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

Posted by:
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.

“We Want a New Mac Pro” group page gaining traction/support

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Date: Friday, May 25th, 2012, 05:00
Category: Hardware, Mac Pro, News

Apple’s Mac Pro line really hasn’t been updated in a while.

Which is growing disconcerting to some users.

Per AppleInsider, a group of users has begun a “We Want a New Macpro” group page on the social networking site had garnered over 4,000 likes as of late Thursday and a number of comments from group members calling for either a Mac Pro update or concrete information from Apple about its plans for the high-end machine.

According to the page, the petition was started by Lou Borella, a self-described “professional editor and graphic animator” in the New York City area, earlier in May.

On May 9, Borella posted an open letter to Apple asking for “a little clarity” about the Mac Pro.

“Its been neglected for far too long. We realize all the success of the iPad and iPhone and we’re really happy with our new toys,” he wrote. “But unfortunately many of us need to make decisions on hardware for professional uses that allow us to make a living.”

The letter went on to say that professional software applications, such as Adobe Creative Suite 6, AVID, Pro Tools and Smoke, require “the most powerful hardware available.” In addition, creative professionals need configurable systems for their business.

“The iMac is not the answer for these situations,” he said.

Borella is seeking for a “timeframe” for a new Mac Pro update or official confirmation as to whether the line is “dead.”

“It’s not too much to ask. We cannot wait any longer and it’s really not fair to string us along like this,” Borella concluded, also signing the letter on behalf of the “Creative Community.”

According to an informal poll posted to the page last week, 267 people are willing to wait until “shortly after” the Worldwide Developers Conference in mid-June, while 47 people said they would wait until the end of this year. 143 respondents said they would wait until the Mac Pro was “officially discontinued” before taking the next step.

A second poll found that 197 people are willing to wait because their “current computer still works fine.” 131 others said they would build a “Hackintosh,” a custom-built computer running an unauthorized copy of OS X. Finally, 47 people said they would switch back to Microsoft Windows.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on both the petition and its plans for the Mac Pro.

Apple’s neglect of the Mac Pro was especially felt last year as all of the other Mac models received upgrades adding Thunderbolt and Sandy Bridge processors. Some have even suggested that Thunderbolt is Apple’s alternative to high-end workstations.

The Mac Pro’s important to Apple’s bottom line has diminished as the company’s profits have increasingly skewed toward mobile devices and the iPhone has come to account for the bulk of its revenue. Apple sold 1.2 million desktops in the second quarter of fiscal 2012, compared to 2.82 million notebooks during the period. Mac revenue for the quarter amounted to US$5.1 billion, much less than the US$22.7 billion in revenue from the iPhone and related products.

Though Apple has in the past been known as a niche hardware and software maker catering to creative professionals, the company has shown a willingness to adapt to better serve its mainstream customers. For instance, it announced plans to discontinue its Xserve server in 2010. Though the company redirected customers to its Mac Pro as a Mac-based server alternative, it has curiously not updated the Mac Pro since July 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 11.1.0

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012, 09:05
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.1.0. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

New Game Support:
- Support for Diablo III.

Application Enhancements:
- Smoother installation process for some versions of Microsoft Office.

- Printing fix for Project 2007.

- Fixed an error saving certain documents in Excel 2010.

CrossOver Enhancements:
- Printing how honours duplex settings.

- Printing fixes to non-letter sized paper.

- Improvements to Spanish-language translations.

- Fixed an error where IE6 in a Win98 bottle would complain it was not registered.

- Fixed an error which would cause CrossOver’s ‘Welcome’ screen not to appear in some situations on Mac OS X Lion.

- Fixed a problem which caused Windows applications to have slightly (four) fewer graphics shaders available than they could have, which could produce graphics glitches in games.

CrossOver 11.1.0 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.

Apple to retain iPhone 3GS model, push units towards developing markets

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Date: Monday, May 21st, 2012, 14:45
Category: iPhone, News

It may not be the fastest, most recent or snazziest iPhone, but Apple will keep the 3GS around for a bit longer.

Per AppleInsider, analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies has received word that Apple has inked an agreement with “a leading distribution and logistics company.” That new partnership is intended to push the iPhone 3GS in prepaid markets around the world, and expand channels for the iPhone 3GS in developing countries.

Accordingly, Misek believes that Apple is in the process of repricing the iPhone 3GS, which currently costs US$375 without a contract. He expects that the third-generation iPhone will be priced between US$250 and US$300, which would allow someone to buy it with no subsidy for around the cost of an on-contract iPhone 4S.

The iPhone 3GS can currently be had for free with a new two-year service contract in major markets like the U.S. It serves as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, while the iPhone 4, first released in 2010, is available for US$99 with a carrier subsidy.

Apple is expected to launch its new sixth-generation iPhone this fall. If the company were to continue its current strategy of discounting previous-generation hardware, the iPhone 4S lineup would be reduced to one capacity for US$99, while the iPhone 4 would become free with a two-year contract.

With the iPhone 4 replacing the iPhone 3GS as Apple’s entry-level smartphone, some might expect that the iPhone 3GS would be an end-of-life product. But based on what Misek has heard, Apple may have other plans to expand iPhone sales in markets where Apple has yet made a significant impact.

“Emerging markets” have been identified as a potential source of a huge number of untapped customers that present a long-term upside for Apple. One analysis conducted earlier this year found that emerging markets have 14 times as many people between the smartphone friendly ages of 25 and 34 than Western Europe and North America.

One report published earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal declared that cheap Android-based smartphones were “crushing the iPhone” in European countries that have been hit hardest by the debt crisis. In those markets, most consumers don’t sign contracts and pay the full, unsubsidized price for smartphones.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last October that the prepaid market is “very, very important” to his company. He said that was one of the reasons the company continues to sell its entry-level iPhone 3GS, to reach lower price points in both prepaid and postpaid markets.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Recent patent application shows Apple’s interest in improving brightness controls on OLED screens

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 26th, 2012, 06:00
Category: News, Patents

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It’s the patent applications that show where things might be going.

Per Free Patents Online, Apple has apparently proposed a way of improving brightness control on organic light emitting diode displays.

One of the key advantages of OLED is that, unlike LCD, it does not employ a backlight to illuminate the screen. While this can lead to superior picture quality and improved battery life, it can also make adjusting the brightness of the screen more difficult, Apple notes in a newly published patent application.

The filing, entitled “OLED Driving Technique,” explains that traditional LCD brightness is adjusted by simply increasing or decreasing the amount of light emitted by a backlight. But that’s not possible with an OLED display, as each pixel on an OLED screen emits light individually.

That means device makers must adjust the amount of power supplied to each OLED pixel, making it a far more complex endeavor to adjust brightness than an LCD display with a dedicated backlight.

“While increasing or decreasing the amount of power may increase or decrease the amount of light emitted by each OLED, the precise amount of light emitted by each OLED may vary according to nonlinear function,” Apple’s filing reads. “As such, many techniques for adjusting the brightness of OLED screens have conventionally involved performing complex calculations on image data to ensure that when a brightness-adjusted image id displayed on the OLED display, each pixel displays a proper color and brightness.”

In other words, the amount of light output by an individual OLED pixel varies nonlinearly with the amount of power supplied to the OLED pixel. As a result, increasing or decreasing the brightness does not directly correlate to simply increasing or decreasing the power supplied to each pixel.

Apple goes on to explain that dimming values must be extracted from image data on a system, and that data must then be converted to an analog OLED pixel brightness control signal. This complex method can consume system resources and reduce battery life, and it may also be incompatible with existing LCD brightness control mechanisms, requiring major changes to software that already drives LCD screens.

Apple’s proposed solutions aim to offer “efficient brightness control” with OLED screens. One described method would take image data and transform it into a “logarithmic domain,” from which a “dimming control value” could be subtracted.

“This resulting log-encoded dimmed image data may represent a darker version of the originally received image data,” the filing reads. “Thereafter, a pixel of the organic light emitting diode display may be driven based at least in part on the dimmed image data.”

In Apple’s method, image data could be converted in the data driver of an integrated circuit connected to the OLED screen. This data would be converted from a “framebuffer encoding” gamma-corrected color space to a logarithmic value.

“From this logarithmic value, a digital dimming control value may be subtracted rather than divided,” the filing states. “This dimmed logarithmic image data may be converted directly to an analog OLED pixel brightness control signal, without first being converted to a linear digital value, via a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) programmed to convert the logarithmic digital image data to the OLED pixel brightness control signal.”

Apple’s solution would enable simplified dimming of OLED, and would convert the data associated with adjusting brightness from digital to analog. But Apple’s method would do so with fewer bits, and would be less taxing on a mobile device like an iPhone, iPad, or MacBook.

The illustrations accompanying the application specifically show a MacBook Pro as a potential device that could utilize an OLED screen, although the filing notes that Apple’s method of controlling OLED brightness could be used on any device, from smartphones to television sets.

Apple has shown continued interest in OLED screens through patent filings, with one proposed invention last year that aimed to improve power efficiency of OLED screens. However, some industry watchers have said that OLED technology, and the production of OLED screens, are not yet mature enough to meet Apple’s standards and requirements.

The latest OLED filing, published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, was originally submitted in October of 2010. It is credited to Ulrich T. Barnhoefer and Lee Yongman.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CrossOver updated to 11.0.3

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, 14:43
Category: News, Software

CrossOver, the popular emulation program from CodeWeavers, has been updated to version 11.0.3. The new version, which is available as a demo, offers the following fixes and changes:

Application Enhancements:
- Fixed a bug whereby Microsoft Office 2010, Service Pack 1 refused to install. It should now install cleanly (an update of CrossTie files from the web-site may be necessary).

- Fixed a bug where Quicken 2012 would hang adding a new online account or updating a bank account.

- Fixed a bug where PowerPoint 2010 would refuse to play slideshows. Slideshows will now work in PowerPoint 2010.

CrossOver Enhancements:
- Fixes for (we hope!) the last outstanding problems with CrossOver registration / licensing.

- Improvements to Japanese and Russian translations.

CrossOver 11.0.3 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.

Apple backs royalty-free licensing of “nano-SIM” cards, looks to incorporate the technology in future iOS devices

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Date: Monday, March 26th, 2012, 06:55
Category: Hardware, News

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It never hurts to play nice every so often.

Per Foss Patents, Apple will reportedly offer to license a new, ultra-compact SIM card technology to rival mobile devices makers if they agree back the format as the new industry standard for subscriber identification modules (SIM), a move which could pave the way for more compact and efficiently-designed iOS devices.

The pledge, said to have been outlined earlier this month in a letter to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) penned by a senior member of Apple’s legal council, comes just days before the iPhone maker is expected to square off against opponents of the design at the organization’s Smart Card Platform Plenary in southern France.

Sized roughly a third smaller than existing MicroSIM cards found inside current iPads and iPhones, the proposed nano-SIM design — which is also noticeably thinner than that of MicroSIM — has already garnered the support of most European wireless carriers as part of their own proposals to the ETSI.

However, rival mobile device makers Nokia, RIM and Motorola have each voiced concerns in opposing standardization of nano-SIM — mainly out of fears Apple could eventually claim ownership of the patents behind the format, placing the company in a position of powered where it could command royalties from the broader industry.

The March 19th letter to the ETSI stands to invalidate these concerns, according to independent intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller, through “an unequivocal commitment to grant royalty-free licenses to any Apple patents essential to nano-SIM, provided that Apple’s proposal is adopted as a standard and that all other patent holders accept the same terms in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.”

“This shows that Apple is serious about establishing the nano-SIM standard rather than seeking to cash in on it,” he said. “Apple is a company that values its intellectual property and rarely gives it away for free. But as far as the evolution of SIM cards is concerned, Apple is clearly being generous and absolutely pro-competitive.”

In 2010, Apple was said to be working on an embedded SIM design that would allow users to select a carrier and service plan directly from their iPhone. But those plans allegedly upset the wireless operators, who felt they could be marginalized by such a move. As such, the Cupertino-based company compromised and began talking with carriers about designing a smaller SIM card that eventually emerged as the existing MicroSIM.

Apple’s continued push towards further miniaturization of SIM cards aims to reduce the space required to house the identification cards inside its future mobile devices, paving the way for devices that are either more compact or free up additional space for other components, such as larger batteries.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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

Posted by:
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.

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.

Rumor: Apple may include Intel Sandy Bridge processors in near-term Mac Pro update

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Date: Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 07:27
Category: Mac Pro, Processors, Rumor

Even if you’re hankering for a new iPad 3 or an updated MacBook Air, there’s always your Mac Pro tower to keep in mind.

Per The Inquirer, Intel’s new Sandy Bridge update for its Xeon line of high end CPUs is due next week, suggesting the potential for Apple to refresh the Mac Pro, which hasn’t changed since the middle of 2010.

The new Xeon E5 chips incorporate the Sandy Bridge micro architecture that first appeared in MacBook Pros and iMacs early last year, followed by a mobile variant used by Apple in the MacBook Air last summer.

Apple’s latest Mac Pro models currently use Intel Xeon Bloomfield or Gulftown processors based on the Nehalem and closely related Westmere microarchitectures.

The latest release of OS X 10.7.3 Lion included support for AMD’s high end Tahiti graphic cards, which are expected to arrive in the market around the same time as Intel’s new Xeon chips.

However, sources famliar with the matter have said that Apple’s management, as far back as last May, were in limbo over whether to put any additional resources toward the Mac Pro product line.

Internal discussions at Apple were said to focus on the fact that sales of the high-end Mac Pro workstations have dropped off so considerably that the desktop machines are no longer particularly profitable for the company.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.