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Jun 27
The 'Net evolves from online directories to...

Although the Internet entered the mainstream 15 years ago, life without it today is nearly incomprehensible, And our use of the web has rapidly changed as well, as shown by new data from the Flurry research group ( 

Flurry says that, in simple terms, the Internet has evolved from online directories (Yahoo!) to search engines (Google) and now to social media (Facebook).  Built on the desktop and notebook computer platform, the web’s popularity is significant.

Today, however, a new platform shift is taking place.  In 2011, for the first time, smartphone and tablet shipments exceed those of desktop and notebook shipments, says Flurry. This move means a new generation of consumers expects their smartphones and tablets to come with instant broadband connectively so they, too, can connect to the Internet.

In a new report, Flurry compared how daily interactive consumption has...

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Jun 24
iPhones, parenting and social media

By Andrew Eisner

A parent's job is never finished, especially when it comes to keeping up with the technology that children so easily seem to understand. If you're a parent today, chances are, you're well aware that your job has grown far beyond making sure homework is completed and everyone gets to school on time.

Today's parents have Facebook, Twitter and a whole new world of social tools to consider when it comes to raising their children and even getting some well-deserved socializing in for themselves, and leading the way in most digital activities are iPhone owning parents, or "iParents" as we affectionately call them.

In an effort to help parents understand what other parents are doing (and not doing) in the social space, Retrevo, a consumer electronics shopping and review site commissioned a Gadgetology study to look at the changing role of parents in this new age of technology.

iPhone parents collect more Facebook...

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Jun 24
Android more likely than the iPhone to develop...

In a big "oops" for the Android platform, a year-long study by WDS ( of more than 600,000 technical support calls has found that Android devices are more likely to develop a hardware fault than many of their smartphone competitors.

Fourteen percent of all technical support calls for Android devices related to hardware faults in contrast to just 3.7% for RIM BlackBerry, 8% for iPhones (iOS) and 9% for Windows Phone 7 devices, according to the wireless industry's provider of specialist managed services. The greater propensity for hardware faults is, says WDS, a symptom of the platform's fragmentation across a broad range of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Both Apple and RIM control their hardware ecosystems and Microsoft mandates minimum hardware specifications for Windows Phone deployments. In contrast, Android is widely deployed by more than 35 OEMs globally under an open source...

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Jun 23
Apple eyeing ways to tie media items with geographical...

Apple is working on even more ways to associate media content items with geographical data, per a new patent (number 20110148936) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to presenting digital media, for example, digital photographs, digital video, and the like.

Systems and techniques are disclosed for associating and presenting media content items with locations on a geographical track path. For example, the frames of a video segment can be associated with locations on a track path. The track path can be based on position data, including position coordinates and a corresponding time coordinates, obtained while the video frames were captured.

Locations for the video frames can be determined based on a start time of the video segment, a frame rate of the video segment, and the position data. The video segment can be displayed with user controls that enable a user to manipulate the frame of the video segment being displayed including a time indicator and a...

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Jun 23
Apple patent is for audio interface for iOS devices

An Apple patent (number 20110153044) for a directional audio interface for a portable media device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves controlling iOS devices through an audio interface.

Methods and apparatus for a user to interact with and control a portable media device through an audio user interface are discolsed. The audio user interface includes one or more audible control nodes perceived by the user to be spatially located at different points about the user of the portable media device.

A sensor in the portable media device senses a movement of the portable media device by the user toward one or more of the audible control nodes. The operation of the portable device is modified in accordance with the sensed movement of the portable media device. Aram Lindahl and Richard Powell are the inventors.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The increased density and lower cost per Mbyte of storage media,...

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Jun 23
Apple patent hints at future Apple TV features

A new Apple patent (number 201110154200) for "enhancing media content with content-aware resources" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It shows what Apple is considering for future versions of the Apple TV (or perhaps an Apple-branded television set, if you buy the latest rumors).

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In the realm of computer software operating systems and application programs, light-weight, single-purpose applications referred to as 'widgets' or 'gadgets' have gained some prominence as useful resources with which users can interact to obtain information (e.g., weather, stock ticker values), perform a particular function (e.g., desktop calculator, web search interface) or interact with others (e.g., send messages back and forth among friends on a social networking website).

"Apple Inc., for example, provides an environment known as 'Dashboard' that enables users to choose from among a wide assortment of widgets,...

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Jun 23
An Apple-branded TV set? It might happen

Apple is reportedly teaming up with a "major" OEM (original equipment manufacturer) to make Apple-branded television sets, reports "DailyTech" (, quoting an unnamed "former Apple executive."

According to source Apple plans to "blow Netflix and all those other guys away" by bundling Apple TV + iTunes inside physical television sets. "You'll go into an Apple retail store and be able to walk out with a TV," the unnamed source reportedly told "DailyTech." "It's perfect."

I'm still dubious that Apple will make its own television sets -- but not as dubious as I once was. After all, Apple has conquered the smartphone, MP3 player and music fields. The Mac continues to grow in the computer industry. Apple is working on the ebook and e-magazine arenas. That leaves TV and console gaming as two markets left to take on. (The Apple TV has made some progress, but not enough.)

As "DailyTech...

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Jun 22
Let's add some premium audio to upcoming iMacs

This week Toshiba’s Digital Products Division (DPD) introduced the DX1215, the company’s first all-in-one PC. Forget some options I'm a bit jealous of (an HDMI port and optional TV tuner), there's one feature I REALLY wish Apple would add to the iMac: better speakers.

I haven't actually heard the DX1215's speakers, but they sound promising (pun intended). The Toshiba all-in-one has "a premium audio system with Onkyo stereo speakers professionally tuned by experts at Waves and featuring Waves MaxxAudio processors that provide users with unparalleled performance, delivering sound that is louder, clearer, fuller and more intelligible."

“We are honored to work with Toshiba to tune the audio system in its first All-in-One desktop for the U.S. market to create an impressive audio experience,” said Tomer Elbaz, general manager of Waves Semiconductor and Licensing Division. “Whether listening to music, watching a movie, playing a game or talking on Skype, users expect...

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Jun 21
Greg's Bite: RIM and Nokia death throes

By Greg Mills

All the major competitors to Apple's iOS platform are struggling right now, including Android. The almost laughable RIM PlayBook has been panned by just about every tech writer on the Internet and press.  

Stories of high return rates, furious customers and cell networks that won't even stock the darn thing are coming out every day. RIM stock prices are falling as the RIM market cap collapses to historic lows. Some have even speculated that Apple might buy RIM. I think Apple would be interested in RIM patents, once they fail, but would you buy a sinking ship? Why not just let it fail?  

I have read insider stories of RIM cramming stock down the supply chain to networks that can't sell PlayBook and aren't even satisfied with the technical issues of running the darn thing on their networks. One tech writer had RIM sample him a PlayBook on a loner basis, but then couldn't get RIM to tell him where to ship the darn thing back to them...

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Jun 21
Facebook could have a Ping killer in the works

Facebook, after consolidating its position in three major Internet sectors -- retailing, news and games -- is now getting serious about music and media, according to a "GigaOm" article ( And they could offer a "Ping" killer.

At The Cable Show held recently in Chicago, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts extolled the values of cloud-based services and explained why cloud-based guides and interfaces are going to be key to television’s future. He showed off a deep integration with Facebook that can make television more social with recommendations from your social graph, says "GigaOm." The article also expects FaceBook to offer more features for listening to music, sharing music and discussing music.

That sounds like Apple's Ping, doesn't it? In case you're not familiar with Ping, it was introduced with iTunes 10. It's a music-oriented social network for following your favorite artists and...

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Jun 21
Apple granted patents involving the iMac, iPhone,...

Apple has been granted several patents today by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,965,498 is for a cover glass to housing an interface system -- the iMac's edge-to-edge glass cover. Todd Gotham, Shin Nishibori, Christopher Stringer, Michael McBroom, Daniel McBroom, Brian Sudderth and John Ternus are the inventors.

Patent number 7,963,809 is for a MicroDVI connector which is probably the Mini DisplayPort. The inventors are Dave Hardell Glen Wheelock, Chris Ligtenberg, Steve Sfarzo, William Cornelius and Bartley Andre.

Patent number 7,966,578 is for a portable, multifunctional device, method and graphic user interface for translating displayed content. Think iPhone. Francisco Ryan Tolmasky, Richard Williamson, Chris Blumenberg, and Patrick Coffman are the inventors.

Patent number 7,966,577 is for a multimedia control center-- Front Row...

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Jun 20
iPhone Owners Ready For Mobile Wallet, Will Apple...

By Andrew Eisner

Despite the fact that Google was out in front of the pack with a mobile wallet announcement, a recent Pulse study from Retrevo, a shopping and review site specializing in consumer electronics, found that not only are iPhone owners more enthusiastic about a mobile wallet, but they want Apple to provide it.

What's NFC?

NFC, which stands for Near Field Communication, puts a chip in devices, like cell phones, that makes it possible to, not only use your phone to make purchases in a store, but ultimately replace a lot of other things you normally carry around in your wallet like a bus pass, library card, insurance cards, and lots of other things. The first major implementation of NFC in the U.S. will be primarily as a payment method when Google wallet roles out trials this summer in San Francisco and New York. The big question of whether or not Apple will put NFC in the rumored iPhone 4S remains unanswered and at...

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Jun 20
Do you care about live video streaming on your iOS...

Do you watch live TV on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad? One research group is dubious that many of us do.

Eager to fend off the threats of non-traditional distribution platforms such as Hulu and Netflix and remain relevant, US pay TV providers have recently begun launching their own iPad apps -- allowing subscribers to access their recorded and video-on-demand content from a tablet device.

This move hasn't exactly been welcomed by content creators, and the well-publicized battle between Time Warner Cable and Viacom appears likely to be decided in the courts. However, a recent report by Strategy Analytics ( indicates that the debate might be nothing more than a distraction.

Central to the current dispute is the live video streaming feature, enabling subscribers to view live real-time content on a mobile device -- just as if they were...

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Jun 17
Could iMessage be a Growl substitute?

iOS 5, when it arrives this fall, will sport iMessages. Could it also be a Growl replacement of sorts?

As described by Apple, iMessage is a new messaging service for iOS 5 users. You'll purportedly be able to send unlimited text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G from your iOS device to anyone with an iDevice.

iMessage is built into the Messages app, so you can send text, photos, videos, locations and contacts. You can do group messaging. You can track your messages with delivery receipts and optional read receipts, see when someone's typing and encrypt text messages.

Obviously, iMessages is set to take on Blackberry's BBM. But what about Growl? It's a notification system for Mac OS X that allows applications that support Growl to send you notifications.

Growl is something that has filled a hole in notifications on the Mac for a long time. Will the aforementioned mentioned features be flexible enough to allow developers to replace Growl with them? After all, iOS...

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Jun 16
Apple working on new social networking app

An Apple patent (number 20110142016) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on a new social app. The patent is for methods, program products, and systems for ad hoc networking based on content and location are described.

A user of a mobile device can identify another user using another mobile device who is close by, if both users have requested to participate in networking. Common interests and experiences of two or more users located close to each other can be identified from content, including automatically created usage data of the mobile devices. Usage data of a mobile device can be created based on activities performed on the mobile device (e.g., songs downloaded), a trajectory of the mobile device (e.g., places traveled), or other public data available from the mobile device (e.g., pictures shared).

Each of the users can be notified that another user having the common interests and experiences is close by. A means of initiating...

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Jun 16
Apple wants to use face detection to stabilize chat...

According to a new Apple patent (number 20110141219) at the US Patent & Trademark Office the company is working on a way to use face detection as a metric to stabilize video during a video chat session.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many handheld wireless communication devices that are in use today provide video capturing capabilities. An example of such a handheld wireless communication device ("device") is a mobile phone that includes a digital camera for capturing still images and videos. With such a device, a user can record a video or conduct a live video chat session with a far-end user.

"During a video chat session, the image of the user (typically, the face of the user) is captured by the camera of a near-end device, and then transmitted over the wireless network to a far-end device. The far-end device then displays the image on its screen. At the same time, the image of the far-end user (typically, the face of the far-end user...

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Jun 16
Comic books and the iPad could be match made in heaven

Recently, DC Comics announced that on Aug. 31 it will launch a "historic renumbering" of the entire DC Universe line of comic books with 52 first issues -- and that digital versions will appear alongside print versions.

The roll-out will start with release of "Justice League" by writer and DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and artist and DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee. The publication of "Justice League" #1 will launch day-and-date digital publishing for all these ongoing titles, making DC Comics the first of the two major American publishers to release all of its superhero comic book titles digitally the same day as in print.

I have to think that DC is eyeing the iPad as the main focus of its digital publishing effort. Other devices will also figure into the equation, but the Apple tablet and comic books could be a match made in heaven.

I grew up reading comic books. Since I was a kid who worked (summers mainly at my Dad's sawmill), I had...

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Jun 16
Future Apple products could incorporate flame...

An Apple patent (number 20110144244) for halogen-free, flame retardant material has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows what future Mac and iOS products could be made of -- at least in part.

The disclosure describes halogen free flame retardant resin compositions comprising at least one thermoplastic polymer; an inorganic filler; and a flame retardant additive, wherein the flame retardant additive is an alkali metal nitrite; an alkaline earth metal nitrite; an alkali metal nitride; an alkaline earth metal nitride; an alkali metal borate; an alkaline earth metal borate; an alkali metal silicide; an alkaline earth metal silicide; an alkali metal silicate; or an alkaline earth metal silicate. Also described are computing systems having components formed of such a halogen free, flame retardant resin. Jean L. Lee is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background of the invention: "It has been estimated that about 10% of fires are caused by electrical...

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Jun 16
Apple eyeing ways to beef up wireless communication...

Apple is looking into ways of improving the robustness of a wireless communication link, according to a new patent (number 20110143805) at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The patent is for a method and apparatus to improve the robustness of a wireless communication link between a base station and a mobile communication device.

The method increases power selectively on portions of an uplink communication signal transmitted from the mobile communication device to the base station. The method monitors a quality metric value at the mobile communication device and sets the transmit power level of the first portion of an uplink communication signal to the first power level, if the monitored quality metric value is in a first range of quality values, or sets the transmit power level of the first portion of the uplink communication signal to a second power level, if the monitored quality metric value is in a second range of quality values.

The first portion of the...

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Jun 15
Add Faces and Places features to OS X Address Book

Have you ever wondered why the OS X Address Book doesn't have a Faces and/or Places feature like iPhone? Also, why isn't it linked to iPhoto?

Wouldn't it be great to see the current group on a map with pins to show where people in your Address Book reside? Or to be able to click on a link in Address Book and have it take you to iPhoto to show that person's photos?

Finally, where is iWork '11? I thought it would have debuted by now. Perhaps Apple will release it along with Mac OS X Lion next month. Or perhaps I should say "them" instead of "it," as I suspect Pages, Keynote and Numbers will sold as separate items from now on -- and will available only on the Mac App Store.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jun 14
Apple patent is for custom content gift cards

An Apple patent (number 7,959,065) for custom content gift cards has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's for a customized gift card and methods for customizing the gift card with buyer-selected downloadable content.

Per the patent, a buyer may associate pre-purchased downloadable content with a gift card such that the card is “preloaded” for a recipient. The recipient may then redeem the customized gift card and download or access the pre-purchased content. The customized gift card may also include a buyer-selected image and/or personalized message on the face of the card. Alternatively, the customized gift card may have a generic design.

Various methods are provided for producing the cards and selecting the downloadable content, including purchasing the card online and having it delivered; buying a generic card and associating content with it online; and purchasing and preloading the card at a dispenser, or kiosk. The inventors are Michael...

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Jun 14
iWork and iCloud could be best buddies

I know of a few folks that hope that iWork will go the way of MobileMe and simply become part of Apple's upcoming iCloud service. I wouldn't mind an iCloud tie-in, but I don't want iWork apps to be "just" cloud-based apps; I still want copies of the software and the documents I produce on all my hardware.

That said, it would be great if iWork gets a real on-line collaborative component (or equivalent) that will make it a real small business and student targeted competitor to Google Docs. Perhaps a finalized, mature, iCloud-integrated version of the service that's been in beta for about 100 years. Combined with free e-mail (.me and .mac), that would be a sweet public response to Google's Android.

Sure, the iAd thing was a shot at Google, but the general public doesn't really care about that. Public perception will be impacted more with real alternatives to things they see as useful to them -- e-mail, documents, calendars, etc.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Jun 14
Apple patents involve antennas, camera flashes, more

Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 7,961,151 is for antennas for compact portable wireless devices and involves the technology behind the Nike + iPod program that includes a special transceiver that embedded in a running shoe. Shu-Li Wang, Juan Zavala, and Christopher Prest are the inventors.

Per the patent, the compact portable wireless device may be part of a piece of sports equipment. A compact portable wireless device may include a transceiver module that is used in communicating with equipment such as a handheld electronic device. An antenna for a compact portable wireless device can have a relatively small size while exhibiting high efficiency. A planar ground structure for the antenna may be formed from a circuit board on which integrated circuits have been mounted. A curved inverted-F resonating element may be attached to the ground structure. A battery...

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Jun 13
Greg's Bite: Apple obsoletes entire market...

By Greg Mills

I read an interesting story about the most damaged industrial sectors in the US economy. While Apple's name wasn't mentioned, several sectors in decline are either directly falling victim to decline because of Apple's business -- or Apple represents the possible salvation of those businesses.

The market research company IBISWorld did a study of the 200 market sectors in the US that had seen the most decline in the past 10 years, and then compiled a worst of the worst preforming sectors. Among the 10 greatest economic disaster zones are: record retailers, wired communications carriers, newspaper publishers, DVD game and video store rentals, video post-production companies and photo finishers.

Thus, 60% of the worst preforming market sectors are directly related to Apple.  While these sector companies are failing across the United States, Apple is thriving. What is going on here?

Record companies are going under since they...

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Jun 13
WWDC musings: I want iBooks on my Mac

It annoys me that I can't read my iBooks on my OS X devices. But unless I missed something in the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference keynote on June 6, that still won't be possible with Mac OS X Lion.

During the keynote, Apple bragged about the number of books that have been downloaded since the the iBookstore opened: about 130 million. iBooks, along with other digital content, will be able to be stored online via the upcoming iCloud service.

iCloud will let you download your iBooks to any device, but you can only read them via the iBooks app. And there's no Mac OS X version of the app.

Apple needs to change this. They may prefer that we read our ebooks and e-magazines on our iPads, but some of us want to be able to read e-publications on our Macs. In fact, a recent Forrester survey found that laptops are still the most-used device for doing so.

So, c'mon, Apple show the Mac some iBook love.

-- Dennis Sellers

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