Apple patent points out company’s exploration of 3D gestures/input controls for devices

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Date: Thursday, October 27th, 2011, 06:15
Category: News, Patents

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Per the cool cats at Free Patents Online, Apple is apparently investigating new ways of interacting with devices, such as using hand gestures to navigate and control a video recording system without touching anything.

Apple’s interest in hands-off control of a device like an iPhone, iPad or Mac was revealed this week in a new patent application made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled “Real Time Video Process Control Using Gestures,” the filing, discovered by AppleInsider, is related to remotely controlling and editing video recordings on a mobile device.

Such editing could be done with gestures on a touchscreen, much like is already available on the iPhone and iPad. But within the application, Apple also makes mention of hand gestures that can be performed without touching the device.

The filing notes that a device could be controlled with hand gestures accomplished in either two or three dimensions, and these could be interpreted through infrared sensors, optical sensors, or other methods. These gestures could be used as a replacement for, or even in concert with, traditional touchscreen-based gestures.

“As with the touch based gestures applied on or near the touch sensitive input device, the hand gestures can be interpreted to provide instructions for real time processing of the video by the video capture device,” the filing reads.

Apple’s goal is to simplify and minimize the need for user input partially because the size of recording devices, like an iPhone or iPad, has become so small. The filing notes that placing a finger on a touch-sensitive display can cause a video capture device to move, and that movement is then translated to the video recording.

With Apple’s method, a remote camera could be controlled wirelessly from a second, separate device. An iPhone or iPad are specifically mentioned in the filing as potential options for a “control device.”

One image accompanying the application shows a video being recorded on an iPhone. That video is then transmitted wirelessly, via Bluetooth, to an iPad, where the user can view the video in real-time and make adjustments.

Given the volume of data that must be wirelessly transmitted, Apple’s solution is to automate real-time video processing as much as possible, identifying objects and individual people’s faces captured in a video. The filing even states that a system could help to determine how entities captured in the video relate to one other.

In one example provided, a video of two tennis players playing against each other could be analyzed to have a “negative correlation,” as one player is hitting the ball while the other is not.

“Therefore, by determining the relative correlation between these two players, an implicit association can be assigned to each,” the application reads.

Using this kind of data, the image could be framed according to user specifications. For example, after recognizing a specific face, a video capture device could zoom in and track that individual in real time, with minimal or no input from the user.

Apple’s proposed invention, published this week by the USPTO, was originally filed in April of 2010. It is credited to Benjamin A. Rottler and Michael Ingrassia Jr. I.

Industrial designer Jonathan Ive left with additional power/privileges after Steve Jobs’ death

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Date: Friday, October 21st, 2011, 06:41
Category: Hardware, News

If you’re on your way out, leave someone behind to protect your ideals and legacy.

And if that person is less than conventional but has created some of the coolest industrial designs of the past 13 years, all the better.

Per the Associated Press, Apple’s widely praised design chief Jonathan Ive has no true boss who can tell him what to do at the company, a distinction put in place by Steve Jobs himself.

Information from the new biography of Jobs, set to arrive next week, continues to arrive, offering a glimpse into the highly private life of the Apple co-founder. The news wire obtained an early copy of the book, and shared some details on the relationship between Jobs and Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design.

In talking with author Walter Isaacson for the book, Jobs revealed that he viewed Ive as his “spiritual partner” at Apple. Showing his trust in Ive, the company co-founder left him more freedom than anyone else in the company — a perk that remains even after Jobs’s death.

“He told Isaacson that Ive had ‘more operational power’ at Apple than anyone else besides Jobs himself — that there’s no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do,” the report said. “That, says Jobs, is ‘the way I set it up.’”

Ive and Jobs became close at Apple, working directly together on designing a number of the company’s core products, including the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Ive, a 44-year-old native of London, joined Apple in 1996 and has held his current job since 1997.

Showcasing their extensive work together, Jobs and Ive share credit for inventing over 200 patents. Jobs is responsible for the most total patents at the company, at 313.

A 2006 profile of Ive said that at the time he and his team worked in a large, secretive open studio that many Apple employees were not allowed to enter. There a “massive sound system” played music as he and his team worked with state-of-the-art prototyping equipment with “intense iteration.”

Ive has been heralded as one of the most influential designers of his time, and legendary Braun designer Dieter Rams publicly praised him in the 2009 documentary Objectified. In return for his design work at Apple, Ive has been well compensated, and is said to be worth more than US$128 million.

In 2009, Ive was declared the “smartest designer” in technology by Forbes. He was also honored with the title “Designer of the Year” in 2003 by Design Museum London, and was named “Royal Designer for Industry” by The Royal Society of Arts.

More details on the relationship between Ive and Jobs will be available in Isaacson’s book, arriving next week. Entitled “Steve Jobs,” will be available in a hardcover edition, as well as digitally through Amazon Kindle and Apple’s iBooks.

Apple releases Apple TV 4.4.1 update, addresses iTunes library connection bugs

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Date: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011, 09:19
Category: Apple TV, News, Software

It’s the smaller updates that make a difference.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has provided another minor update intended to fix bugs for its Apple TV set-top box.

Apple TV software update version 4.4.1 is now available for download on the device. It can be obtained by navigating to “General,” then “Settings,” and choosing Update Software.

According to Apple, the software update addresses an issue that required a small number of Apple TV units to be connected to iTunes in order to complete last week’s 4.4 update.

One of the major features added with last week’s iOS 5 update is AirPlay mirroring, which allows a user to send their iPad 2 display wirelessly to the Apple TV. It also allows console-style gaming via supported titles like Real Racing 2 HD.

Last week’s Apple TV update also added access to Apple’s new iCloud-powered Photo Stream feature, which automatically uploads pictures taken with an iPhone or iPad 2 and shares them among iOS devices. With the update, users can view Photo Stream pictures on their HDTV.

The update also added access to iTunes Trailers, Wall Street Journal Live, and the ability to watch live games through the National Hockey League’s GameCenter subscription service.

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

Apple now requiring customers to go through online reservation system before purchasing an iPhone 4S at an Apple Store retail location

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Date: Tuesday, October 18th, 2011, 04:59
Category: iPhone, News, retail

You’re going to need to call ahead.

Per AppleInsider, Apple said on Monday that customers looking to purchase a new iPhone 4S from its US or Canadian based retail outlets will first be asked to make a reservation online, suggesting that record-setting sales of the device coupled with an upcoming international expansion are straining availability.

Apple’s “how-to-buy” iPhone webpage now advises that customers can check back online after 9 p.m. where they can attempt to make a reservation for pick up the following day. Customers can check stock availability at each store before they make a reservation, and must select which carrier, color, and capacity they require.

“The iPhone 4S is available in store by reservation only. Reserve yours after 9:00 p.m. tonight for pickup tomorrow. When you come in, you’ll choose a carrier and plan, and we’ll get your iPhone up and running before you leave the store.”

Apple is instituting the restrictions in other countries as well, noting that only on-contract phones are available to walk-in customers, while both on-contract and SIM-free models can be purchased by reserving the night before.

Apple’s in-store reservation requirement is nothing new and underwent significant re-engineering alongside the release of the second-gen iPad.

A source familiar with Apple’s retail operations stated this week that the new shipment of iPad 2 stock sold by some stores on Tuesday was actually delivered on Monday. Apple is said to have elected to hold the inventory for a next-day sale to grant its inventory control specialists the time to “calmly and accurately” process new shipments.

It was suggested that the change could be a “lesson learned” following the launch of major in-demand products in 2010: the iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad. For those launches, Apple’s reservation system was said to have been plagued by a myriad of problems, including technical glitches that caused reservations to disappear, and resellers attempting to “game” the system.

Apple’s previous strategy was to get products from the pallet to the shelf as fast as possible. But that approach was said to have caused “utter havoc” for Apple’s retail employees, and led to inventory inaccuracies.

Under the revised strategy, Apple retail stores know exactly how many units it has to offer up for reservations the following day, allowing it automatically accept a specific number of reservations that it can guarantee to customers.

In years past, any excess iPhones or iPhone reservations that go unclaimed by the end of the day are made available for sale to walk-in customers.

The iPhone 4S is currently available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K., with availability coming to 22 more countries by Oct. 28, and more than 70 countries by the end of the year.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and if you have any feedback on your iPhone 4S purchase experience, please let us know in the comments.

MobileMe users vent frustrations about iCloud transition issues

Posted by:
Date: Monday, October 17th, 2011, 11:02
Category: iCloud, News, Software

If you’re going to give birth to something (overarching cloud services included), you’re going to have some labor pains…

Per AppleInsider, a number of users have vented their frustrations as they have attempted to migrate from MobileMe to iCloud. One person explained in an e-mail that they have called AppleCare, used online support, and even asked for help at a local retail store.

“I bought a MobileMe subscription when they came out,” the user wrote in their e-mail. “Until Wednesday I didn’t (realize) this created a new (Apple ID). I asked (iTunes) support to add this MobileMe address to my current (iTunes Apple ID) as this was to become my primary email address.

“On Wednesday when iCloud came out it became apparent that this MobileMe email address could not be verified on the MobileMe account as it was in use by my old (iTunes Apple ID). So (I) went to appleid.apple.com to try to change the Primary email address to something different in my iTunes AppleID but it wouldn’t let me.” Calls made to AppleCare couldn’t resolve the problem, they said.

It’s a similar story for another user, who has one Apple ID used to purchase applications and music, which is separate from the e-mail address used for their MobileMe account. The person is in a position where they must choose between the e-mail address associated with their MobileMe account, or the Apple ID that they have used to purchase applications and music.

Another person said that upon setting up their iOS device, they were asked to create a me.com e-mail address, but they were unable to do this on an iOS device or a MacBook Air.

The users stated that after speaking with a senior technical support representative at Apple, they were told that Apple is “not allowing new me.com e-mail addresses,” but only allowing MobileMe accounts to be converted to iCloud. The representative allegedly indicated that Apple has been receiving many calls about the issue, but they do not know when a fix will be available.

A similar list of headaches for MobileMe users making the move to iCloud was also detailed Monday by Chris Foresman of Ars Technica. He noted that the issues can also apply to users who have shared an Apple ID with family members, allowing purchases like software from the App Store to be installed on multiple devices — a practice allowed with Apple’s terms of service.

“Unless all devices are going to be synced to the same data store — with everyone sharing contacts, calendars, and other information — other users who were previously dependent on that account may have to re-purchase apps or music,” he said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook allegedly indicated in an e-mail in September that Apple is working to allow users to merge multiple Apple IDs. But that ability has not yet arrived.

Apple launched its free iCloud service last Wednesday, along with the release of iOS 5 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and an update for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion adding iCloud support. iCloud will back up users’ personal data on their iOS device to Apple’s remote servers in the cloud, and also keeps data, documents, calendars and contacts synced across a number of devices with the use of an Apple ID.

If you’ve had any issues in your own MobileMe to iCloud transition, please let us know in the comments.

PocketMac unveils BerryMover, helps with BlackBerry-to-iPhone migration

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Date: Friday, October 14th, 2011, 10:33
Category: iPhone, News, Software

This could be useful.

Per the cool cats at the Apple Core, Information Appliance Associates on Tuesday released BerryMover, an app capable of bringing Blackberry data files over to an iOS-based device.

BerryMover allows you to open the Blackberry backup file and can recover calendars, contacts, tasks, notes, email messages and text messages for the iPhone. The company said owners can “import as many backup files as you want.”

Developer and PocketMac co-founder Tim Goggin stated there was increasing demand for this Blackberry-to-iPhone migration utility. His company previously created the Mac-Blackberry sync software.

“We developed the app because a lot of people are moving away from the BlackBerry to their iPhone,” he said. “Overall, I think it shows how seriously business takes the iPhone that so many people are migrating from BlackBerry to it.”

He described the development process as tough, especially getting the iPhone to work with BlackBerry backups, he added.

BerryMover retails for $9.99 and requires an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running iOS 4.2 or later to install and run.

Rumor: Apple in talks with studios to begin streaming movies to iCloud

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, October 13th, 2011, 06:23
Category: Apple TV, iCloud, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Rumor

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Additional movies: They’re never a bad thing.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Apple is said to be involved in negotiations with Hollywood movie studios in an effort to give customers the ability to stream movies they own to devices like an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV.

Citing sources close to the story, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Apple wants to give its customers the ability to stream movies they have purchased through iTunes without the need to manually transfer the files. The talks come as Apple has launched its iCloud product, and movie studios have rolled out their own cloud-based movie streaming service, dubbed UltraViolet.

UltraViolet movies can be streamed to an iPhone or iPad using the Flixster application available on the iOS App Store, however an UltraViolet account does not include any movies that may have been purchased through iTunes. The new UltraViolet format lets people stream a film they have purchased on DVD or Blu-ray, and is seen as a way to help boost slumping sales of movies.

Rumors that Apple wants to give users the ability to stream and re-download movies they have purchased are not new. Apple has already secured deals for iTunes customers, allowing them to re-download songs and TV shows they own, but Hollywood movies cannot be re-downloaded.

Previous reports have claimed that the so-called “HBO window” has been a sticking point in negotiations. The window is a deal in which three of the top six film studios have distribution deals with premium network HBO, and under the terms of that deal, outlets must halt sales or distribution of a film when it premieres on HBO.

As recently as August, Apple was still said to be pursuing a cloud-based streaming and re-downloading service, though such a deal with Hollywood studios was said to not be imminent.

The studios’ UltraViolet service launched this week, giving customers access to “digital lockers” that let customers stream or download a digital copy of physical purchases on a wide variety of devices. The service requires customers to create an account that serves as a hub for all of their purchased media, and passcodes that ship with physical discs allow users to access those movies online from remote servers.

All of the major movie studios except for Walt Disney Co. are backing UltraViolet, while it is planning its own proprietary service called KeyChest. Neither Disney nor Apple were part of the consortium that formed UltraViolet.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iOS 5.0 update

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Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:25
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, Software

After months of anticipation, speculation and generally looking forward to it, Apple has released iOS 5.0 for its current iPhone, iPod touch and iPad models.

The update, a several hundred megabyte download, can be snagged by plugging in your respective iOS device and checking for updates in iTunes and will take several minutes to create a backup file in iTunes, install, update firmware and perform additional tasks.

The update offers the following fixes and changes:

Notifications:
- Swipe from the top of any screen to view notifications in one place with Notification Center

- New notifications appear briefly at the top of the screen

- View notifications from lock screen

- Slide the notification app icon to the right on the lock screen to go directly to the app

iMessage:
- Send and receive unlimited text, photo, and video messages with other iOS 5 users

- Track messages with delivery and read receipts

- Group messaging and secure encryption

- Works over cellular network and Wi-Fi*

Newsstand:
- Automatically organizes magazine and newspaper subscriptions on Home Screen

- Displays the cover of the latest issue

- Background downloads of new issues

- Reminders for managing to do lists

- Syncs with iCloud, iCal and Outlook

- Location-based reminders when you leave or arrive at a location for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

Built-in support for Twitter:
- Sign-in once in Settings and tweet directly from Camera, Photos, Maps, Safari and YouTube

- Add location to any tweet

- View twitter profile pictures and usernames in Contacts

Camera improvements for devices with cameras:
- Double click the home button when device is asleep to bring up a camera shortcut on iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch (4th generation)

- Volume Up button to take a picture

- Optional grid lines to line up shots

- Pinch to zoom in the preview screen

- Swipe to camera roll from preview screen

- Tap and hold to lock focus and exposure, iPad 2 and iPod touch (4th generation) only support exposure lock

- Photo improvements for devices with cameras

- Crop and rotate

- Red eye removal

- One tap enhance

- Organize photos into albums

Mail improvements:
- Format text using bold, italic, or underlined fonts

- Indentation control

- Drag to rearrange names in address fields

- Flag messages

- Mass mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Customize mail alert sounds

- S/MIME

Calendar improvements:
- Year view on iPad and new Week view for iPhone and iPod touch

- Tap to create an event

- View and add event attachments

Game Center improvements:
- Use personal photos for your Game Center account

- Compare your overall achievement scores with your friends

- Find new Game Center friends with friend recommendations and friends of friends

- Discover new games with custom game recommendations

- AirPlay Mirroring for iPad 2 and iPhone 4S

Multitasking Gestures for iPad:
- Use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen

- Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar

- Swipe left or right to switch between apps

- On-device setup, activation and configuration with Setup Assistant

- Software updates available over the air without tethering

iCloud support:
- iTunes in the Cloud

- Photo Stream

- Documents in the Cloud

- Apps and Books automatic download and purchase history

- Backup

- Contacts, Calendar, and Mail

- Find My iPhone

- Redesigned Music app for iPad

- Hourly weather forecast

- Real-time stock quotes

- Wireless sync to iTunes

Keyboard improvements:
- Split keyboard for iPad

- Improved autocorrection accuracy

- Improved Chinese and Japanese input

- New Emoji keyboard

- Personal dictionary for autocorrection

- Optionally create keyboard short cuts for frequently used words

Accessibility improvements:
- Option to light LED flash on incoming calls and alerts for iPhone 4S and iPhone 4

- Custom vibration patterns for incoming calls on iPhone

- New interface for using iOS with mobility-impairment input devices

- Option to speak a selection of text

- Custom element labeling for VoiceOver

- Exchange ActiveSync improvements

- Wirelessly sync tasks

- Mark messages as flagged, read or unread

- Improved offline support

- Save a new contact from a GAL service

- More than 1,500 new developer APIs

- Bug fixes

iOS 5.0 requires an iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S, an iPad, iPad 2 or third or fourth generation iPod touch to install and run.

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

Rumor: Apple shifts iPad 2 battery orders from Simplo to Dynapack after leak-prone units discovered

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 05:08
Category: iPad, Rumor

When in doubt, switch a component supplier.

Per DigiTimes, part supplier sources maintained Wednesday that Apple had recently been pushed into switching battery supply for the iPad 2. Apple moved some of its orders from Simplo to Dynapack at the end of September after Simplo’s eastern China plant produced some leak-prone lithium-polymer packs according to the story. Apple’s use of safer lithium-polymer batteries kept them from showstopper fires, but the recharging problems were enough to require better.

Normally, Simplo would supply about 60 percent of iPad 2 batteries with Dynapack providing the rest. That ratio would have shifted more towards neutral with a part swap.

The issue hasn’t been independently confirmed. Both Dynapack and Simplo are widely known as Apple’s battery suppliers, and Simplo handles the batteries for the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. Companies like Apple are known to change orders for other components to keep supply up, such as a well known diversification away from LG for iPad 2 displays until it resolved display issues.

A successful swap could minimize any disruption in Apple’s manufacturing, although it still comes just as Apple is likely seeing a peak in shipments as it goes into the holidays. As such, it might be more sensitive to unplanned switches.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases iTunes 10.5.1 beta update to developer community, focuses on upcoming iTunes Match feature

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 04:50
Category: iCloud, News, Software

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Following the public release of iTunes 10.5 with support for iOS 5 devices, Apple also privately released iTunes 10.5.1 to its developer community, allowing them to test the forthcoming iTunes Match service.

Per AppleInsider, the final release of iTunes 10.5, released earlier Tuesday, does not include support for the US$24.99-per-year iTunes Match service. It will become publicly available later this month, along with another update to iTunes.

Developers can test the iTunes Match service with the first beta of iTunes 10.5.1, supplied to them by Apple on Tuesday. The beta is available for both Mac and Windows, and iTunes Match is currently available only to developers in the U.S.

When it launches later this month, iTunes Match will scan users’ personal music libraries on their computer for music files that were not purchased through iTunes. Those tracks will then be matched up with Apple’s library of over 20 million songs in the iTunes Music Store.

With the annual fee, users will be able to access their library of up to 25,000 songs from any device, and will be able to re-download songs via iTunes in the Cloud. Users will also be able to replace their matched files with higher quality 256Kbps iTunes Plus AAC files, even if the original copy is of lower quality.

Apple’s iTunes Match service is different from competing options with Google and Amazon, which require that a user upload their personal library of tracks to remote servers. Apple’s method bypasses the need for uploading songs by simply matching the files with its own extensive selection.

For songs that may not be available on iTunes, Apple will also upload those files and remotely host them. The songs will then also be available for users to re-download on another Mac or PC, or on the go with an iPhone or iPad.

If you’ve gotten a chance to play around with the beta, please let us know what you make of it.

Otherwise, stay tuned for additional details as they become available.