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Sep 08
Apple patent involves programmable GPU

An Apple patent (number 20110216079) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and involves partial display updates in a windowing system using a programmable graphics processing unit. Techniques to generate partial display updates in a buffered window system in which arbitrary visual effects are permitted to any one or more windows (e.g., application-specific window buffers) are described.

Once a display output region is identified for updating, the buffered window system is interrogated to determine which regions within each window, if any, may effect the identified output region. Such determination considers the consequences any filters associated with a window impose on the region needed to make the output update. The inventors are Ralph Brunner and John Harper.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "Methods, devices and systems in accordance with the invention provide a means for performing partial display updates in a windowing system that permits...

| Read more »
Sep 07
Greg's Bite: Powerful iOS 5 Speech to Text

By Greg Mills

Apple's tendency to hold cards close to the vest is tempered only by the real world testing required to make sure everything just works. That is the case with iOS 5, due to be launched soon. The cellular giants like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile get the latest versions of iPhone software and hardware to do the "can you hear me now?" sort of thing around their networks. Rumors are that Sprint will also get the iPhone this time.

High tech product launches are commonly marred by glitches due to a lack of real world testing. Apple is far too wise to not get it right, most of the time.

Apple goes to extraordinary lengths to keep things under wraps until the official release. One of Steve Jobs' rage makers is leaks by suppliers and sales affiliates. As Apple knows all too well, some people just can't keep a secret. The latest iOS 5 release has finally included an element alluded to in previous versions: a magical feature called "...

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Sep 07
US consumer electronics outlook bodes well for Apple

Expect Apple's fortunes to keep growing as things as the tea leaves portend a good future for our favorite tech company.

The US consumer electronics devices market, defined as the addressable market for computing devices, mobile handsets and AV products, is projected to be worth around US$239.4 billion in 2011, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). This is expected to increase to US$276.6 billion by 2015 at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3.0%, driven by premium TV sets (perhaps an Apple HDTV), smartphones (such as the iPhone) and notebooks (such as the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro).

In 2010, sales of consumer electronics products such as smartphones and LED-backlit TV sets grew strongly as the recovery gathered traction. However, falling average prices in many product categories placed revenues and margins under pressure, with the average...

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Sep 06
Apple patents involve cursor position, digital albums...

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

Patent 8013839 involves methods for determining a cursor position from a finger contact with a touch screen display. Per the patent, aportable device with a touch screen display detects a contact area of a finger with the touch screen display and then determines a first position associated with the contact area. The cursor position of the finger contact is determined, at least in part, based on: the first position, one or more distances between the first position and one or more of the user interface objects; and one or more activation susceptibility numbers, each associated with a respective user interface object in the plurality of user interface objects. If the cursor position falls into the hidden hit region of a virtual push button on the touch screen display, the portable device is activated to perform operations associated with the virtual...

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Sep 06
Apple ought to check out the M-Disc

Apple seems determined to phase out built-in optical drives on Macs. However, if it reconsiders -- and I think it should as I'm convinced that the future of storage isn't all in the iCloud -- they might work with a fairly young company named "Millenniata" (http://millenniata.com/).

Millenniata makes the M-Disc, which the company says is designed to last for 1,00 years or more. Increasingly, data is stored on computer media such as hard disks, CDs and DVDs. Most of those won't last beyond 10 years, according to some studies.

Unlike computer hard-drives and optical discs (CD and DVD) that suffer from decay, destroying the files you were trying to preserve and protect, the M-Disc can't be overwritten, erased, or corrupted by natural processes, according to the folks at Millenniata. The M-Ready drive engraves your files onto the M-Disc.

Here's how Millenniata describes the technology: "These new...

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Sep 02
Consumer NAS market has low penetration, high growth

The Consumer Network-Attached Storage market has low household penetration across the globe but is growing in excess of 30% annually, according to Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com). I’ve long hoped for an Apple home server product. Now may be the perfect time for one.

The number of portable consumer electronics (CE) and computing devices in the home has grown over the last couple of years, and it will literally explode over the next few, notes Research and Markets. The need and use for NAS centralized storage will become more practical for one reason: accessing content.

In a network with multiple computing devices, sharing common storage, content access and media sharing becomes a key component of driving consumer value. Research and Markets believes that this will push worldwide consumer NAS unit shipments past 11 million in 2015. The research group...

| Read more »
Sep 01
Greg's Bite: Sony launches tablets

By Greg Mills

Another day, another iPad killer launched. The iPad is safe for the time being. Sony launched a pair of tablets that depart from the hardbody, slab format of the Apple tablet. Sony put two smaller screens on either side of a hinge to allow that model to fold iin half for stowing it away. Clever, but won't that double the connectors and create a potential for failure down the line?

Typical of iPad killers, the new tablets are priced upon launch exactly as Apple prices its tablet. Within a few weeks of launch, most of the competitors have begun to cut prices to move their hardware. Sony is using a flavor of Android that is designed for tablets but there seems to be little compelling a person to buy one, other than it isn't Apple. Some people try to avoid Apple products due to some sort of subconscious desire to be beaten about the head and shoulders by their technology. (See...

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Sep 01
The Northern Spy: Motoroogle, TANSTAAFL and more

By Rick Sutcliffe

Motoroogle is the oldest/newest player/casualty in the mobile market, though perhaps not for the reasons some might suppose. On the one hand, the passing into new hands of the mobile telecom portion of Motorola represents more blood on Apple's click wheel.

On the other, the US$12.5B Google spent on the acquisition is more a defensive measure than a bold new step. When Google failed to win the bidding war for the Nortel patents, and worse, lost to Apple, Something Had To Be Done. This purchase is not about overspending on an entity that was about to pass from the scene. Rather it is about stocking up on patents.

The high tech landscape just now is reminiscent of the elementary school yard.

"Get out of my way or I'll punch you.

"Oh, yeah, if you do, my patent lawyer will hit you with ten suits."

"Nyah, nyah. My patent war chest is ten times the size of yours."

"Wanna bet? I just bought another ten...

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Sep 01
Big opportunity for Mac sales in China

If there's one big opportunity for Mac sales, it's in China. Our favorite computing platform still has little market share there, but Apple is a popular brand and China is a hotbed of computer growth.

Results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) "Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker" show that personal computer shipments in the China market have exceeded those of the United States in the second quarter of 2011 (2Q11).

Approximately 18.5 million units worth US$11.9 billion shipped in China during the quarter, compared to 17.7 million units worth US$11.7 billion in the U.S. China represented 22% of the global computer market's unit shipments compared to the US at 21%.

On a full year basis, IDC still expects the U.S. to remain the largest market in 2011, with 73.5 million units forecast to be shipped in the U.S. versus 72.4 million in China. Similarly, holiday season buying in the U.S. will likely keep it ahead of China in the fourth quarter, especially as...

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Aug 31
Greg's Bite:AT&T/T-Mobile deal off?

By Greg Mills

The US Government has the authority to prevent mergers when anti-trust laws kick in. There is a lot of discretion at the Justice Department, and sometimes the government could step in but does not do so. Other times, they stop mergers as being "anti-competitive." The AT&T merger with T-Mobile may be a situation where they think competition is best served by not allowing the biggest network to absorb the fourth largest network. The third largest network, Sprint, has been loudly screaming "monopoly" and working the political system to stop the merger.

The motivation behind the proposed merger is largely the cost of going national with a 4G LTE network would be reduced for AT&T if they could count T-Mobile's customers and network as theirs. AT&T is spending a lot of money building out a 4G network and having the advantage of combining the existing network of T-Mobile would give them an edge against Verizon.

The T-Mobile...

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Aug 31
Can Apple 'kill' cable, satellite TV?...

Mike Elgan, writing for "Computerworld" (http://www.computerworld.com/), thinks that Apple's next goal is to "kill" the cable and satellite companies.

I think that may be a little optimistic, but if Apple were to give those companies a run for their money, it would certainly be perceived as a major feather in new CEO Tim Cook's cap. I say "perceived" because the plans for such action have probably been underway for some time -- if Elgan is right, and I think he is.

Apple has conquered the music, phone and tablet markets. It's working on the ebook and e-magazine markets. That leaves one big, bad content experience to replace, and the "elephant in the room is television," writes Elgan. "For the past few years, Apple's 'hobby' has been solving the TV and home video content consumption problem," he writes. "Now, it looks like Apple may turn pro."

Considering reports from the "Wall...

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Aug 30
Apple patents involve Time Machine, app building, more

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

Patent number 8010937 is for an user interface for electronic backup (think Time Machine). A method includes receiving, a first user input requesting that a backup interface be displayed, displaying the backup interface, the backup interface including a display area for presenting at least a first visual representation of an earlier version of a current view and a visual representation of the current view, the earlier version including a first element, receiving, while the backup interface is displayed, a second user input requesting that the current view be modified according to the earlier version, at least with regard to the first element, animating the modification of the first element as moving from the visual representation of the earlier version to the visual representation of the current view, and modifying, in response to the second user...

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Aug 30
Who could replace Jonathan Ive?

The big discussion of late concerns whether Tim Cook can adequately fill the shoes of Steve Jobs as Apple's CEO. But an equally valid question is: who will fill the shoes of Jonathan Ive, Apple's design guru, when he moves on.

Hopefully, that will be a long, long way down the road. Ives is relatively young -- he was born in 1967 -- and, as far as I know, in fine health. Which is good, as he's been just as important as Jobs in developing Apple's incredible, industry-changing product designs.

Ive, Apple's senior vice president of Industrial Design, has led Apple's design team since the mid-1990s. Six of his designs are part of the collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"Products have to be designed better now for people to buy them because of Jony Ive and Steve Jobs," says Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the museum. "All of a sudden people have gotten used to elegance and beauty, and there's no going back."

... | Read more »
Aug 29
Greg's Bite; Google, do no evil?

By Greg Mills

Google has famously chosen the mantra, "Google will do no evil." Recently, in a number of situations that mantra has been tested where, if not evil, questionable things have been done by Google. While certainly, the executive staff at Google has been generous in giving money to worthwhile charities, the ethics of some Google business practices have recently been the subject of lawsuits.

Google has, just in the last few weeks, been caught with their collective pants down in the discovery phase of a lawsuit. The top end of management at Google discussed, in writing, intentionally, using Oracle's Java code without a license to create the Android OS. When you virtually print your own money with a multi-billion dollar a year advertising company, trying to cheat Oracle by using its Java code without a license is a pretty lame thing to do.

Further, they rewrote some of the code to try to mask the fact that they were using aspects of...

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Aug 29
Boomers ready to leap into smartphone market

Relatively good news for Apple and the iPhone: a new study conducted by Consumer Cellular (http://www.consumercellular.com), the exclusive wireless provider for AARP members, and industry thought-leader Bob Chapin of Flying Coyotes, a telecommunications research firm, reports that Boomer adoption of feature-rich mobile devices continues to increase as those 50-plus look for ways to better connect with friends and family.

The survey, completed by 2,037 U.S. cellphone users ages 40-plus, focused on their interest in and opinions of smartphones and how they do or would use them to enhance their lifestyles.

Of those who responded, 60% of non-smartphone users say they are considering or plan to buy a smartphone, while 87% of current smartphone owners report they are likely or extremely likely to purchase another smartphone. The Android operating system is the leader among current...

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Aug 26
Greg's Bite: Odd tech developments of the day

By Greg Mills

With the implosion of HP and perhaps the beginning of the end of that storied company and the resignation of Steve Jobs, tech writers have had their hands full lately. There are other interesting developments in the news that ought to be mentioned.

RIM, never able to focus on what is important is struggling to launch a music service for PlayBook. When I think RIM and PlayBook, business usage comes to mind. The focus at RIM hasn't been in the right place from before the PlayBook was launched. PlayBook is dead but still on life support by RIM management that missed their chance to actually fill a business need that Apple is now filling. RIM is in decline and Apple is moving in.

That RIM would launch a "business" tablet that wouldn't run on a cellular connection without tethering to a BlackBerry is one of the likely reasons the Marketing VP at RIM resigned shortly before PlayBook was launched. That lack of connection ability alone,...

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Aug 26
Final Cut Pro X part of Apple's arrogance problem

It's fair to say that Final Cut Pro X has been the most controversial product Apple has released in some time. Most video pros are lambasting Apple over the product, and, to some extent, Apple deserves it.

Though there are plenty of things to like about Final Cut Pro X, there are also just as many things not to like about it. You can't import work -- at least not easily -- from previous versions of Final Cut Pro. Some beloved preferences, settings, export options and multiple-monitor support are gone, at least temporarily. It can't output to tape. Etc. Etc.

This is indicative of one of Apple's biggest problems: arrogance. The company takes a "my way or the highway" approach that sometimes burns users. (Note to iWeb users: be looking for a replacement product ASAP.) Not surprisingly, users are fighting back.

There's an online petition stating that "Final Cut Pro X is not a professional application" (...

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Aug 25
Apple eyes ways to make it easier to repair electronic...

A new Apple patent (number 20110208993) at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is eyeing ways to make it easier to replace its products.

The patent is for systems and methods for diagnosing and fixing electronic devices -- and reducing the time and cost of doing so. Per the patent, a host electronic device may be configured to generate a log of events that it experiences. A help component may access the generated log and analyze the log to detect if the host device has experienced a problem. Data may then be exchanged between the help component and the host device in order to fix the detected problem. The inventors are Svetlana Samoilova, Wing Law and Andrew Bart Hodge.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "When an electronic device (e.g., a media player or a portable telephone) becomes corrupted (e.g., when a device's hardware, software, or stored data fails to function properly), a user is usually unable to determine, let...

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Aug 25
Apple patent hints at glasses for private viewing

A new Apple patent (number 2011010206285) for "obfuscating the display of information and removing the obfuscation using a filter" shows that Apple is considering glasses that would offer private viewing, most likely on an iOS device, but perhaps also on a Mac laptop.

The patent is directed to obfuscating a display to secure the display of information provided to a user. An electronic device can modulate the display of information using different approaches, including for example by adding artifacts or changing the color, frequency or polarity of displayed information, thus obfuscating the display. To view the displayed information, a user can place a filter between the user and the display (e.g., as part of glasses) such that the filter can remove or undo the obfuscation.

In some embodiments, the device can display different confidential information for several users simultaneously, where different obfuscation approaches are used for each user. This can allow...

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Aug 25
Greg's Bite: Steve Jobs' Creativity

By Greg Mills

We all knew Mr. Jobs is fighting cancer or the aftermath of it. Despite knowing he was on medical leave, it was very reassuring that he popped up at product releases to a thundering applause. Turning over the reins to Apple when there are still unreleased new products in the cue, that need refining, must be the hardest part of his work at Apple for him to relinquish. Steve Jobs is a compulsive perfectionist and he demanded a level of elegance unseen in so many products.

Demanding the impossible and forcing Apple engineers to find a way to do it was his strong suit. Being named as an inventor in numerous patents is only the tip of the iceberg of his creativity. Thinner, faster, smoother, more intuitive, fewer steps to operate, simpler, logical, cheaper to manufacture and fitting into an overall plan were the things Steve looks at in new product development.

The logic of Apple software icons and button placement alone is a...

| Read more »
Aug 25
Apple HDTVs? LCD screens or OLED displays?

Speculation that Apple will partner with LG to unveil its own line of HDTVs for 2012 were debunked this week by LG Display CEO Kwon Young-Soo, reports "OLED-Display" (http://macte.ch/Twa7U). The CEO says Apple is "still pessimistic about using OLED displays" and will go with LCD displays when it unveils its own line of HDTVs.

Besides the intriguing fact that Young-Soo feels that Apple will indeed launch its own brand of TV sets, I find it interesting that "OLED-Display" says the company may use "picture quality-enhanced and tech-sharpened" LCD displays for its television." There's an ongoing debate about which is better: LCD (liquid crystal display) or OLED displays, with, as best I can ascertain, OLED having an advantage in the quality area.

LCD screens are slimmer and take up less space than their OLED counterparts -- which may explain why Apple would go with LCD -- if, indeed, the company plans its...

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Aug 24
Jobs: Taxing Tag Fields Everywhere

As written time and time again today, today is the end of an era. This isn't just about a CEO, an innovator, or a leader. It's about a man who decided to change the world time and time and time again. Some called him a tyrant. Others a genius. Bill Gates respected his "taste." Other's his "reality distortion field."

Over the next couple of days, we're going to hear a number of comments, tributes, and respect. We're going to hear concerns about the future, and watch the market find a way to express what it feels. None of this compares to the list of accomplishments Jobs has. He literally is taxing the capacity of "Tags" fields in CMS' everywhere.

There are a few things that are clear.

1) Apple and Jobs have been thinking about this day for a long time.
2) The team already has practice running the company without him.
3) Jobs knows his ultimate accomplishment will be to show he's instilled himself into the culture and fabric of Apple.

...

| Read more »
Aug 24
Greg's Bite: The Decline and Fall of the PC

By Greg Mills

Industries rise and fall. No matter how large the company, an eye has to be on the market, paying particular attention to revolutionary products. That the PC industry sees the Apple mobile revolution isn't in dispute. The problem is, that try as they might, competing with Apple is very hard to do.

With HP now agreeing with Steve Jobs that the PC is dead and moving on to business applications and services, the world's biggest PC manufacturing machine is now up for sale. Some analysts think the size and value of the HP PC manufacturing arm is too big for any one competitor to buy, so cutting it up is likely. Time is not on the HP side of the situation. The longer the process takes to spin off manufacturing HP PCs, the less the division is going to be worth.

First of all, the sales numbers on HP computers across the board is going to decline. If you are looking at PCs and you see an array of HP computers on display, you would...

| Read more »
Aug 24
Another good reason to develop for iOS, not Android

There's another good reason for developers to concentrate on iOS apps rather than Android apps: their product is more likely to be purchased and used.

When consumers use their mobile phones to check the news, weather, email, or their social networks, they often have a choice between the mobile web version or a specially-created mobile app. But which do they prefer? Mobile apps -- at least in terms of time spent.

According to first-reported data from Nielsen Smartphone Analytics (http://www.nielsen.com), a new effort that tracks and analyzes data from on-device meters installed on thousands of iOS and Android smartphones, the average Android consumer in the U.S. spends 56 minutes per day actively interacting with the web and apps on their phone. Of that time, two-thirds is spent on mobile apps while one-third is spent on the mobile web.

Despite the hundreds of thousands of apps available for...

| Read more »
Aug 23
Greg's Bite: Unanticipated Ramifications of the...

By Greg Mills

When Google moved to buy Motorola they proclaimed that the purchase was to counter Apple and boost the patent portfolio behind the Android OS. They also maintained their intention to keep Android OS open source and support the various handset makers that have built the hardware behind the success of Android.

There is an old saying that what you do speaks far louder than what you say. There is also a tendency in business to provide a contingency plan in case unanticipated things happen. Thus, it is turning out the handset makers other than Motorola are worried Google will favor their in-house handset maker and freeze them out. The cutthroat handset market is so incredibly valuable it is hard to simply take Google at its word.

Within days of HP killing the TouchPad, Pre smartphones and really the Palm OS, Samsung announced it was dusting off its proprietary Bada smartphone OS as a back up just in case Google takes Android out of the...

| Read more »
 
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