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Oct 11
Apple working to 'conceal' components of...

An Apple patent (number 20120258773) for providing access to an internal component has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems, methods, and devices are disclosed for concealing components of an electronic device.

In one embodiment, an electronic device may include a component that is disposed behind a window configured to selectively become transparent or opaque, such as a polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PLDC) window. The component includes an image capture device, a strobe flash, a biometric sensor, a light sensor, a proximity sensor, or a solar panel, or a combination thereof.

Additionally, the electronic device includes data processing circuitry configured to determine when an event requesting that the component be exposed occurs. Furthermore, the electronic device includes a window controller that may control the window to become transparent, to expose the component upon the occurrence of the event requesting that the component be exposed...

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Oct 11
Apple eyeing handwriting recognition technologies

An Apple patent (number 20120256944) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office showing that the company is working on handwriting recognition technologies.

The patent, for handwriting capture techniques, involves a set of rules used by a processor of a device to render a digital image of handwriting (e.g., handwritten signature) by connecting data points captured on a touch sensitive surface of the device with line segments or curves. A set of rules determines whether two given data points will be connected by a line segment or a curve. If a curve is used, the set of rules determine characteristics of the curve through the derivation of control points.

In some implementations, a smoothness adjustment factor can be applied to magnitudes of curve control points to reduce excessive smoothing for large distances between data points and maintain acceptable smoothing for short distances between data points. The magnitude can then be adjusted by multiplying by...

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Oct 10
'Ultra-slims' to account for quarter of...

"Ultrabooks" haven't taken the computer world by storm as some pundits predicted. However. ultra-slim computer shipments will grow from 3.4 million in 2011 to 65.0 million by 2015 -- a quarter of mobile shipments -- according to new data from NPD DisplaySearch (www.displaysearch.com).

The research group says the mobile computer landscape is transforming from a performance-driven market to a convenience-driven market, where easy access to content and usage are the new preferred characteristics. This fundamental change in preference is most noticeable in the slowing demand for notebooks and the increasing demand for tablets.

Tablet shipments are expected to exceed notebook shipments by 2016. Notebook makers are responding by adopting the features of tablets that consumers have appreciated the most. Apple is going its own way with both the iPad and the MacBook Air (its "ultra-slim" portable). That...

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Oct 09
Apple working on multicolor keyboard backlight

Apple has filed a patent (number 8282261) for a white point adjustment for a multicolor keyboard backlight. The patent provides systems, devices and methods for operating a light source to match a white point of ambient light.

In one embodiment, a light control system is provided. The light control system includes a light source and a light sensor. The light sensor is configured to operate in conjunction with the light source to provide a visual effect. A controller is electrically coupled to the light source and the light sensor and configured to determine the intensity and color of light to which the light sensor is exposed and dynamically adjust the output of the light source to match the determined intensity and color of light to which the light sensor is exposed.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Electronic devices, including desktop computers, notebook computers, personal digital assistants, cell phones and mobile media devices, among others, have...

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Oct 09
Apple wants to let you unlock your iOS device with a...

A new Apple patent (number 8286103) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is looking at new ways for your to unlock your iOS device -- and, conceivably, a Mac as well. The patent is for unlocking a device by performing a gesture on an unlock image.

Per the patent, the device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device.

The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Touch-sensitive displays (also known as 'touch screens' or 'touchscreens')...

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Oct 09
Mac growth unlikely to stall anytime soon

iOS devices get all the Apple love (and media attention) these days, but there's plenty of room for Mac growth. And it will happen.

In 2011, the UK computer hardware market was estimated to have increased by 1.5% on the previous year, according to new data by Research and Markets (www.researchandmarkets.com). This growth represents the second consecutive year of growth for the computer hardware market, following declining trading conditions in the sector during 2009, notes the research group.

Currently, the largest sector in the computer hardware market is personal computers, with relatively strong growth exhibited in recent years. Similar growth rates have also been experienced in the servers sector of the market, although the segment is relatively small in comparison to the personal computer sector.

However, the peripherals and add-ons sector, which has...

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Oct 09
Apple granted Time Machine patent

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8286127) by the U.S Patent & Trademark Office for a mirrored file system. It involves the Time Machine back-up feature in Mac OS X.

Per the patent, mounting and populating a mirrored version of at least a portion of a file system of a recruiter machine at a volunteer machine performing one or more data processing tasks for the recruiter machine is disclosed. In some embodiments, an input stored in such a dedicated file system for the recruiter machine at the volunteer machine may be locally retrieved and reused, if still consistent with a corresponding input stored in a file system at the recruiter machine, when performing a data processing task for the recruiter machine at the volunteer machine.

In some embodiments, if an input required by the volunteer machine to perform a data processing task for the recruiter machine is not cached in such a dedicated file system for the recruiter machine at the volunteer machine in a...

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Oct 08
Greg's Bite: Desktop 3D printing

By Greg Mills

As I have previously speculated in this column, I consider the desktop 3D plastic part printing revolution fertile ground for being one of Apple's next big things. I think Apple is uniquely situated to do for 3D printing what they did for desktop printing on paper 20 years ago.

3D printing is using a computer to create physical objects from software files utilizing a special 3D "printer." Star Trek's "replicators" were sophisticated voice-controlled, computer operated 3D printing devices, able to reproduce just about anything.  Replicator devices were as common aboard the starship Enterprise as microwave ovens are to us. Imagine the forerunner of such a futuristic device sitting on your desk and hooked up to your Mac or iPad.

References to cool new things in the R&D labs at Apple seldom give us enough information to do anything more than make our imaginations soar.  In the absence of actual tips on what is going on behind the...

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Oct 08
Americans: online stores more appealing for holiday...

SOASTA, which specializes in cloud and mobile testing, says, according to its "2012 Holiday and the Economy" survey of 2,346 American adults aged 18 and older, conducted online on its behalf by Harris Interactive, a majority (51%) of Americans will be shopping online this year because of the bad economy. 

This sentiment rang strongest with those 18-44 (55%), especially with women in that age group (64% for women 18-34; 57% for women 34-44).  Economic pessimism is so pronounced that only 2% of Americans don’t believe the economy is bad.
 
"The results of our Holiday and the Economy Survey have shown that more Americans will be relying on retailers’ online mobile and web presence for holiday shopping due to the bad economy than not," says Tom Lounibos, SOASTA CEO.  "With millions of Americans planning on using these websites, it’s more important than ever that they are fully optimized to make sure shoppers get the best experience possible.  SOASTA’s CloudTest...

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Oct 05
Could Apple be planning its own Mac chips? Given...

Apple has considered moving its Mac line-up to its own in-house developed chips, though such a change isn't in the immediate future, reports "Bloomberg Businessweek" (http://macte.ch/HaMlS). Makes sense to me -- over a period of time, at least.

Consider the A6 chip. A variety of reports say the processor has some Apple designed custom variants on a chip fabbed by Samsung. It's not hard to imagine the A7 chip being having an even bigger Apple influence. After all Apple bought PA Semi, a boutique microprocessor design company, in 2008, and Intrinsity, a specialist chip design company, in 2010.

On one hand, it's hard to see Apple deciding to use its own chips inside its Mac line-up rather than Intel processors. That would entail a major transition and lots of work on ensuring software compatibility. On the other hand, who believed the rumors that Apple would move from PowerPC chips to Intel processors...

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Oct 04
Apple wants it make it easier to use iOS devices in...

An Apple patent (number 20120249312) for tactile feedback in an electronic device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's designed for using iOS devices in dark environments -- and to help users of such devices who have poor vision.

Per the patent, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback using any suitable approach, including for example vibration, heat, electrical, visual, or any other type of feedback. The electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to detecting any particular status of the electronic device, receiving any particular input, or detecting any suitable communication received by the electronic device.

For example, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to identifying the current network of the device, the status of a particular electronic device component, or any other electronic device status. As another example, the electronic device may provide tactile feedback in response to...

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Oct 04
Apple works on image capture using display device as...

An Apple patent (number 20120249855) for image capture using the display device as a light source has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a digital image capture system and method uses a display device to illuminate a target with light for improved image capture under poor lighting conditions. Various characteristics of the flash (e.g., brightness, color, duration, etc.) can be adjusted to improve image capture. Users are provided with feedback (e.g., live video feed, audio and/or visual countdowns, etc.) to assist them in preparing for image capture. The captured images are seamlessly integrated with existing applications (e.g., video conferencing, instant text messaging, etc.).

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Videoconferencing is one of the fastest growing segments of the computer industry. This growth is based in part on affordable digital video cameras. Digital video cameras (e.g., 'WebCams') can be...

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Oct 04
Apple patent involves adaptive mobile device...

An Apple patent (number 20120253665) for adaptive mobile device navigation has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Maybe it will help improve iOS 6 Maps. Per the patent, adaptive mobile device navigation system, methods, and apparatus provide location information for a mobile device performing location estimation using dead reckoning.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The role of traditional printed maps is being supplanted by modern devices capable of rendering dynamic map displays. Devices that include mapping or navigation applications provide information regarding an area selected by a user by recalling map data from local memory or networked services.

"Mapping devices often include the ability to provide directions from a point of origin to a destination. When coupled with any of a number of positioning technologies, a mapping device can display a current position on a map as well as deliver navigation instructions based...

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Oct 04
More folks willing to pay for streaming music

There are rumors that Apple is working on a streaming music service. While that doesn't interest me personally, a new study says that more people have access to a music streaming service, more listen to music through streaming, more are willing to pay and an increasing amount believe that streaming will be the dominant way to play music in 2-4 years. At least in certain countries.

The youngest generation, those under 30 lead the way. The new numbers are from a survey conducted in June for music streaming service WiMP (www.wimp.de), which runs the survey twice a year in its current markets -- this time Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

According to the survey results, Norwegians are the most likely to have access to a streaming service: 61% say they do, against 56% in Sweden, 35% in Denmark and 16% in Germany. Numbers have increased in all Scandinavian countries.

While the highest amount of Norwegians...

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Oct 04
Apple working on hybrid wireless headphones

A new Apple patent (number 20120250914) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on hybrid wireless headphones designed with athletes and very active folks in mind.

The described embodiments relate to a listening device that allows an end user to comfortably listen to an audio output of a portable media player. In particular, the listening device can be easily worn without inconveniencing the end user during physical activity.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "In one embodiment, a media apparatus is described. The media apparatus includes at least one listening device, a corded portion in communication with a host device arranged to provide an audio signal, and a detachable connector having a first part and a second part. In the described embodiment, the detachable connector is arranged to detachably couple the at least one listening device at the first part to the corded portion at the second part.

"When the listening...

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Oct 03
When will we be able to merge Apple iDs?

As noted by "TUAW" (www.tuaw.com) we're still not able to merge Apple IDs. Is it really that hard forApple to make this happen?

"TUAW" reader Glenn Thorpe nailed the problem when he wrote: ""My Apple ID account which I use to download apps cannot be used for FaceTime nor Messages. I had to create new AppleIDs for both of these applications. The frustrating issue is that I now have three AppleIDs to manage and I am not sure of what impact this will have when I buy apps or try to perform other transactions."

There were rumors last year that Apple was working on a solution. However, Apple's official word (http://support.apple.com/kb/HE37?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US) is still: "Apple IDs cannot be merged. You should use your preferred Apple ID from now on,...

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Oct 02
Apple working on streaming with compressed playlists

There are rumors that Apple is working on its own Internet radio/streaming music service. A new Apple patent (number 8280863) may add some weight to the rumor.

The patent is for real-time or near real-time streaming with compressed playlists. It involves methods and apparatuses that provide real-time or near real-time streaming of content using transfer protocols such as an HTTP compliant protocol. In one embodiment, a method includes providing a request for a playlist file (e.g. an updated playlist) and specifying a compression protocol with or for the request; the request can come from a client device which is requesting the playlist from a web server. The web server can provide the playlist in a compressed format.

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 device. The content is usually presented to an end-user while...

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Oct 02
Apple patent involves user interface for media...

Apple has filed a patent (number 8281244) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an user interface for media playback. It seems to involve potential changes to the iTunes interface.

The patent is for graphical user interface made up of icons representing individual files and collectively forming the shape of a spiral is described along with methods of using and creating the graphical user interface. The spiral interface is useful to display detailed information about many of the items in a list and facilitates manipulation of list order and selection of the active file in the list. The interface further permits the use of a representative icon associated with the list as a whole.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Even as computer processors are becoming faster and programs more capable, space on computer displays continues to be limited. As programs become more complex there is a need to display more information in the same limited space.

...

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Oct 02
Some feature ideas for iOS Maps

Apple's much-maligned iOS Maps obviously needs work. Lots of it. Always glad to be of assistance to Apple, following is a list (thanks, in a great deal, to my pal, J. Scott Anderson) of improvements that could be made:

° A Mac App Store version for Mac OS X. It would let you make editing and correction suggestions right from your desktop/laptop.

° A "Map New Road" function. This is a mode you could turn on when driving so that you can map a road not currently on the Maps application.

° Social integration features How about live traffic reports and road hazard reports? Perhaps Maps could use Twitter/Facebook for the transport mechanism.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Oct 02
Apple awarded patent for wireless adapter

Apple has been awarded a patent (number 8280465) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a wireless adapter for interfacing between an accessory and a device. It seems to involve an adapter for the Lightning port on the iPhone 5.

The invention involves circuits, methods, and apparatus that provide compatibility among incompatible accessories and portable media players. One example provides an adapter having a connector receptacle to mate with an accessory's connector insert and a connector insert to mate with a portable media player's connector receptacle.

Another example provides an adapter having a direct connection between pins on the connector insert and pins on the connector receptacle that are used for compatible signals. Another example provides an adapter including a DC-to-DC converter that receives a first power supply from an accessory and provides a second power supply to a portable media player. Another translates signals using different signaling...

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Oct 02
Apple wins patent for the Mighty Mouse

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8279175) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a mouse with embedded touch sensors -- in other words, the Mighty Mouse.

Per the patent, the mouse is configured with touch sensing areas capable of generating input signals. The touch sensing areas may for example be used to differentiate between left and right clicks in a single button mouse. The mouse may further be configured with force sensing areas capable of generating input signals.

The force sensing areas may for example be positioned on the sides of the mouse so that squeezing the mouse generates input signals. The mouse may further be configured with a jog ball capable of generating input signals. The mouse may additionally be configured with a speaker for providing audio feedback when the various input devices are activated by a user.

The inventors are Christoph Horst Krah, Jeffrey B. Doar, Sean Corbin, Shin Nishibori and Wing Kong Low.

Apple has...

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Oct 01
The Northern Spy: The Pros and the Cats

By Rick Sutcliffe

More on the 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro

The Spy has had this machine a month now, and experience confirms his first impressions. The machine is computationally fast, though not spectacularly so. Having an SSD for a drive makes more of a difference than any internal changes. The display is crisp, better than anything he's had in a portable before, and the glossy finish not nearly as annoying as such once were, but the improvements are not as revolutionary as some have gushed.

Having no Firewire or ethernet connection and being required to use Thunderbolt adapters for both is a major annoyance, and the Spy regards this as a bad decision. A little extra thickness at the back to allow both would not have sacrificed much by way of design, and would have been far more user friendly. The adapters do work, but being tied to Apple for cable purchases is a second annoyance. Competition would be better, and Apple...

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Oct 01
Regarding privacy, U.S. consumers reveal surprising...

Research findings from LoyaltyOne show that when it comes to privacy, U.S. consumers are still protecting some of their personal information as much as they do their Social Security number.

Of the 1,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey, 50% said they’d be willing to give a trusted company their religious affiliation, 49% their political affiliation, 49% their sexual orientation, 36% health information, 26% mental health information, 24% browsing history and 15% for both smart phone location and number of sexual partners. Last on the list is their Social Security number at 11%.

Toronto-based LoyaltyOne, a global provider of coalition loyalty, customer analytics and loyalty services, completed online surveys in July 2012 with 1,000 American respondents. The research is designed to test consumer attitudes about personal data collection and use by marketers.

Several of the 2012 questions followed up on a 2011 survey and were structured to measure...

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Sep 29
AirPlay Mirroring a killer feature in Mountain Lion

Instead of the ill-fated "Mac Genius" ads that debuted during the Olympics, then vanished into the void, perhaps Apple should do a TV spot promoting AirPlay Mirroring in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. It could be a very attractive feature for a lot of folks.

According to a study by Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) 26% of all U.S. broadband households still connect a computer to their TV to enjoy locally stored or online content that's only accessible through their desktop or laptop. Mountain Lion makes this a breeze to do.

Its AirPlay Mirroring feature lets you send what’s on your Mac screen to an HDTV wirelessly with an Apple TV. Mirroring is great for classrooms, conference rooms, and your living room. For example, I have almost all my DVD collection ripped to a 4TB external hard drive. If I want to start a movie on my Mac, I can, then zap it over to the large screen HD in the...

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Sep 28
Greg's Bite: is Apple a patent bully?

By Greg Mills

Recent interviews with Google executives have pandered to the notion that Apple is doing something inherently evil asserting patent rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. Without the ability to gain an advantage over competitors in making a profit from new ideas, innovation will not be sustainable.  

Rather than being a "patent bully," Apple has led the flock in the electronics segment for so long, somehow the followers have come to think stealing Apple's best ideas are in the public interest. That is nuts. It is in the interest of the companies that waste billions of dollars on R&D or have management that can't see the future when they hold it in their hands.  

Samsung struck a similar note when they said that Apple wanted to limit innovation. The opposite is actually true. Innovation costs money -- lots of money -- and there are ideas that copycats like Samsung don't have the right to steal. 

Research and...

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