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Nov 29
Apple works on ID'ing, locating users on a mobile...

An Apple patent (number 20120302256 at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on ways to identify and locate users on a mobile network.

A system and method of locating "friends" having mobile devices connected to a network and associated with a user account is disclosed. The method includes sending a request to a mobile device, the mobile device determining its present geographic location and responding to the requestor with this information. This information may be in the form of a coordinate location such as a GPS location or it may be in the form of a name that the mobile device owner assigned to a particular area (e.g., "home"). Having this location information, a user is able to view the location of the friend that is associated with the mobile device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Mobile devices have been adapted to a wide variety of applications, including computing, communication, and entertainment. Through...

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Nov 29
Apple patent is for carbon composite mold design

An Apple patent (number 20120302670) for a carbon composite mold design has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent a mold assembly or system includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. Mold inserts combine to form mold cavities that receive carbon fiber and resin components to form a carbon composite based part. A permanent release coating along a mold component surface that contacts the carbon fiber and resin components facilitates the release of the finished part from the mold component.

Guide pins and guide pin receiving holes facilitate accurate alignment of mold components. Ejector pins within respective ejector pin shafts help eject a finished part from a respective mold component. An ejector pin shaft cover transfers force from an ejector pin to eject a finished part and also prevents substantial passage of resin into the ejector pin shaft. A fluid actuated...

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Nov 29
Greg's Bite: Facebook a democracy? LOL

By Greg Mills

I sort of equate the notion of Facebook as a democracy in the same way I view Egypt's current "democratic" political struggle. Facebook's stab at user democracy flies in the face of a history of self-serving policies thrust upon its"community."  

The FTC has had to slap Facebook down over unauthorized changes to user agreement terms that were in the way of doing exactly what the supreme emperor, Mark Zuckerberg, wanted to do. It is all about making money, rather than user comfort, that consistently rules the day.   

Where was Facebook democracy when facial recognition was rolled out without Facebook even bothering to notify users? Zuckerberg has bowed in form alone to the notion of democracy, but I wager his heart isn't in it. Consent decrees tend to bend companies to at least appear to comply. 

As we have seen in totalitarian countries around the world, the notion of democracy sounds great in theory, but it sure gets in...

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Nov 29
The iPad helps Cyber Monday online shopping hit all-...

Holiday shoppers turned Cyber Monday into the biggest spending day ever with online sales growing 30.3% over the same period last year, according to cloud-based analytics findings by IBM. And you can thank, in part, the iPad.

With an increase in online sales across multiple channels, the digital consumer took center stage. Retailers, marketing departments and chief marketing officers (CMO) delivered a consistent customer experience across multiple channels from mobile devices, to online and to the show floor leading to the record shopping day.

On Cyber Monday more than 18% of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, an increase of more than 70% over 2011. Mobile sales reached close to 13%, an increase of more than 96 percent over 2011.

According to IBM, the iPad continued to generate more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, driving more than 7% of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 6.9% and Android at 4.5%. The iPad also...

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Nov 29
Apple looking into wireless charging technology

A new patent (2012303980) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Appel is looking into "realistic and practical" wireless charging. The patent is for "wireless power utilization in a local computing environment."

Various embodiments of a wirelessly powered local computing environment are described. The wireless powered local computing environment includes at least a near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power supply arranged to wirelessly provide power to any of a number of suitably configured devices.

In the described embodiments, the devices arranged to receive power wirelessly from the NFMR power supply must be located in a region known as the near field that extends no further than a distance D of a few times a characteristic size of the NFMR power supply transmission device. Typically, the distance D can be on the order of one meter or so.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Historically, transferring power wirelessly has been...

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Nov 28
Greg's Bite: Apple's nuclear winter

By Greg Mills

I carefully read the almost-daily Foss Patents emails when they come. Florian Mueller, the well known German patent attorney has excellent insight and carefully follows the Apple nuclear war against the Android gang. Check out his web site at fosspatents.com .  

Apple and HTC recently settled their differences out of court with a 10-year cross-licensing deal. Courts generally like out-of-court settlements as they are taken out of the loop and are not responsible for  appeals and the like. Far better for the parties to come to a conclusion they both are willing to settle for, than have a judgment against them they hate.  

Ironically, Apple settling with HTC for a financial deal might come back to bite Apple in the hind quarters. Samsung convinced a Federal judge that since Apple settled with HTC and made a patent licensing deal for each HTC phone sold, the sale of Samsung Android phones couldn't be worthy of an injunction...

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Nov 28
Global online video market will be worth US$37 billion...

According to the latest forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media (www.informatandm.com), the global online-video market will be worth US$37 billion in 2017, driven by the popularity of services like Netflix and YouTube.  

This figure is made up of the three key video-revenue streams of advertising, subscriptions and transactions. Despite the market maturing, advertising will continue to be a larger revenue generator than subscriptions in 2017, as it is in 2012.
 
Online video remains a small, but growing, proportion of total TV and video revenues. Informa estimates that it will account for 8% of such revenues by 2017. By the end of the decade, if current growth rates continue, it will account for over 10% of revenues. However, its value in the market today is concentrated among only a few players.
 
"It’s clear that online video, today, is worth much more than the digital cents...

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Nov 27
Apple eyeing enhanced Mac keyboard illumination

Apple has plans for enhanced keyboard illumination in its Mac line -- or so a new patent (number 831928) indicates. Per the patent, a keyboard may be generally illuminated while also providing for key-specific illumination of one or more particular keys.

The keyboard may be generally illuminated using any configuration of any number of suitable illumination sources. The keyboard may selectively illuminate any key or keys together with or apart from the general illumination of other keys. The keyboard may also variably illuminate certain keys to aid the user in navigating the keyboard.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Currently, there are a wide variety of known electronic devices that include a keyboard as a user interface component (e.g., cellular telephones and personal computers). The keyboard of many of these devices can be illuminated such that a user may be able to see and use the keyboard when provided with little or no ambient light. For example,...

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Nov 27
Apple working on better portable device-sports...

A new Apple patent (number 8317658) shows that the company is working on even better ways of interfacing portable media devices and sports equipment. The patent involves circuits, methods, and apparatus that allow sports or other equipment, such as gym or other cardio equipment, to write data to a media player.

Examples further provide the uploading of this data to a computer and third-party website. To monitor progress, the third-party website can be used to track workout data over time. The third party-website can also collect data from other users, which is particularly useful for providing a competitive environment. This data can then be graphically displayed in various ways to provide encouragement.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Portable media players have become very popular the past few years and their market penetration shows no signs of abating. People use them when walking, driving, and commuting by bus or train. They are also particularly...

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Nov 27
Apple wins patents for desktop widgets, more

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,321,801) for desktop widgets for presentation in a layer has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to graphical user interfaces, and more particularly to a user-activatable, configurable, unified layer containing items of interest to a user.

Per the patent, an user-activatable dashboard (also referred to as a unified interest layer) contains any number of user interface elements -- or "widgets" -- for quick access by a user. In response to a command from a user, the dashboard is invoked and the widgets are shown on the screen. The user can activate the dashboard at any time, causing the dashboard to temporarily replace the existing user interface display on the user's screen.

Once the dashboard has been activated, the user can interact with any or all of the widgets, and can configure the dashboard by adding, deleting, moving, or configuring individual widgets as desired. When...

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Nov 27
Apple, show us love, we'll love you in return

Supposedly, one of the reasons John Browett was dismissed as Apple's head of retail operations was because he spearheaded a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed.

True or not, the last thing Apple needs to do is make its customers feel under-appreciated. The more love you show, us, Apple, the more love we show you.

In fact, according to a survey by the polling firm IBOPE/Zogby International for rbb Public Relations, companies have to show consumers the love in order to attract -- and keep them -- in today’s dynamic marketplace. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, 83% are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. One fifth of respondents said they would pay 50% or more if they felt the company put the customer first.

The survey found that to stay competitive, companies are adopting marketing strategies that align...

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Nov 26
IEEE says 'supercomputers' may save us all

Members of the IEEE Computer Society (http://www.ieee.org.) -- the world's largest technical professional organization "dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity" -- think that "supercomputing" is a key technology driving future innovations including the development of perfect weather forecasting, limitless clean energy and smartphones that are 20 times faster than those used today. 

These potential advancements, and others, including advancements in medicine and deep space exploration, are part of IEEE's ideas on what "Civilization 2040" will look like. As supercomputing reaches new levels of advancement, it will play an increasingly critical role in driving innovation and impacting the well-being of society over the next 20 years, according to IEEE.

For example, supercomputing is at the heart of intensive research that will allow for near perfect weather forecasts. With such a...

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Nov 23
Apple working on ways to control reflections in LDC...

An Apple patent (number 201202987378 for controlling reflection reflection LCD devices has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and methods are provided for controlling the light reflected from a display panel.

In one embodiment, a prism mirror and a diffuse reflector are positioned between the bottom polarizer and the liquid crystal layer of a pixel to control the polarization of reflected light transmitted through the display panel. The diffuse reflector diffuses light towards the prism mirror, and the prism mirror affects the polarization of the light. When the pixel is on, the liquid crystals of the liquid crystal layer may shift the polarization of the reflected light such that it can be transmitted through the top polarizer.

When the pixel is off, the liquid crystals may not substantially shift the polarization of the reflected light, and the reflected light may be polarized to be absorbed by the top polarizer. Accordingly, reflected...

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Nov 23
Apple files 'custom stores' patent

An Apple patent (number 20120296744) for "custom stores" has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent a custom store web page uses an external administrator to provide configuration data for a custom store web page. The configuration data can include virtual bundles of products for sale.

Here's The present invention relates to electronic commerce sites, especially electronic commerce sites designed for the use of members of a group.

"Recently, with the expansion of the Internet, electronic commerce sites have become a powerful new way to buy and sell products. Typically, a consumer goes to a vender's web site, selects a desired product, and purchases it using a credit card. The credit card information is usually encrypted in its transfer across the Internet to provide security. Upon verifying the credit-card information, the product(s) selected by the consumer are mailed from the vendor's warehouse to the consumer.

"Typically,...

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Nov 23
Apple patent is for dynamic, location-based signage

An Apple patent (number 2012029677) for location-based signage has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, dynamic signage systems are provided for a sales environment. A dynamic signage device (e.g., a tablet computer) is associated with a product, e.g., based on a location of the device and/or the product, and can present information about the product to a customer in an interactive manner. The device can automatically check for updated product information and modify its display based on the updated product information.

Management of multiple dynamic signage devices can be coordinated within and across stores, and an interactive floor-map creation system incorporating dynamic signage devices can facilitate changing the associations between products and dynamic signage devices.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Retail customers sometimes find it hard to obtain the information they want about products they are...

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Nov 21
Reasons to be thankful

I've got many reasons to be thankful -- to many to list here.

So let me just say I'm thankful for the readers and advertisers of MacTech and MacNews. Your support of our two sites is much appreciated.

I'm also thankful that I'll be joining family for a Thanksgiving feast on Thursday. Which means, of course, that MacTech.com and MacNews.com will be closed for the holiday.

So have a great Thanksgiving. And we'll see you back here on Friday.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Nov 20
Greg's Bite: Windows 8 -- ugly under the Surface?

By Greg Mills

While I try wax eloquent in my occasional digs at Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and all things Windows, it takes an actual PC fan boy to roast 'em right. Jakob Nielsen, described as a "user interface guru," slammed Windows 8 so hard the glass broke.I try to inject a little humor in my criticism, but Nielsen chops em up like stew meat on a butcher block. Nothing funny about it.

Calling Microsoft's business survival critical incremental release of Windows 8 a "monster and a tortured soul" goes beyond my normal bite out of Ballmer's hide.  Since I wouldn't even touch a PC without wearing rubber gloves, my information is pretty much second hand. You can see the Nielsen article at www.useit.com/alertbox/windows-8.html .

When you read the entire article, what jumps out is that Microsoft's attempt to merge what in the Mac world would be...

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Nov 20
Apple patent is for using a portable media player as a...

An Apple patent (number 8315746) for using a portable media player as a remote control has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a portable multimedia player is used to wirelessly access and control a media server that is streaming digital media by way of a wireless interface to a media unit such as a stereo/speakers in the case of streaming digital audio. In one embodiment, the portable multimedia player is wirelessly synchronized to a selected one(s) of a number of digital media files stored on the media server in such a way that digital media file metadata (song title, author, etc.) associated with the selected digital media file(s) only is transferred from the media server to be stored in the portable media player.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Due to the increasing capacity and capability of personal computers, it has become popular to use a personal computer as a repository for multimedia content, such as songs,...

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Nov 20
Apple picked the right time to support USB 3.0

Guess Apple released Macs with USB 3.0 support just in time. The global market for USB 3.0 devices will grow more than 500% through 2016, according to the Global Information Inc. (www.giiresearch.com) research group.

Since its introduction in 1996, USB has displaced a host of wired connectivity standards including FireWire, PS/2 and serial ports that were once used to connect everything from mice to printers to external hard drives. Although initial adoption of USB 3.0 was fairly weak (which may be one reason Apple delayed support), device shipments and the installed base will grow significantly by 2016, according to GIS.

Currently, USB 1.1 devices are still shipping low-end applications such as mice. Shipments of USB 2.0 devices will peak in 2012. As some 2.0 devices continue to grow, others, including notebooks will fall to virtually zero by the end of the forecast period.

However, I still...

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Nov 20
Apple granted patent for the iPad Smart Cover

Apple has been granted a patent (number D671,114) for a portable display device with cover -- the iPad and its Smart Cover, in other words.

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

Apple has also been granted the following patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office are:

° Patent number 8316321 for an user interface that includes elements whose appearance dynamically changes in dependence upon functions associated with the elements;

° Patent number 83163147 for techniques for synchronizing multiple time-based data streams with independent clocks wherein relationships between clock rates of timing devices associated with the time-based data...

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Nov 19
Of course Apple will continue to increase display...

With the launch of the iPhone and iPad, as well as the new MacBook, Apple has continued on its path of increasing its display resolution. And it will continue doing so.

Apple created the term "Retina display" not just as a marketing phrase, but to educate end users about high resolution. The company has been leading the trend in displays with high pixels per inch (ppi, the measurement of resolution), especially with the launch of iPhone 4, the first smart phone with a resolution of more than 300 ppi, and the new iPad, the first tablet PC with over 200 ppi.

However, other smart device makers, including Samsung, HTC, Google, Amazon, Sony, Lenovo, and ASUS are closely following Apple, and in some cases have introduced products with higher resolutions, such as Google’s Nexus 10 tablet PC, with a 10.1-inch 2560×1600 display at 298 ppi, and coming smart phones using 5-inch 1920×1080 displays at 490 ppi.

Some folks thought that Apple would introduce the Retina display...

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Nov 16
The future looks bright for iOS Passbook

The Passbook feature introduced in iOS6 hasn't been widely acclaimed (though it's not been lambasted the way the Maps app has). However, the future holds potential for the feature/service.

In case you're not familiar with it, here's how Apple describes it: "Passbook keeps things like airline boarding passes, movie tickets, and gift cards all in one place. Everything’s there -- ready for scanning -- right from your iPhone. You’ll find Passbook-enabled apps on the App Store. And you can get gift cards and more from participating merchants.

"Passbook is time and location based. So your passes and tickets automatically appear on your Lock screen when and where you need them. Arrive at the airport and your boarding pass pops up. If you’re waiting to board the flight and your gate changes, Passbook tells you. And if you decide to grab a coffee on the way to your new gate, your gift card appears when you walk into the cafe."

Passbook has been criticized for the small...

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Nov 15
Consumers favor Apple products for the 2012 holiday...

More great news -- moneywise, at least -- for Apple: price comparison shopping site, PriceGrabber (www.pricegrabber.com) has leased the results of its third winter holiday shopping survey, revealing consumers' expected shopping habits within the tech category this holiday season.

When consumers were asked whether they would rather receive a tablet computer or a laptop as a holiday gift this year, 59%indicated that they would rather receive a tablet. Seventy-one percent of shoppers also indicated that they believe tablet computers will replace e-readers as gifts this year. Conducted from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, the survey includes responses from 1,475 U.S. online shopping consumers.

iPad and iPad mini top-ranked overall tablets


The power of the Apple brand is likely to remain in full force again this holiday season, especially with the launch of the iPad 4 and iPad mini. When...

| Read more »
Nov 15
An iPad that sizes visuals depending on how close your...

Would you like your iPhone or iPad to expand or shrink on-screen images depending on how close it is to you? That could eventually be possible. A new Apple patent (number 20120287163) is for mechanism for automatically scaling the size of a set of visual content based upon how close a user's face is to a display.

In one implementation, the mechanism initially causes a set of visual content on a display to be sized according to a first scaling factor when the user's face is at a first distance from the display. The mechanism then determines that the user's face has moved relative to the display such that the user's face is no longer at the first distance from the display. In response, the mechanism causes the set of visual content on the display to be sized according to a second and different scaling factor. By doing so, the mechanism effectively causes the display size of the visual content to automatically change as the distance between the user's face and the display...

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Nov 15
Apple eyes ways to improve battery life of iOS devices

A new patent (number 20120290792) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on further ways to extend battery life in iPhones, iPods and iPads . The patent is for a media device with intelligent cache utilization.

A portable media device and a method for operating a portable media device are disclosed. According to one aspect, a battery-powered portable media device can manage use of a mass storage device to efficiently utilize battery power.

By providing a cache memory and loading the cache memory so as to provide skip support, battery power for the portable media device can be conserved (i.e., efficiently consumed). According to another aspect, a portable media device can operate efficiently in a seek mode. The seek mode is an operational mode of the portable media device in which the portable media device automatically scans through media items to assist a user in selecting a desired one of the media items.

Here's Apple's...

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