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.

Delicious Library updated to 3.0

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Date: Thursday, April 25th, 2013, 06:16
Category: News, Software

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On Thursday, software company Delicious Monster released version 3.0 of the shareware favorite, Delicious Library. Delicious Monster allows Macs with webcams to scan the bar codes of any book, movie, music CD or video game, then creates an archive based on background information from the Internet. Additional features help keep the library organized and reseller’s tools allow for items to be quickly posted for sale online.

The new version, an 81 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

Major New Features:
- Fully 3D cover view.

- All items are drawn in full 3D [industry first], with multiple light sources and normal, reflection, and environment maps.

- Books are rendered at actual thickness based on page count.

- Live lighting changes as items are selected.

- Shadows draw dynamically behind all items.

- Many gorgeous woods to choose from for shelves.

- New “Recommended” pane.

- Makes smart recommendations by considering everything the user owns and has ever rated.

- User can now rate items they don’t own to improve recommendations (using search widget).

- Recommended items that user’s friends own have badges so they can be easily borrowed.

- Add recommended items to the wishlist with a single click.

- New “Wishlist” pane.

- New Flexible Smart shelves.

- New global search.

- Displays results in a table/popover like iTunes 11.

- Searches through user’s collection, friends’ collections, and online.

- Can be used to find existing items or new ones.

- Can be used to rate items user doesn’t own but has opinions on.

- User can also search by speaking or selecting a cover color.

- New iOS barcode scanner app.

- New interactive charts mode.

Preferences
- Entire UI redesigned to be bookshelf-centric.

- Show covers, a table, or charts using buttons at upper left of the window.

- Switch between owned items, recommended items, and wishlist items at the upper center.

- Find existing or new items in search widget at the upper right.

- Switch between media types with buttons at the lower left.

- Change sorting at the bottom middle.

- Show and hide auxilliary right pane using button at the lower right.

- Source list is hidden by default but available for advanced users.

Medium-sized New Features:
- We’ve eliminated the “Preferences” panel–all options are set where they are actually used, instead of in a single global panel.

- iTunes books will be read into Delicious Library 3 when iTunes is launched.

- Two new Amazon stores are now accessible: Italy and Spain.

Popover Details:
- Dates entered manually remember their precision, so if the user specifies “Jan, 2000″ for a book’s release date, it won’t switch it to “Jan 1, 2000.” However, dates are still formatted according to the user’s localization settings in System Preferences.

- When editing multi-line fields, the “return” key goes to a new line as users expect (no need to figure out “option-return”).

Sorting:
- User’s favorite sorts are remembered and can be re-applied anywhere.

- Improved per-language article-stripping; e.g., ignoring “a, an, the” in English, “der, die, das” in German.

Publishing:
- Now remembers multiple places; e.g., set up publishing both to Dropbox and FTP site
Live preview the generated web pages.

- Privacy options moved to publishing shelves.

Printing:
- Added “Compact” template to minimize paper use.

- Added “Insurance” template to show fields insurance companies care about in the event of theft.

- Interface cleaned up so template selection is obvious.

Scanning history:
- User’s last 500 added items are shown above scanner window for easy rating or deleting.

- Provides context if a book isn’t found online so it can be entered manually.

- Import from another library.

- Import libraries from other machines without removing current items.

- Importing the same library twice applies the changes but doesn’t duplicate items.

- Can be used to easily sync libraries between computers.

- Multiple people can scan in items on multiple computers, then merge all the items into one collection.

- Importing is now undoable.

Friends:
- Loans now appear in friends’ sidebars instead of in main bookshelf view, to reduce confusion.

- Send loan reminder e-mails with a single click.

- Friends can be re-ordered in source list. If friends are dragged into a sorted order, they’ll stay in that order automatically.

Help:
- The “Search:” field in the main menu’s Help searches our online forums for relevant answers.

Tiny New Features:
- When user first launches the app, most panes explain why they are empty and what to do.

- All item types from Amazon are supported (user prompted for the type if item is from a store we don’t recognize).

- More descriptive titles for most menu items; e.g., “Delete 4 Books” or “Delete Shelf” instead of “Delete”.

- Added expand-on-hover, so if titles or authors are ever drawn truncated they can still be read.

- Cover view responds to some EMACS keybindings for selection movement.

- Items can be dragged from and to more places.

- Items can be dragged to the trash can to delete.

- User can copy media with command-C and paste into text areas or URL-taking places.

New Features from OS X:
- Scene Kit: for fast, gorgeous, interactive 3D graphics

- Sharing Services: tweet, iMessage, Facebook, or e-mail items to friends

- SQLite write-ahead logging: user’s database can no longer be corrupted if machine crashes

- Full-screen mode: added and optimized

- New drag architecture: multiple items can be dragged in or out at once

- Spotlight: Library items are written to Spotlight, can be found quickly in the global Spotlight search pane (command-space) with structured queries like “media:book color:blue” (standard Spotlight keys include: kMDItemAlbum, kMDItemComposer, kMDItemContentCreationDate, kMDItemDirector, kMDItemGenre, kMDItemMediaTypes, kMDItemPerformers, kMDItemRecordingDate, and kMDItemMediaTypes).

- QuickLook: Spotlight items (or media dragged onto the desktop) are viewable in QuickLook with full-color covers and complete descriptions.

- Retina graphics: high-resolution graphics used throughout.

- State restoration: Delicious Library opens up exactly as it was last closed.

- 64-bit: for unlimited memory, and because it’s faster.

- Obj-C 2 runtime: faster, future-proof.

- ARC: eliminates certain categories of crash bugs.

- Constraints-based layout: makes the layout of all buttons and text much more natural
NSSupportsSuddenTermination: quits instantly when it’s safe.

- If it’s not safe to quit, user can force quit if there’s a long operation in progress, or the app will auto-quit when long operation is over.

- Automatic termination: can automatically quit under memory pressure.

- Power assertions: the machine won’t idle-sleep during long operations (publishing, importing, etc.)

Some Bugs Fixed:
- Deleting thousands of items (and undoing that deletion) is now close to instant instead of taking minutes.

Friends:
- Friends’ libraries now download in the background, NOT blocking the program from running. Yay.

- Friends’ libraries aren’t re-downloaded every launch but only if the friend has changed something.

- Friends’ libraries are imported MUCH more quickly.

- If friends are removed from Contacts, the app doesn’t forget their names.

- Undoing the deletion of a friend restores items loaned to that friend.

- Adding a new friend doesn’t spam Google when automatically searching for the friend’s published library.

- Adding friends is undoable.

Delicious Library 3.0 retails for US$40 and requires OS X 10.8 or later 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 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 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.

Foxconn begins gearing up for iPhone 5S mass production

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Date: Tuesday, April 16th, 2013, 07:38
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

Don’t worry…your next-gen iPhone is en route.

Or at least being constructed.

Per iMore and the Wall Street Journal, Apple has been targeting an August time frame for the next-generation iPhone 5S, and while that may or may not include more recently rumored software scheduling issues, it does sound like the general time frame is still accurate enough for Foxconn to start ramping up for production. Lorraine Luk of the Wall Street Journal writes:

[Foxconn] said Monday it has added about 10,000 assembly-line workers per week in Zhengzhou, its major production facility for iPhones, since the last week of March.

“We have been very busy recently as we will start mass-producing the new iPhone soon,” said a Zhengzhou-based executive who has direct knowledge of production plans.

If Apple sticks to its 2009 and 2011 pattern of keeping the same casing two years in a row and releasing an S-class update, then presumably it’ll be an easier ramp up than last year where the manufacturing technology needed to produce the insanely redesigned iPhone 5 led to the usual transitional hiccups and supply constraints.

If that’s the case, then software and services, namely iOS 7, and iCloud could be the major factors in determining the final release window for Apple next iPhone.

To date, every new iPhone has shipped with a new version of iOS, and the iPhone 4S shipped with iCloud. That coupling makes for greater product impact, but also greater dependency.

Hopefully, if hardware is ramping up, that’s a sign everything else is also starting to line back up.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Next-gen iPhone to arrive later than usual launch date, development issues cited

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Date: Friday, April 12th, 2013, 08:20
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

The next-gen iPhone may be a bit late in arrival.

Per ” target=”_blank”>AppleInsider, Ming-chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong track record in revealing Apple’s future product plans, shared a research note on Thursday that suggested Apple’s so-called “iPhone 5S,” a rumored low-cost iPhone, and a second-generation iPad mini will all launch later than market consensus expects.

These apparent delays are driven by a variety of issues, according to Kuo. For the “iPhone 5S,” he said Apple plans to include a fingerprint sensor that poses a number of technical challenges. An “iPhone 5S” fingerprint sensor, Retina display for next iPad mini, and ultrathin plastic casing for low-cost iPhone are expected to cause production challenges for Apple.

“Apple has to work out how to prevent interference from the black and white coating material under the cover glass,” he said. “Apple is the first to attempt this function and technology, and time is needed to find the right coating material, which will likely affect iPhone 5S shipments.”

Kuo has previously claimed that Apple plans to integrate a fingerprint sensor beneath the home button the next iPhone. This new technology would allow users to bypass password entry, and could also allow Apple to integrate secure e-wallet functionality.

Another hold-up for the next iPhone, according to Kuo, is the development of iOS 7, Apple’s anticipated next-generation mobile operating system. The analyst said Thursday that more time is likely to be needed for software development and testing, particularly with respect to the fingerprint scanning functions that will be included with the software.

As for the rumored low-cost iPhone said to be in the works at Apple, Kuo said Apple faces challenges with the casing on the device. He expects that the low-end iPhone will have a plastic casing that will be slimmer than such casings regularly are. Kuo correctly predicted the bulk of Apple’s 2012 product lineup. This year, he sees iPhone and iPad sales shrinking to single-digit growth in the third quarter because of apparent behind-the-scenes production delays.

“The slimmer casing may make it more difficult to ramp up production yields of coating and surface treatment, and could slow down the shipment timetable,” he said.

Finally, Kuo said the “iPad mini 2″ faces challenges with its display panels, as he expects Apple will opt to include a high-resolution Retina display with the second-generation device. This is expected to make the device more difficult to manufacture, which could delay shipments.

As a result of these issues, Kuo said it’s likely that Apple will see single-digit growth in iPhone and iPad shipments in the third quarter of 2013. That would be well below the market consensus, which sees Apple growing its sales by between 30 and 40 percent with the introductions of new products.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Leaked Microsoft roadmap points towards Office for iOS/Android in 2014

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Date: Thursday, April 11th, 2013, 07:22
Category: iOS, Rumor, Software

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A rumor’s a rumor, but there’s got to be something valid in there.

Per ZDNet, the outfit claims to have gotten its mitts on a Microsoft roadmap for next year and says on it is “iOS/Android support for Office”.

Also on the roadmap for fall 2014 is what’s listed as iOS/Android support for Office. While this could point to the rumored iOS release of Office, the most recent rumors/expectations have been that Microsoft may be making these mobile iOS/Android versions of Office available as part of an Office 365 subscription of some kind. The alleged roadmap makes no mention of an Office 365/subscription tie-in. It only mentions “iOS/Android” as a Gemini Fall 2014 deliverable.

Microsoft itself has dropped a couple hints at mobile support for Office including assorted job listings and references to Excel and Powerpoint on iPhone from last year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Adobe releases Flash Player 11.7.700.169

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Date: Wednesday, April 10th, 2013, 08:15
Category: iOS, iPad, News, security, Software

A hefty update is never unappreciated.

On Wednesday, Adobe released Flash Player 11.7.700.169 for Mac OS X, a 16.9 megabyte download via MacUpdate. The new version adds the following fixes and changes:

Fixed Issues:
- On Retina-enabled OS X devices, Flash applications are scaled incorrectly upon opening (3496539).

-In AIR on iOS, loading a SWF with and embedded video can cause a crash in some circumstances (3514499).

- In AIR on iOS, loading an image from a remote server can cause a crash (3476445).

- On OS X, setting stage.fullScreenSourceRect when renderMode is set to “GPU”, leads to inaccurate mouse position reporting (3512232).

- In the Chrome browser, the copy shortcut (Ctrl/Cmd+C) fails (3496300).

- Attempting to embed a Flash project into Microsoft word can result in a crash (3498002).

- In AIR for iOS, some apps get rejected for missing push notification entitlement (3501744).

- In AIR for iOS, Flex applications running on iPad2 over 3G connections can experience a crash (3435401).

- In AIR for iOS, reloading of pure asset SWFs isn’t allowed (3516971).

- On OS X, some fonts do not rending properly when viewing Flash content in the Google Chrome browser (3506958).

New Features:
- Sandboxing enhancements.

- Prevent Cloud backup for Shared Objects (iOS).

- Use CPU render mode for selected devices (iOS).

- Externally host secondary SWF files (iOS).

Adobe Flash Player 11.7.700.169 requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.6 or later to install and run.

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

T-Mobile firmware update to bring Visual Voicemail, LTE access to unlocked iPhone 5 units on carrier’s network

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Date: Monday, April 8th, 2013, 07:53
Category: iPhone, News, Software

Never doubt a nifty firmware update.

Per TmoNews, a software update released this past Friday will give iPhone 5 users on T-Mobile access to the carrier’s LTE network, in addition to adding a number of other features like Visual Voicemail

T-Mobile on Friday updated its support forums to detail the new features the carrier update will bring. All eligible iPhones using a T-Mobile SIM card will now have access to Visual Voicemail, the Commercial Mobile Alert System, and LTE connectivity on T-Mobile’s AWS spectrum for iPhone 5 users.

The update also brings HD Voice to T-Mobile iPhone 5 users, and it contains device/network optimizations that will improve battery life.

The update is restricted to iPhones running iOS 6.1.x or higher. Rumors of the update leaked earlier this month, and it has rolled out as predicted.

T-Mobile’s network currently hosts roughly two million iPhone customers using unlocked devices, adding about 100,000 more per month. The carrier will begin officially carrying Apple’s smartphone on April 12, with a 16GB iPhone 5 available for US$99. Pre-orders for the device began on Friday.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.