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Jun 17
Apple patent could given new meaning to 'smarty-...

An Apple patent (number 20100151996) for a "smart garment" has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office and hints at clothing that could "talk" to an iPhone, iPad or iPod. The invention relates generally to performance monitoring. More particularly, methods and apparatus electronically pairing an authorized garment and a sensor that receives data from the garment are disclosed.

Per the patent, a sensor authenticated to a garment transfers information, either wirelessly or wired, to an external data processing device. Such information includes location information, physiometric data of the individual wearing the garment, garment performance and wear data (when the garment is an athletic shoe, for example). The external data processing device can be portable digital media players that are, in turn, in wireless communication with a server computer or other wireless devices. The inventors are Brett G. Alten and Robert Edward Borchers.

Here's Apple's background...

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Jun 17
Apple considering HD radio on its portable devices

A new Apple patent (number 20100150276) at the US Patent & Tradmark Office shows that the company may be planning HD radio features in upcoming iPhones, iPads and iPod. The patent is for digital radio tagging using an RF tuner accessory.

According to the patent, an accessory having an RF tuner for digital radio, such as HD radio, can be in communication with a media player such as a portable media device ("PMD"). The user can be given the ability to command the accessory to provide raw digital data, the ability to scan only for stations having digital audio content (or for all available stations), the ability to provide station lists of stations having digital audio content (or all available stations), and the ability to request and store metadata beyond that for stations actually being listened to provide enhanced search capabilities. Enhanced metadata and searching can provide the listener the ability to refine station choices without having to listen at length to any...

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Jun 17
iPad paves the way for new set of devices

The Mac isn't going anywhere, but the launch of the iPad is paving the way for a new set of devices: tablets, which rise between the mobile experience of smartphones and the computing experience of laptops.

These devices, being connected to wireless networks and equipped with all the services and applications of smartphones, can not only offer a better entertainment experience, but also drive new ideas in other industries including publishing and tourism, according to Saverio Romeo, senior industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan, a firm whose analysts, consultants, and visionaries cover more than 300 markets and 250,000 companies.

He notes thatApple has again established a route modeling the use of the iPad around the Apple App Store, from where applications can be downloaded to the device. The model for the iPhone has been simply extended to the tablet. The application revenue model also remains the same: the 70/30 revenue sharing model used for smartphones is...

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Jun 16
So what's on Apple's calendar for the rest...

The new Mac mini debuted yesterday -- and, quite impressively, I might add. The MacBook and MacBook Pro lines have been updated. The iPhone 4 has been unveiled. Safari has been revved to version 5 and iOS (the operating system formerly known as iPhone OS) has seen some big changes. So what else can we expect from Apple in the near future?

I think we'll see new Mac Pros and a 27-inch Cinema Display before summer's end. Probably a new MacBook Air, as well, though I still wouldn't bet on its long-term future with the iPad around. The iPod line-up will probably also be tweaked before the start of the next school term.

I do think iTunes.com, the web-based version of iTunes, is coming. And I'm among those who think the Apple TV is going to get a new, very exciting overhaul, this year. But I don't expect either of these until this fall. Though I hope I'm wrong on the Apple TV update; sooner would be better.

I think we'll see new versions of iLife and iWork this year...

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Jun 16
Greg's bite: iOS Apps and GPS on a Mac

By Greg Mills

The notion of running iOS (formerly known as the iPhone OS) Apps on a Mac is interesting. When I first read about that idea it struck me as a way to broaden app sales to include the additional platform of the Mac. That sounds like more money flowing into the App Store to me.

The only problem is that iOS apps are built upon the Cocoa Touch user interface which accesses the compass, GPS, motion and gravity sensors which are used to manipulate functions on iPhone and iPad. Current Macs don't have those sensors and do not have touch screens to work with iPhone apps either. This is not to say Apple or third party companies are not working on that exact problem. Something like a game controller with Bluetooth would do it.

Apps that are mostly display oriented may be ported to use mouse or touch pad input, but that may take a virtual rewrite of most apps. The Mac OS already supports Java applets which run well on Macs. Widgets also...

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Jun 15
Greg's bite: the Cloud is coming

By Greg Mills

The notion of "cloud" computing or actually cloud storage has been around for a while now.  The Internet allows files to seamlessly be stored on a remote server "in the cloud." The cloud  is not to be confused with Heaven, as there is a devil in the details of cloud computing.  

Malcrosoft (misspelled intentionally) attempted to implement applications that reside on their servers that you sort of rent instead of own. You never really have the application, as such, on your computer and the files can be printed out or stored on your local computer or their server.  Typical of those able to screw up a stainless steel ball bearing, the Microsoft cloud had all sorts of problems including lost data. Oops, now you see it, now you don't. Would you really trust the book you have been writing to a remote server somewhere in Redmond?    

Also typical of Microsoft, the basic reason for the cloud concept they came up with was related to money...

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Jun 15
Apple wins patents for MacBook, iPod touch, Expose,...

Several Apple patents have appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office, including design wins for the MacBook, iPod touch and Mac OS X's Expose feature. Here's a summary of each.

Patent number D617,807 is for a graphical user interface for a display screen or a portion thereof (the iPhone touch). The inventors are Greg Christie, Elizabeth Caroline Furches and Bas Oring.

Patent number D617,792 is for the design of an electronic device (the MacBook). The inventors are Bartley K. Andre, Daniel J. Coster, Daniele De Iuliis, Evans Hankey, Richard P. Howarth, Jonathan P. Ive, Duncan Robert Kerr, Shin Nishibori, Matthew Dean Rohrbach, Peter Russell-Clarke, Douglas B. Satzger, Christopher J. Stringer, Eugene Antony Whang and Rico Zorkendorfer.

Patent number 7,739,617 is for a computer interface having a virtual single-layer mode for viewing overlapping objects. In other words, Expose. A computer-human interface...

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Jun 15
Mac OS X and iOS both on a Mac?

I've surmised that future versions of Mac OS X would include elements of iOS (the operating system formerly known as iPhone OS) and I still think it will. However, two other folks have offered an interesting alternative: iOS running along Mac OS X on a Mac.

"MacNews" reader Loren Kruse made this prediction: "The next iMac will be a touch enable computer either through the screen or through a multi-touch tablet and will have Mac OS X along with IOS built in. This would greatly increase the marketing potential for the apps and advertising."

And in a "ZDNet" column (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/ios-4-on-a-mac/8609), tech writer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes said he thought we might see iOS running alongside Mac OS X proper.

"Pre iPad, it made little sense for Apple to even think of putting the iPhone OS on the Mac, since the apps were...

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Jun 14
3D TV -- not everyone can see (literally) what the...

As Hollywood prepares for a summer filled with more 3D blockbuster hopefuls and cable networks launch 3D networks and programming for new 3D televisions, the trend towards this new technology is hard to miss -- except for the millions of Americans who literally can’t see it.

Movies including “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” have already left their impression on the 3D screen and new movies using the technology are making their way into theaters across the country. Meanwhile, ESPN and the Discovery Channel are preparing to broadcast in 3D. This new technology is catching the eyes of fans nationwide, but some people may not be able to enjoy the 3-D experience because of vision problems.

“Quite simply, people who have even a small vision misalignment or those who don’t have equal vision in both eyes may not be able to see 3D images properly,” says Dr. Leonard Press, chair of the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Pediatrics and Binocular Vision Committee (...

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Jun 11
Online video services to get bigger and better

Well, this is good news for Apple's iTunes service (and perhaps a revamped Apple TV, when it happens): nearly half (46%) of 18- to 25-year-olds spend as much time using online video services as they do watching TV, says RealNetworks.

Research by online video software firm revealed that just under a third (32%) say the computer is their preferred platform for watching TV and video. However, when it comes to 36- to 45-year-olds, 20% watch at least 50% of TV programs and movies via a computer.

"It's still early days for online video but as each year passes the quality and breadth of online video content increases dramatically and the tools to access, manage, share and consume the content grow ever more sophisticated," says Marili 't Hooft-Bolle from RealNetworks.

-- Dennis Sellers

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Jun 10
Nearly two-thirds of all online software purchases are...

With the Apple App Store going great guns, will we eventually see a similar service for Mac software? Perhaps aps for a revamped Apple TV?

Nearly two-thirds of all online software purchases were digital downloads in 2010, up slightly from 2009, according to the new report from the market research company, The NPD Group (http://www.npdgroup.com). Online digital downloads of new products accounted for 23% of online purchases, up from 22% in 2009. Online subscription renewals accounted for 34%, down one percentage point from 2009, and trial-to-paid conversions were 8% of sales, up from 6% in 2009.

With all this in mind, Apple has surely considered a Mac App Store. However, CEO Steve Jobs said in an email in April that "nope," Apple had no such plans.


As for the Apple TV, that may be another matters. Especially as the rumor mill says an upcoming rev of Apple's "hobby" will use the iPhone OS, er...

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Jun 10
Greg's bite: the quick assimilation of things...

By Greg Mills

I am off to Orlando to marry off my last single sister-in-law and noticed that airline security didn't blink about the iPad going through security. Matter of fact, they said the laptop needs to be in its own tray, but the iPad is OK with other items.

On the plane when they said electronic items need to be turned off, they specifically included laptops, cell phones and iPads. Note that they didn't say slate computers or netbooks, but rather iPads, specifically.

Apple has already established the iPad as a separate category of electronic device. Generic slate computers are likely doomed to be second class "iPads" when they come out. Being the trend-setter and having the brand of product to own is worth billions to Apple.

Sitting in an Atlanta airport as I write this, I look up and the guy across from me is reading a newspaper. The picture in the headline section of the paper is Steve Jobs holding a new iPhone. Apple is...

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Jun 09
The obituary for the Mac

"Newsweek" ran an obituary for the Mac yesterday (see http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/techtonic-shifts/2010/06/08/does-apple-s-i...) in which it said that the "future of Apple is no longer centered around the Macintosh."

"You Mac guys just got kicked to the curb, relegated to the steaming dung heap of the past," "Newsweek" wrote. "The future, for Apple, is all about iPhones and iPads, and, more important, the operating system software that powers them -- the sexy new iOS 4, which these days seems to be getting most of Steve’s attention."

I think "Newsweek" is right on one point: "the future of Apple is no longer centered around the Macintosh." The Mac is no longer THE main focus of Apple (although that's probably...

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Jun 08
Greg's bite: iPad, the foundation, the digital...

By Greg Mills

(Note:  I am writing this on Sunday, the day before the Apple WWDC keynote.) The mainstream "paper press" seems to be faltering all around the US. Most major newspapers are running in the red and have been losing money for some time now.  

One paper in Honolulu bought the other paper so now there is one. Major economic changes are taking place at a breath-taking pace. This is very bad if you are part of the old content economy, but very good if you are part of the digital content delivery revolution.  

What began as a novel way to send a note to someone else on line as an email became a torrent -- and now the number of emails delivered each day is more than physical letters. The Post Office has complained that itss revenue is suffering because of virtually free email replacing the postage stamp model of financing written communication. The postal union is crying all the way to Congress and, sometime ago, actually suggested a tax...

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Jun 08
Apple granted patents for iPhone OS interface, more

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

Patent number D617,334 is for a graphical user interface or a portion thereof. In other words, the iPhone OS interface (now iOS). The inventor is Imran Chaudhri.

Patent number D617,339 is for the ornamental design for an icon of a display screen. The inventors are Bas Ording and Imran Chaudhri.

Patent number 7,734,721 involves a system and method for passive detection and context sensitive notification of upgrade availability for computer information. The invention monitors upgrade availability for computer information on a user's computer and allows the user to determine which of the available upgrades will be downloaded to the user's computer and installed. The upgrade availability for computer information on the user's computer is monitored in the background, without user-intervention when the...

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Jun 08
Some thoughts on yesterday's WWDC keynote

I didn't do too well in my predictions of what Apple CEO Steve Jobs would announce at his Worldwide Developer Conference keynote. But overall I wasn't too disappointed. Well, as "un-disappointed" as I could be with the lack of any Mac love.

The iPhone 4 does look very cool, as does iOS 4 (the mobile operating system formerly known as iPhone OS). It makes me want an Apple smartphone more than ever, though I still can't justify buying one until AT&T improves its wireless service in the northern end of Nashville, TN. It looks as if it is going to be next year before I can hope for a Verizon iPhone.

I wasn't expecting any Apple TV news, but I was certain we'd be thrown at least a couple of bones for our Mac jones. I still think that new Mac Pros and Mac minis, as well as 27-inch Cinema Displays are just around the corner. As is Safari 5 with, among other things, official support for extensions.

Hopefully, iAds will be a good thing for Apple and developers. As...

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Jun 07
Where's Phil?

Our friend Jeff Ganyard at MacSpeech/Nuance Communications made an interesting comment this afternoon at WWDC...

While Apple doesn't typically parade all of their executives across a keynote anyway, this year's keynote did have one noticeable omission -- Phil Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President, Worldwide Product Marketing. Scott Forstall, Jonathan Ive, Bob Mansfield, and others were part of keynote (either live or in video), but not Phil. This is a contrast from the past.

What does this mean? Was Phil simply not needed? Was he out sick? Maybe Apple is trying to spread the breadth around a bit to show leadership is deep as part of a Jobs' succession plan. But, if that were the case, why cut Phil out? What's up with that?

Time will tell.

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Jun 07
Greg's bite: iPad software that must be on the...

By Greg Mills

While there is certainly a lot of software already available for iPad, the transition path for consumers to migrate from laptops or desktops to the iPad will require the iLife suite and other consumer grade programs to become adapted to the Cocoa Touch methods of the user interface.

iMovie simplified to run on iPad will be a killer app. The Apple "go to market" model seems to be breaking up suites of software, such as iWork and iLife into individual apps and selling them online for US$10 a pop. At that price point they are selling well. That represents about a 50% discount over Mac OS versions. I will be watching Steve Jobs' Worldwide Developer Conference keynote today to see what new iPad software launches.

The camera USB connector for iPad will become a fundamental addition for most of us -- at least until Apple launches the next generation iPad that might have a camera and perhaps a USB port built in. Clearly, for the iPad...

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Jun 04
My predictions for today's WWDC keynote

Apple will kick off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) today with a keynote address by CEO Steve Jobs at 10 a.m. (Pacific). I've culled through all the rumors and here's what I'm predicting.

Jobs will introduce the next gen iPhone, which will have a front-facing camera for video and group chat. The smartphone will be introduced and demoed -- but won't go on sale for another 2-3 weeks.

Jobs will introduce iTunes.com, a web-based version of iTunes.

The CEO will introduce new Mac Pros and Mac minis, as well as 27-inch Cinema Displays.

It will be announced that Safari now officially supports extensions.

There will be no announcement of a Verizon iPhone. That's coming, but not yet. I'm EXPECTING it to happen in 2011, but I'm HOPING it will happen this fall or winter.

There will no no announcement of a new Apple TV. That's coming, but it's not quite ready (forgive the pun) for prime time yet.

No new iPods will be...

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Jun 04
Greg's bite: can the iPad save journalism?

By Greg Mills

Frankly, the blunt answer is yes, but not necessarily in its current business model -- and many publishers will not make the transition. I laughed when I saw where some well known national magazines launched an app and were charging US$5 an issue for an electronic version of a print magazine you can subscribe to for $8 per year -- for 12 full color magazines delivered to your door.  

People are not stupid;at least most of us are not that stupid. Perhaps as a novelty, one might spend $5 on one electronic magazine, just to see what it is like. A thriving business model requires a long term willingness for consumers to buy a product. Gouging will not work long term. 

Advantages of electronic publishing are cost related.  If that cost advantage is not passed on to the electronic consumer, the electronic magazine product will not sell. While the cost of publishing a paper magazine varies according to circulation, at least half the cost...

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Jun 04
Blu-ray 3D demoed for computers

Earlier this week I talked about the possibility of a stereoscopic (ie, 3D). Whether or not they're Macs, 3D computers look as if they'll arrive sooner than I expected.

CyberLink Corp. is showing visitors to this week's Computex expo a demonstration of PowerDVD 10 ULTRA 3D that enables Blu-ray 3D movie playback on computers. With PowerDVD, consumers will purportedly be able to enjoy full 1080p high-definition stereoscopic video on Blu-ray 3D movies.

PowerDVD is the first software player to receive Blu-ray 3D certification from the Blu-ray Disc Association. Optimized with CPU and GPU hardware acceleration, PowerDVD delivers two 1080p frames to create a hi def, 3D video effect in the display. PowerDVD outputs to all main 3D formats, including sequential, row-interleave, and checkerboard too. It also enables 3D graphic menus and 3D subtitles for a full 3D experience.

Now I have no idea if or when Apple might bring 3D technology to, at least, a build-to-order Mac....

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Jun 03
Apple could aim particle gun at DRM violators

A new patent (number 20100138654) has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office for a system of digital rights management (DRM) that would identify the authenticity of a device based on the unique physical emission properties of a "particle gun." The invention invention relates to DRM and more specifically to authentication or hashing functions.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "The field of DRM involves code protection, code obfuscation and various other software security mechanisms. Cryptography is one such way to protect information. Cryptography is the practice of hiding information; encryption is the process of converting intelligible information (plaintext) into unintelligible information (ciphertext); and decryption is the process of converting ciphertext back into plaintext. Authentication is a software security mechanism that establishes or confirms an entity as authentic, or true.

"Hashing is also often utilized in...

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Jun 03
Greg's bite: the age of Ballmer must end

By Greg Mills

Some readers must think I am anti-Ballmer. But really, without Steve Ballmer I would have to find some one else to criticize -- and with the Microsoft exec it's so easy.

Who else has ridden a stone cold, worldwide monopoly into the ground? Since Mr. Ballmer took over at Microsoft in 2000, it has lost half its market cap. From US$500 billion to 250 billion dollars.  Hello, Bill Gates ... Earth to Gates ... come in Bill ... can you hear me now?

While Bill Gates doesn't have to eat in soup kitchens, he has lost ground a far as his net worth goes. Ballmer's claim to fame is mostly related to being lucky enough to have been a roommate with Bill Gates early on. 

Really, copying Apple only goes so far.  At some point you have to do something new and compelling to grow a major tech company. Not even being able to keep your bread-and-butter, slam-dunk, monopoly PC operating system working well is a very bad sign.  

I read...

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Jun 03
Are we heading toward a post-PC world?


In what is bound to make Mac users like me a bit uncomfortable, in his interview at the "All Things D" event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that the post-PC (that's "personal computer," by the way, not a Windows system) has begun. And I'm sure he feels the iPad is a milestone in this transition.

"PCs are going to be like trucks and are going to be used by fewer and fewer people," Jobs said. "This transition is going to make people uneasy. When you start to enter the post PC era it’s going to make people uncomfortable. We’ve embarked on that. I don't know when it’s going to happen, but the transition has essentially begun."

My take: the personal computer era will never end, though it will change and evolve over time. Sure, more devices such as the iPad will be introduced. For some folks, they will replace the traditional computer. As for the computer itself, as I've said on numerous occasions, I think future Macs will increasingly merge features of the iPhone OS with Mac...

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Jun 02
Greg's bite: regarding the iTV rumor in iPhone...

by Greg Mills

With bits of information the Mac rumor mill conjures up both interesting and unlikely product ideas. Historically, Apple can be expected to repeat product concepts over time and improve them as technology allows. We can know what Apple has been thinking recently by what it has shown us in the past.

Consider that the Newton was a forerunner of the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The Newton was ahead of its time and not supported by the modern parts we see today. In many respects, it is sort of like the helicopter, which was invented by Leonardo Da Vinci 400 years before the internal combustion engine, which was required to actually make it fly. Sometimes ideas are too far ahead of the general development of technology and thus can't be done in their day. But given time ...

To an extent, the Apple TV suffers from the "ahead of it's time" syndrome. Internet pass-through speeds have been a bottleneck, but that's getting better. Remember...

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