O'Grady's PowerPage » iPad

Jury rules in Apple’s favor, Samsung ordered to pay $1.05 billion fine for patent infringement

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Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 17:16
Category: Hardware, Legal, News

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It went on for months, it got about as ugly as a legal case could possibly get, but in the end, the jury mostly sided with Apple.

Per Wired and Mac|Life, the verdict came in on Friday with Samsung being ordered to pay US$1.05 billion in damages for violating Apple’s patents for its iPad tablet design.

The court ruled that Samsung had infringed upon patents relating to user interface design (like scrolling and multi-touch), as well as physical design. Samsung could not convince the court that it hadn’t taken its design ideas from Apple’s iPad.

Samsung has vowed to appeal the case while Apple has stated that the company will file for injunctions against Samsung products it believes currently violate its patents.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you make of the case in the comments.

Rumor: Apple to hold “iPad-mini” media event in October

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Date: Monday, August 27th, 2012, 06:44
Category: iPad, Rumor

The smaller, leaner iPad, it may have a launch date.

Per All Things D, Apple is looking to hold a media event for Apple’s so-called “iPad mini” will be held in October, after the anticipated Sept. 12 iPhone event. That means Apple has two “blockbuster events” lined up for product debuts this fall.

“Only after the next generation iPhone is out the door and on sale will Apple announce the smaller iPad it’s been working on,” author John Paczkowski wrote. “That device, which is expected to have a display of less than eight inches, will be uncrated at a second special event, which sources said is currently scheduled for October.”

The anonymous sources who spoke with Paczkowski confirm earlier comments from both Jim Dalrymple of The Loop and John Gruber of Daring Fireball, both of which indicated this week that they expect Apple to hold two separate events for the new iPhone and iPad mini. Gruber said an event in the first or second week in October would be in line with iPod events that Apple has held for the last decade.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Motion Picture Experts Group releases H.265 draft standard, offers Web-based video at twice the quality, half the data size

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Date: Thursday, August 16th, 2012, 08:10
Category: News, Software

If you think Web-based video is impressive now, wait a bit.

Per AppleInsider, the Motion Pictures Expert Group has issued a new video standards draft that promises to deliver twice the video quality at the same size, or alternatively, identical video quality at half the data rate as today’s MPEG-4 H.264 standard.

The new H.265 draft specifically addresses mobile devices and networks overloaded with video. Products using the new H.265 video compression standard could begin to launch as early as 2013.

Apple is likely to quickly adopt support for the new H.265 specification, just as it has rapidly rolled out support for new features of H.264, including support for expanded H.264 profiles in the new third generation Apple TV and the new iPad.

MPEG, formed by the International Standards Organization in 1988, first developed a joint video compression format in 1993 intended for Video CD. Its video codec, H.261, was used to deliver multimedia video clips. The audio portion of that standard, MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (also known as MP3) revolutionized the portability of music by allowing users to rip CDs to files that could be compressed enough to be used in mobile devices with limited storage.

Apple backed MP3 with the iPod in 2001 at a time when Microsoft and Sony were working to entrench their own proprietary standards with strong DRM (Windows Media and ATRAC, respectively).

MPEG released the MPEG-2 standard in 1994, which enabled high quality DVD and efficient digital TV transmissions. MPEG-2 incorporated the initial H.261 video compression standard as well as a more efficient H.262 and, later, the H.263 ASP codec implemented by DivX and Xvid, popular formats used for video file sharing. Work on an MPEG-3 standard aimed at HDTV was abandoned and folded into the MPEG-2 portfolio.

MPEG-4, initiated in 1998 and released in 2003, merged the television and video industry’s expertise with work pioneered by Apple’s QuickTime on desktop computers, resulting in a video format that incorporated Apple’s QuickTime container format. This helped to simplify video editing tasks, even as Apple began adopting advanced bidirectional compression technologies in QuickTime that had been contributed to the MPEG-4 pool by the rest of the industry.

MPEG-4 carried forward H.263, which Apple hadn’t ever widely used, while also introducing H.264, which enabled a doubling of video quality at the same size as the earlier H.263 codec.

Before MPEG-4, Apple had previously used proprietary video codecs from Sorenson in QuickTime, but rapidly began adopting MPEG standards as the pooled efforts of every major company with video expertise began to quickly outpace the development of alternatives.

Apple helped to popularize MPEG-4′s AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) format as a more efficient replacement for MP3 in iTunes, then brought MPEG-4′s H.264 video compression into the desktop computing mainstream as the default video codec in QuickTime. It is now essentially the only video standard supported by the iPhone and other iOS devices, and H.264 is deeply integrated into the architecture of QuickTime.

While MPEG itself usually refers to its MPEG-4 audio and video standards as AAC and AVC, Steve Jobs introduced the new video standard to the world as H.264, and Apple continued to refer to it by its ITU numerical designation. MPEG is now referring to its newest H.265 standard as “HEVC” (High Efficiency Video Coding).

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple’s talks with Korean wireless carriers suggest LTE support for next-gen iPhone

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Date: Wednesday, August 15th, 2012, 07:15
Category: Hardware, iPhone, Rumor

You’ve been waiting for the iPhone to support the Long Term Evolution (LTE)/4G protocol for a while.

It looks like you might get your wish.

Per Korea Times, SK Telecom and KT, two official Korean iPhone wireless carriers, have both been in talks to offer LTE connectivity on Apple’s next handed, officials from both companies reportedly told the Korea Times under the veil of anonymity.

Although industry trends and the inclusion of LTE in this year’s iPad models both point to an LTE-capable iPhone next month, supporting the technology isn’t as clean cut as supporting existing 3G networks, which all operate within a 2.1-gigahertz frequency.

“KT is in negotiation with Apple to persuade the latter to support KT’s 1.8-gigahertz frequency in Korea for the upcoming iPhone,’’ said one senior KT executive, who asked not to be identified. Meanwhile, SK Telecom is also reportedly pushing for the same treatment for its 800-megahertz frequency LTE network. It sent this week an official to Apple’s Cupertino-based headquarters in hopes of hammering out a deal.

The number of LTE subscribers in Korea reached 8.4 million by the end of July, with 4 million of them choosing SK’s network and another 1.4 hinged to KT’s. The two iPhone providers, along with rival carrier LG Uplus, have been heavily promoting LTE devices on their network to much success.

The carriers fear, however, that sales of the new iPhone will suffer in much the same way that sales of Apple’s new iPad have lagged behind in the region because Apple has thus far refused to support the local carriers’ frequencies in the LTE-equipped versions of the tablet.

“KT is eager to narrow the market gap with SK Telecom and even LG Uplus in the fight for LTE-enabled devices,” said another KT source. “If the talks with Apple produce visible results, then we will rise as the top LTE service provider in Korea.”

Apple had balked at the inclusion of LTE connectivity in previous generations of the iPhone because because the first wave of LTE chipset were a bit too large and power-hungry for the company’s liking. Since then, more advanced designs from chipmakers like Qualcomm have mitigated those concerns.

In the US, Verizon LTE network uses a 700-megahertz frequency, while AT&T operates both 700-megahertz and 2.1-gigahertz LTE networks.

For its part, Sprint’s utilization a 800-megahertz frequency for LTE saw it left out of Apple’s LTE iPad plans earlier this year but subsequent reports claim the carrier has already forged a deal with Apple to make sure the omission doesn’t carry over to the launch of the so-called iPhone 5 next month.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

GameStop hopes to stop financial slide, looks to sell refurbished iOS devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, 06:09
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, retail

Ok, you might not walk into GameStop that often unless you’re a gamer or parent of a gamer.

This might change in the future, as the struggling retailer has announced plans to embrace the iOS as a gaming platform. Per SFGate, the company began a program last fall of buying up used iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches from consumers, then sending them to a “Refurbishment Operations Center” in Texas where the devices are cleaned up and repaired. Once they’re in nice working order, the devices are returned to GameStop stores where they’re sold at a decent markup. The items are also being sold on GameStop’s web site.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities thinks that the Apple refurb business could be a gold mine for GameStop. Even if GameStop resells just 5 percent of the 230 million Apple devices estimated to be in the hands of U.S. consumers, it could bring in about US$1 billion in new revenue in the next few years.

Pachter also thinks GameStop could make a killing by selling prepaid phone plans with those used iPhones, “since a lot of their customers are teenagers with money to spend but no credit to get a regular phone plan.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple puts third-gen iPad on sale, offers $50 off for refurbished units

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, 08:41
Category: iPad, News, retail

You can’t knock a discount and there’s some decent refurbished stuff out there…

Per MacNN, Apple has begun selling refurbished third-generation iPads for the first time, a check of the company’s online store shows. The discount is a flat US$50 for each model, regardless of capacity or 4G support; whereas a 16GB Wi-Fi iPad is knocked down to US$449 as a refurb, for instance, a 64GB 4G iPad only drops to US$779. Each unit includes a one-year warranty as well as a new battery and shell.

The availability of refurbished units tends to mark a later phase in an Apple product’s lifespan, since demand is no longer so intense that fresh units sell as quickly as they can be produced. Apple also tends to let a certain number of refurb units stockpile before putting them online, and often this stockpile can persist after a next-generation device is released. The first-generation iPad continued to be available as a refurb long after the iPad 2 debuted; currently Apple is still selling 32 and 64GB iPad 2s, even though only 16GB iPad 2s are being actively manufactured.

If you were waiting to snag a third-generation iPad, now might be the time and it’ll be interesting to see what’s around the corner.

Sprint reduces iPhone 4S price to $149, rumors of next-gen iPhone release, Apple special event fly

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:55
Category: iPhone, News

You’ve got to love competition, price cuts and the promise of a next-gen iPhone on the horizon.

Per All Things D, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint has cut the price of Apple’s current iPhone 4S to US$149 and is waiving activation fees for the handset ahead of a rumored Apple special event that may see the launch of a next-generation iPhone.

The new $149 price tag showed up on Sprint’s website over the weekend and represents a US$50 savings not including the US$36 activation fee waiver.

The new pricing comes ahead of a rumored special event Apple is said to be planning for Sept. 12, where many expect the company to launch the sixth-generation iPhone and possibly a smaller 7-inch iPad.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 6 beta 4, removes YouTube app in newest developer version

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Date: Tuesday, August 7th, 2012, 06:30
Category: iOS, iPhone, News, Software

Apple on Monday afternoon released the 4th beta of iOS 6 to developers and in the process appears to have nixed the inclusion of the once-standard YouTube app in what appears to be an escalation of tensions between the company and rival Google.

Per AppleInsider, upon installing the release, sources familiar with the software confirm that the Apple-developed YouTube app is no longer part of the distribution — potentially a sign of increased tensions between the two companies which are facing off against each other in both the mobile and connected television segments.

Google owns YouTube.

Update: in a statement issued yesterday, Apple offered the following:

“Our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended, customers can use YouTube in the Safari browser and Google is working on a new YouTube app to be on the App Store.”

At the release of the original iPhone in 2007, Apple partnered with Google to develop a native, bundled YouTube app for the iPhone that would allow users to access Google’s vast library of user-created videos.

Without work on Google’s side to make those videos available using the open H.264 codec, its YouTube videos would not have worked with the iPhone because Google’s player and distribution formats were tied to Adobe Flash, a software platform that wasn’t functional on smartphones and wouldn’t be made available by Adobe in a partially-usable form until 2010, and then only on brand new hardware powerful enough to run it.

Because of the proprietary nature of Flash, Apple would have been severely constrained in any of its efforts to create an in-house compatibility layer to support it. It would also have required significant resources and introduced new limitations on Apple’s iOS.

Rather than taking on the nearly impossible task of supporting Flash on 2007-era mobile devices, Apple decided to instead provide alternative workarounds that minimized the feature loss of not having Flash available.

Because the primary valuable uses of Flash revolved around simple web site animations and video playback, Apple focused on providing rich support for advanced HTML techniques and began promoting Flash-free, direct H.264 video playback, two features that became prominent capabilities of HTML 5.

After initially supporting YouTube playback on the iPhone, Apple TV and later the iPad by converting its huge library to enable raw H.264 video downloads, Google began an attack on the H.264 standard because it incorporated licensed technologies that put it at odds with free software advocates in the open source community, particularly Mozilla.

Google acquired its own proprietary codec (renaming it WebM) and made the specification “open” in the sense of requiring no licensing fees to use it. However, the MPEG Licensing Authority, the standards body behind H.264, insisted that Google’s new specification infringed upon the technical patent portfolio already developed by the global community for H.264.

Concerns around the legal legitimacy and infringement risks of Google’s own WebM codec, as well as the codec’s serious technical shortcomings (including a lack of mobile hardware acceleration support) has caused it to fail to gain any serious traction in the market since, even despite Google’s removal of H.264 playback support from its Chrome web browser.

Over the last five years, Apple’s support for HTML 5 and H.264 video has made both open standards (one freely licensed, the other requiring licensing from the MPEG LA) the new foundations of web development. This is particularly the case in the global market for mobile devices, about half of which are now produced by Apple.

Adobe has canceled Flash development on mobile devices, and its middleware platform is now becoming increasingly irrelevant on the web as HTML 5 takes over more and more features formerly served by Flash. After YouTube’s switch to serving H.264, other prominent video distributors followed suit, to the point where most of the world’s web videos do not require Flash to work, an unbelievable scenario back in 2007.

At this point, iOS doesn’t need a special app to access YouTube videos, and as Apple indicated in its comment to the media, Google has terminated its license to access YouTube videos natively, rather than via Google’s website.

While Apple no longer needs to direct attention to YouTube videos in a special iOS app, the removal of its YouTube app sends a strong message when combined with other, related efforts Apple has made to exclude Google from its once intimate position on Apple’s iOS platform.

New “Share Sheets” Apple introduced for iOS 6 and this summer’s OS X Mountain Lion specifically support Google’s YouTube competitor site Vimeo, but not YouTube.

Apple has also added support for Yahoo’s Flickr photo site but not Google’s Picassa, and has added or announced new social link features for Twitter and Facebook, but conspicuously not Google’s own competing services Buzz and Google+.

One of the most significant features of iOS 6 is Apple’s new Maps, which erases its former support for Google’s mapping services and establishes Apple’s own in-house services in their place.

Apple’s new Maps app for iOS 6 (below) similarly avoids any support for Google’s Places, instead partnering with Yelp, and makes no effort to incorporate Google’s Latitude location sharing, having introduced Apple’s own device location and Find My Friends services tied to iCloud.

Apple’s removal or lack of support for Google’s services (particularly given the support of its competitor’s) is apparently an intentional distancing effort Apple has initiated as a response to Google’s increasingly intense competitive efforts, which include Google’s Android software platform, legal efforts to challenge Apple’s infringement complaints with offensive use of standards essential patents through Google’s new Motorola subsidiary, and most recently, efforts to take on the iPad and Apple TV with Google-branded hardware devices.

Stay tuned for additional details and if you’ve gotten your mitts on the new iOS 6 beta, please let us know what you make of it in the comments.

Recent Apple patent shows iPad Smart Cover with embedded display built in

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Date: Friday, August 3rd, 2012, 06:30
Category: Accessory, iPod, Patents

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This is kind of interesting.

Per the United States Patent Trademark Office, Apple has applied for a patent in which a Smart Cover unit would take power from a connector on the side of the iPad to drive a flexible display in one of the cover segments for adding extra icons, controlling media playback, or displaying notifications.

The unit would show the entire surface of the cover being used as a keyboard, while another turns it into a drawing digitizer.



Not to say that this is a guarantee as to the future of the iPad’s Smart Cover, but it could be a cool idea.

Let us know what you think in the comments and welcome to Friday.

Hulu Plus quietly appears on Apple TV devices, no update needed

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Date: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012, 06:50
Category: Apple TV, News

Soon you will watch Hulu Plus on your Apple TV.

And it’ll have all the nifty perks of Hulu Plus.

Per AppleInsider, Apple on Tuesday quietly updated the Apple TV set-top box, adding a new application for the Hulu Plus streaming video service.

The subscription service appeared on users’ Apple TV home screens on Tuesday without the need for a software update. Those who subscribe to the Hulu Plus service can log in to access their account, while new users are offered a free one-week trial.

Hulu Plus joins Netflix, MLB.TV, the NBA, NHL, Vimeo, YouTube, and WSJ Live as third-party content providers available on the Apple TV. They join Apple’s own iTunes content available for sale or rental.

The US$10-per-month Hulu Plus service debuted in mid-2010, offering access to back episodes of popular shows like “Family Guy,” “Modern Family” and “Glee.” Users of the service have previously been able to access Hulu Plus on their iPhone or iPad.

Apple has steadily added new applications to the Apple TV even without the availability of a dedicated App Store, like exists on the iPhone, iPad and even Mac platforms. Streaming MLB and NBA games were added along with 5.1 sound support for Netflix in March of 2011, while NHL games, Wall Street Journal Live, Photo Stream, AirPlay Mirroring and iTunes Trailers were added with a software update last October.

This fall, the functionality of the Apple TV will grow with the launch of iOS 6. Developer previews of the forthcoming software update have the added ability to reorder icons on the Apple TV home screen, much like users can do on an iPhone or iPad. The third iOS 6 beta for Apple TV also added enhanced AirPlay control, allowing users to actively stream audio to external AirPlay-capable speakers.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.