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Sep 17
Are books doomed to extinction?


Author Michael Levin says he can see the writing on the iPad.

"Unless something changes, books as we know them are doomed, and not simply because people prefer to read on their iPads or Kindles" says Levin, (www.BusinessGhost.com), a "New York Times" best-selling author, as well as editor, publisher, co-writer and ghostwriter. "You’ll see the major publishing houses starting to go away in three to five years. Their business model is in free fall. Already, we’re seeing books becoming shorter, cheaper, and diminishing in quality. You’ll soon see fewer really good authors bothering to write books, because books are no longer a meaningful source of revenue."

Levin points to several developments he says foreshadow a sad ending for books:

° Attention spans are diminishing. Three-fourths of teachers said their students’ attention spans are shorter than ever, according to a poll released in June....

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Sep 14
People are using TV differently -- which could be good...

Rumors say that complicated licensing deals with uncooperative film/TV studios and satellite/cable providers are delaying the rumored Apple-branded HDTV (the "iTV") as well as a cable-ready Apple TV (http://macte.ch/W0PHd). If and when such deals are hammered out, Apple could be in a great position as far as "capturing the living room" is concerned.

According to an "Associated Press" report (macte.ch/mbyw0), the number of U.S. homes that don't get traditional television service continues to increase, but that doesn't mean they don't have TVs. The Nielsen company says in a recent report that three-quarters of the estimated five million U.S. homes that don't get TV signals over the airways or through cable, satellite or telecommunications companies still have TV sets.

Many of these homes are satisfied to use their TVs for games or get programming through DVDs or services like Netflix or Apple TV,...

| Read more »
Sep 14
One take on the iPhone 5 hype

By Hathem Brand

It's mid-September, and for techheads that can only mean one thing: The iPhone 5 is now up for grabs on store shelves. In retrospect, have the cynics (and conversely, the promoters) been proven right? Did the iPhone 5 really deserve the waves of hype it made on the tech front?

Let's go over some of the most prominent promises made and kept.

The A6 chip

Before the release, reports of the iPhone5 incorporating the much hyped quad-core A6 chip were rampant. This, however, seemed to have been fueled by camps from both sides of the fence.

If you'll remember, the excitement over the previously released A5X chip had been quickly silenced by cries of supposed foul play, mainly directed at the chip not turning out to be truly quad-core. While more a marketing "snafu" than anything else (the chip only had a dual-core CPU, although its GPU was quad-core), it nevertheless incensed a lot of consumers who...

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Sep 13
Apple beefing up cursor transition features on the Mac

An Apple patent (number 201202237) shows that Apple is working on ways for cursors in Mac OS X to more easily transition based on where it's located on screen and what activity is underway at the time.

Responsive to a trigger event, a first cursor state having a first visual appearance is transitioned into a second cursor state having a second visual appearance. A transition type and transition time can be specified so that the transition can be visually perceived by a user. The cursor states can be associated with different cursor types and/or cursor schemes.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A cursor is a moving placement or pointer that indicates a position on a display. Some computer operating systems use multiple cursor types. For example, an arrow cursor may be used in one application and a crosshair or text cursor may be used in another application. Different cursor types can help a user interact with an operating system and applications...

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Sep 13
Apple patent involves managing user interface control...

An Apple patent (number 20120233569) for managing user interface control panels on the Mac has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a computer-implemented method includes displaying a user interface on a display device, the user interface displaying a content item, in response to receiving input, displaying a user interface control panel including a user interface control, the user interface control configured to enable modifying one or more attributes of the content item, and in response to detecting a first selection of the user interface control, displaying a portion of the user interface control panel and hiding a portion of the user interface control panel, the displayed portion of the user interface control panel including the user interface control.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Software applications can edit content items such as images, video, audio, documents, and the like. Content items, such as...

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Sep 13
Apple files patent video stabilization feature

Apple has filed a patent (number 2012022970) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for "zoom indication for stabilizing unstable video clips." It involves the improved stabilization feature found on the iPhone 5 and latest iPod touch, as well as its various video editing applications.

A computer-implemented method for zoom indication for stabilizing unstable video clips is described. To indicate zoom, a zoom value associated with an unstable segment of a video clip is received. The zoom value represents a value by which frames of the video clip in the unstable segment need to be zoomed to stabilize the unstable segment. An indicia is displayed representing the zoom value in a thumbnail in a user interface. The thumbnail represents the video clip. The indicia displayed over a region in the thumbnail corresponding to the unstable segment in the video clip.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Digital video clips can be recorded using digital video cameras...

| Read more »
Sep 13
Some thoughts on yesterday's Apple media event...

Yesterday's Apple media event held no major surprises. The iPhone 5, a new iTunes, a new iPod touch and a new iPod nano were revealed -- as everyone expected. There was no iPad mini, 13-inch Retina display MacBook Pro or updated iMac announcements. But they're coming.

With that in mind, here are some random thoughts that occurred to me during the media event:

° No "one more thing." Apple CEO Tim Cook didn't try to emulate Steve Jobs' famous routine of saving the biggest news of all for the end of the event, a la a "one more thing" announcement. In fact, Cook and the gang did the opposite. They started with the biggest news (the iPhone 5) and saved the least earth-shaking news (new iPods) for last. That's less dramatic, but Cook is smart enough not to copy Jobs' act.

° Naming schemes. Okay, the newest iPad is the "new iPad," the newest version of iTunes is the "new iTunes" the latest iPod touch is the "new iPod touch," the reinvented iPod nano is the "new iPad...

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Sep 13
Apple patent is for microphone proximity

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120231778) for microphone proximity detection that may relate to the new beam-forming, directional microphone system in the iPhone 5.

A mobile communications device contains at least two microphones. One microphone is located away from the handset receiver and serves to pick up voice of a near end user of the device for transmission to the other party during a call. Another microphone is located near the handset receiver and serves to pick up acoustic output of the handset receiver (a far end signal).

A signal processor measures the frequency response of the receiver. The signal processor performs spectral analysis of the receiver frequency response to determine whether or not the device is being held at the ear of the user. On that basis, the device automatically changes its operating mode, e.g., turns on or off a touch sensitive display screen during the call. Other embodiments are also described.

Here's Apple's background...

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Sep 12
What to expect at today's Apple media event

Today at 10 am (Pacific) Apple will hold a special media event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. The invite sent to the media says simply that, "It's almost here." Here's what I see being announced:

The next gen iPhone, of course, is a no-brainer. The only shock will be if Apple doesn't announce a new version of its smartphone. I've long doubted that it would be dubbed the "iPhone 5," but now it seems obvious that it will be. Why? Look carefully at the graphic from the media invitation ...

The iPhone 5 will sport a slimmer form factor wrapped around a 4-inch Retina display; that's up from the iPhone 4S’s current 3.5-inch offering. It will pack iOS 6, a quad-core A6 processor and a 9-pin dock connector that -- for better or worse -- replaces the current 30-pin standard. I also expect the iPhone 5 to support compatibility with LTE networks in the U.S., Europe and Asia. I'm not anticipating it, but I'd love to see an iPhone with...

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Sep 11
Apple wants to help you create, manage voicemail...

An Apple patent (number 8265450) for the creation and management of voicemail greetings for mobile communication devices has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a user of a mobile communication device can create and manage multiple voicemail greetings. In one aspect, a user of a mobile communication device can create customized voicemails. The customized voicemails can be assigned to specific contacts (or groups of contacts) known to the mobile communication device. The customized voicemail greetings can also have controlled expiration dates. In another aspect, customized voicemails can be assigned to incoming calls in real-time.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Today, wireless service providers provide voicemail services to their wireless subscribers using mobile phones. When a caller to a mobile phone is directed to voicemail, the user receives whatever voicemail greeting has been configured for the particular mobile phone....

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Sep 11
Apple wins patent for the iPod nano

Apple has won a patent (number 8264820) for a handheld computing device and handheld music player. It's for the iPod nano.

The handheld computing device includes a seamless enclosure formed from an extruded tube. The extruded tube includes open ends and internal rails which serve as a guide for slidably assembling an operational assembly through the open ends of the extruded tube, a reference surface for positioning the operational assembly relative to an access opening in the seamless enclosure, and a support structure for supporting the operational assembly during use. The handheld music player includes an elongated extruded tube extending along a longitudinal axis.

The elongated extruded tube has a first open end and a second open end opposite the first open end, and defines an internal lumen which is sized and dimensioned for slidable receipt of operational components of the handheld music player. The lumen includes rails for guiding the operational components to...

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Sep 11
Stressed out by your computer? Get a Mac!

New research commissioned by Crucial.com, which provides memory upgrades, provides some insight into the frustration experienced by Americans when it comes to the overall performance of their computers.

The nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Crucial.com, revealed that more than half (52%) of U.S. adults who own a computer have been unhappy with the performance of their computer in the past six months, with an overwhelming majority (94%) of those who have experienced performance problems indicating that their computer performance issues have caused them to experience stress.

The glib answer to this is easy: get a Mac. But I'm serious.

When those who have experienced stress as a result of their computer’s performance issues were asked to compare computer-induced stress with other forms of stress, they indicated that their computer performance issues, such as slow loading programs, unresponsiveness, and crashes, were more...

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Sep 11
Apple granted patent for iPad Smart Cover

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8264310) for its Smart Cover for the iPad. The patent is for an accessory device for peek mode.

A magnetic attachment mechanism and method is described. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach at least two objects together in a preferred configuration without fasteners and without external intervention. The magnetic attachment mechanism can be used to releasably attach an accessory device to an electronic device. The accessory device can be used to augment the functionality of usefulness of the electronic device.

The inventors are Andrew Lauder, Matthew D. Rohrbach, Daniel J. Coster, Christopher Stringer, Florence W. Ow, Jiang Ai, Jonathan P. Ive, Elvis M. Kibiti, John P. Ternus and Sean D. Lubner.

Apple has also been granted:

° Patent number 8265017 for methods and an apparatus for network capacity enhancement for wireless device coexistence.

° Patent...

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Sep 11
Apple patent involves emergency call data over...

An Apple patent (number 8265022) for an apparatus and methods for transmission of emergency call data over wireless networks has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

The invention is for methods and apparatus for providing useful data in association with a high-priority call such as an emergency call. In one embodiment, the data comprises a data (e.g., an MSD or FSD) embedded within one or more real-time protocol packets such as RTP Control Protocol (RTCP) packets, that are interspersed within the voice or user data stream (carried in e.g., RTP packets) of an emergency call.

Apparatus and methods are described for transmitting the data portion reliably from the initiating terminal (e.g., an in-vehicle system) to a Public Safety Answering Point CPSAP), by using the same transport connection as the user data.

Martin Hans is the inventor.

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

° Patent number...

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Sep 10
Global connected automotive infotainment systems...

Global connected automotive infotainment system shipments are expected to grow from 5.7 million in 2012 to 50.9 million in 2017, according to ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com). While the US is currently the leading market, it will be overtaken by both Europe and Asia-Pacific by 2017, says the research group. This could be good news for Apple and its Siri technology.

"Infotainment remains a strong driver for the connected car market with both connected navigation and multimedia streaming about to become standard features, especially in the US market," says ABI Vice President and Practice Director Dominique Bonte. "In Europe the TomTom-powered embedded Renault Carminat Live solution has seen stellar success.”

However, convergence is clearly the biggest dynamic in this nascent market with OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] such as Honda recently launching solutions based on smartphone integration...

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Sep 07
iBook support for the Apple TV? Fine, so how '...

An error message displayed in the latest beta of iOS 6 for Apple TV suggests that support for iBooks may be coming to Apple's set-top box. But what about the Mac?

After downloading an e-book from Apple's iBookstore, an Apple TV tied to the same iTunes account will present users with a notification, according to "AppleInsider" (www.appleinsider.com) The prompt tells the user that the Apple TV attempted to automatically download the iBooks content, but it couldn't be accessed because the device doesn't have the necessary software installed.

That's all well and good, but I'd still like to see iBooks, the iBookstore and iTunes U available on Mac OS X, as well as Newsstand. I want to be able to buy books, textbooks and magazines and have them -- via iCloud -- synced across all my iOS and OS X devices so I can read them whenever and wherever I choose. It makes much more sense to have ebooks and e-mags...

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Sep 06
Apple patent is for 'display snooping'

An Apple patent (number 20120226774) for "display snooping" has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's designed to provide displays that may be used as secondary display devices.

Per the patent, circuitry may be placed in a communication pathway between a host computer and a second display device external to the host computer. One example provides an interface circuit that receives communication signals from a host computer. These signals may be AUX signals sent over a DisplayPort or Thunderbolt connection. The interface circuit may pass these signals to the second display device directly, it may modify them before passing them on, it may ignore them, or the interface circuit may pass them to a processor associated with the second display device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Computing environments continue to evolve. One of the latest evolutionary steps is the use of more than one display screen to view data generated by a computer...

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Sep 06
Apple working on new wireless headset design

An Apple patent (number 20120224710) for a wireless headset device that includes an earbud assembly and a primary housing assembly, fixed to the earbud assembly, has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The present invention relates to headsets and methods for manufacturing the same. Headsets are communication devices that are worn on a user's head in order to allow hands free data and/or voice communication with a host device such as a computer, phone handset, cellular phone, an automobile and/or the like. Headsets can include one or more speakers (in proximity to one or both ears) for audio output and/or one or more microphones for audio input.

"Headsets can come in a variety of form factors or shapes. In some cases, headsets can be embodied as an earpiece that serves as the primary support mechanism for wearing the headset. For example the headset may be supported on the head by an earpiece worn over or in...

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Sep 06
Apple looks to sync mobile, vehicle devices

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120225677) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for synchronizing mobile and vehicle devices -- especially in regard to mapping features.

Per the patent, location information is received at a mobile device from the memory of a vehicle device. The mobile device is updated based on the location information. Sensor data is received from at least one sensor measuring movement of the mobile device, and an estimated location of the mobile device is calculated based at least in part on the location information and the sensor data.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The role of traditional printed maps is being supplanted by modern devices capable of rendering dynamic map displays. Devices that include mapping or navigation applications provide information regarding an area selected by a user by recalling map data from local memory or networked services.

"Mapping devices include appropriately configured...

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Sep 06
Over 30% of iPad owners want other screen sizes -- do...

Strategy Analytics' (www.strategyanalytics.com) latest tablet survey -- which covered six countries across three continents-- found that demand for 7-inch screens among future tablet owners was slightly stronger than for current iPad owners.

The "Strategy Analytics Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies Service Report" found that 10-inch screens remained the most popular preference across all countries. However, across all six countries, 20% of the sample of 923 tablet owners (including iPad owners) would prefer a 7-inch screen device for their next purchase.

The Strategy Analytics research showed marked differences between countries, particularly between US/UK, France, Germany, and Asian markets, including desired screen size, the most popular applications, distribution channels used, brand perceptions and timeframes for replacement tablet purchase.

The interest in 10-inch screens...

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Sep 06
Apple patent is for configurable input device

An Apple patent (number 20120227006) for a configurable input device has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is working on methods and systems related to having an input device configured according to a position of a user's hand relative to the input device.

In particular, in some embodiments, a method of operating a computing system is provided that includes determining an operational context of the computing system utilizing a processor of the system and configuring an input device for the system based on the operational context. The input device includes a plurality of discrete input members.

The method also includes displaying a virtual image representative of the input device on a display of the system. A position of a user's digits relative to the input device is sensed and the input device is reconfigured based on the sensed position of the user's digits. An image of the user's digits overlaying the virtual image...

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Sep 06
Apple investigates haptic feedback, electronic...

Two new Apple patents show that the company is investigating further haptic feedback and electronic percussion input methods for its devices.

Patent number 20120223824 is for a linear vibrator providing localized haptic feedback. The invention involves an apparatus for providing haptic feedback, including: a shell defining an aperture; a driver disposed within the shell; a mass disposed within the coil; and a projection connected to the mass and extending through the aperture. Also described is a method for providing generalized and localized haptic feedback, including the operations of: receiving an input signal; determining if the input signal corresponds to a generalized haptic feedback; if so, providing a first input to a linear vibrator; otherwise, providing a second input to a linear vibrator; wherein the linear vibrator outputs a generalized haptic feedback in response to the first input; and the linear vibrator outputs a localized haptic feedback in...

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Sep 06
Apple granted patent for composite design of the iPhone

Apple has been granted a patent (number 20120222985) for a composite enclosure; the invention involves the build of the iPhone.

Per the patent, a composite enclosure for housing electronic devices, and methods related thereto, are provided. In particular, in some embodiments, a method of manufacturing a composite enclosure for housing electronic devices includes winding composite material about a mandrel and curing the composite material to create a composite hoop.

A panel is formed in a separate process that includes stacking a plurality of composite layers in a mold and curing the composite layers to create a composite panel. The composite hoop and the composite panel are bonded together to form the composite enclosure.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "A typical mobile phone enclosure consists of a back panel, four side walls, and a glass front panel. Generally, the enclosure may be made of molded plastic, metal or other materials. Composite...

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Sep 05
What will it take to get the Apple TV out of the...

In a "Bloomberg" analysis (http://macte.ch/2Rk4z), Mark Milian notes that Apple, Google and Roku see an untapped market in set-top boxes that deliver online entertainment to the television, but they've yet to make a major impact.

Still, the overall market for such devices, which compete with hardware from cable and satellite TV operators, is growing. Research firm IHS ISuppli (www.isuppli.com) said sales of these set-top boxes rose 39% last year to 8.6 million units globally. However, Applesold 32 million iPads in fiscal 2011, its second year on the market. The company sold around 2.8 million Apple TVs during the same span, and so far has sold four million of the devices this fiscal year.

Milian notes that technology executives and analysts say that if these boxes could just offer more cable programming, then they could succeed. On the other...

| Read more »
Sep 04
Apple patent is for hybrid antenna for electronic...

Apple has filed a patent (number 8,259,017) for a hybrid antenna for electronic devices.

Per the patent, the hybrid antenna may include a slot antenna structure and a planar inverted-F antenna structure. The planar inverted-F antenna structure may be formed from traces on a flex circuit substrate. A backside trace may form a series capacitance for the planar inverted-F antenna structure.

The antenna slot may have a perimeter that is defined by the location of conductive structures such as flex circuits, metal housing structures, a conductive bezel, printed circuit board ground conductors, and electrical components. Springs may be used in electrically connecting these conductive elements. A spring-loaded pin may be used as part of an antenna feed conductor. The pin may connect a transmission line path on a printed circuit board to the planar inverted-F antenna structure while allowing the planar inverted-F antenna structure to be removed from the device for rework or...

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