Recently published Apple patent shows interest in developing stylus for iOS devices

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Date: Thursday, May 24th, 2012, 07:14
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News

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It never hurts to have different options for your user interface.

Per Engadget, an Apple patent application for an optical stylus has turned up on the United States Patent Trade Office website.

Although late Apple CEO Steve Jobs had derided the stylus as an input method for the iPhone and the iPad once famously saying that ‘If you need a stylus, you’ve already failed,’ Jobs was well known for throwing the opposition a curve ball from time to time speaking out against an idea, only to have been developing a concept behind the scenes. One example was when he said that consumers liked having a separate iPod while also carrying their phone, only to reveal the ultimate convergence device in the iPhone a couple of years later.

The Apple patent application describes a stylus that incorporates image capture along with an on-board image processor, while also capable of sensing pressure. It would include an accelerometer and an antenna to help relay the relative position of the stylus in relation to the device. Apple is also known to file patents for products, or technologies, that may never see the light of day. However, creative professionals, and other users would probably welcome an Apple stylus if it was released. The aftermarket stylus ecosystem the iPad and the iPhone, along with an interesting stylus project at Kickstarter and the forthcoming Adonit Jot Touch suggests that the demand is indeed there.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Next-gen iPhone to incorporate larger display, part of Steve Jobs’ final effort

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Date: Friday, May 18th, 2012, 05:29
Category: iPhone, Rumor

This whole thing about the next-gen iPhone containing a larger screen? It might be what Steve Jobs would have wanted.

According to Bloomberg, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs “worked closely on” the upcoming iPhone before he died. According to sources familiar with Apple’s plans, the Cupertino, Calif., company has ordered from suppliers screens that are “bigger than the 3.5-inch size” that the iPhone has sported since its debut in 2007.

“Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had worked closely on the redesigned phone before his death in October,” the report noted one person as saying. Another source said that Jobs had played a “key role in developing” Apple’s next-generation iPhone.

If Apple were to perform a major redesign of the iPhone, it would be the device’s first since the iPhone 4 arrived in mid-2010. The previous design, that of the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, was also kept for two years before the current form factor was introduced.

With three mainstream media outlets reporting similar claims in the same week, the likelihood that Apple will expand the screen on its best-selling handset appears high. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal said that LG Display, Sharp and the newly-created Japan Display are readying production lines for 4-inch displays bound for Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone. Reuters then noted that production of the new screens could begin as soon as next month, ahead of full production of the next-generation iPhone in August.

Pundits have suggested that Apple’s interest in a larger-screen iPhone comes in response to pressure from ever-increasing screen sizes of competing Android handsets. For instance, Samsung’s Galaxy S II, the most popular Android phone according to one recent study, has a 4.8-inch screen. The Galaxy Note, also by Samsung, is a hybrid smartphone and tablet with its 5.3-inch display.

Apple is widely expected to bring a new iPhone to market this fall, roughly one year after the iPhone 4S went on sale. Sources have disagreed, however, on whether the device’s launch will come in September or October.

Multiple reports have also suggested that the 2012 iPhone could make the jump to 4G LTE. Apple is expected to make use of new LTE chipsets from Qualcomm with improvements to power consumption over the previous generation.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

FaceTime connections on iPad 3 to be limited to Wi-Fi networks, won’t function over 4G LTE networks

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Date: Thursday, March 15th, 2012, 06:24
Category: iPad, News

It looks like your new iPad 3 won’t allow FaceTime calls over a 4G connection.

And it might not paint your living room as promised.

Per some testing performed over at The Verge, the new iPad will need to connect to a Wi-Fi network to use FaceTime. Though the news hardly comes as a surprise, since Apple’s 3G-enabled iOS devices are unable to use FaceTime over 3G, it does put to rest questions about whether the added download speeds from LTE might open up the feature for 4G cellular networks.

Report author Dieter Bohn found the LTE FaceTime restriction to be “doubly frustrating” because Verion LTE iPads can generate Personal Hotspot Wi-Fi networks that would presumably allow other iOS devices to make FaceTime calls via the same LTE connection.

Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled FaceTime alongside the iPhone 4 in 2010. The video calling service launched as Wi-Fi only, but Jobs promised that Apple would “work a little bit with the cellular providers” in hopes of bringing it to mobile networks.

Early reviews of the iPad show that LTE service on the device is significantly faster than previous-generation 3G networking. Journalist Walt Mossberg said he averaged download speeds of 17 megabits per second on Verizon, while a colleague averaged 12 mbps on AT&T’s network. The mighty David Pogue tested the iPad in three cities and got speeds ranging from 6 to 29 mbps.

The new iPad goes on sale at 8 a.m. local time in 10 countries on Friday. The device will be available in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the U.K, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

We Need Your Feedback: Do the battery improvements in iOS 5.1 work for you?

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Date: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, 08:47
Category: Announcement

Ladies and gentlemen, there’s been some contention here among the PowerPage staff as to whether the battery improvements in Apple’s recently-released iOS 5.1 update genuinely work or if this is part of Steve Jobs’/Apple’s Reality Distortion Field.

Within this inter-staff contention, voices have been raised, furniture may have been lit ablaze and thrown, I’ve informed Jason he’s wrong (about this and the slightly flared, acid-wash jeans he continues to don on a daily basis) and Rob Parker and Tom Hesser have offered their own opinions while linking me to old Guns and Roses videos off YouTube to help settle the argument.



Still, we need your feedback: has the iOS 5.1 update helped your battery life or hindered it? That’s the question of the day and we need your feedback, opinions and whatever else is on your mind regarding the update.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled O’Grady’s PowerPage, already in progress.

Opinion: Apple’s online store goes down like a sack of potatoes…so what’s the next step?

Posted by:
Date: Friday, March 9th, 2012, 07:39
Category: Opinion, The Apple Core

If you have a good thing that people want, there’s going to be demand.

As such, during the next several hours after Apple’s launch of the third-generation iPad, the company’s online store suffered a catastrophic failure as a result of the impending traffic and transactions that came to its door.

As always, PowerPage head honcho Jason O’Grady had a few opinions to vent about the situation over at the Apple Core. The key point: under Steve Jobs, this wouldn’t have happened, especially to the most valuable technology company in the world.

Click the link, take a gander and have a killer Friday, you guys!

Effort to release a Steve Jobs action figure halted by pressure from lawyers, family

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Date: Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, 03:52
Category: News

Not to start your day on a down note…but a Steve Jobs action figure won’t be hitting the shelves any time soon.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Tandy Cheung of In Icons Productions has announced that the product is no more on the company website saying the item won’t be sold now or in the future. “Unfortunately we have received immense pressure from the lawyers of Apple and Steve Jobs’ family,” he notes.

Cheung originally claimed he wasn’t going to be pressured to take the action figure off the market. The legal issues are murky, with some experts claiming selling a likeness of Jobs is legal, and others claiming a sale could be blocked in some countries or jurisdictions.

The Jobs action figure was selling for US US$99, and there is quite a lot of other less realistic Jobs memorabilia on eBay.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple patent towards HDTV design with additional backlighting features

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Date: Thursday, January 5th, 2012, 08:51
Category: News, Patents

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This could turn into something pretty cool.

Per Free Patents Online, Apple is looking into building displays with dynamic backlight adaptation for better picture quality, particularly when watching letterboxed widescreen movies on a high-definition screen.

The concept was revealed this week in a new Apple patent application discovered by AppleInsider. The filing, entitled “Dynamic Backlight Adaptation for Black Bars with Subtitles,” focuses on improving picture quality when watching letterboxed content, like Hollywood movies, on an LCD display.

The application was filed just months ago, in September of 2011, and comes as rumors of a full-fledged Apple television set continue to build. One report this week claimed that Apple design chief Jonathan Ive has a 50-inch prototype set located in his secure work studio at the company’s corporate headquarters.

A common problem with LCD displays is the ability to show “true” black colors on the screen. This becomes amplified when black bars are included in a video, such as when watching a letterboxed film. The difficulty of adjusting the backlight properly when the black bars are present can result in poorer quality of the remainder of the video.

Even though modern television sets are built with widescreen 16-by-9 aspect ratios, Blu-ray and DVD films, as well as those sold on iTunes, often show movies in an even wider format, leaving black bars at the top and bottom. For example, many movies are shot in Panavision’s 2.35:1 ratio.

“Many video images are encoded with black bars, e.g., non-picture portions of the video images,” the filing reads. “These non-picture portions complicate the analysis of the brightness of the video images, and therefore can create problems when determining the trade-off between the brightness of the video signals and the intensity setting of the light source. Moreover, these non-picture portions can also produce visual artifacts, which can degrade the overall user experience.”

Further complicating picture quality and brightness is the fact that users can often view subtitles in the black bars located at the top and bottom of a widescreen film. This makes it even more difficult for the system to dynamically adjust and ensure the highest level of quality.

Apple’s solution is a complex processing system that could “spatially vary visual information” on a display. This would dynamically adjust the backlight source on a screen, like a high-definition television set, in a way that would improve the picture quality.

The display would have multiple brightness settings for its backlight based on the processing of the image. For example, the “picture portion” of the screen would be illuminated by LED backlighting to an appropriate level, whereas the “non-picture portion,” which would include the black bars, would have a different backlight setting.

The application describes an “extraction circuit” included in the display, which would calculate a brightness metric associated with the video signal. Then an “analysis circuit” would analyze and identify specific subsets of a video, like black bars that are shown when watching a movie.

The display would also include an “intensity circuit” that would determine the ideal intensity of the light source that illuminates the LCD display. The system could also employ a mapping function to determine optimum quality by using features like a “distortion metric” to limit image distortion.

Apple’s system could also process the video signal in advance and synchronize the intensity of the light source based on the image currently being displayed.

“The system determines the intensity setting of the light source on an image-by-image basis for the sequence of video images, where the intensity of the given video image is based on the brightness setting and/or brightness information contained in the video signals associated with the given image,” the filing reads. “Then, the system synchronizes the intensity of the setting of the light source with the current video image to be displayed.”

The filing, made public this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is credited to inventors Ulrich T. Barnhoefer, Wei H. Yao, Wei Chen, Barry J. Corlett, and Jean-didier Allegrucci.

Though rumors of a full-fledged Apple television set have persisted for years, they picked up once again late last year, when it was revealed that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs told his biographer that he had “cracked’ the secret to building an integrated, easy-to-use television set.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs said, prompting speculation that an Apple-branded television would use Siri, Apple’s voice control software featured on the iPhone 4S, as its primary input method.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rare photo of Steve Jobs surfaces, expresses his opinion regarding IBM at the time

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Date: Friday, December 30th, 2011, 11:56
Category: photos

We miss you, Steve.

Per Andy Hertzfield, a new image from 1983 has been released of Steve Jobs, clad in blue jeans and a leather jacket, expressing his affection for then rival IBM while walking the streets of New York City in the lead up to the launch of the first Mac.

Andy Hertzfield, one of the original members of the Macintosh team that helped pioneer the personal computer revolution alongside Jobs and Steve Wozniak, published the photo to his Google+ page on Thursday in memoriam of the late Apple co-founder and his rebellious spirit.

The 28-year-old Jobs had flown to New York City with Hertzfield for a quick meeting with Newsweek in December of 1983, as the publication was putting together a cover story for the launch of the Macintosh the following month.

“The photo was taken spontaneously as we walked around Manhattan by Jean Pigozzi, a wild French jet setter who was hanging out with us at the time,” Hertzfield said. “Somehow I ended up with a copy of it.”

Although his editor begged him to include the photo in his 2004 book Revolution in The Valley, Hertzfield admitted that he was “too timid” to ask Jobs for permission, especially given that IBM was still supplying processors to Apple for its Mac product line at the time.

Apple awarded key multitouch technology patent, able to cite wider legal defense regarding oscillating signal technologies

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Date: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011, 05:06
Category: News, Patents

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Patent: It’s good to have ‘em.

According to Patently Apple, Apple won a core multitouch patent regarding oscillating signals that was alluded to when Steve Jobs first announced the original iPhone in 2007, and adds to the company’s already formidable legal arsenal.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office published on Tuesday that the Cupertino, Calif. company now owns a crucial patent that describes how touch events are recognized by a touchscreen device, and was one of the “200+ Patents for new inventions” Jobs lauded when the iPhone first debuted.

The newly granted patent focuses on the oscillator signal and circuit of a touchscreen-equipped device, an integral invention directly related to how users interact with their multitouch products.

Apple states in the filing:
“In general, multi-touch panels may be able to detect multiple touches (touch events or contact points) that occur at or about the same time, and identify and track their locations.”

Previous to the iPhone’s introduction in 2007, most touch-capable devices relied on single-touch input like resistive touchscreens. The legacy technology “senses” a touch when two electrically resistive sheets separated by a small gap are connected by the push of a finger or stylus, which in turn creates a voltage division that is detected by a device controller that records the change along the x and y axes.

Resistive displays are limited in that they can only recognize single inputs no matter how many objects are touching the screen.

One way to record multiple touches at a time is to generate an oscillating signal circuit that can power and clock inputs over a substrate as in a capacitive touchscreen display, however it is difficult to create a precise circuit-based oscillator.

Apple’s patent provides a solution to capacitive touchscreen problem by using calibration logic circuitry which compares the signal oscillation against a reference signal and tunes the clock frequency accordingly. The invention provides for an accurate capacitive display that can not only sense multiple touches, but also detect hover or near touches which are also recognized as “touch events.”

The patent wording states that the invention could apply to computing devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets or handhelds, including digital music and video players and mobile telephones. Also mentioned are public computing systems like kiosks and ATMs.

The news follows a Dec. 19 U.S. International Trade Commission decision which resulted in an import ban on HTC Android handsets that infringe on Apple’s Data Detectors patent. The injunction will take take effect on April 19, 2012, however HTC CEO Peter Chou said the Taiwanese company is already testing workarounds to bypass the ITC ruling.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple looking to release 7-inch iPad in 2012

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Date: Friday, December 16th, 2011, 05:38
Category: iPad, Rumor

If there’s a rumor, there must be a nugget of truth in there somewhere.

Per DigiTimes, Asian supply chain sources are now claiming Apple will release a 7.85-inch iPad by the fourth quarter of 2012 to face off against competition from smaller tablets such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The web site claimed on Friday that Apple is “likely” to launch a smaller iPad several months after the next-generation iPad, which is expected to arrive at the end of the first quarter.

“In order to cope with increasing market competition including the 7-inch Kindle Fire from Amazon and the launch of large-size smartphones from handset vendors, Apple has been persuaded into the development of 7.85-inch iPads,” the report noted sources as saying.

Apple will allegedly purchase the 7.85-inch panels from LG Display and AU Optronics, with makers within the company’s supply chain expected to begin production of the smaller iPad at the end of the second quarter of 2012.

The report should, however, be taken with some degree of skepticism, as the Taiwanese industry publication has a mixed track record with Apple predictions.

Rumors of a 7-inch iPad were supposedly laid to rest when late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs proclaimed such a screen to be “too small to express the software.” However, reports of the device were resurrected this fall after the announcement of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which some have touted as the first credible challenger to the iPad.

Ticonderoga securities analyst Brian White claimed in October that he had heard rumblings of a so-called “iPad mini” arriving next year, though he believed the device would be cheaper and not necessarily smaller. Also in October, DigiTimes reported that suppliers were gearing up to ship 7.85-inch screens to Apple.

For its part, Amazon may not even stick with the 7-inch size for its Kindle Fire. Recent reports have suggested that the company is looking to expand to an 8.9-inch model. The Fire does appear to be on its way to success, as Amazon revealed on Thursday that millions of the device had been sold, though it declined to provide specific figures.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.