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Jul 20
Apple patents range from synching to circuit switching

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Apple patent 7,760,767 is for wide area peer-to-peer synching in a decentralized environment. A system and method are disclosed for synchronizing data between devices and more particularly for synchronizing data between a plurality of peer-to-peer devices in a decentralized environment where no one device stores the most "recent" or "true" version of the data. Embodiments of the invention relate concepts of discovering synchronizing peers, communication between peers using special techniques, and using a way station concept as an aid for both discovery and synchronization between peers that are not simultaneously available. The inventors are Bruce Nilo, Gordie Freedman and Toby Paterson.

Patent number 7,761,798 is for a system and method for controlling the screen appearance for a data processing system. In one embodiment, a data...

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Jul 20
What can we expect from today's Apple's...

Apple will announce its third quarter fiscal results today at 2 pm (Pacific). Here's what the Sellers Research Firm (that's me) is predicting.

I expect Apple to report net income of $2.9 billion, up from $1.8 billion during the year-ago quarter.

Apple will have sold 3.52 million Macs, compared to 2.6 million from the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 10 million iPhones during the quarter, compared to 5.2 million from the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 10.1 million iPods during the quarter, compared to 10.2 for the same period a year ago.

Apple will have sold 3.5 million iPads during the quarter.

We'll be covering the financial announcements, of course, so check back today to see how the Sellers Research firm did.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 19
Will tablet devices hurt sales of other devices? Not...

A new study by Rethink Technology Research found that about three quarters of the sales of tablet devices, such as the iPad, will be at the expense of the purchase or upgrade of another device in many case one with higher price tags and margins than the tablet.

Vendors will hope these will be companion products, acquired in addition to a phone or notebook, but that means the prices have to be keen, to encourage consumers in a recession to invest in a non essential item, says the research group. Even Apple has come in with an iPad entry price far lower than most had expected, and a recent research note from Credit Suisse points out that Apple management noted that it will remain nimble (pricing could change if the company is not attracting as many customers as anticipated). Remember, Apple slashed the price of the iPhone by $200 two months after it went on sale.

Apple stands to make margins of almost 43% on the new tablet, so has plenty of room for maneuvering, but...

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Jul 16
What I want in the next iMac

I suspect we'll see new iMacs introduced in the September/October timeframe in time for the back-to-school shopping season). Here's what I expect to see -- as well as some things I hope to see.

The next iMac will probably include USB 3.0 and HDMI ports. Naturally, it will include speed boosts; I suspect we'll see a high-end six-core model running Intel's 3.2GHz Core i7-970 processor. Or perhaps even the 3.33GHz Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, Both feature Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost features and support 1066MHz DDR3 memory.

Or perhaps -- though less likely -- the next iMacs will sport "Sandy Bridge" processors. The difference between the Nehalem-based chips of today and Sandy Bridge is that the latter's architecture takes everything down to 32nm -- including the graphics processor and memory controller -- while keeping it all within the same enclosure. (Intel plans to eventually transition to a 22nm process.)

Intel claims that Sandy Bridge will increase...

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Jul 15
Apple patent shows new dock connectors for idevices

A new Apple patent (number 20100177476) has popped up that shows the company is working on new dock connectors that would allow idevices such as the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad to be docked in either horizontal or landscape orientations.

The invention relates generally to docking stations for portable electronic devices. More particularly, the present invention relates to docking stations for portable electronic devices, which have planar like configurations and that operate in multiple orientations. Even more particularly, the present invention relates to improved techniques for transferring data and/or power between portable electronic devices and the docking stations.

The patent involves methods and apparatuses for docking a portable electronic device that has a planar like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations. The docking system includes a portable electronic device capable of operating in multiple orientations including vertical and...

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Jul 15
What should Apple do about the iPhone 4?

First off, let me note that I don't have an iPhone 4 -- and won't until I Verizon (or Spring or T-Mobile) carries it. The AT&T reception is just terrible where I live. Still, despite all the hoopla over the antenna/reception issue, I'd love to have one.

That's not to say that Apple doesn't have a major problem on its hands with the iPhone 4, though it's more of a PR problem than a technical issue. And if I were a betting man, I'd place money on the Apple NOT having a recall of its latest smartphone line.

Sure, "Consumer Reports" has said it can't recommend the iPhone 4 due to antenna/reception problems -- if there are indeed problems. And I'm personally skeptical that there are major technical problems with the iPhone 4.

I know four people who have bought an iPhone 4; none of them are having any issues. Well, at least no more than they did with their iPhone 3Gs or 3Gses (thanks, AT&T). Changewave Research says there's still an incredible amount of...

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Jul 14
Donovan's Views: more than one Hong Kong Apple...

By Gaurang Donovan

The others missed this in their reporting on Apple's China second entrance. The Hong Kong press included as far as I, and three others, can tell.

On July 8, Apple Senior Vice President of Retail Ron Johnson appeared and spoke at the new Shanghai Pudong store to media representatives a few days before the store opened. His talk was captured on video and you can find it through this link: http://macosg.me/2/iv .

In reference to the Shanghai Pudong store, he stated: "We view this store as kind for a launching pad for 25 stores that we will open throughout China by 2012."

At just past the minute mark of the video he continued: "We will be adding mores stores in Shanghai, in Beijing, our first stores in Hong Kong and stores throughout many of the cities in mainland China"

He said "our first stores in Hong Kong" implying more than one actual store was...

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Jul 14
What's in store for the Mac? Some of YOUR...

I've been offering my thoughts on what we might see in a Mac in recent columns. We'll conclude the series (for now) with a few thoughts from our "MacNews" readers.

Here's what Ray Comeau would like to see: "What I want to see in a future Mac laptop, is the ability to scan a document directly into a documents folder without the need to buy more hardware. Just imagine getting a piece of paper you need for tax purposes or legal reasons or for long term archiving and being able to scan into a doc folder at any place at any time. (In the airport waiting for a flight, in a clients office during a meeting, sitting in a presentation, etc.) I am not always in my office or home when need to scan a document. For road warriors this is a great practical addendum."

Loren Kruse says: "I believe we need to see a generation of software advancement for the Mac. I I would love to see a new touch interface for the Mac. Maybe a combo where you could still use the mouse but also use a...

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Jul 14
Greg's bite: iOS drag and drop creator on the way...

By Greg Mills

Currently the Apple Developer Tools used to create apps for iOS, that run on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad are really professional programs. While they have drag and drop elements, the way they all fit together and work to create an app is not something a child can easily do.  

Some background in programing is very helpful. That is likely to change as an easy way to create apps for iOS may well be on the way. While it has not been announced or even hinted at by Apple, a move by Google guarantees a "user friendly" iOS app creator program will be released by Apple any time now. 

The Google competition with Apple over content in their app stores is going to heat up with a new "Google Android App Inventor" tool to be launched soon by "Big G."  With this software kit, that runs on Google servers "in the cloud" on a web browser, a person can create simple apps using "blocks" of programing that are graphically put together to preform...

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Jul 13
Apple patents range from hot keys to iTunes media

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

Patent number 7,757,185 involves enabling and disabling hot keys. According to the patent, a computer program product may include instructions that, when executed, cause a processor to perform operations that include monitoring an electronic device to determine whether the electronic device is in a specific state. The electronic device may define one or more hotkeys, and each hotkey may correspond to an input from one or more input components of the electronic device. If the electronic device is in the specific state, a rule associated with the specific state may be retrieved, and one or more hotkeys may be enabled or disabled based on the retrieved rule. In some implementations, enabling or disabling one or more hotkeys includes enabling or disabling one or more operations associated with corresponding one or more hotkeys. The inventors are...

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Jul 13
Apple granted patent for voice menu system

Apple has been granted a patent (number 7,757,173) by the US Patent & Trademark Offic for its for a voice menu system for its idevices -- and apparently plans to tweak it even more in the future. It relates to media players and, more particularly, to navigating menus of media players.

The invention generally allows for updateable audio menus. Although a device might have some pre-packaged menu components, other menu components can be received from a server. Each menu component, regardless of whether it is original or received from the server, has an associated voiced name. When a user highlights a menu choice, the voiced name can be played. The user then has the option of selecting the menu choice or scrolling to a new menu choice. In this way, a user could navigate the menu without having to actually see a visual display of the menu, which may be especially useful for users unable to see the visual display or users with visual disabilities. The inventor is Alexander B....

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Jul 13
Patent shows Apple still innovating with input methods

An Apple patent (number 7,757,186) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that shows that Apple is far from finished when it comes to innovative ways to control its various devices.

The patent is for motion plane correction for MEMS-based input devices. The invention relates to technology for monitoring motion of electronic input devices, and more particularly to technology for motion plane correction of motion-based input devices. The inventor is Farshid Moussavi.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Conventional input devices, such as computer mice, typically employ optical sensors, track wheels or track balls to control the motion of a cursor or other navigational object on a computer display screen. Other types of input devices that measure a force imparted onto the input device typically incorporate one or more accelerometers for sensing acceleration forces exerted on the input device as it is moved by a user. A velocity of the...

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Jul 13
More thoughts on the future of the Mac

Last week I devoted several columns to what I perceive as the future of the Mac. I've asked my "MacNews" compadres to offer their thoughts. And here they are...

Scott Alexander says:

"Five years -- that's a long time in technology. There's the obvious stuff like speed, speed, and more speed. There are a lot of directions I could go here; for example practical 3D displays with multi-touch and then move to my perennial favorite home servers (my newest term for that is now 'femtocloud' -- owing to the popular cloud mentality and the AT&T home cell phone access points).

"However, I think that I'll focus on improving the ability of the Mac devices to work better together. I was completely awed by the idea represented by a single act in the blockbuster 'Avatar' movie where one of the characters was working on what appeared to be a normal desktop workstation (with an admittedly was cool display) when he 'grabbed' the data he was working on and dragged it from...

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Jul 13
Greg's bite: an open letter to Apple

By Greg Mills

No matter how visionary a CEO is, no matter how much testing you do, no matter how elegant the design, real world electronic devices sometimes have unexpected issues.  

Sometimes they are overblown, to be sure. I think this is one of those times. But marketing and public relations must trump being being defensive about a perceived problem that few people really understand. They know what they read. Apple does not need any more reasons, valid or not, for people to pass on an iPhone and buy an Android phone.

Case in point: the iPhone 4. Radio devices with multiple channels that all have to work together are finicky. Most people like their iPhones but really don't have a clue as to how sophisticated the device really is. An iPhone has a 3G radio to attempt communications with AT&Ts network (when a signal is available), a WiFi radio, a Bluetooth radio and a GPS radio. Each radio needs a separate antenna to work at peak efficiency...

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Jul 12
Electronics are on consumers' minds

This has got to be good news for Apple (and other tech companies): electronics purchases are top of mind for consumers this year, according to About.com’s April 2010 Consumer Electronics Study. Findings also revealed that consumers are being smarter about their electronics purchases with nearly 65% planning to spend more time researching online before buying.

After researching key areas of consumer behaviors including how consumers shop for electronics (e.g., computers, wireless phones, TVs, DVD players, cameras, music players, video games and E-book readers), what advertisements they find most appealing and what types of electronic products they plan to purchase this year, the analysis revealed the following.

When consumers shop for electronics products:

° Nearly 70% of the respondents said they usually wait a few months to purchase electronics to ensure the product is worth the money and functions properly.

° While consumers are price conscious, they...

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Jul 12
Greg's bite: Apple faces the Android onslaught

By Greg Mills

I read an interesting article in "Barron's" on-line that laid out a scenario where the Google Android operating system eats  an Apple cell phone OS for lunch.  

I see his points, but come to another conclusion. Mark Veverka fails to give Apple due credit. See http://macosg.me/2/i9 .

The facts are clear: if there is an Apple iPhone killer out there, it is the Google Android. Sales show that Android is overtaking the iPhone. The underlying reasons are that at least 12 cell phone manufacturers are building phones that run Android. 

One element of the Android success is multiple cell companies offer Android phones. That part of the problem will be solved when Apple gets past the AT&T exclusive and offers the iPhone more broadly. Conservative estimates of immediate sales in the millions, right out of the box, can't be lost on the folks at Apple. 

...

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Jul 09
What's in store for the Mac? A dockable computer

Although Apple's Big Love right now is being bestowed on the iPhone and iPod, I think we'll see some truly innovative Macs in the next 2-3 years. I certainly expect some to offer built-in micro-projects, as I've mentioned. I also expect to see a laptop and combination dock/display.

Of course, you can buy docks for current laptops. But Apple has at least considered making a portable device that inserts into a special display. A patent (number 20080278899) appeared in 2008 for methods and apparatuses for docking a portable electronic device that has a planar-like configuration and that operates in multiple orientations.

The invention relates to improved techniques for transferring data and/or power between portable electronic devices and the docking stations. The docking system also includes a docking station configured to mechanically accept and operatively interface with the portable electronic device in any of its multiple orientations including vertical and...

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Jul 08
Apple patent is for content associated with a product...

An Apple patent (number 20100174599) for a system and method for providing content associated with a product or service has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The disclosure relates generally to benefits associated with products or services and, more particularly, to obtaining, storing, and accessing benefits associated with such products or services using an electronic device.

Systems, methods, and devices for providing and managing benefits associated with a product or service are provided. For example, a device for managing benefits associated with a product or service may include a processor configured to run a product benefit management application, a memory device operably coupled to the processor, an electronic display operably coupled to the processor, and an input interface. The input interface may be a near field communication interface configured to receive data associated with at least one benefit associated with the product or service from a...

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Jul 08
Apple granted iPhoto related patents

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

Patent number 20100172579 involves distinguishing between faces and non-faces. It involves methods, systems, and apparatus, including computer program products, for evaluating image data. In one aspect, a method includes accessing an image that includes a candidate face, such as a face detected during a face detection operation. The method further includes generating a sharpness measure based on image data corresponding to the candidate face, evaluating the sharpness measure to determine a confidence score representing a likelihood that the candidate face corresponds to a human face, and accepting the candidate face when the confidence score compares in a predetermined manner to a confidence threshold. Additionally, the method can be implemented to include generating a skin tone measure based on image data corresponding to the...

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Jul 08
Greg's bite: iPad eats more ebook readers for...

By Greg Mills

Sony just dropped prices on it's e-readers to keep parity with Amazon and Barnes & Noble's devices. The rush to drop prices is all about customers going to iPad, in mass.

When you compare the Sony Daily Reader at US$300, the Kindle at $189 and the Nook at $199, the color, multipurpose iPad is more expensive, but well worth the additional money. When Microsoft was able to actually lay hands on an iPad, they pulled the plug on their slate computer as they knew they couldn't compete. Amazon, Sony and Barnes and Noble didn't have the luxury of pulling the plug gracefully, as they were already in the market place.

Apple realized the book reader devices that preceded iPad were flawed in that they didn't have all the functions consumers wanted. First is color. I saw a guy at a Chinese restaurant reading a book a month or so before iPad came out. I asked him how he liked his Kindle. He told me it was a neat way to buy and read books...

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Jul 08
Greg's bite: Sony DCR-SX44 and iMovie 9 do work

By Greg Mills

Greg Bites some crow. Not one to easily admit I was wrong, I have to admit that parts of my rage yesterday against the Apple MPEG 2 video import into iMovie were not exactly fair.  Sometimes you fool around with things and somehow get it to work.  

For one thing, the QuickTime MPEG 2 software, according to Apple, sometimes does work and delivers sound. It depends on the codex being translated. In this case it didn't work and Apple did give me my money back.  

They were nicer about it than I was. They had to agree that a bold disclaimer that some MPEG 2 codex would not allow the sound to be decoded by the Sorenson MPEG 2 video decoder they sell as a download. That disclaimer would preclude a lot of upset Apple Store customers.  

I also had other Mac people email me with similar upsetting experiences. I also admit I didn't read all the information before I assumed the MPEG 2 decoder would work for my application. 

...

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Jul 08
What's in store for the Mac? A '3D'...

It's likely that the Mac OS X Finder will go "3D" at some point in the near future. Perhaps in Mac OS X 10.7 or 10.8.

Last year an Apple patent (number 20080307360) appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office is any indication. The patent is for a multi-dimensional desktop.

According to Apple it involves a graphical user interface with a back surface disposed from viewing surface to define a depth, and one or more one or more side surfaces extend from the back surface to the viewing surface. An icon receptacle is disposed on one or more of the side surfaces, and one or more icons are disposed within the icon receptacle. The one or more icons correspond to one or more desktop items.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A graphical user interface allows a large number of graphical objects or items to be displayed on a display screen at the same time. Leading personal computer operating systems, such as the Apple Mac OS, provide user...

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Jul 07
Greg's bite: remember hearing 'You can'...

By Greg Mills

I wanted to believe platform envy for the Mac faithful towards the dark side of the force was over. WRONG.

Try using some of the more popular USB camcorders on a Mac. I love plug and play, as it just works.Why can't Apple fix this deficiency in the Mac infrastructure? There are still plenty of incompatible camcorders out there.

I bought a cool tiny Sony camcorder that was bundled with a 320GB hard drive at Best Buy. The package was only US$335 for the camera and the slick little hard drive. A great deal, in my opinion. The hard drive works great and boots as an USB hard drive just fine on my MacBook Pro.  

The camera works fine and can hook up with USB to my MacBook Pro -- but iMovie and iDVD refuse to see the Sony camera. The USB ports is working, as I checked the "About This Mac" index under the Apple logo. After drilling down to see what was showing on the USB Bus, there was the camera, bigger than Dallas.   

I...

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Jul 07
What's in store for the Mac? Full FaceTime screens

As I mentioned yesterday, I think future Macs will integrate the FaceTime feature of the iPhone 4. And, in time, Macs will probably sport displays whose entire screens can serve as giant iSight cameras for this purpose (and, who knows, perhaps for scanning as well).

In 2006, Apple filed a patent (number 2006007222) at the US Patent & Tradmark Office for an integrated sensing display. Per the patent, the sensing display includes display elements integrated with image sensing elements so the integrated sensing device can not only output images (e.g., as a display) but also input images (e.g., as a camera).

Of course, that patent involves the iSight camera that is currently built into all Macs (at least those with their own displays). However, I think that, in time, Apple will expand the technology so that you have the option of using your entire Mac screen as a videophone -- with FaceTime, naturally.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jul 06
Apple patents range from address switches to product...

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

Patent number 7752366 is for a non-blocking address switch with shallow per agent queues. In one embodiment, a switch is configured to be coupled to an interconnect. The switch comprises a plurality of storage locations and an arbiter control circuit coupled to the plurality of storage locations. The plurality of storage locations are configured to store a plurality of requests transmitted by a plurality of agents. The arbiter control circuit is configured to arbitrate among the plurality of requests stored in the plurality of storage locations. A selected request is the winner of the arbitration, and the switch is configured to transmit the selected request from one of the plurality of storage locations onto the interconnect. In another embodiment, a system comprises a plurality of agents, an interconnect, and the switch coupled to the plurality of...

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