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.

Rumor: Upcoming Apple television sets to arrive in three sizes, including 32″ and 55″

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Date: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011, 05:06
Category: Hardware, Rumor

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It’s the rumors that help make life interesting.

Per Australian web blog SmartHouse, Apple’s full-fledged television set will arrive at the end of 2012 in three screen sizes, maxing out at 55 inches, a new rumor claims.

Citing sources in Japan, the web site reported this week that the new Apple television will also come in an entry-level size of 32 inches. It did not indicate exactly what screen size the third model would feature, falling somewhere between the low end with 32 inches and maximum size of 55 inches.

The report said it’s a “major Japanese company” that’s involved in manufacturing Apple’s rumored television set. Echoing previous claims, the report said that the Apple television will feature Siri integration, allowing users to control the TV set with their voice.

Powering the rumored television will be a new processor expected to debut in Apple’s third-generation iPad, which the publication said will arrive “midway through 2012.” Presumably that processor will be an “A6″ custom-built ARM-based CPU.

Apple’s anticipated high-end 55-inch model is expected to compete with “smart TVs” from established television makers like Samsung and LG. Those companies’ next-generation TV sets are expected to have new features like faster processors, a “combination of OLED display,” and “Super HD” from LG, the report said.

Rumors of an Apple television set have picked up steam since the release of the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. In that book, Jobs hinted to biographer Walter Isaacson that Apple was at work on a completely new device that would feature “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

Reports have suggested that Apple’s anticipated television set could arrive as early as mid 2012, while others have seen Apple announcing it in late 2012 for an early 2013 sale date.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Apple television expected in mid-2012, initial production slated for February

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Date: Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011, 13:00
Category: Rumor

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Apple didn’t do the “Inc.” and “lifestyle company” change for nothing.

Per AppleInsider, commercial production of Apple’s anticipated television set is expected to begin in February at a Sharp plant in Japan, while competing HDTV makers are reportedly desperate to find out just what Apple plans to sell.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a note to investors this week that Apple is expected to partner with Sharp for TFT-LCD panels for its so-called “iTV.” Production is expected to begin in February at the company’s Gen 10 Sakai facility in Osaka, Japan, placing the television set in position for a mid-2012 launch.

Apple’s expected entrance into the television market is said to have sent other TV makers “scrambling” to identify what the features of the product may be.

“They hope to avoid the fate of other industries and manufacturers who were caught flat footed by Apple,” Misek wrote. “Having said that, it appears that mainstream TV manufacturers are likely to be at least 6 to 12 months behind in a best-case scenario.”

TV makers are said to be looking at Android as a potential option to counter Apple’s anticipated television set. In that scenario, the television market would act much like the current smartphone landscape, with manufacturers making the hardware and Google providing the operating system.

TV makers are said to be looking to Android because they lack the software and cloud capabilities Apple already offers. Earlier reports have also suggested that Apple will implement its proprietary voice recognition service, Siri, to allow controller-free navigation and further differentiate itself from current products on the market.

Rumors of an Apple television set picked up considerable steam with the release of the authorized biography of Steve Jobs. To biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs hinted at a completely new product that would feature “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

In an interview published last week, Isaacson revealed that before he died, Jobs had three products he wanted to reinvent, with the television being first among them, followed by textbooks and photography. Jobs reportedly felt there was “no reason” for televisions to be as difficult to use as they currently are.

Misek’s timeframe for a mid-2012 Apple television launch is slightly more aggressive than some other rumors have suggested. For example, last month The New York Times forecast Apple to announce the product by late 2012, with it going on sale to consumers by 2013.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple promotes Arthur D. Levinson to chairman of the board

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Date: Wednesday, November 16th, 2011, 08:08
Category: News

It’s time to step up to the plate.

According to the company’s press release, Apple has named Arthur D. Levinson, Ph. D. as its new non-executive Chairman of the Board.

Levinson replaces Steve Jobs in the chairman role, who was briefly named Apple’s chairman following his resignation as its chief executive.

Levinson has served as a co-lead director on Apple’s board since 2005, and has served on three board committees— audit and finance, nominating and corporate governance, and compensation. Apple noted he will continue to serve on the audit committee.

Levinson also serves as the chairman of Genentech, Inc., a biotech firm he lead as chief executive from 1995 through 2009, and is a member of the board of directors at pharmaceutical firm Roche.

Apple’s new chief executive Tim Cook said in a statement that “Art has made enormous contributions to Apple since he joined the board in 2000. He has been our longest serving co-lead director, and his insight and leadership are incredibly valuable to Apple, our employees and our shareholders.”

Levinson stated, “I am honored to be named chairman of Apple’s board and welcome Bob to our team. Apple is always focused on out-innovating itself through the delivery of truly innovative products that simplify and improve our lives, and that is something I am very proud to be a part of.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.



Rumor: Adobe to announce cancelation of Flash Player for mobile platforms

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Date: Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, 04:20
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

It’s had a good run, but maybe it’s time to move on to something else.

Per ZDNet, Adobe has briefed its employees on the company’s plans to abandon development of Flash player for mobile browsers in a blow to Google Android and Research in Motion PlayBook tablets, according to a new report.

Citing “sources close to Adobe” late Tuesday, ZDNet went on to claim that the company will soon make the following announcement, possibly as early as Wednesday:
“Our future work with Flash on mobile devices will be focused on enabling Flash developers to package native apps with Adobe AIR for all the major app stores. We will no longer adapt Flash Player for mobile devices to new browser, OS version or device configurations. Some of our source code licensees may opt to continue working on and releasing their own implementations. We will continue to support the current Android and PlayBook configurations with critical bug fixes and security updates.”

Adobe’s partners will reportedly receive an email briefing them on the fact that it is “stopping development on Flash Player for browsers on mobile,” the report continued. The company will instead focus its efforts on mobile applications, desktop content “in and out of browser,” and investments in HTML5.

The rumored announcement can largely be seen as a win for Apple and a loss for Android tablets and the Playbook. Competitors to the iPad and iPhone had originally touted Adobe Flash as a major selling point for their devices over Apple’s mobile offerings, which have eschewed Flash. RIM had highlighted in videos the fact that its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was Flash-capable.

Making the resource-intensive Flash work for low-power mobile situations has long been a thorn in Adobe’s side. The company has encountered delays as it struggled to streamline Flash to run on mobile processors. Earlier this year, Motorola bragged that its Xoom tablet would come “fully Flash-enabled,” but then went ahead and launched the device without initial Flash support, promising to add it later.

The end of mobile Flash could also be seen as a vindication of Apple’s decision to steer clear of it. The late Steve Jobs famously called out Adobe for its struggles with Flash.

“Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it,” Jobs said in an open letter last April.

“Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.”

In recent months, Adobe has moved towards HTML5. For instance, in September, the company announced that its Flash Media Server product would support the delivery of HTML5 video to Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Adobe also unveiled this summer work on an Edge web development tool that will enable creation of Flash-style animations through HTML5.

Adobe’s decision to drop development of mobile Flash comes as the company has initiated a round of layoffs due to restructuring. According to a press release on Tuesday, the software maker is aiming to focus more on “Digital Media and Digital Marketing” and will cut 750 full-time positions in North America and Europe as a result.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rare 70-minute Steve Jobs interview to arrive in select theaters this month

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Date: Monday, November 7th, 2011, 07:25
Category: News

This could be pretty interesting.

Per Movie city News, a 70-minute interview from 1995 featuring the late Steve Jobs and the journalist Robert Cringely that was presumed lost has since reappeared, and will be shown as a limited theatrical release in November.

The interview will screen at select Landmark Theatres locations at 19 U.S. cities on Nov. 16 and 17 as “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview.” The Palo Alto Aquarius theater will feature an extended 7-day engagement from Nov. 16 to 22.

Originally filmed for the “Triumph of the Nerds” PBS miniseries, the interview was thought to have been lost after the master tapes went missing during shipping. Less than 10 minutes of footage were aired during the series. But, in October, a VHS copy of the interview was found in London and has since been enhanced and restored.

The footage is billed as the “best TV interview Jobs ever gave.” It is especially well-known for containing a section where the late Apple co-founder strongly criticizes Microsoft.

Mark Stephens, the journalist who is usually known by the pseudonym Robert Cringely, was one of the first employees at Apple after having met Jobs and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak at the Homebrew Computer Club in the 1970s. The Cringely moniker began as a column in Infoworld in the 1980s.

Cringely describes the interview as “a moment in time” because it captures Jobs during his so-called ‘wilderness years.’ NeXT, the company that Jobs founded after being ousted from Apple, as well as Apple itself, were in trouble in 1995. In essence, the interview offers a snapshot of Jobs just before his now famous comeback at Apple.

In the wake of his death, Jobs has been the subject of several documentaries and TV specials, some of which contain unaired footage of him.

An authorized biography on him was also released last month. Culled from dozens of interviews with Jobs, the book offers numerous insights into Jobs’ life and philosophy. The title has already topped best-seller lists, selling 380,000 copies in the U.S. during its first week.

Sony is reportedly looking into producing a film based on the book. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who wrote the script for Academy Award-winning “The Social Network,” is said to have been approached regarding the project.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

CBS exec describes turning down Apple TV offer after disagreement over revenue split

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Date: Friday, November 4th, 2011, 05:53
Category: Apple TV, News

Sometimes you can reach a middle ground.

And sometimes the aforementioned middle ground is still a million miles away no matter what’s been said.

Per GigaOm, CBS boss Les Moonves revealed in an earnings call on Thursday that his company had been approached by Apple about a potential streaming TV service that would share ad revenues, but the network declined to strike a deal because it prefers to license its content.

Moonves, who serves as the company’s CEO, made the comments in response to an analyst question on whether CBS would pursue partnerships with “success-based or non-guaranteed” streaming players.

“We’ve even been against joining Apple TV, which was an advertiser split,” SeekingAlpha reported him as saying.

With the rise of online content, CBS has stuck to a strategy of upfront license fees for syndication, the report noted. That approach led the network to keep its distance from Hulu, a joint subscription venture by NBC, Fox and ABC. CBS did, however, recently agree to allow Hulu to air reruns from the CW network, a joint venture with Time Warner. It has also reached similar agreements with Netflix and Amazon.

The licensing route appears to be paying off for CBS for now, as Moonves said on Thursday that the network is already receiving “hundred of millions of dollars” annually from online streaming agreements with possibly even more deals to come. The executive is confident that online viewership will continue to bring in significant money over the years.

Rumors of an Apple subscription TV service have existed for years, but CBS’ comments come as the first public confirmation of it. The network reportedly considered a proposal from Apple as early as 2009.

Apple has gradually been adding channels and partners to its Apple TV set-top box. A recent software update added Wall Street Journal Live and National Hockey League content in addition to new features such as Photo Stream and AirPlay Mirroring.

Recent indications have pointed to an upcoming Apple television set with an innovative interface. The late Steve Jobs reportedly told biographer Walter Isaacson that he had “cracked” the concept for a “simple and elegant” connected TV.

Jobs’ comments have reignited speculation that Apple will enter the TV market. The New York Times noted late last month that, according to sources, such a device is definitely coming.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Google to releases native Gmail app for iOS

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Date: Tuesday, November 1st, 2011, 05:00
Category: iPad, iPhone, iPod, News, Software

More than three years since Apple launched the App Store, Google is rumored to be on the verge of releasing a native iOS app for its Gmail service, according to a new report.

According to M.G. Siegler of parislemon, “multiple sources” have stated that the launch of the application is imminent.

“I believe it has already been submitted to Apple for review. If it gets approved, it should be out soon,” he wrote, adding that he believes it will get approved.

Siegler went on to note that tipsters have said the app looks “pretty fantastic…perhaps even surprisingly so.” A key feature of the app is expected to be the addition of push notifications for the popular email service. Other likely feature additions include Priority Inbox and one-click starring of messages, according to him.

The author also speculated that upcoming Gmail features such as “contact icons, better threading, deep searching functionality,” and even Google+ integration could make their way into the iOS application.

Despite the arrival of Apple’s App Store in 2008, Google has preferred to use a Web interface for Gmail on iOS. Apple’s native Mail app on iOS has included support for Gmail accounts for years, though it lacks a number of the features that Google offers via the Web app.

Numerous reasons have been put forth for the delay in a Gmail app. Originally, some suggested that Apple was blocking third-party mail apps to avoid confusion with its own Mail program as well as Google’s tendency to favor Web apps for its services. More recently, friction between Apple and Google over the Android operating system has been cited as another cause of the delay.

According to a recently released biography, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs vowed to “destroy Android” after handset maker HTC released an Android smartphone that he felt stole his company’s innovations.

“I don’t want your money. If you offer me US$5 billion, I won’t want it. I’ve got plenty of money. I want you to stop using our ideas in Android, that’s all I want,” Jobs reportedly told Schmidt during a meeting in 2010.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Rumor: Prior to passing, Steve Jobs left iTunes creator in charge of HDTV project

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Date: Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 05:51
Category: Rumor, Software

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When Steve Jobs passed away, he put certain Apple employees in place to keep things going and make sure his final goals were realized.

It looks like another has been discovered.

According to Bloomberg, Jeff Robbin, an Apple vice president and engineer who helped create both iTunes and the iPod, is leading the company’s efforts to produce a connected TV with integrated search functionality.

Citing multiple sources familiar with the project, Bloomberg reported on Monday that Robbin is in charge of Cupertino, Calif., company’s secretive high-definition TV project. According to the sources, Apple is working to integrate seamless content search features into the device.

“For example, instead of having to separately check to see if a movie or show is available through Netflix or a cable service, all the material could be integrated,” the report noted.

Robbin worked as a system software engineer at Apple in the 1990s before leaving to work on his own software projects. While at software publisher Casady & Greene, he helped to develop the SoundJam MP MP3 player software. In late 2000, Apple purchased the rights for SoundJam from Casady & Greene, bringing Robbin back into the fold to head up the software’s transformation into iTunes.

Back at Apple, Robbin also played a crucial role in the development of the iPod, which just recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. He is listed among the inventors of several key iPod-related patent filings, though not all of the applications were successfully converted into legitimate patents.

His current role at Apple is vice president of consumer applications and lead software designer for iTunes.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs at one point considered Robbin to be of such high value to the company that he worked to keep Robbin’s role under wraps. According to the bestselling biography on Jobs, officially released on Monday, Jobs refused to allow a Time magazine reporter to use the engineer’s full name in an article because he feared Robbin would be poached by another company. The book also noted that Robbin was one of the Apple executives who successfully lobbied Jobs to allow a Windows version of iTunes.

Having persisted for years, rumors surrounding Apple’s connected television initiative have gained momentum after Jobs’ biography confirmed that he had been working on such a device. Author Walter Isaacson quoted Jobs in an interview as saying that he wanted to make television sets “simple and elegant,” just like he had done with computers, music players and phones.

“It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine,” Jobs reportedly said of the project. “I finally cracked it.”

Multiple analysts claimed on Monday that Apple has been building prototype high-definition TVs, possibly in preparation for a 2012 launch. The rumored product would represent a strong opportunity for the company, as some have projected the LCD TV market to top US$100 billion next year.

Apple currently sells a US$99 Apple TV set-top box, but considers the device to be little more than a “hobby.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.