Apple's put a touch interface on so many of its other products, could an iMac be next?
If a patent application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is any indication, the answer is possibly yes. Patently Apple, a blog that keeps tabs on Apple's USPTO filings, noticed an application on Monday that depicts a hinged-screen version of Apple's iMac desktop that has a touch-sensitive screen. The hinge appears to the computer to alternate between a traditional vertical desktop configuration and a flat, iPad-like surface when rocked back on its hinge.
Because this would be a desktop computer and a touch-screen device at the same time, it appears the user can choose whether to use the touch-focused iOS operation system from the iPhone and iPad, or the traditional Mac OSX desktop operating system. Moving between the OSes, according to the application, would be activated by touching specific areas of the iMac's screen.
The patent also describes how an accelerometer would be used for alternating between touch input and mouse/keyboard input when the device is in horizontal surface mode versus vertical desktop mode.
While it's true patent applications aren't always good indicators of actual products being developed, this one doesn't seem that much of a stretch. Touch-screen all-in-one desktops have been a great way for PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Asus to reinvigorate desktop sales, a category of sales that was plummeting a few years ago, only to bounce back recently.
Plus, Apple applied for a similar patent on a touch-screen version of an iMac in July 2008, and Apple has managed to insert touch into a variety of its products, including the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, MacBooks, and most recently the Magic Trackpad.
The company has applied for a patent, titled "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device," that covers a series of security measures to automatically protect devices from thieves and other "unauthorized users." Unauthorized users apparently applies to those who engage in jailbreaking, which allows devices to run apps not approved by the company producing the operating system--such as Apple, the main target of such bypasses.
The application, which was filed in February 2009 and published Thursday, describes measures to identify "particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior," so that "safety measures" can be taken to restrict the device's functions. Those activities include the "hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card," according to the application. Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via e-mail or text message when such activity is detected.
The application also describes a variety of measures that could be used to help identify the unauthorized user, including the activation of a camera that could capture and geotag the device's surroundings, and perhaps current user, and transmit that information to a remote device:
In some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected by comparing the identity of the current user to the identities of authorized users of the electronic device. For example, a photograph of the current user can be taken, a recording of the current user's voice can be recorded, the heartbeat of the current user can be recorded, or any combination of the above. The photograph, recording, or heartbeat can be compared, respectively, to a photograph, recording, or heartbeat of authorized users of the electronic device to determine whether they match. If they do not match, the current user can be detected as an unauthorized user.
When unauthorized use has been detected, "access to particular applications can be restricted, access to sensitive information can be restricted, sensitive information can be erased from the electronic device...," the application states, effectively wiping and bricking the device.
Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In July, U.S. Copyright Office ruled that bypassing a manufacturer's protection mechanisms to allow "handsets to execute software applications" no longer violates federal copyright law. However, while the U.S. Copyright Office has declared the software legal, Apple has repeatedly discouraged users from loading such a bypass, reminding them that doing so will void their device's warranty.
"As we've said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably," Apple had said in a statement in response to the ruling.
Just as Apple's iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, Amazon wasn't the first company on the block to release an e-book reader--NuvoMedia's RocketBook and the early Sony Readers all beat the Kindle to market. But it's hard to argue that the online retailer's Kindle isn't the iPod of the e-book reader market. The Kindle has helped usher the e-book reader from gadget curiosity to a burgeoning mass-market device, all in less than three short years.
And now, amid a much more competitive market, Amazon is debuting the third-generation Kindle.
The first thing you should know about the "Kindle 3" is that it's more evolutionary than revolutionary. Most importantly, Amazon has made its 6-inch e-reader smaller and lighter, and it has improved the screen. The Kindle has also adopted the key Wi-Fi feature from its rival, the Barnes & Noble Nook.
In fact, this Kindle comes in a couple of versions, one with both Wi-Fi and 3G wireless for $189, and a Wi-Fi-only version that costs $139--both $10 less than corresponding versions of the Nook. Each version is available in graphite or white and--on top of the more compact design--some other key additions include more memory (4GB instead of 2GB) and double the battery life (four weeks instead of two weeks with the wireless turned off)
So, just how good is the new Kindle? Click here to read CNET's full review.
When it comes to Apple, rumors are a dime a dozen (and often worth even less.) But there's reason to treat the latest buzz with more than passing interest. According to China's Economic Daily News newspaper, Apple is planning to come out with a 7-inch iPad. The journal has a good track record on this count: it was spot on in reporting the specifications and scheduled timetable for the launch of Apple's original iPad months before anybody else.
The IDG News Service, which translated the report, noted that Taiwanese companies have won several component contracts for the iPad 2: "Chimei Innolux will supply 7-inch LCD screens, which use the same IPS (in-plane switching) technology found in the original iPad, which improves viewing angles and color on LCD screens. Touchscreen technology for the screens will come from Cando Corporation."
This is the second rumor pointing to a smaller version of the iPad on the way soon. Looking at the competitive landscape inhabited by Apple and a clutch of rivals, it's hardly surprising that the company's engineers are already thinking about ways to improve upon their first entry into the tablet computer business. Fast Company Kit Eaton summarizes it nicely:
The main thing to remember about the 7-inch iPad speculation is that competitors with screen sizes in this mid-range are beginning to appear and will arrive in greater numbers later this year. It would result in a smaller, lighter iPad, solving one of the minor gripes that some users have about the initial device: That it weighs a fraction too much to hold after a while. Peering at the guts of the first iPad, it was clear that there was a lot of empty space inside the thing, so it's easy to imagine all the battery and electronics tech being squeezed into a smaller shell. The screen is also exactly twice the diagonal size of the iPhone's, which may have design and construction implications.
That revamped Apple TV we heard about a few months ago? It might be headed our way shortly.
Apple TV has long been a "hobby" for Apple, a project that the company considers a work in progress and not a flagship product like the iPhone or Mac. As such, there have been few changes to the video-streaming set-top box since its introduction in 2008.
e In June Engadget was told by some unnamed sources thatContinue »
Apple's Japanese unit has offered to replace its first-generation iPod nano music player in the event of it overheating after reports of fires led to criticism from the government in Tokyo. According to AFP:
Apple confirmed "very rare cases of overheating" in the battery of the iPod nano sold between September 2005 and December 2006, which distorted the shape of the device or made it unuseable, the company said on its website.
It offered to replace affected units, adding that concerned customers using the first-generation iPod nano can now get the battery replaced, it said on its Japanese-language website.
Apple blamed an unnamed battery supplier. It says that other iPod nano models have not experienced similar recharging problems.
So far, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has tallied 27 overheating incidents, "including six fires, which left four people with minor burns," according to AFP.
Another week, another leak about what Hewlett-Packard may have planned for a WebOS.
The tech website Engadget is reporting that a senior executive told employees during an all-hands meeting on Monday that the company's targeting the first quarter of next year to ship a tablet loaded with the WebOS - the internal codename for the project being "Hurricane."
Earlier this spring, HP announced plans to acquire Palm for $1.2 billion. At the time, the company was vague about what it planned to do with the mobile operating system, dropping hints about future products, including tablets, netbooks and other devices powered by WebOS.
Also: Check out CNET's recent report on HP's chief technology officer. During a conference last week, Shane Robison said the Palm acquisition would pay off in a panoply of products including slates and other computers, smartphones, and next-generation printers. He also sketched out in very broad terms how a WebOS might affect HP's product line, noting that most of its printers will be Web-connected and print without the need a computer - and the WebOS would allow for a consistent interface across many of these devices.
Maybe there was more to those famous "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads than we all thought.
When Mark Papermaster joined Apple 15 months ago, he probably thought he knew all there was to know about maneuvering through bureaucratic and political mine fields. He was a highly-regarded executive with a long track record at IBM and now he was going to marshal all of that experience to run Apple's mobile devices division.
But over the weekend, we found out that Papermaster was leaving the company.
He had been in charge when the iPhone 4 debacle broke out and caused Apple weeks of grief. If heads were to roll, Papermaster's likely would be among them. Apple doesn't comment on personnel matters - or much else, for that matter. But the Wall Street Journal on Monday quotes sources who summed up the decision in two words: Steve Jobs. The paper says that Papermaster had fallen out of favor months ago. What's more, it says he "hasn't been part of the decision-making process for some time."
"They added that Mr. Papermaster didn't appear to have the type of creative thinking expected at Apple and wasn't used to Apple's corporate culture, where even senior executives are expected to keep on top of the smallest details of their areas of responsibility and often have to handle many tasks directly, as opposed to delegating them.
One of these people also said Mr. Papermaster had difficulty maneuvering Apple's internal politics.
You can read the full story at the Wall Street Journal
Reuters quotes Avian Securities analyst Matt Thornton saying the company is likely going to announce what's called the slider 9800 handset at a joint announcement in New York next week with AT&T. "The earlier they are going to say it is going to be available on the shelves the better. They don't want to miss one of the key seasons," he said, referring to the approach of the back-to-school calendar.
Earlier this spring, tech web sites began publishing what purported to be leaked photos of the upcoming RIM handset running the Blackberry OS 6. (If you want to browse, the Chinese web site Berrytimes.cn has a gallery with very clear images of what's said to be a prototype of the upcoming device.)
In late morning trading, shares of RIM finished up more than 4%.
The new BlackBerry 9800 is expected to be launched at an event in New York City on Tuesday next week. AT&T, which is expected to be the exclusive carrier for the new phone, will be joining RIM for the announcement. CNET reported news of the press conference earlier this week.
AT&T takes the phone out of iPhone
Unreliable iPhone service prompts CNET's Elinor Mills to make fewer and shorter calls, when she even has service--and apparently she isn't alone.
A seemingly exasperated Jobs
CNET brings you the news live from Apple's Town Hall meeting, where the topic at hand is the iPhone 4. Join us Friday at 10 a.m. PDT.
Live blog: Apple gives free cases to iPhone 4 owners
CNET brings you the news live from Apple's Town Hall meeting, where the topic at hand is the iPhone 4. Join us Friday at 10 a.m. PDT.
Apple is being sued for iPads overheating and shutting off when left in direct sunlight.
Most gadget owners know that leaving any piece of electronic equipment in the direct sunlight isn't a great idea. Now an iPad owner, who claims their touch-screen tablet overheats and turns off when left in the sunlight, is suing Apple.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the complaint was filed Friday in federal court in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit is seeking class-action status and asks for unspecified damages because the device "overheats so quickly under common weather conditions." The suit says Apple's iPad "does not live up to the reasonable consumer's expectations created by Apple.
It's not the first time we've heard the iPad overheating complaint. Not long after the first iPads went on sale in early April some new owners reported the issue.
PC Magazine editor Zach Honig said on Twitter that he took his iPad out in the sun on a warm day in New York City, and 10 minutes later, it shut down with the message: "iPad needs to cool down before you can use it." Honig said he stuck his iPad in the fridge and it was back to normal a few minutes later.
Apple on Tuesday released new iMacs, adding faster processors and new graphics cards. The company also introduced what it calls the Magic Trackpad, allowing users to have the same type of gesture control that they use on the iPhone and iPad.
The iMacs now use Intel's newest processors, the Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7. David Moody, Apple's vice president Worldwide Mac Product Marketing, told CNET that the processors provide up to a 50 percent increase in processing power over the previous generation.
You can read more about it here.
"Recently there has been a real increase in online activity from consumers dissatisfied with some of our competitors' products," Samsung said in a press release. "We decided to contact a cross section of individuals to offer them a free Samsung Galaxy S as a replacement, as we're confident that once people have the phone in their hands, they'll see how impressive it is for themselves."
During the conference call following the earnings announcement, chief operating officer Tim Cook said Apple was backlogged on iPhones and iPads. Although he didn't offer specifics on when the situation might clear up, Cook said the company was confident about meeting the demand on both product lines.
Apple is making both of these products "as fast as we can make them," he said. Cook added that Apple was "working around the clock to try to get supply-demand in balance. In the scheme of things, it's a good problem to have."
Apple also faced questions about how does a company that understands how to build products as well as this one still encounters product shortages right out of the gate.
'We do not purposely create a shortage for buzz," Cook said. "I'm not sure where that comes from. That's certainly not our objective. The demand for iPhone 4 is absolutely stunning. We're working hard to catch up with demand. I can't tell you when that will occur but everyone's working hard to do it."
"My phone is ringing off the hook from people that need more supply," Cook said.
In a prepared statement, CEO Steve Jobs called it "a phenomenal quarter that exceeded our expectations all around," and indeed it was.
Gross margin was 39.1 percent compared to 40.9 percent in the year-ago quarter. But Apple earlier had projected 36% margins - it almost always under-promises - so Wall Street likely interpreted that as a beat. And in after-hours trading, shares of Apple were up more than 3%.
Indeed, the company beat Wall Street estimates by all measures: earnings and revenue as well as unit shipments of Macs,
- 3.47 million Macs during the quarter, up 33 percent. (Wall Street expected 3.1 million Mac units.)
8.4 million iPhones, up 61 percent (Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, whose estimate for
iPhoneunits was the highest at 9.5 million, told CNBC that this still was a better-than-expected number.)
9.41 million iPods down 8 eight percent (The Street had expected around 9.5 million units.)
- Apple began selling iPads during the quarter, with total sales of 3.27 million
Apple is expected to report between $13.82 billion and $15.74 billion in revenue, on profit somewhere between $2.65 and $3.74 per share. (Update: After the bell, Apple earned $3.25 billion in profit on $15.7 billion in revenue Story to follow.)
Some iPhone users have complained about degraded signal reception when they grip the units in a certain way.
So far, though, the reported problems haven't impacted sales in any significant way. During his press conference, Jobs said Apple so far had shipped "well over" 3 million units since the product went on sale in June.
Among other issues, watch for these questions to get raised during the conference call:
HTC, RIM and Nokia disputed Jobs' assertions that everyone's in the same boat when it comes to smartphone reception getting flaky. What's the truth?
How big will be the earnings now that Apple plans to make good on its offer of free protective cases to iPhone 4 users? (Analyst estimates are all over the map, ranging from Piper Jaffray's calculation of $5 per case to Bernstein Research's $2.)
- If that doesn't do the trick and the company's forced to order a full recall, what would be the price tag?