needs more spectrum. To put the wireless data traffic of 2010 compared with 2011 into perspective, if you were walking and listening to five songs per mile and each song lasted for four minutes:

° In 2010, you would walk 77,601,961,033 miles, or the equivalent of 3,116,419 times around the world for 2,952,890 years and listen to...

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Apr 26
The true era of 'personal computing' is here

Earlier this year, Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, wrote an essay (http://macte.ch/YP2WT) in which he says that we're entering the true era of personal computing rather than entering the "post-PC" era.

He's right -- and that's why the iPad should be considered a "real" personal computer when research groups such as IDC and Gartner calculate market share. According to "Webster's Dictionary," the word "personal" means "relating to, or affecting, a particular person." What better fits that description than an iPhone, iPod or iPad -- not to mention the Mac?

It seems to me that there are now three categories of personal computers: desktops, laptops and tablets/ultramobile devices. And all three will coexist.

As Bajarin notes: ".... tablets in particular are not replacing PCs, at least not in the foreseeable future.  Rather what is happening is tasks or jobs are being replaced...

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