Two new Apple patents emerge pertaining to cloud-based sorting, syncing

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 08:21
Category: Apple TV, News, Patents

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Two days after Apple’s media event unveiled a new cloud-based Apple TV, two patent applications from the company describe methods to improve the experience of over-the-air syncing, and browsing of Internet-based content.

Per AppleInsider, the documents describe wirelessly syncing data between a server in the “cloud,” and a client device owned by an individual user. They also detail methods that aim to improve the navigation, browsing, search and playback of digital media that is hosted on a remote server.

One patent application, entitled “Media and User Interface for Accessing Groups of Media Assets,” relates to browsing content through scrolling lists, searching for specific content, or viewing by category types. The other, named “Data Synchronization Protocol,” describes the syncing of data over the Internet to portable devices like the iPhone, and stationary ones like a Mac.

The timing of the publishing of the documents is noteworthy, as the new Apple TV focuses exclusively on streaming from external devices and over the Internet. Apple will allow TV episode rentals for 99 cents, and first-run HD movies for US$4.99 over the device, as well as access to other Internet-based content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe.

The new Apple TV aims to simplify the browsing experience by relying solely on the cloud, and not saving data on the device itself. In addition to streaming video, the new Apple TV also helps users catch shows they may have missed by keeping viewed content synced with the cloud.

Wednesday’s Apple TV announcement is expected to be only the beginning for Apple’s cloud-based initiative, as the company is reportedly looking to offer an Internet-based iTunes service. Apple has reportedly been in talks with content providers and aims to obtain the necessary licenses to allow users to stream their content to their devices, even with limited or no storage like the Apple TV.

The new application related to data synchronization describes syncing across a number of devices, including Macs and iPhones. It describes allow over-the-air syncing of portable devices, like the iPhone, that currently must be tethered to a computer via USB to sync.

The described invention includes “fast,” “slow” and “reset” sync modes, determined based on a request received from the mobile device. The sync modes can be applied to different types of data classes with different file sizes (say, contacts vs. photos) to more efficiently conduct the cloud-based sync.

The application related to browsing on the Apple TV describes providing a list of information to users, and allowing them to expand that list or seek additional information via a remote control.

It describes methods for quickly sorting content that can be streamed from the cloud, based on criteria set by the user when they browse based on category, or conduct a search.

The application pertaining to syncing was filed on May 13, 2010 and is credited to Brendan A. McCarthy and Carsten Guenther. The application related to browsing of content was originally filed for on May 12, 2010, and is a continuation of a patent filed on May 28, 2007. It is credited to Rachel Clare Goldeen, Jeffrey Ma, Michael Margolis, Rainer Brodersen, Calin Pacuraiu, and Jeffrey L. Robbin.

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.6.5 beta four to developer community

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Date: Friday, September 3rd, 2010, 04:39
Category: News, Software

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Late Thursday, Apple seeded Apple on Thursday seeded its fourth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.5 to developers, as the security and maintenance update continues to be tested before its public release.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest build, said to be known as 10H535, indicated that it features the same focus areas as the previous build, issued exactly one week ago Developers have reportedly been asked to concentrate on 3D Graphics, Mail, iCal, QuickTime, Time Machine and USB Devices.

The latest build is also said to have the same known issue as before, in which having VMWare or Parallels installed may prevent the use of devices connected to a USB port.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple seeds Mac OS X 10.6.5 beta 3, focuses on lone remaining issue

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Date: Friday, August 27th, 2010, 07:06
Category: News, Software

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Apple on Thursday seeded the third beta of Mac OS X 10.6.5 to developers, its latest security and maintenance update for Snow Leopard, with just one known issue.

Per AppleInsider, sources familiar with the latest build, reportedly known as 10H531, said the lone issue is associated with VMware and that having the software installed can cause USB devices to not work when the Mac is awoken from sleep mode.

The sources said said Apple has asked developers to focus on a few key areas for the latest beta, including iCal, Mail, USB Devices, QuickTime, Time Machine and 3D graphics. The delta update is said to be a 557MB download.

The latest beta comes just a week after the last build was supplied to developers. And the previous, first build arrived only six days before that.

Recently unearthed iPad configuration policies provide additional evidence to forthcoming camera

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Date: Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010, 06:43
Category: iPad, News

You’re hankering for a camera on the iPad and it may be forthcoming.

Per AppleInsider, iPad management profile policies available to corporate users include the capability to disable use of its camera, providing evidence of future intent to include a camera on upcoming models.

Apple’s configuration profile tools for iOS devices include a variety of settings and restrictions that companies can impose to regulate how the devices are used and to configure services such as VPN and wireless networking access or email, calendar and directory services.

These policies can also force strong passwords and set security features such as the number of times a password attempt can fail before the device wipes its data. Similar to parental controls, the policy settings can also be used to block access to features such as the iTunes Store, Safari, YouTube, or the use of its camera.

While iPhones do have cameras to disable, the current iPad lacks this. However, among the profiles specifically included in its iPad documentation, Apple notes the ability to restrict camera use on the iPad.

Prior to launch, it was widely rumored that the iPad might include a camera. When it shipped, Apple only provided the ability to connect to external cameras through its Dock connector, either via USB or using an SD Card reader adapter.

API support for camera, flash, and zoom functions were discovered in developer builds of the iPad-only iOS 3.2 in February.

While those APIs may have been added as part of software development work performed to support iPhone 4, Apple also posted job listings for a “Performance QA Engineer, iPad Media” which stated, “Build on your QA experience and knowledge of digital camera technology (still and video) to develop and maintain testing frameworks for both capture and playback pipelines.”

Taken together, it appears likely that future versions of iPad will incorporate a camera, most likely a front-facing unit intended to support FaceTime. That video conferencing feature is currently limited to iPhone 4, but Apple plans to make it a widespread standard among mobile devices.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

We Have a Winner: Outlet Charging Proves Faster for iPhone 4

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Date: Monday, July 12th, 2010, 04:02
Category: iPhone, iPod, News

Among the great debates of computer technology (along with whether or not to shut your computer down for the night or put it to sleep and how this affects the hardware) is the question as to whether or not to charge an iPhone or similar device via an outlet or USB port. Even in the case of charging an iPad, where the user receives a “not charging” message near the battery indicator, the device is charging, but slowly.

The guys over at When Will Apple? took the time to do a pretty decent job of comparing charging times on the iPhone 4, comparing USB to AC outlet. The conclusion: USB charging takes 23% longer to charge an iPhone 4 than charging via an AC outlet. If you’re in a rush to charge your phone, that’s a pretty significant difference.

The little flaw in this test is not knowing the amount of charge coming from the USB port used, as not all USB ports are created equal.

If you’ve found a different result on your end, please let us know.

How-To: Work around Mail program errors in Mac OS X 10.6.4

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Date: Friday, June 25th, 2010, 03:50
Category: How-To, News, Software

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Following the update to Mac OS X 10.6.4, a number of users are experiencing an error where Apple’s Mail email client will not open. Per CNET, when the application is launched, a message stating “Mail version 4.3 (1081/1078) cannot be used on Mac OS X Version 10.6.4″ is displayed and the program shuts down.

The version of Mail that is included with OS X 10.6.4 is 4.3 or build 1081, which can be found by right-clicking the Mail application, choosing “Show Package Contents”, opening the /Contents/version.plist file, and checking the version string. Apple purposefully prevents some builds of Applications from running on different versions of OS X, and this type of error will be presented if you try to do so.

One reason this may happen if the OS X update did not complete properly and the system detects the version of Mail as being the older one. The following are a few approaches you can try to fix the problem:

“Reapply the combo updater:
If this problem happens to you, the first thing to try is to reinstall the OS X 10.6.4 update using the “Combo” updater. Download the updater, boot into Safe Mode by restarting and holding the Shift key at bootup, and then run the installer. As an extra safeguard, you can run general maintenance routines beforehand to ensure permissions and caches are in order.

The OS X 10.6.4 Combo updater can be found here: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1048

Downgrade Mail and then reapply the combo updater:
Since the Combo updater may not have a full version of Mail included, and instead may only have updated components for Mail, you can try putting a previous version of Mail on the system and then running the combo updater to update it to the latest version. Older versions of Mail can be found in the following locations:

A Time Machine backup:
On the Snow Leopard installation DVD (use Pacifist to extract it)
From another computer running OS X 10.6.3 or earlier

Copy from another system:
Lastly, if you have access to another system that has a properly functioning version of Mail, you can copy the program from that computer to your OS X 10.6.4 installation. You can use a USB flash drive or copy the program over the network and replace the one on your system, but after doing so be sure to run a permissions fix on the boot drive.

Archive and Install:
As a last resort, if the update did not work you can either restore your whole system to a previous version by using Time Machine and then upgrading again with the “Combo” updater, or you can use the OS X 10.6 installation DVD to reinstall OS X. By default the installer will run an “Archive and Install” method, which will replace your system components and Apple-supplied applications with those that are on the DVD. From here, immediately update the system again using the “Combo” updater.”

If you’ve seen this issue on your end and have any fixes or workarounds of your own, let us know.

QuickerTek releases Apple Juicz external battery for iPad

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Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2010, 10:31
Category: Accessory, iPad, News

Accessory maker QuickerTek has announced a new line of external batteries via its
Apple Juicz for iPad. The unit, a 9400mAh lithium polymer battery is claimed to be rated for over 2000 charge cycles with the web site claiming that the battery pack adds an additional 20 hours of usage time for the iPad with each charge.

The pack features advanced safety circuitry with failsafe protection, temperature and charge/discharge controls and automatic cell balancing. Per iPodNN, the Apple Juicz can fully recharge an iPad in three hours, while a second USB port can charge a second device such as an iPhone or iPod touch. It can power any USB-chargeable device, but has special circuitry guaranteeing compatibility with Apple’s range of products.

The battery is housed in a machined aluminum case with an anodized finish. The design also integrates a 10-LED gauge that allows users to quickly view the remaining battery power.

The Juicz for iPad is now shipping for US$250 and includes a year’s warranty with parts and labor.

Apple releases sixth beta of Mac OS X 10.6.4, no known issues reported

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Date: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010, 11:09
Category: News, Software

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Apple this week issued a sixth beta of its Mac OS X 10.6.4 security and maintenance update for its Snow Leopard operating system. Per AppleInsider, the latest build remains free of known issues.

According to sources close to the story, the beta, which was issued to developers last Tuesday, is labeled as “build 10F564″, weighs in at 600 megabytes which developers being asked to focus on graphics drivers, SMB, USB, VoiceOver and VPN.

The last few builds have all contained the same focus areas and enhancements, and this week’s update is no different. The updates addressed issues that could cause the keyboard or trackpad to become unresponsive, and also fixed a problem that prevented some Adobe Creative Suite 3 applications from loading.

Apple first began widespread testing of Mac OS X 10.6.4 in late April. The previous update to Snow Leopard, Mac OS X 10.6.3, was released at the end of March. It included improvements for QuickTime X and OpenGL-based applications, in the form of a 437.2 megabyte update.

Elgato releases EyeTV 3.4 update

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Date: Tuesday, May 25th, 2010, 02:41
Category: Software

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Late Monday, Elgato Systems released version 3.4 of its EyeTV software application, which finds and tracks all television programming you want to see and allows users to pause live television and save content to file.

The new version, a 104.9 megabyte update which can be found here via VersionTracker (and can also be found through EyeTV 3.0′s update feature), adds the following fixes and features:

- EyeTV Sat: A problem where the EyeTV infrared remote would repeat the same key has been resolved.

- EyeTV’s CPU utilization and memory usage have been reduced when no windows are open.

- The EyeTV Application size is smaller.

- The FF/REW buttons on the Apple remote now work as intended with longer key presses.

- A problem where EyeTV USB would hang has been resolved.

- A cosmetic problem where long channel numbers would not display correctly in EyeTV’s on screen menu has been resolved.

EyeTV 3.4 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run. The program retails for US$79.95.

USB 3.0 underperforms in notebook tests, bottlenecks cited

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Date: Monday, May 10th, 2010, 05:49
Category: News

USB 3.0 may be the future, but it may still have room for improvement. Per Techworld, the upcoming port technology may be hard pressed to surpass current technologies like eSATA.

The test comprised plugging Freecom’s USB 3.0 external drive, the XS Hard Drive 3.0, into a mainstream dual-core notebook using the company’s new USB 3.0 Express Card notebook add-on.

Throughput was derived using a simple calculation based on how long the drive took to copy and paste a large number of video and image files to and from the laptop, replicating how the drive will actually be used in the real world for functions such as directory backup.

The Freecom XS operating in USB 2.0 mode managed an average throughput of 18.7MB/s for reads and only 11.1MB/s for writes, well below the theoretical maximum of USB 2.0 but in line with real-world transfer speeds on a mid-range laptop.

The same drive in USB 3.0 mode raised this to 36.6MB/s for reads and about the same or slightly slower for writes, although this fluctuated considerably for reasons that might relate to the supplied NEC driver. Still, there seems to be a relative difference which will depend on a range of factors including overall system performance.

The tests concluded that USB 3.0 offers even notebook users a handy though not spectacular speed boost compared to USB 2.0 of around two-three times. However, when pitted against an eSATA drive from LG, the interface port for which is found on many high end notebooks, the results were less clear cut.

Copying the test files to an external LG eSATA drive achieved throughputs of 32.5MB/s for reads, and 29.7MB/s for writes, not much slower than USB 3.0 on this hardware. In some cases, it even matched the USB 3.0 drive.

Freecom engineers agreed that USB 3.0 would be held back by a number of bottlenecks on today’s systems, especially laptops which typically use slower internal hard drives. Desktop systems which can use the company’s faster PCI Express Card interface would fare better, they said.

USB 3.0 will start to shine when paired with forthcoming SATA 3.0 or even SSD drives, faster CPUs able to keep up with the dramatically higher data throughtputs, integrated USB 3.0 ports that don’t need slow interfaces such as Express card, and possibly also better drivers and chipsets.