Once again the ugly patent battles between Apple and Samsung have come to a head, only this time it's Samsung enjoying a victory. According to Reuters and Bloomberg, the International Trade Commission has issued an order to Apple to stop importing AT&T models of the iPad 3G, iPad 2 3G, iPhone 4, 3GS and 3. While newer models of the iPhone and iPad no longer use the tech the ITC says is infringing (mostly iDevices with Qualcomm chips), this ban is final and can only be negated by the White House or challenged and overturned in a Federal circuit court. The ITC ruling is here in PDF form.
FOSS patents has a good breakdown of this case, noting that the ITC considered Apple's FRAND defense, then pretty much dismissed it. In other words, Apple argued there were standards-essential patents (SEPs) needed to make these products, and it was willing to license the infringing patents for a fair price. The ITC didn't see it that way and told Apple to stop importing the devices immediately.
I'm not a lawyer, and that's a huge oversimplification, but the idea is that Samsung shouldn't be able to hobble a competitor when a competitor needs certain tech to actually make a product. Patent holders should license those for a fair price instead of arguing a wholesale ban on the product after it is designed, developed, manufactured and sold. In this case, the ITC saw differently. As Nilay Patel points out, the ITC is largely out of step with everyone else when it comes to SEPs, however. And there are lawmakers from both parties now getting involved in the dispute -- we are talking about a rather profitable American business that just got handed a huge "stop making money" order, after all.
I'm sure to some this is seen as karma for Apple's other battles with Samsung, but I disagree. It's not like the patents we're talking about gave the iPhone some unique edge over the competition -- from what I can tell these were necessary components that at the time were the best engineering choice. Using communications chips is quite different than mimicking the look and feel of an operating system, or wholesale aping the design and functionality of another device.
Does this mean AT&T (and anyone else using the CDMA tech) will have to quit offering cheaper iPhones? Probably not. Companies have had to pull products before, although this would be a huge blow to AT&T and Apple, who have seen growth in new smartphone users who are upgrading to the iPhone from feature phones and taking advantage of the older devices. The President has 60 days to review and potentially veto this, however. It's unlikely, but it's not like the White House is a huge fan of heavy handed patent rulings, offering a big slap to patent trolls just today.
We'll keep you posted, but Apple appears to have spoken to CNBC, who tweeted that Apple will appeal and you won't see an impact on product availability in the U.S.
Update: AllThingsD quotes Apple directly with the news that it will appeal and this changes nothing for customers thus far.
ITC rules in favor of Samsung, issues import ban on older AT&T iPhones, iPads originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 04 Jun 2013 18:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Once in a while there's an incremental OS X update with a ton of bug fixes. This is one of them. Check out the list for 10.8.4:
- Compatibility improvements when connecting to certain enterprise Wi-Fi networks
- Microsoft Exchange compatibility improvements in Calendar
- A fix for an issue that prevented FaceTime calls to non-U.S. phone numbers
- A fix for an issue that may prevent scheduled sleep after using Boot Camp
- Improves VoiceOver compatibility with text in PDF documents
- Includes Safari 6.0.5, which improves stability for some websites with chat features and games
- A fix for an issue that may cause iMessages to display out of order in Messages
- Resolves an issue in which Calendars Birthdays may appear incorrectly in certain time zones
- A fix for an issue that may prevent the desktop background picture from being preserved after restart
- A fix for an issue that may prevent documents from being saved to a server using SMB
- Addresses an issue that may prevent certain files from opening after copied to a volume named "Home"
- A fix for an issue that may prevent changes to files made over NFS from displaying
- Resolves an issue saving files to an Xsan volume from certain applications
- Improves Active Directory log-in performance, especially for cached accounts or when using a .local domain
- Improves OpenDirectory data replication
- Improves 802.1X compatibility with ActiveDirectory networks
- Improves compatibility when using mobile accounts
If you've been having any of these issues, hopefully this update (available via the Mac App Store's Updates tab or Software Update in the Apple menu) will fix them. Let us know in the comments if they do!
Mac OS X 10.8.4 available, sports tons of network fixes originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 04 Jun 2013 16:26:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Reflow bills itself as "music notation for the rest of us" and I have to say the app packs a punch for musicians and students of music. Reflow's notation software has a lot of great drag-and-drop functionality for quickly building compositions, and takes away some drudgery from the process. Plus, it features iCloud sync so you can quickly take your Mac work on the go via iPad or iPhone/iPod touch.
The last Reality Absorption Field discussed how most of the big names in the PC industry tried to take on the iPod and the fates of their eventual efforts. This week's column will look at PC peripherals companies and how the consumer electronics giants reacted, while next week's final installment will finish a look at the CE companies as well as discuss some of the pure plays that competed with the iPod.
PC Peripherals Companies
Diamond Multimedia and Creative. For many years, these two companies were two of Apple's most tenacious competitors. Diamond Multimedia, primarily known for its video cards, introduced the Rio PMP300 that opened many people's eyes to the promise of MP3. It also bore the brunt of the labels' wrath, which sued it into bankruptcy. However, the Rio name would resurface under the SonicBlue.brand (I was particularly fond of the microdrive-based iPod mini competitor Rio Carbon, which felt great in the hand.). Most of its portable devices were flash-based (including models it built for Nike and Motorola) but it created hard drive-based fixed devices for the home (Rio Central) and car (Rio Car). However, SonicBlue eventually went out of business as well, ending the line.
Like Diamond Multimedia, Creative was early in the MP3 player market with the hard drive-based, Discman-shaped Nomad Jukebox. It produced a slew of hard drive and flash-based players, including some large-screen video players under the Zen brand. Creative was also noteworthy for a patent dispute with Apple that resulted in Apple paying royalties. The company is still around, of course, but mostly focused on its roots as a PC periperhals and speaker company. You can still find a few MP3 players listed on its site, including the Zen Touch 2 that runs an old version of Android.
Iomega. A footnote in the history of MP3 players, the creator of once-adored Zip drives tried to crack the market smaller devices with a 40 MB disk cartridge called PocketZip and, later, Clik! Iomega convinced Ricoh to adopt the format in a camera and made its own MP3 player, the HipZip, which could not only play back MP3s on the disks but funciton as a general drive for reading them. The format couldn't compete with flash memory, and thus the HipZip had to RIP. The company was purchased by enterprise storage giant EMC in 2008.
Consumer Electronics Giants
Samsung and Sony. These two premium TV market rivals represented different kinds of competition to Apple. Sony, a pioneer in portable music, sought to maintain its Walkman heritage as it initially positioned Mini-Disc against the iPod. But the discs required transcoding the MP3 format to Sony's ATRAC codec with poorly received software called SonicStage. The company gradually came to adopt MP3 natively and drop ATRAC across mostly flash-based players and eventually even brought its Walkman brand to a series of feature phones it created in its Sony Ericsson venture.
Sony remains in the category today with a relatively robust lineup that includes music-playing Sports earbud models, the E and Wi-Fi Android-infused F series that roughly correspond to the 5th-generation and current-generation iPod nano, and the Android-based Z series that competes with the iPod touch.
Today, Samsung is Apple's strongest competitor in the smartphone space where it operates its own media store, but it was less successful competing against the iPod with a huge array of music players under the Yepp brand that spanned six full product lines of different form factors. Samsung now mostly competes with the iPod touch as a smartphone variant with a handful of products under the Galaxy Player brand.
Reality Absorption Field: iPod's trail of tears, part 2 originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 31 May 2013 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Rejoice designers. Adobe has released a free Kuler app for iPhone. Kuler is a free service offered by Adobe that helps designers with the creation and sharing of color themes using a series of slides and color wheels. The site is fun, but the app is a powerful addition. The app allows designers build and edit color themes based on photos taken with the iPhone.
Simply snap a picture in the app's camera view and it will automatically build color palettes based on the image you capture. The palette tones are shows via a series of overlaid color dots that show you where the primary colors are being drawn from. It then uses this information to create a color swatch for you. The app gives you the option to manually adjust your color selections with RGB sliders or switch between presets like "Colorful" and "Muted" to quickly manipulate your set.
The app also features pre-set color rules for its color wheel, allowing you to quickly identify monochromatic and complementary colors with ease. Themes can be named, tagged, and shared via email, Twitter, or Kuler's website. Once a theme has been shared to the Kuler site it can be uploaded for use in other Adobe apps, such as illustrator.
Kuler is available for free right now in the App Store. Go play with some colors.
Apple has announced that global superstars including Justin Timberlake, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jack Johnson, and Jessie J are among the headliners at this year’s iTunes Festival in London. Running every night in September at the Roundhouse, the iTunes Festival features over 60 acts. Performances can be watched live or on-demand by millions of iOS users around the world on their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, as well as by music fans with iTunes on their computer or in HD with Apple TV. “This year’s iTunes Festival is the best ever with an incredible lineup of global superstars and stellar emerging artists,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. Fans can win tickets to the iTunes Festival through competitions run by local media partners.
A new video features Mayo Clinic, which is using iPhone and iPad to transform how they care for patients. Practitioners say it’s helping patients and saving time. The clinic, known worldwide for its healthcare innovations, has developed a host of custom in-house apps, including one to give physicians instant access to patient records on an iOS device. Another app lets patients securely access their records and exchange messages with their providers. “For patients dealing with any health issue, information is power,” says Mayo’s Dr. Brad Leibovich. “The more we can empower them to understand what’s going on with them, the better they’ll feel and the better their outcomes will be.”
This week's Productivity Tip... As a kid I used little Day Timer notebooks to keep track of my schedules and projects. Of course my duties in high school were minimal compared to today, but those pocket-able sprial-bound notepads were great for capturing and tracking all my "stuff." In film school I met a videographer who kept track of his schedule using a PalmPilot. I loved how, for years, my PalmPilot kept perfect sync with my Mac -- provided I put it in the cradle every day and hit the Sync button. Today, we don't have that sync button. The "cloud" has removed the need for it, right? Well, that depends.
There's a famous story of Charles Schwab, at the time the president of Bethlehem Steel, who advised Ivy Lee (his generation's Covey or Allen) that he could increase Lee's team's efficiency with one simple tip. That tip was to write down the six most important things you have to do the next day before going to bed. At the end of the next day, anything still on that list went onto the next day's six things, and so on.
Inspired by this, and by Federico Vittici's use of Drafts and Day One, I've started a similar ritual. Instead of one daily pass, however, I've started journaling in the morning (using Day One) and reviewing my tasks at night (using OmniFocus). You can do both of these using Drafts, in fact. Lists can be sent to Clear as tasks -- which I do if the day has only single-task items needed -- or OmniFocus, or Due, etc.
The reason I call this "brain sync" is that I now have, via Day One, a running list of my personal and professional thoughts and goals every day. Coupled with a focused task list, I can reflect on where I am at any point. Making the simple list at the end of the night helps me sleep better, knowing exactly what my priorities are for the next day. Waking up and jotting down thoughts often yields solutions to problems, but also keeps a running log of what my mushy brain thinks is important contrasted with the hard reality of my task list. The goal is to align them over time, as much as possible.
When to sync
The Cloud: Syncs all the time, in theory. If you use iCloud, your iOS or Mac device will sync more or less seamlessly in the background at intervals regularly enough to cause few issues for an individual user. With iCloud, the system monitors a specific folder outside of the app itself, so changes made on your iPhone to, say, a Byword document, will appear on your Mac when you open up the document there.
There are some issues with cloud sync, however. Depending on the mechanism, you might run into version conflicts. Services like Dropbox allow you to roll back, but iCloud really doesn't. Also, if you force quit an app while a sync is in progress and the app isn't using iCloud, you could end that sync session and wind up with problems. This is a rare one, but it's something to consider if you're the type of person who routinely "cleans up" their list of open apps on iOS.
Apps: If an app is using iCloud, sync "just happens." Dropbox also has a sort of background sync, and apps that are in the process of uploading data can continue to "stay live" when closed for up to 10 minutes. Provided you don't lose your network connection, that should be ample time for Evernote and other such apps to sync their data.
There are times when you will want to manually sync, however. In OmniFocus, for example, the default is to sync when opened. I also like to click the sync button if I've just gone through entering a bunch of data (after a review on my iPad, or if I've just powered through some errands).
Then there are some apps which allow you to see when a sync happens, or force a sync when you wish or maybe even require you to manually initiate a sync. Again, I recommend doing this before closing the app. When I move a timer to the next day using Due, for example, I like to pull to refresh the timer so my Mac isn't sitting there chiming for a couple of minutes before sync happens.
Paper: If you're using a mix of apps and paper, for best results sync at least once daily, then do a top-down check once a week to make sure everything is on track. It's sort of like reconciling your bank accounts.
How to sync
Cloud: I highly recommend using the sync service preferred by the application you use. iCloud is Apple's effort to push a ubiquitous sync solution in iOS. Unfortunately, as of this writing there are some serious problems with iCloud. Gus Mueller goes into the gory details, but I have hope that with WWDC looming, Apple is going to fix this.
OmniFocus uses Omni's own sync service, and I have almost never had issues with it. Omni's sync is now available to other apps from the company as well, which makes for a delightful experience.
Apps like Drafts and Simplenote use Simperium. There are tons of apps out there with Dropbox integration (I use Byword with Dropbox), and of course Google's products are all starting to get connected and sync up. Most of the time, all of this stuff "just works," and it works much better than it used to!
Paper: How you sync if you blend paper and digital will, of course, depend upon the mix of the two. If you're lucky enough to be able to easily transcribe your paper stuff into digital stuff, you're way ahead of the game. Things like the Livescribe pen are expensive, but you can also use Evernote to scan your handwriting and do its best to find your words (it does pretty well, in fact). Personally I'm not afraid to spend some time scribbling notes in my project books or notepads, then spend about 10 minutes a day transferring what I need to OmniFocus. Perhaps the best of all worlds is this fancy Evernote Moleskine, which I haven't tried yet.
What I do, now, is keep a collection of 3-ring binders. Each binder is a particular context, more or less. There's one notebook for home, comprising my DIY projects (repairs and improvements), tasks like checking on insurance and so on. There's another for work, which contains projects and plans for TUAW. Like Behance's Action Method, anything that needs to be done beyond a single-step is a project, and gets a sheet in the notebook. One sheet, that's all, for every single project I cook up. I wind up using leftover ruled paper I buy every school year for this.
I use dividers, emergent task planning sheets and the like in these notebooks, but ultimately those are all for my mush-brain to write out and try to analyze. Once I have a specific path organized and ready to go, I put in the relevant project tasks into OmniFocus or my calendar (or sometimes Clear).
This setup gives me the flexibility of being able to plan with sheets of paper -- and that's how my mind works best -- but digitize and distill the action steps needed to get there. Each week I sync up tasks completed and marked in my digital tools with the notebooks on the shelf, ensuring I can see progress towards the goals.
Each project has a page, with a goal. Each project has a set of tasks. Those tasks go digital, then are scratched off digitally, then on paper. If reshuffling and more planning are needed, I find it's easier to manage this in paper form, with notes in margins, arrows pointing to milestones, etc. There's a benefit to me to having all of this on paper and having to double-check things. This is actually a rather new system for me, so I'll be detailing progress and usage in posts to come. For now, I wanted to give a concrete example to anyone out there with so much as a simple notepad they use to track tasks. My recommendation is that you try to sync at least once a week, and consider tools to help transcribe your notes.
We're currently enjoying the best way to sync so far right now, but cloud services have their caveats. Network problems, data collisions and more can turn sync into stink. I find myself doing more work on paper first, then transmuting it into digital forms for dispersal and action. That way I have some form of backup for my thought processes. No matter what you do, consider a "brain sync" twice a day to help keep you focused on those most important tasks, whether you keep them digitally or on paper -- and never forget to back up your critical data!
Productivity Tip: Synchronizing tasks for the individual originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Tue, 28 May 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Here in the US, most of us are celebrating a three-day weekend that also serves as the start of summer, which means BBQs, poolside hangouts and lots and lots of time in the sun. Oh, and it means one more thing these days: iOS game sales (all prices USD)!
- Card game maker Playdek has an awesome sale on, including Ascension (and its IAP), Nightfall (and its IAP), Penny Arcade: The Card Game and Fluxx all for just 99 cents each. You should definitely pick up one or all of those -- Nightfall is complicated, but it's probably my favorite.
- Puzzlejuice is on sale for 99 cents; it's a really brilliantly designed word puzzle game.
- EA Mobile has a huge sale on, featuring more than 55 games either 99 cents or free. Some choice picks: Tetris Blitz, The Sims 3 for 99 cents, Need for Speed: Most Wanted for 99 cents, and NBA Jam also for just under a buck.
- Plague Inc is down to just 99 cents.
- High Voltage's great Zoombies: Animales de la Muerte just recently appeared on the App Store, but it's already on sale for 99 cents.
- The great board game adaptation Small World for iPad is down to just $2.99. This is an especially good deal, because the game's about to get a big update for free.
- WELDER is on sale for free. So is Pocket Heroes and Angry Birds Space.
- I didn't think AVP Evolution was that great a game, but it's only 99 cents right now.
- Penumbear is an excellent and beautiful platformer that's only 99 cents as well.
- Adventure Bar Story, which is a bar simulator set in a fantasy RPG world, is on sale for free.
- The excellent puzzle game Sporos is free.
There's plenty of games for you to play, and we'll probably see even more sales go on over the rest of this weekend. Stay tuned for more updates on app and game sales, and you can always follow us on Twitter at @TUAW for up-to-the-minute sale tips!
Memorial Day brings lots of great sales on iOS games originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 24 May 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
The recent celebration of iTunes tenth anniversary provided an opportunity to remember that it debuted before the iPod and was initially positioned as a way to get Macs to play well with the CD burners that had come to the iMac as well as to early MP3 players from rivals. Before and (mostly) after the iPod, it's surprising to see not only how many different companies sought success in the portable media player category, but the diversity and depth of their approaches. While some achieved a degree of success and implemented a few things that were ahead of Apple, none came close to matching Apple's success.
This column will focus on how PC companies approached the portable media player market while the next Reality Absorption Field will look at how competitors from other industries fared.
Dell and Gateway
Prior to the arrival of Microsoft's Zune, Dell was probably the most serious PC company in the media player space. Putting its own spin on Creative's internals, it released a few hard disk models of its DJ (Digital Jukebox), tapping out at 30 GB. It also released a microdrive line to compete with the iPad mini and finally the DJ Ditty line of flash players to compete with the first-generation "pack of gum" iPod shuffle . Dell even created a networked audio player based on the Rio receiver, a brand descendant from Diamond Multimedia's breakthrough iPod predecessor. The former stock market darling is now taking itself private.
Just as Gateway's PC line sought to keep pace with Dell's, so did its media player line roughly mirror Dell's interest with entries in the hard disk and flash categories. Gateway also had a networked audio player, a rebadged version of the excellent Turtle Beach Audiotron. None of these products ever competed effectively, though, and Dell's failure to take on Apple beyond the PC set a precedent for the company's struggles in other categories such as smartphones and tablets where Apple has excelled.
Compaq and Intel
Compaq and Intel both dipped their giant corporate toes in the MP3 player market and their one-hit wonder efforts were actually not too shabby. Both were early flash memory-driven efforts, Intel's Pocket Concert and Compaq-s iPAQ PA-1 (and its nearly identical follow-on, the PA-2). Intel sold a dock that allowed its blue-and-silver music player to work with matched speakers and Compaq's player -- while hardly a looker -- had a clip years before the first iPod shuffle integrated one. Intel retreated from the consumer device market while Compaq was acquired by HP.
HP had what was perhaps the most unique reaction to the iPod. After holding back from the market after what was allegedly a poorly received prototype based on a partnership with Napster 2.0, it decided to try to join 'em if it couldn't beat 'em. HP iPods were identical to Apple's in nearly every respect except for the branding, which Apple also worked its way into since they were called Apple iPod+HP. HP tried to differentiate by coming out with a line of printable "tattoos" that could be affixed to the front of the devices, but in mid-2005 the strange relationship dissolved a year and a half after it began.
Microsoft tried to compete with the iPod in three main ways. The first of these was the launch of Playsforsure, a horrifically named digital rights management service that was to ensure compatibility between various music stores and music players. It drew support from many of the player makers, including Dell, SanDisk, iRiver, Samsung and others as well as subscription music services such as Napster and Rhapsody. The effort ultimately fizzled, though, and Apple worked to get even its digital rights management software removed from iTunes music.
Microsoft also tried licensing its software to power portable media players with a focus on video for devices called Portable Media Centers, a way to take TV shows and other media recorded Windows Media Center on the road via sideloading. Creative, iRiver, Philips, Samsung and Toshiba all hopped on that bus before it broke down.
Frustrated by the failure of these efforts and true to Steve Jobs' prediction, Microsoft jumped in itself with Zune. The first version, with its "double shot" coating and bulky, optionally brown exterior coating Toshiba's Gigabeat player internals, was unimpressive, but Microsoft made improvementst, adding the excelle "sqircle" touchpad that gave the click wheel a run for its money and introducing the sleek "full-touch" Zune HD, all with proprietary iPod-like connectors.
But the iPod touch inheriting the iPhone's avalanche of apps was the final nail in the coffin for the Zune device. And in fairness to Microsoft, the MP3 player market was already starting to move past its peak anyway. Microsoft kept the now curiously named Zune software around a while longer, but ultimately replaced it and the service to which it served as a conduit to Xbox Music. The confusing branding continues as much of what it serves today is Windows Phone devices.
The Portable Media Centers and Zune had at least one important legacy for Microsoft, though. They iterated what would become known as the panoramic Modern, nee Metro, touch user interface that Microsoft now uses on smartphones and PCs.
Reality Absorption Field: iPod's trail of tears, part 1 originally appeared on TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog on Fri, 24 May 2013 00:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.