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Oct 02
Greg's Bite: iPhone leaks galore

By Greg Mills

As I write this Sunday morning early, all the Apple news sites and a lot of regular news sites are running leaked information about the iPhone launch, scheduled for Tuesday. The normally tight new product security has been breeched by even Apple in a couple of ways. What seems clear is that Apple is moving to capture greater market share with more cellular carriers to be offering iPhones and with both a lower end and higher end offering. The iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 appear to be the two new iPhone models to be announced Tuesday.

There are two main markets the cellular carriers all support. They call the two plans "post-paid" and "pre-paid." Generally, the post-paid segment is the cream of the crop and the real money for the networks. This is the plan with a contract, generally for two years, where you get a red hot deal on a phone, or a free cell phone in exchange for signing up. With iPhones, you just pay a portion of the cost of the...

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Sep 30
The iPod classic, shuffle probably coming to an end

A new rumor underscores what I've suspected for some time: the iPod classic and iPod shuffle are coming to an end.

The former -- though the very best value in iPods (160GB for US$250) -- uses a hard disk drive -- and Apple's current, true love in storage is sold state drives. As for the shuffle, it's basically an iPod nano without a screen.

I'll miss the iPod classic. It bears the most resemblance to the original iPod. It goes back about 10 years and has seen six generations. So take a bow, iPod classic, you've served us well.

As for the iPod shuffle, I've never owned one and never seen the point. I like my digital music players to have screens, so I can have more options. The shuffle debuted in 2005 and has gone through four generations.

If you're a shuffle fan, feel free to scoop some up before (assuming I'm right) they disappear. As for me, well, sorry, iPod shuffle, but I hardly knew you.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 30
Greg's Bite: RIM pulls the plug on PlayBook?

By Greg Mills

Rumors that RIM is pulling the plug on PlayBook and letting hundreds more employees go have been denied by RIM. Collins Stewart analyst John Vinh thinks the PlayBook is about over. He wrote that RIM has “stopped production” of the tablet and is “actively considering” getting out of the tablet market. This rumor was supported by those in the know in Asia, so there must be something to the rumors ...

However, rumors aside, prices for RIM's PlayBook at Best Buy have been cut again, down from US$499 to $399 to $299. The latest cut was to respond to the Amazon Kindle Fire that will sell for $200. It is thought Amazon will lose about $50 each on every Kindle Fire they sell.

You don't cut prices on products that are selling well. You cut the prices to unload soon to be discontinued products. (See...

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Sep 29
Apple to beef up head-to-head comparisons in online...

Patent number 20110238699 at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on head-to-head comparison features for its online stores.

The invention provides a comparison of a set of similar items includes: receiving from a first member of an online community a selection of a stored prior comparison created by another online community member of a set of similar items; providing to the first member a template for the comparison, the template being at least partially pre-populated using data from the stored prior comparison created by the other online community member; and receiving from the first member a submission of the comparison, wherein the comparison includes one or more modifications as made by the first member to the template. The inventors of the patent are Kenneth N. Chang, David A. Koski, Pedraum R. Pardehpoosh and Ralph E. Zazula.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "In the context of online stores, a user or...

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Sep 29
Apple eyeing gyro-facilitated video stabilization

Apple is working on a control system for video processors that selectively control the operation of motion stablization processes, per a new patent (number 20110234825) at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

According to the invention, motion sensor data indicative of motion of a mobile device may be received and processed. A determination may be made by comparing processed motion sensor data to a threshold. Based on the determination, motion stabilization may be suspended on select portions of a captured video sequence. The inventors are Yuxin Liu, Xiaojin Shi, James Oliver Normile and Hsi-Jung Wu.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Video stabilization is a class of video processing that removes unwanted shakiness from videos captured from portable camera devices such as smart phones, personal entertainment systems laptop computers and/or camcorder. The goal of video stabilization is to revise an original video sequence to mimic a sequence...

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Sep 29
Apple looking into wireless interference mitigation

Apple is working on ways to lessen wireless interference on devices such as the iPhone, per a new patent (number 20110237246) for "Wireless Interference Mitigation" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent involves mitigating interference in a mobile wireless communication device by using an estimation of the performance impact of interfering signals generated by a wireless cellular transmitter and received by a co-located wireless local area network receiver. Wireless local area network frequency band usage is modified based on the performance impact estimation and the state of the wireless cellular and wireless local area network connections.

The estimation accounts for properties of the wireless cellular transmitter and wireless local area network receiver as well as operational characteristics of the wireless cellular and wireless local area network connections. Indranil Sen is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary...

| Read more »
Sep 29
Apple is working on a hybrid drive

A new Apple patent (number 20110238887) has popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office, showing that Apple is working on a hybrid drive that combines hard disk drive (HDD) and flash memory elements.

Per the patent, a hybrid storage device that includes a hard-disk drive and a flash memory is described. When control logic in the hybrid storage device receives a request from an external device to write a block of data to a logical address in a first portion of an address space that maps to the HDD, the control logic writes the block of data to the HDD.

However, if there is a change in environmental state information of the hybrid storage device during the write operation, the control logic writes at least a portion of the block of data to a logical address for the block of data in a second portion of the address space which maps to the flash memory. Note that the address space may be common to the external device and the hybrid storage device. Khalu Bazzani is...

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Sep 29
Greg's Bite: Kindle Fire not an iPad Killer

By Greg Mills

The web is loaded today with Kindle Fire news stories, some suggesting the dread iPad killer has landed ... Not really, not for a lot of reasons. A souped-up book reader that can also run a version of the Android OS, but has a small screen and lackluster features isn't comparable to the iPad.

As Steve Jobs noted, the smaller size screen reduces actual square inches of usable surface on an inverse squared. Smaller screen sizes were tested at Apple and rejected. Keep in mind, there are rumors that the new iPhone will sport a larger screen and sort of fill-that-gap in the product line defined by the Kindle Fire. I submit that the next direction screen sizes will go is up, not down.

Apple will also introduce retina iPad screens sooner than later. The higher resolution doesn't mean much until you compare regular TV to HDTV. Wow, what a difference it makes.

Remember a year ago when the electronics shows were full of iPad...

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Sep 29
iPad killing computer sales? Not Mac sales anyway

The common theory is that the iPad is killing personal computer sales. Actually, that doesn't seem to be the case. It's killing PC sales on some levels, but not Macs.

In fact, two CitiGroup surveys conducted November, before the iPad 2 was released, at least hints at the possibility that tablet popularity increases receptivity to other gadgets. In a November 2010 survey (before the iPad 2 was released) 3% of survey respondents said they owned a tablet.

In a new survey by Citigroup, that number jumped to 18%. Interestingly, computer ownership also jumped, from 62% to 81%. And smartphone ownership increased from 28% to 59%.

Instead of cannibalizing computer sales, the iPad may actually be making more folks more comfortable with technology. That means more Mac and iPhone sales.

Peecees? Well, not so much.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 28
Apple, let's fix this full-screen glitch in Lion

Overall, I like Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion"), but aside from having to re-learn gestures, which have gone "natural," the multi-display, full screen situation is a major pain.

Go full screen with an app -- and Apple has highly touted the full screen feature -- and a second or third display attached to your Mac goes kablooey. You just get an empty, gray linen-like background on all but your main screens.

This is something that Apple needs to address. I'm an iMac owner. What if I wanted to connect a 27-inch Thunderbolt display or two (yeah, like I could afford that)? Why can't I have three monitors with separate full screen documents?

-- Dennis Sellers

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Sep 27
Apple granted patent for smart pen for portable...

The US Patent & Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent (RE42738) for a smart pen in regards to portable computers (think iOS devices and Mac laptops).

Per the patent, a portable computer arranged to rest comfortably in the hand has a small display screen. Accelerometers capable of detecting movement of the pen with respect to gravity provide input to a microcontroller which selects a response from a number of viewing modes. The pen may be held in either hand and the output message to the screen will be oriented according to the location of the pen. Full personal digital assistance functionality may be incorporated in a relatively small plastics casing and functions, such as calendar, contracts the like may be incorporated. Hillary L. Williams is the inventor.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "According to the present invention there is provided a portable computer including movement detection means responsive to movement of the computer...

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Sep 27
Features I want to see in Mac OS X 10.8

Mac OS X 10.7 ("Lion") hasn't been with us long, but I'm already considering what I want to see in Mac OS X 10.8. Features I'd love to see include:


° The ability to rename, delete and trash folders from the Open and Save dialog boxes. Apple should pay big bucks for Default Folder and just roll this into the operating system.

° An expanded Disk Utility that can optimize and defrag Mac volumes.

° The ability to start up from a Time Machine back-up and carry on working, like we can when using SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner. In other words: system cloning.

° Auto-font activation in FontBook.

° Receipts in Mail so you know when sent email has been read.

° Support for multiple TimeMachine backup profiles that are location aware so it will automatically switch from one backup volume to another when I move between home and work.

° The return of color to toolbar icons, sidebar icons, windows and scrollbars. I mean, c'mon, Apple ......

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Sep 27
Apple patents involve SRAM cells, distributed...

Apple has been granted patents involves SRAM cells and distributed computers by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Patent 8027213 is for a mechanism for measuring read current viability of SRAM cells. Per the patent, a mechanism for measuring the variability of the read current of SRAM cells on an integrated circuit includes the integrated circuit having an SRAM array including a plurality of SRAM cells. The integrated circuit may also include a selection circuit configured to select a particular SRAM cell in response to a selection input.

An oscillator circuit such as a ring oscillator, for example, on the integrated circuit may be configured to oscillate at a frequency that is dependent upon a read current of a selected SRAM cell during operation in a first mode. A frequency determining circuit that is coupled to the oscillator circuit may be configured to output a value corresponding to the frequency of oscillation of the oscillator circuit....

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Sep 26
Greg's Bite: Oracle Seeks to Kill Android

By Greg Mills

Android is turning out to be, as Steve Jobs likes to put it, "a bag of hurt," Not only are all the Android handset makers fighting Apple in courts and import agencies around the world, Oracle has Google over the barrel for intentionally using patented Java without a license. The intentional part will likely cost Google a bundle as Oracle has found a "smoking gun" set of email proving that Google, at the highest levels, knew and intentionally used Java in the Android OS without a license.

That a company whose intellectual property is infringed can get money damages is well known. That remedy is by far the most common outcome since money is the end product most companies seek from their technology. Apple and Oracle may take the less traveled road and simply demand that the infringing companies cease and desist from further infringement in the future, while collecting damages from past infringement. (See...

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Sep 26
Mobile operator shared data plan trend accelerating

While the iPad and other tablets are hot Products, the expense of requiring separate mobile broadband plans for each device to connect to 3G or 4G services has been Prohibitive.

The Strategy Analytics (http://www.strategyanalytic.coms) recently examined the emerging trend to offer multi-device data plans to drive adoption of additional 3G and 4G connected devices. They found that, recently, leading mobile operators such as Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility in Canada, Telefonica Movistar in Spain, Orange Mobistar and Proximus in Belgium have launched multi-device plans.

SFR France will launch an extra SIM option on one of its mobile data plans by end of summer. In the US, market leaders Verizon Wireless and AT&T have both said that they envision family data plans at some point in the near future.

“Our Strategy Analytics survey research shows that consumers with multiple...

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Sep 23
Greg's Bite: Apple joins electronic civil rights...

By Greg Mills

Apple, having been stung in the recent iPhone tracking flap, has joined another industry group to lobby for better definition of privacy rights related to data on mobile devices, the cloud and ISP servers.

As electronic devices and modern miracles such as GPS have become mainstream, the old standards of what is private and what is public have become blurred over time. The constitutional right to privacy of our homes, papers and effects has become less clear, and the goal of the Digital Due Process Organization is to push for legislation that will clearly define the right of privacy vs the right of the government to search without a warrant. Go to http://digitaldueprocess.org for details.

While few of us would argue that anything ought to be private if a court orders a search warrant upon probable cause a crime has been committed, law enforcement tends...

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Sep 23
Turn iTunes to iMedia -- or simply break it into...

MobileTrax (http://www.mobiletrax.com) analyst Gerry Purdy recently wrote an open letter to new Apple CEO Tim Cook, recommending that Apple change the name of iTunes to iMedia since they sell TV shows, movies and more, not only music.

That makes sense. But I think an even better idea would be to break iTunes into different components as it is on iOS devices. The software has become too bloated.

When iTunes was launched in 1999, it was a simple music player with the ability to do MP3 conversions. Now iTunes houses music, movies, shows, podcasts and audiobooks. It's the conduit to your iPhone, iPod and iPad. And it's a link to an online store for buying media. iTunes is no longer a properly descriptive name. iMedia is a good one, but I'd prefer the "break it up" approach.

On my iPad there's the Video app (for movies I've bought online and self-made videos), the iPod app (for all my music...

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Sep 22
Apple looking for cable that works with iOS devices,...

A new Apple patent (number 20110225812) shows that Apple is working on all-in-one data and power cable that can charge and transfer files between iOS devices and Macs.

The "Power Adapters for Powering and/or Charging Peripheral Devices" patent includes a housing that contains electrical components associated with the power adapter. The power adapter also includes a data port provided at a surface of the housing. The data port is configured to provide external power to the peripheral device. The inventors are Daniele Deiuliis, Andrew Bert Hodge, Jeffrey L. Robbin, Stanley Car Ng, Eric W. Anderson and Anthony M. Fadell.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The present invention relates to apparatus and methods for powering peripheral devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to improved techniques for powering and/or charging peripheral devices through a data transmission line.

"The invention pertains to power adapters that...

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Sep 22
Greg's Bite: Flummoxed HP fires CEO

By Greg Mills

Flummoxed means confused and bewildered, not dead. When Steve Jobs pronounced the iPad competition flummoxed, he said what he felt and he was right.

HP, formerly the most prolific PC box maker out there, threw in the towel on its Touch Pad, a Palm OS touch screen tablet, and, while they were at it, decided to get out of the PC business. Not only did the Apple iPad kill their mobile device entry, the Mac is killing the PC business as well. The stock for HP gyrated wildly into a downwards spiral and has lost 47% of its value over the short term of its just fired CEO, Leo Apotheker. (See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-22/hewlett-packard-shares-reeling-... .)

This...

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Sep 22
Computer price wars won't hurt the Mac

Jonny Evans of "Computerworld" recently pondered (http://macte.ch/a5Gcj) whether an impending price war between computer vendors such as Acer and Lenova will hurt Mac sales. I don't think so.

"In truth, this is a game Apple's been fighting a long, long, long, long time. Apple's Macs have never been the cheapest on the market, and even that short-term commitment to a sub-$500 Mac with the Mac mini and (earlier) the education-only eMac did little to dissuade PC purchasers that the company's kit is pricier than most," writes Evans.

However, when it comes to the Mac, as with all Apple products, most folks are willing to pay a little more for better quality. Mac sales have increased at record rates even during this dismal global economy. During the 12 months that ended in late June, the Mac brand achieved an impressive 22.86% gain in revenue for a total of $20.38 billion.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs...

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Sep 21
Ultraviolet, iTunes and the Apple-shaped hole

While seamless device portability for high quality content has become the hallmark of successful digital media strategies, Ultraviolet -- a competing digital content and device ecosystem to iTunes -- must address a range of challenges if it's to drive meaningful consumer adoption, according to a new study from the Strategy Analytics Digital Media service (http://www.strategy.com).

The broadly-backed Ultraviolet initiative may struggle in the face of Apple dominance in the digital media content and device landscape, according to the research group. The question is: does Apple have a viable alternative? iTunes, in its present form, isn't. Apple and Disney aren't part of the Ultraviolet alliance and are purportedly teaming up for a competing solution called KeyChest.

“Given the scale of the challenges facing Ultraviolet it is just as well that the strengths and capabilities of its backers are the most...

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Sep 20
Patent is for ordered inverted index on the Mac

A new Apple patent (number 8024322) for an ordered index at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows the company is eyeing ways to improve searching on a Mac through methods such as an ordered inverted index.

Per the patent, systems and methods for processing an index are described. A postings list of items containing a particular term are ordered in a desired retrieval order, e.g., most recent first. The ordered items are inserted into an inverted index in the desired retrieval order, resulting in an ordered inverted index from which items may be efficiently retrieved in the desired retrieval order.

During retrieval, items may first be retrieved from a live index, and the retrieved items from the live and ordered indexes may be merged. The retrieved items may also be filtered in accordance with the items' file grouping parameters. The inventors are Wayne Loofbourrow, John Martin Hoernkvist, Eric Richard Koebler and Yan Arryouye.

Here's Apple's background and...

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Sep 20
Apple patent involves podcasting support

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8020762) for techniques and systems for supporting podcasting.

The improved techniques can pertain to creating, publishing, hosting, accessing, subscribing, managing, transferring, and/or playing podcasts. According to one aspect, a client application can subscribe to podcasts and then automatically monitor the podcasts for updates to be downloaded. In the event that user interest in a podcast becomes inadequate, downloading of further updates can be restricted. According to another aspect, a podcast can be subscribed to through use of a portable subscription file. According to still another aspect, podcast feeds can be enhanced to include segment elements and other metadata. The inventors are Anne Jones, Thomas Dowdy, Jeffrey Robbin, Mike Wiese and Stephen Davis.

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

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Sep 20
iMessage, iChat and FaceTime

According to MacRumors (http://www.macrumors.com), Apple is working on building iMessage support into Lion's iChat instant messaging software. That only makes sense as it's a natural progression.

iMessage is a messaging service will be built into the upcoming iOS 5 , due this fall. You'll purportedly be able to send text, photos, videos, locations and contacts. You'll be able to do group messaging, track your messages with delivery receipts and optional read receipts, see when someone's typing, and encrypt text messages.

With the ongoing blending of OS X and iOS, iMessage support on the Mac seems inevitable so Mac users and Lion users will be able to send "imessages" to each other in real time.

I also hope Apple gets around to "opening up" FaceTime. FaceTime is a video calling app that lets you communicate between Macs, iPad 2s, iPhone 4s and iPod touches. It was supposed to be a...

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Sep 20
Apple wins patent regarding solar cells

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8022571) relating to power management circuitry and solar cells. The patent is directed to methods, systems, and apparatuses for implementing circuitry that can be used to control multiple solar cells to generate power for a portable electronic device.

For example, in response to determining that one or more of the solar cells is generating a reduce voltage output (e.g., due to a partial obstruction of one or more of the solar cells), the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a constant preset voltage, as long as a subset of the solar cells is operating. The voltage generated by the solar cells can then be boosted to a value suitable for powering the portable electronic device and/or any of its individual components.

As another example, the connections among the solar cells can be configured to generate a startup voltage to directly power the portable electronic device and/or any of its components....

| Read more »
 
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