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Jul 03
Apple patent involves ... DVDs?

An Apple patent (number 8213766) for embedded information for DVD independent of DVD player software has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Yep, for DVDs, even though Apple seems to be slowly phasing out built-in optical drives on Macs -- and Steve Jobs described Blu-ray as a "bag of hurt."

The patent has an original filing date of 2010. So perhaps it has simply outgrown its usefulness. Or perhaps Apple is planning some sort of DVD version of iTunes Match such as Wal-Mart's service that turns DVD/Blu-ray collections into digital movies (http://macte.ch/1CVUJ).

Per the invention, an operating system extension is used to implement embedded information on a DVD. The operating system extension examines DVD sector addresses requested from the DVD hardware. When address associated with an embedded link is requested, an application program that can run the embedded link is started, and the...

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Jul 03
Apple patent is for a head-mounted display

An Apple patent (number 8212859) for peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Could this have something to do with the rumored "iTV?" An iMac with television features? The Mac line in general?

The invention involves 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...

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Jul 03
When will the iWork components get Retina display...

In a new "FAQ" page (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5266) about the Retina display MacBook Pro, Apple lists its apps that have been optimized for the high resolution screen.

These applications include Mail, Safari, iCal, Address Book, iChat, FaceTime, Photo Booth, and TextEdit, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, and Motion. But iWork components aren't among those listed.

C'mon, Apple, Pages, Numbers and Keynote should have been Retina display optimized when the MacBook Pro Retina display shipped. They're among the most used apps on the Mac.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 03
Apple files patent for device foot

An Apple patent (number 8213177) for a device foot has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. A moveable device foot for an electronic device is described, such as that on the Magic Trackpad and Apple keyboard.

The device foot can include a rigid weight bearing member and a flexible sealing member that is integrally formed with the weight bearing member. The device foot can be formed using a double-shot injection molding process. The weight bearing member of the foot can be mounted to an interior portion of the electronic device such that it extends through an external casing of the electronic device.

The flexible sealing member can be mounted to the external casing to seal the interior of the electronic device. During operation of the electronic device, the device foot can be configured to move relative to the external casing, such as in response to an external force applied to the electronic device.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "...

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Jul 02
The Northern Spy: Nokia, RIM, Microsoft and imitators

By Rick Sutcliffe

What boundary is the link between young and old?

Is the Spy old because he hits a significant-sounding birthday number on July 3? Perhaps. After all, two nations celebrate his birthday annually, albeit one two days early, and another a day late. And, next year will be the thirtieth since he first typed this column on his Apple II.

Yet, perhaps after all, age is a state of mind. The Spy's father was a young-looking man at 65, retired that year, and died of old age and complications from Parkinson's and other ailments but six years after. So, the Spy has always said he wouldn't retire. And, in these uncertain times, relying on pensions funds/income carries a significant level of risk.

Yes, and he can still prove the fundamental theorem of calculus, explicate relativity, programming language design, electromagnetic equations, or the automorphism group of a graph, so...maybe not this year. A part sabbatical promises to be...

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Jul 02
Tablets helping shake up the traditional TV viewing...

If/when Apple releases its own branded HDTV, the product will almost certainly continue the trend of allowing Apple users to starting watching a video on device and continue watching it on another. And if the broadcast networks are smart, they'll work with Apple to move beyond today's outdated method of receiving content.

For example, new data from comScore (http://www.comscore.com), which specializes in "measuring the digital world, finds that tablets have quickly reached a critical mass in the U.S. with one in every four smartphone owners using tablets during the three-month average period ending April 2012. The study also found that tablet users were nearly three times more likely to watch video on their device compared to smartphone users, with one in every 10 tablet users viewing video content almost daily on their device.

"Tablets are one of the most rapidly adopted consumer technologies in...

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Jun 29
Most Americans doubt safety of cloud storage 

Apple, with its iCloud, and other companies that offer cloud storage apparently have some work to do convincing folks such storage is safe.

Following the latest report released on Monday by the Gartner research group (http://www.gartner.com), which focused on the future of digital storage in "the cloud," one of the leading coupon code websites in the US has conducted a flash-poll of Americans to discover more about their opinions towards cloud storage; and whether they would feel comfortable in using cloud-based services at home.
 
CouponCodes4u.com, a coupon code website, CouponCodes4u.com, a coupon code website, conducted a flash-poll of 2,007 Americans, aged 21-35, in a bid to discover more about their perceptions concerning data stored in the cloud and whether hey felt comfortable using cloud storage. Respondents were also asked whether such technology would make them leave their hard drives...

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Jun 28
Apple patent is for electronic device with two sensors

An Apple patent (number 20120162465) for an electronic device with two image sensors -- think laptop -- has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, the electronic device may include a black-and-white camera having a first sensor area configured to receive luma data pertaining to the object.

The first sensor area may correspond to a first pixel array, the luma data associated with the first pixel array. The electronic device may also include a color camera having a second sensor area configured to receive chroma data pertaining to the object. The second sensor area may correspond to a second pixel array. The chroma data may be associated with the second pixel array. The electronic device may also include first logic configured to correlate pixels in the first pixel array with locations on the second sensor area.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "An embodiment of the present invention relates to an electronic device for producing an...

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Jun 28
Apple files patent for text input using speech data

An Apple patent (number 20120166192) for providing text input using speech data and non-speech data has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It apparently involves the Dictation feature on the new iPad and the upcoming Mountain Lion operating system, as well as Siri on the iPhone 4S.

Per the patent, the interface can receive speech input and non-speech input from a user through a user interface. The speech input can be converted to text data and the text data can be combined with the non-speech input for presentation to a user.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Keyboards or keypads are often used to input text into computing devices. However, some software solutions enable the user to enter text data using speech. These software solutions convert the speech to text using speech recognition engines. However, these software solutions can be difficult to use when entering symbolic characters, style or typeface input because they...

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Jun 28
Apple patent is for an universal interface for info...

An Apple patent (number 20120166477) for an universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention provides convenient access to items of information that are related to various descriptors input by a user, by means of a unitary interface which is capable of accessing information in a variety of locations, through a number of different techniques.

Using a plurality of heuristic algorithms to operate upon information descriptors input by the user, the present invention locates and displays candidate items of information for selection and/or retrieval. Thus, according to Apple, the advantages of a search engine can be exploited, while listing only relevant object candidate items of information.

Here's Apple's sumary of the invention: "The present invention provides convenient access to items of information that are related to various descriptors input by a user, by means of a unitary...

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Jun 28
We'll store over 1/3 of our digital content in...

The desire to share content and to access it on multiple devices will motivate consumers to start storing a third of their digital content in the cloud by 2016, according to Gartner (http://www.gartner.com). The research group says just 7% of consumer content was stored in the cloud in 2011, but this will grow to 36% in 2016.

I'll be among that number. However, I'm not depending solely on "the cloud" to hold my data.

"Historically, consumers have generally stored content on their computers, but as we enter the post-PC era, consumers are using multiple connected devices, the majority of which are equipped with cameras. This is leading to a massive increase in new user-generated content that requires storage," says Shalini Verma, principal research analyst at Gartner. "With the emergence of the personal cloud, this fast-growing consumer digital content will quickly get disaggregated from connected...

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Jun 27
Apple falling behind when it comes to online...

Ben Kepes has an interesting article at "infosec Island (http://macte.ch/wXvqx) dubbed "The Cloud: It's Not About the Cost." The premise of the article is that cloud computing is more about collaboration than cost savings. Apple should take note.

The survey was commissioned by the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps and taken across a range of small and mid-sized businesses. Respondents reported that the ability to collaborate effectively was a stronger driver than the cost issues.

"Data security and end-user privacy were paramount," writes Kepes. "One-quarter of survey respondents in organizations with more than 200 workers listed security and privacy as their primary concerns. These issues were followed by system availability, reliability and service level agreements, which were cited by 17.5 % of respondents. Third on the list was interoperability with existing software, as mentioned by 15% of responding...

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Jun 26
Apple patent is for unlocking devices with a gesture

An Apple patent (number 8209637) for unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, a device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device.

The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture.
The disclosed embodiments relate generally to user interfaces that employ touch-sensitive displays, and more particularly, to...

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Jun 26
Apple granted patent for light sensitive display

Apple has won a patent (number 8207946) from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a light sensitive display. It relates to touch sensitive displays.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Touch sensitive screens ('touch screens') are devices that typically mount over a display such as a cathode ray tube. With a touch screen, a user can select from options displayed on the display's viewing surface by touching the surface adjacent to the desired option, or, in some designs, touching the option directly. Common techniques employed in these devices for detecting the location of a touch include mechanical buttons, crossed beams of infrared light, acoustic surface waves, capacitance sensing, and resistive materials." The inventors are Adiel Abileah and Willem den Boer.

Apple has also been granted:

° Patent number 8207906 for an antenna insert for the iPhone. Circuits, methods, and apparatus for adapters and docking stations that include...

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Jun 26
Viewing of paid video on computers down, but still...

As paid video content becomes more available via different distribution channels, tablet and wireless phone-viewing usage has increased, while computer viewing usage has decreased from 2011, according to the J.D. Power and Associates "2012 U.S. Residential Pay-to-View Study" (http://www.jdpower.com/). But the amount of people who watch TV on their Macs or PCs is still impressive -- and a good argument for my longed-for iMac with built-in TV features.

The study, now in its second year, provides insights concerning attitudes, viewing preferences, behavior patterns, awareness and experiences among pay-to-view customers of the major home television and video service providers in the U.S. The study finds that 18% of customers use tablets for viewing paid video content, making them the most-often-used handheld device, up from 11% in 2011.

Usage by wireless phone customers increases to 16%, up from 14%...

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Jun 25
Demand for tiny tablets to fall, as will prices for...

If Apple is indeed planning an iPad mini, it shouldn't make it too small, based on some new research. In fact, it might be a good idea to just keep the iPad the same size and let those who want a smaller screen go for an iPod touch.

As the tablet market continues to heat up, manufacturers are striving to differentiate next-generation products to compete with the iPad, according to Stephanie Ethier, senior analyst, Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). Screen size has emerged not only as a key differentiator, but also the leading indicator of different tablet usages.

New data from the research group highlights top tablet usage scenarios based on device screen size and provides market insight based on the different tablet form factors. For example, tablets with smaller form factors in the 3.5-inch to less than 7-inch range best serve entertainment needs that...

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Jun 22
Hey, Apple, open up a store in my end of town

This is a totally selfish column, so feel free to move on if you wish. But I want Apple to open a retail store in my end of Nashville (that would be the north side).

Apple has a retail store in the west side of Music City in the Green Hills Mall. According to the daily newspaper, "The Tennesseean" (http://www.tennessean.com) another is planned for Williamson County, the next county over. When the doors open it will be only the third Apple Store in the state, but the second in Middle Tennessee. (The third one is in Memphis, TN.)

"An Apple Store at the mall in Nashville’s posh Green Hills neighborhood is often crowded with customers," notes "The Tennessean." "A nearby location in Franklin, also an affluent community, could help Apple reach a greater chunk of the demographic drawn to its pricey, pocket-sized inventions."

A little condescending, perhaps. But there's a demographic in the north...

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Jun 21
Apple working on high-speed connector inserts, cable

An Apple patent (number 20120152613) for high-speed connector inserts and cable has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, high speed connector inserts and cables having improved heat conduction, high strength, and may be manufactured in a reliable manner. One example may provide a connector insert having several paths by which heat may be removed from circuitry in the cable insert. In one example, heat may be removed from one or more circuits by forming a thermal path between a circuit and a shield of the connector insert.

Another path may include one or more pads on a side of an integrated circuit board that are soldered directly to the shield. A braiding surrounding a cable may be soldered or otherwise thermally connected to the shield. Another example may provide a cable having a braiding that includes one or more types of fibers, such as aramid fibers. Another example may provide for increased manufacturability by using a wire comb...

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Jun 21
Apple patent is for Apple TV (and perhaps 'iTV...

Apple has filed a patent (number 20120154268) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for remote control systems that can distinguish stray light sources. It apparently involves the current Apple TV and perhaps the rumored Apple-branded HDTV ("iTV").

Remote control systems that can distinguish predetermined light sources from stray light sources, e.g., environmental light sources and/or reflections are provided. The predetermined light sources can be disposed in asymmetric substantially linear or two-dimensional patterns. The predetermined light sources also can be configured to exhibit signature characteristics. The predetermined light sources also can output light at different signature wavelengths. The predetermined light sources also can emit light polarized in one or more predetermined polarization axes. Remote control systems of the present invention also can include methods for adjusting an allocation of predetermined light sources and/or the technique used to...

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Jun 21
Movie attendance down -- what this could mean for...

If Apple launches its own HDTV (the much-rumored "iTV") it has a chance to not only revolutionize TV viewing IF it can offer a la carte TV programming (with channels being offered as "apps" instead of in "bundles") , but can also capitalize on a disturbing trend at the cinema.

An annual survey by the public relations firm Edelman -- as reported by the "Deadline" site (http://www.deadline.com) -- finds that frequent moviegoing has plummeted among entertainment options for Americans during the past three years. The study shows that TV remains the most-used source of entertainment (45% of Americans frequently turn to it for entertainment, and 58% in the UK), while the Internet continues to creep up in usage (34% of U.S., 27% of UK). 

The real loser, however, was “cinema/movies,” which now rate as a “frequent source of entertainment” among just 3% of U.S. consumers. That's drastically down from 28% in...

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Jun 21
Apple patents involve battery technology, more

Several Apple patents have appeared today at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Two patents involve battery technology. Patent number 20120153728 is for balancing voltages between battery banks and involves a system that that balances voltages between battery banks. The system includes battery banks, including a first bank and a second bank, and a first capacitor. William C. Athas and Thomas C. Greening are the inventors.

Patent number 20120153898 involves a method and system for charging a series battery. Some embodiments of the present invention provide a system for charging a series battery, wherein the series battery is comprised of a set of banks which are connected in series, so that the same charging current passes through each bank. During the charging process, the system measures a voltage across each bank in the set of banks. The system then compares the measured voltage with a target voltage for each...

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Jun 20
Could an 'iTV" sport a Retina display?

If Apple does indeed release its own HDTV (the rumored "iTV") could it sport a Retina display? That seems likely. The Retina display introduced with the Retina display MacBook Pro is the future of displays at Apple, especially as pricing goes down.

3D televisions haven't been a bust, but haven't sold in the big numbers expected. That should change when 3D TVs that don't require glasses eventually arrive. However, many people believe that ultra-high 3840 × 2160 definition (UD), also known as 4K×2K, will be a meaningful value-added feature on TV sets, according to the NPD DisplaySearch (http://www.displaysearch.com) research group.

4K×2K has four times as many pixels as FHD (1920 × 1080), which is the current prevailing resolution for LCD TV panels. Smart phones and tablets -- and, I'm betting, the Retina display MacBook Pro -- have proven that end users enjoy higher resolution; in fact,...

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Jun 19
Greg's Bite: Microsoft's new tablets,...

By Greg Mills

Famous for pre-launching visionary vaporware products, still way back in the pipeline, that either don't actually launch or have serious flaws that slowly become apparent, Microsoft did it again.  

Hopeful that the Windows fan boys would stir up iPad killer anticipation and raise Microsoft's fortunes, CEO Steve Ballmer showed off yet another prototype tablet. Despite declaring Apple's iPad's market a "rounding error sized challenge to Windows," Microsoft now sees that Apple is indeed taking significant business sales away from them and their partners.  

The first thing you notice is that the latest iPad killer is 9 x16 in shape, due to the HDTV format screen. RIM picked that format for their failed PlayBook tablets, as well. Not only is the screen real-estate truncated for uses other than watching video, for reasons only Microsoft can fathom, they plan to release two versions of the Surface tablet that are platform incompatible,...

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Jun 19
Apple patents range from conducting searches to remote...

Several Apple patents have appeared today at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

° Patent number 8205157 involves methods and graphical user interfaces for conducting searches on a portable multifunction device. In accordance with some embodiments, a graphical user interface on a portable multifunction device with a touch screen display includes: an application interface of an application that includes an application interface region with an edge; and a search input area for entering a search query for the application.

° Patent number 8204684 is for adaptive mobile device navigation. Per the patent, adaptive mobile device navigation system, methods, and apparatus provide location information for a mobile device performing location estimation using dead reckoning.

° Patent number 8203094 involves switch assembly instructions. Electronic devices are provided with switch...

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Jun 19
Tablet sales will eclipse those of PCs by 2015

The Yankee Group (http://ww.yankeegroup.com) says that tablets in use in the U.S. will climb from 25 million in 2011 to more than 134 million in 2015, with sales eventually eclipsing those of personal computers.

Of course they will. Tablets are less expensive and serve different functions for the most part. Smartphones will outsell tablets, but that doesn't bode ill for the tablet market. We're talking (no pun intended) apples and oranges.

Currently, iPads represent 51% of all tablets owned in the U.S., leaving all other makers battling for less than half the overall market. Still, almost 25% of respondents who intend to buy a tablet in the next six months say they don’t know what brand they will purchase, which presents huge opportunity for manufacturers looking to grow their base, according to the Yankee Group.

Other findings from the research group's report include:

° The...

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