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Aug 28
Apple patent hints at more iOS location-aware settings

A new Apple patent (number 8254902) for an apparatus and method for enforcing policies on a wireless device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It hints at further location-aware settings for iOS device.

The patent is for an apparatus and methods for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event. In one embodiment, the event comprises detecting that the wireless device is within range of one or more other devices. In another variant, the event comprises the wireless device associating with a certain access point.

In this manner, various aspects of device functionality may be enabled or restricted (device "policies"). This policy enforcement capability is useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater), for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless...

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Aug 27
Older adults least likely to use the Internet

Researchers at Public Health Management Corporation’s (PHMC) Community Health Data Base (CHDB) determined from its 2010 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey data that one in five SEPA adults, or 20%, that they never use the Internet, representing approximately 563,000 adults.

This is significant because, when it comes to finding information about personal health, more and more Americans are turning to the Internet as a valuable tool. According to a 2010 study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, eight out of 10  Internet users have looked online for health information. Through Internet searches, consumers can access information on conditions, disease prevention, nutrition, physicians and more.

"Our results parallel those found in national data," says Rose Malinowski Weingartner, research associate at CHDB. "Internet usage and health may seem unrelated, but as more and more people use it to make informed decisions about health, it’s crucial...

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Aug 25
Greg's Bite: Samsung and Android Lose, Big Time

By Greg Mills

Steve Jobs anticipated the eventual copy cat problem, should the iPhone and iPad be successful. I really don't think anyone at Apple knew at launch just how successful the new platform would become. Jobs gave fair warning at the launch of the first iPhone that Apple had patented the phone and software lavishly with numerous patents. The competition panned iPhone, but also began to reverse engineer the device.

Google had a head start developing the Android OS since their CEO was on the board of Apple. Steve Jobs had been vilified for not trusting people in various writings about his life. When you consider the crown jewels of technology that have been stolen right from under his nose, a lot can be excused. It is not paranoid to think you can't trust outsiders with your trade secret, but simply good business sense to work in absolute secrecy when you have been burned before by those who call themselves friends.

Steve Jobs and Eric...

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Aug 24
Time to turn iWork into a true Office 'killer...

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. So now it's time for Apple to concentrate on making iWork a true Office "killer."

Of course, Pages, Numbers and Keynote aren't going to truly "kill" Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, they could offer more serious competition. After all, Microsoft's Office software is bloated and hasn't been updated to take advantage of the features of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, much less Mountain Lion. As for Retina display support, well, according to Microsoft, you shouldn't hold your breath.

The last update to the iWork apps came in 2009, so it's time for some revamping. For one thing, the apps -- especially Pages -- could load faster. As Alexis Kayhall so eloquently put in in a "Mac360" (http://macte.ch/ElLsn) blog, "I use Calendar to...

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Aug 23
Apple eyes wireless headset having adaptive powering

Apple is working on a wireless headset having adaptive powering, according to a new patent (number 20120212063) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

A system that includes a bus, a battery, core processing circuitry, radio frequency (RF) processing circuitry, first power regulating circuitry, second power regulating circuitry, and control circuitry is provided. The bus can be coupled to receive power from a source external to the system. The core processing circuitry and RF processing circuitry can be selectively coupled to each other via a switch. The switch can be operative to turn ON and OFF based on a signal level received on the bus.

The first power regulating circuitry can be electrically coupled to the bus, the core processing circuitry, and the switch. The second power regulating circuitry can be electrically coupled to the battery, the RF processing circuitry, and the switch. The control circuitry can be operative to selectively turn ON and OFF the...

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Aug 23
Apple working on improved networking techniques

An Apple patent (number 20120215950) for cross-over and bypass configurations for high-speed data transmission has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working ways to improve networking techniques for transferring data among various electronic devices.

One method involves daisy-chaining devices together. That is, several devices may be connected to each other through a series of cables to form a chain of devices. In this physical configuration, data may be shared among multiple devices using a series of single-hop virtual tunnels.

Another method: a number of tunnels may be formed by a host device, each having a target device in the daisy chain. Each tunnel may originate at the host device and terminate at their target device. Each tunnel may bypass devices between the host device and the tunnel's target device. These two techniques may also be combined. Another example may provide a method of simplifying the routing of high-...

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Aug 23
Apple needs to shore up the chinks in its armor

This week Apple became the most valuable company ever and its stock hit an all-time high (see http://macte.ch/bTrs0), but the company should beware: there are chinks showing in its armor.

The biggest is a blunder so colossally stupid that the powers at Apple have to be wondering if replacing retail guru with John Browett was a mistake. Browett came to Apple from European technology retailer Dixons Retail, where he has been CEO since 2007. Dixons isn't exactly famous for customer service or quality.

"Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met," Apple CEO Tim Cook said when announcing Browett's hiring. Recent events make you wonder exactly how many people they met.

Last week "Dow Jones" reported that Browett, had spearheaded a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail...

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Aug 23
Apple patents involve hearing assistance systems

Two Apple patents involving hearing assistance systems have appeared at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Both apparently involve iOS devices.

Patent number 20120215532 is for a hearing assistance system for providing consistent human speech. It describe san apparatus, system, and method that allows a user of a hearing assistance system to perceive consistent human speech. The consistent human speech can be based upon user specific preferences.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Broadly speaking, the embodiments disclosed herein describe providing individualized consistent speech patterns to a user of a hearing assistance system. More specifically, a method performed by a portable computing device for providing consistent speech is described. In one embodiment, the portable computing device includes an audio processing component coupled with an audio input device.

"The method can be performed by carrying out the following operations...

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Aug 23
Apple patent is for video acquisition with integrated...

An Apple patent (number 20120212481) for video acquisition with integrated GPU processing has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent involves systems and techniques for processing sequences of video images involve receiving, on a computer, data corresponding to a sequence of video images detected by an image sensor. The received data is processed using a graphics processor to adjust one or more visual characteristics of the video images corresponding to the received data.

The received data can include video data defining pixel values and ancillary data relating to settings on the image sensor. The video data can be processed in accordance with ancillary data to adjust the visual characteristics, which can include filtering the images, blending images, and/or other processing operations.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Image sensors can be used to detect video sequences that can be used by various client processes in a...

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Aug 22
Still not the time to license OS X

Recently "MacDailyNews" (macdailynews.com) posted an interesting theory: it's time for Apple to consider licensing Mac OS X, an experiment it tried in the past, but which failed. However, it's an idea whose time still hasn't come.

Here's the scenario from "MacDailyNews": "Imagine if Apple then executed a controlled licensing program (Apple approval required) of OS X to interested parties. OS X is now just a fraction of Apple’s revenue stream, yet it is the only serious alternative to Windows. Apple no longer needs OS X exclusivity to survive. By licensing OS X correctly and at this crucial time, Apple cause extensive damage to Microsoft and Windows."

Apple makes most of its money from hardware, not software. iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand, etc., are all goodies to entice you to buy OS X and iOS devices. And Macs have hardly reached the status of being a "fraction of Apple's revenue stream."

For example, the current apple of Apple's eye is the iPad. In the last...

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Aug 21
Apple wins patent for edge-lit backlight unit with...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8248554) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an edge-lit backlight unit with a thin profile.

In one embodiment, the backlight unit may include a light guide configured to receive light from a source and emit such light in a broad distribution to a turning film disposed over the light guide. The turning film may be configured to redirect light received from the light guide toward a normal of the turning film.

In one embodiment, the light guide may be configured such that peak light distribution therefrom occurs at an incident angle of approximately sixty degrees, with broad light distribution substantially occurring over an angular range between incident angles of thirty-five and eighty-five degrees. Additionally, in one embodiment, the turning film may include multiple prisms that receive and redirect the light emitted from the light guide, and that include apex angles of less than or about 60 degrees. Additional edge...

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Aug 21
Apple granted patent for podcasting

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8245924) for techniques and systems for supporting podcasting.

Improved podcasts and techniques that facilitate their use are disclosed. The improved techniques can pertain to creating, publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts. According to one aspect, a client application can subscribe to podcasts and then automatically monitor the podcasts for updates to be downloaded.

In the event that user interest in a podcast becomes inadequate, downloading of further updates can be restricted. According to another aspect, a podcast can be subscribed to through use of a portable subscription file. According to still another aspect, podcast feeds can be enhanced to include segment elements and other metadata.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention:

"The invention pertains to improved podcasts and techniques that facilitate their use. The improved techniques can pertain to...

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Aug 21
Apple patent involves migration of old image databases

If you have trouble migrating an old image database, Apple seems to be working on a solution. Patent number 8249385 involves techniques a for causing digital image data to be interpreted according to a particular technique of a plurality of techniques.

According to an embodiment, digital sensor data is received, and user input is received that specifies which technique of a plurality of techniques to use to generate a display that depicts an unmodified image from the sensor data, wherein each technique of the plurality of techniques generates a display from the sensor data in a different manner than each other technique of the plurality of techniques.

The inventors are Nikhil M. Bhatt and Curtis A. Bianchi.

Also appearing at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office are:

° Patent 8249237 for an architecture for establishing a multi-participant conference. This architecture has one participant's computer in the conference act as a central content...

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Aug 21
Apple patent lets you skip commercials

An Apple patent (number 8249497) for seamless switching between radio and local media has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. As it involves technology that lets users skip unwanted audio and video broadcast segments such as commercials it may hint at features of an upcoming revamp of the Apple TV set-box box or the rumored "iTV."

Per the patent, systems and methods are provided for seamlessly switching media playback between a media broadcast, such as a radio broadcast, and media from a local media library. When an electronic device determines that an upcoming media item in a media broadcast is not of interest to a user, the electronic device can switch playback from the media stream to a media item from the electronic device local library.

The selected local media item can be related to a previously broadcast media item to ensure continuity in the user's listening or viewing experience. The electronic device can switch away from the local media...

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Aug 21
43% of companies worry about employee devices...

The results of a study released by Lieberman Software Corp. says that BYOD (bring your own device) increases costs to businesses. Perhaps that wouldn't be the case if those devices were all Apple devices -- although the folks at Lieberman seem to disagree.

Respondents were asked if they believed allowing employees to connect their own devices (such as USB drives, mobile phones, portable computers and home computers) to the corporate network increased costs -- with 67% saying that it did increase costs.

When asked what caused the organization the biggest headache, almost half (43%) cited an employee device introducing a virus; more than a quarter (26%) pointed the finger at employees losing a device, and employees stealing data the biggest concern for 22% of respondents.

The survey was carried out by Lieberman Software of nearly 250 IT professionals in London. Philip Lieberman, president and CEO of privileged identity management software vendor Lieberman...

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Aug 20
HTML5 no threat to native app dominance?

Though preferred by Apple, HTML5 will have a minor impact on the apps ecosystem, according to new data from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). I'm not sure I buy it, but the research group says the feature-rich superiority of native apps and the risk HTML5’s open standards creates for existing revenue streams will confine HTML5 to niche status.

Instead, Strategy Analytics predicts that a third type of application, the hybrid, will exhibit strong growth. Already services -- such as PhoneGap, Sencha, Brightcove and Marmalade -- are allowing developers to combine an HTML5 core with native APIs [application programming interfaces] to leverage the best of native and open standards.

"HTML5 is not the future of apps," says Josh Martin, director of Apps Research at Strategy Analytics. "While developers dream of 'write once run everywhere' the fragmented support for and...

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Aug 17
I'd love to see Ultra-D on an iTV

Now here's a technology I'd love to see if/when Apple ever releases an HDTV (the rumored "iTV").: Ultra-D. It's 3D without the glasses.

Stream TV Networks has made a technology partnership with Hisense (the leading TV brand in China) for a range of televisions and other products featuring Ultra-D technology. The first product to market will be a 42-inch 1080p autostereoscopic 3D display with plans for additional 3D without glasses displays, smart televisions, tablets and smartphones incorporating the Ultra-D technology.

Ultra-D televisions will be bundled with the SeeCube Auto Converter. The SeeCube Conversion Box auto converts 2D and 3D stereoscopic (with glasses) into autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D format in real-time. Ultra-D supports nearly every kind of video feed including cable & satellite TV channels, Blu-ray, XBOX, PS3 and sites like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube. The Ultra-D technology can convert content from iTunes and devices such as the iPad and...

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Aug 16
Apple wants more sticky functionality in Mac OS X

An Apple patent (number20120210264) for sticky functionality has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to graphical user interfaces for computer systems, and more particularly to a user interface which allows easier manipulation of elements of the user interface via a cursor control device such as a mouse.

Per the patent manipulation of elements in a graphical user interface is aided by allowing the graphical user interface to treat certain mouse button actuation and releases as holding the mouse button in an actuated state. When predetermined conditions are satisfied, the graphical user interface will treat a mouse button actuation and release as if the mouse button were held in an actuated state.

A user can then manipulate elements in the graphical user interface as if the user held the mouse button in an actuated state. The types of manipulation can include the moving of a window, the resizing of a window, moving an icon, and the...

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Aug 16
Apple patent is for transport control of a media...

An Apple patent (number 20120207444) for transport control of a media device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It involves manipulating a media processing device to control the presentation of content.

The patent is for a method of scanning content comprises receiving an input signal indicating that content being displayed is to be scanned, sensing a duration of the received input signal, and scanning the content at a rate based at least in part on the sensed duration of the received input.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Media processing devices embedded with media applications capable of playing audio and visual content enhance user experience. The content can include music, video, photographs, and the like. Such media processing devices can be configured to play either a single type of content. For example, certain DVD players can play back only video content stored on a DVD. Other devices can be configured to play a...

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Aug 16
Would you buy an Apple Watch?

Kate MacKenzie of "PixoBebo" (http://macte.ch/PMQYf) thinks Apple's "next insanely great thing" will be a watch.

Wait, you say: Apple already makes a semi-watch in the iPad nano. There are lots of third party "watch bands" that allow you to wear it on your wrist. And the iPad nano comes with digital clock faces range from classic analog looks to your favorite Disney characters including Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

My problem with using the nano as an iWatch is that the screen frequently goes dark to save battery power. So you have to “wake up” the nano to see what time it is. I prefer a wristwatch I can simply glance at to check the time. So perhaps there's an opportunity for an Apple watch.

MacKenzie envisions the Apple watch "as not much more than a dumb screen on your wrist that receives signals via Bluetooth from your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or even your Mac." This would allow phone...

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Aug 16
Apple eyeing illuminated touchpads

Apple has given us illuminated keyboards, so why not illuminated touchpads? An Apple patent (number 20120206392) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company may be working on just that.

The invention pertains to improved feedback mechanisms for touch pads. One aspect relates to devices capable of illuminating the touch sensitive surface of the touch pad. Another aspect relates to methods for providing visual feedback at the touch pad.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The invention relates, in one embodiment, to an illuminated input device. The illuminated input device includes an object sensing mechanism capable of sensing a user input over an input surface. The illuminated input device also includes a visual feedback system configured to illuminate the input surface in association with a user input.

"The invention relates, in another embodiment, to a method of operating an input device. The method includes sensing an object over...

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Aug 16
Is Apple working on a Photoshop competitor?

An Apple patent (number 20120206471) for systems, methods and computer-readable media for managing layers of graphical object data has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It hints that Apple may be working on a Photoshop competitor.

Systems, methods, and computer-readable media for managing layers of graphical object data are provided. For example, a graphical display system may be configured to implicitly manage various graphical object layers. In some embodiments, any new graphical object of a first type of graphical object may be generated in a current top layer of a stack when the current top layer is associated with the first type of graphical object. However, when the current top layer of the stack is not associated with the first type of graphical object, any new graphical object of the first type of graphical object may be generated in a new top layer of the stack. Moreover, any new graphical object of a second type of graphical object may similarly...

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Aug 15
Do we still need Office apps on our Macs?


In a recent Tech Night Owl (http://macte.ch/FbSAz) Gene Steinberg questioned whether we still need Office for Mac software.

Some folks, especially in the business world do, but for most end users, Office is no longer a necessity. Many, like me, prefer the simplicity of Pages, Numbers and Keynote to their Office alternatives. Plus, at US$20 a pop, the Apple iWork apps are a lot cheaper than Microsoft's offerings.

"Certainly, Microsoft appears to be running out of ways to make Office more compelling," Steinberg writes. "The most notable change in Office 2013 for Windows is half-hearted support for touch. But it appears to be limited to expanding the ribbons to improve your aim if you choose to activate those functions with your fingers. What a waste!"

However, he points out the fact that "if you work at a company that requires Office, there's no real choice" and, per Pages, "fidelity with Word...

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Aug 14
Apple working on ways to for multi-touch input...

An Apple patent (number 8243041) for multi-touch input discrimination has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to data input methods and devices for electronic equipment and, more particularly, to methods and devices for discriminating between various inputs to a multi-touch touch-surface input device.

Techniques for identifying and discriminating between different types of contacts to a multi-touch touch-screen device are described. Illustrative contact types include fingertips, thumbs, palms and cheeks. By way of example, thumb contacts may be distinguished from fingertip contacts using a patch eccentricity parameter. In addition, by non-linearly deemphasizing pixels in a touch-surface image, a reliable means of distinguishing between large objects (e.g., palms) from smaller objects (e.g., fingertips, thumbs and a stylus) is described.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "There currently exist many types of...

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Aug 14
Apple patent involves reordering user interface

An Apple patent (number 8245147) for a system and method for reordering an user interface has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to dynamic user interfaces and more specifically to reordering groups of user interface elements accessing a highly structured document.

The patent involves systems, computer-implemented methods, and tangible computer-readable storage media for customizing a user interface. The method displays an interface to a user. In the interface, a slice has interface elements, a stack has a group of slices, a window has a group of stacks, and each interface element is associated with a segment of a highly structured document.

The interface includes a panel having one or more containers, each container representing one stack, and one or more tokens, each token representing one slice. The method relocates at least one token to a different location in the container based on user input, displays in the panel a preview based on...

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