Recently-released Apple patent discusses touch-based screen featuring haptic feedback

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Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 06:13
Category: News, Patents

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When in doubt, make your touchscreens better.

Per FreePatentsOnline.com, in an effort to make touchscreens less static, Apple has proposed that future iPhones and iPads could feature actuators that would provide haptic feedback to users, and also include sensors that would measure the force at which a user touches the screen.

The concept was unveiled this week in a patent application entitled “Touch-Based User Interface with Haptic Feedback.” The use of actuators underneath a touchscreen could allow users to actually feel elements on the screen, such as buttons or controls.

The timing of the application being made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is interesting because one rumor from earlier this month incorrectly suggested Apple would introduce new haptic feedback technology in its third-generation iPad. That rumor was based on technology from the company Senseg, which creates an electric field on the surface of a touchscreen, allowing users to feel complex, context-sensitive textures, such as making a surface feel smooth or rough to the touch.

The concept described in Apple’s new patent application is quite different, relying on actuators to physically provide haptic feedback on a touchscreen, rather than giving sensations through an electric field. But it demonstrates Apple’s continued pursuit of providing users with some sort of physical feedback when using a touchscreen device.

“The user can typically only feel the rigid surface of the touch screen, making it difficult to find icons, hyperlinks, textboxes, or other user-selectable elements that are being displayed,” Apple’s filing reads. “A touch-based user interface may help a user navigate content displayed on the display screen by incorporating haptic feedback.”

Rather than simply vibrating the device when a button is tapped, as some touchscreen devices do, Apple’s solution could utilize piezoelectric actuators for “localized haptic feedback.” This would allow the user to feel a virtual button on their fingertips.

Specifically named as products that could benefit from haptic feedback in the application are the iPhone and iPad, as well as the Magic Mouse and Apple’s notebook trackpads.

The application describes a touchscreen with a “haptic feedback layer” that could include piezoelectric actuators aligned in a grid pattern. These actuators could be located below an external protective layer that the user would touch to interact with the device, or the haptic layer itself could be the outermost layer.

The actuators could be used to replace the mechanical “click” of a mouse, or would allow users to “feel” selectable buttons or icons displayed on a touchscreen device.

Another element described in the application is the use of “force sensors” in a touchscreen device. With these, an iPhone or iPad could determine how much force a user is applying to the touch-based user interface, and respond to just how hard the user is tapping the screen.

To allow this, the outer screen of the device would “flex minimally,” but enough that the force sensors would be able to detect any pushing or squeezing of the device by the user.

The application, made public this week, was first filed by Apple in September of 2010. The proposed invention is credited to Paul G. Puskarich and Michael Pilliod.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Roxio Toast Titanium 11.0.5 update released

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Date: Friday, March 23rd, 2012, 05:50
Category: News, Software

Late Thursday, Roxio released version 11.0.4 of its Toast Titanium authoring software. The new version, available as a 380 megabyte download here, adds the following fixes and changes:

– Added video export profiles for iPad (third generation), AppleTV (third generation) and PS Vita

– Toast will now correctly growl with support for Growl 1.3.x from Mac App Store.

– Resolved issue where malformed MP4 file may cause Toast to crash.

– Resolved issue where malformed video files may cause Video Player to crash.

– Setting audio crossfades in spanned disc projects should no longer cause a crash.

– Users who enjoy scrolling up and down will once again enjoy using the AVCHD Media Browser.

– Cosmetic issue where “Pause” and “Resume” buttons did not update has been fixed.

– Resolved graphics alignment issue when authenticating to Facebook.

– Attempting to authenticate to Vimeo with an unverified account will remind you to check verify your email address.

– Open QuickTime Player option when converting audio now opens QuickTime instead of iTunes.

– Length of video is now correctly displayed in the main window when working with DVD-Video sources.

– Video_TS Folder and Compilation projects will now correctly include DVD-ROM content.

– Photos rotated using iPhoto should now be correctly rotated in Toast Media Browser
Resolves error that may occur when writing Lead-Out track on DVD+R DL media under Lion.

– Image File based projects now correctly allow you to replace the first image you added to the project with a new image.

– Audio durations will in spanned Audio CD projects will now be correctly updated in the main window.

– Resolved cosmetic issue where the volume name of an image file may not display correctly.

– Skipping forward and seeking through ASF video files should now work correctly in Video Player.

– Resolved issues with window focus when using Quick Look preview on Web Video content.

Toast Titanium 11 requires Mac OS X 10.5 or later to install and run and retails for US$99.99.

If you’ve tried the new update and noticed any changes, please let us know in the comments.

Adobe releases Photoshop 6 public beta, touts upcoming Creative Suite 6 features

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Date: Thursday, March 22nd, 2012, 07:41
Category: News, Software

Spiffy Photoshop-based things, they’re on the horizon.

Late Wednesday, Adobe released a public beta of its first major update to Photoshop CS6, the company posting a preview now available for download at the Adobe Labs website. The Mac OS X version of the software is a free 984MB download.

According to the company, highlights of the upcoming version of the photo editing application include a new content-aware patch, “blazingly fast performance,” a dark background user interface and “new and re-engineered design tools.” The software will be powered by a new Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine, which promises “near-instant results” from editing tools.

“Photoshop CS6 will be a milestone release that pushes the boundaries of imaging innovation with incredible speed and performance,” Winston Hendrickson, Adobe’s vice president products, Creative Media Solutions, said in a statement.

Users should note that the beta includes features from Adobe Photoshop CS6 Extended, such as 3D editing features and “quantitative imaging analysis capabilities,” that will not be included in the basic version of Photoshop CS6.

After downloading the preview, users are directed to select “Try. I want to try Adobe Photoshop CS6 for a limited time.” Users will then have seven days to activate the beta with an Adobe ID login.

Adobe has yet to announce an official release date for the software, though the press release announcing the public beta says the final release is “expected” in the first half of this year. Some reports have pointed to a May launch for Creative Suite 6.

The Adobe Photoshop 6 preview requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

CrossOver updated to 11.0.2

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Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:47
Category: News, Software

Sometimes it pays to take an extra day for bug testing, just to be sure.

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.0.2. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

– This is a bug-fix release which resolves an issue whereby 11.0.1 would fail to register correctly for many users. If you have experienced an issue where CrossOver registration fails despite the fact that you believe your support contract is still enabled, this version may address your problem.

CrossOver 11.0.2 retails for US$69.95 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.

Some users complaining about Wi-Fi signal strength on third-generation iPad units

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Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:54
Category: iPad, News

A firmware update or two may be in order for the iPad 3.

Per the Apple Support Communities forum, a number of users have reported that wireless reception with their new iPad is notably inferior than with Apple’s previous iPad models.

In a growing thread, dozens of users have posted about their troubles with Wi-Fi connectivity on the new iPad. Reports claim that areas that previously achieved strong Wi-Fi signals are now weak, or have no reception at all.

Some users have also compared the reception of their new iPad to their iPhone or MacBook Pro. While the other Apple devices might receive a strong signal in a particular location, they say the new iPad has weak or no connectivity.

“MacBook Pro as well as iPhone 4S show ‘Full Fan’ — new iPad (16GB WIFI) shows ‘one dot’ or just flat drops the wifi connection (and is often unable to search and find it),” user ‘aka_srp’ wrote in a post over the weekend.

Another user, ‘gdtobm,’ said they bought a new iPad from Best Buy on last Friday’s launch and experienced Wi-Fi connectivity issues. The iPad was returned later that day, and the new model they received did not have any problems.

Still another person who posted to Apple’s forums, ‘Andrew Mclaughlin2,’ compared the performance of the new iPad to a first-generation iPad and an iPhone 4S. The tests conducted at Speedtest.net reportedly found that the third-generation iPad has half the throughput of the other devices.

Some of those posting in Apple’s forums have attempted to resolve their issues with AppleCare representatives, while others have talked to personnel at the company’s retail stores. One user, ‘HealthClif,’ said they switched back to a previous-generation iPad 2 after experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity issues with multiple replacements of the new iPad.

Complaints of Wi-Fi-related issues also cropped up with the launch of the first iPad in 2010. Two years ago, some users said they experienced weak Wi-Fi reception, dropped signals, and difficulty connecting to a network.

Apple eventually resolved those issues with an iPad software update. The company acknowledged that a “very small number of iPad users” had experienced issues with Wi-Fi connectivity on the first-generation iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Additional third-generation iPad thermal testing continues with some reports indicating temperatures as high as 97 degrees Fahrenheit

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 07:48
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

There’s a plus side to the iPad 3: you’ll always be able to reheat your favorite foods with it.

Per AppleInsider, a new analysis has found the A5X chip in the new device runs as much as 16 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the A5 chip in the iPad 2.

According to a series of tests conducted by Repair Labs, the A5X chip registered temperatures up to 36 degrees celsius (96.8 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to A5 readings of 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F). The experiment involved opening up the tablets in order to directly measure the temperatures of the chips.

Technicians measured multiple components inside the new iPad in order to verify that the A5X was the part putting out the most heat. The report speculated that a difference in materials between the A5 and the A5X may be a contributing factor, as the A5 is believed to be ceramic, while the A5X is “obviously metallic.”

An external test involved having the two iPads to play movies on Netflix. The third-generation iPad started at 27 degrees C (80.6 degrees F) and warmed up to 32-33 degrees C (89.6-91.4 degrees F), while the iPad 2 started at 24 degrees C (75.2 degrees F) and only climbed to 25-26 degrees C (77-78.8 degrees F).

Repair Labs said it was was unable to reproduce the 116 degree F temperatures that Consumer Reports noted earlier on Tuesday, though it did note that holding the new iPad 3 “could be noticeably warmer after only a few minutes use,” especially if held where the A5X is located.

Writing for Consumer Reports, Donna L. Tapellini said that the new iPad felt “very warm” when at its hottest, but not “especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.” The story was quickly picked up by other outlets, some of which dubiously claimed that Apple’s new tablet could cause burns.

Consumer Reports is no stranger to controversy with Apple’s devices. The consumer advocacy group retracted its recommendation of the iPhone 4 in 2010 because it was able to reproduce a signal-loss problem in the device. With the release of the iPhone 4S last year, the group announced that Apple had resolved the issue.”

Separate tests conducted by Tested found a maximum temperature of 82 degrees F on the third-generation iPad when playing “Infinity Blade II,” the same app used by Consumer Reports in its tests.

Display expert Dr. Raymond Soneira of DisplayMate attributes the new iPad’s extra warmth to the fact that the device has approximately twice as many LEDs as its predecessor. “The LEDs give off 2.5 times as much heat as the iPad 2 and so will the battery and power electronics on the new iPad compared to the iPad 2,” he said.

An infrared test conducted earlier this week by a Dutch site found the new iPad to have reached 92.5 degrees F during a GLBenchmark test, almost 10 degrees hotter than the 83 degrees F measured on the iPad 2 during the same test.

For its part, Apple issued a statement on Tuesday that the new iPad operates “well within [its] thermal specifications” and urged customers with concerns to contact its support service.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Software Installer Update 1.0 for Mac OS X 10.6.8 operating system

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Date: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, 06:11
Category: News, Software

Late Tuesday, Apple released its Software Installer Update patch. The upgrade, a 1.3 megabyte download, addresses an issue that may prevent certain Apple software from installing under the Mac OS X 10.6.8 operating system.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac and Mac OS X 10.6.8 to install and run.

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

CrossOver updated to 11.0.1

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Date: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012, 15:39
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.0.1. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

– If you have registered CrossOver for ‘All users’ on your computer and CrossOver erroneously states that it is expired, even though you have registered it, please install this update to fix this issue.

– Fix to registration: registration would fail for users who selected ‘Register for all users of this computer’ … single-user registration would work as expected, but computer-wide registration, while appearing to work, would fail to register and CrossOver would expire after the demo period.

– Fix for Vocaloid 3.

– Fix for PerfectWorld Skills / Icons.

– Translation updates (including Russian translation of CrossOver).

– Improved CrossOver icons.

CrossOver 11.0.1 retails for US$69.95 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.

FAA to take “fresh look” at permitted onboard electronics, may allow iPad use during all stages of flights

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Date: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012, 08:39
Category: iPad, News

Maybe the FAA will get sensible sometime soon.

Per the New York Times, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has indicated it is taking a “fresh look” at the use of portable electronics on airplanes, which could potentially lead do devices like Apple’s iPad being allowed for use during takeoff and landing.

The FAA plans to explore allowing the use of tablets, e-readers and other devices on planes according to The New York Times. The FAA is not, however, interested in allowing fliers to be able to use smartphones in flight.

“With the advent of new and evolving electronic technology, and because the airlines have not conducted the testing necessary to approve the use of new devices, the FAA is taking a fresh look at the use of personal electronic devices, other than cellphones, on aircraft,” said Laura J. Brown, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the FAA.

While the administration is looking into the possibility of relaxing rules for the use of Apple’s iPad, any changes are unlikely to come soon. That’s because FAA rules require that each model of a device be tested on a separate flight with no passengers on the plane for each carrier.

That would leave testing to be done with the first-generation iPad, iPad 2, and the new iPad, as well as every version of the Amazon Kindle. And each device would have to be tested on every different model of plane in a carrier’s fleet.

While passengers cannot currently use their iPad during takeoff and landing, Apple’s touchscreen tablet has been approved for use as an electronic flight bag by pilots. Use of the iPad can allow pilots to replace their cumbersome 40-pound paper manuals with Apple’s thin and light tablet.

Now, major companies like American Airlines have begun to use the iPad in the cockpit, thanks to the FAA’s exception to its rules on “class 1” electronic devices being used during takeoff and landing.

When the first iPad was released in 2010, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration decided that fliers who bring an iPad through security would be able to leave the device in their bag without removing it and placing it in a separate bin. Larger notebooks with more components must be removed so they can be adequately analyzed when passing through an airport security checkpoint.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Early thermal testing shows iPad 3 running 10 degrees hotter than previous generations

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Date: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012, 07:19
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You may love your new iPad 3, but it’s been commented as a toasty beast.

Per Engadget, thermal imaging of a side-by-side comparison of the third-generation iPad and the iPad 2 found Apple’s latest tablet running 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter than its predecessor.

Dutch site Tweakers.net performed the GLBenchmark test on the two generations of iPads for five minutes to measure a heat difference. Using an infrared camera, the publication discovered that the hottest part of the new iPad was 33.6 degrees Celsius (92.5 Fahrenheit), while the iPad 2 measured 28.3 degrees Celsius (83 Fahrenheit).



Though the new iPad does appear to run warmer than the iPad 2, it should be noted that the temperatures are still well within Apple’s specified operating temperature of 32 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 35 Celsius).

The report went on to speculate that the new GPU is the likely cause for the added heat in the third-generation iPad. The new iPad features an A5X chip with quad-core graphics, presumably from the PowerVR SGX543MP4. A teardown of the tablet late last week revealed a new metal heat spreader affixed on top of the A5X.

Anecdotal evidence from iPad users on the Apple Support Communities forum shows that some users have found the new iPad to be warmer than the previous generation. One discussion had generated nearly 19,000 views and 219 replies as of Monday evening.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.