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SilentSense Phone Security

If you are an avid Apple user, then you probably know that the iPhone 5s features a new way to secure your phone. Instead of having to type in a passcode, the iPhone now has a touch ID sensor, which allows you to scan your fingerprint, and use that as a secure way to access your phone. Like you would...

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Apple Touch-Screen Patent Deemed Invalid

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 04-12-2012

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Apple touch-screenYou’re probably tired of hearing about Apple patent news by now, but I promise this one is different. How so, you may ask? Well, this piece of information isn’t about Apple suing some other smartphone company for patent infringement, it’s about one of Apple’s very own patents coming under fire by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following a re-examination.

The patent covers touch-screen technology for Apple, though the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently ruled that all of the 20 claims included in the patent were invalid. The decision, however, is not final so things could still change in favor of Apple or against the Cupertino patent suit prince even more.

This is the second such Apple patent to be deemed completely invalid by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office following re-examination. A similar ruling for an Apple patent, one that covered the tech giant’s rubber-banding bounce effect, came in late October and is also subject to appeal.

One thing that is of great note is that late Apple CEO and Co-Founder Steve Jobs is listed as the chief inventor, along with 24 others, of the touch-related technology that is listed in U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949. Apple filed for the patent back in April of 2008, which was granted only nine months later. In addition to that, this patent was one of three used against Motorola in a recent patent suit, which was tossed out of court last week.

This could be a little bit of Karma coming Apple’s way as the company has been very pro patent lawsuit these days. Apple has gone after big name companies like Samsung, Motorola and even Microsoft in patent lawsuit cases, only achieving victory (as of now) over Samsung.

Source: CNET – Another Apple touch-screen patent in trouble

 

Apple Able to Keep Up with Demand for iPhone 5

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 20-11-2012

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Apple iPhone 5 whiteDespite the fact that the Samsung Galaxy is the world’s best selling smartphone, demand for the iPhone 4SXL, I mean iPhone 5, is still through the roof. Demand was so high, as a matter of fact, that Apple’s production plants, specifically Foxconn, were unable to keep up with the demand, severely angering Apple. Thankfully (for Foxconn employees at least) it only took about two months for Apple to almost catch up with iPhone 5 demand.

One of the top Apple analysts for Piper Jaffray, Gene Munster, has been tracking iPhone 5 availability at 100 Apple Stores around the United States for the past month. In that time, Munster has reported that there have been significant improvements in the past 10 days.

As of Tuesday, iPhone 5 smartphones running on AT&T were in stock at 82% of Apple stores with 72% of Verizon stores having the device in stock and 92% of Sprint stores having the newest Apple handset. In addition to that, shipping times for customers ordering online have decreased to about two weeks after having been stuck at three to four weeks since the phone launched on September 21.

According to Munster, Apple is “nearing full availability” for the iPhone 5 just in time for the holidays. The iPhone 5 debuted exactly two months ago to much fanfare, despite it essentially being the iPhone 4S with a larger screen and 4G LTE connectivity.

However, opening weekend sales were lower than expected due to supply constraints. Since then, Apple’s stock of the phone has been hit by concerns that the company’s manufacturing partners are unable to produce the latest iPhone fast enough to keep up with consumer demand.

The biggest question that Apple is facing now is whether or not the increased availability of the iPhone is due to an increased productivity from Apple’s manufacturing plants or a decreased demand for the phone which, to be honest, wasn’t as revolutionary as people expected it to be.

Source: Mashable – Apple is Finally Catching Up to iPhone 5 Demand

 

Foxconn Unable to Keep Up with iPhone 5 Demand, Apple Gets Angry

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 06-11-2012

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Apple iPhone 5 whiteFoxconn, Apple’s controversial manufacturer of almost all things with the prefix “i” isn’t producing as many iPhones as Apple wants, nor are they producing them fast enough according to the company’s chairman. Foxconn is arguably the biggest supplier of parts and construction for Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc…

According to Foxconn Chief Terry Gou in a recent interview with Reuters, “It’s not easy to make the iPhones. We are falling short of meeting the huge demand.” In addition to that, Gou was unable to say which iPhones are actually difficult to produce as Apple is still currently selling three different models: the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5.

Despite not revealing the product, it is presumed that Gou was referring to the latest iPhone 5. An unidentified Foxconn official told The Wall Street Journal last month that producing the iPhone 5 is “very complicated”, causing supply issues. The official went on to say that the smartphone is “the most difficult device that Foxconn has ever assembled.”

Apple’s iPhone 5 is thinner and taller than its predecessors and also comes with a few improvements over the 4S, including 4G LTE support and a new, smaller Lightning port. That means that Foxconn’s workers are putting a lot of components into an increasingly smaller shell.

Apple is definitely displeased. The iPhone 5 is scheduled to ship in three to four weeks for people who order it now with customers who are actually going to the store to buy one facing similar wait times. Apple is all about getting its technology into as many hands as possible as fast as possible, so set backs like this are almost inexcusable, especially with other smartphones on the market, like the Galaxy S III, being highly favorable replacements to the iPhone.

Source: CNET – Foxconn chief: We can’t keep up with iPhone demand

New Case from Fotodiox Promises to Remove Purple Lens Flare on iPhone 5

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 09-10-2012

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Fotodiox camHoodieOf all iPhone 5’s shortcomings, one of them may actually be a benefit to another company. This shortcoming comes by way of the iPhone 5’s camera with its purple lens flare problem. Fotodiox, based in Illinois, has just developed a new iPhone 5 case that promises to “greatly reduce purple lens flare”.

There isn’t anything really revolutionary or mind blowing about the case that allows it to accomplish this feat. The case simply has a piece of rubber that acts as a lens hood to keep stray light from coming in. The rubber piece is held in place by the actual case, which is designed to keep the back and sides of your phone from incurring damage.

If you are unfamiliar with the purple lens flare then count yourself lucky. The problem is that a purple color usually shows up on the edges of photos when a light source is immediately nearby. Unfortunately, the problem can also occur even when the lights are off frame. In addition to that, it can affect both pictures and videos.

Many Apple customers have been complaining about the issue ever since the phone launched last month. A support document that went up on Apple’s website noted that “most small cameras” exhibit this effect when there’s a nearby light source that is out of the frame of view.  Apple also stated that you would need to readjust your camera or block off any light using your hand to get rid of the problem completely.

If you are suffering from purple lens flare on your iPhone 5 and you want a semi-cheap alternative that also protects your phone, then you should look into Fotodiox’s camHoodie case. The case is available now from Fotodiox for only $24.95.

Source: CNET – New iPhone 5 case offers to fix purple flares

 

New Apple Patent Could Shut Down iPhone Cameras when Entering “Sensitive Areas”

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 25-09-2012

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iPhone cameraIn recent Apple patent news, and for the first time recently patent news that DOESN’T involve the company suing somebody, a patent was granted to Apple enabling them  to wirelessly disable the camera function on specific iPhones in certain locations, which naturally sparked a flurry of fear among consumers.

Needless to say, smartphones have made it extremely simple to take a video and upload instantly to millions of people on the internet. Some of the most popular videos on the internet today are ones captured on cell phones depicting fights, protests, riots or other crazy events involving civilians and authorities. This allows viewers to get a point of view that other news outlets fail to capture, the one from right in the middle of the action.

According to U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902, in theory, “apparatus and methods of enforcement of policies upon a wireless device” could be implemented with the push of a single button. The patent itself states:

Apparatus and methods for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event. In one embodiment, the event comprises detecting that the wireless device is within range of one or more other devices. In another variant, the event comprises the wireless device associating with a certain access point. In this manner, various aspects of device functionality may be enabled or restricted (device “policies”). This policy enforcement capability is useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater), for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices (such as in academic settings), and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area.

In layman’s terms, an encoded signal could potentially be transmitted to all wireless devices entering a “sensitive area” which would command them to disable all recording functions. However, one of the biggest questions here is who is in charge of determining these “sensitive areas”?

The biggest fear here is that this can and will be used by authorities at certain times to control what you can and cannot record on your own phone. This comes right after innovation by technology companies making wireless connectivity a major component on the latest smartphone cameras.

This could severely impact photographers and citizen journalists as this patent could constitute the creation of virtual walls around certain areas that would automatically shut off your camera whenever you crossed the barrier. The lighter side is that patents are filed every day that never come to fruition, which could be exactly what happens to this one, though it still lets off an ominous feeling of what the future may hold.

Source: International Business Times – Apple Granted Patent to Disable iPhone Recordings Near Government Buildings or Political Events

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The iPhone 5: Nothing Special, Nothing New, Nothing Groundbreaking

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 11-09-2012

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Apple iPhone 5 Debut

Apple has officially announced the iPhone 5, an announcement that has been long anticipated and much hyped, but is the new phone worth the wait? Initial inclinations point to no. While the iPhone is lighter, thinner and faster than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, it doesn’t bring anything new or groundbreaking to the table that hasn’t already been done by Android or other smartphone developers.

If you come down off your excitement high for a moment and really look at the new iPhone, has Apple really added a single, legitimately new feature? The answer is no. There is nothing groundbreaking here, nothing that will make people look at the iPhone 5 and honestly go “wow”. I mean, the biggest thing Tim Cook and company stressed during the announcement was all the work that went into the new, larger screen, which is still smaller than other devices, like the Galaxy S III from Samsung.

The lack of any real new feature won’t mean much to the average Joe consumer. Most of these people can’t see past the words “Apple iPhone” anyway, so you could essentially hand them a brick that says Apple iPhone on it and they would think it was the best thing on the market. But for anybody with half a brain that does their research, they will see that the iPhone 5 isn’t the market buster that it was poised to be and is, in fact, just another smartphone for sale.

When you break it down, what exactly did Apple talk about during the press conference? There was a lot of talk about the addition of 4G LTE, something that has actually been on a lot of smartphones for over a year now. There was talk about the ability to take a photo directly from a video, which is cool until you realize that the Galaxy S III and One X can do the same. Putting together a group of photos in Panorama mode was also mentioned, though is also available on the new Droid Razr phones.

If you haven’t been paying attention, there is nothing here that sets a new bar for the industry, at least not in the way the original iPhone or iPhone 3G did. Everything that the new iPhone 5 has to offer has already been done before by other developers, leaving Apple, for one of the first times ever, behind the curve.

Yahoo! has actually made a nice comparison chart pitting the new iPhone 5 against some of the other popular smartphones on the market, including the phone I recently purchased, the Galaxy S III from Samsung. The list, which can be found below, compares the iPhone 5’s screen size, operating system, cameras, battery and size, offering some pretty interesting statistics if you ask me.

Screen Size

  • Galaxy Note II – 5.5 inches, 1280 x 720, 267ppi
  • Galaxy S III – 4.8 inches, 1280 x 720, 306 ppi
  • Motorola RAZR HD – 4.7 inches, 1280 x 720, 312ppi
  • Lumia 920 – 4.5 inches, 1280 x 728, 332 ppi
  • iPhone 5 – 4 inches, 1136 x 640, 326ppi

Operating system

  • Galaxy Note II – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Motorola RAZR HD – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Galaxy S III – Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Lumia 920 – Windows Phone 8
  • iPhone 5 – iOS 6

Cameras

  • Lumia 920 – 8.7 megapixels (rear), 1.3 megapixels (front)
  • Galaxy Note II – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.9 megapixels (front)
  • Galaxy S III – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.9 megapixels (front)
  • Motorola RAZR HD – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.3 megapixels (front)
  • iPhone 5 – 8.0 megapixels (rear), 1.2 megapixels (front)

Battery

  • Galaxy Note II – 3,100mAh (No official stats given)
  • Motorola Razr HD – 2,530 mAh (10 hr video playback, 6hr web browsing, 6hr GPS usage)
  • Galaxy S III – 2,100 mAh (No official stats given)
  • Lumia 920 – 2,000 mAh (10hr 3G talk time, 67hr music playback, 6hr video playback)
  • iPhone 5 – (8hr 3G/LTE talk time, 10hr web browsing via wifi)

Size

  • Galaxy S III – 70.6 x 136.6 x 8.6 mm, 133g
  • Motorola RAZR HD – 67.9 x 131.9 x 8.4 mm, 146g
  • Galaxy Note II – 80.5 x 151.1 x 9.4 mm, 180g
  • Lumia 920 – 70.8 x 130.3 x 10.7 mm, 185g
  • iPhone 5 – 58.6 x 123.8 x 7.6 mm, 112g

The stats speak for themselves. In comparison to the Samsung Galaxy S III, which is the most popular 4G LTE smartphone on the market right now, the iPhone 5 has a smaller screen, a lower-resolution front-facing camera, a weaker battery, and is generally smaller all around. In fact, the iPhone 5 ranks last in every single category out of all the phones listed (Galaxy Note II, Galaxy S III, Razr HD, Lumia 900, iPhone 5).

Overall, the hype surrounding the iPhone 5 was more than what Apple delivered. What we have here is a somewhat generic 4G LTE smartphone that is outmatched by at least four other phones, not to mention the fact that it brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Add that to the fact that Apple could be sued by HTC and Samsung for (ironically) patent infringement over 4G LTE technology and you have one big dropped ball from Apple.

If you still think the iPhone 5 is the greatest thing since sliced bread then by all means, throw your money at Apple once again. Pre-orders for the device will become available on Friday, September 14th with actual shipments of the phone going out on September 21st. Pricing is the same as the launch of the iPhone 4S with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions available for $199, $299 and $399, respectively.

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After a Victory Over Samsung, Apple Turns Its Sights on Google

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 28-08-2012

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Apple vs GoogleFresh off its $1.05 billion patent lawsuit victory over Samsung, Apple is turning its sights on another tech giant, this one a little bigger than Samsung, however. After suing the crap out of Samsung for patent infringement, Apple CEO Tim Cook is reportedly in talks with Google CEO Larry Page about numerous intellectual property matters, including those at the center of the ongoing patent disputes between both companies.

These talks, which have taken place sort of secretively, began last week over the phone and will continue in the coming weeks. In addition to that, discussions involving lower-level executives for both companies are also being conducted. Cook has always said that these patent suits, including the one against Samsung, weren’t about attacking Android, which the late CEO Steve Jobs vowed.

Instead, Cook claims that the suits are to protect Apple’s properties. However, there is a fear now that the ruling laid forth last week has set the stage for additional lawsuits against other Android device makers. According to a statement from Google about the Apple-Samsung verdict, “The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims.”

Google also added, “Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the US Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.”

However, Google and Apple are discussing infringement issues in private. One possible scenario, according to sources, that is being contemplated by the two companies could be an actual truce involving disputes over basic Android features and functions. Unfortunately, it is still unclear if the two CEOs are discussing a broad settlement covering a wide array of disputes or are focusing on a more limited set of issues.

With the recent win over Samsung, Apple may be feeling pretty good about itself, which could be why it has decided to take on Google. The problem here is that Google is a little more powerful than Samsung. I’m curious to see if Apple will be able to give a one-two punch right to the face of Android by taking down Google right after defeating Samsung.

Source: Tom’s Hardware – Google and Apple CEOs Talking Over Patent Issues

 

Judge Pleads with Samsung and Apple to Talk It Out

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 14-08-2012

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Tim Cook and Choi Gee-SungThe Federal Judge who is overseeing the insane patent feud between Apple and Samsung has requested that the Chief Executives of both companies sit down and talk one more time to try and settle the case before it is handed over to a jury. Judge Lucy Koh recently warned lawyers for both parties that she “sees risks here for both sides” in handing the case to the jury, made up of nine individuals, which is set to begin deliberations next week.

Thankfully, the lawyers agreed that the CEOs of both companies would attempt to talk. However, outside lawyers and patent experts that have been following the case believe that an 11th hour breakthrough isn’t likely. According to intellectual property consultant Florian Mueller, “I don’t think this dispute is ripe for a settlement.” Mueller also says that both sides have too much stake in the case.

The case itself is in its third week of trial and has prompted disclosures about meetings between the companies in 2010, after Apple approached Samsung with concerns about patent infringement. Judge Koh requested a pretrial meeting back in May between CEO of Apple Tim Cook and CEO of Samsung Choi Gee-Sung, to which both parties complied.

Unfortunately, that meeting, along with many other attempts, failed to result in a deal between the two companies. In addition to that, Judge Koh has been impatient with both sides and has suggested that both companies have already accomplished a lot by taking the trial this far, including raising awareness of their intellectual properties. According to Koh, “In many respects, it is mission accomplished and time for peace.”

To be honest, I agree with Judge Koh. I think this patent suit has gone on long enough and that the case can only end badly for both sides. The real question is which side will suffer the most. Samsung seems to be the one suffering the most at this very moment, though who knows what the jury will decide when they call out that final verdict.

Source: The Wall Street Journal – Samsung, Apple Urged to Talk

 

Fanhattan Adds HBO, Cinemax, NBC and The CW to Offerings for iOS Users

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 31-07-2012

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FanhattanApple’s iPad has become a popular device for watching things like Netflix and streaming television shows through various apps and services. However, the iPad isn’t particularly great at the discovery of the streaming shows, which have a tendency to be scattered about. But fear not, because the latest version of the Fanhattan app takes a small, albeit needed, step toward helping iPad users find and stream their favorite television shows.

The one thing devices like the iPad are missing is a better centralized search-and-discovery dashboard. The Xbox 360 realized that when it added Bing, which allows shows to be found through any of the console’s available video apps. Fanhattan on iOS has been offering a similar functionality with the its database of movie and TV show information, along with a launchpad for video on different services like Netflix, iTunes and Hulu Plus. The only downside is that the selection of video apps that Fanhattan has access to isn’t quite as extensive.

Fanhattan’s latest installment, available on the Apple App Store, adds HBO, Cinemax, NBC and The CW to its repertoire, displaying show availability in searches along with launching the apps from within Fanhattan. While the change is small, it is still important and helps make the app a better catch-all video search tool. In addition to that, the app update adds a personal Watch List feature that tracks show and movie availability.

With this update the total number of video services that Fanhattan can discover increases to 12 and includes: Netflix, iTunes, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, PBS, YouTube, ABC/ABC Family, Cinemax, NBC, Lifetime, Crackle and The CW. However, users are upset at the lack of other services, like EPIX, Adult Swim, Vudu, and Amazon Instant Video.

Bing on the Xbox 360 is still an all-around better service for finding all your favorite television shows and movies, though you need an Xbox 360 for that. If you like to watch your favorite movies and television shows on your iPad then Fanhattan is an app you should definitely look into. The app itself is far from perfect but it is the best offering for iOS devices currently available.

Source: CNET – Fanhattan for iOS adds HBO and Cinemax, still trying to be iPad’s perfect video app

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In-App Purchase Hack Allows You to Get Free Stuff

Posted by Zack | Posted in Consumer Electronics | Posted on 17-07-2012

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In-App PurchaseAbout a week ago, Alexey Borodin, a Russian developer, hacked Apple’s In-App Purchase program for every device running anything from Apple iOS 3.0 to iOS 6.0. This allowed iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users to circumvent the payment process and basically steal any in-app content that they wanted to.

Apple confirmed the hack and stated that it was investigating the issue and, this week, tried to block the hack, though was unsuccessful. Now, Apple is starting to offer a proper solution, although it isn’t quite ready. Apple has started including unique identifiers in the validation receipts for in-app purchases. Developers recently started seeing the new receipts, which include a new field called “unique_identifier”.

According to a report from MacRumors, “As one developer noted to us, apps are no longer supposed to be collecting the UDID and thus it is unclear whether Apple’s use of the identifier for this purpose is simply a first step toward a broader implementation of unique receipt identifiers for increased security or if Apple is attempting to identify those users and devices who are sharing their receipts with the Russian hacker to allow the method to function.”

The worst part about this hack is that iOS developers have absolutely no way of protecting their apps. Store receipts don’t work since the only thing you need to bypass this is a single donated receipt which can then be used to authenticate anyone’s purchase requests. Borodin’s circumvention technique relies on installing certificates, changing DNS settings to allow the authentication of the purchases and then emulating the receipt verification server on the Apple App Store.

The unique identifiers have set Apple on a proper path to a decent solution, though Borodin has declared that he wants the company to fix the problem by either changing its APIs or placing new blocks on its service. It seems that Apple will have to start encrypting the connection and update iOS so that it is unaware of the changes being made. In turn, this will stop apps from being able to approve false purchases.

Source: ZD Net – Apple adds unique identifiers to fight iOS in-app purchase hack

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