Apple looking into technologies to help improve iOS device typing speed/autocorrect

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Date: Thursday, June 28th, 2012, 06:47
Category: News, Patents, Software

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This could be useful.

Per AppleInsider, a trio of patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered on Thursday show that Apple is looking into automatic typing and spelling correction, while a third application could indirectly relate to the feature.

Timing and Geometry:
Application No. 12/976834, titled “Combining timing and geometry information for typing correction,” describes a process for using keystroke geometry and timing to better detect a user’s intended input.

In one embodiment of the invention, a string of typed characters is timestamped and can be analyzed by a process for use in either autocorrection or autocompletion. The invention also suggests that “baseline typing speed data” could be gathered in order to determine whether double strikes, transpositions or other errors have occurred.

“For example, if the string “theere” is entered and the time between the keystrokes “ee” is less than an associated baseline by more than a threshold amount, the replacement candidate “there” may be assigned a higher score,” the application read.

Apple’s invention could start with a pre-determined typing speed that would be monitored and adjusted in case users type slower or faster than a “typical” user.

The system would also take into account the location of letters on the keyboard and the geometry of the typed words in order to catch mistakes.

“For example, a word that is similar to the typed text except for one or more errors associated potentially with keyboard geometry, such as differing by a letter where the correct letter is located adjacent to the typed incorrect letter on the keyboard, may be suggested,” Apple wrote.

Douglas Davidson and Karan Misra are named as the inventors of the patent, which Apple filed for in late 2010.

Parts of Speech:
A second autocorrect-related patent application (No. 12/976849) is entitled “Using parts-of-speech tagging and named entity recognition for spelling correction.” The proposed process involves understanding the context surrounding typed words in order to tag their parts of speech and identify named entities, such as differentiating between the company “Apple” and reference to the fruit.

The technical details for Apple’s invention are relatively advanced, as they involve a “statistical language model.” That process would involve parsing words, phrases and sentences and would make use of clues like capitalization, suffixes and prefixes and other “contextual features.”

Apple filed for the patent in December 2010. Brent Ramerth, Douglas Davidson and Jennifer Moore are listed as its inventors.

Contextual Lookup:
Apple’s application for “Using statistical language models for contextual lookup” (No. 12/976864), closely resembles the aforementioned parts-of-speech tagging application, but it describes a system for applying language processing to search queries.

According to the invention, a process for analyzing parts of speech could help make searching documents or the Internet more efficient. In its filing, Apple provided examples of phrases and words that could be interpreted different ways and would benefit from a process for forming specific and targeted searches.

Autocorrect Lawsuit:
Apple has put some of its autocorrect-related patents to work in its legal complaint against rival handset maker Samsung. In February, the compiled asserted a patent for a “Method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendations” against the South Korean company.

Autocorrect on the iPhone has also entered popular culture by giving rise to several Websites documenting humorous or embarrassing instances of the feature, such as Damn You Auto Correct! and Autocorrect Fail.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple updates Retina Display MacBook Pro FAQ, explains display settings and resolution differences in article

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Date: Wednesday, June 27th, 2012, 06:17
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

The Retina Display on your new MacBook Pro is nifty.

Now it’s time to learn the ins and outs of it.

Per AppleInsider, a Frequently Asked Questions page on Apple’s support website offers detailed information about settings for the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display in an attempt to clear up confusion about the new screen’s capabilities in low-resolution mode and Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

The page explains the difference between scaled resolutions and the Retina setting on the new notebook.

Apple also noted in the article that all of its applications included with OS X Lion support the Retina Display.

“Additionally, iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, Aperture, Final Cut Pro X, and Motion all support the Retina display,” the page read.

Users experiencing “functional or visual issues” with applications are instructed to go into Finder to switch the application into Low Resolution mode.

“Some applications work best using the Low Resolution mode. Other applications will only run in Low Resolution mode,” said the FAQ.

For applications, such as 3D games, that want to use their own resolution settings, Apple recommends the 1440 x 900 resolution. Blizzard’s “Diablo III” game is one of the few titles that supports full 2880 x 1800 resolution on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display, though the studio is working on further optimizations that should improve the performance.

Apple provided a detailed response on options for using an external display with its high-end laptop. It also offered a hint that users can hold down the Option key when clicking the Scaled button to get more resolution choices in extended desktop mode.

Windows users will be relieved to know that installing Windows 7 via Boot Camp is supported on the Retina Display. The article did, however, note that Windows on the new MacBook Pro will automatically start up with small icons because it defaults to the maximum dpi supported (144 dpi, or 150 percent magnification). Users can adjust their settings in the Windows Display Control Panel.

As the first of Apple’s Mac models to sport a Retina Display screen, the MacBook Pro is leading the transition to high-dpi resolutions on OS X. The laptop has received largely positive reviews, with special praise reserved for the screen.

The new screens are not without problem, though. Scattered reports have emerged that users are experiencing image retention issues on some MacBook Pro models. Apple Genius technicians have reportedly been instructed to replace the screens, but crushing demand has left some owners waiting for up to three weeks.

If recent reports are to be believed, Apple could add another Retina Display-equipped Mac this fall in the form of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Though some rumors have suggested that Apple would also upgrade its iMac all-in-one desktop to a Retina Display, multiple sources recently told one blogger that it would not happen until 2013.

If you’ve snagged a MacBook Pro with a Retina Display and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Orbitz testing program in which higher-priced hotels are suggested to Mac OS X users

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 27th, 2012, 06:53
Category: News, Software

Well, this is awkward.

Per the Wall Street Journal, travel booking website Orbitz has revealed that it shows Mac users more-expensive hotel options than it does to PC users because those using Apple’s desktop operating system tend to spend more.

Executives for the online travel agency told the newspaper that their company is testing a system that displays different deals depending on the user’s operating system. Orbitz did clarify, though, that it is not offering the same room at different prices and users can always sort options by price.

“Orbitz found Mac users on average spend US$20 to US$30 more a night on hotels than their PC counterparts,” the publication noted Wai Gen Yee, Orbitz’s chief scientist, as saying.

Compared to PC users, Mac users are “40% more likely to book a four- or five-star hotel” and generally prefer higher-priced rooms when they book the same hotel as their PC counterparts, according to the report.

Chief Technology Officer Roger Lieu said the company had an “intuition” about the discrepancy and used data to confirm it last October. Demographics could provide an explanation for the difference in spending habits. For instance, market research firm Forrester has found the average household income for adult Mac owners to be US$24,000 higher than PC owners.

Tests conducted by the Journal did show differences in which hotel options were suggested to Macs and PCs, but results were the same in some cities, such as Las Vegas, Orlando, Philadelphia and Boston. Listings for a Miami Beach search performed on a Mac, however, did contain boutique hotels that didn’t appear on the first page of results on a PC. Orbitz says it has yet to implement the system across the whole site, and operating system is not the only factor that could result in different results.

Meanwhile, spokesmen for competing sites Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity said they don’t have a similar feature that differentiates between users’ operating systems.

Orbitz’s initiative comes as it battles its way toward profitability. The Journal pointed out that the company lost US$37 million last year and its stock has dropped 74 percent since its initial public offering in 2007.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.14

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 13:03
Category: News, Software

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On Tuesday, Apple posted its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.13, an update designed to extend RAW image compatibility for the Aperture 3 and iPhoto ’11 applications.

The update, an 8.2 megabyte download, adds support for the following cameras:

– Canon EOS Rebel T4i / 650D / Kiss X6i

– Sony Alpha SLT-A37

The update requires Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later to install and run and is also available via Mac OS X’s built-in Software Update feature.

If you’ve tried the new Digital Camera RAW update and noticed any changes, please let us know how it went.

Some users complain of “ghost image” on Retina Display MacBook Pro units

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 09:40
Category: Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

You have an awesome new Retina Display MacBook Pro.

And it’s demonically possessed.

Ok, it might not be that bad. Per The Next Web and Mac|Life, early adopters of the new MacBook Pro with Retina display have been complaining of image “ghosting” issues with the notebook’s display at Apple’s discussion boards. Users are referring to the issue as a screen “burn-in” and the forum threads contain a slew of comments echoing the problem. The issue appears after leaving a bright static image up for awhile and then immediately switching to a dark grey image, with the previous image reporting leaving its trace behind for up to five minutes.

Some news outlets have reported that the issue is common with IPS displays, but DisplayMate, publishers of powerful display calibration software, report that this issue is usually caused by an electrostatic build up, a chemical impurity build up, a thermal imbalance, or an electronic levels issue within the display panel. What’s more curious is that new iPad doesn’t have any ghosting issues, even though it has a higher pixels-per-inch IPS display than the MacBook Pro.

Unfortunately, no one has been able to yet pinpoint what is causing the ghosting issues. Apple is apparently aware of the issue and has instructed its Geniuses to order replacement units for users complaining of malfunctioning screens.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen the issue on your end, please let us know in the comments.

Upcoming OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) to feature automatic security updates

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 06:26
Category: News, security, Software

If you don’t click “Software Update” that often, Apple will do it for you come Mountain Lion.

On Monday, Apple indicated that the company’s upcoming OS X Mountain Lion will feature an automatic security check feature that will ensure users have the most up-to-date software protection amid a growing number of Mac-targeted malware.

As reported by AppleInsider, an update to the Mountain Lion Developer Preview shows a new automated system that runs a daily check with Apple’s servers to make sure OS X 10.8 users have the most current security patches and protections against known malware and viruses.

Called “OS X Security Update Test 1.0,” the automated feature will run either daily or whenever a Mac restarts and has the ability to download and install updates in the background, making the task of manually performing checks less of a necessity.

The new feature also creates a “more secure connection” to Apple’s servers possibly hinting to new encryption technology or more stringent default settings. Also included are the usual stability and general updates for the operating system set for launch in July.

Apple is making security a priority in the next iteration of OS X to counter new threats that continue to crop up as Macs gain a larger user base. In April the highly-publicized Flashback trojan used a Java exploit to spread onto an estimated 600,000 Macs around the world prompting Apple to release both a Java disabler for Safari and a standalone malware uninstaller.

In a related action, Apple notedly toned down the language of its OS X web page, changing the statement that the Mac “doesn’t get PC viruses” to “It’s built to be safe.”

Coming exactly one week after OS X Mountain Lion Developer Preview 4 was released, the new Security Update is available through the Mac App Store and comes in at 1.15 GB.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 2 to developer community

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Date: Tuesday, June 26th, 2012, 06:38
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, News, Software

It’s not the most amazing update in the world, but it moves things a bit closer to iOS 6’s release date.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Monday issued its second beta of iOS 6 for developer testing, including a pair of fixes related to touchscreen keyboard performance.

Developers began receiving word that an update was available from “AppleInternal” on Monday afternoon. The “operating system 6.0” update is a 322-megabyte download for iPhone 4S users.

People familiar with iOS 6 beta 2 said it is identified as build “10A5338d.” When updating to the new software version in the Settings application, the icon with gears is animated and actually moves.

The release notes that accompany the update reportedly indicate that Apple fixed an issue where key clicking sounds could be skipped during fast typing. Apple also indicated it addressed an issue in which the keyboard would be wrongly positioned when switching from landscape to portrait orientation.

Apple also reportedly fixed an issue where the iOS SpringBoard may crash during a phone call if the screen would fade to black when using a speakerphone or headphones. It also addressed a crash that would occur if a new iCloud account was created during initial setup of the iOS device.

The latest iOS 6 beta also adds the podcasts section back into the iTunes application. That was missing from the first beta, and there have been rumors that Apple plans to introduce a standalone podcast application when iOS 6 officially launches this fall.

iOS 6 beta 2 is compatible with the third-generation iPad, iPad 2, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and fourth-generation iPod touch.

Also released on Monday were Xcode 4.5 Developer Preview 2, as well as a second beta of the next software update for the Apple TV set-top box.

iOS 6 was formally announced earlier this month at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Developers were also provided with the first beta after its unveiling, allowing them to test their applications before the formal public launch this fall.

If you’ve gotten a chance to tinker with the new beta, please let us know what you think in the comments.

CrossOver updated to 11.2

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Date: Monday, June 25th, 2012, 16:25
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.2.0. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

– Support for OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

– Signed code to work with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion’s ‘Gatekeeper’ feature.

– Bug fix for a crash when typing with Chinese Pinyin input on OS X 10.7 Lion.

– Fix for certain graphical glitches where small black rectangles would appear in certain applications.

– Improve font discovery.

– Prevent an occasional hang while updating CrossTie profiles.

– Fix a crash in Civilization IV and V in windowed mode.

– Fix an issue where applications could appear frozen after being minimized into the Dock, even though they were still running.

– Fix an error opening documents with parentheses ‘()’ in their filenames.

– Added support for Microsoft Visio 2010.

– Added support for Microsoft Project 2010.

– Integration of Wine 1.4.1, which includes many, many bug fixes and improvements over Wine 1.4.0, as well as improved translations for many languages.

– Bug fix for microphone detection for Rosetta Stone 3.

– Fix a crash for certain files PowerPoint 2010.

– Improvements to Japanese input when running Internet Explorer 7.

– Improvements to graphics card detection.

– Allow for graphics driver detection in CrossTie files.

– Better installation notes during CrossTie installations.

CrossOver 11.2.0 retails for US$59.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.5 and or later and an Intel-based Mac to install and run.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

OWC unveils 960GB notebook SSD for almost $1,300

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Date: Monday, June 25th, 2012, 09:23
Category: Hardware, News

It’s the huge SSD unit you always wanted for your Mac notebook…and it’ll be pricey.

Per Mac|Life, Mac peripherals outfitter Other World Computing has announced the availability of the Mercury Electra MAX 3G, a whopping 960GB 2.5-inch solid-state storage drive clocked at 3.0Gb/s for high performance as well as high capacity.

The drive purportedly offers sustained reads up to 254MB/s and writes up to 250MB/s and while not quite as impressive as the read/write speeds clocked from Apple’s latest flash storage on the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display or even MacBook Air, it’s still pretty nifty for an SSD unit with no moving parts.

The Mercury Electra MAX 3G 960GB is available for US$1,269.99 and is currently in stock for same-day shipping.

Parallels Desktop updated to 7.0.15098

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Date: Monday, June 25th, 2012, 06:59
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, Parallels released version 7.0.15098 of its Parallels Desktop virtualization software. The new update, a 306 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Support for Retina Display.

Parallels Desktop 7 retails for US$79.99 and requires a 64-bit Intel-based processor, Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later, 2GB of RAM (4GB recommended to run Windows 7), at least 700 MB of space available on the boot volume for Parallels Desktop installation and 15 GB of available disk space for Windows.

If you’ve tried the new version and have any feedback to offer, let us know in the comments.