Apple patent explores loan, resale features for DRM-protected content

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Date: Friday, March 8th, 2013, 08:19
Category: News, retail, Software

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This could get fairly interesting, as well as get around some parts of DRM that, well, NOBODY likes.

Per AppleInsider and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a recently published patent application details of an exhaustive Apple invention covering the resale and loan of owned digital content like e-books, music and movies, possibly portending an upcoming addition to iTunes.

The patent is outlined in three divisional applications, each titled “Managing access to digital content items,” with two filed in September of 2011, and one in June of 2012. From the most recent filing, Apple describes a system that manages the authorized transfer of owned digital content between end-users. The invention is basically a system that allows purchasers to sell or loan “used” content to other people.

Interestingly, Amazon was recently granted a patent for a nearly identical system, though the online retailer’s solution calls for a centralized marketplace while Apple’s is largely distributed. Amazon first filed for its property in 2009.

Apple’s filing provides for the authorized access to digital content, otherwise known as digital rights, to be transferred from one user to another. As an example, a first user may purchase an e-book from the iBookstore and later decide to sell that content to a second user. The original owner notifies the store that they want to sell the item, and if certain criteria are met, the user is allowed to transfer rights to the second buyer. Content itself may or may not change hands, but more importantly the rights attached to said content is managed so that the first user can no longer access the content once it is sold.

The invention decentralizes the process by taking the online store out of the equation:

“Alternatively, instead of a third party determining whether one or more criteria are satisfied, the first (or second) user’s device makes the determination and may be responsible for preventing the first user’s device from further consuming the digital content item. In some embodiments, the online store and/or the publisher of the digital content item may receive a portion of the proceeds of the transfer.”

It should be noted that the content need not reside permanently, or at all, on a user’s device, meaning the system can be cloud-based.

Key to the system’s operation is ownership history. As the “used” content is passed from one user to the next, a database is established so that the proper owner is allowed access to the item and can then choose to transfer those rights to yet another party.

Transferral of authorized access can be device-to-device through an intermediary like an online store, device-to-device without an intermediary, meaning verification must be established at a later time. In another embodiment, no device-to-device transfer is necessary.

Restrictions of transfer are a means to manage the flow of content between end users and can be set by the publisher. For example, a certain e-book may not be resold within a six month period and must have a resale price of at least US$5. The restrictions can be set on a timed basis, frequency of transfer, price and to whom the content is sold.

Proceeds are also discussed, with publishers or content makers sometimes granted rights to a portion of the resale value. These percentages are based on time and how many transfers have been completed for a particular item. Gifting is also supported, with proceeds for these transfers split between the end user and publisher.

Other embodiments deal with temporary transfers, partial transfers, delayed transfers and loans.

Eliza C. Block and Marcel Van Os are credited as inventors of all three applications, while E. Caroline F. Cranfill, Alan C. Cannistraro, William M. Bachman and Timothy B. Martin were added to the list for one of the 2011 filings.

Rumor: Intel, Apple in negotiations for Intel to start making processors for iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, March 7th, 2013, 06:26
Category: Hardware, News, Processors, Rumor

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Maybe a really good partnership CAN live forever…

Per the Chicago Tribune, an anonymous source has cited that executives have over the past year discussed a possible partnership in which Intel’s foundries would be used to manufacture Apple-designed chips. A deal has not yet been reached, the source said.

This is not the first time rumors of an Apple-Intel partnership have cropped up. A report from May 2011 suggested that Intel showed interest in building Apple’s A4 and A5 SoCs, though no action was taken and the idea was apparently shelved as the so-called Ultrabook initiative gained momentum.

Intel is supposedly looking to shift its strategy as PC sales continue to slump as mobile devices, led by tablets like Apple’s iPad, continue to gobble up marketshare. The firm has been looking to expand its foundry business, most recently agreeing to fabricate silicon based on technology from chip maker Altera.

While an agreement to start production of ARM SoCs would likely undercut adoption of Intel’s own Atom mobile processor, the move might be necessary to keep pace with a quickly changing market. The report also speculates that Intel’s replacement for CEO Paul Otellini, who plans to retire in May, may further diversify the company’s contract operations in a bid to keep manufacturing facilities working at full capacity.

As for Apple, a move to Intel is easier to imagine, as the Mac lineup already runs on x86 processors. It has also been rumored that the company wants to distance itself from current A-series SoC manufacturer Samsung, with which it is ensnarled in a worldwide patent struggle. The Korean electronics giant is also Apple’s biggest competition in the mobile marketplace, with a variety of Android-based devices going jockeying for position against iOS products like the iPhone and iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.3 build 12D76 to developer community

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Date: Wednesday, March 6th, 2013, 07:11
Category: News, Software

Every step closer to OS X 10.8.3 is a good one, right?

Per the cool cats at 9to5Mac, Apple released OS X 10.8.3 build 12D74 to developers on Tuesday with no major changes. Apple isn’t listing any known issues, and the company once again asked developers to focus on AirPlay, AirPort, Game Center, Graphics Drivers, and Safari.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the build, please let us know in the comments.

Canadian thieves rob Vancouver-area Apple Store location using bear spray as weapon

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Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, 08:15
Category: iPad, iPod, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, News, retail

If you’re going to steal thousands of dollars worth of Apple products north of the border, remember to bring along bear spray.


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Per the National Post, thieves armed with bear spray hit the Oakridge Mall Apple Store in Vancouver just before closing in Monday, spraying roughly 40 people and making off with an unknown number of iPods, iPads, and notebooks.

The robbery, which saw three men bearing a caustic, cayenne pepper-based chemical attack the Apple Store. There were roughly 40 customers in the store, of which five would later need treatment by paramedics for exposure to the spray. The robbers are said to have fled by car.

Most of the valuable Apple electronics are likely to have been out of reach of the robbers, as Apple Stores keep most stock in hidden storage rooms behind closed doors. Vancouver police say that the thieves made off with only “a small number of electronics.”

Rumor: Next-gen iPads could arrive in April, iPhone 5S to hit in August

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Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, 07:03
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, Rumor

The rumor mill continues, but this time it offers a name for the next-gen iPhone as well as potential release dates.

Per iMore, Apple is planning the release of the iPhone 5S for this summer, currently for August. Next generation iPads, presumably the iPad 5 and potentially the iPad mini 2, may also debut as soon as this April.

Sources familiar with the plans have stated that the iPhone 5S does indeed have the same basic design as the iPhone 5, with a more advanced processor and an improved camera. With the iPhone 5, Apple reduced the thinness of the casing but managed to keep essentially the same, if not slightly better, overall quality. With the iPhone 5S, the aim is to once again raise the bar in terms of iPhone optics, including a much better camera in essentially the same casing.

Sources have pointed towards an April-ish launch for the next-generation iPads, albeit this has yet to be confirmed. iPad 5 casings have already begun to leak, although it’s unknown as to whether the iPad mini will receive a Retina display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases Java 2013-002 update for Mac OS X 10.7, 10.8 operating systems, Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 14

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Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, 07:38
Category: News, security, Software

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A security update never truly goes unappreciated.

Following up on recently discovered zero-day Java security holes, Apple releases Java updates for its Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8 operating systems.

The first update, Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 14, stands as a 72.8 megabyte download and offers the following fixes and changes:

– Delivers improved security, reliability, and compatibility by updating Java SE 6 to 1.6.0_41.

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

The second update, Apple Java 2013-002, stands as a 68.3 megabyte download and offers the following fixes and changes:

– Uninstalls the Apple-provided Java applet plug-in from all web browsers. To use applets on a web page, click on the region labeled “Missing plug-in” to go download the latest version of the Java applet plug-in from Oracle.

– Removes the Java Preferences application, which is no longer required to configure applet settings.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7 or later to install and run.

The updates can be located, snagged and installed via the Software Update feature built into the Mac OS X operating system.

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

Apple catches up with demand, now offering 21.5-inch, 27-inch iMac models at 1-3 day ship times

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Date: Monday, March 4th, 2013, 07:06
Category: iMac, News, retail

It never hurts to catch up.

Per 9to5Mac, Apple seems to have finally caught up with demand for its latest iMac models. Both the new 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMacs are now shipping from Apple’s online store in 1-3 business days. Up until earlier today, Apple’s new iMacs were quoted as having a shipping time of 2-3 weeks for the 21.5-inch model and 3-4 weeks for the larger 27-inch configurations.

Apple’s redesigned iMacs models have been supply constrained since their November and December launches. Apple CEO Tim Cook noted multiple times during earnings calls and other public appearances that the iMacs are seeing significant shortages. During an internal “Town Hall” meeting with employees, Cook blamed low Q1 Mac sales on low supply of Apple’s newest Mac lines.

Apple’s new iMacs feature a much thinner chassis compared to the previous generation’s design in addition to a new screen lamination process that may contribute to the time it takes to produce each unit.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve seen an improved turnaround time on a new iMac you ordered, please let us know in the comments.

Apple releases OS X 10.8.3 build 12D74 to developer community

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Date: Friday, March 1st, 2013, 07:25
Category: News, Software

On the plus side, Apple’s getting somewhat closer to releasing OS X 10.8.3 to its user base.

It’s still taking a while, though…

Per the cool cats at 9to5Mac, Apple released OS X 10.8.3 build 12D74 to developers on Thursday with no major changes. Apple isn’t listing any known issues, and the company once again asked developers to focus on AirPlay, AirPort, Game Center, Graphics Drivers, and Safari.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the build, please let us know in the comments.

Apple patent application explores idea of magnetic stand that could hold iPads in new ways, configurations

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Date: Thursday, February 28th, 2013, 08:23
Category: iPad, News, Patents

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If you ever need to hang an iPad upside down, Apple may just have you covered.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office and TechCrunch, a new patent application by Apple published this week describes a stand for the iPad that uses magnets to hold the Apple tablet in place. iPads already come with fairly powerful magnets built into their frames, something Apple introduced along with the very first model to make the iPad compatible with its smart cover. The patent describes a magnetic stand which would be able to hold the iPad firmly in place in a number of different settings, and perform various functions.

Some examples provided in the patent include mounting the iPad to a tripod, a treadmill, or a music stand, and even attaching two iPads together via a hinge that would allow iPads to be used together in a book-style configuration. The patent text says that the mounting device would work together with a shielded, in-built magnetic component on the target device (which the iPad already has), thus enabling for a much stronger connection that would normally be possible, since powerful unshielded magnets could have an adverse effect on internal electronic components.

The mounting system described in the patent does more than just provide for a stand that can grip the iPad firmly: different permutations also include data connections, so that in the book type instance, for example, both tablet devices have a wired connection built in to their portion of the hinge, making communication between the two tablets possible. That would mean things like flipping pages in a book would actually have an effect on both tablet displays simultaneously, instead of each acting independently.

The patent also goes into a lot more detail about how an in-car mount might work with an iPad. A rotational sensor could be used to activate and deactivate the tablet, for instance, meaning the iPad could have an on and off position (likely portrait and landscape respectively), and there’s also potential to have a tablet-to-vehicle connection initiated when a car detects a specific “magnetic signature.” That, combined with wireless connection direct to a car’s communication system, would effectively render a person’s iPad a unique and personalized in-car entertainment device and control console.

The patent describes a driver issuing voice-based commands to the iPad, which are passed on to the car to change the car’s “configuration.” The communication would be two-way, too, with the car feeding ”car status information “ back to the iPad, which would also be able to handle navigation duties and play back music through the connected car’s stereo.

Cool stuff and it could help integrate the iPad into even more areas than before.

The proposed invention, made public this week, was first filed with the USPTO in August of 2011. The invention is credited to Matthew D. Rohrbach.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Second lockscreen bypass exploit discovered in iOS 6.1, data vulnerable via USB connection

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Date: Tuesday, February 26th, 2013, 07:07
Category: Hack, iOS, News, security, Software

Apple either needs to assign its iOS security people some business hammocks or take their current ones away…

A second iOS 6.1 bug has been discovered that gives access to contacts, photos and more. The vulnerability uses a similar method as the one disclosed previously, though it apparently gives access to more user data when the phone is plugged into a computer.

Per MacRumors and Kaspersky’s Threatpost, the exploit involves manipulating the phone’s screenshot function, its emergency call function and its power button. Users can make an emergency call (911 for example) on the phone and then cancel it while toggling the power on and off to get temporary access to the phone. A video posted by the group shows a user flipping through the phone’s voicemail list and contacts list while holding down the power button. From there an attacker could get the phone’s screen to turn black before it can be connected to a computer via a USB cord. The device’s photos, contacts and more “will be available directly from the device hard drive without the pin to access,” according to the advisory.

Apple was expected to fix the lock screen bug in iOS 6.1.2, but that small release fixed a different bug. Instead, it appears a fix for at least one of the lock screen vulnerabilities will be coming in iOS 6.1.3, currently in the hands of developers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.