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Sep 28
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 27
Apple files patent for image capture, manipulation

An Apple patent (number 20120243748) has been filed for systems, methods and program products for image capture and manipulation, especially in regards to video chats and calls.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many software applications now accept image data including animated icons such as head shots to identify, for example, the sender of an electronic mail message, an Internet chat buddy, or to identify a caller on a voice-over-IP communication link. Novice computer users may not know how to associate their picture with these applications.

"Furthermore, a user may wish to modify their picture before using it. While many software packages provide very sophisticated tools for image editing, novice users can find these packages too cumbersome, especially if the user wants to quickly experiment with different effects.

"In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in a method that includes...

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Sep 27
Apple patent involves accessory dependent display...

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120242701) for "accessory dependent display orientation" with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and methods are provided for orienting a display of a user device display screen.

A user device may be coupled to an accessory, and the display orientation of the user device may be managed. The display orientation may be determined based on a type of the accessory, accessory identification information, a supported communications protocol, output of an accelerometer, user information, or other information. Criteria may be stored, from which a criterion for orienting the display may be selected based on available information.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A user device such as a smart phone or personal media player may be coupled to an accessory, which may allow for communication, charging, or both between the user device and the accessory. For example, a mobile phone may be charged by plugging a...

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Sep 27
Apple files patent for a 'device foot'

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120243153) for a "device foot" with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. A moveable device foot for an electronic device is described, such as that on the Magic Trackpad.

The device foot can include a rigid weight bearing member and a flexible sealing member that is integrally formed with the weight bearing member. The device foot can be formed using a double-shot injection molding process. The weight bearing member of the foot can be mounted to an interior portion of the electronic device such that it extends through an external casing of the electronic device.

The flexible sealing member can be mounted to the external casing to seal the interior of the electronic device. During operation of the electronic device, the device foot can be configured to move relative to the external casing, such as in response to an external force applied to the electronic device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Most consumer...

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Sep 27
Apple eyeing electronic devices with flexible displays

An Apple patent (number 2012042592 for an electronic device with flexible displays has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. We may be looking at future iPhones and iPads -- perhaps even Macs -- with "bendable" screens and tactile keyboards.

Per the patent electronic devices may be provided that contain flexible displays and internal components. An internal component may be positioned under the flexible display. The internal component may be an output device such as a speaker that transmits sound through the flexible display or an actuator that deforms the display in a way that is sensed by a user.

The internal component may also be a microphone or pressure sensor that receives sound or pressure information through the flexible display. Structural components may be used to permanently or temporarily deform the flexible display to provide tactile feedback to a user of the device.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "This...

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Sep 27
HDTV market to surge more Than 10% in 2013

If Apple really is planning its own HDTV (the rumored "iTV") for late this year or early 2013, it's timing may be impeccable. The HDTV market will surge more than 10% next year, according to Global Information Inc. (www.giresearch.com).

During much of the first half of 2012, revenue from the LCD HD television segment -- the most widespread HDTV technology in the world -- remained poor. While some of this could be blamed on weaker than expected consumer demand and over-saturation, the primary problem for LCD manufacturers has been the rise of ultra-low cost production in places such as China, which has undercut already meager margins on LCD screens.

What's more, falling costs on alternate technologies including LED, OLED, and 3D TVs, is also leading some consumers away. In fact, with the exceptions of Samsung and LG, which benefit from a more competitive pricing model, every other supplier, including...

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Sep 27
Apple working on inductive charging mat

A new patent (number 2012024673) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on an inductive charging mat for its iOS devices. The patent is for device-orientation based docking functions.

Systems and method are provided for selecting one or more docking functions based on a physical orientation of a user device coupled to a docking device. The docking device may include a surface upon which the user device may be placed. Docking functions such as charging, data transfer, data synchronization, diagnostic checking, or other functions may be selected, performed, or both, based on the physical orientation of the user device on the surface.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A user device such as a smart phone, digital camera, or personal media player may be docked to a docking device, which may allow for charging and data transmittal. Some docking devices may provide induction charging to charge a user device, when the...

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Sep 27
Apple seeks patent for Siri personal assistant

Apple has filed for a patent for an "Intelligent Automated Assistant" (patent WO 2011/088053 A2) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves its Siri technology.

Per the patent, an intelligent automated assistant system engages with the user in an integrated, conversational manner using natural language dialog, and invokes external services when appropriate to obtain information or perform various actions. The system can be implemented using any of a number of different platforms, such as the web, email, smartphone, and the like, or any combination thereof. In one embodiment, the system is based on sets of interrelated domains and tasks, and employs additional functionally powered by external services with which the system can interact.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Today's electronic devices are able to access a large, growing, and diverse quantity of functions, services, and information, both via the Internet and from other sources....

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Sep 26
Why can't Siri check my call history?

I think that Apple has done a solid job of upgrading Siri in iOS 6. But there are still improvements that can be made.

For example, why can't Siri check my call history? I say: "Siri, have I missed any calls?" Siri says: "Sorry, I cannot check call history."

Missed calls shows up in my alerts, so why can't my "personal assistant" check that for me? Seems like this would be a very handy feature for Apple to roll into the next Siri update....

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 25
Apple patent is for smart dock for chaining...

An Apple patent (number 8,275,924) has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a smart dock for chaining accessories.

Per the patent, a system for communicating between an accessory and an electronic device includes a first interface, a second interface, and a docking station. The first interface is configured to communicate with the electronic device. The second interface is configured to communicate with the accessory. The docking station is coupled to the first interface and the second interface. The docking station is configured to receive a set of preferences from the accessory and forward the set of preferences to the electronic device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "The present invention relates generally to media players, and more particularly, to docking stations for daisy chaining accessories for the media players.

"Electronic devices, such as portable media players, cellular phones, personal digital assists (PDAs), and...

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Sep 25
Apple working on radially-based chroma noise reduction...

Apple is working on ways to further improve photo taking on its iOS devices, per a patent (number 8274583) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's for radially-based chroma noise reduction for cameras.

Per the patent, a system, apparatus, computer readable medium, and method for radially-dependent noise reduction in image capturing devices involving an edge-preserving blur window are disclosed. In one embodiment, the edge-preserving blur includes only those pixels in the blur window that are within a threshold value of the blur window's current center pixel in its blurring calculation.

By creating a threshold function that varies radially from the center of the image sensor's light intensity falloff function, a more appropriate threshold value can be chosen for each pixel, allowing for more noise farther from the center of the image, and allowing for less noise closer to the center of the image. Light-product information taken from the image's metadata may...

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Sep 25
Apple takes the Microsoft approach with iOS 6 Maps

It's a darn shame that a company that claims to be more interested in making quality products than in making money did such a miserable job on the roll-out of the Maps app in iOS 6.

The Maps app has been roundly trashed by users and customers. It's been criticized for missing cities, botched search results and a plethora of geographic errors. Apple's excuse: "Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get."

Ah yes, the Microsoft ("it's good enough") approach. Is this Apple's new direction? If so, Cook and company need to seriously re-evaluate things.

It would actually be good for Apple in the long run if the Maps fiasco caused a major consumer backlash (not likely) and skimmed a little arrogance off the company's attitude.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 25
Apple wins patent for in-plane switching

Apple has won patent (number 8274492) from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for integrated in-plane switching.

This relates to adding multi-touch functionality to a display without the need of a separate multi-touch panel or layer overlaying the display. Instead, embodiments of the invention can advantageously utilize existing display circuitry to provide multi-touch functionality while adding relatively little circuitry that is specific to the multi-touch functionality.

Thus, by sharing circuitry for the display and the multi-touch functionalities, embodiments of the invention can be implemented at a lower cost than the alternative of superimposing additional multi-touch related layers onto an existing display panel. Furthermore, since the display and multi-touch functionality can be implemented on the same circuit, they can be synchronized so that noise resulting from the display functionality does not detrimentally affect the multi-touch functionality and...

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Sep 25
Apple eyes keyboard management for a multifunction...

An Apple patent (number 8274536) for smart keyboard management for a multifunction device with a touch screen display has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a method is performed at a multifunction device with a touch screen display. The method includes displaying a text entry interface with a soft keyboard in a first area and a viewing area with a first size to display scrollable information. The method detects a finger gesture on the viewing area, and responds to the gesture.

When the viewing area displays only a portion of the information, the response includes: (1) ceasing to display the soft keyboard, (2) expanding the viewing area to a second size, including at least some of the first area, and (3) scrolling the information in the expanded viewing area. When the viewing area with the first size displays all of the information, the response includes: (1) maintaining display of the soft keyboard, (2) keeping the viewing area at...

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Sep 25
Apple granted patent for gimballed scroll wheel

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8274479) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a gimballed scroll wheel. An input device that includes both a movement detector, such as mechanical switch, and positional indicator, such as touch pad touch screen, and/or touch sensing housing is disclosed.

These two input devices can be used substantially simultaneously to provide a command to the device. In this manner, different commands can be associated with depressing a moveable member in different areas and a single moveable member can perform like several buttons.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Several kinds of input devices are known for performing operations in a computing device. Some examples of input devices include buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch screens and the like. Each of these devices has advantages and disadvantages that may be taken into account when designing an input apparatus...

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Sep 24
Greg's Bite: iPhone 5 & iOS 6 issues

By Greg Mills

Whenever Apple drops its latest technological nuke on the floundering electronics sector, the usual pundits find something to whine about. For the iPhone 4 it was the antenna death grip for the iPhone 4s it didn't have enough killer new features.  

For the iPhone 5, the improvements didn't grab you by the lapel and shake you enough and besides, Steve Jobs wasn't there to sell it. Never mind the iPhone 5 hadn't even been released yet when the whining started.

The court jester of the tech world, John C Dvorak, began finding fault with the iPhone 5 clear back in June. Now that it is actually out, something compelling to complain about is certain to come out. Praise for anything Apple comes dear to readers of Dvorak's patter. If John hates it, Apple will sell millions of the product.  The data is thin about how Apple product will fare that Dvorak likes it, since I can't think of anything he liked until much later when he got to try it...

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Sep 24
Demand for mobile services in air travel hits new high

Demand for mobile services in air travel has reached an all-time high. FlightView (www.flightview.com), a provider of day-of-travel information, has released two new research reports -- specific to airports and airlines -- with feedback from more than 2,600 business and leisure travelers revealing incredibly high expectations for mobile communication and self-service capabilities. This presents airports and airlines with a major opportunity to generate ancillary revenue and strengthen customer service.

"We’ve seen a fundamental change in the way people travel, with a rapidly increasing dependence on mobile devices," says Mike Benjamin, CEO of FlightView. "That means airports and airlines need to move beyond showing static information on mobile apps and websites to pushing relevant, timely updates and offering key functionality for informing and empowering their customers to make better decisions on the go."...

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Sep 21
Tablets drive customer satisfaction with traditional...

According to a new report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)l the personal computer division in the Index rated an all time score of 80 out of 100. Could it be due to the fact that more folks are buying Macs? Perhaps. But the iPad also plays a part.

As the personal computer market continues to undergo its transformation toward smaller, more mobile computing and away from stationary desktop solutions, customer satisfaction with the personal computer industry as a whole gains further traction -- up 2.6% to an all-time high ACSI score of 80.

The improvement over the past year blasts away the industry’s former high point of 78 that was earned in both 2010 and 2011. ACSI measurement of the industry includes customer satisfaction with all types of personal computers: desktops, laptops and tablets.

"The recent stall in demand for desktop computers comes in conjunction with a surge of interest in small, mobile computers; in particular, devices that are...

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Sep 20
Apple granted patent for dual-sided trackpad

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120235949) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a dual-sided trackpad.

A system including a capacitive array element capable of sensing touch from either side is described. A connected processor unit, either in the device or the host system, may be adapted to interpret signals from the capacitive array element as a cursor or view movement with six degrees of freedom.

The track pad device may include a display element and the capacitive array element may be translucent. The display element and the array element may be configured with respect to each other, where different configurations can be associated with different operating modes. For example, when the array element lies over the display screen so that the display screen is viewable through the array element, the array element can function as a touch screen. In another configuration, the array element may generate signals indicating a user's touch from one or the...

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Sep 20
Ice Screen? Why not an iMac TV?

Ice Screen, the upcoming 26-inch Android-based, tablet, smart display from China's TCL, "looks like the kind of TV a younger generation would appreciate," says "CNNMoney." Maybe I'm missing something, but ... a 26-inch tablet? If the young folk want a TV they can interact with, perhaps Apple should give them an iMac with built-in television features.

"The [Ice Screen] is a 26-inch large display," says Hao Yi, general manager of TCL Multimedia Emerging Market Business Center. "It is not just for TV, as the younger generation doesn't watch TV like the older generation."

The Ice Screen -- photo courtesy of "endgadget" (www.endgadget.com) -- has options for music downloads and Internet applications. It boasts a 1366 x 768 resolution. However, it still requires a connection to a cloud service, or else it's just a screen without a tuner. In that case, most folks might prefer what I'll call the iMac TV, which I...

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Sep 20
Apple files patent for e-book reading location...

An Apple patent (number 20120240036) for an e-book reading location indicator has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

To help a reader of an electronic document, e.g., an eBook, find his or her reading location following a repagination event, an electronic reader application executing on an electronic device displays a first portion of content of the electronic document, detects that the reader has performed a predetermined action that triggers repagination of the electronic document, and repaginating the electronic document to cause the reader application to display a second portion of content of the electronic document, the second portion including at least some of the first portion of content and at least some newly visible content of the electronic document, such that the newly visible content appears visually different, at least temporarily, from the first portion of content that remains visible.

Here's Apple's background on the patent: "Much...

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Sep 20
Apple patent is for messaging system, service

An Apple patent (patent number 20120238299) for a messaging system and service has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves a method of modifying a data message during transmission through a data communications network, the data communications network being arranged to deliver messages under control of a network operator and including a first store-and-forward network node.

The first store-and-forward network node is arranged to store data messages and forward the same to a recipient in dependence on status data corresponding to a terminal associated therewith. The method further includes receiving a message at a second store-and-forward node, wherein the second store-and-forward node is different from the first store-and-forward network node, arranging for the message to be modified before being forwarded from the second store-and forward node, and transmitting the message to the first store-and-forward network node for forwarding to the recipient....

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Sep 20
Future iOS devices may recognize your mug

An Apple patent (number 20120235790) to lock and unlock iOS devices via facial recognition has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

In an embodiment of the invention, an unlocked mobile device is configured to capture images, analyze the images to detect a user's face, and automatically lock the device in response to determining that a user's face does not appear in the images. The camera capturing and face recognition processing may be triggered by the device having detected that it has been motionless for a threshold period of time.

In another embodiment, a locked mobile device is configured to capture an initial image using its camera, capture a new image in response to detecting movement of the device, determine that the device moved to a use position, capture a subsequent image in response to determining that the device moved to a use position, analyze the subsequent image to detect a user's face, and unlock the device in response to detecting...

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Sep 20
Apple wants to shake things up with iOS device...

According to a new Apple patent (number 20120235510) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Apple wants to shake things up on its iOS devices. Literally.

The patent, for harnessing power through electronic induction utilizing printed coils, would let you shake an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to re-charge 'em. Per the patent, a system can include one or more moveable magnets adjacent to printed coils on a circuit. For example, a system can include one or more magnets that are operative to move alongside a circuit board that includes printed coils.

The one or more magnets may move, for example, when a user shakes the system or when the user walks or runs while holding the device. The movement of the one or more magnets may create an electromotive force (e.g., a voltage) across the printed coils, and this force may be used to generate electric power.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Traditional systems for harnessing power through electromagnetic...

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Sep 19
Enough of this talk about Apple losing its mojo

Enough is enough. I'm tired of all the talk that Apple has lost its mojo.

No doubt you've heard lots of such talk lately. It goes like this: "The iPhone 5 was just what was expected, nothing more and was a disappointment" "The iPhone 5 media event was nothing compared with a Steve Jobs media event."

Let's look at reality. Is the iPhone 5 a "disappointment"? Well, if you call selling out of pre-orders within 24 hours after being announced, I guess that's a disappointment. If you call the placement of two million iPhone orders within 24 hours (more than double the previous record of one million by the iPhone 4S) disappointing, then I guess it's a disappointment. If you call the unveiling of new, long overdue earbuds and a chip that may be a unique Apple design disappointing, then I guess it's a disappointment.

However, in the real world, the launch of the iPhone 5 is anything but a disappointment. It's a smash hit.

As to the assertion that the iPhone 5...

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