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Jul 08
Apple patent is for content associated with a product...

An Apple patent (number 20100174599) for a system and method for providing content associated with a product or service has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The disclosure relates generally to benefits associated with products or services and, more particularly, to obtaining, storing, and accessing benefits associated with such products or services using an electronic device.

Systems, methods, and devices for providing and managing benefits associated with a product or service are provided. For example, a device for managing benefits associated with a product or service may include a processor configured to run a product benefit management application, a memory device operably coupled to the processor, an electronic display operably coupled to the processor, and an input interface. The input interface may be a near field communication interface configured to receive data associated with at least one benefit associated with the product or service from a...

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Jul 08
Apple granted iPhoto related patents

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

Patent number 20100172579 involves distinguishing between faces and non-faces. It involves methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer program products, for evaluating image data. In one aspect, a method includes accessing an image that includes a candidate face, such as a face detected during a face detection operation. The method further includes generating a sharpness measure based on image data corresponding to the candidate face, evaluating the sharpness measure to determine a confidence score representing a likelihood that the candidate face corresponds to a human face, and accepting the candidate face when the confidence score compares in a predetermined manner to a confidence threshold. Additionally, the method can be implemented to include generating a skin tone measure based on image data corresponding to the...

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Jul 08
Greg's bite: iPad eats more ebook readers for...

By Greg Mills

Sony just dropped prices on it's e-readers to keep parity with Amazon and Barnes & Noble's devices. The rush to drop prices is all about customers going to iPad, in mass.

When you compare the Sony Daily Reader at US$300, the Kindle at $189 and the Nook at $199, the color, multipurpose iPad is more expensive, but well worth the additional money. When Microsoft was able to actually lay hands on an iPad, they pulled the plug on their slate computer as they knew they couldn't compete. Amazon, Sony and Barnes and Noble didn't have the luxury of pulling the plug gracefully, as they were already in the market place.

Apple realized the book reader devices that preceded iPad were flawed in that they didn't have all the functions consumers wanted. First is color. I saw a guy at a Chinese restaurant reading a book a month or so before iPad came out. I asked him how he liked his Kindle. He told me it was a neat way to buy and read books...

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Jul 08
Greg's bite: Sony DCR-SX44 and iMovie 9 do work

By Greg Mills

Greg Bites some crow. Not one to easily admit I was wrong, I have to admit that parts of my rage yesterday against the Apple MPEG 2 video import into iMovie were not exactly fair.  Sometimes you fool around with things and somehow get it to work.  

For one thing, the QuickTime MPEG 2 software, according to Apple, sometimes does work and delivers sound. It depends on the codex being translated. In this case it didn't work and Apple did give me my money back.  

They were nicer about it than I was. They had to agree that a bold disclaimer that some MPEG 2 codex would not allow the sound to be decoded by the Sorenson MPEG 2 video decoder they sell as a download. That disclaimer would preclude a lot of upset Apple Store customers.  

I also had other Mac people email me with similar upsetting experiences. I also admit I didn't read all the information before I assumed the MPEG 2 decoder would work for my application. 

...

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Jul 08
What's in store for the Mac? A '3D'...

It's likely that the Mac OS X Finder will go "3D" at some point in the near future. Perhaps in Mac OS X 10.7 or 10.8.

Last year an Apple patent (number 20080307360) appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office is any indication. The patent is for a multi-dimensional desktop.

According to Apple it involves a graphical user interface with a back surface disposed from viewing surface to define a depth, and one or more one or more side surfaces extend from the back surface to the viewing surface. An icon receptacle is disposed on one or more of the side surfaces, and one or more icons are disposed within the icon receptacle. The one or more icons correspond to one or more desktop items.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A graphical user interface allows a large number of graphical objects or items to be displayed on a display screen at the same time. Leading personal computer operating systems, such as the Apple Mac OS, provide user...

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Jul 07
Greg's bite: remember hearing 'You can'...

By Greg Mills

I wanted to believe platform envy for the Mac faithful towards the dark side of the force was over. WRONG.

Try using some of the more popular USB camcorders on a Mac. I love plug and play, as it just works.Why can't Apple fix this deficiency in the Mac infrastructure? There are still plenty of incompatible camcorders out there.

I bought a cool tiny Sony camcorder that was bundled with a 320GB hard drive at Best Buy. The package was only US$335 for the camera and the slick little hard drive. A great deal, in my opinion. The hard drive works great and boots as an USB hard drive just fine on my MacBook Pro.  

The camera works fine and can hook up with USB to my MacBook Pro -- but iMovie and iDVD refuse to see the Sony camera. The USB ports is working, as I checked the "About This Mac" index under the Apple logo. After drilling down to see what was showing on the USB Bus, there was the camera, bigger than Dallas.   

I...

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Jul 07
What's in store for the Mac? Full FaceTime screens

As I mentioned yesterday, I think future Macs will integrate the FaceTime feature of the iPhone 4. And, in time, Macs will probably sport displays whose entire screens can serve as giant iSight cameras for this purpose (and, who knows, perhaps for scanning as well).

In 2006, Apple filed a patent (number 2006007222) at the US Patent & Tradmark Office for an integrated sensing display. Per the patent, the sensing display includes display elements integrated with image sensing elements so the integrated sensing device can not only output images (e.g., as a display) but also input images (e.g., as a camera).

Of course, that patent involves the iSight camera that is currently built into all Macs (at least those with their own displays). However, I think that, in time, Apple will expand the technology so that you have the option of using your entire Mac screen as a videophone -- with FaceTime, naturally.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 06
Apple patents range from address switches to product...

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

Patent number 7752366 is for a non-blocking address switch with shallow per agent queues. In one embodiment, a switch is configured to be coupled to an interconnect. The switch comprises a plurality of storage locations and an arbiter control circuit coupled to the plurality of storage locations. The plurality of storage locations are configured to store a plurality of requests transmitted by a plurality of agents. The arbiter control circuit is configured to arbitrate among the plurality of requests stored in the plurality of storage locations. A selected request is the winner of the arbitration, and the switch is configured to transmit the selected request from one of the plurality of storage locations onto the interconnect. In another embodiment, a system comprises a plurality of agents, an interconnect, and the switch coupled to the plurality of...

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Jul 06
Apple wants to improve ways to connect a media player...

An Apple patent (number 7751853) for a female receptacle data pin connector for a media player system at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It indicates that Apple wants to improve ways to connect a media player (such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad) to external devices.

One aspect of the media player system pertains to a docking station that allows a media player to communicate with other media devices. Another aspect of the media player system pertains to a wireless media player system that includes a hand held media player capable of transmitting information over a wireless connection and one or more media devices capable of receiving information over the wireless connection. Another aspect of the media player system pertains to a method of wirelessly connecting the hand held media player to another device.

The method includes selecting a media item on the hand held media player; selecting one or more remote recipients on the hand held media player; and...

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Jul 06
What's in store for the Mac? FaceTime

FaceTime is one of the most highly touted features of the iPhone 4. I think it's just a matter of time before it comes to the Mac.

In case you're not familiar with it, FaceTime is video calling that uses Wi-Fi. Apple says that using FaceTime is as easy as making a regular voice call, with no set-up required. On the iPhone 4, you can instantly switch to the rear camera to show others what you are seeing with just a tap.

FaceTime works right out of the box. You don't have to up a special account or screen name.If you want to start a video call with your best friend, find her entry in your Contacts and tap the FaceTime button. Or maybe you’re already on a voice call with her and you want to switch to video. Just tap the FaceTime button on the Phone screen. Either way, an invitation pops up on her iPhone 4 screen asking if she wants to join you. When she accepts, the video call begins.

Right now FaceTime only works iPhone 4 to iPhone 4. However, since all Macs but...

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Jul 06
Greg's bite: assorted Apple issues in the news

By Greg Mills

Let's check the score on Apple vs Microsoft. The Mac OS is gaining market share, Windows is losing market share. The iPhone is thriving, the Kin has just been killed. The iPad is thriving, the Microsoft slate computer project was killed before it was even launched. Windows mobile platform is losing both market share and manufacturers while the iOS is thriving. The iTunes store and app store are thriving, the Microsoft answer to both is a joke. Apple stock is soaring, the Microsoft market cap is half what it was the day Gates stepped down and turned it over to Ballmer ...  sounds like a rout to me on every front.

I read where Steve Jobs has decided the BluRay technology for HDTV is sort of going obsolete and that digital download is the future for video rental and sales. Certainly, the patent licensing issues for Blu-ray devices have hurt its application in both Mac and PC hardware. Blockbuster is in decline, and we know media formats...

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Jul 02
What's in store for the Mac? Light Peak

I've never been shy about making what some consider wacky predictions. So here's my latest: by 2014, Macs will no longer have dedicated USB, FireWire or video ports (or eSATA, for that matter). Instead, they'll have Light Peak.

Developed by Intel and codenamed "Light Peak," this technology paves the way for a new generation of extreme computer input and output (I/O) performance, delivering 10Gb/s of bandwidth, with the potential ability to scale to 100Gbs over the next decade, according to David Perlmutter, executive vice president and general manager, Intel Architecture Group. At 10Gb/second, a user could purportedly transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds. Intel says it intends to work with the industry to determine the best way to make this new technology a standard.

The optical technology allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible. Light Peak also has the ability to run multiple...

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Jul 01
Apple patents reflect GarageBand technologies

Three Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office regarding GarageBand, the music creation component of Apple's iLife suite.

Patent 20100162878 is for a music instruction system. Per the patent a song audio is played and a graphical representation of a musical instrument contributing to the audio is displayed. A fingering display is overlayed on the graphical representation of the instrument during the playing of song. The fingering display is synchronized to the song audio. During the playing of the song audio, the tempo of the song is adjusted.

The pitch of the song is substantially preserved in real-time despite the tempo adjustment. In addition, the synchronization between the fingering display and the audio are maintained in real-time in view of the adjusted tempo. The inventors are Gerhard H. Lengeling, Alexander Soren, Jan-hinnerk Helms, Alexander H. Little, John Danty, Matthew C. Evans, Timothy B. Martin, Ole Lagemann...

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Jul 01
Apple patents hint at Final Pro changes and/or new...

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that hint at either changes in Final Cut products -- or perhaps new media presentation tools.

Patent number 20100168881 is for a multimedia display based on audio and visual complexity. The present invention relates generally to the field of authoring media presentations and, in particular, to authoring media presentations using profiled audio data.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Current media presentation applications offer features for creating slides and manually customizing the ways in which a set of slides, i.e., a slideshow, is played. Such applications also offer features for attaching themes to slideshows, where such themes may affect the appearance and general behavior of the slideshows when played. In addition, such applications further offer features such as customizing slide colors, customizing transition behavior, customizing transition...

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Jul 01
Apple patents involve graphics, displays

Two Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that involve graphics and displays.

Patent number 20100164964 is for a display system with improved graphics abilities while switching graphics processing units. That's something high-end MacBook Pros can do now, but Apple may plan to carry it further.

The patent involves methods and apparatuses for improving graphics abilities while switching between graphics processing units (GPUs). Some embodiments may include a display system, including a plurality of graphics processing units (GPUs) and a memory buffer coupled to the GPUs via a timing controller, where the memory buffer stores data associated with a first video frame from a first GPU within the plurality of GPUs and where the timing controller is switching between the first GPU and a second GPU within the plurality. The inventors are Kapil V. Sakariya, Victor H. Yin and Michael F. Culbert.

Patent number...

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Jul 01
Greg's bite: Kin is dead, Barbie in mourning

By Greg Mills

Microsoft has announced the Kin phone is dead. The Barbie phone may also be canceled. Mattel, maker of the Ken and Barbie phone for Microsoft had no comment. Here is the press release from Microsoft:

"Microsoft has made the decision to focus on the Windows Phone 7 launch and will not ship KIN in Europe this fall as planned. Additionally,  we are integrating our KIN team with the Windows Phone 7 team,  incorporating valuable ideas and technologies from KIN into future Windows Phone releases. We will continue to work with Verizon in  the U.S. to sell current KIN phones."

(Greg Mills is currently a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Married, with one daughter still at home, Greg writes for intellectual web...

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Jul 01
What's in store for the Mac? More wireless-ness

You have your wireless mouse and your wireless keyboard. But that's just the tip of the wireless iceberg that will be floating around your house or office in the new few years. And this wireless-ness will affect much more than your Macs and your iDevices.

Last year ABI Research forecast one million wireless HDTV installations by 2012. Why? Wireless will simplify some installations and allow more flexibility in positioning TVs, according to the research group. ABI Research says wireless-ness will continue to grow significantly because more and more consumers are going to the Internet for video content.

Exactly how this will shape up isn't clear, as there are various technologies competing for Big Love: mainly, Wireless HD, Wireless Home Digital Interface and WiGig.

WirelessHD is an industry-led effort to define a specification for the next generation wireless digital network interface for wireless high-definition signal transmission for consumer electronics...

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Jun 30
Greg's bite: It's Monday, so let's sue...

By Greg Mills

The Monday morning coffee at too many law firms is still brewing while the top legal minds are plotting a new law suit against Apple. Frankly, I get tired of reading stories about the new law suit of the day being filed against Apple, for whatever reason.  

Some of the lamest suits have been filed and dismissed in recent years. It is interesting to me that the filing of a suit and the dismissal of most of them are treated far differently by the press. With great fanfare the suite is filed' without even a blip on the screen the suite goes away. The hope of most of those filing suits is for an out-of-ourt settlement.  

At any given time, there are likely a hundred or more suits still pending against Apple. It takes a small army of lawyers to keep up on them all and not allow a deadline to pass without answering actions of the other side. Holding a portfolio of patents also costs a fortune and requires another division of lawyers to...

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Jun 30
What's in store for the Mac? OLED displays (in...

It's just a matter of time before we see OLED displays in iPads, iPods and iPhones. And almost certainly in Macs in the not-too-distant future.

OLEDs (or organic light emitting diode displays) require less power than conventional displays and can be slimmer (around 0.2-0.3mm or about 8 thousandths of an inch, compared to LCDs, which are typically at least 10 times thicker) and lighter -- so you can see how they would appeal to Steve Jobs. They also offer better contrast, better viewing angles, greater brightness, and almost instant response times -- all of which would be especially appealing in iPads and laptops.

The drawback is price. Right now OLED displays are significantly more costly than LED screens. The 9.7-inch LCD panel for iPad costs about US$60-70, but the price of a 9.7-inch OLED panel is about US$500. However, the price gap isn't expected to narrow appreciably for another couple of years -- or longer.

But it will, in time. Eventually, OLED screens...

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Jun 29
Apple patents involve data transmission, icons, more

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

Patent 7,747,765 is for a method and apparatus for media data transmission. A digital processing system is provided with a time related sequence of media data provided to the digital processing system based on a set of data, wherein the set of data indicates a method to transmit the time related sequence of media data according to a transmission protocol. The set of data, itself, is a time related sequence of data associated with the time related sequence of media data. The time related sequence of media data may be presented and/or stored by the digital processing system. The inventors are Anne Jones, Jay Geagan, Kevin L. Gong, Alagu Perlyanna and David W. Singer.

Patent 7,747,784 involves a data synchronization protocol. Among other things, techniques and systems are disclosed for syncing data between a client device and a...

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Jun 29
Apple patent involves media processing systems,...

An Apple patent (number 7,75,968) for content abstraction presentation along a multidimensional path has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves the Apple TV interface -- or at least a future version of it.

The invention is related to media processing systems and methods. The inventors are Rainer Brodersen, Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Mihnea Calin Pacurariu, Thomas Michael Madden, Eric Taylor Seymour and Steve Jobs.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the patent: "Media devices, such as digital video and audio players, can include multiple functions and capabilities, such as playing stored content, browsing and selecting from recorded content, storing and/or receiving content selected by a user, and the like. These various functions can often be grouped according to content types, e.g., movies, music, television programs, photos, etc.

"The functions can then be accessed through various user interfaces that are typically...

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Jun 29
What's in store for the Mac? Part one

Needham & Company analyst Charles Wolf, predicts that Apple will sell nearly 13 million Macs this year. With those figures in mind, you have to wonder if that number would increase still more if Apple released a Mac with some really bang-up features rather than incremental improvements.

As Wolf points out, Apple sells Macs for nearly twice the price of Windows boxes, yet the sales keep growing faster than the rest of the industry. Of course, we're not figuring in return-on-investment, but that's a topic for another day.

So what's in store for the Mac? Well, obviously there's USB 3.0. It's just a matter of time until we see that. I'll be surprised if the iMac doesn't get an HDMI port a la the latest Mac mini. I still think Apple is making a mistake if it doesn't offer Blu-ray playback on some Macs, at least as a build-to-order option. And, to me, adding a built-in tuner to the living room-friendly iMac seems logical.

Also, as Arik Hesseldahl at...

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Jun 28
Market for US mobile broadband about to speed up

The market for mobile broadband connectivity for portable computers has been slow to gain momentum over the past several years. But that's apparently about to change.

Only in the past 18 months has the U.S. market taken significant steps toward broader adoption beyond the traditional mobile worker. According to a new International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast, the U.S. mobile broadband market will grow from 6.5 million subscribers in 2009 to 30.2 million in 2014, which accounts for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.1% over the forecast period.

The introduction of subsidized netbooks and tablets, changes to pricing structures, and the early availability of 4G with WiMAX (and upcoming LTE deployments) have begun to spur interest among the consumer segment about the power of mobile broadband as a secondary access method beyond wired broadband. Although the possibility of mobile broadband becoming a primary access technology remains a figment of our...

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Jun 24
More US consumers eyeing femtocells

I'd love -- REALLY LOVE -- to have an iPhone 4 (assuming, of course, I could get my hands on one). However, AT&T's crappy wireless service in my neck of the woods prevents this -- though Verizon's service has gotten increasingly worse. Maybe I need a femtocell.

International research firm Parks Associates today announced the results of the most comprehensive survey to date of U.S. consumer attitudes to femtocells, conducted on behalf of the Femto Forum.

AT&T, among other companies, is rolling out femtocells that, when connected to the home's broadband modem, will pick up signals from the cell phones in the home and relay them through the Internet connection. In essence, they're small cell towers for the home. AT&T wants to sell me one for $150. But if their wireless service stays crappy, they should give 'em away.

Regardless, lots of folks are going the femtocell route. A new survey by the Park Associates research group finds that more than half of...

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Jun 24
Apple hints at future devices with multiple feedback...

An Apple patent (number 20100156818) for a multi touch with haptics has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It hints at upcoming iPhones, iPod touches and iPads that would accept a number of physical feedback responses through haptic feedback.

Haptic technology, or haptics, is a tactile feedback technology that takes advantage of a user's sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, and/or motions to the user. When referring to mobile devices, this generally means the use of vibrations from the device's vibration alarm to denote that a touchscreen button has been pressed.

Methods and systems for processing touch inputs are disclosed in the Apple patent. The invention in one respect includes reading data from a multi-touch sensing device such as a multi-touch touch screen where the data pertains to touch input with respect to the multi-touch sensing device, and identifying at least one multi-touch gesture based on the data from the multi-touch sensing...

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Jun 24
Another reason why Apple would be nuts to give up the...

Amid all the hoopla over the iPad and iPhone 4, a handful of folks have predicted that the Macs days were numbered. If so, it's because that Apple wants to lose money.

Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) has released its "Global Top 10 Computer and Peripherals Companies -- Industry, Financial and SWOT Analysis. Apple is, of course, in that group, along with HP, IBM, Toshiba, Dell, NEC, Canon, Asustek, Acer and Lenova.

The global computers and peripherals industry generated total revenues of $540.1 billion in 2008, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% for the period spanning 200408. And now the important (for this op-ed anyway) part. According to Research and Markets, the personal computers segment proved the most lucrative for the global computers and peripherals industry in 2008, generating total revenues of $236.9 billion. That's...

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Jun 23
The Mac still has plenty of room for growth -- and new...

Still think that there's no room for growth or innovation on the Mac? Well, to the naysayers I must point out that there's plenty of room for both.

In 2005, market research firm IDC pegged Apple's share of the U.S. PC market at 4 %. In the first quarter of 2010, that number had grown to 6.4%. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates that for every half-percentage point of market share growth Apple boosts its sales by about US$3 billion.

And unit sales of the Mac have grown even more impressively than market share. In fiscal 2004, Apple sold 3.29 million Macs. It sold 3.36 million in the first quarter of 2010 alone.

What of new features? I've repeatedly argued for Blu-ray support, a built-in TV tuner on at least some Macs and -- also on some Macs -- touch screen support. Arik Hesseldahl, in his column for "Bloomberg BusinessWeek" (...

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Jun 23
Greg's bite: the wisdom of the Apple 'closed...

By Greg Mills

While Apple supports open source software and even provides powerful program elements, such as WebKit, their tendency is to have a closed system. While some hate that concept, the truth is, Apple has thrived on it lately.  

The late 80's saw the much more "open" PCs as cheap PCs and Microsoft swamped Apple in the market place. Apple even dabbled with licensing software to Mac clone companies. That experiment was aborted as Apple returned to a solo, closed business model.  

The openness the PC world craves is also open to malware of every stripe and color. The relative safety of the Mac platform is commonly passed off as a function of the smaller size of the installed computer base. Why waste time hacking Macs when there are so many easy PC to infect? I think the truth is that the more closed system of the Mac helps ward off attacks due to the infrastructure being more secure from the foundation up and in no small part, the work of...

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Jun 22
Apple granted patents for Apple TV interface, iMac...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office for the Apple TV user interface, the iMac, the iPhone, the iPod, and more.

Patents 7,743,116 and 7,743,338 are for the Apple TV interface. Patent number D618,241 is for the iMac. Patent number D618,204 is for the iPhone 2G. Patent number D618,207 is for the design of the original iPod. Patent number D618,206 is for the design of the second gen iPod nano, while patent number D618,205 is for the third gen model.

Two other Apple patents also appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Patent number 7,742,525 is for adaptive motion estimation. The patent involves a method for adaptively performing motion estimation. In some embodiments, the method initially performs a first motion estimation operation. It then determines whether the estimated error in the result of the first motion estimation is greater than a particular threshold. If not, the method uses the results of the...

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Jun 22
The Mac can be Apple's 'game console'

And in writing for "InfoWorld" (http://macosg.me/2/f0), Paul Venezia has an interesting premise: "Rumor has it that Apple may release a gyroscopic Wii-like controller, too. Couple a 27-inch LCD panel with a Mac running Mac OS X and games developed for the iPad/iPhone, all controlled by the equivalent of a Wiimote, and you suddenly have a compelling gaming system that could run the same games on devices ranging from the iPhone to the iMac. From the developer's perspective, it's develop once, run on every Apple device."

In fact, it's similar to a GameDock system proposed by "Mac/Life": "Take this nifty little gaming platform and assign it double duty as both a handheld and a console system. The GameDock accommodates the iPhone and iPod touch and hooks directly to your TV and the Internet. Whether you download a game wirelessly via the handheld or wiredly via the GameDock, you pay just once for two versions of...

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Jun 21
Greg's bite: a Microsoft fantasy regarding '...

By Greg Mills

The Apple spokesman was clearly shaken as he announced to a stunned press conference the unbelievable news that iPhone has finally been "killed" by a competitor's new smart phon that is "light years ahead of Apple R&D." 

The promising launch of iPhone 4 has been cancelled and shipped stock recalled, 450,000 Foxxcom workers have been laid off. Email from Apple will go out to customers soon explaining the sudden withdrawal of Apple from the cell phone market.

Steve Jobs has announced his early retirement and put his jet up for sale. Jobs is planning to sell cold refreshments from his new ice cream truck. He says he is hoping for a hot summer at the beach.  

"I always wanted to drive an ice cream truck" Jobs gushed, as he was interviewed leaving the Apple Campus in disgrace. "We can't come back from this technological Waterloo. Wouldn't you know it, if a true iPhone Killer was coming, Microsoft and Balmer are the ones to...

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Jun 21
Interest in 3D gaming extends beyond the avid gamer

Here's another reason I think we'll see an iMac 3D sooner rather than later: interest in 3D gaming is strongest among early adopters and gaming enthusiasts, but a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) shows that interest in 3D gaming extends to the casual video game player as well.

The "3D Gaming: Entertainment’s Next Dimension" study of online U.S. adults also found that more consumer demonstrations and education are needed before adoption can take off. Interest in a 3D gaming experience is not limited to the devoted gamer. While two-thirds (64%) of those interested in 3D gaming say they are video game enthusiasts, more than a third (35%) that showed interest are casual gamers.

No matter what their gaming level, consumers interested in 3D gaming expect 3D gaming devices coming to the market to serve as multi-media players. Most consumers expect to use their 3D gaming device to watch 3D movies (58%) and connect to the Internet (51%). Nearly half...

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Jun 18
Greg's bite: AT&T -- 'no bars in more...

By Greg Mills

The Micro Cell technology AT&T recently announced is sort of like a 3G WiFi device. They can be really small and amount to a mini cell tower connected to your Internet connection. The fact that they are needed says a lot about the network holes that bug us all who use iPhones, iPads, and, for that matter, all junk (non Apple) cell phones that use AT&T. 

If the device works as advertised, it will create a small area where a strong 3G signal will fill in the holes in the AT&T network we seem to all fall into. To be fair, there are problems due to dense buildings, geographic issues like hills and mountains. My house is one of those problem areas due to a metal roof with two layers of grounded steel and one layer on the exterior walls.  This amounts to a radio dampening field. Sometimes I go to a window and get a better signal.

The US$150 one-time charge for the MicroCell device is one thing, but charging users for minutes...

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Jun 18
Another reason to not dismiss the Mac: money

Here's another reason why Apple won't be abandoning the Mac: money. On the heels of an exceptional fourth quarter in 2009, global personal computer shipments followed suit with year-on-year growth of 27.1% in the first quarter of 2010, according to the IDC research group (http://www.idc.com). And we're just getting started.

Unlike most of 2009, the recent market recovery has also seen a small rebound in higher priced SKUs as netbooks became less of a driver of volume (perhaps thanks to the iPad, eh?). Although low to mid-range portable computers still dominate the market, desktop computers also recovered with its first yearly growth since the second quarter of 2008.

Commercial desktops posted positive growth, a first since the downturn, while the popularity of all-in-ones was a major factor in driving consumer desktop growth. That's good news for the Mac Pros -- way overdue for an update -- and the iMac --...

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Jun 17
Greg's bite: Odd couples in the tech world

By Greg Mills

Would you date Scarlett Johansson if she had Roseann Barr attached at the hip as a Siamese twin?  Could you read a fairy tail about Prince Charming who had Quasimoto as a Siamese twin to children?  

I doubt such a horrible image would lull them to sleep. It seems to me Apple/AT&T and Clear/Sprint are also such unlikely corporate dual monstrosities with an attractive partner merged in some way to a stone downer.

Another image I actually saw was iPhone with a ball and chain attached using the AT&T logo as the ball. As an iPhone subscriber, my experience with AT&T customer service has been fine; it is the slow network that bugs me.  If you ever see the slogan "AT&T, no bars in more places," let me know; they have plagiarized my slogan. I submitted the idea to them, and they never got back to me.  

Actually, as iPhone users know, you can have five bars and still drop the call or have the web crawl like the dial...

| Read more »
Jun 17
Apple patents cover authentication, type knowledge,...

A handful of Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 2010053450 is for a system and method for authentication using a shared table and sorting exponentiation. Disclosed herein are systems, computer-implemented methods, and computer-readable media for authentication using a shared table. The method receives an authentication challenge from a first entity including an accumulator with an initial value, lists of elements in a shared table, and a list of sorting algorithms, each sorting algorithm is associated with one of the lists of elements and modified to include embedded instructions operating on the accumulator. The method then generates a temporary table for each list of elements in the shared table by copying elements from the shared table as indicated in each respective list of elements, each temporary table being associated with one sorting algorithm in the list of sorting algorithms...

| Read more »
Jun 17
Apple patent could given new meaning to 'smarty-...

An Apple patent (number 20100151996) for a "smart garment" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and hints at clothing that could "talk" to an iPhone, iPad or iPod. The invention relates generally to performance monitoring. More particularly, methods and apparatus electronically pairing an authorized garment and a sensor that receives data from the garment are disclosed.

Per the patent, a sensor authenticated to a garment transfers information, either wirelessly or wired, to an external data processing device. Such information includes location information, physiometric data of the individual wearing the garment, garment performance and wear data (when the garment is an athletic shoe, for example). The external data processing device can be portable digital media players that are, in turn, in wireless communication with a server computer or other wireless devices. The inventors are Brett G. Alten and Robert Edward Borchers.

Here's Apple's background...

| Read more »
Jun 17
Apple considering HD radio on its portable devices

A new Apple patent (number 20100150276) at the US Patent & Tradmark Office shows that the company may be planning HD radio features in upcoming iPhones, iPads and iPod. The patent is for digital radio tagging using an RF tuner accessory.

According to the patent, an accessory having an RF tuner for digital radio, such as HD radio, can be in communication with a media player such as a portable media device ("PMD"). The user can be given the ability to command the accessory to provide raw digital data, the ability to scan only for stations having digital audio content (or for all available stations), the ability to provide station lists of stations having digital audio content (or all available stations), and the ability to request and store metadata beyond that for stations actually being listened to provide enhanced search capabilities. Enhanced metadata and searching can provide the listener the ability to refine station choices without having to listen at length to any...

| Read more »
Jun 17
iPad paves the way for new set of devices

The Mac isn't going anywhere, but the launch of the iPad is paving the way for a new set of devices: tablets, which rise between the mobile experience of smartphones and the computing experience of laptops.

These devices, being connected to wireless networks and equipped with all the services and applications of smartphones, can not only offer a better entertainment experience, but also drive new ideas in other industries including publishing and tourism, according to Saverio Romeo, senior industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan, a firm whose analysts, consultants, and visionaries cover more than 300 markets and 250,000 companies.

He notes thatApple has again established a route modeling the use of the iPad around the Apple App Store, from where applications can be downloaded to the device. The model for the iPhone has been simply extended to the tablet. The application revenue model also remains the same: the 70/30 revenue sharing model used for smartphones is...

| Read more »
Jun 16
So what's on Apple's calendar for the rest...

The new Mac mini debuted yesterday -- and, quite impressively, I might add. The MacBook and MacBook Pro lines have been updated. The iPhone 4 has been unveiled. Safari has been revved to version 5 and iOS (the operating system formerly known as iPhone OS) has seen some big changes. So what else can we expect from Apple in the near future?

I think we'll see new Mac Pros and a 27-inch Cinema Display before summer's end. Probably a new MacBook Air, as well, though I still wouldn't bet on its long-term future with the iPad around. The iPod line-up will probably also be tweaked before the start of the next school term.

I do think iTunes.com, the web-based version of iTunes, is coming. And I'm among those who think the Apple TV is going to get a new, very exciting overhaul, this year. But I don't expect either of these until this fall. Though I hope I'm wrong on the Apple TV update; sooner would be better.

I think we'll see new versions of iLife and iWork this year...

| Read more »
Jun 16
Greg's bite: iOS Apps and GPS on a Mac

By Greg Mills

The notion of running iOS (formerly known as the iPhone OS) Apps on a Mac is interesting. When I first read about that idea it struck me as a way to broaden app sales to include the additional platform of the Mac. That sounds like more money flowing into the App Store to me.

The only problem is that iOS apps are built upon the Cocoa Touch user interface which accesses the compass, GPS, motion and gravity sensors which are used to manipulate functions on iPhone and iPad. Current Macs don't have those sensors and do not have touch screens to work with iPhone apps either. This is not to say Apple or third party companies are not working on that exact problem. Something like a game controller with Bluetooth would do it.

Apps that are mostly display oriented may be ported to use mouse or touch pad input, but that may take a virtual rewrite of most apps. The Mac OS already supports Java applets which run well on Macs. Widgets also...

| Read more »
Jun 15
Greg's bite: the Cloud is coming

By Greg Mills

The notion of "cloud" computing or actually cloud storage has been around for a while now.  The Internet allows files to seamlessly be stored on a remote server "in the cloud." The cloud  is not to be confused with Heaven, as there is a devil in the details of cloud computing.  

Malcrosoft (misspelled intentionally) attempted to implement applications that reside on their servers that you sort of rent instead of own. You never really have the application, as such, on your computer and the files can be printed out or stored on your local computer or their server.  Typical of those able to screw up a stainless steel ball bearing, the Microsoft cloud had all sorts of problems including lost data. Oops, now you see it, now you don't. Would you really trust the book you have been writing to a remote server somewhere in Redmond?    

Also typical of Microsoft, the basic reason for the cloud concept they came up with was related to money...

| Read more »
Jun 15
Apple wins patents for MacBook, iPod touch, Expose,...

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office, including design wins for the MacBook, iPod touch and Mac OS X's Expose feature. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number D617,807 is for a graphical user interface for a display screen or a portion thereof (the iPhone touch). The inventors are Greg Christie, Elizabeth Caroline Furches and Bas Oring.

Patent number D617,792 is for the design of an electronic device (the MacBook). The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number 7,739,617 is for a computer interface having a virtual single-layer mode for viewing overlapping objects. In other words, Expose. A computer-human interface...

| Read more »
Jun 15
Mac OS X and iOS both on a Mac?

I've surmised that future versions of Mac OS X would include elements of iOS (the operating system formerly known as iPhone OS) and I still think it will. However, two other folks have offered an interesting alternative: iOS running along Mac OS X on a Mac.

"MacNews" reader Loren Kruse made this prediction: "The next iMac will be a touch enable computer either through the screen or through a multi-touch tablet and will have Mac OS X along with IOS built in. This would greatly increase the marketing potential for the apps and advertising."

And in a "ZDNet" column (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/ios-4-on-a-mac/8609), tech writer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes said he thought we might see iOS running alongside Mac OS X proper.

"Pre iPad, it made little sense for Apple to even think of putting the iPhone OS on the Mac, since the apps were...

| Read more »
Jun 14
3D TV -- not everyone can see (literally) what the...

As Hollywood prepares for a summer filled with more 3D blockbuster hopefuls and cable networks launch 3D networks and programming for new 3D televisions, the trend towards this new technology is hard to miss -- except for the millions of Americans who literally can’t see it.

Movies including “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” have already left their impression on the 3D screen and new movies using the technology are making their way into theaters across the country. Meanwhile, ESPN and the Discovery Channel are preparing to broadcast in 3D. This new technology is catching the eyes of fans nationwide, but some people may not be able to enjoy the 3-D experience because of vision problems.

“Quite simply, people who have even a small vision misalignment or those who don’t have equal vision in both eyes may not be able to see 3D images properly,” says Dr. Leonard Press, chair of the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Pediatrics and Binocular Vision Committee (...

| Read more »
Jun 11
Online video services to get bigger and better

Well, this is good news for Apple's iTunes service (and perhaps a revamped Apple TV, when it happens): nearly half (46%) of 18- to 25-year-olds spend as much time using online video services as they do watching TV, says RealNetworks.

Research by online video software firm revealed that just under a third (32%) say the computer is their preferred platform for watching TV and video. However, when it comes to 36- to 45-year-olds, 20% watch at least 50% of TV programs and movies via a computer.

"It's still early days for online video but as each year passes the quality and breadth of online video content increases dramatically and the tools to access, manage, share and consume the content grow ever more sophisticated," says Marili 't Hooft-Bolle from RealNetworks.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Jun 10
Nearly two-thirds of all online software purchases are...

With the Apple App Store going great guns, will we eventually see a similar service for Mac software? Perhaps aps for a revamped Apple TV?

Nearly two-thirds of all online software purchases were digital downloads in 2010, up slightly from 2009, according to the new report from the market research company, The NPD Group (http://www.npdgroup.com). Online digital downloads of new products accounted for 23% of online purchases, up from 22% in 2009. Online subscription renewals accounted for 34%, down one percentage point from 2009, and trial-to-paid conversions were 8% of sales, up from 6% in 2009.

With all this in mind, Apple has surely considered a Mac App Store. However, CEO Steve Jobs said in an email in April that "nope," Apple had no such plans.


As for the Apple TV, that may be another matters. Especially as the rumor mill says an upcoming rev of Apple's "hobby" will use the iPhone OS, er...

| Read more »
Jun 10
Greg's bite: the quick assimilation of things...

By Greg Mills

I am off to Orlando to marry off my last single sister-in-law and noticed that airline security didn't blink about the iPad going through security. Matter of fact, they said the laptop needs to be in its own tray, but the iPad is OK with other items.

On the plane when they said electronic items need to be turned off, they specifically included laptops, cell phones and iPads. Note that they didn't say slate computers or netbooks, but rather iPads, specifically.

Apple has already established the iPad as a separate category of electronic device. Generic slate computers are likely doomed to be second class "iPads" when they come out. Being the trend-setter and having the brand of product to own is worth billions to Apple.

Sitting in an Atlanta airport as I write this, I look up and the guy across from me is reading a newspaper. The picture in the headline section of the paper is Steve Jobs holding a new iPhone. Apple is...

| Read more »
Jun 09
The obituary for the Mac

"Newsweek" ran an obituary for the Mac yesterday (see http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/techtonic-shifts/2010/06/08/does-apple-s-i...) in which it said that the "future of Apple is no longer centered around the Macintosh."

"You Mac guys just got kicked to the curb, relegated to the steaming dung heap of the past," "Newsweek" wrote. "The future, for Apple, is all about iPhones and iPads, and, more important, the operating system software that powers them -- the sexy new iOS 4, which these days seems to be getting most of Steve’s attention."

I think "Newsweek" is right on one point: "the future of Apple is no longer centered around the Macintosh." The Mac is no longer THE main focus of Apple (although that's probably...

| Read more »
Jun 08
Greg's bite: iPad, the foundation, the digital...

By Greg Mills

(Note:  I am writing this on Sunday, the day before the Apple WWDC keynote.) The mainstream "paper press" seems to be faltering all around the US. Most major newspapers are running in the red and have been losing money for some time now.  

One paper in Honolulu bought the other paper so now there is one. Major economic changes are taking place at a breath-taking pace. This is very bad if you are part of the old content economy, but very good if you are part of the digital content delivery revolution.  

What began as a novel way to send a note to someone else on line as an email became a torrent -- and now the number of emails delivered each day is more than physical letters. The Post Office has complained that itss revenue is suffering because of virtually free email replacing the postage stamp model of financing written communication. The postal union is crying all the way to Congress and, sometime ago, actually suggested a tax...

| Read more »
 
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