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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

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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...

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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...

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Dec 15
The battle for TV, part two: paying for bandwidth

Many folks think that Apple should and will buy Netflix. I personally doubt it, but I can see the advantages for both companies. Regardless, pricing for Netflix and similar services may see a price hike.

On Nov, 19, Comcast informed Level 3, an Internet backbone provider that handles streaming for Netflix, that, for the first time, it will demand a recurring fee from Level 3 to transmit Internet online movies and other content to Comcast's customers who request such content.

"By taking this action, Comcast is effectively putting up a toll booth at the borders of its broadband Internet access network, enabling it to unilaterally decide how much to charge for content which competes with its own cable TV and Xfinity delivered content," says "Fortune (). "This action by Comcast threatens the open Internet and is a clear abuse of the dominant control that Comcast exerts in broadband access markets as the nation's largest cable provider. This sets a scary precedent.  If...

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Dec 14
Apple patents range from light sensitive display to...

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

Patent number 7852417 is for a light sensitive display. It's for a display device including a viewing surface comprising: a stack of layers configured to display an image; a light guide adjacent to the viewing surface; a light source for establishing internally reflected light within the light guide; a plurality of light sensitive elements formed within the stacked structure, the plurality of light sensitive elements configured to detect a diffusion of the light from the light guide due to contact of an object on the light guide; and a layer included in the stacked structure, the layer including a non-continuous opening configured to direct the diffusion of the light towards the plurality of light sensitive elements to a greater extent than collimated light. The inventors are Adiel Abileah and Willem Den Boer.

Patent number...

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Dec 14
Greg's bite: Verizon 4G iPhone, Microsoft stock...

By Greg Mills

Verizon iPhone rumors are making enough waves that it's starting to seem this may actually jell in some form.

Apple is so famously secretive on product development and new product launches, you sort of need to take Apple related rumors with a grain of salt. Sometimes, rumors pan out, and sometimes they don't. Steve Jobs is famous for punishing parts companies that leak accurate information about what they are doing.  

Some folks don't understand the copycat problem Apple has with Microsoft and a scad of other players who have made an industry of knocking off everything Apple does and diluting the market. Add the suspense and drama Jobs weaves into new product launches and you have a marketing program Apple's competition dreams about. Millions of dollars of free advertising and favorable spin are a major benefit. (iPhone 4's "Antennagate" being an exception to the rule.)

"MacDailyNews.com" ran a story...

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Dec 14
The battle for TV, part one: a la carte pricing is...

The battle for your home TV is underway, and it will be interesting -- and perhaps a bit scary -- to see who's left standing when the dust settles. I'll bet my money on Apple as one of the winners -- though it, like all other contenders, has its work cut out for it.

A new study by the Credit Suisse research firm shows that that an increasing number of young adults are now turning to Netflix to watch film and TV shows. Cable subscriptions have dropped the last two quarters -- which once would have been unheard of.

The Zacks investment research firm (http://www.zacks.com) says that, although minor for now, this is probably the beginning of a larger trend.

"Although being downplayed by the current media giants, this was how Blockbuster downplayed it's monopoly on rental videos," the firm says. "Now Blockbuster is in near bankruptcy. The media types that have their head in the sand won't survive....

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Dec 13
A look at alternative video viewing platforms

An annual study of consumer video consumption habits and platforms conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates (http://www.magid.com) -- research-based strategic consulting firm -- reveals that despite the increased use of alternative video viewing platforms (like video-on-demand, set-top boxes, instant streaming, and mobile apps), the vast majority of consumers intend to continue to maintain their traditional subscriptions with cable, satellite, and telco TV providers.

For several years, cable, satellite, and telco TV providers have been working under the assumption that as the use of alternative video viewing platforms grows, consumers will increasingly "cut the cord" and cancel their subscriptions. On the contrary, Magid's new study, "2010: The New Age of Video Entertainment," uncovers several consumer behaviors that should persuade the industry to take a second look at earlier defection forecasts, including:...

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Dec 13
Greg's bite: The demise of the netbook?

By Greg Mills

I remember the day I bought my MacBook 100 computer. I paid a thousand dollars for it and was amazed that Apple packed all that power into such a small package with a keen black and white flat screen display.  

I was also using my trusty Mac Classic computer -- and going portable was awesome. I lived aboard my yacht in Newport Beach, California, at the time and 110 volts was common via an inverter running off eight 12-volt deep cycle batteries charged by solar panels. The new laptop was easy to charge and not so hard on my power supply. While both of those ancient computers are a joke by today's standards, I was able to do a lot with them.   

In comparison, I bought a new MacBook Pro for $999 just a week ago. The speed, display, memory and chip speed improvements made over the intervening 20 years is dramatic, to say the least. People want the most they can get for their money and incremental improvements add up over time, as...

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Dec 10
Greg's bite: The iPhone/iPad effect on Verizon...

By Greg Mills

In the news regarding the smart phone market, as predicted, RIM is reported to have suddenly lost ground in market share at Verizon as rumors of an impending iPhone for the Verizon network swirl.  

A sleeper in all this is that the radio chip sets in a Verizon phone are different from the ones that come in current iPhones. Verizon uses CDMA technology, whereas AT&T uses GSM. This means between the two versions of iPhones, Apple will be able to sell phones to almost every cell phone provider around the world, if they want to. It is possible to make phones that are both GSM and CDMA, but it is thought to be unlikely that the new iPhone will be a universal device. 

Apple has ridden the AT&T horse into the sunset and, at this point, most of the current AT&T customers who want an iPhone have one. What makes iPhone so important to AT&T is that since they are the only ones who carry iPhone in the USA, they have a...

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Dec 10
What are your favorite Apple-related products of 2010?

Apple has placed three products -- the iPad, the iPhone 4, the 11-inch MacBook Air and the Apple TV -- in TIME's "Best of 2010" list. So what do you think are the best Apple-related products of the year?

I'll be running a list of my favorite hardware and software in this daily blog on Thursday, Dec. 30. And I'd like to know what you, "MacNews" and "MacTech" readers, think are the best of the best. Send me your favorites at dsellers@applecentral.com .

-- Dennis Sellers

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Dec 09
Apple patents reflect upcoming Mac App Store

Three Apple patents have popped up at the US Patent & Trademark Office regarding the upcoming Mac App Store.

Craig Federighi, vice president of engineering for OS X, demoed Lion at the Back to the Mac event in October. The Mac App Store brings the Apple App Store experience to Mac OS X, making discovering, installing and updating Mac apps easier than ever, he said. Like on the iPad, you purchase apps using your iTunes account and they download and install in just one step. The Mac App Store will be available for Mac OS X 10.6, and will be built into next year's Mac OS X Lion.

Patent number 20100312966 involves secure software installation. Embodiments of the present disclosure provide methods and systems for securely installing software on a computing device, such as a mobile device. In one embodiment, the device executes an installer that securely installs the software. In order to perform installations securely, the installer configures one or...

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Dec 09
Apple patents involve Lion's Launchpad, further...

Two Apple patents (20100313156 and 20100313165) regarding an user interface for multiple regions have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. They involve the Launchpad feature in the upcoming Mac OS X Lion -- and perhaps future tweaks to the Expose feature in Mac OS X.

Launchpad is designed to make it easier than ever to find and launch any app. Similar to the Home screen on iPad, you can see all the apps on your Mac displayed just by clicking the Launchpad icon in the dock. Apps can be organized in any order or grouped into folders, and you can swipe through multiple pages of apps to find the one you want.

User interfaces for multiple display regions are described. One embodiment provides an array of non-overlapping windows that are created from a set of overlapping windows, and a user can select one of the non-overlapping windows to obtain an enlarged view of that selected window while keeping the other windows in their non-overlapping state.

In...

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Dec 09
Apple looking to improve interaction between iOS...

Two new Apple patents (number 20100312932 and 20100312931) at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is working to make it easier to connect iOS devices to peripherals. The patents relate to connector interfaces and more particularly to a connector interface system that's utilized in conjunction with media players and their accessories.

The patent are for an interface and protocol to allow a media player to communicate with external accessories over a transport link. The protocol includes a core protocol functionality and a number of accessory lingoes. Examples of accessory lingoes include a microphone lingo, a simple remote lingo, a display remote lingo, an RF transmitter lingo, and an extended interface lingo.

The inventors on both patents are Emily C. Schubert, Wang Chun Leung, Gregory T. Lydon, Scott Krueger, Paul Holden, John Archibald, Lawrence G. Bolton, Donald J. Novotney, John B. Filson and David Tupman.

A media player stores media...

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Dec 09
Apple may beef up speech recognition on future iPhones

Apple is considering beefing up contextual voice commands and speech recognition on future iPhones. A patent (number 20100312547) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for contextual voice commands and involves speech recognition.

Among other things, techniques and systems are disclosed for implementing contextual voice commands. On a device, a data item in a first context is displayed. On the device, a physical input selecting the displayed data item in the first context is received. On the device, a voice input that relates the selected data item to an operation in a second context is received. The operation is performed on the selected data item in the second context. The inventors are Marcel Van Os, Gregory Novick and Scott Herz.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Speech recognition can be used to convert spoken words to machine-readable input, such as key presses, using the binary code for a string of character codes. Typical speech...

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Dec 09
Apple: don't even think of abusing that device

Apple plans on making sure you pay if you abuse your Apple product -- then want a refund. A new patent (number 20100312920) at the US Patent & Trademark Office is for a consumer abuse detection system and method.

Embodiments disclosed in the patent provide systems, devices, and methods for detecting the occurrence of consumer abuse events in electronic devices. In one embodiment, a system includes one or more sensors coupled to an abuse detection sub-system for detecting the occurrence of an abuse event, wherein upon detecting an abuse event, a record of the abuse event is stored by the abuse detection sub-system.

The system further provides a communication interface configured to provide a first mode of diagnostic communication and a second mode of non-diagnostic communication through a common input/output port. When using a diagnostic device, the diagnostic mode of communication may be enabled, thus allowing the diagnostic device to access consumer abuse event...

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Dec 09
Apple patents range from geography detection to...

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Following is a summary of each.

Patent number 20100312519 is for automatically identifying geographic direction. Automatically identifying a geographic direction (e.g., a heading relative to true north) is disclosed. Responsive to a correction trigger event, geographic position data that identifies a geographic position of the device can be obtained. A magnetic declination based on the geographic position data can be obtained. A magnetic heading of the device can be obtained. A geographic direction based on the magnetic heading and the magnetic declination can be identified without user intervention. The inventors are Ronald Keryuan Huang and Patrick Piemonte.

Patent number 20100312510 involves dynamic compass calibration in a portable device. Per the patent, the magnitude of a sensed, raw magnetic field in a portable device is monitored over a given time...

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