Recently Released Patent Application Describes Using Finger Swipes Over iPhone Camera as Function Control Scheme

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Date: Friday, February 26th, 2010, 05:13
Category: iPhone, Patents

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It’s Apple’s patents and forthcoming technologies that make things interesting and a recently released patent application entitled “Camera as Input Interface” has revealed something cool. Per AppleInsider, the document describes finger swipes over the iPhone’s camera could at some point allow in-call control of functions such as fast forwarding or rewinding a voicemail.

In addition to a camera detecting the direction of a finger swipe, the phone’s accelerometer could also be used to interpret a user tapping the iPhone, allowing control of the handset while on a call without taking the phone away from one’s ear.

The technology would work to make it easier to control a phone by utilizing the camera at times when it is typically idle.

“These actions allow the user to control functions of voicemail review without removing the device from over his ear,” the application reads.

The functionality could potentially extend beyond voicemail, allowing users to merge calls, place calls on hold, or switch between multiple simultaneous calls by simply tapping the device. Such controls could be customized by the user to their liking.

Apple could also choose to adopt the control method for traditional phone use, in addition to in-call controls.

“Furthermore, a user may navigate a document being shown on a display screen of the device by guiding his finger over the camera lens,” the application reads. “While viewing the display screen, the user holds the device in the palm of his hand in a supine position. Rather than pressing or sliding directional buttons next to the screen or touching a touch screen to navigate a webpage document or contacts list, the user may move his finger over the camera lens in the direction he wishes to navigate the page.”

Apple has filed similar patent applications describing mobile devices with touch panels on the reverse side, allowing users to control a device without obscuring the screen with their fingers. In January, a rumor even alleged that the next-generation iPhone would have a Magic Mouse-like touch panel for its plastic back casing.

The application was originally filed for on Aug. 21, 2008 and is credited to Chad Seguin, Justin Gregg and Michael Lee.

Adobe Runs Flash Demo, Argues That Flash Doesn’t Hinder Mobile Device Battery Life

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Date: Thursday, February 25th, 2010, 06:23
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Following a video preview of Flash running on a Nexus One, Adobe rebuffed claims that the software slashes battery life. Per Electronista, several bloggers observed that the battery charge indicator dropped from the 50% level down to 25% during the eight minute video. The preview was edited, however, making it unclear how long the team actually used the phone during filming.

In order to refute the battery claims, Adobe has created another video showing a 17-minute YouTube movie which does not appear to significantly drain the battery. The battery usage chart suggests the browser only accounted for 6% of the drain while the movie was playing.

Adobe claims Flash Player 10.1 enabled video playback for “well over” three hours on a fully-charged battery.

Whether this will make its way into current or future versions of the iPhone has yet to be seen.

ScanLife Bar Code Reader Application Released for iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2010, 06:29
Category: iPhone, Software

On Tuesday, Scanbuy Inc. announced the release of new versions of its ScanLife barcode scanner for the Android, BlackBerry and iPhone operating systems. ScanLife uses the camera in a mobile phone to scan bar codes that automatically display product information, show videos, dial a phone number and more without needing to type or search for information.

The application can read all major barcode formats on three of the leading smartphone platforms as well as read all popular 2D bar code formats such as Datamatrix, EZcode and QR. The new version of ScanLife allows phones with auto-focus cameras (such as the DROID by Motorola, BlackBerry Tour and iPhone 3GS) to read 1D barcodes like UPC, EAN and ISBN.

ScanLife is available for free from the App Store and requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later to install and run.

Apple Releases iPhone OS SDK 3.2 Beta 3

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Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2010, 06:01
Category: iPad, iPhone, News

Earlier this week, Apple released iPhone SDK 3.2 beta 3, the most recent update of the company’s iPhone OS development tools. Although details of the beta have emerged, MacNN is reporting that it allows “existing iPhone projects to include the necessary files” to support the iPad. Developers should thus be closer to producing working iPad apps, as there is now a Universal Application binary format that wraps iPhone, iPad and iPod touch code into the same bundle.

Sources with access to the kit point out that its documentation has also confirmed the presence of PowerVR SGX technology in the iPad. “Using OpenGL ES on iPad is identical to using OpenGL ES on other iPhone OS devices,” Apple writes. “An iPad is a PowerVR SGX device and supports the same basic capabilities as other SGX devices. However, because the processor, memory architecture, and screen dimensions are different for iPad, you should always test your code on an iPad device before shipping to ensure performance meets your requirements.”

If you’ve gotten your hands on the SDK and can offer any feedback about it, please let us know.

iSync Plugins 7.1.2.7 Released

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Date: Wednesday, February 24th, 2010, 05:45
Category: iPhone, Software

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iSync plugins, nova media’s shareware iSync extension package for Mac OS X and all-around useful utility that provides access to dozens of cell phones and handsets, received a small update over the weekend. Version 7.1.2.7, a 5.4 megabyte download, adds support for the following cell phone models:

- Nokia 5230
- Nokia 6700 slide
- Nokia X6
- Samsung SGH-D900E
- Sony Ericsson Pureness X5

iSync 7.1.2.7 retails for US$9.95 and requires Mac OS X 10.4.11 (under Mac OS X 10.4), Mac OS X 10.5.8 (under Mac OS X 10.5) and Mac OS X 10.6.2 (under Mac OS X 10.6) to install and run.

Syncing Issues Cited Between iPhone OS 3.x and iTunes 9.x

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Date: Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010, 05:59
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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As useful and convenient as iPhones and iTunes tend to be, there may be some serious issues left to resolve.

Per reader Martin Joyce, a number of users have been experiencing syncing issues between their iPod and iPhone handsets running iPhone OS 3.x and iTunes 9.x. The issue, which is being discussed at length over at the Apple Discussion Boards, cites that the most common issue is that of there being no content on the iPhone or iPod handset after a sync. The discussion has yet to conclude with Apple publicly acknowledging the issue in any way, shape or form.

If anyone has seen this on their end or has heard of a possible forthcoming fix from Apple, please let us know.

Apple Hunting for Engineering Manager to Bring iPhone OS to “New Platforms”

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Date: Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010, 05:47
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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A recent job posting from Apple may demonstrate that Apple plans to grow the iPhone OS. Per MacNN, the company is currently searching for an engineering manager to be based out of Cupertino. The person should specifically be responsible for a team handling low levels of the iPhone OS, including the “bring-up of new hardware platforms.” Candidates are therefore expected to have deep experience in areas like Unix kernels and ARM-based systems-on-chip.

The new platforms mentioned are mostly likely updated iPods, iPads and iPhones, although just the iPod and iPhone are cited, and then only tangentially. The ambiguity could in fact leave room for an unannounced platform. One possibility could be an updated Apple TV, since the device is relatively simple but potentially ready to benefit from iPad-style media playback controls. The present Apple TV hardware has not been updated in any significant fashion since May of 2007.

If you have any guesses, please let us know.

TomTom Introduces ProClip Car Kit Accessory for iPhone

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Date: Monday, February 22nd, 2010, 05:22
Category: Accessory, iPhone

Because GPS accessories get useful very quickly.

GPS outfit TomTom has introduced the ProClip, its first iPhone peripheral designed to securely integrate into your car.

While the original TomTom car kit for iPhone has a windscreen mount. The new car kit for iPhone, however, screws onto a vehicle-specific ProClip mount that is fixed on the driver’s dashboard.

Per Macworld UK, this lets drivers choose a permanent location with no need to reposition it for each journey insists TomTom.

The ProClip includes a GPS booster, which promises uninterrupted navigation even in built up areas, a built-in microphone for making and taking calls and an integrated speaker to ensure navigation instructions can be heard clearly. An in-car charger meanwhile, keeps the iPhone battery at capacity while driving.

The ProClip mount clips in different places on the dashboard for optimal viewing and access and rotates in landscape and portrait positions.

The TomTom ProClip is available to order, including vehicle-specific mounts, from www.tomtom.com and www.tomtom-proclip.com with a suggested retail price of £99.99 (US$136.13).

iPhone OS 3.2 SDK Icons Hint at Upcoming Video Chat Feature for iPhone/iPod Touch

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Date: Monday, February 22nd, 2010, 05:31
Category: iPhone, News

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You’ve got to love the framework files in the software development kits, as they sometimes indicate more than Apple would like them to.

Per 9 to 5 Mac, a discovery in the iPhone OS 3.2 developer kit suggests Apple is opening the door to video calls on its device. Icons in the Telephony UI framework would cover accepting or declining a video chat invitation and code references alternately make references to “iChat” and “VideoChat.” No apps are currently included that would support the feature.

The code could be a possible carryover from conventional Mac OS X, which includes built-in video functionality for iChat. Still, these references have never been seen before for the iPhone OS SDK and firmware mentions have periodically been signs of iPhone and iPod touch features.

Which devices would get the feature aren’t clear. Alleged spare frame parts for the iPad show room for a camera in the initial design, but front video cameras have been a staple of some higher-end smartphones for years and would be borne out by hints of a taller iPhone that might make room for the added optics. Networking is also an issue as 3G has only limited bandwidth for two-way video.

If you have an opinion on this, please share it with the class.

Apple Improves 27″ iMac Ship Time, Raises Cap on 3G Downloads

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Date: Friday, February 19th, 2010, 05:33
Category: iMac, iPhone, News

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Following Apple’s recent troubles with its 27″ iMac and a wait time of up to three weeks, AppleInsider is reporting that the company has dropped the ship time to five to seven days, suggesting that the company has managed to address the video issues that haunted the desktops. The change applies to both the Core 2 Duo and Core i5 powered versions of the computer.

Early adopters of the big-screen iMac have seen a number of hardware issues pertaining to the screen, with reports of flickering and yellow discoloration. The company released two software updates to fix the issues, and also reportedly offered some customers a 15 percent refund for their troubles.

Supplies of the 27-inch iMac have been constrained for months, with Apple in December even apologizing for delays, citing considerable demand form consumers. When it first launched in October, the new iMac was the best-selling desktop machine for the month. The 21.5″ iMac came in first place, while the 27-inch iMac took third in overall sales.

In other news, Apple quietly doubled the download limit for files from the iPhone App Store and iTunes via 3G. Users can now download files up to 20MB in size from a wireless carrier’s data network. The previous cap was 10MB for “over the air” downloads.

In addition to applications, the new limit also applies to multimedia files, such as podcasts available through iTunes. The update expands beyond AT&T in the U.S., with international reports stating the 10MB cap has also been lifted.

If you’ve played around with the new limit, let us know.