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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...

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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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Apr 26
Apple eyes ways to improve communication between...

An Apple patent (number 20120102236) involving communication between an accessory and a media player with multiple protocol versions has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to connector interfaces and more particularly to a connector interface system which is utilized in conjunction with media players and their accessories.

Per the patent, an interface and protocol allow a media player to communicate with external accessories over a transport link. The protocol includes a core protocol functionality and a number of accessory lingoes. Examples of accessory lingoes include a microphone lingo, a simple remote lingo, a display remote lingo, an RF transmitter lingo, and an extended interface lingo.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "A media player stores media assets, such as audio tracks or photos, that can be played or displayed on the media player. One example of a media player is the iPod media player, which is available...

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Apr 26
Apple wants to make it easier to process media gifts

With iTunes slated to take over the entire digital world of entertainment, a new Apple patent (number 2012101944) shows the company wants to make it even easier for you to "gift" people with items from the store.

Per the patent -- for a system and method for processing media gifts -- various techniques are provided for the gifting between multiple electronic devices of media content provided by an online digital media provider. An offer and acceptance of a selected gift file is accomplished between a gifter device and a receiving giftee device using a near-field communication (NFC) connection.

If a connection to the online provider is available, the gifter device may transmit a gift request by which the gifter's account is charged for the gift file. Thereafter, a gift file created using DRM keys associated with the giftee's account may be downloaded to the giftee device. If a network connection is unavailable, the giftee device may transfer a locked gift file and a...

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Apr 26
Apple granted patent for the MacBook Air

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120099264) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the MacBook Air. The patent is for a portable computing device includes at least a base portion of a lightweight material that includes at least a wedge shaped top case having a trough formed at an interfacing edge thereof.

The trough includes a raised portion having a first contact surface and a receiving area, and a bottom case coupled to the top case to form a complete housing for at least a portion of the portable computing device for enclosing at least a plurality of operational components and a plurality of structural components. The portable computing device also includes at least a lid portion pivotally connected to the base portion by a hinge assembly.

In the described embodiments, the lid portion has a display in communication with one or more of the plurality of components in the base portion by way of or more electrical conductors that electrically connect...

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Apr 26
Is Apple running out of juice? Nope

Apple's explosive rally from near $350.00/share last November to well over $600.00/share earlier this month has left many traders talking about whether the stock is now in a bubble and whether it will burst. The answer to that is "no."

"Fundamental and technical indicators have been sending conflicting signals about whether Apple is in a bubble From Nov. 25 through April 9," says Colin Cieszynski, senior market analyst at CMC Markets (http://www.cmcmarkets.co.uk/) Canada. "Apple shares gained 74.9%. Over the same time frame, the Dow Industrials went up 15.1%. The company also has blasted through the high end of a channel and the chart has gone parabolic or nearly vertical. Technically this suggests that Apple is probably in a bubble and vulnerable. In contrast,fundamental indicators suggest that the stock could still have room to run for a while.”

To me, it looks as if the stock will run...

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Apr 25
Let's see a tweaked Dashboard in Mountain Lion

The OS X Dashboard is a bit of a mess, although one with potential. There are lots of possibilities, but it's somewhat disorganized in its current iteration. Could this be tweaked in the upcoming Mountain Lion?

The opportunity there is for Apple and any application company to create widgets that can show various bits of information that can fit together into a cohesive tiled system for giving users quick, at-a-glance information. Mountain Lion's alert system will be useful, but from what I can tell it doesn't provide the level of general information that a full screen of live updates would.

I've not the time to create a mock-up of the idea, so you'll have to use your imagination. But if you need a little help, use this image (yes, it's Windows Tiles, so forgive me), but imagine it in the Dashboard.

The key seems to be using standardized sizes so that everything can fit together. Dashboard already has many widgets that do the very things that Windows Tiles do....

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Apr 24
Apple granted patents for Time Machine, GarageBand,...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8166415) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an user interface for backup management -- namely, for its Time Machine software in Mac OS X.

The patent involves methods and a computer program product for providing a user interface including earlier versions of data. In one implementation, a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a backup interface be displayed. In response to the first user input, the transition from displaying the current view in the user interface to displaying the backup interface is animated.

The backup interface is displayed including a display area for presenting at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view, where the earlier version includes a first element. While the backup interface is displayed, a second user input is received requesting that the current...

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Apr 24
DVD, Blu-ray sales continue to decline

Okay, maybe I've been wrong. Though I've long been a fan of Blu-ray -- still the best home viewing choice for movie lovers when it comes to top quality -- and have long hoped Macs would offer Blu-ray playback support, apparently I'm in the minority.

Fewer U.S. consumers are buying and collecting DVD and Blu-ray discs, according to new data from the IDC research group. Less than one-third of survey respondents report buying a DVD or Blu-ray more than once or twice a year, and over half of purchasers say they are buying less than they did a year ago.

The reason? Digital options such as the iTunes Store. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I still like to have physical media. Guess if all my movie purchasing goes digital, I'll have to invest in some big honkin' hard drives.

(As for the survey, it was conducted entirely online in September 2011 with individuals over the age of 18 who subscribe to broadband Internet service at home in the United States. The 2011 U.S....

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Apr 23
iPad users shop different

Forget Think Different. iPad users Shop Different, according to new data by RichRelevance, a provider of dynamic personalization for the world’s largest retailers and brands.

The company's report, "The 2012 Q1 Shopping Insights Mobile Study" (http://www.richrelevance.com/insights/mobile-shopping/), finds a steady rise in mobile share of revenue from 1.9% in April 2011 to 4.6% in March 2012, with the iPad driving nearly all shopping, browsing and purchasing in this emerging channel.

According to the study:

° iPad users spent significantly more time and money on retail sites than other mobile users.

° iPad users constitute the bulk of all mobile shoppers -- accounting for about two-thirds (68%) of shoppers.

° The iPad accounts for 90% of all mobile revenue (and 4% of total retail revenue).

° Conversion rates...

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Apr 20
Can Apple dominate the digital movie/TV market?

Is Apple on the verge of dominating the digital movie market and revolutionizing television, as well? Those answers are "looks like it" (digital movies) and "outlook cloudy" (television viewing).

When it comes to digital movie sales, Apple already controls 65% of the market, according to research by IHS Screen Digest. Now as as Apple expands digital offerings into the cloud via iCloud, it threatens to dwarf Hollywood's own UltraViolet cloud initiative with the only credible challenge coming from Amazon and Google, not the movie industry.

"If they do this right, Apple is in the lead position," James McQuivey, an analyst with of Forrester Research told "TheWrap" (http://macte.ch/G8qU4). "They're already in a strong position. The dark horse here is Amazon, not UltraViolet."

UltraViolet is a cloud-based movie storage solution that the industry is betting (or at least hoping) will convince consumers...

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Apr 19
Apple's gonna make sure you follow its app usage...

Download an app from the Mac App Store or the Apple App Store, and Apple plans to make sure you're using it per the company's enforcement policy, according to a patent (number 20120095877) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Disclosed are systems, methods, and non-transitory computer-readable media for enforcing application usage policies. As part of an application purchase transaction, the application distributor creates a unique proof of purchase receipt. This receipt can be bundled with the application and delivered to the purchaser. Each machine can maintain an authorization file that lists the users authorized to use applications on that machine.

A system configured to practice the method verifies that a user is authorized to use an application on a machine based on an application proof of purchase receipt and the authorization file. If the application proof of purchase receipt and the authorization file are both valid, the system checks if the user...

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Apr 19
Apple patent involves generating geographically based...

If Apple follows through on a new patent (number 20120096361) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, you may soon be able to generate a geographically based slideshow of the digital media items -- such as photos and videos -- on your OS X and iOS devices.

Per the patent, a slideshow framework receives user-specified digital images, ordering them according to time of capture, organizing the ordered images into groups, each group corresponding to a different geographical region, and generating a slideshow of the user-specified images using maps of the different geo-graphical regions and visual transitions between the different geographical regions.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Digital photography and digital videography have simplified taking, viewing, storing, and reproducing media content such as still images and video. Photographs can be taken either using high-end equipment such as digital single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, low resolution cameras...

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Apr 19
Apple working on a means of capturing digital...

Apple is working on ways to easily capture digital signatures, per a patent (number 20120093409) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Systems, methods, and computer-readable media are provided for capturing a signature, and placing a representation of the captured signature in an appropriate field of a document. A camera or other appropriate sensor can capture an image of a signature provided by a user on a piece of paper. The signature can be digitized to create a representation that a device may use in a displayed document.

To determine where to place the representation, a horizontal line of a document can be identified by selectively rendering portions of the document adjacent to an input position, and identifying one or more boundaries for a detected horizontal line. The representation can be scaled to fit in a detected field of the document.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Some electronic devices can be used to enter data in documents...

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Apr 19
Apple goal: pretty, lightweight, environmentally...

An Apple patent for a computer housing that's aesthetically pleasing, lightweight and environmentally friendly has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

A multipart computer housing is described. The multipart computer housing includes at least a structural support layer and a body. The body includes at least an outer layer formed of lightweight flexible material and an inner layer attached to the outer layer.

The inner layer is connected to the support layer forming a load path between the inner layer and the structural support layer. A load applied to the multipart computer housing is transferred by way of the load path to the support layer without substantially affecting the outer layer.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: The outward appearance of a portable computing device, including its design and its heft, is important to a user of the portable computing device, as the outward appearance contributes to the overall impression that...

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Apr 19
Apple applies for rolling shutter distortion...

An Apple patent (number 20120092559) for rolling shutter distortion correction has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and apparently involves the camera in the iPad. It relates to correcting for a rolling shutter distortion in digital images; for example, a video clip composed of a sequence of digital images.

Methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer programs encoded on a computer storage medium, for performing rolling shutter distortion corrections are described. A video clip captured by a user is received and each of a plurality of predefined affine transforms for rolling shutter distortion correction is applied to the received video clip. Further, a visual indication of results from each of the plurality of the predefined affine transforms is presented to the user and input is received from the user selecting one of the visual indications.

Furthermore, the predefined affine transform corresponding to the selected visual indication is...

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Apr 19
IF the next iPhone is LTE ready, the timing may be...

If the next gen iPhone is 4G LTE-enabled, it will arrive at the perfect time. LTE smartphones will top 65 million units in 2012, led by the anticipated LTE-enabled "iPhone 5" (though I bet it will be simply called "the new iPhone") and Samsung’s LTE smartphones, according to ABI Research (http://www.abiresearch.com).

"Mobile wireless royalties for GSM, WCDMA, and LTE smartphones were just under $20 billion in 2011 but the increase to 65 million LTE smartphones will help push the 2012 royalty total higher," states research director Philip Solis. "Even though LTE handsets will only total 4% of the total handsets shipped in 2012, total royalty rates will be 14% higher."

Although some 2G royalties are expiring, the growing base of 3G handsets and acceleration of LTE handsets -- with combined, but not quite additive, royalties for 2G, 3G, and 4G patents -- will keep total mobile wireless royalties...

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Apr 19
Apple eyes ways to evaluate printer performance

Apple hasn't made printers in years, but it's at least working on diagnostic targets for evaluating printer performance per a patent (number 20120092701) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, print performance is evaluated by printing a diagnostic image comprising color patches. Colorant usage in the printed image is measured by, for instance, scanning each patch. Measured color values are then compared to target color values. Based on the comparison, groups of patches whose color values vary significantly from expectations are identified.

Variant groups are then analyzed to identify, in addition to color quality control problems, spatial problems that affect only a localized area of a printed page. Such spatial problems may include, for example, problems with contrast or streaks. A heat map illustrating the differences may be generated to help an operator visualize the spatial problem. A template for the diagnostic image may be selected from a...

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Apr 19
Apple patents cover variety of topics

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

Patent number 20120094684 is for location based operation of a wireless mobile system. Per the patent, operating parameters of a wireless mobile communication device can be adjusted to comply with requirements defined by a local regulatory regime. Location information can be received by the wireless mobile communication device and be used to determine local operating requirements.

In one embodiment, location information in the form of MCC-MNC information can be used to query a local database to determine values of local operating limits such as, for example, a local value of a maximum allowable transmission power limit. Vusthia Sunil Reddy is the inventor.

Patent number 20120096189 is for a method and system for allowing a media player to determine if it supports the capabilities of an accessory are disclosed....

| Read more »
Apr 18
Do tablets offer a 'post PC wonderland'?

Interpret (http://www.interpretllc.com/), a cross media research firm, has released "Tablet Computers: Post-PC Wonderland or Utopia?," a report that examines whether Steve Jobs' "post-PC era" statement is a marketing ploy or a likely reality.

The report takes an in-depth look at how tablet owners differ from traditional computer owners, both demographically and behaviorally. For example, tablet owners watch nearly two fewer hours of traditional TV per week versus traditional computer owners. Not surprisingly, however, they engage in more digital behaviors, such as watching TV on the Internet, gaming and social networking.

"It's no secret that tablets are a hot technology, and the growth over the past year alone has been extraordinary," says Interpret CEO Michael Dowling. "However, tablet owners tend to be much more affluent than the average traditional computer owner, and the crossover...

| Read more »
Apr 17
Apple granted patent for antenna diversity systems

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8159399) for antenna diversity systems for portable electronic devices -- namely, iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

Per the patent, antenna diversity systems are provided for portable electronic devices that have wireless communications circuitry and environment sensors. The wireless communications circuitry may include multiple redundant antennas that operate in one or more overlapping radio-frequency communications bands. The environment sensors and redundant antennas may be used in implementing an antenna diversity system.

For example, an electronic device may use environment sensors to select an antenna for use in handling wireless communications. The electronic devices may monitor the wireless performance of an active antenna. When the wireless performance of the active antenna degrades, the electronic devices may select a new antenna for wireless communications using the antenna diversity system and environment...

| Read more »
Apr 17
No Retina displays Mac until next year? Noooo ....

Those of us hoping to see a Retina display Mac may have to wait until next year, at least for a desktop version -- unless Apple is ahead of the curve, which is always a possibility.

According to the "Liliputing" site (http://macte.ch/g0p2Z), by 2013 Intel sees handheld and tablet devices targeting resolutions in the range of 300 pixels per inch (ppi), while notebook computers target roughly 250 ppi and all-in-one desktop computers register around 220 ppi ini 2013. The company, per "Liliputing," sees this happening in the computer space over the next few years: 

° Tablets with 10 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel displays 
° Ultrabooks with 11 inch, 2560 x 1440 pixel displays 
° Ultrabooks with 13 inch, 2800 x 1800 pixel displays 
° Laptops with 15 inch, 3840 x 2160 pixel displays 
° All-in-one desktops with 3840 x 2160 pixel displays

Retina display MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros would be great. But I'd also like...

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Apr 16
Apple should build corporate museum on its '...

Computer historian David Greelish thinks Apple should build a corporate corporate museum on its new campus. I think that's a great idea. What about you?

"Apple needs to build a public museum to celebrate its past and present. It also needs to create a dedicated public space at the new campus," he writes. "A space where visitors can spend a couple of hours learning more about the company they respect, and about the past products and leadership which brought Apple to the here and now. A wonderful place for visitors to relax and learn about Apple’s exciting past, while standing in the exciting present, and future of the company."

The new campus will be at Cupertino and will have a "spaceship" design. It will accommodate 12,000 employees in a four-story building. Greelish's museum idea would be a great addition to what is shaping up as one of the world's most intriguing company headquarters. Read more at http...

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Apr 13
Commoditization of phones, tablets to hurt Apple? Nope

ACI Research analyst Ed Zabitsky says (http://macte.ch/81NIa) you should sell Apple stock because it's destined to fall due to increased competition. I beg to differ.

I'm not sure Apple stock will hit the US$1,000 mark some pundits are predicting, but it's certainly heading well above $600. Zabitsky says Samsung is destined to be the smartphone leader, that smartphones/tablets/web usage are destined to become just another commodity, and that folks will turn away from Apple's "closed" systems.

Let's think this through. Computers (such as Macs) and portable music players (such as iPods) have all been commoditized for a long time. Still, Apple manages to make a huge amount of profit from them -- far more than the competition.

The smartphone (namely the iPhone) and the tablet (the iPad) won't be any different. Apple still provides the best experience for a great price on all these devices. (Thanks...

| Read more »
Apr 12
Apple patent shows possible iWeb replacement

iWeb, Apple's entry level web page creation tool, seems to be languishing. However, a new Apple patent (number 2012008993) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that a replacement may be in the works.

The patent, for "content configuration for device platforms," includes a digital content authoring tool for authoring digital content without the need to understand or access computer code. According to the patent, the present technology further includes creating digital content that can be modified with animation of assets.

Each animation can be controlled by an action, and the actions can be tied to a time axis for execution. By relating actions to a time axis, animations based on the actions can be more easily viewed and reviewed. In some embodiments, the system can clear a page of all but a selected asset so that it may be more easily worked with.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present disclosure relates to an...

| Read more »
Apr 12
Apple applies for high-speed card connector patent

Apple has applied to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a high-speed card connector having a wide power contact. The patent involves connectors to connect optional or daughter cards or boards to main or motherboards.

One example provides a connector that is capable of supporting high-speed data rates by employing contacts that provide short signal paths and a ground plane to improve signal quality. The space consumed in electronic devices may be reduced by providing a connector having a low profile, while another example may provide a connector having mechanical stability. Another example provides a connector having an increased manufacturability. Other examples include wider contacts for increased current capabilities.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "he number and types of electronic devices on the market have grown tremendously the past few years. Tablet, netbook, laptop, and all-in-one computers, media players, handheld media players, cell...

| Read more »
Apr 12
Mountain Lion must improve Lion's poor multiple...

When Mountain Lion arrives this summer, let's hope that Apple gets serious again about multiple monitor support on the Mac. When Lion arrived, to say such support was an afterthought is being kind to afterthoughts.

For example with the 27-inch iMac, some pros and power users may wish to connect one or two 27-inch Thunderbolt Cinema Displays for a massive amount of screen real estate. This set-up works as expected in Snow Leopard, but Lion is a different story.

Take the case of the Aperture user who likes to see his/her work in full screen detail on the center screen, while having access to, say, Mail, Safari, the Aperture User Manual and the APTS training for Aperture certification on the other screens. Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, while this works just fine with Snow Leopard, under Lion, the second and/or third screen contents is overlayed with an impenetrable grey linen pattern. This reduces those displays to little more than expensive fake linen....

| Read more »
Apr 12
Apple patent is for wireless device pairing between...

An Apple patent (number 20120083208) for wireless accessory device pairing transfer between multiple hosts has appeared today at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a wireless communications system includes an accessory device and multiple host devices. A host device pairs wirelessly with an accessory device using a unique link key, detects a primary trigger event and responds by transferring automatically its pairing with the accessory device to a second host device while all devices remain within wireless range of each other.

The pairing transfer involves communicating the link key to the second host device, unpairing the accessory device from the first host device, and establishing a wireless pairing of the accessory device to the second host device. The primary trigger event can involve establishing a ported connection between host devices. A secondary trigger event results in the first host device automatically reclaiming its pairing with...

| Read more »
Apr 11
Apple Mail: folders verses labels

Why is Apple so reluctance to fully embrace labels for Mail (and objects in the Finder, too)?

Folders are holdover from the early days of the graphical user interface. Don't get 'me wrong; they work so I'm not knocking them.

However, labels are more versatile. Normally, an item can only go into one folder unless you copy it to multiple folders -- which is a waste of space and a pain to manage. However, a single item can have many labels. This works better with Spotlight and Smart Folders.

So, c'mon, Apple, go ahead and jump onto the label bandwagon. (Thanks to J. Scott Anderson for the idea for today's column.)

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Apr 10
Apple patent is for flash control for electronic...

Apple is working on improving the flash in its iOS device cameras per a new patent (number 8,150,255) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

According to the patent, a method performed by an electronic camera in flash mode is as follows. A scene ambient lighting indication is obtained. An integration time interval and a flash pulse-on time interval for taking a picture is then set. The set integration time interval is shorter when the indication is bright than when the indication is dark; and the set flash pulse-on time interval is longer when the indication is bright than when the indication is dark.

An image is captured using the set integration time interval and the set flash pulse-on time interval in accordance with an electronic rolling shutter (ERS). Other embodiments are also described and claimed. Richard Tsai is the inventor.

Apple has also been granted these patents:

° Number D656,501 for the flat panel iMac (the current...

| Read more »
Apr 10
Mac sales stagnant; we need some exciting new hardware

According to some reports, Mac sales have slowed a bit. Though still growing above the industry average, apparently the computer platform isn't flourishing as hardily as it has for months. Of course, there have been no substantial hardware updates for months. Hopefully, Apple has some Macs coming soon that will have folks salivating for the computers. Hmmm. Perhaps ...

° A 32-iMac/television Mac with a Retina display, built-in TV tuner (to warm us up for the rumored iTV/iPanel), Ivy Bridge processor, beefed-up graphics, better speakers (surround sound, perhaps, as indicated in a patent discussed at http://macte.ch/ZpSQP) and an anti-glare option. I'd also love to see Blu-ray support (but that won't happen) and an Apple joystick/gamepad. The latter would require an OS X upgrade with "hooks" by which game developers could offer support for the peripheral. This is probably a pipe dream, but I know some users are...

| Read more »
Apr 09
Still plenty of room for wireless home network growth

Wireless home networks are now commonplace in many global markets, according to new research from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). By the end of 2011, 439 million households worldwide had installed home Wi-Fi networks, equivalent to 25% of all households.

This report predicts that the total worldwide number of Wi-Fi households will reach nearly 800 million in 2016, a penetration rate of 42% Which shows that Apple still has plenty of opportunities to sell lots of Time Capsules, AirPort Extremes and AirPort Expresses.

South Korea, where broadband networks are almost ubiquitous, had the highest Wi-Fi household penetration in the world in 2011. On the other hand, even though China’s Wi-Fi network penetration stood at only 25% in 2011, it will become the main growth driver in the global Wi-Fi home market over the next five years, adding another 110 million Wi-Fi...

| Read more »
 
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NeoOffice 2014.6 - Mac-tailored, OpenOff...
NeoOffice is a complete office suite for OS X. With NeoOffice, users can view, edit, and save OpenOffice documents, PDF files, and most Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. NeoOffice 3.x... Read more
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Monolingual is a program for removing unnecesary language resources from OS X, in order to reclaim several hundred megabytes of disk space. It requires a 64-bit capable Intel-based Mac and at least... Read more
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NetShade is an Internet security tool that conceals your IP address on the web. NetShade routes your Web connection through either a public anonymous proxy server, or one of NetShade's own dedicated... Read more
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Mellel 3.3.7 - Powerful word processor w...
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Simon 4.0 - Monitor changes and crashes...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
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BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

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Holiday sale: 13-inch 128GB MacBook Air for $...
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