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Nov 06
Apple granted patent for ionic cooling system

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8305728) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a . It involves a cooling system that blows ionized air through an electronic device, controlling its path by creating electromagnetic fields that can be dynamically adjusted to direct cooling where it's needed.

Embodiments provide various apparatus and techniques for deflecting or redirecting a flow of ionized air generated from an ionic wind generator. In general, a deflection field generator can be located proximate to the path of the flow of ionized air. The deflection field generator is configured to generate an electromagnetic field, which deflects a least a portion of the flow of ionized air to a different path and may possibly increase local heat transfer.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Many modern electronic systems generate a large amount of heat, and a variety of different cooling mechanisms may be used to cool these electronic systems. For personal...

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Nov 06
The iPad mini and autos -- a match made in heaven?

Apple is very keen on iOS these days. What if it worked with an auto maker to implement in vehicles? Especially with the iPad mini now a reality.

It's just the right size for integration into car dashes. The standard iPad is simply too big.

Think of the potential for commercial vehicles. GPS. FaceTime communication between drivers, the office, each other, and customers. Tracking vehicles with Loopt-type services. Accepting payments. Inventory. Video logging. Logging items for insurance. The possibilities are pretty incredible.

For the family vehicle, an iPad mini in every vehicle is easy to envision. Imagine a vehicle with headrests that allow you to dock your iPad into the back of it. Or the same set-up for a nice little spot on the dashboard.

Of course, to make this happen Apple would have to expand its focus. Or perhaps create a division to go after the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] and aftermarket niches.

Or, heck, let's dream big....

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Nov 05
Where will mobile apps and the cloud go next?

The evolving mobile app and cloud marketplace is expected to grow to a U.S.$340 billion opportunity in the next five years, according to a new "Market Vision" report from Yankee Group (www.yankeegroup.com).

App monetization models are tipping toward in-app purchasing. In 2012, more than 20% of U.S. smartphone app users clicked on links within apps to purchase extra content. Developers, content owners and ecosystem competitors are backing in-app commerce as the surest way to make money from apps.

Enterprises are prioritizing social-mobile-cloud (SoMoClo) initiatives. Almost 10% of companies say enterprise social networks will be a technological priority during the next year, and 47% are increasing their IT budgets around mobile user hardware. Fully 53% are increasing spend on mobile applications, while 36% consider cloud-based services a technological priority.

iOS device owners are the core...

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Nov 02
Greg's Bite: Microsoft vs Apple marketing 

By Greg Mills

As a long term observer of the two companies, the differences between the Microsoft marketing style and Apple's approach couldn't be more stark. I submit that the differences are a lot of what has seen Apple soar while Microsoft flounders. Following-the-leader assumes you will never really get ahead of the leader, at least while playing that game.

Microsoft announces plans to do things, while Apple only announces things already being shipped from China to the US. Desperate to get positive press, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's tongue often dangles like a dog with its head out the car window, constantly spills the beans on what they have planned, rather than what they have actually accomplished. Even the portion of the tech press favorable to Microsoft joke about the constant bragging about future products that consistently fail to measure up to the hype. 

Microsoft's success at marketing the PC operating system amounts to a...

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Nov 02
Ultrabook sales to rise dramatically? I don't...

The IHS research group (www.isuppli.com) recently cut its projections of ultrabook sales in fiscal 2012 from 10.3 million to 22 million. However, Research and Markets (www.researchandmarkets.com) says that, although currently viewed as prohibitively expensive, ultrabook sales will explode in the next five years.

The research group thinks ultrabooks will account for 47% of annual notebook sales by 2016, based on info from business intelligence provider GBI Research. I think they're wrong.

According to the firm's latest research, 1.3 million ultrabooks were sold last year -- as you can see, the estimated sales numbers are all over the place -- but, thanks to technological advances and a drop in component prices, this number is predicted to reach a "massive" 148.7 million by 2016, says Research and Markets.

Ultrabooks (...

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Nov 01
The Northern Spy: A conversation between Nellie and...

By Rick Sutcliffe

Even before I heard the boots clunk on the table behind me I didn't need to turn around to know who'd dropped in.

Some people carry an unmistakable air about them. Besides, regular people knock, even though the door's always open. Not Nellie Hacker. She, BTW for the new reader, helped me found this column back in the day. Well, at least she doesn't wear spurs.

"Hi, Nellie. It's been a while since you popped by to see your old professor."

"Does it really matter?"

"It matters to me. It gets lonely here sometimes."

"Yer Calculus students either know they know too much, or don't know quite enough to know what they don't know, eh? What'ya working on?"

"My latest novel, Book One of The Throne. It's called Culmanic Parts. Just finished in fact and ready for some proofreader friends to look at it."

"That alternate history Christian SF stuff you write? Does it really matter?"

"Hey, Nellie,...

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Nov 01
Apple working on head-mounted displays?

An Apple patent (number 20120274653) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple may be eyeing head-mounted displays for gaming and entertainment applications. The patent is for "peripheral treatment of head-mounted displays."

The patent is for methods and apparatus, including computer program products, implementing and using techniques for projecting a source image in a head-mounted display apparatus for a user. A first display projects an image viewable by a first eye of the user. A first peripheral light element is positioned to emit light of one or more colors in close proximity to the periphery of the first display.

A receives data representing a source image, processes the data representing the source image to generate a first image for the first display and to generate a first set of peripheral conditioning signals for the first peripheral light element, directs the first image to the first display, and directs the first set of peripheral...

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Nov 01
Apple patent is for ad hoc account creation

An Apple patent (number 20120278863) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for ad hoc account creation. It provides a mechanism that allows a user to easily configure a rules engine to apply rules to decide which requests for access to a user's computer resources are to be granted and which are denied.

Per the patent, a trusted token, such as a certificate of identity issued by a trusted third party authority that verifies identities of computer users, is included in a calling card object provided by the requesting user to the (server) computer that controls the resources desired by the requester. Additional conditions for access may be specified as desired by the user of the server computer.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Proliferation of portable computers and computer networks has drastically widened the scope of computer usage for the average computer user. Access to computer networks is now offered in such public venues as coffee...

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Nov 01
iPhone owner loyalty declines?

I find it hard to believe based on sales, but Strategy Analytics (www.StrategyAnalytics.com) says that, for the first time since the Apple iPhone was released in 2007, the number of iPhone owners who say they definitely will or probably will purchase their next phone from the same brand has declined.

A recent study by the research group found that only 75% of iPhone owners in Western Europe say they are likely to buy their next phone from Apple, down from 88% in 2011. US repeat purchase intentions have also seen a slight decline, down from 93% in 2011 to 88% in 2012. Of course, most companies would love to have those depressed repeat purchase intentions.

"There is no doubt that Apple is continuing its success in retaining existing user base while attracting new customers," says Paul Brown, director at Strategy Analytics’ User Experience Practice. "However, negative press prompted by a...

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Nov 01
Apple patents involve media creation, graphics

A handful of Apple patents have popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office involving media creation and graphics.

Patent number 20120278731 (top graphic) is for methods, systems and an apparatus for collaborative media production. In one aspect, a method includes presenting, to an originator, an originator interface including multiple media panes; establishing a connection with a collaborator; receiving from the originator a selection indicating an item of media content associated with at least one of the multiple media panes; transmitting to the collaborator the selected item of media content; and enabling inter-user communication relating to the selected item of media content in the originator interface with the collaborator.

Further, a connection can be established with a second collaborator, the item of media content can be transmitted to the second collaborator, and communication can occur in the originator interface with the second...

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Nov 01
Apple files patent for its power adapters

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120275206) for its power adapters for powering and charging peripheral devices.

The power adapter includes a housing that contains electrical components associated with the power adapter. The power adapter also includes a data port provided at a surface of the housing. The data port is configured to provide external power to the peripheral device.

The inventors are Daniele DeIuiis, Andrew Bert Hodge, Jeffrey L. Robbin, Stanley Carl Ng, Eric W. Anderson and Anthony M. Fadell.

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Nov 01
Apple works on new theft detection technology

A new Apple patent (number 20120278907) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple continues to work on new theft detection/prevention technology. The patent is for acceleration-based theft detection system for portable electronic devices.

Per the patent (top graphic), an acceleration sensor detects the acceleration of a portable electronic device, and a controller analyzes this acceleration to determine whether a theft condition is present. If so, an alarm can be initiated. The theft prevention system can include a filter for attenuating irrelevant acceleration frequencies and isolating those representative of theft, and comparison hardware/software for determining whether the detected acceleration matches a known acceleration profile characteristic of theft. Various parameters of the theft prevention system can also be set by a user through mechanisms such as a graphical user interface.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "The drive toward...

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Oct 31
Schiller's comments, new iMac show we'll...

With the new iMac rolling out with no optical drive built-in, it's obvious that Apple is never going to support Blu-ray. I can understand Apple's not building in a Blu-ray player -- after all, the company a) loves thin products, and b) wants you to buy all your music, movies and TV shows at iTunes -- but the company should at least offer Blu-ray support.

Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing -- told Harry McCracken of "TIME" that "Blu-ray has come with issues unrelated to the actual quality of the movie that make [it] a complex and not-great technology … So for a whole plethora of reasons, it makes a lot of sense to get rid of optical discs in desktops and notebooks.”

His preferred Blu-ray alternative? iTunes, of course, which lets you buy a movie and then watch it on all your Apple devices.Once upon a time, people assumed that Macs’ lack of Blu-ray was a delay, not a permanent decision to fast-forward past it. McCracken told Schiller...

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Oct 30
Greg's Bite: Regarding the shake-up at Apple

By Greg Mills

I have read the most popular book on the life of Steve Jobs. What it boils down to is that Jobs was an amazing human being, with both cunning creativity and serious personality flaws. Genius is often based on the notion of "all the eggs in one basket."  We see that strength in one area may be balanced with weakness in another area.   

While that analogy may not be strictly true, one wonders how much more Steve Jobs might have accomplished without the abrasiveness that defined his ability to work with others. It is possible to fire someone without reducing them to a smoldering mass of protoplasm.

By all accounts I have read, Scott Forstall is either inclined to emulate the bipolar genius/ogre behavior of Steve Jobs or was actually also built that way. Many considered Scott to be the heir apparent at Apple for the CEO position.  

Removing Forstall from his position of power Apple loosened up countless creative people who...

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Oct 30
Apple working on 3D animation interface

An Apple patent (number 8300055) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and shows that Apple is working on an user interface for controlling three-dimensional animation of an object.

Per the patent a user can control the animation of an object via an interface that includes a control area and a user-manipulable control element. The control area includes an ellipse. The user-manipulable control element includes a three-dimensional arrow with a straight body, a three-dimensional arrow with a curved body, or a sphere. In one embodiment, the interface includes a virtual trackball that is used to manipulate the user-manipulable control element.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "In the last few decades, computers and software have been used to animate objects. Initially, animation software was complicated and difficult to use. A user was generally required to interact with objects using a low level of abstraction. For example, a user would...

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Oct 30
Apple patent is for fast cell selection in a mobile...

An Apple patent (number 8301145) for fast cell selection in a mobile wireless device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, the mobile wireless device detects when a first wireless cell fails a set of stored suitability criteria and searches for and locates a set of candidate wireless cells to associate with. The mobile wireless device measures at least one received signal metric for each candidate wireless cell in the set of candidate wireless cells.

When a candidate cell in the set of candidate wireless cells is identically the first wireless cell, the mobile wireless device evaluates the suitability of the candidate wireless cell using the stored set of suitability criteria for the first wireless cell and the measured at least one received signal metric for the candidate wireless cell. The mobile wireless communication device associates with the candidate wireless cell when the candidate wireless cell meets the stored set of...

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Oct 30
Apple patent involves real-time streaming

An Apple patent (number 8301725) for variant streams for real-time or near real-time streaming has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

It involves streaming of content using transfer protocols such as an HTTP compliant protocol. In one embodiment, a method includes dividing a stream of data, representing the contiguous time based content of a program (e.g. a live video broadcast), into a plurality of distinct media files, and generating a playlist file having a plurality of tags and Universal Resource Indicators (URIs) indicating an order of presentation of the plurality of distinct media files. The plurality of media files and the playlist file can be made available for transmission to a client device which can retrieve the media files using the playlist file.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Streaming of content generally refers to multimedia content that is constantly transmitted from a server device and received by a client...

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Oct 30
Time to turn iWork apps into a true Office competitor

Apple and VMWare (www.vmware.com) -- which specializes in virtualization and cloud infrastructure -- are teaming to build a cloud-hosted office suite for the iPad "that will let organizations ditch Office entirely," according to "CRN" (http://macte.ch/2sasV), quoting unnamed sources "with knowledge of the project." It's about time that Apple revved its iWork apps into a true competitor for Microsoft's offerings.

I love Apple's iWork apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I use them whenever possible instead of Microsoft Office, and I know of several other folks who prefer Apple's own software titles.

Naturally, Pages, Numbers and Keynote aren't going to "kill" Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, they could offer more serious competition. The last update to the iWork apps came in 2009, so it's time for some revamping. For one thing, the apps --...

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Oct 30
Apple granted patent for iOS Maps interface

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,302,033) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a "touch screen device, method and graphical user interface for providing maps, directions and location-based information." It involves the graphical user interface used in all versions of the iOS Maps app since the software was first introduced in iPhone OS 2.0 and the iPhone 3G in 2008.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "As portable electronic devices become more compact, and the number of functions performed by a given device increase, it has become a significant challenge to design a user interface that allows users to easily interact with a multifunction device. This challenge is particular significant for handheld portable devices, which have much smaller screens than desktop or laptop computers.

"This situation is unfortunate because the user interface is the gateway through which users receive not only content but also responses to user actions or...

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Oct 29
Premium TV package subscribers loyal to their...

If Apple does indeed plan to tackle the television market the way it did the music industry, it needs to have some revolutionary products and services in the works.

Premium television package subscribers are more loyal and more likely to purchase additional products from their television provider than are subscribers with basic and expanded basic programming packages, according to the J.D. Power and Associates' "2012 U.S. Residential Television Service Provider Satisfaction Study."

The study finds that 31% of premium package subscribers say they "definitely will not" switch providers, compared with subscribers of expanded basic (22%) and basic (20%) programming packages. Additionally, premium package subscribers serve as brand advocates more often, as 26% say they "definitely will" recommend their provider, compared with subscribers of expanded basic (16%) and basic (14%) packages.

Overall customer satisfaction with residential television service directly...

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Oct 26
The Mac keeps on going strong (better than the...

Don't write off the Mac just yet (as if anyone seriously has). Apple sold 4.9 million Macs during its fiscal 2012 fourth quarter that ended Sept. 29. That's an all-time high for Apple computer sales during the September quarter.

That compares to an 8% contraction of the overall computer market during the quarter. Mac sales have exceeded overall computer industry averages for 25 consecutive quarters. Look for that to continue with ever-increasing MacBook Pro and MacBook Air sales -- and the iMac remaining Apple's (and the industry's) hottest desktop model.

Mac retail stores -- which now number 390 (140 outside the US) -- also saw record Mac sales. They sold over 1.1 million Macs.

As far as other hardware, some interesting tidbits:

° Apple TV units totaled 1.3 million during the September quarter -- that's a 100% increase year-over-year. For the past fiscal year, Apple sold five million units of its "hobby" product.

° The iPod touch accounts for...

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Oct 25
Greg's Bite: Apple's new iOS connector tech

A sleeper Apple innovation that has just been published by the US Patent & Trademark Office regards a more universal electronic device connector. See http://macte.ch/hpQ8C .

The history of Apple electronic connectors comes from the old 50 connector serial ports of 20 years ago to the tiny Lightning connectors found on the newest iPhones, iPads and iPods. The new connectors are now found on the opposite end of an USB cable that charge the device and allows the computer and iOS device to "talk."

Remember the old days when computer connectors were the half the size of a Big Mac hamburger? The personal computer industry, including Apple, sort of took its lead from the wired telecommunication tech of the day. The old cables used 25-pair twisted copper wire used in office telephone systems, along with the giant connectors that were screwed down to the computer interface block. Heaven help your computer if...

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Oct 25
Apple eyes application-specific group listing

An Apple patent (number 20120272163) for application-specific group listing has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves an user interface for sharing content from a particular application with another person while you're instant messaging with them.

A method, apparatus, and system for providing active contents between applications activated by a plurality of computer systems are provided. A list of one or more remote users is created. A determination is made whether a first application and a second application are being executed by the at least one or more remote users. The list is updated in response to determining a change in a status of the second application being executed by the one or more remote users using at least one communications feature associated with the first application.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Networks, such as the Internet, intranets, or other private or public networks, are ubiquitous. In...

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Oct 25
Apple working on ways to generate 3D objects based on...

An Apple patent (number 20120268410) for generating 3D objects based on 2D objects has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Could this involve a 3D printer -- or, at least, 3D printer output?

Per the patent, a first user input identifying a 2D object presented in a user interface can be detected, and a second user input including a 3D gesture input that includes a movement in proximity to a surface can be detected. A 3D object can be generated based on the 2D object according to the first and second user inputs, and the 3D object can be presented in the user interface.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Computer assisted design (CAD) software allows users to generate and manipulate two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) objects. A user can interact with a CAD program using various peripheral input devices, such as a keyboard, a computer mouse, a trackball, a touchpad, a touch-sensitive pad, and/or a touch-sensitive display...

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Oct 25
Apple patent is for new USB connector

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120270448) for an USB connector having vertical to horizontal conversion contacts. Per the patent, connector receptacles that provide a right-angle translation, may be readily manufactured, and may have an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

One example may provide a connector receptacle having contacts that provide a right-angle translation. Another example may provide a connector receptacle having an aesthetically pleasing appearance. By inserting an injection molded housing into an over-mold, the interior of a connector may appear to be formed from a single piece of plastic or other material.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Electronic devices have become ubiquitous the past several years. The number and types of portable computing devices, tablet, desktop, and all-in-one computers, cell, smart, and media phones, storage devices, portable media players, navigation systems, monitors and other devices has increased...

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Oct 25
The time is here for OS X to put a serious dent in...

With the Mac having around 13% of the computer market share in the U.S. and Microsoft making one boo-boo after another, the time has come for Mac OS X to put a serious dent in Windows' marketshare.

Not only has the iPad put a dent in PC (but not Mac) sales, but the iPad mini is expected to accentuate the trend. In a note to clients J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz predicts the smaller Apple tablet will steal even more sales away from the weakening personal computer market.

"In our view, the iPad Mini stands to target price-sensitive users and the e-reader crowd," Moskowitz said in an investors note today. "Given the global economic uncertainty, we think price-sensitive users could gravitate toward an iPad Mini instead of making a PC purchase."

So far the Mac hasn't been harmed -- at least not much -- by the tablet invasion. Mac sales have exceeded overall computer industry averages for 25 consecutive quarters. Look for that to continue with ever-increasing...

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Oct 25
Apple files patent for Lightning connector

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120272297) regarding the Lightning connector that debuted with the iPhone 5 and comes with all the latest iOS devices. The patent is entitled "cross-transport authentication."

Per the patent, an authentication controller coupled to a first communication port of a portable media device is allowed to provide authentication on behalf of an accessory device coupled to a second communication port of the portable media device. In one embodiment, a cross transport connector includes a connector configured to couple with an accessory and a connector configured to couple with a portable media device such that the accessory can be coupled to the second communication port of the portable media device.

The cross-transport connector also includes an authentication controller. The authentication controller may request authentication from the media device over the first communication port of the portable media device. The request may also include...

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Oct 24
Greg's Bite: Apple's new, shorter product...

As the proud owner of an iPad 3 (the "new" iPad, as Apple calls it), I was a bit frustrated to hear that the new iPad 3.5 or 4, has twice the horsepower in its chip set as my now obsolete tablet. Keeping up with the latest round of Apple products is turning out to be an expensive hobby.  

Going from the Apple dual core 5 CPU to Apple's  quad core A6X ARM microprocessor was apparently just keeping up with Apple's ongoing chip development. There is simply too much money on the table for Apple to not keep pushing the envelope. The Samsungs are still way back in the rear view mirror, but they are working hard to catch up.

Focusing on what you don't have is a trap that blinds you to what you do have.  While each new Apple product has cool new features that continue to raise the bar and flummox the competition, the usefulness of functional Mac computers and, especially, iPads, continue to fill in gaps in our technology. Perhaps one reason Apple is slowly taking the industry...

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Oct 24
A look back at yesterday's Apple media event

Apple's "We've got a little more to show you" media event has come and gone. Most of the predictions I made were correct -- though, with the preponderance of Apple rumors all over the Web, that's not the impressive achievement it might once have been. Anyway here's how I did:

My prediction: An iPad mini of 7.85 inches with a 1024 x 768 resolution but no Retina display with pricing starting at US$329.

The reality: Pretty much what I predicted, but the iPad mini is slightly bigger (7.9 inches) and more expensive.

My prediction: A 13-inch Retina display MacBook Pro with a resolution of 2560x 1600, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of flash storage with pricing starting at $1,499.

The reality: A 13-inch Retina display MacBook Pro with a resolution of 2560x 1600, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage with pricing starting at $1,699.

My prediction:: New iMacs in 21-5-inch and 27-...

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Oct 23
Apple wants to improve iOS devices' ability to...

An Apple patent (number 8296383) for electronic devices with voice command and contextual data processing capabilities has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The company is looking to beef up the ability of its iOS devices to handle voice-based commands.

Per the patent, an electronic device may capture a voice command from a user. The electronic device may store contextual information about the state of the electronic device when the voice command is received. The electronic device may transmit the voice command and the contextual information to computing equipment such as a desktop computer or a remote server.

The computing equipment may perform a speech recognition operation on the voice command and may process the contextual information. The computing equipment may respond to the voice command. The computing equipment may also transmit information to the electronic device that allows the electronic device to respond to the voice command.

...

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Oct 23
Apple works on ways to beef up face detection

A new Apple patent (number 8295610) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on ways to beef up face detection in its iOS and OS X products.

The patent is for feature scaling for face detection. Per the patent, a feature used in face detection can be applied to an image portion and can be scaled to fit differently sized image areas. If a feature is positioned with respect to an image area such that a vertex of the feature is aligned with a non-integer pixel location, at least one dimension of the filter can be rounded. A dimension to be rounded further can correspond to a directional component of the feature.

For instance, contrast regions within the feature can be arranged horizontally, such that the vertical dimension represents a directional component. A rounding rule associated with the feature can be used in rounding a dimension corresponding to a directional component, such that a size ratio between the contrast regions is...

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Oct 23
Apple patent is for media manager with integrated...

An Apple patent (number 8296656) for a media manager with integrated browssers has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Methods and systems that improve the way media is played, sorted, modified, stored and cataloged are disclosed.

One aspect relates to a browse window that allows a user to navigate through and select images that are related to media items. Another aspect relates to a graphical user interface of a media management program that utilizes multiple browse windows. Another aspect relates to simultaneously displayed media browse windows whose operations are integrated together so that the content shown therein is automatically synched when selections are made. Another aspect relates to resetting browsed content to the currently playing media.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Personal computers typically include media management programs for managing various media such as music and videos. The media management programs typically...

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Oct 23
What I'm expecting at today's Apple event

Apple will hold its "We've got a little more to show you" media event today at 10 am (Pacific). Rumors have been swirling about what Apple will announce. Here's what my crystal ball foresees:

° An iPad mini (d-uh!). The only shock will be if Apple doesn't announce a smaller tablet between 7-8 inches (7.85 inches is the most likely size). I foresee a device with 1024 x 768 resolution (the same as the iPad 2) with a 4-to-3 aspect ratio but no no Retina display. I think the iPad mini will come in 8GB and 16GB versions for US$250 and $299, respectively. (Though I'm note sure how practical an 8GB device is these days, cloud storage or not.)

° A 13-inch Retina display MacBook Pro. The 15-inch model has been a big hit despite its considerable price tag, so a smaller, less expensive (though still pricey) version is a given. It will be a smaller version of its big brother with a resolution of 2560x 1600. I foresee pricing starting at US$1,499...

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Oct 23
Apple granted patent for iPad 2 design

Apple has been granted a patent (number D699468) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for the design of the iPad 2.

The inventors are Jody Akana, Bartley K. Andre, Jeremy Bataillou, Daniel J. Costerr, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Julian Hoenigh, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Also appearing today at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office are:

° Patent number 8296383 for electronic devices with voice command and contextual data processing capabilities;

° Patent number 8296833 for system connections and user interfaces;

° Patent number 8296348 for encoding and decoding data arrays;

° Patent number 8295682 for techniques and interface controls that allow users of signal editing applications to easily select...

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Oct 22
Should Apple have stuck with Google Maps?

By Rob James

The recent Google Maps controversy has been a rare misstep for Apple. The company’s proprietary maps app was intended to replace Google Maps as the default map service for iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, but came with multiple bugs, ranging from missing locations to wrong directions.

Problems with the app have led to suggestions that Apple should have stuck with Google Maps, which remains the leading option for users in terms of updates and detail for different platforms. However, while looking at Apple Maps’ problems, and the backpedalling that has taken place in the past few weeks, it is possible to suggest a future for a Google Maps-less Apple.

Apple’s motivation for switching to their own maps app was, perhaps understandably, affected by their handing over of a lucrative license to Google for every iOS device that used their rivals’ app. However, and despite being pitched as an advanced maps app, Apple Maps has been roundly criticized...

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Oct 22
Survey: US small business owners not worried about...

U.S. small business owners or operators have a false sense of cybersecurity as more than three-fourths (77% say their company is safe from cyber threats such as hackers, viruses, malware or a cybersecurity breach, yet 83% have no formal cybersecurity plan.

These findings are from a new survey of 1,015 U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Symantec.  (The full survey is available at: http://www.staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/resources/ .)

This annual survey is being released in conjunction with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a coordinated national effort focused on improving online safety and security for all Americans. The survey findings reveal some disparities such as the need for establishing Internet security policies and practices, handling and...

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Oct 19
Greg's Bite: Lickable below the Surface

By Greg Mills

The Microsoft drums are pounding again for the Surface iPad wannabe. Feeling a bit stupid this morning, I went to the Microsoft/store online and poked around.  What I found was so Microsoft. It seems nothing changes at Redmond.

First of all, many of the article sI have read touting the Surface tablet are written by people living under a rock, who have never seen or experienced a real iPad. One awestruck writer was amazed at a tablet cover that attached to the Surface tablet with tiny but strong magnets. Now there is an original idea. Who says Microsoft doesn't innovate?  

Secondly, I found it interesting that Microsoft priced the Surface tablet at price points identical to similarly configured iPads. This is to insinuate some degree of equality with Apple's products. I think they are touting more RAM without admitting the reason they have to pump the memory.  The new Windows Mobile OS and Office apps are such memory hogs they have...

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Oct 19
Tablets have reinvented American's relationship...

I'm not yet ready to get all my books at Apple's iBookstore or Amazon (too hard to share 'em), but I've pretty much gone all digital when it comes to newspapers, preferring to read 'em on my iPad. Evidently, I'm not alone.

ComScore (www.comscore.com), a company that "measures the digital world," recently released a study of tablet newspaper and magazine readership based on data from its comScore TabLens service. The study found that nearly two in five U.S. tablet owners read newspapers and/or magazines on their device in August, with one in 10 reading publications almost daily.

"Tablets are fundamentally redefining how people consume news and information, with the format more conducive to reading longer form content than PCs or smartphones," says Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of Mobile. "In the case of online newspapers, tablets are now driving 7 percent of total page views, an impressive...

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Oct 18
Apple patent is for dock with movable connector for...

An Apple patent (number 20120264329) for a dock with a movable connector for a display device has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

For example, when a portable electronic device, coupled with the connector, is pushed forward, the connector is designed to move (e.g. rotate), thereby reducing an impact of strain resulting from such a push. The rotatable connector may be biased to keep the portable electronic device in an upright position such that the electronic device is supported by a rear reference surface of the docking station, thereby preventing undue strain on the rotatable connector in the upright position and inhibiting movement forward.

The rotatable connector may be partly below an outer shell of the docking station, and pivot at the outer shell, thereby reducing possible damage to parts below the outer shell. The rotatable connector may also retract when rotated, thereby removing a force that can break the connector at a position of...

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Oct 18
Apple eyeing ways to beef up Siri's '...

A new Apple patent (number 20120265528) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on ways to beef up Sir. The patent is for using context information to facilitate processing of commands in a virtual assistant.

Per the patent, a virtual assistant uses context information to supplement natural language or gestural input from a user. Context helps to clarify the user's intent and to reduce the number of candidate interpretations of the user's input, and reduces the need for the user to provide excessive clarification input.

Context can include any available information that is usable by the assistant to supplement explicit user input to constrain an information-processing problem and/or to personalize results. Context can be used to constrain solutions during various phases of processing, including, for example, speech recognition, natural language processing, task flow processing, and dialog generation.

Here's Apple's background on...

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Oct 18
A couple of iOS Maps questions ...

Why doesn't Apple have a web-based Map service like Google Maps? Makes you wonder.

You also have to wonder why Apple isn't using its own maps for everything internal (see the graphic). I'm just sayin'.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Oct 18
Apple looking to spice up text-to-speech voices

A new Apple patent (number20120265533) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for "voice assignment for text-to-speech output" shows that Apple is looking to add more variety and flavor to text-to-speech voices.

Per the patent, text can be obtained at a device from various forms of communication such as e-mails or text messages. Metadata can be obtained directly from the communication or from a secondary source identified by the directly obtained metadata.

The metadata can be used to create a speaker profile. The speaker profile can be used to select voice data. The selected voice data can be used by a text-to-speech (TTS) engine to produce speech output having voice characteristics that best match the speaker profile.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many modern computing devices (e.g., personal computers, smart phones, electronic tablets, television systems) run applications that convert text to speech. This conversion allows a...

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Oct 17
How have iOS devices impacted the portable gaming...

The influx of innovative and advanced features on smartphones and tablets, such as high resolution graphics capabilities, has created a common perception that portable gaming consoles will vanish in the near future.

However, ARCchart (www.arcchart.com) sees a healthy PGC market continuing to exist and expects that the overall market -- including both game titles and console sales -- will be worth US$24 billion by 2016. That's not to say that the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and similar devices aren't affecting the PGC market.

In July Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told the UK newspaper , "The Independent," that competition from the iPad and iPhone hasn't had a major effect on the success of Nintendo's portable devices.

"I don't think this is a central factor, I think it's much more about our lack of ability to release software in a timely matter that will motivate people to go out and buy our gaming...

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Oct 16
Apple patents involve wireless headsets, audio...

Several Apple patents involving audio have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, including one (patent number 8290545) for systems and methods for accelerometer usage in a wireless headset.

Per the patent, an accelerometer can be used to determine the location of a wireless headset. The determined location can be used to control and improve a noise cancellation system. In some embodiments, the determined location can be used in controlling the functions of buttons of the wireless headset. In some embodiments, the accelerometer can further be used to determine when the system is in use. If the system has not been in use for a predetermined amount of time, at least a portion of the wireless headset can be turned off to save power. Jeffrey J. Terlizzi is the inventor.

Patent number 8290537 is for sideteone adjustment based on headset or earphone type. Per the patent portable telephony device has a mobile phone housing. Integrated in the housing are memory...

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Oct 16
Apple working on ways to ID unauthorized device users

An Apple patent (number 8289130) for systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device show has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. In particular, this relates to systems and methods for detecting an unauthorized user, gathering information related to the electronic device, the unauthorized user, or both, and transmitting an alert notification to a responsible party for the electronic device.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "People often possess and carry around a variety of electronic devices, such as, for example, cellular phones, PDA's, personal e-mail or messaging devices (e.g., a Blackberry), and handheld media players (e.g., an iPod). Many of these electronic devices are used frequently by their owners, and the electronic devices may contain personal or sensitive information stored within them.

"For example, the electronic devices may contain information such as credit card numbers, passwords...

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Oct 16
Apple granted patent for 3D remote control

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8291346) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a 3D remote control system employing absolute and relative position detection.

The present invention can include three-dimensional remote control systems that can detect an absolute location to which a remote control is pointing in first and second orthogonal axes and an absolute position of the remote control in a third orthogonal axis. Remote control systems of the present invention can employ absolute position detection with relative position detection.

Absolute position detection can indicate an initial absolute position of the remote control and relative position detection can indicate changes in the position of the remote control. By combining absolute and relative position detection, remote control systems of the present invention can track remote controls more precisely than systems that only employ absolute position detection. The present invention also can...

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Oct 16
iMac rip-offs have some intriguing features

Vizio and HP announced what can only be described as iMac rip-offs -- Windows desktops that shamelessly borrow design elements from Apple's all-in-one. Well, if you're gonna rip off someone, might as well rip off the best -- and the iMac is the industry's best-selling all-in-one desktop.

Still, I have to admit that Vizio and HP's desktops have some intriguing features, especially when it comes to using the computers as entertainment systems. Since they've borrowed so freely from Apple for their desktop's design, I wish Apple would borrow at least one feature from Vizio's desktop and -- maybe -- another from HP's computer.

For example, the Vizio device (pictured) has a 2.1 surround sound system and comes with a subwoofer that doubles as a power supply to eliminate extra cords. I haven't had a chance to get up close and personal with the All-in-One Touch (and doubt I ever will), but I hear good things about its audio quality.

HP's new Spectre One desktop has a...

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Oct 15
Flexible displays? They're coming, just don'...

Sooner or later (well, okay, later) we'll see Macs with flexible displays. However, that groundbreaking achievement will come first with smaller devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

A flexible display is a thin, rollable display used in a variety of applications such as e-paper, digital signage, smartphones, TVs, and other consumer products. Flexible displays are on LCD, e-paper, LED or OLED. Out of these display technologies, flexible OLED display is the advanced type of display. These displays are looked upon as the future mainstream display for a number of consumer products.

There have been significant developments going on in the field of flexible electronics and printed displays. For the past few years, many industry participants and consumers have dreamed (and worked on) display technology that would break through the limitations of glass-based displays like weight, size, and ruggedness.

The advent of flexible display would overcome these limitations....

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Oct 12
Still more (unwarranted) death knells for the personal...

There were more death knells for the personal computer this week. They were unwarranted -- the personal computer will evolve, but isn't going away -- but make interesting reading.

Jim Van Meerlen, writing for "The Street" (http://macte.ch/ZVHXN) -- points out that almost every day the headlines read "The PC is Dead." He also wants to add "so is Dell."

"In the past nine months, Dell has had one bad earnings report after another and investors are leaving in droves," he writes. "... 'The Street' gives the stock a weak C rating. The company is trying to turn its battleship and change the product mix to be less PCs and more networking and server products but competition is high. The only bright spot is lower earnings will drop the company's tax rate."

Okay, so Dell may be dying (I imagine the company will survive, though in a much weaker form). Not personal computers. But back to that in a moment....

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Oct 11
What if Apple spent even more on R&D?

When we think of Apple, we think of a company that spends a big hunk of its profits on research and development as it develops the Next Big Thing. Well, perhaps not so much.

In a recent "MacLife" column, Rik Myslewski pointed out that Apple has about USS$117 billion in the bank, and its R&D budget for the previous fiscal quarter was 0.75% of that amount. In contrast, IBM had $11.2 billion in cash and spent 14.6% of that on research and development.

And a recent "CNET" column -- see http://crave.cnet.co.uk/mobiles/apple-spends-more-on-patents-than-randd-... -- points out that Apple now spends more money on patenting stuff "than it does on coming up with new ideas."

Admittedly, the whole patent situation is out of control and needs...

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