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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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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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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...

| Read more »
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

| Read more »
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."...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
 
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