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Jun 12
Apple working on ways to improve videoconferencing

According to a new patent (number 8199249) Apple is working on ways to improve videoconferencing The patent is for image capture using the display device as a light source.

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

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

| Read more »
Jun 12
Apple patent is for computers with spring-mounted...

An Apple patent (number 8199477) for portable computers with spring-mounted displays has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. This invention relates to electronic devices and, more particularly, to electronic devices that have displays such as portable computers.

Per the patent, an electronic device housing may contain a display module. The display module may contain layers of material such as a color filter layer and a thin-film transistor layer. These layers of material may be mounted in a display module chassis. A cover glass may cover the display module. The housing may have springs that mate with corresponding holes in the chassis of the display module to hold the display module in place within the housing.

The springs may flex about a flex axis that is perpendicular to a planar rear housing surface and the planar layers of the display module. A disassembly tool may be inserted into a gap between the cover glass and housing sidewalls. When the...

| Read more »
Jun 12
Apple wins design patents for the iPad, Cinema Display

Apple has been granted several patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, including one (D661693) for the design of the iPad and one (D661305) for the design of the Apple Cinema Display.

The inventors of the former are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Costner, Daniele De Iulis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Duoglas Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

The inventors of the latter are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Costner, Daniele De Iulis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Duoglas Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Apple also won patents for the following:

° Patent number 8200986 for a computer related method and apparatus to transmit a logical...

| Read more »
Jun 12
Some thoughts on the WWDC keynote ...

Needless to say my predictions (http://macte.ch/mGHbx) on what would be unveiled at the 2012 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference were off by quite a bit. I was (mostly) right about MacBook Air updates, the apparent demise of the 17-inch MacBook Pro, Mountain Lion details and iOS info.

However, I had predicted a peak at a software development kit for the Apple TV (didn't happen), as well as iMac and Mac Pro updates. There was no mention of the former. And I want my Retina display Mac!

The Mac Pro went from eight cores to 12, but didn't add Thunderbolt or USB 3.0. Really, Apple? You're offering a "pro desktop" that lacks features of the new MacBook Air?

Also ...

° With the incredible Retina display on the new MacBook Pro, it sure would be nice if Apple brought Newsstand and iBookstore to the Mac.

° Retina display options for the current gen MacBook Pros and MacBooks Airs would be...

| Read more »
Jun 11
More than 1-in-4 mobile users will pay in-store using...

Apple is reportedly working on NFC (near field communications) functionality for the upcoming iPhone. If so, it may be a timely feature addition.

A new report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com) has found that more than 1 in 4 of US and Western European mobile phone users will use their NFC-enabled mobile phone to pay for goods in-store by 2017, compared with less than 2% in 2012.

Worldwide, more NFC payment pilots are being launched and transitioning to full commercial service being spearheaded by both mobile network operators and financial institutions. The Juniper report found that, while mobile retail payment services of all types are growing in popularity, the ability to "tap" an NFC phone against a POS terminal to make a purchase has tremendous user appeal.

For mobile wallet providers and partners, NFC payments also provide new and personalized retail...

| Read more »
Jun 08
My WWDC predictions

Apple's 2012 Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off Monday, and there'll be a keynote at 10 am (Pacific). I'm expecting a big ol' gang of Apple execs to be on hand for the party. So what will they be celebrating?

"9to5Mac" (http://www.9to5Mac.com) says that, in a first, Apple will update four of their five Mac lines. They're probably right. I think we'll see refreshes of the iMac, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and, yes, the Mac Pro. (Sorry, Mac mini, you'll have to wait).

Per my crystal ball, the iMac, MacBook Pro lines and MacBook Air will all get Retina displays. There have been reports that the 13-inch MacBook Pro won't get a Retina Display. I'm going out on a limb here and taking it one step further: I think both the 13-inch and the 17-inch MacBook Pro models will vanish. My guess: Apple's laptop line will include 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Airs and 15-inch MacBook Pros in a variety of...

| Read more »
Jun 07
Apple patent is for morphing user interface control...

An Apple patent (number 20120144330) for morphing an user interface control object has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Systems and techniques are disclosed for morphing a first control object in a user-interface into a second control object.

According to some implementations, the first control object is provided for display on a graphical user interface presented on a display of a device. The first control object can be configured to control a parameter of a presentation of media content in response to a first input. An interaction input is received indicating a user interaction with the first control object. In response to the interaction input, the first control object can be morphed into a second control object, replacing the first control object.

A second input can be received, the second input indicating an intention of the user to change a value of the second control object. And, the value of the second control object can be adjusted...

| Read more »
Jun 07
Who are the 'beleaguered' companies now?

Remember not-so-long-ago when Apple was the "doomed" tech company with a shrinking share of the computer market. Dependent on the Mac, the company was soon to be extinct, according to many pundits.

How the worm has turned. Microsoft still rules the personal computer world with Windows, but Apple is the dominant force in the smartphone and tablet worlds.

The lost enthusiasm for developing smartphone apps is being replaced by a new passion for tablets, according to the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). The percentage of developers primarily supporting tablets is growing from 13% last year to 36% next year.

According to the Strategy Analytics report, “App Developer Survey: Developer Attitudes - 1H2012,” when Windows 8 and BlackBerry 10 are released, both
Microsoft and Research in Motion will seek to take advantage of the battleground...

| Read more »
Jun 07
Apple files for patent for slide show navigation

A new Apple patent (number 20120144297) for slide show navigation has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, a slide show, integrated into an email application, displays images such as those included as an attachment to an email message.

The user can view the slide show without exiting the email application. Slide show navigation controls are provided. An index sheet mode can be activated wherein a number of thumbnails are displayed, allowing easy navigation to any image within the slide show. Transition animations can be provided for clarifying operations such as activating and dismissing the index sheet.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Conventionally, there is no convenient way to browse and view a series of image attachments received via email without leaving that email application. Images can appear inline in the body of the email, but browsing through a series of image attachments is restricted to vertically...

| Read more »
Jun 06
A company Apple might buy: Lytro

Since Apple has approximately 10 bazillion bucks in the bank, much of it allotted for strategic acquisitions, one company it MIGHT (I'll explain in a moment) make sense for Apple to purchase is Lytro (http:/www.lytro.com). The company has developed a new digital camera technology using sophisticated software algorithms and a special lens that literally allow you to choose the focused point in a picture, after it's already taken.

In Walter Isaacson's authorized biography of Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder was quoted as saying that his desires for the future involved the reinvention of three industries: television, textbooks, and photography. The Apple TV and the rumored 'iTV" cover the former. iBooks and iBooks Author tackle the second. But what of the third industry: photography? Jobs purportedly did met with the CEO of Lytro, though we may never know why.

Last week, "iLounge" released its "New iPad Buyers' Guide." In the announcement (...

| Read more »
Jun 05
Apple conjuring up 'magic wand' TV remote?

Could this have anything to do with the rumored "iTV" (an Apple-branded HDTV)? An Apple patent (number 8194037) for a has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

An electronic device associated with a remote wand controlling the operations of the electronic device is provided in the patent. The wand may include a motion detection component operative to provide an output reflecting the motion of the wand to the electronic device, such that the movements of a cursor displayed by the electronic device may be related to the output of the motion detection component. The wand may also include an input mechanism operative to receive user inputs.

Using the input mechanism, the wand may detect a user's inputs and direct the electronic device to zoom or scroll displayed objects. The electronic device may display a screen saver by which the user may select particular media items for playback while remaining in the screen saver mode. In some embodiments, the...

| Read more »
Jun 05
Steve Jobs one of the inventors of media user...

The late Steve Jobs is listed as one of the inventors of a patent (number 8196043) for an user interface for presenting media information that's appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The invention relates to user interfaces for processing (e.g., generating, storing, transmitting and/or receiving, playing back/displaying, editing, referencing, etc.) media information, such as time-based media data representing video and/or audio. In particular, the present invention provides an interactive digital processing system-controlled graphical user interface that provides functionality for play back or other processing of time-based and still media data.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In one exemplary method, a graphical representation of a time line for a time-based media is displayed along with a graphical representation of a current time along the graphical representation of the time line. A start graphical indicator and a stop...

| Read more »
Jun 05
Time to pull the plug on Ping

At last week's "D: All Things Digital" conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook cast some doubt on the future of Ping, the company's "social network for music." Good. It's time Apple killed the failed experiment.

"We tried Ping and the customer voted and said, this isn’t something I want to put a lot of energy into," Cook said. "Some customers love it, but there’s not a huge number that do, so will we kill it? I don’t know. I’ll look at it."

Ping, introduced in iTunes 10 in 2010, lets you post your thoughts and opinions, your favorite albums and songs, the music you’ve downloaded from iTunes, plus view concert listings and tell your friends which concerts you plan to attend. It lets you follow your favorite artists to see what they’re up to, check out photos and videos they’ve posted, see their tour dates and read comments about other artists and albums they’re listening to. You can also create a profile on iTunes to let your friends know who you’re following, what you’re...

| Read more »
Jun 05
Apple patent involves displaying digital images

An Apple patent (number 8194099) for techniques for displaying digital images on a display has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a set of items from a sequence of items is displayed. The sequence of items includes one or more undisplayed items that do not belong to the set of items. The set of items are displayed, in an arrangement that includes a plurality of lines, in an order that corresponds to the sequence.

In response to user input that selects a particular item from the set of items, it is determined whether the number of lines, in the plurality of lines, that precede the line containing the particular item is less than a first predetermined threshold. If that is the case, a line of undisplayed items that precede the set of items is displayed, while a line of displayed items that follow the particular item is ceased to be displayed.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Digital photographers may use a software...

| Read more »
Jun 05
Apple working on credit card payments from mobile...

Apple is working on further ways to make your iOS devices a "digital wallet," as evidenced by patent number 819554, which has appeared at the U..S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's for a method and system for payment and/or issuance of credits via a mobile device

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "An account of available credit for the user of the mobile device is maintained and authorization to issue credit is generated when a request for credit for the mobile device is received and there is available credit in the account associated with the mobile device equal to or greater than the requested credit. Credit may be sponsored by one or more sponsors and issued to the user, upon authorization, to enable the user to use the mobile device to purchase items, e.g., at a point of sale terminal.

"Usage of cellular or mobile telephones is very popular and common. In a typical arrangement for use of a mobile telephone, a user subscribes to a mobile...

| Read more »
Jun 05
Apple patent is for remote slide presentation

An Apple patent (number 8195768) for remote slide presentation has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Techniques for remotely viewing a presentation are disclosed.

In accordance with these techniques, a host device executing a presentation application makes a presentation available over a network. In one embodiment, a remote device receives presentation data corresponding to a currently displayed slide of the presentation. The remote device may then display a representation of the currently displayed slide at the remote location.

Here's Apple's background and summary on the invention: "The present disclosure generally relates to techniques for making a presentation available for remote viewing. For example, the presentation may be made available via a conventional web browser or other application capable of accessing the presentation contents over a network. In one embodiment, a presentation application on a network may include a web server.

... | Read more »
Jun 05
Apple wins design patent for Cinema Display

from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The inventors are Jody Akana, Bartley K. Andre, Jeremy Batailou, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iulis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Apple was also granted the following patents:

Patent number 8196214 is for a method and apparatus enabled by computer (or equivalent) hardware and software for protection of content such as audio and video to be downloaded or streamed over a computer network such as the Internet.

Patent number 8196153 involves techniques for associating device drivers via a device tree are described herein. In one embodiment, a device tree having a hierarchical structure is maintained by a kernel of an operating system.

Patent number 8196393 is for methods, systems, and...

| Read more »
Jun 04
Apple (51%), Samsung (24%) dominate India’s tablet...

Apparently, consumers worldwide understand that you get what you pay for. Despite a series of low-cost media tablet launches in the second half of 2011, Apple’s iPad has managed to maintain its premier position in the Indian market with 51% market share in 2011.

Samsung’s achievement at extending its success in the handset segment to the tablet segment, with its Galaxy Tab, allowed Samsung to occupy the second spot with 24% market share. Indian consumers also showed a strong penchant for RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook after prices were slashed significantly, making it the third largest player with a 10.4% market share.

The presence of ultra-low cost media tablets with non-optimal specifications might ruin the user experience and, in turn, prove to be a dampener for media tablet growth. Although there is lot of buzz in the Indian market, media tablets are yet to demonstrate their value proposition to Indian consumers," says ABI Research analyst Aishwarya Singh.

"...

| Read more »
Jun 01
The Northern Spy: inertia, emotion and greed

By Rick Sutcliffe

The Spy observes with each passing month that business and the economy seem driven, not by stereotypical hard-nosed logic surrounding bottom line considerations, but by inertia, emotion, and untrammeled greed.

This applies to individual enterprises, industry sectors, and whole economies, and is reflected in actual success, stock and bond evaluations, and exchange rates (proxy instruments along with bonds for the equity of nations). Indeed, in the current environment, rhetoric around social agendas or even the general good, sound increasingly hollow, regardless of whether such originates from corporate, union, or political sources (all parties). Pride, self-interest, and a general lack of concern for others have become the hallmarks of our age. So, pardon the Spy if the shoe seems to fit, has cynicism.

Inertia is a good old physics concept that measures the reluctance for change in momentum. The sedentary...

| Read more »
Jun 01
Can/will Apple expand iCloud to include VoIP services...

Microsoft Corp. is working on meshing Skype into its large product portfolio after acquiring the Internet calling service for US$8.5 billion, reports "The New York Times" (http://macte.ch/uh024). The goal is to provide "superior Skype experience on products as various as Windows PCs and Xboxes."

It seems likely, then, that Apple could expand iCloud to include VoIP services. But let me explain. Skype and Vonage are pure VoIP plays. Currently, the only voice/video play that Apple has is through iChat and FaceTime. iChat is powered by AOL's AIM service, so it's not actually in Apple's control. FaceTime is a real digital communication service but it's video/audio with no option for just pure audio. Also, you can only use it when you are on a Wi-Fi network. (Speaking of which, whatever happened to Apple's announced plans to make FaceTime an open industry standard?)

The reason I bring up Vonage is because...

| Read more »
May 31
Apple patent is for computer with illuminable portion...

An Apple patent (number 20120133301) for an active enclosure for a computing device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It revives an idea mentioned in previous patents for computer hardware that gives feedback depending on the task on which you're working. In fact, the patent even mentions multi-colored iMacs, which apparently references the early incarnation of Apple's all-in-one desktop.

The invention involves a computing device that includes a housing having an illuminable portion. The computing device also includes a light device disposed inside the housing. The light device is configured to illuminate the illuminable portion.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Most computing devices, including portable computers and desktop computers, give feedback to its user via a display screen or speakers. As is generally well known, display screens are used to display textual or graphical information to a user and speakers are used...

| Read more »
May 31
Proposed FCC ruling could allow Apple to become a MVPD

The Federal Communications Commission is eyeing a change in its definition of a "multichannel video programming distributor" that may pave the way for an Apple Internet TV service.

According to "ZDNet" reporter Sean Portnoy, MVPDs to date have been limited to companies like Comcast, DirecTV and Verizon, the commission is mulling whether online companies like Hulu or Netflix could fall under that definition.

An MVPD is a service provider delivering video programming services, usually for a subscription fee (pay TV). These operators currently include cable television (CATV) systems, direct-broadcast satellite (DBS) providers, and wireline video providers including Verizon FiOS as well as AT&T U-verse and competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) using IPTV.

The importance of being an MVPD is that such firms have the right to be able to distribute certain programming that they would otherwise have to negotiate separate contracts for, notes Portnoy. The...

| Read more »
May 31
Apple wants to simplify transfer of media status info

Apple has applied for a patent (number 20120137028) involving a method and system for transferring status information between a media player and an accessory.

The method includes determining, by the accessory, when a button event occurs; and transmitting, by the accessory, at least one button status command to the media player, where the one or more button status commands comprise a context-specific button status command and at least one command associated with a particular media type. According to the method and system disclosed herein, the media player and accessory may utilize a plurality of commands in a variety of environments such as within a connector interface system environment to facilitate the transfer of status information.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A media player stores media assets, such as audio tracks or photos that can be played or displayed on the media player. One example of a media player is the iPod media player,...

| Read more »
May 30
It makes sense for Wal-Mart to sell Macs

There have been rumors floating around that Wal-Mart and/or Target could start selling Macs soon. Some folks say this would dilute Apple's image, especially in the case of Wal-Mart, whose reputation is mainly for cut-throat low pricing. But if Apple wants to grow the Mac market, Wal-Mart may be the best way to go.

I'm not the biggest fan of Wal-Mart. In my hometown of Huntingdon, Tennessee (population: 5,000), it has put the kibosh on many locally owned, mom-and-pop stores. However, if the residents of my hometown want to buy a Mac they have to drive almost 30 miles to a Best Buy in Jackson, Tennessee. There's no Apple retail store in Jackson -- and there never will be in Huntingdon.

In small towns like mine, it would make sense for Apple to have Wal-Mart carry at least a limited selection of Macs. And there are LOTS of small towns like mine all across the U.S. Most have Wal-Marts; fewer have Target stores; none have Apple retail stores.

In April some Target...

| Read more »
May 29
Greg's Bite: new Cyber Nuke discovered

By Greg Mills

The Stuxnet Worm discovered a year ago appears to be the tip of the iceberg in the covert cyber war against Iran, as a newly discovered bit of malware called "Flame" is being uncovered. Some experts think it could be even older than the Stuxnet worm, but the new worm was so so selective, it may have not been detected until now.

The new worm is even more sophisticated than Stuxnet, which infected thousands of computers and then erased itself if it couldn't find a specifically targeted Siemens industrial controller to take over. Flame is much more selective in choosing a host. Experts think less than 400 computers worldwide have been infected and half of them mysteriously are located in Iran. Iran seems to be very unlucky when it comes to computer malware.

Taking the key logger sort of hidden macro to new sophistication, Flame really amounts to a hidden remote terminal sort of access program. Everything that happens on the infected...

| Read more »
 
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