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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 (...

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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

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Jun 08
Apple granted patents for iPhone OS interface, more

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

Patent number D617,334 is for a graphical user interface or a portion thereof. In other words, the iPhone OS interface (now iOS). The inventor is Imran Chaudhri.

Patent number D617,339 is for the ornamental design for an icon of a display screen. The inventors are Bas Ording and Imran Chaudhri.

Patent number 7,734,721 involves a system and method for passive detection and context sensitive notification of upgrade availability for computer information. The invention monitors upgrade availability for computer information on a user's computer and allows the user to determine which of the available upgrades will be downloaded to the user's computer and installed. The upgrade availability for computer information on the user's computer is monitored in the background, without user-intervention when the...

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Jun 08
Some thoughts on yesterday's WWDC keynote

I didn't do too well in my predictions of what Apple CEO Steve Jobs would announce at his Worldwide Developer Conference keynote. But overall I wasn't too disappointed. Well, as "un-disappointed" as I could be with the lack of any Mac love.

The iPhone 4 does look very cool, as does iOS 4 (the mobile operating system formerly known as iPhone OS). It makes me want an Apple smartphone more than ever, though I still can't justify buying one until AT&T improves its wireless service in the northern end of Nashville, TN. It looks as if it is going to be next year before I can hope for a Verizon iPhone.

I wasn't expecting any Apple TV news, but I was certain we'd be thrown at least a couple of bones for our Mac jones. I still think that new Mac Pros and Mac minis, as well as 27-inch Cinema Displays are just around the corner. As is Safari 5 with, among other things, official support for extensions.

Hopefully, iAds will be a good thing for Apple and developers. As...

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Jun 07
Where's Phil?

Our friend Jeff Ganyard at MacSpeech/Nuance Communications made an interesting comment this afternoon at WWDC...

While Apple doesn't typically parade all of their executives across a keynote anyway, this year's keynote did have one noticeable omission -- Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President, Worldwide Product Marketing. Scott Forstall, Jonathan Ive, Bob Mansfield, and others were part of keynote (either live or in video), but not Phil. This is a contrast from the past.

What does this mean? Was Phil simply not needed? Was he out sick? Maybe Apple is trying to spread the breadth around a bit to show leadership is deep as part of a Jobs' succession plan. But, if that were the case, why cut Phil out? What's up with that?

Time will tell.

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Jun 07
Greg's bite: iPad software that must be on the...

By Greg Mills

While there is certainly a lot of software already available for iPad, the transition path for consumers to migrate from laptops or desktops to the iPad will require the iLife suite and other consumer grade programs to become adapted to the Cocoa Touch methods of the user interface.

iMovie simplified to run on iPad will be a killer app. The Apple "go to market" model seems to be breaking up suites of software, such as iWork and iLife into individual apps and selling them online for US$10 a pop. At that price point they are selling well. That represents about a 50% discount over Mac OS versions. I will be watching Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developer Conference keynote today to see what new iPad software launches.

The camera USB connector for iPad will become a fundamental addition for most of us -- at least until Apple launches the next generation iPad that might have a camera and perhaps a USB port built in. Clearly, for the iPad...

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Jun 04
My predictions for today's WWDC keynote

Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today with a keynote address by CEO Steve Jobs at 10 a.m. (Pacific). I've culled through all the rumors and here's what I'm predicting.

Jobs will introduce the next gen iPhone, which will have a front-facing camera for video and group chat. The smartphone will be introduced and demoed -- but won't go on sale for another 2-3 weeks.

Jobs will introduce iTunes.com, a web-based version of iTunes.

The CEO will introduce new Mac Pros and Mac minis, as well as 27-inch Cinema Displays.

It will be announced that Safari now officially supports extensions.

There will be no announcement of a Verizon iPhone. That's coming, but not yet. I'm EXPECTING it to happen in 2011, but I'm HOPING it will happen this fall or winter.

There will no no announcement of a new Apple TV. That's coming, but it's not quite ready (forgive the pun) for prime time yet.

No new iPods will be...

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Jun 04
Greg's bite: can the iPad save journalism?

By Greg Mills

Frankly, the blunt answer is yes, but not necessarily in its current business model -- and many publishers will not make the transition. I laughed when I saw where some well known national magazines launched an app and were charging US$5 an issue for an electronic version of a print magazine you can subscribe to for $8 per year -- for 12 full color magazines delivered to your door.  

People are not stupid;at least most of us are not that stupid. Perhaps as a novelty, one might spend $5 on one electronic magazine, just to see what it is like. A thriving business model requires a long term willingness for consumers to buy a product. Gouging will not work long term. 

Advantages of electronic publishing are cost related.  If that cost advantage is not passed on to the electronic consumer, the electronic magazine product will not sell. While the cost of publishing a paper magazine varies according to circulation, at least half the cost...

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Jun 04
Blu-ray 3D demoed for computers

Earlier this week I talked about the possibility of a stereoscopic (ie, 3D). Whether or not they're Macs, 3D computers look as if they'll arrive sooner than I expected.

CyberLink Corp. is showing visitors to this week's Computex expo a demonstration of PowerDVD 10 ULTRA 3D that enables Blu-ray 3D movie playback on computers. With PowerDVD, consumers will purportedly be able to enjoy full 1080p high-definition stereoscopic video on Blu-ray 3D movies.

PowerDVD is the first software player to receive Blu-ray 3D certification from the Blu-ray Disc Association. Optimized with CPU and GPU hardware acceleration, PowerDVD delivers two 1080p frames to create a hi def, 3D video effect in the display. PowerDVD outputs to all main 3D formats, including sequential, row-interleave, and checkerboard too. It also enables 3D graphic menus and 3D subtitles for a full 3D experience.

Now I have no idea if or when Apple might bring 3D technology to, at least, a build-to-order Mac....

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Jun 03
Apple could aim particle gun at DRM violators

A new patent (number 20100138654) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a system of digital rights management (DRM) that would identify the authenticity of a device based on the unique physical emission properties of a "particle gun." The invention invention relates to DRM and more specifically to authentication or hashing functions.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The field of DRM involves code protection, code obfuscation and various other software security mechanisms. Cryptography is one such way to protect information. Cryptography is the practice of hiding information; encryption is the process of converting intelligible information (plaintext) into unintelligible information (ciphertext); and decryption is the process of converting ciphertext back into plaintext. Authentication is a software security mechanism that establishes or confirms an entity as authentic, or true.

"Hashing is also often utilized in...

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Jun 03
Greg's bite: the age of Ballmer must end

By Greg Mills

Some readers must think I am anti-Ballmer. But really, without Steve Ballmer I would have to find some one else to criticize -- and with the Microsoft exec it's so easy.

Who else has ridden a stone cold, worldwide monopoly into the ground? Since Mr. Ballmer took over at Microsoft in 2000, it has lost half its market cap. From US$500 billion to 250 billion dollars.  Hello, Bill Gates ... Earth to Gates ... come in Bill ... can you hear me now?

While Bill Gates doesn't have to eat in soup kitchens, he has lost ground a far as his net worth goes. Ballmer's claim to fame is mostly related to being lucky enough to have been a roommate with Bill Gates early on. 

Really, copying Apple only goes so far.  At some point you have to do something new and compelling to grow a major tech company. Not even being able to keep your bread-and-butter, slam-dunk, monopoly PC operating system working well is a very bad sign.  

I read...

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Jun 03
Are we heading toward a post-PC world?


In what is bound to make Mac users like me a bit uncomfortable, in his interview at the "All Things D" event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the post-PC (that's "personal computer," by the way, not a Windows system) has begun. And I'm sure he feels the iPad is a milestone in this transition.

"PCs are going to be like trucks and are going to be used by fewer and fewer people," Jobs said. "This transition is going to make people uneasy. When you start to enter the post PC era it’s going to make people uncomfortable. We’ve embarked on that. I don't know when it’s going to happen, but the transition has essentially begun."

My take: the personal computer era will never end, though it will change and evolve over time. Sure, more devices such as the iPad will be introduced. For some folks, they will replace the traditional computer. As for the computer itself, as I've said on numerous occasions, I think future Macs will increasingly merge features of the iPhone OS with Mac...

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Jun 02
Greg's bite: regarding the iTV rumor in iPhone...

by Greg Mills

With bits of information the Mac rumor mill conjures up both interesting and unlikely product ideas. Historically, Apple can be expected to repeat product concepts over time and improve them as technology allows. We can know what Apple has been thinking recently by what it has shown us in the past.

Consider that the Newton was a forerunner of the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The Newton was ahead of its time and not supported by the modern parts we see today. In many respects, it is sort of like the helicopter, which was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci 400 years before the internal combustion engine, which was required to actually make it fly. Sometimes ideas are too far ahead of the general development of technology and thus can't be done in their day. But given time ...

To an extent, the Apple TV suffers from the "ahead of it's time" syndrome. Internet pass-through speeds have been a bottleneck, but that's getting better. Remember...

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Jun 02
Is a stereovision Mac in our future?

Somewhere down the road we're going to see some revolutionary Macs. In the near future they'll have USB 3.0 support and (please, Steve) Blu-ray playback support. And who knows? This Mac might be one of the first stereovision personal computers.

Jon Peddie Research (http://www.jonpeddie.com), a research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, has just completed an in-depth look at the emerging Stereo 3D (S3D) computer market. (S3D involves playing back 3D images.) The report finds that the S3D market is poised for rapid growth in the immediate future. Close to one million dedicated S3D computers will ship in 2010. That number will grow to 75 million by 2014 as S3D becomes ubiquitous.

Although most computers will be S3D capable due to the GPUs that are in them, not all will be S3D computers because they need a special monitor, glasses, and appropriate content. However, S3D computers will be...

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Jun 02
Greg's bite: reading between the lines of Jobs...

By Greg Mills

I carefully read the reports of the Steve Jobs interview at the "All Things D" event and was struck by the blunt truthfulness of the man. Certainly, he had to be very careful about every word he spoke. But it was obvious that his feelings are real about his passion, great products and betrayal. 

The historical dispute arising when Microsoft appropriated the Mac's "look and feel" for Windows 1.0, now over 20 years ago, seem to be repeating itself with Google. Apple is sort of in a Catch 22 situation where it must trust other companies that it needs for core support, only to see the guts of its greatest hits stolen or at least emulated closely enough to hurt Apple and divide the market. The Google Android phone OS is likely to be the strongest competition to the iPhone OS. Palm bit the dust, Windows Mobile is a joke and RIM is only holding its own.

Jobs commented that Apple isn't doing search even though is Google doing smart...

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Jun 01
Apple granted design patents for the iPad, iPods,...

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

Patent number D616892 is for the ornamental design of the iPad. The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonthan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satgzer, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number D616863 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod nano and D616864 is for the design of the fifth gen iPod classic. The inventors are the same as those above. Those inventors are also credited with patent D616881 for the MacBook Air.

Patent number D616899 is for the ornamental design of a media device the clip-on style iPod shuffle). The inventors are the same as those above.

Patent number D616886...

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Jun 01
Tim Cook's commencement speech: 'I believe...

By Gaurang Donovan

Apple's Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook gave a commencement speech as his alma mater Auburn [Georgia] University on 14 May. It received a modicum of media coverage but that is not totally unexpected given how Apple is often covered in the past.

The coverage was hardly on par to what other current public appearances of other much smaller or less successful companies' executive leadership receive at times. But Cook's commencement speech reiterates much of what has been practiced quietly at Apple to achieve such a successful comeback over the last 13 years or so and it does provide me with even more confidence that Apple's leadership team is still very well grounded in what it is trying to achieve. Just keep doing it.

You can view the speech as an iTunes U podcast or YouTube video. 

...

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Jun 01
Of SSDs and sticker shock

In my recent review (http://www.macnews.com/2010/05/27/review-owc-extreme-pro-re-ssd-blazingl...) of the OWC Extreme Pro RE SSD [Solid State Drive] I said I loved the drive but "only" gave it an 8-out-of10 rating (I rarely bestow a nine and almost never a 10) because the price is somewhat prohibitive (the 100GB model is US$400). Was I being fair?

As someone who disagreed with my rating pointed out, "if you ever did a processor upgrade in a G3 or G4 machine (or even earlier) wasn't the cost worth it to rev up the machine?" The answer to that is, of course, "yes." And I'd LOVE to have the 2TB hard drive in my iMac replaced with an SSD of similar volume (that is something that will be an affordable option sometime down the road).

So here's a recommendation for...

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Jun 01
Greg's bite: the history and future of computer/...

by Greg Mills

Back in the beginning of computers putting information in was hard work as numerous switches had to be thrown a certain way to generate results. The punch cards had to be cut and processed.  Then keyboards were used (about this time IBM screwed up and helped Microsoft take off).

A Zerox research group conceived the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and someone showed it to a fresh face in the crowd who immediately saw the future Mac interface. Foolishly trusting Microsoft to launch needed software that would run on the new Mac computers and to not steal them blind, Steve Jobs showed Gates the graphical interface. At that point Gates was driven to create a graphical interface that worked as well as the new Mac Operating System.

Apple, in time, sued and later settled rather than waste money pursuing Gates and Company. The Apple/Microsoft relationship has had its ups and downs but, seemingly, Apple was long on innovation and Microsoft...

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May 28
Greg's bite: Department of Justice looks at the...

By Greg Mills

In the title of this article, I am speaking of the Giant Electronics Firm, not the city by the same nickname. It seems incredible for those of use who took no end of ridicule over the year that we were "one of those": un-PC Apple computer, non-conformists.  

We were told our computers were too expensive and that the end of Apple was in sight. Remember the statement, "I think Apple computers are easy to use, but they don't do anything since there isn't enough software for the platform."

We saw Microsoft deliberately sabotage PC software to not open documents on a Mac. We saw Microsoft dominate the market in both operating systems and business software that was so "standard" it was only by the grace of Gates that Apple survived at all.

Well, a new age has come upon us and the tables are turning. A number of issues caused this to happen. First, despite years of promises and billions of dollars spent on R&D, Vista was...

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May 28
Global stagnation to continue in home video...

Hmmm. Could Steve Jobs be right about the future of movies, as well as music, being digital and online? Maybe. According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, the global home video market is poised to see further declines in the years ahead.

Global revenue from sales of DVDs and Blu-ray declined more than 4% in 2009, to US$35.7 billion, and is set for another 2% drop in 2010, according to the research group. At the same time digital distribution channels such as iTunes for home video entertainment aren’t developing fast enough to offset the decline in packaged media formats.

The total packaged media market, including both retail and rental of DVDs and Blu-ray, is projected to decline 3% in 2010, to $53.3 billion and by 12.6%, to $48.1 billion by 2013.

"The future of the home entertainment market is within digital distribution of home video," says Martin Olausson, director of Digital Media Research at Strategy Analytics. "We...

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May 28
Greg's bite: Water over the top of the dam

By Greg Mills

The press is churning out story after story about Apple finally beating Microsoft out of being the top tech company spot, as far as market cap goes. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this is only the first of the major indignities that are looming ahead.  

It boils down to this: Apple has launched a series of major hit products that each represent a virtual monopoly in their class, while Ballmer & Company have suffered embarrassing gaffs that have crippled their future and perhaps the PC platform itself. 

Realistically, Microsoft has been cruising for years on their laurels as being the main operating system for all PCs but Apple's. The question for the PC minions of the world is not which operating system to use but rather which version of Windows will you fight with to keep your computer working.

My metaphor about the dam is based upon the problem you have when water goes over the top of an earthen dam and erosion occurs....

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May 27
Apple patent is for 'on-the-go shopping list...

A new Apple patent (number 20100082447) for an "on-the-go shopping list" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to handheld electronic devices (think iPads and iPod touches) and, more particularly, to systems and methods for conducting shopping-related transactions with a handheld electronic device.

Systems and methods for providing shopping-related information to a consumer are provided. Embodiments of the system allow a consumer to create an electronic shopping list by scanning products. In some embodiments, shopping-related information may be obtained for items in the shopping list, such as pricing information, product quality, consumer ratings, and other information that may help a consumer to make an informed purchasing decision. Other embodiments allow a consumer to obtain and compare retail prices offered by several retailers for products in the shopping list. Still other embodiments provide a store-wide network that allows a...

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May 27
Apple patent involves earphones, headsets

An Apple patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that could hint at a new iPhone headset. Patent number 20100128887 involves detecting the respositioning of an earphone using a microphone and associated action.

The invention relates generally to an earphone. More particularly, this invention relates to detecting the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user.

A system detects the repositioning of an earphone that is worn by a user, and changes an operation mode of a host coupled to the earphone. Within the earphone is a pressure transducer that detects a pressure change caused by the repositioning of the earphone. A signaling mechanism sends a repositioning detection signal to the host in response to a signal from the pressure transducer indicating the detection of the pressure change. The inventors are Jae H. Lee and Wendell B. Sander.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Earphones (also known as earbuds or...

| Read more »
May 27
Future versions of QuickTime to offer recapping...

A new patent has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that may hint at interface changes in upcoming versions of QuickTime.

Patent number 20100132005 is for recapping media content. It relates generally to the field of media and, in particular, to playing, viewing, and controlling video or other media.

The invention involves a system in accordance with the present invention may include one or more processors, memory that receives instructions from the one or more processors according to a clock operating at a frequency, one or more programs stored in the memory, with instructions to: open a media file or receive a media broadcast that may be stored locally or remotely; play the content of the media file or media broadcast at a default speed; and control the play of the content with control features such as a feature for recapping earlier media content. The inventors are Windy Chien, Gary Stewart and Robert Kondrk.

Here's Apple's background and...

| Read more »
May 27
Apple patent involves beamforming audio for ... TV,...

I've been dubious that Apple would release its own TV set. But a new patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office hints at that. Or it could involve some sort of future Mac or Apple TV accessory.

Patent number 20100128892 involves stabilizing directional audio from a moving microphone array. It relates to the field of audio beamforming; and more specifically, to the aiming of audio beamforming.

The patent involves a device that includes a microphone array fixed to the device. A signal processor produces an audio output using audio beamforming with input from the microphone array. The signal processor aims the beamforming in a selected direction. An orientation sensor--such as a compass, an accelerometer, or an inertial sensor--is coupled to the signal processor. The orientation sensor detects a change in the orientation of the microphone array and provides an orientation signal to the signal processor for adjusting the aim of the beamforming to maintain the...

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May 27
Greg's bite: Could Apple's iTunes Store fix...

By Greg Mills

I just finished buying airline tickets for my wife, daughter and myself to fly to Florida for my sister-in-law's wedding. I hate the tricks, extra fees and taxes that get tacked on after you think you have a good deal. Apple has a way of fixing the most egregious tasks we face and making it as close to fun as spending money can be.  

The current system for buying airline tickets on-line is nuts. You have tons of web sites that claim to be the cheapest all, clamoring to sell the same seats, all at different prices. It has
been said that normally, passengers on the same flight have paid as many as 10 different prices for the very same flight. To me that sounds like a system failure.  

Part of the problem is the stupid hub system where you can't fly anywhere without changing planes at a hub. I have flown from Kansas City to Atlanta just to get on a flight to Los Angeles.

The airlines churn ticket prices to the point...

| Read more »
May 27
Safari and the prospect of 'official'...

John Gruber of "Daring Fireball" (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/05/25/chrome-beta) hints that Apple might release a "proper extension API" (application programming interface) for Safari at June's Worldwide Developer Conference. I hope he's right. It's long overdue since both Firefox and Chrome offer extensions.

Still, it's hard to imagine Apple "opening up" its web browser, since Jobs & Company like to have near-total control over all their products and technologies. On the other hand, Firefox and Chrome have both put the pressure on Safari, and the ability to tweak the Safari experience as you'd like would certainly appeal to a lot of users.

Extensions are software add-ons for web browsers. Among the bazillion Firefox and Chrome extensions are ones that let you: do screen captures, prevent Flash content from running without...

| Read more »
May 26
Greg's bite: Microsoft reorganizing due to...

By Greg Mills

The news is full of Microsoft reorganization stories.  "The Wall Street Journal" and others report poor numbers on everything Microsoft in the mobile division except the Xbox -- which is not mobile anyway.  

The famously lame Windows Mobile OS sank from 10.2% of the market to 6.8% in the last year. Keep in mind, there are "smart phones" out there that can only run the Microsoft OS and are thus stuck with the OS until the day the phone is trashed. The decline is due to the lack of new phones running the Windows OS being sold. The numbers can only tank further since the iPhone has gone viral.

Has anyone hear of a cell phone called "KIN"? According to "Wired", Microsoft launched a smart phone by that name running the Windows OS two months ago. The KIN is already a flop as Amazon has discounted the more powerful versions by 50% and cut the low end KIN down to one cent with a contract for service.

Not only has an in-house cell...

| Read more »
May 26
There's life in those CDs, DVDs still

Okay, so maybe I'm not such a dinosaur after all. "Macworld UK" (http://www.macworld.co.uk/digitallifestyle/news/index.cfm?newsid=3224278) reports that a Hewlett Packard survey of over 1,000 UK consumers, aged between 16 and 60, shows that, despite the rise of services such as iTunes, folks (besides me) still like their CDs and DVDs.

HP's survey found that 86% of the population access some form of digital media, the survey revealed consumers attach very little monetary or emotional value to the digital content they own. For example, 68% of consumers still prefer photographs to be physical rather than digital. Sixty-four percent prefer CDs over MP3s and downloads when purchasing music. And 75% preferred DVDs when it came to films, while a massive 95% still prefer reading books traditionally.


Not...

| Read more »
May 25
Apple patents involve Final Cut Pro, the iPhone,...

Apple has been granted patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving Final Cut Pro, the iPhone and laptop housing. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,725,828 is for the application of speed effects to a video presentation. Some embodiments provide a method of specifying speed effects for playing a video clip. The method defines a set of speed effects for the video clip. It then displays in real-time a presentation of the video clip that accounts for the set of speed effects defined for the video clip. In some embodiments, this method represents the playback speed of a video clip in terms of a graph that is part of a graphical user interface ("GUI"). This graph is defined along two axes, with one axis representing the playback time, and the other axis representing the content-time (i.e., the time within the video clip). In these embodiments, a user can change the playback speed of the video clip by using a set of GUI operations to...

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May 25
The iPad, Curated Computing and a closed Mac

A lot has been made of last week's forecast by RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky that predicts Apple is now selling more iPads than Macs. And it's garnered some speculation that we may see Macs that are more iPad-like.

Abramsky says that, by his estimates, Apple sells more than 200,000 iPads per week in the U.S., a total greater than the estimated 110,000 Macs sold stateside every seven days. Obviously, people love the Apple tablet, as well as the iPhone and iPod touch, so I do think we'll see future Macs that adopt features from the iPhone OS.

In fact, Forrester Research (http://www.alacrastore.com/research/forrester-Apple_s_iPad_Is_A_New_Kind...) says the iPad will ushers in a new era of "Curated Computing" -- a mode of computing in which choice is constrained to...

| Read more »
May 25
Greg's bite: the secret to Apple's lower R...

By Greg Mills

As an inventor and R&D guy myself, it comes as no surprise to me that Apple is spending far less for its research than it's competitors. We ran an article yesterday with numbers that
put Apple's R&D expenditures at one-seventh that of Microsoft with similar market caps between the companies.  

Look at what is coming out of the two companies and you wonder how Microsoft is blowing so much money. The truth is that Apple is just innovating better at a low cost, not that Microsoft is wasting so much more than typical companies their size.

The difference between the two  companies is like comparing the Zune to iPod touch. The conventional method of R&D is to put a rough product idea before the brain trust and ask them to do it better. The problem for Microsoft in competing with Apple is that by the time Microsoft identifies the next big thing, Apple has already done it so well it is hard to improve. By the time you...

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May 24
Greg's bite: video out limitations on the iPad

By Greg Mills

I love my iPad, but I am finding that there are some limitations I didn't expect. I was planning to buy an Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter but read the reviews first on the Apple store info page for iPad.

The reviews all expressed frustration that the US$29 device will only output a VGA video signal for specific apps. That has killed my interest in it for the time being.

So far Keynote, the Movie App from Apple that comes on the iPad and Netflix are about it for that function. Clearly, the issue is software and has to be allowed by each app that does that trick. I put out feelers to find out, but hopefully future iPad OS incarnations will allow full display mirroring.

Showing your video or screen on a video projector or a TV screen with the exact display seen on the iPad is sort of an expected ability. I have used that feature with my MacBook Pro on occasion. That way I can use Safari and web sites to document...

| Read more »
May 24
The iPad is changing the info, entertainment...

The iPad is causing the entertainment and information industries to undergo a paradigm shift in the delivery of content and services to consumers, according to a new report from Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com).

The impact started on day one. Apple said it sold over 300,000 the first day the iPad went on sale in the US and that over one million iPad apps were downloaded. With the iPad, Apple created a leisure media device that is at home curled up on the couch for a relaxing read, propped up in the kitchen as a helpful digital cookbook or playing a movie in the bedroom.

Content producers and owners are no longer limited to stationary TV sets, mobile phones with tiny screens or computers that place entertainment in a secondary role. The major TV networks, online video services, newspapers, magazines and book publishers are turning the iPad into a hybrid TV/...

| Read more »
May 21
Greg's bite: Apple and the cool factor

By Greg Mills

No one who ever sees many movies or TV programs could possibly miss the many placement of Apple products on the screen. The cool factor that Apple has cultured is passed on to actors who appear to use a Mac.  

From "Forest Gump," whose money man purchased stock for him in a "fruit company" (Apple) and made him rich, to "Independence Day" where a virus to implode the alien invasion was implemented with a Mac, the use of a Mac instead of a PC means something.

The chic factor that surrounds anything with the Apple logo on it puts the product and the user into the aura of coolness. While HP had to pay Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City" to switch to an HP PC, most Apple placements in movies and TV shows are not paid appearances. Apple does donate products for placement but does not pay for them to be shown, per se. That coolness factor is worth billions and was carefully cultured by the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" advertising campaign...

| Read more »
May 20
Say hi to Google TV; hey, Apple, time to get serious...

If Apple is going to move the Apple TV beyond the "hobby" stage, now would be a great time to do it. Google has entered the web video format arena with the introduction of its WebM format, which will integrate both web browsing and cable TV with one device running its Android operating system.

Said device is slated for a fall debut -- and, make no mistake, it will be a competitor to the Apple TV. In fact, if Apple doesn't start taking its own product seriously (browser support, anyone?), Google TV could be an Apple TV killer.

Thursday at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, some leading industry players teamed up to announce the development of Google TV, an open platform that adds the power of the web to the television viewing experience with the goal of ushering in a new category of devices for the living room. Intel, Sony, and Logitech, together with Best Buy, DISH Network and Adobe, have joined Google on stage to announce their support for Google TV....

| Read more »
May 20
Apple looking into contextual ads on iDevices

Future iPhones, iPod touches and iPads could serve up advertisements or discount coupons to users based on their current location or activity, per a new Apple patent (number 20100125492) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is for a system and method for providing contextual advertisements according to a dynamic pricing scheme. Systems, methods, and devices for providing electronic advertisements according to a dynamic pricing scheme are provided. For example, a method for providing an electronic advertisement according to a dynamic pricing scheme may include transmitting an advertisement to an electronic device belonging to a user and receiving marketing factors indicating a likelihood that the user will be receptive to the advertisement.

The advertisement may be configured for display on the electronic device and at least one of the marketing factors may be received from the electronic device. A price for providing the advertisement to the target...

| Read more »
 
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