Apple awarded patent for intelligent caller ID image selection feature

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 11th, 2012, 08:48
Category: News


This could lead to something cool.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple has won a patent for the method in which pictures are assigned to incoming calls, offering a twist to the common feature seen on most cellular devices since the introduction of the camera phone.

The U.S. patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,331,916 for “Image selection for an incoming call.” At first glance, the patent appears to be simply covering the method with which a device assigns a picture to a contact, but on closer inspection the IP calls for a more advanced system that randomizes and selects images intelligently based on predetermined criteria.

According to the patent language, the system relies on filters to parse out relevant images of a contact associated with a certain caller ID. Any incoming telecommunication protocol can be used to determine who the caller is, for example text messages are supported.

Pulling from a pool of images, stored on-board the receiving device or on an off-site server, the system matches the caller ID information with pictures associated with the caller. For example, upon detection, a caller’s picture may be randomly selected from the image pool based on a weighting system that takes into account how many times a certain image has been used. Going further, the pictures may have associated star ratings that can be used to refine the filter even further.

The method also allows for image selection based on a set of criteria, such as location, date and other rules. For example, if a call is found to be originating from San Francisco, the system will search the image pool for pictures of the caller taken in that city. Alternately, if the call originated from the home town of the caller, but that person is currently on a trip to New York, pictures of previous trips to New York will be displayed.

Time is also taken into consideration as an image taken during the day or night can be selected depending on what time it is in the call’s originating location.

Finally, the system also supports video snippets to be played in place of pictures when appropriate.

The patent was first filed in 2010, with Timothy B. Martin and Gregory Charles Lindley credited as its inventors.

Apple releases Mac mini EFI Firmware Update 1.7, works to address HDMI flicker issue on late-2012 Mac mini

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, December 11th, 2012, 07:20
Category: Mac mini, News, Software

You can’t knock a good firmware update.

Late Monday, Apple released Mac mini EFI Firmware Update 1.7, the company’s firmware updater for the late-2012 Mac mini desktop. The update, a 4.8 megabyte download, addresses HDMI video flicker issues on Mac mini (Late 2012) computers and is recommended for all users.

The EFI Firmware Update 1.7 requires a late-2012 Mac mini running OS X 10.8.2 or later to install and run and can be directly downloaded or located and installed via the Software Update feature.

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

Apple, Google reportedly partnering on $500 million bid for Kodak’s patents

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 10th, 2012, 07:50
Category: News, Patents


Apple and Google may not always see eye to eye on matters, but both of them know a deal when they see one.

Per Bloomberg, Apple has reportedly teamed up with Google to offer a bid for Kodak patents worth over US$500 million.

On Friday, the news site cited two sources familiar with Kodak’s ongoing bankruptcy proceedings who claim Apple and Google have become partners in a grab for 1,100 patents owned by the erstwhile photography monolith. Sources say the Apple-Google consortium was behind a bid placed a bid earlier this week.

When bidding first started, the companies led two separate teams, with Apple’s consortium including Microsoft and patent holdings firm Intellectual Ventures, while Google joined up with RPX Corp. and a number of Asian handset manufacturers. At the time, it was thought that HTC and Samsung were part of Google’s team.

Before the imaging patent auction began in August, Kodak estimated the value of its portfolio to fall between US$2.2 and US$2.6 billion, though the first round of bids were reportedly in the range of US$150 million to US$250 million. Under the terms of Kodak’s US$793 million loan agreement, the winning bid for the portfolio must not be lower than US$500 million.

Interestingly, Kodak previously leveraged patents in a suit against Apple and HTC, as well as an ITC case against Apple and RIM, as a last-ditch effort to stay afloat. Apple subsequently took action and sued Kodak after claiming ownership of ten patents related to the QuickTake camera, which was a cooperative project between the two companies. A judge ultimately ordered the Cupertino, Calif., company to halt current and future litigation so the bankruptcy proceedings could continue.

In November, sources claimed both Apple and Google remained interested in the patent cache, and Kodak said it was “confident” that the minimum woud be reached.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple launches iPad mini in China, still deals with scalper element at product releases

Posted by:
Date: Monday, December 10th, 2012, 07:36
Category: iPad, News, retail

In spite of various protocols, it’s hard to keep a good scalper down.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple’s reservation-only system in China, put in place after a near-riot occurred for the iPhone 4S launch, led to few crowds for the debut of the iPad mini.

Many of those who turned out for the iPad mini launch in China on Friday were scalpers looking to resell and profit from the device. But Apple’s recently instituted rules have made it tougher for scalpers to get in the way of legitimate customers.

Chinese customers must participate in an online lottery one day in advance to purchase an iPad mini at one of the company’s seven retail stores in China. Those who are selected are limited to two iPad minis and must bring photo identification.

The system was instituted after the iPhone 4S launch in January of this year was disrupted by an unruly crowd in Beijing. The crowd prevented Apple from opening its store in Sanlitun, and the company decided to postpone the launch of the iPhone 4S in Beijing and Shanghai.

And in May of 2011, the launch of the iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 caused a scuffle in Beijing in which disgruntled customers shook a glass door at the Sanlitun Apple Store and shattered it.

Those incidents prompted Apple to implement its anti-scalping measures this July for the launch of the third-generation iPad in China. Local media alleged that scuffles at Apple’s stores were between rival groups of scalpers.

For Friday’s iPad mini launch, a Wall Street Journal reporter was harassed by a group of scalpers for filming them outside the Apple Store in Sanlitun. The scalpers told the reporter they felt it was an invasion of their privacy.

“After the reporter pointed out that they were conducting business in a public place, they proceeded to kick, swat and push him as Apple and mall security stood by,” Friday’s report said.

Aside from scalpers at the Sanlitun Apple Store, there were no crowds for Friday’s iPad mini launch. The scalpers stood near the store’s entrance to collect iPad minis from Chinese customers in exchange for cash.

So…despite annoying scalpers snagging up as much of the supply as they could, the iPad mini is out in China.

Apple hires Kristin Paget to help strengthen OS X’s security protocols

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 7th, 2012, 07:59
Category: News, security, Software


If you’re going to be a target for hackers, you might want to hire someone with extensive experience for a company that’s long been a target…

Per Wired, tt was discovered on Thursday that famed hacker and former Microsoft employee Kristin Paget is now working for Apple as a core operating system security researcher, suggesting the Cupertino company is beefing up OS X safeguards amid recent Mac-directed malware attacks.

When employed by Microsoft, Paget worked alongside a small team of hackers tasked to find security holes in Windows Vista before the OS was released to the public in 2007. The group apparently found so many flaws that Vista’s launch date was pushed back while fixes were put in place.

According to her LinkedIn profile, as of September, Paget is listed as being a “Core OS Security Researcher at Apple” based out of Cupertino. Previously, she held the position of chief hacker at security firm Recursion Ventures, but said in June that she wanted to find a job building “security-focused hardware.”

Paget, formerly known as Chris Paget, gained notoriety for a number of hacker feats of strength, including a cellphone call-intercepting station at the Defcon hacker conference and a long-range RFID identifier duplication device.

While the hacker’s responsibilites at Apple remain unknown, it can be speculated that she will be working to thwart future attacks like the Flashback trojan that affected an estimated 600,000 Macs in April. Most recently, a piece of Mac-targeted malware similar to Flashback was found embedded in a webpage dedicated to the Dalai Lama.

T-Mobile announces company will begin selling iPhone, iPad in 2013

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 7th, 2012, 07:52
Category: iPhone, News, retail

If you’re a T-Mobile fan, you’ll appreciate this.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier T-Mobile has announced it has inked a deal with Apple to begin selling products in America next year, presumably including both the iPhone and iPad.

The announcement came as part of a press release by the carrier’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, on Thursday. The release declined to mention specific products, but Apple’s iPhone and iPad lineup are the only cellular-capable devices offered by the company.

“T-Mobile USA has entered into an agreement with Apple to bring products to market together in 2013,” the release said.

T-Mobile is the fourth-largest carrier in the U.S., but despite its size, it has not offered Apple’s iPhone to date. And yet many smaller, regional carriers already offer the iPhone through partnerships with Apple, which T-Mobile has admitted contributed to its woes in America.

“Following on from the preceding steps such as the spectrum swap with Verizon, the towers deal with Crown Castle and the transaction with MetroPCS that we have announced, we have now added the final piece to the jigsaw to boost the competitiveness of T-Mobile USA sustainably,” said René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom.

Though the iPhone is not officially available through T-Mobile, the carrier is said to have more than 1.5 million active unlocked handsets on its network. Many of those handsets operate at wireless data speeds slower than 3G because of technical limitations with T-Mobile’s network.

To address that issue, T-Mobile has begun widening its 4G HSPA+ network in major metropolitan areas across the U.S., offering users of unlocked iPhones the ability to access high-speed data on its network.

The main reason T-Mobile has not offered the iPhone is because its network’s frequency band is incompatible with current versions of the iPhone. While the iPhone can place calls on T-Mobile’s network, it cannot connect to the carrier’s unique high-speed 3G frequency.

That’s begun to change as the carrier has transitioned its service to the 1900 MHz GSM band. That’s the same frequency used by AT&T, and is compatible with existing iPhone models.

T-Mobile has publicly admitted that the lack of Apple’s iPhone in its smartphone lineup has hurt the carrier and caused customers to leave. The carrier has about 33 million subscribers in the U.S., placing it behind Sprint, AT&T and Verizon in terms of size.

However, T-Mobile is set to grow next year thanks to a planned merger with MetroPCS — the fifth-largest carrier in America, and another provider that does not have access to Apple’s iPhone. T-Mobile and AT&T previously attempted to merge, but that deal was pulled when it became clear the Federal Communications Commission would block the agreement.

The terms of the attempted merger between AT&T and T-Mobile deemed that AT&T would give T-Mobile US$1 billion worth of wireless spectrum in the 1900MHz range if the deal fell through. That spectrum exchange is now likely key to the announced agreement between T-Mobile and Apple.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Final Cut Pro X 10.0.7 update

Posted by:
Date: Friday, December 7th, 2012, 07:56
Category: News, Software

A useful update’s a useful update.

Late Thursday, Apple released version 10.0.7 of its Final Cut Pro X video editing software.

The update, a 1.41 gigabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:
– The Letterbox effect “Offset” slider has been restored.

– Fixes an issue when creating a single layer DVD.

– Fixes an issue where some third-party effects could cause Final Cut Pro to hang during background rendering.

– Fixes an issue where some third-party transitions would incorrectly use black instead of source media.

– Adds support for editing MXF files that are still ingesting.

– Fixes an issue rendering Motion Templates containing Image Units.

Final Cut Pro X 10.0.7 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later to install and run and retails for US$299.99

If you’ve tried version 10.0.7 of Final Cut Pro X and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple CEO Tim Cook drops additional hints at revolutionary television set

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 6th, 2012, 06:09
Category: Hardware, News


When Tim Cook hints at something, the speculation begins…

Per an interview with NBC’s Rock Center, Apple CEO Tim Cook has rekindled speculation that his company plans to build a full-fledged television set in the near future, with comments disparaging current television sets as outdated pieces of technology.

During the interview, the CEO was asked what’s next for Apple, and he hinted that the company has big plans for the living room.

“When I go into my living room and turn on the TV, I feel like I have gone backwards in time by 20 to 30 years,” Cook said. “It’s an area of intense interest. I can’t say more than that.”

Cook’s comments are the most aggressive yet in hinting that Apple is working on a television set — a product that has been rumored to be in the works for years. Previously, the CEO has also used the words “intense interest” to refer to its Apple TV set-top box, an existing television accessory that streams movies, TV shows and other content.

Rumors of an Apple television have persisted for years, but they picked up considerable steam late last year when the authorized biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was published. In that book, Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “finally cracked” the secret to building a television.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said.

Then in January, a report from USA Today claimed that Apple’s lead designer, Jony Ive, had a “slick” 50-inch prototype television set housed inside his secure California design studio. It claimed that Apple is looking to build televisions sized 42 inches and larger with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity.

Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray has long been a proponent for an Apple television. In November, he predicted that such a product would be one of three core launches for the company in 2013, joined by a refreshed iPhone and updated iPad lineup.

Munster believes Apple’s television will be priced between US$1,500 and US$2,000, with screen sizes between 42 and 55 inches, and would go on sale in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases updated OS X 10.8.3 beta, begins allowing developers access to new builds via Software Update feature

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 6th, 2012, 06:09
Category: News, Software

This could be useful.

Per AppleInsider, a little over one week after Apple seeded build 12D32 of its OS X 10.8.3 beta to developers, the company has rolled out another version of the software adding a new functionality that allows developers to download and install pre-release versions directly from Software Update in the Mac App Store.

Sources familiar with new beta, dubbed build “12D38”, have stated that the latest pre-release builds are now available through Software Update with a tool called “OS X Software Update Seed Configuration Utility,” allowing developers to access new builds in much the same way as consumers. When new seeds are made available, Apple will reportedly send out notifications to install the update via the Mac App Store, these people said. Email notices will also continue to be sent out.

As with the build released at the end of November, Apple is once again asking developers to focus on AirPlay, AirPort, Graphics and Game Center, but adds Safari into the mix with 12D38 without offering further explanation.

Known issues in the newest build mostly deal with graphics issues like blank or black screens when waking a machine from a sleep state, switching between applications or using VNC to remotely control a Mac.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on the latest OS X 10.8.3 beta and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Apple to restore duplicate song search, chase cloud-based movie streaming bug in iTunes 11 update

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, December 5th, 2012, 06:18
Category: News, Software

There’s always a quick bug fix/feature change after a major new release of software.

iTunes 11 is no exception.

Per All Things D, Apple is said to be working on reinstitution the feature in a future update, a feature that was removed with iTunes 11.

The departure of the duplicate song finder in iTunes 11 was noted as a “drawback” in Walt Mossberg’s review of the software. But the Wall Street Journal tech columnist also noted that Apple officials indicated to him the function will “soon be restored in a minor update of the program.”

In previous versions of iTunes, users were given an option called “Display Exact Duplicates.” This feature would help users to clean up their music library by displaying songs that had multiple copies.

While that feature will reportedly return to iTunes 11, other functions removed from the latest update are not returning. That includes browsing album covers through the Cover Flow carousel, a feature that Apple told Mossberg was considered useful by “too few users.”

Mossberg also experienced some album covers that were missing in the album view option in iTunes 11. He was told by Apple that this “rare bug” has already been solved, and will be fixed in a minor update that will arrive soon.

Apple is also said to be aware of a bug that can prevent Apple TV users from wirelessly streaming cloud-based movies to the set-top box. A fix for that issue is also said to be on its way.

iTunes 11 was released last week, bringing with it an overhauled user interface that aims to be cleaner and less cluttered than its predecessor. Despite a new look and feel, many of the features found in previous versions of iTunes remain or can be restored, such as the dedicated sidebar.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you love or hate iTunes 11 so far, please let us know in the comments.