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May 18
Apple patents involve DVDs, query results, more

Several Apple patents appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office today. Here's an overview. Patent number 7,720,354 involves embedded access for digital versatile disc (DVD) independent of DVD player software.

An operating system extension is used to implement embedded information on a DVD. The operating system extension examines DVD sector addresses requested from the DVD hardware. When address associated with an embedded link is requested, an application program that can run the embedded link is started, and the embedded link is provided to the application program. The system of the present invention has the advantage that it does not require modifying the DVD software program and thus can be used with a variety of different DVD software programs. The inventors are Freddier Geier and Stefan Bauer-Schwan.

Patent number 7,720,860 is for query result iteration. Systems and methods for processing an index are described. A pulse...

| Read more »
May 18
Could AT&T's HSPA+ plans convince me to buy a...

Could this be the move that finally makes me get an iPhone? AT&T is purportedly planning on upgrading its wireless network to support the faster HSPA+ protocol, and plans to make the service available to some 250 million customers in 2010.

Currently, I've not bought an iPhone due to the crappy AT&T wireless service in my neck of the woods. Truthfully, I've been holding out for a Verizon-based Apple phone. Can AT&T change my mind?

News of the planned network upgrade came from AT&T Operations CEO John Stankey at a Reuters event, reports "Engadget" (http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/14/atandt-to-cover-about-250m-people-wit... ). This could means lots more iPhone 3GS owners could be able to access Internet-based content faster by the end of the year....

| Read more »
May 17
Despite war with Adobe, Apple promotes CS5

Anyone who follows Apple news is well aware that the Cupertino company's relationship with Adobe has been very rough as of late. For a long time Apple has refused to allow Flash on the iPhone, and, more recently, Apple amended its iPhone developer agreement to prevent cross-compilation of apps shortly before the release of Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) which includes a feature to do just that.  

Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Adobe co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock have written open letters to the world expressing their disagreement with each other's viewpoints. So imagine my shock when I saw a promotional e-mail in my inbox yesterday from Apple titled "The all-new Adobe Creative Suite 5. Get yours today."

This was crazy! How on earth could Apple, in the midst of a war of words and opinions with Adobe, invite all of its own e-mail subscribers to buy an Adobe product, especially CS5 -- one of the software packages that Apple recently banned from being able to make...

| Read more »
May 17
Opinion: Apple mobile hardware's lousy fluid...

As a mindless Apple fan boy, I am quick to tout the coolness of Apple products but tend to wink at vulnerabilities.  Sorry about that, but the worst Apple product exceeds the garbage the competition puts out most of the time. 

Today's op-ed piece, however, will blast Apple in a way I never have before. In many respects Apple hardware exceeds the rest of the industry in quality and durability. Apple customer service is generally incredibly helpful and they go the extra mile for customers. Still, there are a couple of areas where improvement could be made.

I read with some degree of empathy about runners who sweated while caring their iPhones in their pockets. They took the moist iPhones back only to be rebuffed by Apple repair service, due to "fluid damage." While it is not a reasonable expectation to go scuba diving with an iPhone, it seems like greater humidity resistance could be achieved across the board. The reason laptops, iPhones and iPads are cool is because...

| Read more »
May 17
More 100-year-olds using new technology

Forget the cliche that you can't teach old dogs new tricks. Evercare by UnitedHealthcare has released its fifth annual Evercare 100@100TM Survey (http://www.Evercare100at100.com), and it blows that cliche away.

The national poll of 100 Americans turning 100 years of age or older this year reveals that centenarians are staying connected to family, friends, current events and pop culture and are increasingly using the latest technologies, including text messages, IMs and iPods, compared with two years ago.

More than 80% of the centenarians surveyed say they talk to/communicate with a friend or family member daily. The survey also uncovered an increase in the number of centenarians who say they are using text messaging, IMs, iPods and other technologies.

Eight percent of centenarians surveyed say they have sent someone a text message or an instant message, compared to just 1%...

| Read more »
May 14
Opinion: iPad is a revolutionary device seeking its...

Well, I've had my iPad a week now and I am still struggling with the billion dollar question: what do I do with it? I have an iPad, iPhone and a MacBook Pro, so which device do I use for which tasks? There is redundancy in many functions, such as email, among my multiple devices.

The same general question came up when the laptop replaced the desktop commuter for most of us. As laptops became more powerful and sported larger screens, the convenience of being able to fold it in half and carry with you became the preferred computer form for many people. Laptops now outsell desktops. (An aside: I wish MacBooks more water resistant due to the risks of the mobile world.) Wireless Wi-Fi, powerful new chips and a meaningful battery life made that happen. You know Steve Jobs and the crew at Apple are thinking the same thing. But what does the iPad replace?

I have been carrying my new iPad with me these days and find that it's really nice for checking email and checking my...

| Read more »
May 14
Hey, Apple, beef up the input resolution capability of...

I'm still hoping a future iMac will offer Blu-ray playback, at least as a build-to-order option. I also hope said upgrade will improve its support for input resolutions. Especially if Blu-ray support isn't coming.

The EDID (extended display identification data) embedded in the iMac display only accepts two input resolutions: 2560 x 1440 and 1280 x 720. This limits its effectiveness with a device such as the Kanex XD, which lets you connect a PlayStation 3, Xbox or Blu-ray player to a 27-inch iMac and use it as a display for these gadgets.

The first resolution isn't supported by PS3 and Xbox because the highest resolution output supported on those is 1920 x 1080, or 1080p. Since the iMac doesn't recognize 1080p input resolution, the sources must be set to 720p for proper video pass-through and for the iMac to recognize. No biggie when it comes to the video games consoles, but a disappointment if you want to watch Blu-ray movies via the Kanex XD, in all their 1080p...

| Read more »
May 13
Future Apple products could have carbon composite mold...

An Apple patent (number 20100119634) for a carbon composite mold design has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to the formation of carbon composite based components, and, more particularly, to the use of molds to form such carbon composite based components.

A mold assembly or system includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. Mold inserts combine to form mold cavities that receive carbon fiber and resin components to form a carbon composite based part. A permanent release coating along a mold component surface that contacts the carbon fiber and resin components facilitates the release of the finished part from the mold component.

Guide pins and guide pin receiving holes facilitate accurate alignment of mold components. Ejector pins within respective ejector pin shafts help eject a finished part from a respective mold component. An ejector pin shaft...

| Read more »
May 13
Apple patent reflects location-based iPhone service

An Apple patent (number 20100120450) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that hints at a location-based service for the iPhone. It relates to location specific content on a mobile device.

Systems, methods, and computer program products communicate location information associated with a device, such as a mobile device, to a server. Content identified by the server is received at the device, from the server and/or from a content service. The content can include an application associated with the location information. The content received at the device is displayed on the device only while the device is at or near a particular location identified by the location information. The inventor is Scott Herz.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Mobile devices have grown more powerful and feature-rich and now include such features as personal digital assistant (PDA) capabilities, cameras, Internet access, Wi-Fi access, etc. Software...

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May 13
Apple eyeing 3D display system

3D is all the rage at the movies and more vendors are making 3D HDTVs for the home. And Apple has noticed. A patent (number 200118118) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a three dimensional display system.

Per the patent a three-dimensional display system would provide a projection screen having a predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function. Three-dimensional images are respectively modulated in coordination with the predetermined angularly-responsive reflective surface function to define a programmable mirror with a programmable deflection angle. The inventor is Christoph H. Krah.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Modern three-dimensional (3D) display technologies are increasingly popular and practical not only in computer graphics, but in other diverse environments and technologies as well. Growing examples include medical diagnostics, flight simulation, air traffic control, battlefield simulation, weather...

| Read more »
May 13
The iPad won't kill Apple's products, but it...

Some folks are predicting that the iPad will kill off many of Apple's products since the company is touting the "magical device" as having features of laptops, netbooks, ebook readers, iPods and more. The iPad won't kill off many Apple products (though if I were the MacBook Air and iPod touch, I'd be worried) but it will change them.

Survey data from Alphawise, Morgan Stanley's internal research team, indicate that iPad sales are hurting sales of the iPod and the MacBook. The survey shows that 44% of iPad buyers had chosen it over a laptop. Of that number, 24% had foregone buying a MacBook while the other 20% had nixed a PC notebook purchase. The survey also found that 27% of users would not buy a desktop as a result of their iPad purchase, with 14% of those not buying a Mac desktop, and the other 13% passing on a PC.

What's more, earlier this year, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster surveyed 448 iPad buyers and found that 99 % of respondents had not considered...

| Read more »
May 13
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign” for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

| Read more »
May 12
Will the iPad go mass market?

The iPad is unlikely to reach mass market anytime soon according to Simpson Carpenter (http://www.simpsoncarpenter.com/), a UK research group. All of the iPad’s perceived advantages were seen to be filling a niche or too use-case specific, such as reading eBooks, consuming content on the train, or making presentations, notes "TechCrunch" (http://eu.techcrunch.com/2010/05/12/report-the-ipad-wont-go-mass-market-...) reporting on the group's study.

Also, while the majority of those interviewed thought the iPad had the "wow factor," they couldn’t justify the purchase price, the article adds. “In our view the iPad will take longer to achieve the sales growth and wider market impact of the iPhone," says...

| Read more »
May 12
Verizon, Apple, the iPhone: will they, wont' they...

We're still playing the "will they or won't they?" guessing game as to if and/or when there might be a Verizon version of the iPhone. But I think -- or maybe I'm just hoping -- that we'll see one sooner rather than later.

The rumor mill is abuzz that Landor Associates is working on an advertising campaign for Verizon for an upcoming iPhone. "CrunchGear" (http://www.crunchgear.com/2010/05/11/rumor-landor-associates-working-on-...) says that Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch.

This suggests a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer, but goes against another round of reports that say that Apple and AT&T's...

| Read more »
May 11
Apple patent shows horizontal/vertical docking station

At least iPods, iPhones and iPads work in both vertical and horizontal orientations -- and Apple wants you to be able to dock 'em in either position. A patent (number 7,715,187) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office that involves methods and apparatuses for docking a portable 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 horizontal. 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 horizontal. The inventors are Steve Hotelling and Gus Pabon.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Many electronic devices include a docking station for providing a convenient interface for transferring data between the electronic device...

| Read more »
May 11
Apple patents involve senors, computer systems, linked...

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

Patent number 7,714,265 is for an integrated proximity sensor and light sensor. Apparatuses and methods to sense proximity and to detect light. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes an emitter of electromagnetic radiation and a detector of electromagnetic radiation; the detector has a sensor to detect electromagnetic radiation from the emitter when sensing proximity, and to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter when sensing visible light. The emitter may be disabled at least temporarily to allow the detector to detect electromagnetic radiation from a source other than the emitter, such as ambient light. In one implementation, the ambient light is measured by measuring infrared wavelengths. Also, a fence having a non-IR transmissive material disposed between the emitter and the detector to remove electromagnetic radiation...

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May 11
Seeking the right posture using the iPad

Now that it has been "hands on" for a few days with iPad, the issue of posture while using the device comes into play. It is sort of an acknowledgment that how you hold the iPad is a user
issue, coming from the screen orientation lock switch -- which, from what I read, was added or finalized late in the development process.  

While the gravity oriented screen is cool, it you are reading in bed, holding the iPad so that the screen is horizontal is a nice touch. That feature could have been software based from the settings screen, but it would have been a major hassle to lock and unlock the screen when going from a prone position to sitting up.

While iPad is not really heavy, holding it at the right distance from the eyes does get tiring. I find myself propping it up a lot. I invested in a silicone cover that keeps it from sliding when inclined.  The keyboard docking station combo Apple is offering really supports the laptop mode of use. I have found the touch key...

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May 11
A couple of things Apple should fix

Overall, I like my Apple products. However, there are at least two things I'd love to see Apple fix immediately: a) the miserable way of sharing Pages files between an iPad and a Mac, and b) iMovie.

The British term "rubbish" (and some even less complimentary terms) comes to mind when I try to sync documents between iWork on the iPad and Mac. In fact, it's the main reason that I think the iPad is ill suited to anything beyond rudimentary content creation (though it's great for content consumption).

In fact, you can't really sync Pages documents at all. You must manually import and export them from the iPad. Not only is this cumbersome and very "un-Apple-like," but it creates versioning problems.

To export a document from the iPad, you must first open Pages on the iPad, go to the “My Documents” area, choose the document you want to transfer to your Mac and export it in the format of your choosing. Then connect the tablet device to your Mac with the sync cable....

| Read more »
May 10
Hands off my iPad

Friday morning the FedEx truck pulled into our driveway and set the stage for the turf war over the new iPad to begin. Ironically, later on the same day I had to turn my workhorse MacBook Pro in at the Apple store due to a one pixel wide vertical line that just showed up on the display the other day.

A bit of research indicated it was the dreaded graphics card defect common to some older MacBook Pros. I got in under the three-year deadline for a free repair. As I told the Genius at the Apple store who asked me if I could get along without my laptop for a week, well, I just got my new iPad ....  So here I am, with only my new iPad and iPhone to do my computing for a whole week.

My first impressions are that Apple has another sound hit. The device is impressive and addictive in the extreme. My 10-year-old is one of those kids who has grown up around computers. She talked me into giving her an old iPhone for Christmas with the ploy, "Dad, if I had an iPod touch I wouldn'...

| Read more »
May 10
Initial 3D TV tests find that images pop -- but there...

There's been a lot of hype surrounding the launch of 3D TV, but is the new technology worth buying right away? I'm dying to buy one (assuming I had the moolah, which I don't).

"Consumer Reports" tested several new sets in its labs -- the first hands-on evaluation outside the manufacturers' facilities -- and found that the sets live up to their advance billing, but the average consumer shouldn't rush out to buy one. The results of the magazine's tests of two Samsung LCD sets and a Panasonic plasma TV with 3D capability are impressive. Full results are published in the June issue on newsstands May 4 and online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org. In a nutshell, the 3D images had excellent depth, color, and high-def details, creating a compelling 3D picture as good as a movie theater.

However, for consumers who are satisfied with their current HDTV and aren't burning to have the latest...

| Read more »
May 07
Traditional book retailers face trilogy of threats

Today’s reader can “curl up with a good book” in a variety of non-traditional ways -- library books, e-books, or books bought online. All these choices, however, threaten the health of traditional brick-and-mortar book retailers.

The Mintel research firm (http://www.mintel.com) says that e-book options like the iPad and Kindle, the popularity of Amazon.com and even local libraries pose significant threats to traditional book retailers. Online book sites have cornered a significant slice of the market share that once belonged to traditional bookstores from 2007-2009, as they enjoyed a 7% increase in sales at the same time traditional retailers were hit with an almost 10% decrease. This disparity further suggests that bookstore owners must act quickly if they want to maintain the upper hand on the book retail market.

“The lower costs of ordering through the Internet, either for physical books or e-books,...

| Read more »
May 06
Apple patent is for multidimensional widgets

An Apple patent (number 20100115471) for multidimensional widgets has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It involves, as you might guess, implementations that relate generally to graphical user interface.

Systems, methods, computer-readable mediums, user interfaces and other implementations are disclosed for implementing multidimensional widgets. A multidimensional widget is a three-dimensional object with application surfaces, and each application surface is associated with a widget function. Multidimensional widgets can be modified by adding functions or grouping with other widgets. The inventors are John O. Louch and Imran A. Chaudhri.
Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "A hallmark of modern graphical user interfaces is that they allow 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 Apple Mac OS.RTM., provide user interfaces in...

| Read more »
May 06
Apple patent involves pan and zoom in video sequences

An Apple patent (number 20100110303) for a look-ahead system and method for pan and zoom detection in video sequences has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office. It relates generally to analysis of motion in video sequences and, more particularly, to identifying pan and zoom global motion in video sequences.

The system and method use motion vectors in a reference coordinate system to identify pans and zooms in video sequences. The identification of pans and zooms enables parameter switching for improved encoding in various video standards (e.g., H.264) and improved video retrieval of documentary movies and other video sequences in video databases or other storage devices. The inventors are Adriana Dumitras and Barin G. Haskell.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The analysis of motion information in video sequences has typically addressed two largely non-overlapping applications: video retrieval and video coding. In video retrieval...

| Read more »
May 06
Apple patent would let devices ID users by their heart...

Forget passwords and fingerprint technology. Apple is eyeing ways in which its devices can identity users by their heart beat. An Apple patent (number 20100113950) for a seamlessly embedded heart rate monitor has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent is directed to an electronic device having an integrated sensor for detecting a user's cardiac activity and cardiac electrical signals. The electronic device can include a heart sensor having several leads for detecting a user's cardiac signals. The leads can be coupled to interior surfaces of the electronic device housing to hide the sensor from view, such that electrical signals generated by the user can be transmitted from the user's skin through the electronic device housing to the leads. In some embodiments, the leads can be coupled to pads placed on the exterior of the housing.

The pads and housing can be finished to ensure that the pads are not visibly or haptically distinguishable on the...

| Read more »
May 06
Apple patents involve power functions, hash functions...

Five Apple patents that only the most tech savvy could love (though I'm sure they're great patents) have appeared at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number 20100111415 is for computations of power functions using polynomial approximations. Per the patent, a power function is approximated over an applicable data interval with polynomials determined by means of a Chebyshev minimax approximation technique. In some cases, multiple polynomials may be used to approximate the function over respective ranges of the desirable interval, in a piecewise manner. The appropriate polynomial that approximates the power function over the range of interest is derived and stored. When the power function is to be applied to a particular data value, the data value is first evaluated to determine where it lies within the applicable interval. The constants for the polynomial associated with that range of the interval are then retrieved and used...

| Read more »
 
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