Apple receives NFC-driven “iTravel” patent

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Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012, 08:49
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

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This could be interesting.

Per Free Patents Online, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday officially awarded Apple ownership of its “iTravel” concept for e-ticketing with an NFC-equipped iPhone.

U.S. Patent No. 8,215,546, entitled “System and Method for Transportation Check-In,” was granted to Apple this week. First filed with the USPTO in 2008, the invention describes a system for ticketing and identification via near-field communications on a portable device like an iPhone.

“The handheld device may store and transmit travel reservations and traveler identifications using a travel management application,” the patent reads. “Various methods may be employed to acquire the reservation and identification information on the handheld device.”

In one example, users can make travel reservations via the so-called “iTravel” application. Similar data can also be automatically retrieved from an e-mail, a website, another NFC-enabled device, or a carrier-provided confirmation number.

The system could also identify a user by scanning a radio frequency identification tag embedded in a government-issued ID, like a passport. An ID number can also be entered via the travel management application, prompting the “iTravel” application to download the user’s identification information from the issuing authority.

Illustrations that accompany the patent show an iPhone equipped with a near-field communications chip. The iTravel application is depicted with an icon of an airplane on the iOS home screen.

The iTravel concept is a more full-featured implementation of Apple’s new Passbook application, which will be part of iOS 6 when it launches this fall. Unveiled in June, Passbook organizes various items like movie or sporting event tickets, store membership cards, and airplane boarding passes.

Passbook will feature geolocation with the iPhone, allowing users to automatically have the appropriate card pulled up when they visit a specific location. For example, when a user goes to Starbucks, they will see their membership card available to scan.

The unveiling of Passbook has prompted speculation that Apple plans to add a near-field communications chip to its anticipated sixth-generation iPhone, expected to debut this fall. With wireless NFC capabilities, Apple’s next iPhone could serve as an e-wallet and e-ticketing device.

Apple has been rumored for years to include NFC technology in a future iPhone, but to date no iPhone models have included an integrated NFC chip. Competing handsets, like Google’s Nexus S, have included NFC chips, but e-wallet payments have yet to take off with services like Google Wallet.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple to launch third-gen iPad in China on July 20

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Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012, 07:45
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

Apple on Tuesday announced that its new third-generation iPad will debut in mainland China next week, on Friday, July 20.

Per AppleInsider, the new iPad will be available in China through the Apple online store, select authorize resellers, and by reservation from Apple retail stores. Customers can make reservation requests beginning Thursday, July 19 for pickup the following day between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.

The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in black or white for a suggested retail price of US$499 for the 16GB model, US$599 for the 32GB model and US$699 for the 64GB model. The iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a suggested retail price of US$629 for the 16GB model, US$729 for the 32GB model and US$829 for the 64GB model.

In addition, Apple will also offer the iPad 2, its 2011 model, for US$399.

The July 20 launch date announced on Tuesday is a full week earlier than recent reports had suggested the new iPad will debut. Availability of the new iPad in China will come quickly after Apple reached a US$60 million settlement with Proview for the right to use the “iPad” brand name in China.

The Wi-Fi-only variant of the new iPad gained regulatory approval in China back in late March. Then a month later, in May, the 3G version was also certified for sale by the nation’s government.

It was speculated that the trademark dispute with Proview was the main reason the new iPad had not yet debuted in China. Last year, the iPad 2 launched in China on May 6, debuting a month and a half earlier than the new iPad will be introduced in 2012.

Apple’s new third-generation iPad initially launched in 10 places around the world on March 16, including Hong Kong, but not mainland China. Other launch territories in March were the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and the U.K., as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple release OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) gold master

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Date: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012, 07:25
Category: News, Software

Your official Mountain Lion release day is almost here.

And to celebrate, you should buy an actual mountain lion as a pet.

Nothing could go wrong from this decision.

Late Monday, Apple released the gold master version of its OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) operating system. The build, a 4.3 gigabyte download, requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7 and an Apple developer account (US$99 per year) to run.

The final version of OS X 10.8 will be available for direct download and installation via the App Store.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.