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Aug 14
Apple patent hints at future Apple TV, iTV features

An Apple patent (number 8243017) for a menu overlay including a context dependent menu icon has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It shows that Apple is investigating cable and satellite connectivity for its Apple TV set-top box and may hint at features of the rumored Apple-branded HDTV (the "iTV").

Per the patent, a video device displays video in one of a plurality of contexts in an onscreen display area. In response to the menu command, the video device generates a menu overlay within the onscreen display area while maintaining the video within the menu overlay, and generates within the menu overlay a context icon based on the selected context.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Media devices, such as digital video receivers and recorders, can include multiple functions and capabilities, such as recording and replaying stored content, and the like. Often content, browsing and selecting from recorded content and broadcast...

| Read more »
Aug 14
Apple wins patent for touch screen liquid crystal...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8243027) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for a touch screen liquid crystal display. Further refinements of the technology are certain to make its way into upcoming iOS devices.

The patent is for liquid-crystal display (LCD) touch screens that integrate the touch sensing elements with the display circuitry. The integration may take a variety of forms. Touch sensing elements can be completely implemented within the LCD stackup but outside the not between the color filter plate and the array plate.

Alternatively, some touch sensing elements can be between the color filter and array plates with other touch sensing elements not between the plates. In another alternative, all touch sensing elements can be between the color filter and array plates. The latter alternative can include both conventional and in-plane-switching (IPS) LCDs.

In some forms, one or more display structures can also have a touch sensing...

| Read more »
Aug 13
Tablet installed base to continue to grow and grow and...

There's no end in sight to the iPad's dominance, it seems. The tablet market will not plateau any time soon, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytics.com). The installed base of tablet computers will continue to grow at a strong pace for the coming years, surpassing 780 million in 2016, predicts the research group.

"Since the introduction of the iPad, the tablet market has shown hyperbolic growth rate," says Matthew McKee, analyst at Strategy Analytics. "Yet, many households remain tablet-less. Price erosion in the premium and high tier segments, as well as the availability of a number of smaller, lower cost tablets, like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7, will drive further sales."

Peter King, director of Tablets & Touchscreen Strategies (TTS) at Strategy Analytics, adds: "By the end of 2016, the Asia Pacific region will represent one-...

| Read more »
Aug 10
Will Apple adopt Touché technology?

Disney's Apple and Disney are good buddies, so it will interesting to see if the former adopts, helps with or has any interaction with Disney's new Touché technology.

According to Disney, Touché is a new sensing technology that proposes a novel Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing technique that can not only detect a touch event, but simultaneously recognize complex configurations of the human hands and body during touch interaction. This enhances touch interaction in a broad range of applications, from enhancing conventional touchscreens to designing interaction scenarios for unique use contexts and materials.

For example, in Disney's explorations, the company says it added complex touch and gesture sensitivity not only to computing devices and everyday objects, but also to the human body and liquids. The company says instrumenting objects and material with touch sensitivity is easy and straightforward. Purportedly, a single wire is sufficient to make objects and...

| Read more »
Aug 09
Apple working on motion tracking user interface

An Apple patent (number 20120200498) for a motion tracking user interface shows that the company is at least considering such technology for Macs and perhaps the rumored "iTV."

The patent involves a method to transition focus of a display corresponding to an object's motion tracked by a video camera or like device is disclosed. In one implementation, the display shows one or more windows or user interfaces on the display. The object's motion can be used to select one of the windows or user interfaces on the display and manipulate content presented in the window or user interface.

In another implementations, the object's motion can manipulate a three-dimensional graphical icon in a three-dimensional display environment, for example, by rotating it. In another implementation, the method further tracks motion of a second object and shifts focus of the display corresponding to the motion of the second object. In another implementation, a second display may be added to...

| Read more »
Aug 09
Apple eyes backlit keyboard for controlled brightness

An Apple patent (number 20120199455) for a keyboard design has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It's for a backlit keyboard with controlled halo brightness and contrast.

Per the patent, a keycap assembly is mounted into a case web having intersecting ribs. A flange, which can be angled, is on the bottom perimeter of the keycap and a correspondingly shaped flange is on each rib of the case web. An overlap of the keycap flange and the case web flanges prevents direct sighting of the backlight light source and also provides a more evenly distributed halo around the keycap, thereby improving both aesthetics and functionality by providing better light control and contrast.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "In one embodiment, a backlit keyboard assembly includes a keycap assembly mounted in a case web at an aperture formed by intersecting ribs of the case web. The keycap assembly has a flange around a perimeter of the bottom of the keycap and an...

| Read more »
Aug 09
Apple patents protect against attacks, reverse...

An Apple patent (number 20120201374) for systems and methods for implementing block cipher algorithms on attacker-controlled systems has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. In other words, Apple is working to it harder to hack or attack its various devices -- or reverse engineer them.

The patent is for systems and methods for an implementation of block cipher algorithms (e.g., AES) to use lookup tables to obscure key information, increasing difficulty of reverse engineering efforts. The inventors are Mathieu Ciet, Augustin J. Farrugia and Filip Toma Paun.

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

° Patent number 20120204039 for a method and apparatus for obfuscating computer software code, to protect against reverse-engineering of the code. Farrugia,, Ciet and Pierre Betouin are the inventors.

° Patent number 20120204038 for performing Boolean logic operations using arithmetic...

| Read more »
Aug 09
Apple, holograms and 3D tech: what the future could...

Ben Kunz writing for "Bloomberg Businessweek" (http://macte.ch/rLG6B) thinks that Apple devices will soon project holograms "like you’ve never seen." Sounds a bit out-there, right? But Kunz may be onto something.

Kunz notes that in November 2010, Apple patented a three-dimensional display system that would “mimic a hologram” without requiring special glasses. The patent notes that one current market gap in screen technology is the ability of a device to project stereoscopic 3D images to multiple viewers at the same time.

Patent number 20118118 is for a 3D display system that would provide a projection screen having a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. Three-dimensional images are respectively modulated in coordination with the predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function to define a programmable mirror with a programmable deflection angle.

Apple's 3D...

| Read more »
Aug 08
Reasons Mac market share will continue to beat the...

Asymco (http://macte.ch/g6hKp) notes that the Mac grew at the extremely low rate of 1.8% over last year’s second quarter and ponders whether Apple's computer growth rate will level off to that of the overall personal computer market -- which is stagnant. I don't think it will.

But first a bit of background. Apple sold four million Macs in its most recent fiscal quarter that ended in June. That's "only" an increase of 2% over the year-ago quarter compared to overall industry contraction of 1% (per the IDC research group). In fact, the June quarter saw Macs beat the overall industry growth rate for the 25th straight quarter.

And let's keep that "only 2% growth rate" in perspective. Not only was it the most Macs ever sold in the June quarter, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer says the Mac had its best ever educational quarter.

The current fiscal quarter should be even better. Last...

| Read more »
Aug 07
Apple patent involves syncing multiple media streams

An Apple patent (number 8239748) for a synchronization manager synchronizes multiple media streams. has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to synchronization of media streams, and more specifically to utilizing clocks on multiple media devices and on a single host to synchronize multiple media streams.

The synchronization manager queries a media stream output device associated with each media stream to synchronize, and in response receives the current device clock time of each device, each device's next available media stream output time, and each device's delta between available media stream output times. The synchronization manager uses this timing information to determine an earliest available media stream output time common to each media stream output device, and synchronizes the output of the media streams by providing each stream to its associated output device at the earliest available common output time.

Here's Apple's background...

| Read more »
Aug 07
Apple granted patent for recovering a computing device

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8239688) by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for securely recovering a computing device. It involves the Find my Mac and Find my iPhone features on its various devices.

A method and an apparatus for establishing an operating environment by certifying a code image received from a host over a communication link are described. The code image may be digitally signed through a central authority server. Certification of the code image may be determined by a fingerprint embedded within a secure storage area such as a ROM (read only memory) of the portable device based on a public key certification process. A certified code image may be assigned a hash signature to be stored in a storage of the portable device. An operating environment of the portable device may be established after executing the certified code.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "A method and apparatus for establishing an operating environment for a...

| Read more »
Aug 07
TVs, Blu-ray players the future cf connected devices...

Connected TV penetration in North America and Western Europe will surge from just over 10% in 2011 to over 50% by 2017, according to ABI Research (http://www.abirsearch.coim). Blu-ray penetration is expected to have a similar progression, increasing from about 25% in Western Europe and North America in 2011 to over 76% by 2017 (standalone and game consoles included).

Too bad Apple has chosen not to embrace Blu-ray. Oh well. Meanwhile, game console penetration rates by 2017 are only expected to pass 61% and 46% in North America and Western Europe respectively, with rates significantly lower in other regions.

There are four major connected video CE devices: connected TV (such as, perhaps, the rumored "iTV"?), Blu-ray players, game consoles and Smart set-top boxes (STBs). According to ABI Research Senior Analyst Michael Inouye, most CE manufacturers (notably, Samsung and LG) use a common...

| Read more »
Aug 07
Apple working on alternate iOS input methods

A patent (number 8,239,784) for "mode-based graphical user interfaces for touch sensitive input devices" shows Apple is working on an alternative input method for iOS devices.

A user interface method is disclosed. The method includes detecting a touch and then determining a user interface mode when a touch is detected. The method further includes activating one or more GUI elements based on the user interface mode and in response to the detected touch.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "The invention pertains to gestures and methods of implementing gestures with touch sensitive devices. Examples of touch sensitive devices include touch screens and touch pads. The invention also pertains to user interfaces and methods of implementing user interfaces with displays.

The invention can be implemented in numerous ways, including as a method, graphical user interface, computing device, or a computer readable medium. Several embodiments of the invention are...

| Read more »
Aug 07
Apple eyeing NFC-capable, barcode-reading shopping...

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,239,276 ) for an "On-the-go Shopping List" that hints at an NFC-capable barcode-reading shopping assistant.

NFC (Near Field Communication) is a short-range wireless connection technology that could turn the iPhone into an electronic wallet or security passkey. NFC is already in use in Asia and is expected to explode here in the next three to five years, especially if Apple adopts the technology.

A report from Juniper Research (http://www.juniperresearch.com) finds that the NFC retail payments market will exceed US$180 billion globally by 2017, more than a seven-fold increase over 2012. The leading regions of North America, Western Europe and Far East & China will contribute 90% of this market value as smartphones with NFC payment technology become standard. The Juniper report found that 2011 was a watershed year for NFC payments. 

...

| Read more »
Aug 06
Mobile integration key to set-top box market

Smart set-top boxes such as the Apple TV often garner less attention than other connected CE [consumer electronic] devices like TVs and game consoles; Apple has referred to its Apple TV as a "hobby" although it leads the market with around 4 million units shipped through 2011.

Roku has had recent success (e.g. passing 2.5M units in 2011), but the future looks at the very least challenging for these dedicated streaming devices to break out of a niche status. TVs, game consoles, Blu-ray players, and even mobile devices are quickly conspiring to engender a very competitive market for the digital living room. Even so, set-top box shipments are expected to reach as high as 57 million by 2017.

"Google has a split personality in this market," says Sam Rosen, practice director of TV & video at ABI Research (http://www.abirsearch.com). "On the one hand, China, in particular, is seeing growing...

| Read more »
Aug 03
Apple 'improves' MagSafe connector -- and...

In his "Pogue's Post" column at "The New York Times," author and tech guru David Pogue blasts Apple's MagSafe 2 connector -- and he's right. Apple blew it on this one.

It's a case of improving something until it breaks. The original MagSafe was pretty much perfect the way it was. But the "sequel" is .... well, Pogue describes it perfectly in this column:

"The beauty of the MagSafe connector was that Apple had found precisely the right balance between attachment and detachment. Strong enough to hold the connector in place, weak enough to detach if it gets yanked.

"The MagSafe 2 connector fails that balance test. Badly. The magnet is too weak. It’s so weak, it keeps falling out. It falls out if you brush it. It falls out if you tip the laptop slightly. It falls out if you look at it funny. It’s a huge, huge pain.

"That weakness is compounded by a second problem: a return to the 'T" design of older MagSafe connectors. In other words, this thing comes...

| Read more »
Aug 02
Apple eyeing a portable device (an iPad?) with a...

Three Apple patents have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that show Apple is working on ways to simplify the production of its various portable computing devices.

Patent number 20120194998 is for a portable computing device that can take many forms such as a laptop computer, a tablet computer, and so on. The portable computing device can include at least a single piece housing. The single piece housing can be machined from a single billet of material, such as a billet of aluminum. The single piece housing can include ledges with a surface receiving a trim bead and a cover. Corner brackets can be attached to the single piece housing to improve the damage resistance of the housing.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "In recent years, portable computing devices such as laptops, PDAs, media players, cellular phones, etc., have become small, light and powerful. One factor contributing to this reduction in size can be attributed...

| Read more »
Aug 02
Apple working on ways to simplify portable device...

Three Apple patents have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that show Apple is working on ways to simplify the production of its various portable computing devices.

Patent number 20120194998 is for a portable computing device that can take many forms such as a laptop computer, a tablet computer, and so on. The portable computing device can include at least a single piece housing. The single piece housing can be machined from a single billet of material, such as a billet of aluminum. The single piece housing can include ledges with a surface receiving a trim bead and a cover. Corner brackets can be attached to the single piece housing to improve the damage resistance of the housing.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "In recent years, portable computing devices such as laptops, PDAs, media players, cellular phones, etc., have become small, light and powerful. One factor contributing to this reduction in size can be attributed...

| Read more »
Aug 02
Apple patent is for user interface for backup...

An Apple patent (number 20120198383) for an user interface for backup management has appeared at the U.S Patent & Trademark Office. It seems to involve a revamped version of Mac OS X's Time Machine feature.

The patent is for methods and a computer program product for providing a user interface including earlier versions of data. In one implementation, a method is provided. The method includes receiving, while a current view is displayed in a user interface, a first user input requesting that a backup interface be displayed. In response to the first user input, the transition from displaying the current view in the user interface to displaying the backup interface is animated.

The backup interface is displayed including a display area for presenting at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of the current view, where the earlier version includes a first element. While the backup interface is displayed, a second user input is received requesting...

| Read more »
Aug 02
Apple files patent for iPad Smart Cover design

An Apple patent (number 20120194308) for a foldable accessory device has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Said foldable device being the Smart Cover for the iPad.

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.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "An accessory unit includes at least a hinge span having a first magnetic element, a flap portion pivotally connected to the hinge span. In the described embodiment, the flap portion includes a plurality of segments all but one of which are substantially the same size and wherein one segment is longer that...

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Aug 02
A proposal for Apple that puts Americans to work

The following is an opinion editorial provided by Long-Stanton Group CEO, Dan Cunningham. It was originally published in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday, July 8, 2012:

I have a Billion Dollar idea for Apple: build an iPhone plant in Cincinnati and eventually other U.S. cities to supply the U.S. market with iPhones.

This would yield a billion dollars in additional profit to Apple because of the assurance of long-term sustainable product dominance for Apple, the ability to manufacture ‘mass customized' iPhones in the U.S., and the removal of 35 days of rapidly changing inventory in transit from China to the U.S. This projected profit is based on the forecast of 44 million iPhones to be sold in the U.S. in 2012 (11.6 million in 2011 Q4) and increasing the profit by $23 each.

Because the U.S. market is demanding such a high number of units of iPhones, the plant that I am proposing would be completely automated, and highly flexible to the point...

| Read more »
Aug 01
The Northern Spy: going the new server route

Under another hat, the Spy runs WebNameHost, which is a small hosting company in business for a decade now, and offering professional hosting in a safe environment for Christian, authors, small businesses, and personal sites. This is less than a living business, but much more than a hobby, as his teaching demands that he be able to discourse with students on all manner of computing technology without seeming too much a fool or irrelevant. It also needs to break even.

Though he is otherwise Mac-centric, the commercial hosting environment of choice is a CentOS machine running Cpanel/WHM, with billing and help desk provided by WHMCS, previously a separate company, but as of this month a WHM partner. Cork, the machine he was using for everything was a dual opteron of several years seniority running CentOS 4, and therefore his version of CPanel (11.32) was the last he could use without upgrading as future versions would no longer support CentOS 4. Since it is as...

| Read more »
Aug 01
Greg's Bite: Google's ball drops -- Nexus Q...

Google had already launched its Nexus Q media hub device and promised delivery in three days, until they suddenly decided to hold the product back and make improvements that they don't care to divulge. It could be a software glitch or a defect in manufacturing. At any rate, they are giving the US$300 round, black box device away to customers who had pre-ordered.

The specs didn't include a ThunderBolt port, which is sort of peculiar as Google is busy launching the 1Gig Fiber experiment using a different media box. The Nexus Q is sort of a warmed-over, spherical, sexy Apple TV hub with a lighted ring. The claim that Apple limited its TV hook-up device to its own network is no worse than the Google Nexus Q, which severely limits function to Google's sandbox. You can't even play your own music over the Nexus Q.  

The Google Fiber project in Kansas City is now way behind the anticipated launch date, but progress is being made. Google has divided the Kansas...

| Read more »
Aug 01
42% of parents plan to buy electronic gadgets for...

This should be good news for Apple: as another school year approaches, the demand for electronics in the classroom is high.

A new survey from CouponCabin.com reports that 42%of parents plan to buy new electronic gadgets -- such as laptops, tablets, cellphones and e-readers -- for their children for the upcoming school year. In addition, nearly half (49%) of parents said their children's school requires them to purchase certain electronic gadgets for learning purposes.

When asked which of the following electronic gadgets, if any, their children's school requires them to purchase, parents with school-age children said: computer (24%), mobile phone (20%), tablet (19%), e-reader (9%), other (5%) and none (51%). However, with parents feeling the pressure to buy electronic gadgets for school use, 75% said they are at least somewhat overwhelmed with the cost of buying tech devices for their children.

With 78% of adults planning to spend $500 or less per child on...

| Read more »
Jul 31
Apple patent is for remote access to playlist of a...

An Apple patent (number 8234572) for remote access to advanced playlist features of a media player have appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Per the patent, a media player can have advanced-playlist creation capabilities such as the ability to automatically generate a playlist around a "seed" song selected by a user.

In some embodiments, the accessory can determine whether the media player can use a particular song as a seed song for an advanced playlist and can so inform the user. The user can then operate the accessory's user interface to create an advanced playlist based on a particular song, rather than having to interact directly with the media player.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Certain embodiments of the present invention relate to increasing a user's ability to control a media player using an accessory device. For example, the media player can have advanced-playlist creation capabilities such as the ability to automatically...

| Read more »
 
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