Apple looking to create outdoor, sunglasses-friendly LCD screens

Posted by:
Date: Friday, May 27th, 2011, 02:35
Category: News, Patents

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It’s Friday, additional Apple patent applications have emerged and Apple has apparently shown interest in creating an improved LCD display for devices like the iPhone and iPad that is not distorted when viewed by a user wearing polarized sunglasses outdoors.

Per AppleInsider, the proposed new technology was revealed in a new patent application made public by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. Entitled “Display that Emits Circularly-Polarized Light,” the proposed invention describes a liquid-crystal display that reduces perceived distortion when viewed through linearly polarizing filters, such as sunglasses.

In the application, Apple notes that current LCDs are based on polarization optics, and typically utilize linear polarizers on their front surfaces. The problem is that the light from LCDs typically has an electric field that only vibrates in one direction, while polarized sunglasses only allow through light with an electric field that vibrates in the vertical direction.

“Hence a user looking at the LCD display of a portable device… may see a distorted image in the display when viewed through polarized sunglasses, due to the polarized filters in the sunglasses blocking the light when the display is viewed at some angles,” the application reads.

When an LCD display is seen through polarized sunglasses, at certain angles the screen may be completely dark or somewhat obscured. The issue can be made even worse when a lens cover is placed in front of a display for protection or industrial design, as these plastics can compound the issue with color and gray artifacts.

Apple’s solution is a display that emits circularly polarized light by placing a layer in the path of linearly polarized light.

“The layer receives the linearly-polarized light on one surface, converts the linearly-polarized light to circularly-polarized light, and then emits the circularly-polarized light from another surface,” the application reads. “By emitting circularly-polarized light, the display reduces the perceived distortion found at some angles when the display is viewed through a linearly-polarizing filter.”

The invention would allow for superior outdoor viewing of displays, like iPhone or iPad screens, by reducing perceived distortion created when a user wears sunglasses.

Apple’s adoption of glass screen covers and glossy displays has been a point of criticism against the company, as some have complained they make viewing of devices in sunlight near impossible. The company has even brought back antiglare matte screens to some of its MacBook Pro options as an optional US$150 upgrade.

By creating a screen that could accommodate sunglasses, Apple would craft a new LCD that would allow a reduced amount of light to reach a user’s eye without distorting the screen. This could improve the ability to use devices like an iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro outdoors on a sunny day.

Apple first filed for the proposed invention in January of this year. It is credited to John Z. Zhong, Wei Chen, Cheng Chen, Victor H.E. Yin, and Shawn R. Gettemy.

Opera Mini web browser 6.0 released, now native for both iPhone and iPad

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Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 08:46
Category: iPhone, News, Software

It’s an interesting alternative to Apple’s Mobile Safari web browser for its iOS devices.

And it just got a fairly large overhaul.

Per Mac|Life, the popular Opera Mini web browser just reached version 6.0 and is available as a redesigned, universal app that finally brings some love to the bigger screen of the iPad as well as Retina Display support for the iPhone 4.

Opera Mini 6.0 features an updated design with a fresh new look and feel as well as super smooth pinch-to-zoom and panning. In addition to its new support for the iPhone 4 Retina Display as well as universal support for the iPad and iPad 2, the new version allows for direct sharing to Facebook, Twitter and My Opera.

International font support is also now greatly improved for Arabic, Chinese, Vietnamese and other non-Latin languages (Opera supports a laundry list of languages from all over the world). Finally, users have the ability to open a new page in a background tab as well.

Opera Mini 6.0 is available now from the App Store; the free app is a 3.4MB download compatible with all iOS devices running iOS 3.0 or later.

If you’ve tinkered with the new version of Opera Mini and have any feedback, please let us know and thanks.

Apple Store iPhone app updated to version 1.3, allows build-to-order Mac purchases

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Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 02:22
Category: iPhone, News, retail, Software

Apple on Monday updated its “Apple Store” application for the iPhone, offering the ability to order a custom Mac, and also more quickly receive help when at a retail store.

Per AppleInsider, the free application is currently available on the App Store. Version 1.3 is a 3.2MB download, and is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The app requires iOS 4.0 or later to install and run.

The release of the software coincides with the debut of Apple’s improved retail stores, which were upgraded on Sunday. The company now makes use of interactive iPad displays to provide product information, pricing and features.

According to Apple, new features of Apple Store 1.3 are:
- Enhanced in-store mode lets you get help and support quickly when you’re at an Apple Retail Store.

- The ability to custom-configure a new Mac with the options you want.

Using the new application, users can make modifications and upgrades to a Mac order placed from their iPhone. For example, users can add more RAM or upgrade the hard drive of a Mac before they finalize their order — features that were previously only available on Apple’s website.

The software is still only written for the iPhone and iPod touch, prompting some initial negative reviews from users in the App Store. Though the application can be run on an iPad, as all iOS software can, it is not optimized for the screen size and resolution of the touchscreen tablet.

Rumors of the updated iPhone application first surfaced on Saturday, revealing that the software was set to debut as part of Apple’s retail revamp. Apple’s online store went offline on Friday to also prepare for the changes.

The Apple Store application was first released in June of 2010. With it, users can view products, read customer reviews, locate a nearby Apple Retail Store, and buy or reserve devices like the iPhone.

If you tinkered with the new app and have any opinions on it, let us know in the comments.

Apple unveils updated retail experience, introduces interactive iPad displays

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Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, retail

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There were rumblings that Apple was doing something for its 10th retail anniversary.

And they apparently did.

Per Mac Prices Australia, Apple retail stores have taken the wraps off Apple’s new retail upgrade, which makes use of interactive iPad displays to provide product information, pricing and features.

Apple launched “Retail 2.0″ on Sunday morning in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Apple retail stores. The company opened its first retail stores on May 19, 2001, in McLean, Virginia and Glendale, Calif.

According to the report, the main change is the addition of stationary iPads placed next to other Apple products in order to display product prices, information and features. The touchscreen tablets can also be used to compare models and ask for help from a specialist. Photos of the new iPad display units reveal that the devices are placed in plexiglass.

The iPads appear to be running a custom software application, as customers report that pressing the home button on the tablets does nothing. Though the power cable for the device does not appear to connect to the dock, one person familiar with the matter said the cable is indeed connected to the dock connector, but is “very well hidden.” Also, detaching the cable will reportedly activate an alarm.

Some reports also suggested that Apple retail employees were wearing party hats to celebrate the occasion. Customers reported via Twitter that the Apple store updates created a “totally new experience.”

Apple had been reported as stockpiling iPads in preparation for a retail overhaul, the new in-house iPads having been slated for use with an updated version of RetailMe, Apple’s proprietary retail software.

Apple reportedly scheduled overnight shifts for retail employees in preparation for the updates to the Apple store. The company had blocked employees from taking vacation from May 20 to May 22. Mandatory meetings have been scheduled on Sunday morning and evening for Apple retail staff.

Apple has also taken offline the Order Status page from its website until Sunday, May 22 in order to perform a system update.

A recent report claimed Apple will update its “Apple Store” retail app for iOS this weekend, adding full build-to-order purchasing options to the application. Apple first released the retail app last year with support for stock configuration orders.

If you’ve wandered into an Apple Store location since the overhaul this weekend and have anything to report, let us know.

Analyst: iPad 2 constraints easing, supply improving

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Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:41
Category: iPad, News

In spite of the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami back in March, iPad 2 production restraints that affected Apple last quarter are said to have “significantly improved,” allowing for improved availability of the tablet.

According to AppleInsider, Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said Friday that Apple has found better yields in iPad 2 production through retooling and conversion of more overseas production lines. These changes have gone a long way in addressing the supply issues Apple experienced last quarter.

Wu also cautioned that Apple is along way from meeting its internal goals for iPad 2 production. Previous rumors suggested Apple could ship as many as 45 million iPad 2 units this year, though predictions have dropped since Apple’s last quarter fell short of expectations for iPad sales.

“From our understanding, [Apple] still has a ways to hit the [second half] goal of 3-4 million units per month but getting closer,” Wu wrote.

Accordingly, Wu has increased his estimates for iPad sales in the current, third fiscal quarter of 2011 for Apple. He now sees the company selling 6.8 million iPads, up from his previous prediction of 5.9 million.

Wu also increased his estimated iPhone sales to 17 million, up from 16 million. He said iPhone demand appears to be holding up better than expected, thanks to strong adoption of the white iPhone 4 and strong sales on Verizon.

Wu also increased his projected Mac sales to 3.9 million from the quarter, up from 3.83 million. He is also assuming a new, higher gross margin of 39%, increased from 38.3%, due to improved iPad yields and higher iPhone sales.

Finally, he’s also increased Sterne Agee’s 12-month price target for AAPL stock to $460, up from the previous prediction of US$445.

So, if you want an iPad 2, odds are the one you want should be available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

iPhone dev team releases untethered jailbreak for iOS 4.3.3

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Date: Monday, May 9th, 2011, 03:33
Category: iPhone, News, Software

For those of you who don’t mind living on the edge, you can now do it a bit more sensibly with your iPhone.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, jailbreakers hesitant to update to iOS 4.3.3 can now do so without losing their ability to jailbreak. The iPhone dev team confirmed iOS 4.3.3 is still vulnerable to the untethered jailbreak exploit that @i0n1c created for 4.3.1. Released earlier this week, this version of iOS fixes the location bug that made headlines a few weeks ago.

Both the group’s PwnageTool and redsn0w have been updated and will jailbreak iOS 4.3.3 devices including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 (GSM), iPod touch 3G, iPod touch 4G, iPad1 and AppleTV 2G (v4.3;8F202). Unfortunately, the iPad 2 is not yet supported and its jailbreak is still under development.

Head over to the dev team’s blog for more information about this untethered jailbreak. As with all jailbreak attempts, follow the directions carefully and proceed at your own risk…

Sketchbook Pro Updated to 2.0

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Date: Thursday, May 5th, 2011, 17:11
Category: iPad, News, Software

I’m reporting from my iPhone at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco where I am surrounded by incredible examples of design and technology from a number of different categories. My favorite being the 3D television that doesn’t require 3D glasses.

Tonight’s event is to introduce the impending release of Sketchbook Pro 2.0 which adds a slew of new features, and for the cost conscious, also marks a price decrease from $7.99 to $4.99 (iPad version). So, hold out a few more hours and save $3! And this app is definitely worth it…even at the original price.

Present at the announcement is Jay Shuster, Art Director at Pixar Animation, who used Sketchbook Pro for his development work on Cars 2. I’ll cover a little more after I get a chance to play with the app some more and review the promo materials on this awesome thumb drive.

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Apple releases iOS 4.3.3 update

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Date: Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 14:20
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

Responding primarily to its recent location tracking controversey, Apple on Wednesday released iOS 4.3.3, the latest update to its mobile operating system. The update includes the following fixes and changes for iOS-based devices:

- Reduces the size of the cache.

- No longer backs the cache up to iTunes.

- Deletes the cache entirely when Location Services is turned off.

The update is recommended for all users of the GSM iPhone 4, the CDMA iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPad, iPad 2, and the third and fourth-generation iPod touches. To download and install it, connect your device to your Mac or PC and click Check for Updates in iTunes.

If you’ve tried the update and noticed any changes (for better or for worse), please let us know in the comments.

Apple, Time Inc. reach terms on iPad distribution

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Date: Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011, 03:04
Category: iPad, News

If you can get the biggest players to sort terms out, the rest will follow.

Per the Wall Street Journal, Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the U.S., has reached a deal with Apple to allow print subscribers of its titles to download iPad editions for free.

The article reports that Apple and Time have reached a deal, which stands as a vital turning point in the impasse between the iPad maker and publishers over digital subscriptions.

According to the report, the iPad editions of Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune will support subscriber authentication starting Monday. People magazine began supporting free subscriber downloads last year, ahead of other titles from the publisher.

The deal has reportedly gone through in spite of an executive shakeup occurring at the company. In February, parent company Time Warner fired Time Inc. CEO Jack Griffin after just six months on the job, citing a clash of management styles as the reason.

According to the report, Time and other major publishers have not reached a deal for selling digital subscriptions to the iPad editions of their magazines. Publishers are reportedly hung up on Apple’s insistence that the practice of forwarding subscriber information to publishers operate on an opt-in basis.

Maurice Edelson, general counsel for Time, told the Journal that the company’s executives have held frequent meetings with Apple executives, including Eddy Cue, vice president of Internet services. The Time executives “say the latest deal to make iPad editions free for print subscribers is a sign the two sides are moving closer,” according to the report.

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported that publishers such as Time Inc., Conde Nast and Hearst were frustrated with delays to Apple’s then-forthcoming application subscription feature for the App Store. At the time, people close to the company’s discussion said that Time had yet to strike a deal with Apple.

Apple sparked a controversy in February when it revealed that it would take a 30% share of income generated from in-app subscriptions to an App Store app. In addition, publishers must match or better prices from subscriptions offered outside of the app and are not allowed to link to out-of-app purchases.

In response to the news, one subscription service called the terms “economically untenable,” while one developer called Apple’s new rules “a huge dick move.” The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is in the preliminary stage of looking into the terms of Apple’s App Store subscriptions.

However, not all publishers are dissatisfied with Apple’s terms. Bloomberg announced a US$2.99 monthly subscription for the Bloomberg BusinessWeek app in April, adding that the company was “pleased with Apple’s terms.”

“iPad is the most important place to be right now, and that’s where we’re focused,” said Bloomberg mobile head Oke Okaro.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

HBO releases Go App for iOS devices

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Date: Friday, April 29th, 2011, 15:05
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, Software

It’s been promised for a while and it’s finally here.

Per Macworld, The HBO cable network has released its long-awaited iOS client Go app for iPhone and iPad. The app brings both HBO original series as well as hit movies to Apple’s iOS devices, but there is a catch: Unless you’re already an HBO subscriber with a participating television provider, you’re out of luck.

In addition to currently airing programs like Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and True Blood, HBO Go also provides access to a backlog of older programs, like Deadwood, The Wire, and the recently concluded Big Love. In addition, there’s access to bonus features and behind-the-scenes extras, and the app supports video over both Wi-Fi and 3G connections, so users can access their favorite shows from any location. A customizable Watchlist feature lets you mark programs you want to view later, and you can set up a Series Pass to automatically populate it with shows you’re following.

Of course, those looking to follow HBO’s series without subscribing to the preimum channel are still stuck. The network doesn’t provide à la carte access via its app (or its Web-based streaming service), and as its shows aren’t available in the iTunes Store while airing, you’re pretty much consigned to wait until the season is over—unless you want to pony up for an HBO subscription.

The HBO Go app requires a device running iOS 3.2 or later to install and run.