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Displaying items by tag: iPad

Friday, 21 October 2011 21:12

Why Apple is Important to the Industry

News_3d_Apple_Logo_102In talking about Apple (and SIri) over the last couple of days I started to think about what Apple does that is “right”. I know that most of the media and many consumers view almost any Apple product as glorious and Apple can do no wrong. While that is not true there is something important in that mindset and it finally dawned on me why Apple is vital to the future of the computer industry. It is not because they make amazing products with quality second to none.

The fact is they make good products with the same quality as everyone else. If you did not know already every iPhone, iPod and Mac is made by Foxconn over in China. The line that assembles these is very close to the line that builds HP, Dell and others (at least they were the last time I checked).  This means that the same level of build quality is present in all of those devices.  If you are getting an Apple product there is not some magical line that makes their devices better.  The same can be said for the components inside. The A4 and the original A5 found in the iPad2 was not manufactured by Apple it was made by Samsung (which makes the lawsuits very interesting and is another case of Apple biting the hand the fed them). The more recent ones (after April 2011) have been made by TSMC. These are the same guys that make nVidia and AMD GPUs as well as many other ARM processors. Again there is nothing that makes Apple product magically better using either of these companies.

No it is not Apple’s hardware that makes them vital to the tech world. It is also not their software. True the iOS is fast and nimble, just like OSX is. However, it is fast and nimble on a very narrow hardware group. If you take it outside that and manage to get different hardware to work you will find that it is not so quick.  
In short terms the thing that makes Apple crucial and an amazing company is this; No one can sell a product like Apple. You just cannot do it. All you have to do is look back at recent history to see what I mean. For example, let’s take the MP3 player. Long before the first iPod hit there was an MP3 Player from Creative called Nomad that pretty much kicked things off. Many other companies came along and put out MP3 players at the same time, even D-Link had one.
In fact the MP3 player looked like it was going to fade away when Apple released the iPod with a new device inside, the Micro Drive from IBM (and later Fujitsu). This meant that while other companies were pushing 16, 32 and 128 MB (yes Megabyte) Apple could put 1-2 GB and more space in their products. Later as these drives grew (and the advent of the 1.8-inch drive) the size of the iPod grew while other companies were barely getting by with the smaller amounts of flash memory. Apple’s product was not all that better, it was primitive with basic controls but it was good looking and offered more from the consumer’s point of view. This was even more true when you combined iTunes and the $0.99 song.  Apple showed people that they wanted this product. The iPod became a synonym for MP3 player. You can follow this chain through the iPhone and the iPad. On the day the iPhone launched there were more sophisticated phones and phones with better support. However, the iPhone caught the consumer’s imagination. Suddenly they wanted these products. A touch screen phone? With icons. Wow. Of course there had been touch screen Windows Mobile phones and Palm based phones for years before. Still the smart phone market as an entertainment and business tool did not take off until Apple launched the iPhone.  It is the same story with the iPad and now Natural Voice Command. Both of these products have been out for a long time, but Apple has been able to make people WANT them.

So you can criticize Apple for their xenophobic ways, their controlling nature, their reprehensible patent policies and legal team (I know I will). In the same breath, anyone in the tech industry should also be thanking them. Without Apple, so many of the cool toys that we love and want would never survive in the market. We might also still have nothing more than boxy and bulky laptops right next to those terrible unstylish off-white cases that were so popular…

Think about it.

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Published in Editorials
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 22:52

Australians Going Online to get Their Tab Fix

samsung-galaxy-tab-10_1If you did not see this one coming then you are either deluding yourself or perhaps your just discovered this thing call the Internet. It seems that despite a temporary ban on Sales of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Australia sales are still booming. According to the Sydney Morning Herald the only ones that are being forced to comply with the ban are the local resellers. One of these Harvey Norman has let their displeasure known and have asked that both Samsung and Apple do something about it.

The problem is that Harvey Norman is looking to lose out on a possible $30 Million in retail sales because of this ban. This, coincidentally, is why Apple wants the ban in the first place. Oh they have put on a good show about their Intellectual Property being stolen and that the Tab 10.1 is a copycat product and many other items all of which were, unfortunately, bought by the judge presiding over the hearings.

This judge then issued a temporary ban on all sales of the Tab 10.1 in Australia. Technically this should mean online sellers that can ship there as well. However, as we have already mentioned this is not the case. According to several lawyers enforcing a complete ban especially one that is only temporary is near impossible and the amount of resources and money that it would take to track down every person that purchases one through the internet is simply not worth it. This loophole works in Samsung and the consumer’s favor even if it does lock out the local resellers.

While Apple has not made any comment on the situation yet they have made some of their usual threats to smaller online resellers some of which have stopped selling the offending tablet. Other and more larger online outlets have refused to be bullied and are still offering the popular iPad alternative for sale.

Our take on this is that Apple has such a culture of control they feel they have the right to shut out other companies even if they have to fudge the evidence or file knowingly invalid patents (ones either too broad, cover concepts, or the look and feel of something) by putting on some extra legal pressure. It really is time they discovered that consumers want what they want. Sometimes that is Apple and sometimes it is not. However, by trying to block competition and limit consumer choice we think that Apple could soon find the rather fickle market turning on them and finding way to get alternatives even if they are less than legal.

Source The Sydney Morning Herald

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Published in News
Friday, 14 October 2011 22:29

Apple v Samsung Update 10-14-2011

screenshot-page-28Well it is time for another Apple Legal Round up. On Friday October 14th 2011 we find that Apple has managed to get a preliminary injunction on the sales of some of Samsung’s products in Australia. Most notable in this ban is the Galaxy Tab 10.1. This injunction and ban was handed down after Apple rejected a compromise offer to Apple. Apple is using this offer to bolster their claim that the Tab is a copy of their iPad and that it infringes on their Intellectual Property. On the other hand their rejection of this could be seen as an indication that they are not looking to cooperate and just want a competing product off the market. Either way the ban will be in place until after the case in heard in court.

In the Netherlands, Apple has managed to avoid having their own products banned. It seems that Samsung put in a complaint stating that Apple has infringed on their patents involving 3G technologies. However the judge in this case was not buying it. Samsung’s complaint and accusations were thrown out along with Apple’s own counter complaints. It is quite possible that they are getting a little tired of the bickering between these two companies. In this case Samsung has stated they will pursue other avenues to protect their IP.

In the US a judge has refused a preliminary ban on Samsung products stating that Apple has to prove their claims before any ban or injunction will be put into place. This case is a little interesting as it seems that the judge may hold some doubts to the validity of the patents in the first place. At one point US District Judge Lucy Koh held up both tablets and asked the Samsung lawyers present to identify them. It took a few moments before the answer could be supplied.  Apple maintains that their design is what makes all of the difference and that no one should be copying it. The problem with that comment is that all tablets are going to have a similar design. They are rectangular devices with a screen on one side. Only logos and color differentiate most of them in terms of appearance. In any case Apple now has to not only prove that Samsung has violated these patents, but now also has to prove that the patents are valid.

These items are just the latest news in the patent war between Samsung and Apple. As of this writing there are over 20 legal cases in progress around the world. The enmity between these two comes from a bad ending to a partnership that Samsung and Apple enjoyed right up until Apple began designing their own chips for their products. May have felt that Apple used the information and technology provided by Samsung to start this venture only to find themselves not only left out, but being the target of Apple’s legal team attempting to suppress their products.

I doubt that we will ever know what really kicked all of this off but one thing is fairly clear IP or not; Apple wants Samsung’s (and others) phones and Tablets off the market. They know that even a temporary delay in sales can hinder or even kill a product.

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Published in News

trnas07In our second dive into the Non-Apple Tablet market we take a look at one of the more popular Android based tablets available right now. This is the Asus EEE Pad TF101 known more affectionately as the Transformer. This 10.1-inch Tegra 2 sporting device was first shown off at CES earlier this year. It generated quite a bit of interest as it not only works as a tablet but also has an available dock that lets you use it like a small netbook (and get a few extra hours of battery life).  The Transformer comes in two flavors; one with 16GB of internal storage and one with 32GB. Other than that they are identical. You get the dual 1GHz Tegra 2 SoC (which features an nVidia GPU core and Cuda Acceleration for Flash) plus 3D SRS surround sound, MicroSD and SD Card readers (the SD card comes with the Dock) and much more. The best part of all of this is that you can get the 16GB Transformer with Dock for only $50 more than an iPad 2 16GB WiFi. Now the question is, is it worth that much and have we found a non-Windows tablet that is anything other than a toy? Read on to find out.

Published in Mobile Computing
Wednesday, 21 September 2011 23:32

Windows 8 on the EEE Slate Day 4 - Last Day

win801Four days, I lasted four days before I had to go back to Windows 7 on the EEE Slate. I tried to get Hyper-V running but the Core i5 on the system did not want to work the way it should.  In the end I have come away with some interesting observations about the state that Microsoft’s next OS is in and where it could be by launch date. The first thing I have to remind everyone is that this is a developer’s preview. It is intended to allow App developers to push out apps for their Metro UI and also to ensure that software and hardware are ready (drivers mostly). By releasing it to the general public Microsoft has done a very smart thing. They are getting the OS out and on the street. People are actually running this as their main OS right now. Now this is all great if you are using something like a Laptop or even a desktop. There truly is very little that Windows 8 cannot do right now. However, when it comes to a tablet… things begin to fall apart. The problem is not that there is no touch screen support; it is that there seems to be no multi-touch support. On the EEE Slate EP 121 under Windows 7 I have multi-touch gestures and greater control. In Windows 8 that is gone. Instead of a two finger tap to right click my only option is touch and hold.

The matter is further complicated by Microsoft’s very immature Metro UI. It looks decent, but you cannot move things around to suit what you want or the layout you want. I do not like everything bunched up on one side on my tablet. I prefer it along the bottom. The Metro UI bunches the Apps and due to their different sizes breaks up any chance of a good flow.  The lack of a Home button inside the individual apps is a big problem as well.  Once you strip away the Metro UI you are left with a skinned Windows 7. Now I do like the new sharp corners as I think they make the windows look clean and show off a screen’s ability to reproduce good 2D imagery (well more like 2.5D).

The speed of Windows 8 is also very good. I was more than a little surprised to find this developer preview zipping along like it does. Usually at this stage of the game the OS does not feel very complete at all. There are speed issues, driver issues, and worse you name it you will probably run into it. In many cases (unless I have to) I do not really starting playing around with a new OS until it is at least at Beta 2 stage. Here you have things really ironed out and are looking for the little items. It is usually about this time that Microsoft opens up the Customer Preview Program and allows anyone to download the new OS. This early Developer’s Build really feels and performs much more like a Beta 2 than a dev preview.  

So to wrap up my experience with Windows 8 on a tablet, I have to say I am impressed with quite a bit of it, but I do feel that this OS needs a LOT more work if it is going to compete head to head with Apple and Google in the tablet market. Sorry Microsoft, pretty Widgets and a cool keyboard is not enough to make it in this market space. You have to come up with something that no one else has or is doing, and as of right now, Windows 8 just does not have it for the Tablet Market. Let’s hope that by launch time these bugs are ironed out and we see a much improved version of Metro UI around August of next year.

For now we will get back to bringing you the news and our regular reviews..

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Published in Mobile Computing
Sunday, 18 September 2011 09:08

It’s the same old, same old again…

win8Now that Windows 8 has hit the “general public” in the form of a developer’s preview we are starting to see the internet community chime in about whether they like it or not. I have been reading quite a bit of this (as you can imagine) and have been struck once again by how people complain about, yet resist and fear any type of change.

I have been working in the IT industry since the birth of Windows 3.0 one of my first large scale projects was implementing Windows 3.11 for workgroups into Fort Riley during my time with the US Army. I can remember the grumbling prior to this “new” software coming in about how the current system was terrible because it could not do this or that. When we brought Microsoft in (we even brought the early components of Office in) the same people that complained about the current UNIX based system were suddenly its biggest fan. I can remember one clerk who complained loudly and often about the system suddenly thought it was the best one we had. She did not like the new Windowed interface and Word was just horrible compared to her usual word processing application (which was called Wordstar).

Now take a big jump forward in time; Windows 8 is a rebuilt OS with a new (although somewhat cheesy) UI. Microsoft has really put in some effort to move with the market and change the OS to meet the needs of the new tablet based consumer. If you think about it more and more people are moving in the direction of the tablet/smart phone for their day to day needs. I am not saying it is there for productivity but for the general computing people do the tablet is the ideal platform. Microsoft HAD to change and reinvent its OS or it would be lost in the stampede of more and more powerful general usage tablets.

I personally own both an Android and Windows based tablet. One is the Asus EEE Slate EP121 the other is the Asus Transformer. When I want to tinker around or just surf the net I grab the light and small Tegra 2 armed (no pun intended) Transformer. When I want to do some work I grab the EP121 with its Core i5 470 UM and 4GB of RAM.   The problem with Android (and even the iPad to a certain extent) is that there are no real productivity applications that truly work. Polaris Office, Documents to Go, and all of the others that I have tried all fall very short of the mark of MS Office or even Open Office. Apple knew this with the iPad so they came up with light versions of their productivity applications for iPad users. Android has nothing like this so it is hard for me to get real work done. Instead I surf the net looking for news and then add it to my Evernote account and pull out the EEE Slate or power up the desktop to get the real work done.

This brings us to Windows 8; Microsoft is taking a leaf out of Apple’s book here with their development of a light version of Windows 8 for ARM. It will give people a consistent feel to their computing experience. It the OS you run on your tablet looks and feels the same as the one you run on your desktop that is an improved user experience. Now you can also bet there is a version of Office in the works for ARM to keep that the same. It will be like the interaction between the iPad and Apple’s OSX clean and consistent.  Microsoft is doing something very smart with this move and from what we are hearing many of the tablet makers are behind this movement. We know that nVidia certainly is.

Between now and the time that Windows 8 Launches (around November 2012) you will hear people taking sides ARM, x86, Windows 8, Windows 7 (much like those that did not want to leave XP), Tablet, Desktop, Laptop; the choices will be just as confused as some of the reasons to be on one side or the other. Just keep in mind that with one move Microsoft has made it possible to cover all of these. Windows 8 will work for ARM and x86. Windows 8 can run with the Metro UI for Tablets and can also run in Desktop Mode for more traditional PC’s and Laptops (giving you a Windows 7 feel).  No matter the camp you are in it looks like Windows 8 could have something for you.

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Published in Editorials
Friday, 09 September 2011 19:45

Adobe Finds a Way to Bring Flash to the iPhone

iPhone-4Looks like Adobe has found a way to enable Flash content on iOS devices without needing the blessing of the JobsMob. Using a technology that is not really new, but has been upgraded to allow a more seamless streaming of content to devices with no support, Adobe hopes to allow millions of iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users to enjoy the virtues of its Flash Media Encoding. All that has to happen is for content developers to purchase an Adobe Flash Media Server (Version 4.5) and Adobe Flash Access 3.0. When combined these two take the rendering load off of the mobile device by pre-rendering the video on the server and then streaming the content to the device at the other end.

With the iPhone now reaching out to more and more carriers in the US this is something that was bound to happen. Of course, most of the carriers in the US are going to be capping their data plans which might make this complicated for some iPhone owners. There is also the $4,500 per system license fee that Adobe is asking just for the Media Server. Either way, although it is now perfectly possible to enjoy Flash content on an iOS device, we have a feeling that adoption of this technology will be very slow indeed.


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Published in News

2001In the recent patent wars between Apple and, well just about everyone else you hear a lot about Prior Art.  This is when someone can point to something that was created or in use before the item in question was patented. For example, if I tried to patent a circular disk intended to hold data, video or music I would not get it because of the CD-ROM, the DVD-RROM etc. So what about Apple’s recent legal action against Samsung? They claimed that the Tab 10.1 was a copy of the iPad and violated their patent.  However, there is plenty or prior art to invalidate the concept design patent for the iPad.

One of the funniest that Samsung has brought to bear in the case is a screen shot taken from the Stanley Kubrick Movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” where two of the astronauts are sitting watching a video feed on a tablet device.  Now Apple fans will say that Apple is allowed to patent this because Mr Kubrick did not! So since they (Apple) spent their hard earned money to take this concept and make it real they deserve the patent.  Well there are two problems with that argument. First of all there were real tablets in existence before the iPad was even put to paper. But the second and one that I find the most ironic is that every movie is by its nature copyrighted. So images, concepts and ideas are considered the property of the copyright holder. This means that Apple violated Copyright when they designed the iPad.
Something to think about while we all wait for more interesting news.

Source CNET

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Published in News

screenshot-page-28Apple’s legacy of patent lawsuits might be coming unraveled in the EU. Although the California based company did get an injunction on Samsung selling the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II and Ace it only barely managed that one. The issue that got Samsung caught was the “way” you scroll through the Photo Application on the listed phones. Oddly enough the application in question is not a Samsung app but the default photo app that is released with Android 2.3 (which is the default OS on the phones in question).

Not affected by the ruling were the Galaxy Tab and Tab 10.1 which come with a different flavor of Android. The Judge also appear to have rejected the claim that Samsung copied Apple in the design of the Galaxy Tab and the Galaxy S. More than likely this decision was influenced by the fact that the evidence used to support this fantasy of Apple’s was falsified intentionally or not.

Apple also took a blow in that the Judge ruled that Patent No. 1,964,022 is now null and void in the EU. This means that Apple can no longer use it in any legal actions. Patent 1,964,022 cover the “slide to unlock” feature that Apple uses on the iPhone.  Samsung has said that they will replace the software that is in violation of Apple’s patent and then begin selling the phones in the EU again. Apparently investors feel that Samsung will do just fine as Samsung’s stock went up after the verdict while Apple’s fell on the announcement of Steve Jobs’ resignation.

The fact that Samsung is conceding and changing the one application (that is not even theirs) could be an indication that they may have some counter suits of their own planned for Apple and want to remove any bargaining chips from the table before they fire back. Things could get messy for Apple in the next few months especially if the courts in the EU decide to do anything about all that falsified evidence, maybe at Samsung’s request…

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Published in News
Wednesday, 24 August 2011 20:16

Steve Jobs Resigns from Apple

News_3d_Apple_Logo_102In a shocking story Steve Jobs announced that he is resigning and will be replaced by Tim Cook (former COO (Chief Operating Officer).  However, while Jobs is leaving the top job at Apple he will remain as Chairman for the company.

Although this is surprising the writing has been on the wall for some time. Jobs has had more than his share of health concerns this last year and he even alluded to it in his resignation letter.

The announcement resulted in a 5% drop in stock when trading picked up after the announcement.The Apple board and staff praised Jobs saying that he has been the guiding force behind their rise to prominence in the tech market. During Jobs’ second reign as CEO he has helped create such iconic devices as the iPad, iPhone and even the whole iDevice Eco System. Critics have called him arrogant and short sighted in his hatred of Adobe’s Flash and in the way he sometimes pushes for products (and patents) that are often questionable.

Although he is staying on as chairman it is important to note that since Tim Cook has been running the company while Jobs is out on Medical Leave Apple has entered more lawsuits and found itself under the legal microscope for potential falsification of evidence.

Source CNN

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