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Dec 16
Apple eyeing fiber-based electronic devices

A new patent (number 20100315299) at the US Patent & Trademark Office for fiber-based electronic device structures show that Apple is investigating ways to form structures for electronic devices from fibers.

Per the patent, fibers may be intertwined to form structures for electronic devices and other parts. Fibers may be intertwined using computer-controlled braiding, weaving, and knitting equipment. Binder materials may be selectively incorporated into the intertwined fibers. By controlling the properties of the intertwined fibers and the patterns of incorporated binder, structures can be formed that include antenna windows, sound-transparent and sound-blocking structures, structures that have integral rigid and flexible portions, and tubes with seamless forked portions.

Fiber-based structures such as these may be used to form cables and other parts of headphones or other electronic device accessories, housings for electronic devices such as housings for...

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Dec 16
Apple patents reflect new user interface for media...

Two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is considering a new "v-shaped" user interface for media playback to replace (or perhaps exist in addition to CoverFlow.

The patent obviously affects iTunes. However, it could impact the entire Mac OS X interface at some point.

Patent number 20100318908 and 20100318928 is for an user interface for media playback. According to the patent, a graphical user interface made up of icons representing individual files and collectively forming the shape of a “v” is described along with methods of using and creating the graphical user interface. The v-shaped interface is useful to display detailed information about many of the items in a list and facilitates manipulation of list order and selection of the active file in the list. The interface further permits the use of a representative icon associated with the list as a whole. Manipulation of the representative icon can cause modification or...

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Dec 16
Greg's bite: More Patent Spats for Apple

Nokia sues Apple, again. Nokia, still the largest cell phone company in the world by overall sales of ever sort of cell phone, has seen its market share begin to tank and has attacked Apple with a fresh barrage of patent suits. If you can't beat them in the market place, perhaps you can beat them in court over touch screen smart phone technology.  

The battle for both Nokia and Apple has serious implications down the line. When a patent is filed there is a pendency period of 2-3 years and sometimes more before you are sure you are actually going to get a meaningful patent. What a lot of people don't understand is that there are patents issued that are so narrow they are meaningless in the real world.  

There are also patents issued in error where the patent office misses prior art that makes a newer patent void once it is challenged in court. The courts settle all that out and the outcome can mean an agreement to share technology, money flowing either...

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Dec 16
Macs need an AirPlay feed

Mac need to be able to accept an AirPlay feed. Right now I can start watching a video on my iPad, then "zap" it to my HDTV. Why can't I do that with my Mac?

AirPlay lets you stream music, photos and video from your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch directly to the Apple TV. Unfortunately, you can't stream media from the Apple TV to the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In an ideal world, I'd like to be able to stream media to and from my Mac, iOS devices and HDTV as I roam from room to room.

"Aunt TUAW" (http://www.tuaw.com/2010/12/08/dear-aunt-tuaw-can-i-airplay-to-my-mac/) says there's no reason that the Mac can't accept and play an AirPlay video or photo stream, other than that Apple has yet to get around to implementing it and there aren't yet third-party "catcher" apps available. AirPlay is basically a standard...

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Dec 15
Greg's bite: Microsoft finally closes the Stuxnet...

By Greg Mills

Windows Stuxnet News, gleaned from around the web indicates that 40 security holes in Windows and Internet Explorer were finally patched today, including the last hole the Stuxnet worm used to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program.  

The Stuxnet worm authors, if we ever find out who wrote it, should be awarded a Pulitzer Prize as work of written computer code that changed the world and actually delayed a nasty military attack on Iran, for a period of time.  

The most recent damage analysis that has been publicly issued is that Stuxnet set Iran back at least two years in developing the nuclear bomb building capacity they are seeking. That is about the same window-of-threat reduction as an all out military attack was projected to cause.   

The wild card in all this is the possibility North Korea will sell parts or even an entire nuclear bomb to Iran in exchange for a long term oil deal. Such an end run around the...

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Dec 15
The battle for TV, part two: paying for bandwidth

Many folks think that Apple should and will buy Netflix. I personally doubt it, but I can see the advantages for both companies. Regardless, pricing for Netflix and similar services may see a price hike.

On Nov, 19, Comcast informed Level 3, an Internet backbone provider that handles streaming for Netflix, that, for the first time, it will demand a recurring fee from Level 3 to transmit Internet online movies and other content to Comcast's customers who request such content.

"By taking this action, Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content which competes with its own cable TV and Xfinity delivered content," says "Fortune (). "This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access markets as the nation's largest cable provider. This sets a scary precedent.  If...

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Dec 14
Apple patents range from light sensitive display to...

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

Patent number 7852417 is for a light sensitive display. It's for a display device including a viewing surface comprising: a stack of layers configured to display an image; a light guide adjacent to the viewing surface; a light source for establishing internally reflected light within the light guide; a plurality of light sensitive elements formed within the stacked structure, the plurality of light sensitive elements configured to detect a diffusion of the light from the light guide due to contact of an object on the light guide; and a layer included in the stacked structure, the layer including a non-continuous opening configured to direct the diffusion of the light towards the plurality of light sensitive elements to a greater extent than collimated light. The inventors are Adiel Abileah and Willem Den Boer.

Patent number...

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Dec 14
Greg's bite: Verizon 4G iPhone, Microsoft stock...

By Greg Mills

Verizon iPhone rumors are making enough waves that it's starting to seem this may actually jell in some form.

Apple is so famously secretive on product development and new product launches, you sort of need to take Apple related rumors with a grain of salt. Sometimes, rumors pan out, and sometimes they don't. Steve Jobs is famous for punishing parts companies that leak accurate information about what they are doing.  

Some folks don't understand the copycat problem Apple has with Microsoft and a scad of other players who have made an industry of knocking off everything Apple does and diluting the market. Add the suspense and drama Jobs weaves into new product launches and you have a marketing program Apple's competition dreams about. Millions of dollars of free advertising and favorable spin are a major benefit. (iPhone 4's "Antennagate" being an exception to the rule.)

"MacDailyNews.com" ran a story...

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Dec 14
The battle for TV, part one: a la carte pricing is...

The battle for your home TV is underway, and it will be interesting -- and perhaps a bit scary -- to see who's left standing when the dust settles. I'll bet my money on Apple as one of the winners -- though it, like all other contenders, has its work cut out for it.

A new study by the Credit Suisse research firm shows that that an increasing number of young adults are now turning to Netflix to watch film and TV shows. Cable subscriptions have dropped the last two quarters -- which once would have been unheard of.

The Zacks investment research firm (http://www.zacks.com) says that, although minor for now, this is probably the beginning of a larger trend.

"Although being downplayed by the current media giants, this was how Blockbuster downplayed it's monopoly on rental videos," the firm says. "Now Blockbuster is in near bankruptcy. The media types that have their head in the sand won't survive....

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Dec 13
A look at alternative video viewing platforms

An annual study of consumer video consumption habits and platforms conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates (http://www.magid.com) -- research-based strategic consulting firm -- reveals that despite the increased use of alternative video viewing platforms (like video-on-demand, set-top boxes, instant streaming, and mobile apps), the vast majority of consumers intend to continue to maintain their traditional subscriptions with cable, satellite, and telco TV providers.

For several years, cable, satellite, and telco TV providers have been working under the assumption that as the use of alternative video viewing platforms grows, consumers will increasingly "cut the cord" and cancel their subscriptions. On the contrary, Magid's new study, "2010: The New Age of Video Entertainment," uncovers several consumer behaviors that should persuade the industry to take a second look at earlier defection forecasts, including:...

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Dec 13
Greg's bite: The demise of the netbook?

By Greg Mills

I remember the day I bought my MacBook 100 computer. I paid a thousand dollars for it and was amazed that Apple packed all that power into such a small package with a keen black and white flat screen display.  

I was also using my trusty Mac Classic computer -- and going portable was awesome. I lived aboard my yacht in Newport Beach, California, at the time and 110 volts was common via an inverter running off eight 12-volt deep cycle batteries charged by solar panels. The new laptop was easy to charge and not so hard on my power supply. While both of those ancient computers are a joke by today's standards, I was able to do a lot with them.   

In comparison, I bought a new MacBook Pro for $999 just a week ago. The speed, display, memory and chip speed improvements made over the intervening 20 years is dramatic, to say the least. People want the most they can get for their money and incremental improvements add up over time, as...

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Dec 10
Greg's bite: The iPhone/iPad effect on Verizon...

By Greg Mills

In the news regarding the smart phone market, as predicted, RIM is reported to have suddenly lost ground in market share at Verizon as rumors of an impending iPhone for the Verizon network swirl.  

A sleeper in all this is that the radio chip sets in a Verizon phone are different from the ones that come in current iPhones. Verizon uses CDMA technology, whereas AT&T uses GSM. This means between the two versions of iPhones, Apple will be able to sell phones to almost every cell phone provider around the world, if they want to. It is possible to make phones that are both GSM and CDMA, but it is thought to be unlikely that the new iPhone will be a universal device. 

Apple has ridden the AT&T horse into the sunset and, at this point, most of the current AT&T customers who want an iPhone have one. What makes iPhone so important to AT&T is that since they are the only ones who carry iPhone in the USA, they have a...

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Dec 10
What are your favorite Apple-related products of 2010?

Apple has placed three products -- the iPad, the iPhone 4, the 11-inch MacBook Air and the Apple TV -- in TIME's "Best of 2010" list. So what do you think are the best Apple-related products of the year?

I'll be running a list of my favorite hardware and software in this daily blog on Thursday, Dec. 30. And I'd like to know what you, "MacNews" and "MacTech" readers, think are the best of the best. Send me your favorites at dsellers@applecentral.com .

-- Dennis Sellers

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Dec 09
Apple patents reflect upcoming Mac App Store

Three Apple patents have popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office regarding the upcoming Mac App Store.

Craig Federighi, vice president of engineering for OS X, demoed Lion at the Back to the Mac event in October. The Mac App Store brings the Apple App Store experience to Mac OS X, making discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever, he said. Like on the iPad, you purchase apps using your iTunes account and they download and install in just one step. The Mac App Store will be available for Mac OS X 10.6, and will be built into next year's Mac OS X Lion.

Patent number 20100312966 involves secure software installation. Embodiments of the present disclosure provide methods and systems for securely installing software on a computing device, such as a mobile device. In one embodiment, the device executes an installer that securely installs the software. In order to perform installations securely, the installer configures one or...

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Dec 09
Apple patents involve Lion's Launchpad, further...

Two Apple patents (20100313156 and 20100313165) regarding an user interface for multiple regions have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. They involve the Launchpad feature in the upcoming Mac OS X Lion -- and perhaps future tweaks to the Expose feature in Mac OS X.

Launchpad is designed to make it easier than ever to find and launch any app. Similar to the Home screen on iPad, you can see all the apps on your Mac displayed just by clicking the Launchpad icon in the dock. Apps can be organized in any order or grouped into folders, and you can swipe through multiple pages of apps to find the one you want.

User interfaces for multiple display regions are described. One embodiment provides an array of non-overlapping windows that are created from a set of overlapping windows, and a user can select one of the non-overlapping windows to obtain an enlarged view of that selected window while keeping the other windows in their non-overlapping state.

In...

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Dec 09
Apple looking to improve interaction between iOS...

Two new Apple patents (number 20100312932 and 20100312931) at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is working to make it easier to connect iOS devices to peripherals. The patents relate to connector interfaces and more particularly to a connector interface system that's utilized in conjunction with media players and their accessories.

The patent are for an interface and protocol to 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.

The inventors on both patents are Emily C. Schubert, Wang Chun Leung, Gregory T. Lydon, Scott Krueger, Paul Holden, John Archibald, Lawrence G. Bolton, Donald J. Novotney, John B. Filson and David Tupman.

A media player stores media...

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Dec 09
Apple may beef up speech recognition on future iPhones

Apple is considering beefing up contextual voice commands and speech recognition on future iPhones. A patent (number 20100312547) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for contextual voice commands and involves speech recognition.

Among other things, techniques and systems are disclosed for implementing contextual voice commands. On a device, a data item in a first context is displayed. On the device, a physical input selecting the displayed data item in the first context is received. On the device, a voice input that relates the selected data item to an operation in a second context is received. The operation is performed on the selected data item in the second context. The inventors are Marcel Van Os, Gregory Novick and Scott Herz.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Speech recognition can be used to convert spoken words to machine-readable input, such as key presses, using the binary code for a string of character codes. Typical speech...

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Dec 09
Apple: don't even think of abusing that device

Apple plans on making sure you pay if you abuse your Apple product -- then want a refund. A new patent (number 20100312920) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for a consumer abuse detection system and method.

Embodiments disclosed in the patent provide systems, devices, and methods for detecting the occurrence of consumer abuse events in electronic devices. In one embodiment, a system includes one or more sensors coupled to an abuse detection sub-system for detecting the occurrence of an abuse event, wherein upon detecting an abuse event, a record of the abuse event is stored by the abuse detection sub-system.

The system further provides a communication interface configured to provide a first mode of diagnostic communication and a second mode of non-diagnostic communication through a common input/output port. When using a diagnostic device, the diagnostic mode of communication may be enabled, thus allowing the diagnostic device to access consumer abuse event...

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Dec 09
Apple patents range from geography detection to...

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

Patent number 20100312519 is for automatically identifying geographic direction. Automatically identifying a geographic direction (e.g., a heading relative to true north) is disclosed. Responsive to a correction trigger event, geographic position data that identifies a geographic position of the device can be obtained. A magnetic declination based on the geographic position data can be obtained. A magnetic heading of the device can be obtained. A geographic direction based on the magnetic heading and the magnetic declination can be identified without user intervention. The inventors are Ronald Keryuan Huang and Patrick Piemonte.

Patent number 20100312510 involves dynamic compass calibration in a portable device. Per the patent, the magnitude of a sensed, raw magnetic field in a portable device is monitored over a given time...

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Dec 09
Time for a free MobileMe

It's time for Apple to offer its MobileMe suite of Internet services for free -- and, along the way, make the experience of using it better.

In fact, offering a free version of MobileMe -- which is now $99 per year -- may be part of what's coming when Apple opens its ginormous new data center in North Carolina. Apple excels in many ways, but have a way to go to match other cloud services.

I'm not sure how many folks subscribe to MobileMe, but I doubt that Apple's making a bundle off the Internet suite. But offering it for free would be a nice enticement in luring more users to the Mac experience. After all, one big advantage is that you can use MobileMe to automatically syncs your email, contacts, and calendars over the air across all your devices. Heck, if Apple made it possible to sync iWork docs in the same way, that would also be a boon for iWork sales on the Mac OS X and iOS platforms.

There's no evidence that MobileMe has been a big success. If Apple made...

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Dec 09
Greg's bite: the evolving face of computing

By Greg Mills
I found an interesting illustration on an Australian news web site that says a lot. While the story was about Chrome, the unreleased beta of the new web-based Google OS, it foreshadows a three-way platform race that Microsoft has baldly bungled. Apple has eaten away at the numbers and Chrome threatens to do more of the the same, as Microsoft repeatedly strikes out when trying to expand beyond the Windows PC OS monopoly.  

When you have absolute monopoly numbers -- north of 90% in computers worldwide -- that run your OS by default, it is hard work to screw up so badly competitors beat you at every turn.   Steve Ballmer has been able to do it. Ballmer, as the face of Microsoft, has certainly been a distraction at a minimum -- and has overseen a disaster, financially. Microsoft has lost half its market cap since January 2000 when Bill Gates retired to spend his money. Had Ballmer also hung up his "gone fishing" sign in 2000, would things...

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Dec 08
Greg's bite: WiKileaks, Googlization, Android...

By Greg Mills

WiKileaks. Sometimes I go awhile between hearing from readers, then hit a nerve, and get email either agreeing or disagreeing with what I have written. As could be anticipated, WiKileaks got some reader feedback. It was thoughtful and well written, but I am still of the opinion that for government to work it needs some ability to have a dialogue with various points of view not anticipating ideas or comments floated to be the fodder of headlines in the newspapers of the world.

The notion of the right of the people to know everything is wrong, in my opinion. Our national security requires the ability of the government to maintain secrets. The asses at WiKileaks are not qualified to know what unanticipated consequences might be the result of the massive amount of information leaked. Actually, the issues are not so much liberal vs conservative but anarchy vs cohesive government. Do I think the government can be fully trusted...

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Dec 08
Should the iPad count as a mobile computer? Yes!

Recently, "ZDNet" asked, "Should the iPad count as a mobile PC? And I say "certainly."

After all, DisplaySearch rightfully put the Apple tablet in the computerC category with its Monday release of the "Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report "(http://www.displaysearch.com/cps/rde/xchg/displaysearch/hs.xsl/101206_ip...). Do so and Apple is the number one personal computer maker in the U.S. and number three globally.

“A lack of competitive tablet PC products from other brands continues to drive Apple’s market share in the mobile PC segment," says Chris Connery, vice president of Large Format Displays at DisplaySearch.

Why shouldn't the iPad be...

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Dec 07
Apple looks at ways to improve air cooling on Macs

Apple is eyeing ways to improve air cooling techniques for its computers, including the Mac Pro. An Apple patent (number 7849302) for an apparatus for air cooling has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

An apparatus for air-cooling an electronic device is disclosed in the patent. A contoured panel channels a flow of air within the housing of an electronic device so as to channel the flow of air more directly over heat producing elements such as the microprocessor and peripheral cards. A sensor can also be employed to determine whether the panel is present and properly placed. If not, measures can be taken to reduce the heat generated by the heat producing elements. For example, a warning can be displayed, or the microprocessor can be instructed to enter sleep mode. Steven Holmes and Douglas L. Heirich are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "As electronic devices increase in processing power and speed, their processors...

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Dec 07
Apple granted patents for iPod dock, MacBook Air, more

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office, including design patents for the iPad dock, MacBook Air and multi-touch technology. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7848527 is for dynamic power management in a portable media delivery system. Per the patent, a consumer electronic product (e.g., a portable media player ported to a media delivery accessory) is powered by a limited capacity DC power source (such as a battery or mini-fuel cell). The consumer electronic product limits the maximum allowable sound pressure level (SPL) that can be produced by the speakers. In one embodiment, the maximum allowable SPL is based upon an amount of stored energy available in the limited capacity DC power source. The inventors are Jesse L. Dorogusker, Donald J. Novotney, Scott Krueger, Robert Michelet and Jeffrey Allan Hammerstrom.

Patent number 7849141 involves training a computer storage system for...

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Dec 07
Expect to see Sandy Bridge Macs by spring

I'll be very surprised if we don't see a Sandy Bridge-based Mac by spring. I suspect it will be iMac -- with MacBook Pro and Mac Pro versions to follow. The question is: what new features will Apple introduce with the processor, which offers some intriguing possibilities?

Intel purportedly plans to introduced its next-generation processors during a Jan. 5 keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show. According to an invitation sent to the press, Intel PC Client Group general manager Mooly Eden will show off the new processors, which will include the "world's fastest processor." The new processors are expected to replace the Nehalem line of chips currently used in Apple's Core i5 and i7-equipped iMacs and MacBook Pros. Six and eight-core chips will also follow later in 2011.

Desktop chips will reported range from dual 2.5GHz Core i3s to quad 3.4GHz Core i7s. Regular notebook should be able to get dual 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz Core i5 and i7 chips in the first batch of processors,...

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Dec 07
Greg's bite: WiKiLeaks threaten us all

By Greg Mills

The recent leak of a considerable cache of secret diplomatic cables underlines a significant issue that will have a profound effect upon us all.

To add insult to injury, the criminal mastermind behind all this has threatened to unleash even more secret information that is already downloaded but sealed with 256-bit encryption. That massive file only needs a key posted on the internet for thousands of copies of this new, and according to him, damaging information to also be released.  

The Googlistic notion that everything written ought to be posted on line certainly has limits even in a democratic society. There are certainly embarrassing things every government does that might need to see the light of day but the ass behind Wikileaks is not qualified to make that determination. The liberal slant that makes it wrong to go to war over any justification leads to movements like Hitler led in WW2. As the English philosopher Edmund...

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Dec 06
Greg's bite: Motorola's Android Droid 2...

By Greg Mills

A Texas man claims his Android phone exploded in his ear. The guy claims he was just talking on the phone -- and boom! Some smart phone models are duds, and some brands bomb out in the market place, but this is a first.   

Incredibly, the phone still works, which leads to the question what part blew up? Normally, when an electronic device explodes, it is a battery that overheats due to a dead short and the gasses expand the metal case of the battery until it explodes or just oozes lithium paste out. The explosion of an electronic device is not the sort of giant fire bomb where a car is thrown up into the air with a flash of billowing flame and smoke, like you see on TV, but you don't want to have it happen in your ear. Aron Embry of Cedar Hill, Texas. says there was a loud pop on his Android phone, and he discovered later his ear was bleeding. He went to the ER and got patched up.  Motorola is investigating, but hadn't...

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Dec 06
Study: US pay-TV subscribers want universal access

TelcoTV 2010, a video conference and expo focused on the US service provider market, has published a study titled "Telco TV Customers: How Keen on Multiscreen?," which explores US pay-TV subscribers' attitudes and usage of mobile and online video, and revealed important conclusions about multiplatform TV services. And it makes you wonder if there aren't some great opportunities for the Apple TV and Apple's upcoming data center in North Carolina.

"The survey found that a number of pay-TV subscribers were interested in accessing TV shows from anywhere in the world via a computer or mobile device, even if they had to pay a monthly fee of $10 per month for this capability," says TelecoTV in the study. "The survey also found that out-of-home access to TV services was an important criterion for some subscribers when selecting their pay-TV provider."

The annual study of US pay-TV subscribers was conducted by Heavy Reading (...

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Dec 03
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company? Yesterday we looked at Netflix; today we'll consider AMD.

There are some good reasons why Apple might consider scooping up AMD. Analyst Rob Enderle says Apple could want the company for its Fusion technology, which will be the first blended high performance GPU/CPU part. Enderle notes that Jobs already values the graphics side of his platform more than the number crunching side and this would give him exclusive access to the only blended part in the market -- and one that particularly favors Apple’s graphics intensive platforms.

"While Apple has never been a fan of AMD, they actually liked and used ATI a great deal and the idea of getting out from under Intel is likely appealing to them as well," says Enderle. "Apple likes its suppliers to jump to...

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Dec 03
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company? Yesterday we looked at Netflix; today we'll consider AMD.

There are some good reasons why Apple might consider scooping up AMD. Analyst Rob Enderle says Apple could want the company for its Fusion technology, which will be the first blended high performance GPU/CPU part. Enderle notes that Jobs already values the graphics side of his platform more than the number crunching side and this would give him exclusive access to the only blended part in the market -- and one that particularly favors Apple’s graphics intensive platforms.

"While Apple has never been a fan of AMD, they actually liked and used ATI a great deal and the idea of getting out from under Intel is likely appealing to them as well," says Enderle. "Apple likes its suppliers to jump to...

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Dec 02
Apple working on phyics-based graphic user interface

Future Apple operating systems may be even more "animated," based on some work Apple is doing. An Apple patent (number 20100306680) for a framework for designing a physics-based graphic user interface has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

A graphics development framework for designing physics-based graphical user interfaces is described. According to one embodiment, visually linkable patches are displayed in a first window of a graphics development framework, where the patches represent a graphics composition which when rendered, animate a physical movement of a graphics object of the physics-based graphical user interface.

A feedback patch is displayed to visually provide a feedback from an output of the composition to an input of the composition, such that a subsequent physical movement of the graphics object is determined based on a previous physical movement of the graphics object, without requiring a user to program source code of the displayed...

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Dec 02
Future Mac keyboards may be illuminated, more colorful

Apple is eyeing ways to make its Mac keyboards more colorful and more informative. A company patent (number 20100306683) for user interface behaviors for an input device with individually controlled illuminated input elements has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Methods and apparatuses are disclosed that provide user interface behaviors for input devices with individually controlled illuminated input elements. Some embodiments may include receiving a request for input device lighting from a program, determining illumination information for light sources coupled to input elements of an input device based on the request, and dynamically controlling illumination of the light sources based on the illumination information.

The illumination information may include brightness, color, and/or duration. The input device may constitute a keyboard with individually controlled illuminated keys. In some embodiments, the illumination may present information...

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Dec 02
Apple wants you to iCruise with your iOS device

Apple wants you to iCruise with your iOS device. A patent (number 20100306075) for systems and methods for accessing cruise services using a portable device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is directed to systems and methods for accessing cruise services using a single, integrated application available to a portable electronic device. Through the integrated application, a user can access and control cruise services throughout all aspects of the cruise experience, including before booking a cruise, before boarding a cruise, while on the cruise ship, when a cruise ship is docked at a port, and after the cruise has finished.

In some embodiments, the integrated application can provide the user with notifications of available cruise activities. For example, unsold cruise activities for cruise activities that can be purchased can be identified. The user can then be provided with a notification of the unsold cruise activity, provided with an...

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Dec 02
Greg's bite: iPad Folder Bug, NetFlix, iPhone,...

By Greg Mills

iOS 4.2.1 folder bugApple is working on recreating the iOS 4.2.1 disappearing folder bug. The bug has been reported to me by six readers, so far.  

The steps that may or may not result in the folders disappearing are.  

° Load the new iPad iOS 4.2.1 on to your iPad.

° Sort apps into folders  

° Download app updates to some apps in folders over Wi-Fi before syncing iPad with iTunes.  

° All Folders disappear and apps are spread out randomly.  

I was contacted yesterday by Apple and can thus confirm they are now aware of the problem and hopefully will fix it with the iPad iOS release scheduled for mid-December. Apple does a great job of fixing issues like this that aren't dangerous but a nuisance. 

NetFlix has grown to the point it consumes 15% to 20% of the Internet bandwidth in many locations in the US. Those of us with unlimited data plans may find caps put on...

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Dec 02
Apple patent is for magnetic connector with optical...

Apple may revamp -- or perhaps replace -- its MagSafe connector for its laptop line. An Apple patent (number 7841776) for a magnetic connector with optical signal path has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Circuits, apparatus, and methods that provide a connector system that can supply both power and data to a mobile computing or other type of device using a single connection. Further examples also provide a power and data adapter that can provide power and data to a mobile computing device using a single cable. Further examples provide an easy disengagement when a cable connected to the connector is pulled. One such example provides a magnetic connector that uncouples without binding when its cord is pulled. Another example prevents power from being provided at a connector insert until the connector insert is placed in a connector receptacle. The inventors of the patent are John C. Difonzo, Chris Ligtenberg and Michael Culbert.

Here's Apple's...

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Dec 02
Apple patents range from image selection to card...

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

Patent number 20100306684 is for a graphical representation of out-of-bound image selection. The patent is directed to differentiating between portions of a selection area that are within the boundary of displayed information and portions of the selection area that are beyond the boundary of the displayed information. In some embodiments, the graphical representation of the selection area can change based on the position of the selection area relative to the boundary of the displayed information.

In particular, the representation of portions or regions of the selection area that are within the boundary of the displayed information can be different than the representation of the portions or regions of the selection area that extend beyond the boundary of the displayed information. For example, the electronic device can provide different fills...

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Dec 02
Companies that Apple might buy (but probably won'...

Apple has over $50 billion in cash. CEO Steve Jobs has said the dough is available should Apple decide to make any "strategic purchases." So what companies might be a good "strategy purpose" for our favorite tech company?

My "MacNews/MacTech" writing compadre, Greg Mills, thinks Apple will buy Netflix. There are some good reasons why it should. Apple could beef up its presence in the television/entertainment area. And Netflix is a strong company -- and getting stronger.

An analyst with Gleacher & Company, says (http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewarticle/articleid/4613650) the transaction would make sense. "You know, Apple wants to be the first company to seamlessly integrate the home office and the living room," he says. "What's limiting them now is basically content and better broadband into the home....

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Dec 01
I'm dubious about a 7-inch iPad -- or one with a...

A "Digitimes" report (http://www.digitimes.com) -- quoting the Chinese-language "Economy Daily News" -- says the next rev of the iPad will add five "distinct new features." However, I'm dubious about at least one of them, as I am about reports of a 7-inch model.

"Digitimes" says the five new features include "video phone, better mobility, USB port, new display technology and 3-axis gyroscopes." The gyroscope, video phone (actually, a camera for use with Apple's FaceTime technology) are pretty much givens. The "better mobility" refers to an even thinner and smaller iPad, something that's also likely if reports -- based on discovered patents -- that Apple is considering an iPad made of a fiber-in-matrix material such as CFRP prove true.

However, I don't think we'll see a smaller iPad. Why? Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said that the 9.7-inch display on the current iPad is the optimum size for features...

| Read more »
Dec 01
Greg's bite: Microsoft Mobile Vista 7 crashes and...

By Greg Mills

The big returns are really coming in regarding Microsoft's Mobile Vista 7.  I mean big numbers of phones physically being returned by customers to the cell companies who sold them.  

Big as in a very large sales disappointment for both cell phone companies around the world and cell phone hardware manufacturing partners who were willing to give the Kin crew one more chance. Numbers like 2% of all new phone sales being the new Microsoft phones isn't good news for Redmond.  

The street analysts who spelled out the high expectations for Microsoft's new, but "too-late-to-the-party, unsupported by developers, last ditch stand" smart phone OS platform have to be factoring in a further decline in Microsoft stock. Hit one out of the ball park they did not.

Mobile Vista 7 phones just working and having some novel graphics was not enough to wow either the stock market, developers or consumers who have to consider the strong...

| Read more »
Nov 30
The iPad at seven months in the wild -- what...

By Terry Jarrell
Apple Consultants Network

Thinking back to this past April, it's hard to believe iPad has only been with us a little over 7 months. The world has changed considerably since then with the explosion of the Apple App Store, and so many others scurrying to release their take on the most successful electronics device in history.

The real story is in iPad users themselves and how there has been an awakening, in a major way, to so many professional industries that had previously been stuck in older, inefficient ways of doing business.

It doesn't take a wild imagination to imagine medical professionals loving iPad. The MacPractice app for iPhone was released a couple years ago but now, the iPad app really brings this functionality home. Med pros can access their patient data literally from anywhere they have an Internet connection, safely and securely. The larger screen is perfect for viewing photos and interact with other...

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Nov 30
Apple patents range from virtual keyboards to media...

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

Patent number 7844914 involves activating virtual keys of a touch-screen virtual keyboard. A touch location is determined based on location data pertaining to touch input on the touch screen, wherein the touch input is intended to activate one of the plurality of virtual keys. Each of the plurality of virtual keys has a set of at least one key location corresponding to it. For each of the virtual keys, a parameter (such as physical distance) is determined for that virtual key that relates the touch location and the set of at least one key location corresponding to that virtual key. The determined parameters are processed to determine one of the virtual keys. For example, the determined one virtual key may be the virtual key with a key location (or more than one key location, on average) being closest to the touch location. A signal is generated...

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Nov 30
Apple patent involves handling special windows in a...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7844902) by the US Patent & Trademark Office for an apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display. It could foreshadow some changes in upcoming versions of Mac OS X.

The apparatus and method for handling special windows in a display comprises a window manager in an operating system that is called by application programs to create special windows. The window manager embeds static key signals including encoded special window information, such as the coordinates of a window area to be specially processed, into a video RAM. An existing video interface scans the video RAM and transmits display information, including the key signals, to the display.

The present invention further comprises a window decoder in the display, that detects the key signals, extracts the encoded special window information, and controls display circuitry performing the desired special processing. The key signal encoding scheme does not...

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Nov 30
Apple wins patent for 3D display system

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7843449) for a three-dimensional display system. Don't expect Macs with 3D displays anytime soon, but they may be coming -- and without the need for special glasses, if Apple has its way. After all, Intel's Sandy Bridge processor will debut in January and will certainly arrive in Macs next year. And the processor offers native support for 3D stereoscopic video playback (as well as Blu-ray and USB 3.0).

The patent -- invented by Christoph H. Krah -- involves a method of displaying three-dimensional images providing a projection screen having a spatial filter defining a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. It also: determines the left and right eye locations of at least one observer in proximity with the projection screen; projects left and right sub-images of a three-dimensional image toward the projection screen; and angularly and intensity modulaties the left and right sub-images respectively in coordination...

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Nov 30
Blu-ray disc sales grow 80% year-over-year

I'm pretty sure we'll never see Apple support for Blu-ray playback on the Mac platform because Steve Jobs is convinced all movie purchasing will soon be via download (I think he's wrong), but I'm still hoping that Apple will at least provide the "hooks" in Mac OS X to allow third parties to release plug-and-play Blu-ray players for my favorite computing platform.

And I think there's plenty of evidence that this makes sense. According to figures released in October by DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, consumer purchases of Blu-ray Disc software reached US$1 billion by Sept. 30. Sales increased 80% over the same period of 2009.

Hardware sales also continued to climb, with over three million standalone BD players sold in the first nine months of the year -- a year-over-year increase of 104%. This brings the total installed base of Blu-ray playback devices in the U.S. to 21.1 million units. DEG president Ron Sanders (also is president of Warner Home Video) has...

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Nov 30
Greg's bite: Apple's Living Room Aspirations...

By Greg Mills

As an Apple fan and a believer in the wisdom of most of what comes out of Cupertino, I bought the most recent Apple TV device and have used it quite a bit since it was first launched. As I noted in this space on a number of occasions I think there is an opening for Apple to challenge the cable/satellite TV content providers, since a lot of people hate them, but it won't be easy and it is not happening yet for Apple. The numbers aren't right yet.

We see the decline of physical media for digital video content delivery, to be sure, but what is replacing video tapes and disks isn't steaming video over iTunes, but rather NetFlix and other streaming content providers with affordable, flat rate monthly plans. Apple TV's iTunes video content available for streaming is way too expensive; the one-off, rental "go to market plan" needs drastic reworking to succeed.

When you analyze the video content offered by Apple TV and the attempt to rent...

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Nov 29
Holiday survey looks good for the iPhone, iPad

PriceGrabber, a part of Experian, has released its second holiday spending consumer behavior report, "A Deep Dive into Online Holiday Spending Trends." And it's good news for the iPhone and iPad.

In PriceGrabber's holiday survey, consumers were asked which smartphone they would prefer to receive as a gift this holiday season. The iPhone took the lead, with 47% of consumers choosing the iPhone 4 over other smartphones. Twenty-two percent of shoppers prefer the Motorola Droid, and 13% choose the RIM Blackberry Torch as the smartphone they would like to receive.

When it comes to devices that consumers prefer for e-reading, 59% of consumers selected the iPad as their device of choice. Twenty-one percent of consumers pick the Amazon Kindle. Five percent selected the Barnes & Noble Nook, and 3% choose the Dell Streak as their preferred e-reader.

Tablet computers are forecast to be one of the most popular technology gadget gifts this holiday season. The number of...

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Nov 29
Greg's bite: Iran should sue Microsoft, Steve...

By Greg Mills

Despite repeated attempts to purge industrial controllers running Iranian plutonium centrifuges and the control systems of their new nuclear reactor (still not on line) the Stuxnet worm continues to wreak havoc.  

One has to take a fresh look at the situation and the legal situation posed. While no one has come forward to admit they wrote the Pulitzer Prize worthy malware called Stuxnet, the facts are plenty clear where a giant portion of the blame lies: Microsoft Corp. and its CEO Steve Ballmer.

Much has been written over the years about the "Apple tax," or additional cost of owning and running Macs as opposed to Windows PCs. The truth is that the pendulum has swung in the other direction in the last few years. If you run Windows of any flavor you had better sign up for an anti-malware service or plan to suffer the consequences. While certainly the Mac is becoming a much larger target for hackers due to increased market...

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Nov 26
Apple patents involve credential authorization,...

Four new Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100200729 is for server computer issued credential authorization. Methods and systems for authenticating computers is disclosed. The methods and system include issue a credential from a first computer to a second computer. When the second computer authenticates to the first computer, the second computer transmits the credential and a first challenge to the first computer. The first computer determines whether the credential is valid, computes a first response to the first challenge, and generates a second challenge. The first computer transmits the first response and the second challenge to the second computer. The second computer determines whether the first response is valid and computes a second response to the second challenge. The second computer transmits the second response to the first computer in order to verify and...

| Read more »
Nov 24
Greg's bite: more Stuxnet mischief/Big Brother...

By Greg Mills

My post today is loaded with a number of issues of interest to Apple High tech fans.  

° The iOS 4.2.1 Magic Disappearing Folder Trick I discovered a 0 day bug, in the iPad iOS 4.2.1, just released a few days ago, that Apple was completely unaware of.  I call it "the magic disappearing folder trick."

Here is the way it works. The proud iPad user, who has just updated the iOS on their iPad, laboriously sorts a few hundred apps into the cool new folders and drags them to the home screen or the first two or three screens and figures iPad app organization is complete. (In my case a precious 11-year-old daughter has downloaded a zillion kid apps that I have little interest in.  So I put them in new folders named Games1-7.) 

Then, sometime later, a number of app updates showed up as a red number badge on the blue App Store button. The user mashes the app button and chooses to update some apps over Wi-Fi. You sign in the iTunes...

| Read more »
 
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Save on 5th generation refurbished iPod touch...
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