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Dec 29
Mac App Store a good idea -- but we don't need a...

I'm looking forward to the Mac App Store when it debuts next week. But I'm also hoping it doesn't become the only -- or even the main -- source of software for the Mac.

The Mac App Store will launch on Jan. 6 for Mac OS X 10.6 ("Snow Leopard") and will be built into next summer's Mac OS X Lion. By bringing the Apple App Store experience to Mac OS X, the Mac App Store makes discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever, according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The Mac App Store will be available in 90 countries at launch and will feature paid and free apps in categories like Education, Games, Graphics & Design, Lifestyle, Productivity and Utilities.

Purchased apps can run on all of your personal Macs and updates are delivered directly through the Mac App Store. so it will be able to keep all of your apps up-to-date. For users who need consumer level apps and don't want to have to deal with DMG files, update notifications, etc., this will be a great thing...

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Dec 28
Apple patent is for 'touchless' touch...

An Apple patent (number 7,859,521) for an integrated touch screen has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. And it shows that Apple is at least considering "touchless" touch screen interfaces for some devices -- including Macs.

The patent relates generally to displays including display pixel stackups, and more particularly to touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup of a display. Per the patent, displays with touch sensing circuitry integrated into the display pixel stackup are provided.

Circuit elements, such as touch signal lines, such as drive lines and sense lines, grounding regions, in the display pixel stackups can be grouped together to form touch sensing circuitry that senses a touch on or near the display. An integrated touch screen can include multi-function circuit elements that can operate as circuitry of the display system to generate an image on the display, and can also form part of a touch sensing system that...

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Dec 28
Apple granted patents for Time Machine technology

Apple has been granted two patents by the US Patent & Trademark Office involving its Time Machine backup and restoration technology in Mac OS X.

Patent number 7856424 is for an user interface for backup management. ystems and methods for providing a user interface including earlier versions of data are disclosed.

In one implementation, computer program product is provided. The computer program product generates a user interface. The user interface includes a view display area for presenting a current view and a history view display area for presenting a history view associated with the current view. The history view includes one or more first visual representations of corresponding earlier versions of the current view. The user interface also includes an input control for initiating a restoration of the current view according to at least a portion of an earlier version of the one or more earlier versions.

Here's Apple's background on the...

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Dec 28
Looking at the evolution of the digital home

Think the race for connected TV gadgets is crowded now? Think Blu-ray is doomed (as Apple CEO Steve Jobs seems to think). Perhaps you should think again.

In 2011, Facebook and other companies may join Apple, Google and Microsoft in the cloud TV arena. What's more, the Strategy Analytics research group (http://www.strategyanalytics.com) notes that Apple’s iTunes will enter its second decade with challenges ahead, and Nintendo will have to decide what to do about the decline of the Wii. Social networks will pass one billion users, $10 billion will be spent on Blu-ray discs, and more than 500 million connected TV devices will be in use. Revenues from tablets will exceed netbooks, but on the downside, only 20% of 3DTV owners will be watching 3D content.

“2011 promises to be another exciting year in the evolution of the digital home,” says David Mercer, principal analyst, Strategy...

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Dec 28
Apple wins patent involving video sequence technology

Apple has won a patent (number 7,856,059) from the US Patent & Trademark Office involving determining the number of unidirectional and bidirectional motion compensated frames to be encoded for a video sequence and detecting scene cuts in the video sequence.

Methods for processing a set of successive video frames in two passes to determine the number of bidirectional (B) and unidirectional (P) motion compensated frames to be encoded in a video coding system. During the first pass, motion vectors and motion costs are computed for each frame and a derived cost value is computed based on the motion cost of at least one frame.

The derived cost value is used to determine the number (N.sub.B) of B-frames to be encoded in the set of successive frames. In the second pass, the set of successive frames are encoded where N.sub.B frames are encoded as B-frames and some or all motion vectors computed in the first pass are re-used in the second pass. A scene cut detection...

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Dec 27
Greg's bite: iPad cannibalism?

By Greg Mills

I am amused to read the ravings of clueless tech sorts like the court jester of high tech writers Dvorak, who are normally so very wrong about Apple and its products. A lot of PC minions are clamoring for news that iPad is cannibalizing Macs sales. That does not seem to be supported by the numbers. Mac, iPhones and iPads are all flying off the shelf.  

There is one sort of cannibalism I can relate to. Some of the time I would have spent on-line with my MacBook Pro I spend on my iPad these days. Since I have an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro, sometimes there is a certain calculous in my mind as I reach for one of them sitting on my desk to browse or do a certain task. There is a lot of truth to the statement that the Mac is for creating content and the iPad is for consuming content. The iPhone is for web content and a phone that fits in your pocket.

There are people who can clearly get by with just an iPad who might have popped for a...

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Dec 23
Upcoming iPhones could place antenna behind the Apple...

An upcoming iPhone could place the antenna behind the Apple logo, based on a new patent (number 20100321253) for a dielectric window antenna for electronic devices at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, logo antennas are provided for electronic devices such as portable computers. An electronic device may have a housing with conductive housing walls. A logo antenna may be formed from an antenna resonating element such as a patch antenna resonating element, a monopole antenna resonating element, or other antenna resonating element structure. A conductive cavity may be placed behind the antenna resonating element.

A dielectric antenna window that serves as a logo may be used to cover the antenna resonating element. The dielectric antenna window may be mounted in an opening in the conductive housing walls. A positive antenna feed terminal may be coupled to the antenna resonating element. A ground antenna feed terminal may be coupled to the cavity and...

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Dec 23
Apple patent is for push-based location update

An Apple patent (number 20100325194) for a push-based location update has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It's generally related to location information updates for mobile devices.

Methods, systems, and computer-readable media for a location information server to gather location updates by sending location-update-requests through a push notification service to a mobile device are disclosed. The mobile device provides location updates in response to the push-based location-update-requests received through the push notification service. The mobile device can switch from a self-initiated location update mode to a push-based location update mode depending on the current state of the mobile device.

The mobile device can also choose an appropriate positioning system for self-locating based on the information embedded in the location-update-request received through the push notification service. The information embedded in the pushed location-update-...

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Dec 23
Apple investigating edge-lit backlight displays

A new Apple patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office shows that Apple is looking at developing new edge-lit backlight displays for Macs and its iOS devices. Patent number 20100321609 is for an edge-lit backlight unit with a thin profile. The invention relates generally to backlight units of electronic display panels, such as liquid crystal displays.

An edge-lit backlight unit for a display is provided per the patent. In one embodiment, the backlight unit may include a light guide configured to receive light from a source and emit such light in a broad distribution to a turning film disposed over the light guide. The turning film may be configured to redirect light received from the light guide toward a normal of the turning film.

In one embodiment, the light guide may be configured such that peak light distribution therefrom occurs at an incident angle of approximately sixty degrees, with broad light distribution substantially occurring over an angular range...

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Dec 23
Apple files patent for display simulation system

Apple is apparently working on a new display standard, based on a patent (number 20100321395) for a display simulation system and method that has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to display devices and, more specifically, to techniques for simulating display devices on a computing device.

A display simulation system is provided having a flexible design for emulating and/or supporting any number of display types and/or display standards. The display simulation system may include one or more reference drivers that include a virtual graphics processing unit (GPU) and one or more virtual frame buffer drivers.

In one embodiment, the display simulation system may implement a virtual display in response to a user selection input. For instance, the user selection input may initiate a simulated hot-plug event on the display simulation system. Based upon the user selection, an appropriate display profile corresponding to the selected...

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Dec 23
Greg's bite: Streak, Vista 7 Mobile phones, more...

By Greg Mills

New high tech products are sold, first at the hopeful high price the manufacturer would like to hold as the "suggested retail price.". If the product sells like hotcakes at the high launch price point there is no reason to cut the price until the market is saturated. The market place is not kind to products that are not perceived as the best in their class. Why buy a Zune, for example, when you could buy an iPod for the same money?

Yesterday, blood was in the water again, as the realities of the market place -- read that the great white shark called Apple -- killed two more potentially competitive products.  I have dissed the Microsoft Vista 7 Mobile Phone platform as being just average, when exemplary had to happen. It didn't. The ramifications for Microsoft are bleak indeed.  Microsoft's aspirations for the mobile device market are over.

AT&T, in a move surely to be matched by other cell...

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Dec 23
Twas the week before a new year (a holiday poem)

The "MacNews" and "MacTech" sites will be closed Friday for Christmas. We wish all of you a happy holiday and offer this little holiday poem for your amusements.

Twas the start of a new year -- 2011
Yet another 12 months of good Apple heaven
Our wish stockings were hung in our brains without care
To answer all our wishes Apple hasn't a prayer

We Apple fans are nestled in front of our Mac
That "beleaguered" computer that's come roaring back
While rumors of Sandy Bridge processors sound mighty good
And Light Peak and Blu-ray, oh, they'd be soooo good

And out in Cupertino there arose such a clatter
Steve Ballmer jumped out of bed to see what was the matter
Away to his private jet he flew like a flash
Kicking through piles of unsold Windows 7 Phone stash

The sun beating down on the Infinite Loop of good buzz
Gave the luster of mid-day because, well, it was
When what to Ballmer's wondering eyes...

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Dec 22
AirPlayer and AirFlick needed along with AirPlay

Sometimes we talk about what companies Apple should buy. Well, maybe it should hire TUAW's Eric Sadun -- or buy too great apps that he's developing: AirPlayer and AirFlick. Both are in alpha testing and both make a great complement to Apple's AirPlay technology.

AirPlay lets you stream music, photos and video from your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch directly to the Apple TV. Unfortunately, you can't stream media from the iOS device to your Mac or from your Mac to the Apple TV with AirPlay.

AirPlayer (http://www.tuaw.com/2010/12/14/hacksugar-mac-based-airplay-service-allow...) lets you stream content from your iOS device to your Mac. Eric says that what AirPlayer does is create and advertise a custom Bonjour AirPlay service/app on the Mac that pretends to be an...

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Dec 22
Greg's bite: Net Neutrality, Stuxnet, Vista 7...

By Greg Mills

The FCC voted 2 to 3 to make the new rules regarding wired "Net Neutrality" official. It won't be know for some time if they even had the authority, since the radio waves are not in use for wired Internet, but the principles of the rules may be adopted by Congress, anyway. The Internet wants to be free of censorship by ISPs and not be controlled by carriers of broadband service.

NetFlix and others big in the downloadable content business are likely very glad to see the cable companies throttled back. Apple stands as much as any company to benefit from the rules, despite the potential for people claiming they are trying to manage the internet by allowing or not allowing iOS apps in the Apple App Store.

The Windows Stuxnet worm continues to frighten US experts due to the potential that it can be converted into malware that might attack our infrastructure and cause an unknown amount of damage. While...

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Dec 21
Apple wins several design patents

Apple has won patents from the US Patent & Trademark Office involving the Mail app, the Mac OS X interface, Time Machine and multi-touch displays.

Patent number D629419 involves an icon in the Mac OS X Mail app. Bas Ording and Steve Jobs are the inventors. Patent number D629396 is for a Bluetooth headset (since discontinued). The inventors are Bartley Andre, Bartley Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard Howarth, Jonathan Ive, Steve Jobs, Duncan Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas Satzger, Christopher Stringer, Eugene Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer. Patent number D629412 is for a user interface for a computer display (involving part of Mac OS X's drop down menus). Imran A. Chaudhri is the inventor.

Apple has also won a patent (number 7856424) that involves its Time Machine backup feature. The patent is for systems and methods for providing a user interface including earlier versions of data. In one implementation, computer...

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Dec 21
Greg's bite: Net Neutrality and Apple

By Greg Mills

The FCC is preparing to make rules for what is called "Net Neutrality." This is important to those of us who use the Internet and particularly those who might want to innovate in new services related to broadband, like Apple.  

There will likely be a vote today, and it is expected the FCC will move to ban wired broadband Internet providers from blocking or slowing down traffic they don't like. The notion is to make wired broadband unrestricted by ISPs to the benefit of streaming services.

Ironically, despite a lot of concern about what the FCC does in this area, a recent Federal Court ruling raises issues as to the jurisdiction of the FCC to make rules concerning broadband Internet, in the first place. This will play out in the courts and the Congress. As we have seen Apple launch into a number of download services over the last few years, with more on the way, the openness of the Internet will become more and more important to...

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Dec 21
Odds good that we'll see iWork '11 on Jan. 6

Will we see the next version of iWork when the Mac App Store debuts on Jan. 6? Looks like a good possibility.

According to "9to5Mac" (http://www.9to5mac.com/43132/iwork-out-of-stock-at-apple-amazon), stock of iWork '09 is running low at retail Apple Stores. Also, promotional materials for the Mac App Store have shown the three iWork applications -- Pages, Keynote, and Numbers -- available on an individual basis for $19.99 each. Currently, they've only available as a boxed bundle for $79.

It would make sense to debut the app along with the Mac App Store. It would be a good promo for the store (not that it will really need any). And with Apple spotlighting the iWork (and iLife) apps on the much-ballyhooed store, the company will probably sell even more copies of the software than it normally wou.d.

Speaking of...

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Dec 20
Greg's bite: apps that call home

By Greg Mills

The day computers began to communicate with each other was an ominous day in the ongoing development of technology. No one could have realized the ramifications that would be the result of that connection.

The Internet, in its inception, was the linking of computers limited to the military and colleges.  Slowly more and more computers were hooked up. Then the age of personal computers was born in a garage in California and you know the rest.

The issues related to privacy of your computer has been a complicated and controversial issue.  When I tap my fingers on the keyboard of my MacBook Pro or tickle the touch screen of my iPad, it is hard to imagine that in the privacy of my home what I do can be tracked remotely, down to the last key stroke. Should that be? I think not. It turns out if you think privacy on your computer is a problem, your iPhone and iPad are far worse.  

This morning I noticed an interesting article on...

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Dec 20
US consumers now spending as much time online as...

A new study reinforces -- in my humble opinion -- my thoughts that Apple needs to add further television/film features to its iMac line -- such as offering a build-to-order TV tuner and Blu-ray support. This would probably make the Mac even more desirable to a populace that continues to devour media -- on-line and on-the-air -- at a ravenous pace.

The Forrester Research Group (http://blogs.forrester.com/jackie_rousseau_anderson/10-12-13-us_consumer...) says that, for the first year ever, the average time US consumers report that spending online is the same that they report spending watching offline TV. While Gen Yers have been spending more time online than watching TV offline for a few years now...

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Dec 17
Mac App Store's arrival should also make it...

When the Mac App Store rolls out for Mac OS X 10.6 ("Snow Leopard") next month and is built-into Mac OS X Lion when it begins prowling in 2011, let's hope Apple makes it simple to delete an app.

Right now removing an app doesn't involve simply dragging the app to the trash. There are preference files, documents and more that have to be removed. Some apps have an uninstall feature. Others can be removed by third party apps (AppZapper is my personal favorite).

But if Apple plans on making installing apps from the Mac App Store a no-brainer procedure a la iOS apps, then, hopefully, the company will do the same with apps purchased there. In other words, deleting an app ought to remove all accompanying files.

Of course, that will probably only apply to software bought at the Mac App Store. For software purchased and downloaded elsewhere, tools such as AppZapper will still be needed.

-- Dennis Sellers

| Read more »
Dec 16
Apple eyeing fiber-based electronic devices

A new patent (number 20100315299) at the US Patent & Trademark Office for fiber-based electronic device structures show that Apple is investigating ways to form structures for electronic devices from fibers.

Per the patent, fibers may be intertwined to form structures for electronic devices and other parts. Fibers may be intertwined using computer-controlled braiding, weaving, and knitting equipment. Binder materials may be selectively incorporated into the intertwined fibers. By controlling the properties of the intertwined fibers and the patterns of incorporated binder, structures can be formed that include antenna windows, sound-transparent and sound-blocking structures, structures that have integral rigid and flexible portions, and tubes with seamless forked portions.

Fiber-based structures such as these may be used to form cables and other parts of headphones or other electronic device accessories, housings for electronic devices such as housings for...

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Dec 16
Apple patents reflect new user interface for media...

Two new Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is considering a new "v-shaped" user interface for media playback to replace (or perhaps exist in addition to CoverFlow.

The patent obviously affects iTunes. However, it could impact the entire Mac OS X interface at some point.

Patent number 20100318908 and 20100318928 is for an user interface for media playback. According to the patent, a graphical user interface made up of icons representing individual files and collectively forming the shape of a “v” is described along with methods of using and creating the graphical user interface. The v-shaped interface is useful to display detailed information about many of the items in a list and facilitates manipulation of list order and selection of the active file in the list. The interface further permits the use of a representative icon associated with the list as a whole. Manipulation of the representative icon can cause modification or...

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Dec 16
Greg's bite: More Patent Spats for Apple

Nokia sues Apple, again. Nokia, still the largest cell phone company in the world by overall sales of ever sort of cell phone, has seen its market share begin to tank and has attacked Apple with a fresh barrage of patent suits. If you can't beat them in the market place, perhaps you can beat them in court over touch screen smart phone technology.  

The battle for both Nokia and Apple has serious implications down the line. When a patent is filed there is a pendency period of 2-3 years and sometimes more before you are sure you are actually going to get a meaningful patent. What a lot of people don't understand is that there are patents issued that are so narrow they are meaningless in the real world.  

There are also patents issued in error where the patent office misses prior art that makes a newer patent void once it is challenged in court. The courts settle all that out and the outcome can mean an agreement to share technology, money flowing either...

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Dec 16
Macs need an AirPlay feed

Mac need to be able to accept an AirPlay feed. Right now I can start watching a video on my iPad, then "zap" it to my HDTV. Why can't I do that with my Mac?

AirPlay lets you stream music, photos and video from your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch directly to the Apple TV. Unfortunately, you can't stream media from the Apple TV to the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. In an ideal world, I'd like to be able to stream media to and from my Mac, iOS devices and HDTV as I roam from room to room.

"Aunt TUAW" (http://www.tuaw.com/2010/12/08/dear-aunt-tuaw-can-i-airplay-to-my-mac/) says there's no reason that the Mac can't accept and play an AirPlay video or photo stream, other than that Apple has yet to get around to implementing it and there aren't yet third-party "catcher" apps available. AirPlay is basically a standard...

| Read more »
Dec 15
Greg's bite: Microsoft finally closes the Stuxnet...

By Greg Mills

Windows Stuxnet News, gleaned from around the web indicates that 40 security holes in Windows and Internet Explorer were finally patched today, including the last hole the Stuxnet worm used to infiltrate Iran's nuclear program.  

The Stuxnet worm authors, if we ever find out who wrote it, should be awarded a Pulitzer Prize as work of written computer code that changed the world and actually delayed a nasty military attack on Iran, for a period of time.  

The most recent damage analysis that has been publicly issued is that Stuxnet set Iran back at least two years in developing the nuclear bomb building capacity they are seeking. That is about the same window-of-threat reduction as an all out military attack was projected to cause.   

The wild card in all this is the possibility North Korea will sell parts or even an entire nuclear bomb to Iran in exchange for a long term oil deal. Such an end run around the...

| Read more »
 
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