Apple patent describes simpler networking, use of RFID/new proprietary technology

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 04:55
Category: News, Patents

applelogo_silver

Because patents are important and show nifty things that may be down the road…

According to AppleInsider, Apple has shown interest in improving device discoverability and local networking using existing technology like RFID, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or even a new proprietary wireless method.

The details come from Apple’s latest patent application, entitled “Local Device Awareness,” which describe a number of electronic devices within close proximity being able to automatically communicate with each other and share information with minimal to no user input.

Apple notes in its patent application that while networked devices can communicate with each other over great distances, communicative proximity is not equal to physical proximity.

The Mac maker’s solution would not only make device discoverability simpler, but could strip away some of the current requirements, such as the need for devices be located on the same Wi-Fi network. Devices could communicate through a unique protocol that would constantly be on the lookout for new hardware to connect to.

Networking capable devices like Macs or iPhones, as well as other hardware like specially equipped printers, could communicate with one another over existing standards like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to allow discoverability. Another technology repeatedly mentioned in Apple’s application is radio-frequency identification, or RFID, which is a short-range wireless standard that is currently found in a limited number of devices.

The application notes that Apple could also adopt a new, unique wireless technology that would allow devices to communicate without tying up services that are often used for other purposes, like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The system could even use GPS to locate the exact position of a piece of hardware and display it on a map, like letting a user know where a printer or projector are located.

With this greater level of connectivity, Apple could also offer simpler interactivity. The application makes note of a unique user interface for sending tasks to certain devices. For example, using a touchscreen device like an iPad, a user could drag and drop a document onto a projector icon to have that document displayed on the device.

In addition to more practical functions like connecting to a printer, Apple’s application notes that this method could also be used for playing multiplayer games. It describes a game where users might shake an accelerometer-equipped device like an iPhone or an iPad to roll a set of virtual dice, or even use physical dice equipped with RFID.

The proposed invention is credited to Brett Bilbrey, Aleksander Pance, Nicholas King and Todd Benjamin. It was originally filed with the USPTO on Dec. 31, 2009.

Apple patent application for dock concept discusses location-based profiles

Posted by:
Date: Friday, July 1st, 2011, 03:24
Category: News, Patents

applelogo_silver

It’s the patent applications that make life interesting.

That or love.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has shown interest in a new location-based docking system that would dynamically change the interface and settings of a portable device for different activities like working or driving a car.

The concept was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Location-Based Dock for a Computing Device.” The proposed invention notes that while docking stations are typically passive devices, these described docks would take on a more active role.

“It is often left to the user to configure the computing device for use at different locations by accessing or selecting the proper software applications and security measures for the computing device…” the application reads. “However, such configuration of the device may be both time-consuming and confusing to a non-sophisticated user.”

Apple’s idea could apply to any portable device, whether it be a MacBook, an iPhone or an iPad. Each docking station would, when coupled with the appropriate portable computing device, recognize its location and allow the user to operate the device accordingly.

For example, an iPhone plugged into a moving car could automatically become optimized for use through voice control, as a user driving would not be able to operate the touchscreen.

For someone who uses the same hardware both at home and at the office, a system could automatically be reconfigured to offer the best of both worlds. For example, while at work, a docked system would access work-related e-mails and calendar entries, while at home the device would switch to personal e-mail and calendars.

Apple’s concept also extends to other docking ideas, including one meant to be used while watching television, or another that would have a device act as a digital picture frame while docked.

The location-based element could allow the settings to change based on the physical location of the hardware. In this method, if a user were to have only one docking station, they could use it both at work and at home and the appropriate settings would be implemented

And while location could play an important role in each docking station, Apple’s concept also notes that settings could be tied to a particular dock regardless of its location. For example, a user could have two or more docking stations at a single location, allowing them to use them for different computing configurations.

The patent application is credited to Nicholas Vincent King, Aleksandar Pance and Brett Bilbrey. It was first filed on New Years Eve in 2009.

Analyst notes possible “iPhone 4S” in September, iPad 3 prototype for early 2012

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 28th, 2011, 04:28
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

In non-software-update-esque news, a second investment research firm on Monday cited sources in Taiwan as indicating that Apple’s fifth-generation iPhone will hit the market early in the third quarter and also did its part to downplay rumors of an iPad 3 launch prior to next year and a low-cost iPhone in 2011.

Per AppleInsider, pointing to “recent Apple supply chain checks,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Craig Berger said production of the company’s fifth-generation iPhone has come into view for component suppliers “like Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Omnivision,” each of which are indicating “a late September or early October” manufacturing ramp for the handset.

In a note to clients on the matter, Berger identified the new iPhone as going by the code name “N94″ and indicated that his sources have referred to the device under the presumed marketing name “iPhone 4S,” which would suggest the handset will arrive as an evolutionary upgrade to the existing iPhone 4 rather than a radical redesign like the ones that took place during the transition from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G and from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4.

Berger, added that his sources “see no near-term plans for a low-end iPhone for emerging markets, or a new iPhone in a transparent case.”

Additionally, the analyst pointed to conversations with the same supply chain contacts in reporting that Apple has been “evaluating various touchscreen displays” for its third-generation iPad.

Thought he acknowledged conjecture and speculation over the possibility that such a device could launch later this year, he said his intelligence suggests that the company’s progress with display manufacturers indicates a prototype of the next iPad won’t be ready until early 2012, implying an announcement would again likely come in the spring.

“This should squarely put to rest any debate about a 2011 launch of the iPad 3 — after all, Apple is severely supply constrained on the iPad 2, and it is by far the best-performing and functioning tablet in the world,” the analyst wrote.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Analyst predicts Apple to start assembling iPhone 5 in August

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 27th, 2011, 05:21
Category: iPhone, Rumor

Apple will begin production of fifth-generation iPhones in August ahead of a projected late third quarter launch, according to intelligence obtained by by one investment banker’s recent trip to Taiwan .

Per AppleInsider, after meetings with unnamed individuals in Taiwan last week where Apple’s supply chain and manufacturing facilities reside, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty issued a note to clients in which she confidently stated: “Apple’s next iPhone will begin production in mid to late August and ramp aggressively” into the calendar fourth quarter.

She added that, based on her intelligence, the new handset will launch and be available to consumers sometime near the end of the third calendar quarter of the year, which ends September.

As a result of the later than usual launch, Huberty shifted 2 million iPhone units from the firm’s third quarter estimates to its fourth quarter estimates, though the firm’s full year estimate of 72 million units remain unchanged. However, the analyst notes that if the next iPhone were to come out in early September, it would “drive upside” to Morgan Stanley’s lowered estimates.

Lower priced iPhones and an Apple-branded TV may also be in the works, Huberty noted. According to the analyst, Apple is forecasting a large iPhone unit increase in 2012 “on the back of new products and potentially lower price points.” Various major news outlets reported this spring that Apple is planning a cheaper iPhone model, which analysts believe would help the company make gains in emerging and prepaid mobile markets.

“We also believe Apple is in the early design stages for a TV, which could add US$19 billion and US$4.50 of annual revenue and EPS longer-term,” Huberty continued. In March, the analyst reported that checks in Asia suggested Apple was working on a “Smart TV prototype.” Earlier this week, an unverified report claimed to leak Apple’s plans for iOS-powered connected TVs, citing a “former Apple executive” as the source.

In addition to Apple’s ramping up of iPhone production, Morgan Stanley sees upward pressure on iPad shipments as post-Japan earthquake product constraints have subsided. Huberty also echoed reports that improved component supply has led Apple to negotiate price cuts with some of its suppliers. Those cuts could boost margins “modestly in the June quarter and more in September,” the note read.

A recent report out of Asia said Apple has demanded 10 percent price cuts from iPad suppliers as orders increase. The report specifically cited companies supplying printed circuit boards, optical components, battery modules and touch panels as being pressured to lower prices.

Huberty sees the recent dip in Apple’s share price as a buying opportunity for investors in light of the prospect of improved shipments of the iPhone and iPad. Morgan Stanley reiterated its Overweight rating of Apple, with a price target of US$428. The company’s stock has slide more than 6 percent to US$326.35 since the beginning of June.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple to switch to dual-LED flash for iPhone 5

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 23rd, 2011, 03:22
Category: iPhone, Rumor

The new iPhone 5: It may just feature an even swankier flash system.

Per DigiTimes, “recent market rumors” indicate Apple’s iPhone 5 will likely come with a dual-LED flash. Taiwan-based LED packaging firms Everlight Electronics, Edison Opto and Lite-On Technology are named as potential suppliers. Although the publication has well-placed sources within the Asian supply chain, the accuracy of its Apple predictions varies significantly.

“Everlight and Lite-On have strengthened their deployments in the smartphone market for a while, with their products already being shipped to the supply chains of brand-name handset vendors,” the reported noted industry sources as saying. Meanwhile, sources said that Edison specializes in high-power LEDs and has reportedly started shipping LED flash products to branded handset vendors, giving it a “high chance” of attracting dual-LED flash orders from Apple.

It had been reported that Apple had “greatly reduced” orders for Philips LED flash components in recent months and may go with another company for the iPhone 5, according to a person familiar with the matter. At the time, the source indicated that “highly unconfirmed” rumors pointed to a Taiwan-based firm as the new LED flash supplier.

Apple first began using LED flash in last year’s iPhone 4.

Last month, photos of a few purported next-generation iPhone cases and parts components emerged, showing a shift in the location of the device’s camera flash. An alleged case leak showed up on a Chinese international trade site, followed by photos of a supposed fifth-generation iPhone rear camera part without attached flash. Finally, a photo of a back panel allegedly for the so-called iPhone surfaced in late May.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: iPhone 5 with 8MP camera due in September, Hi-Res iPad 3 en route

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011, 04:02
Category: iPad, iPhone, Rumor

You may be wanting the iPhone 5 now, but you might have to wait until September while Apple tests the new handset and some other cool stuff.

Per Bloomberg, two sources familiar with Apple’s plans have stated that Apple is working on a higher resolution iPad and dropped details regarding Apple’s much-anticipated iPhone 5 handset. Apple’s next iPhone “will include the A5 processor, the more powerful chip that Apple added to the iPad 2 earlier this year, along with an 8-megapixel camera, up from the 5-megapixel model in the iPhone 4,” said the publication’s sources.

As is to be expected, the new device would come with iOS 5, which is due out this fall, according to people familiar with the matter. Sources also said the new iPhone would closely resemble the iPhone 4.

The report’s insiders also rekindled a rumor that Apple is working on a cheaper version of the iPhone for emerging markets using “chips and displays of similar quality to today’s iPhone 4.” Rumors of a low-cost iPhone emerged this spring, though there is some disagreement regarding the details of the project.

“Apple is also testing a new version of the iPad that has a higher resolution screen, similar to the one now used in the iPhone 4,” the Bloomberg report cited sources as saying. The iPhone 4 currently features a Retina Display with a resolution of 960 x 640 and a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch. The resolution of the next-generation iPad would be about “one-third higher” than the iPad 2′s display and will feature a more responsive touchscreen, people said.

Various reports have suggested the iPad could see a display upgrade that would double the tablet’s linear resolution to 2048 x 1536. Last week, double-resolution iPad images in the iOS 5 beta sparked renewed speculation that Apple is planning the improved display.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases, 2TB, 3TB capacity Time Capsule units

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, June 21st, 2011, 06:02
Category: News, Time Capsule, wireless

Apple on Tuesday quietly released new models of Time Capsule, its combination backup drive and wireless base station.The new Time Capsules are available in 2TB and 3TB capacities—previously, Time Capsule had topped out at 2TB.

Per Macworld, the new Time Capsules still use the 802.11n Wi-Fi networking standard, with dual-band operation available for 802.11b/g devices like the iPhone and iPod touch. Other than the boosted hard drive capacities, it doesn’t appear the new Time Capsules boast any new features.

The 2TB Time Capsule retails for US$299 while the 3TB model sells for US$499; those prices are unchanged from the previous 1TB and 2TB offerings, respectively.

If you’ve tried the new Time Capsule units and have any feedback to offer, let us know.

Adobe releases Flex 4.5, Flash Builder 4.5, updates tools for building iOS apps

Posted by:
Date: Monday, June 20th, 2011, 05:01
Category: iOS, News, Software

adobelogo

Sometimes the Hatfields and the McCoys can put their differences aside and get along where the iOS platform is concerned.

Per the company’s official blog, Adobe this week released Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5, adding the ability to build and distribute iPhone, iPad and iPod touch applications on Apple’s official App Store.

The new functionality was announced on the company’s official blog, where Adobe Product Marketing Manager Puneet Goel revealed that App Store software could be created “using one tool chain, programming language and code base — a first for developers.”

The support for iOS applications comes in addition to the ability to create software for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, also new features of Flash Builder and Flex 4.5. Initially, application support was only available for Android software.

Flash Platform evangelist Serge Jespers demonstrated the ability of Flash Builder 4.5 and Flex 4.5 to build iOS software in a video accompanying the post. The same stock market tracking application was shown running on an iPad 2 and iPod touch, in addition to an Android-powered HTC smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Jespers also showed off the ability of Adobe’s software to allow developers to quickly created tabbed applications, or add features like automatically rotating between portrait and landscape mode. By checking the appropriate boxes, developers can easily export their mobile software for Apple’s iOS alongside BlackBerry Tablet OS and Google Android.

A “Platform Settings” option also allows developers to select their target device when creating iOS software. Through this, software can be created specifically for the smaller screen sizes of the iPhone and iPod touch, the larger 9.7-inch display of the iPad, or both.

“When your application is ready, you don’t actually have to build the application separately for every single platform,” Jespers said. “You can actually do that in one code. It’s pretty amazing.”

Flash 4.5 and Flex 4.5 are offered as standalone products for developers to purchase, or are available through Creative Suite 5.5 Web Premium and Master Collection.

Last September, Apple revised its policy on third-party development tools for iOS, and decided it would allow developers to use tools like Adobe’s in order to create software made available to download on the App Store. That was a change from an earlier policy, when Apple’s iOS 4 software development kid license banned tools that would port applications from Flash, Java and Mono.

Controversy over Apple’s decision prompted CEO Steve Jobs to pen a letter in which he explained that allowing Flash conversion tools would produce “sub-standard apps” for the iPhone and iPad, hindering the progress of the iOS platform. Jobs said at the time that it was known from “painful experience” that allowing developers to become dependent on third-party tools is restrictive.

“We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers,” Jobs said in April 2010.

Though Flash remains banned on iOS devices, Adobe has continued to expand its support for the iPhone and iPad, and this march released a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool. The “experimental” software called “Wallaby” allows for Adobe Flash Professional files with the .fla extension to be converted to an HTML format that can be opened in the Mobile Safari browser on iOS devices.

If you’ve had a chance to play with the new versions of Flash Builder or Flex, let us know what you think in the comments.

Rumor: iPhone 4 flash orders scaled back, iPhone 5 camera system undergoing redesign

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 06:07
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the leaks that make technology interesting.

Per Electronista, parts supplier leaks on Wednesday supported beliefs that Apple redesigning the camera flash for the iPhone 5. The company has reportedly “greatly reduced” the number of orders from Philips for the LED flashes used in the iPhone 4 over the past one to two months. Although it couldn’t be confirmed, there’s been talk of a switch to a Taiwanese supplier but said it could be a sign Philips wasn’t being used for the next iPhone, or at least not as-is.

The rumor has been corroborated by new iPhone camera parts that separated the camera sensor from its flash. The move is likely a reflection of lessons from the iPhone 4 and general photography: moving the flash further from the sensor reduces the instances of blown-out highlights and effects like red-eye.

Changes to the sensor itself may have also necessitated the shift. Apple is rumored to be using an eight-megapixel CMOS sensor from OmniVision that would be more sensitive than in the past. While excellent for low light, it could also be overly sensitive to light from a flash that on the iPhone 4 is just a fraction of an inch away.

Apple is rumored to be starting production in July for the next iPhone and would likely be winding down the majority of its part production to make way for the new device. Old components probably won’t be phased out entirely as Apple will likely want to keep the iPhone 4 as the new entry-level model.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent describes additional security/data scrambling features for lost iPhone handsets

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 05:11
Category: iPhone, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

If you’re hunting for your lost iPhone, you might have some additional features to work with before long.

Per AppleInsider, Apple has shown interest in giving users the ability to scramble or delete specific data, or even record audio or visual information in the event that an iPhone is lost.

Apple’s new potential security options are detailed in a patent application made public this week. Entitled “Proactive Security for Mobile Devices,” the feature would offer extremely flexible, custom options for security measures on an iPhone.

For example, with specific data such as e-mail, contacts and stored passwords, users could selectively choose to either scramble, delete or ignore the information if the handset is reported stolen or missing.

Users could even choose to deny a potential thief access to certain features of the iPhone, including the ability to make phone calls or access Wi-Fi. Users could also prevent a security breach to a corporate network by having their iPhone automatically change VPN settings once a security risk has been detected.

But a user may also decide to continue to allow some features on a missing device, such as Wi-Fi or GPS, to help track down the handset and identify its location. Keeping that functionality active allows the rightful owner of the device to determine its place on a map.

In one example included in the application, the missing iPhone displays an alert that a secure password must be entered within 60 seconds or location data associated with the handset will be transmitted back to the owner.

If a correct password is not entered in time, the location data will be sent, and the device can also be locked and restricted only to the functionality chosen by the original owner. For example, the device could become password locked, and the only available activity would be to contact the original owner of the iPhone.

Apple’s solution could also utilize the sensors inside of an iPhone to record unusual activity, and alert users that their handset is at security risk, potentially preventing it from being lost forever. Such a system could detect suspicious activities like calls or texts to an unknown number.

If an iPhone is reported stolen, the device could record images and ambient audio. This data could be provided to investigative authorities to help track down the hardware.

These options are more powerful and flexible than the existing Find My iPhone functionality, which late last year Apple made free for all iOS devices. The current service allows users to identify the location of their device, display a message on it, set a passcode lock, or remotely wipe it.

But in its patent application, Apple notes that features like the remote wipe command are an all-or-nothing approach that can be frustrating for users. If a remote wipe is conducted, the user is forced to restore all of the deleted information, which can be inconvenient and time consuming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.