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Nov 06
Apple working on portable electronic device for photo...

An Apple patent (number 8305355) for a portable electronic device for photo management has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

A portable electronic device with a touch screen display for photo management is disclosed. One aspect of the invention involves a computer-implemented method in which the portable electronic device displays an array of thumbnail images corresponding to a set of photographic images. The device replaces the displayed array of thumbnail images with a user-selected photographic image upon detecting a user contact with a corresponding thumbnail image in the array.

The user-selected photographic image is displayed at a larger scale than the corresponding thumbnail image. The portable device displays a different photographic image in replacement of the user-selected photographic image in accordance with a scrolling gesture. The scrolling gesture comprises a substantially horizontal movement of user contact with the touch screen...

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Nov 06
Apple patent is for portable computer accounts

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8307425) for portable computer accounts that could let you store your user accounts, authentication information and user home directories on an external storage media and transfer them from one device to another.

Measures are included for detecting tampering of stored information and for preventing possibly conflicting or damaging account and file information from entering a host device.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "User account data typically includes a user name, an account identifier, a home directory location and management information. For local accounts (i.e., non-network accounts) this information can be stored on a local directory database on a host device. For network accounts, account information can be stored on a network directory server (e.g. LDAP).

"User authentication information (e.g., a password) can be stored separately. For local accounts, a secure hash of a password can be...

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Nov 06
Apple wins patent for heads-up display for...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8307287) for a heads-up display for use in a media manipulation operation. The invention relates to media manipulation operations and, more specifically, to operations that manipulate media items relative to a timeline with which one or more other media items are associated.

According to one embodiment, a transient heads-up-display is displayed during a media manipulation operation to assist the user in the media manipulation operation. The heads-up-display may, for example, depict three frames of a video clip when an audio clip is being positioned, on a timeline, relative to the video clip. The three frames that are depicted in the heads-up-display may be the frames located at the current starting position, cursor position, and ending position, of the audio clip. As the audio clip is being moved during the positioning operation, the three frames depicted in the heads-up-display change accordingly.

Here's Apple's background on...

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Nov 06
Apple granted patent for ionic cooling system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

iOS device owners are the core...

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Nov 02
Greg's Bite: Microsoft vs Apple marketing 

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ultrabooks (...

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

By Rick Sutcliffe

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

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

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

"Does it really matter?"

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

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

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

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

"Hey, Nellie,...

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Nov 01
Apple working on head-mounted displays?

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

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

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

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Nov 01
Apple patent is for ad hoc account creation

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

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

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

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Nov 01
iPhone owner loyalty declines?

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

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

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

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Nov 01
Apple patents involve media creation, graphics

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

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

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

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Nov 01
Apple files patent for its power adapters

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

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

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

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Nov 01
Apple works on new theft detection technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Greg Mills

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

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

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

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

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Oct 30
Apple working on 3D animation interface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 30
Apple patent involves real-time streaming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Oct 30
Apple granted patent for iOS Maps interface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall customer satisfaction with residential television service directly...

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

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

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

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

As far as other hardware, some interesting tidbits:

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

° The iPod touch accounts for...

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

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

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

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

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