Two new patents show how Apple would use iPhone, Bluetooth to interact with cars

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Date: Thursday, April 25th, 2013, 07:29
Category: iOS, News, Patents

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One day, your iPhone WILL talk to and control your car.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office (1, 2) and AppleInsider, a pair of patent filings discovered on Thursday reveal Apple is actively investigating the possibilities afforded by the iOS mobile platform’s various wireless connectivity options, including the ability to interact with, and at times control, a Bluetooth-enabled automobile.

The two patents, describe Apple inventions for using an iOS device to find a parked car in a parking structure, getting guidance to said car, gathering parking fee information and, once near the automobile, activating vehicle functions like door locks, power windows and the engine starter.

First, Apple’s “Method for Locating a Vehicle” outlines a method in which a mobile device can pair with a vehicle via Bluetooth to determine whether it is in a parked state. If the condition is met, the handset then communicates with a wireless system within the parking structure to determine a parking location before moving away from the vehicle.

When returning to the parking structure, the mobile device can access the parking structure’s location system to request current positioning data. The received information is then compared to the vehicle location already stored on the device to determine a route back to the car.

In another embodiment, the automobile itself communicates with the parking structure’s location system, which logs the car’s position and stores the data for later access by a mobile device. This method also allows the parking system to handle guidance and routing directions, which are subsequently sent to a handset upon request.

Apple’s invention calls for the parking structure to hold an array of wireless sensors that are deployed in such a way as to determine the location of a car and a mobile device. An example would be one sensor per stall, or one per row. The system can use Bluetooth technology to transmit positioning data, as well as guidance data if necessary, to the mobile device.

Further, the parking system can also incorporate cameras, microphones and other sensors to determine whether a car is in a parked state. Such information would include an opened car door, active running lights or engine noise. In some embodiments, a user can manually inform the system that a car is parked by interacting with a digital interface either in the vehicle or on a mobile device.

Regarding guidance, a handset can receive a map over cellular or Wi-Fi, which can have an overlay of current positioning data much like a GPS navigation system. Indeed, in some examples, GPS can also be used in concert with the parking structure’s location data to determine a route back to the vehicle.

As a side note, Apple recently acquired “indoor GPS” firm WiFiSLAM, which developed technology to serve up location data within structures where GPS signals are usually absent. Such systems could be implemented effectively in the utility filing described above.

In Apple’s second car-related patent application, titled “Accessing a vehicle using portable devices,” a mobile handset pairs securely with a car over Bluetooth or other suitable method to control various onboard functions.

The invention is basically a more intelligent replacement for existing automobile personalization systems offered by some manufacturers. These methods usually rely on key fobs, which interact with the car via NFC or radio to open doors, roll down windows, start the engine, and so forth. Instead, Apple proposes a mobile device take the place of a fob to offer enhanced control of the vehicle through wireless protocols like Bluetooth.

As noted in the filing, the system can support a primary and a secondary mobile device. Both would use proven authentication methods to access the vehicle, thereby allowing said devices to act as a security point in lieu of a key fob. A user can set preferences to cause the system to act automatically, or have greater control by requiring a PIN or passwords before a device unlocks and interacts with the car.

Some embodiments allow restrictions to be placed on the second mobile device, such as authorization to start the engine only within a given time period, for example between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Further limitations can include speed, entertainment options, number of “uses” allotted and GPS-based fencing, among others.

Besides describing the variety of functions available for operation, much of the patent application focuses on authentication techniques and device-to-car security.

Apple is apparently looking to take advantage of popular “infotainment” systems a number of auto makers include in their vehicles, which usually carry some sort of wireless communications protocol such as Bluetooth. While it is unknown if and when the pair of patent applications will be used in a consumer product, a number of car manufacturers have already signed on to support Apple’s “eyes-free” initiative.

Both of the applications were filed in 2011 and credit Brian J. Tucker, Emily C. Schubert, Jess L. Dorogusker, Joakim Linde; Joakim and Stephen Chick as their inventors.

13-inch MacBook Pro determined as “best performing Windows laptop” according to PC services company Soluto

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Date: Thursday, April 25th, 2013, 07:44
Category: MacBook Pro, News

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You’re gonna either love or hate this.

Per CNET, Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro is the “best performing” Windows laptop.

The MacBook Pro won out over established PC makers like Dell, Acer, and Lenovo, according to Soluto, which was quick to explain its finding.

A main factor in this machine’s metrics is the fact that every Windows installation on it is clean. With PC manufacturers loading so much crapware on new laptops, this is a bit of an unfair competition. But, on the other hand, PC makers should look at this data and aspire to ship PCs that perform just as well as a cleanly installed MacBook Pro.

The report went on to admit that it might be more fair to compare a cleanly installed MacBook Pro with a cleanly-installed PC from Acer or Dell.

The company’s metrics included crashes per week, hangs per week, Blue Screens (of Death) per week, and average boot time.

Soluto did list the disadvantages of running Windows on a Mac, including that it’s more work to set up Windows on a Mac and there may be driver issues.

Acer’s Aspire E1-571 came in second and Dell’s XPS 13 received the third-highest ranking.

Apple’s Tim Cook dismisses larger screen rumors for iPhone, cites trade-offs

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Date: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, 06:10
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

It’s the post-event questions that get interesting.

Per iMore, asked during today’s Q2 2013 fiscal results conference call as to whether or not Apple’s and CEO Tim Cook’s disinclination towards larger screens has changed, Cook said that there are a number of trade-offs that have come with larger screens. He said that Apple’s own research has revealed while some customers obviously place value on larger screen sizes (those giant Samsung, LG, and HTC phones wouldn’t be selling otherwise), others value resolution, color quality, brightness, portability, and app compatibility. He said that “our competitors have made significant trade-offs in many of these areas” and that Apple would not launch a larger-screen iPhone while these trade-offs exist.

It’s worth taking into consideration that Apple said similar things running up to the launch of the iPhone 5 and its larger screen, and Cook said as recently as the last quarter that he’s happy with the 4-inch screen. It’s also worth nothing that while Cook says he believes the iPhone 5 has “the absolute best display in the industry”, the advent of 1080p smartphone screens has obviated some of his stated advantages such as resolution.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Store app hits version 2.6, now includes iPhone upgrade pricing notification feature

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Date: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, 06:19
Category: iPhone, News, Software

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Ok, now this is sort of a nifty update.

On Wednesday, Apple released version 2.6 of its iOS Apple Store program. The new version, a 6.1 megabyte download, has been updated with bug fixes and offers a new feature that will notify you when you’re eligible for upgrade pricing on a new iPhone. You can even buy your new iPhone directly with the app after receiving the notification since all you need is your Apple ID credentials to do so.

The updated Apple Store will now help you keep track of your shipments and send you notifications about important updates, and when it has been delivered.

The iOS Apple Store program 2.6 requires iOS 5.0 or later to install and run.

Cool stuff and I’m waiting for the upgrade price for my beloved-but-battered iPhone 4S handset…

Apple announces June 10 – 14 dates for 2013 WWDC event, tickets available starting April 25th

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Date: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013, 06:33
Category: News, Software

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You can’t knock a spiffy developer event.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple on Wednesday officially announced that its 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will take place at Moscone West in San Francisco from Monday, June 10 until Friday, June 14th.

Tickets for the conference will go on sale at 10 AM Pacific / 1PM Eastern time tomorrow, April 25th.

The conference typically includes several sessions for iOS and OS X developers to work on their code and new projects alongside Apple engineers. Additionally, Apple engineers will make presentations about new developer-focused features in iOS and OS X.

Apple says that the conference will include details about the next iOS and OS X releases:

“We look forward to gathering at WWDC 2013 with the incredible community of iOS and OS X developers,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Our developers have had the most prolific and profitable year ever, and we’re excited to show them the latest advances in software technologies and developer tools to help them create innovative new apps. We can’t wait to get new versions of iOS and OS X into their hands at WWDC.”

Anticipation and speculation regarding Apple’s announcements at WWDC is high because the software-focused conference will follow a recent shakeup at the top of Apple’s software division. Scott Forstall, the former iOS chief, has been replaced with Craig Federighi, the former head of OS X.

Forstall has reportedly been a proponent of skeuopmorphic design while other Apple executives, such as Jonathan Ive, are fans of “flat” design characteristics for software. Ive was given control over interface design amidst Forstall’s leave from Apple, so many Apple followers are interested in what Ive has designed for the new Mac and iOS device operating systems.

iOS 7 has already been rumored to see notable design changes, and we have heard that OS X 10.9 will bring over more features from iOS.

WWDC 2012 focused on iOS 6, OS X Mountain Lion, and hardware such as significant updates to Apple’s Mac notebook computer lines. The previous year’s WWDC focused solely on major software enhancements with major upgrades to iOS, OS X, and the introduction of iCloud.

While new iOS device hardware has been announced at WWDC in some past years, Apple’s next iOS device updates are rumored for introduction later in the year: multiple claims have pointed to a new iPhone launching around August and new iPads in the September-October timeframe.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple reports Q2 2013 profit of $9.5 billion, revenues of $34.6 billion

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Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 14:50
Category: Finance, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, News

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It’s 18% lower than it was last year, but it’s still US$9.5 billion in the bank…

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday said second quarter profits fell roughly 18% to US$9.5 billion — or US$10.09 per diluted share — despite record second quarter sales of US$43.6 billion — the first year-over-year decline in earnings for the one-time tech darling in nearly a decade.

The results for the three-month period ended March 30, 2013 compare to revenue of US$39.2 billion and net profit of US$11.6 billion, or US$12.30 per diluted share, in the year-ago quarter. Gross margin was 37.5 percent, approximately 100 basis points lower than the 47.4 percent reported in the year-ago quarter, as consumers gravitated to more affordable, lower-margin products like the iPad mini.

During the quarter, Apple sold 37.4 million iPhones and 19.5 million iPads, compared to 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads in the year-ago quarter. The company also said it sold just under 4 million Macs, compared to 4 million in the year-ago quarter. Overall, international sales accounted for 66 percent of the quarter’s revenue.

“We are pleased to report record March quarter revenue thanks to continued strong performance of iPhone and iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline.”

Looking ahead to the current June quarter, Apple provided following guidance:
– Revenue between US$33.5 billion and US$35.5 billion.

– Gross margin between 36 percent and 37 percent.

– Operating expenses between US$3.85 billion and US$3.95 billion.

– Other income/(expense) of US$300 million

– Tax rate of 26%.

“Our cash generation remains very strong, with $12.5 billion in cash flow from operations during the quarter and an ending cash balance of $145 billion,” said Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer.

For Apple, Tuesday’s results mark the first year-over-year decline in profits since the first quarter of 2003 when the “early 2000s recession” began to set in stateside.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Q2 2013 financial results due today

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Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 07:08
Category: Finance, Fun, News

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Ladies and gentlemen, Apple’s Q2 2013 results will be released starting at 2PM EST today.

Stay tuned to the PowerPage for updated coverage of the press event.

In the meantime, prior to worrying about finances, your portfolio and what bills may happen to be due, relax and remember that the Martians from “Sesame Street” were awesome on every conceivable level.



Apple begins incorporating “Download Later” for larger purchases in iTunes 11

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Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 07:37
Category: iTunes, News, Software

This could be useful.

Per Macworld, Apple added a welcome tweak to large media purchases initiated either via the mobile iTunes Store or iTunes 11. Users attempting to download large media files such as movies or music box sets are presented a prompt enabling them to commence the download immediately or save it for a time when they presumably have better bandwidth.

When purchasing any of the above items using iTunes 11 on a Mac or Windows PC, or an iOS device running iOS 6 or later, you’re now presented with “Later” and “Download” (or “Download All”) buttons. Tap “Later” and the purchased items will be added to your iTunes account and accessible to stream or download in the future via Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud feature.

The option to “download later” is exclusively applicable to TV seasons, Season Passes, movie bundles, music box sets, individual movies and TV episodes.

Apple outlines the specifics of the new software tweak in the following updated support document. Lastly, note that the prompt will only appear for users in countries where Apple provides iTunes in the Cloud support.

If you’ve seen this change on your end and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iPhone 4 “Antennagate” owners beginning to receive settlement checks from Apple

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Date: Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, 06:48
Category: iPhone, Legal, News

It’s not a whopping amount of justice, but it’s still justice.

Or at least a settlement.

Per 9to5Mac, iPhone 4 owners who participated in a class action lawsuit against Apple over antenna attenuation complaints are finally starting to receive settlement checks.

More than a year ago, Apple reached a settlement with attorneys for the class action complaint, agreeing to pay US$53 million to make the problem go away after supposedly “misrepresenting and concealing material information in the marketing, advertising, sale, and servicing of its iPhone 4 — particularly as it relates to the quality of the mobile phone antenna and reception and related software.”

Owners who cashed in on Cupertino’s earlier offer of a free bumper or case were not eligible for the settlement, so if you haven’t seen a check, that could be why. According to recipients, the settlement checks for a whopping US$15 were issued on April 17 and must be cashed by July 16, 2013 or they are null and void.

Why only 15 smackeroos? Apparently the class action lawyers took home a US$16 million fee from the settlement, which doesn’t make anyone feel any better…

If you’ve received a settlement check for the iPhone 4 antenna issue, please let us know in the comments.

Apple revises terms of One to One service plan, installs 60 day deadline for data migration

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Date: Monday, April 22nd, 2013, 07:15
Category: News, retail

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You know Apple’s One to One service, available for US$99 with the purchase of a new Mac?

Well, there are now some new provisos.

Per ZDNet, the service terms now state that data migration is available only in the first 60 days (previously 12 months), transfer must be by wired means (no more Wi-Fi transfers), only hardware bought with the Mac will be installed (previously any hardware) and staff will now ‘assist’ with installation of software purchased during training sessions (previously they’d install it for you).

Beyond that, you’re sorta on your own…