Thursday, March 7, 2013

Apple Patent Applications Address User-to-User Resale and Lending of iTunes Store Content

A set of patent applications discovered by AppleInsider today suggests that Apple may be considering allowing customers to resell or lend iTunes Store content to other users in the same way they might sell a physical book, music CD or movie DVD. 
Apple's system is similar to one outlined in a separate patent already granted to Amazon, although Amazon's approach requires transactions to be made via a central marketplace while Apple's proposed approach would also allow direct user-to-user transfers.
Techniques are provided for managing access to a digital content item (such as an ebook, music, movie, software application) to be transferred from one user to another. The transferor is prevented from accessing the digital content item after the transfer occurs. The entity that sold the digital content item to the transferor enforces the access rights to the digital content item by storing data that establishes which user currently has access to the digital content item. After the change in access rights, only the transferee is allowed access to the digital content item. As part of the change in access rights, the transferee may pay to obtain access to the digital content item. A portion of the proceeds of the "resale" may be paid to the creator or publisher of the digital content item and/or the entity that originally sold the digital content item to the original owner.
Restrictions are outlined to prevent abuse of the facility, such as allowing publishers to limit transfers to certain timescales (for example, requiring the user to have owned the product for a certain length of time before selling it), frequency (limiting how often someone could sell their content), price (enforcing a minimum price) and buyer (perhaps limiting sales to within the country of origin). 

The patent covers gifting and loan as well as resale, and outlines an option for the content publisher to receive a cut in return for granting rights to transfer the content. 

It should of course be noted that Apple files a huge number of patent applications, only a tiny minority of which ever see the light of day in an Apple product or service, but it is interesting to see Apple at least exploring the idea.

Angry Birds for iOS now available for free

After the game’s initial release in December of 2009, the original Angry Birds game for iOS is now completely free to download. Both the iPhone and iPad versions are available to download at no cost. Previously the game was priced at $0.99 for the iPhone/iPod Touch version and $2.99 for the “HD” variant.
Appsfire, a service that tracks apps and notices when they go on sale, was the first to notice the change in price, and according to the service, this marks the first time that the original Angry Birds title has been available for free. It’s said that once the app’s price updates for all users, Apple will promote the app as their “free app of the week.”
Rovio hasn’t announced the price cut yet, but they did announce that 15 new levels have made their way to the original game, so not only can you get the game at no cost, but you also get more for your buck (or lack thereof). Of course, the Android version of Angry Birds has always been available for free — one of the benefits of being an Android user.
The Angry Birds series has always been popular, with new sequels coming out all the time, but in order to give the older games a quick boost in popularity again, Rovio is giving the original game away. Of course, thanks to the newer titles, not many gamers play the original Angry Birds, but the 15 new levels and the lack of a price tag should change that.

Samsung Galaxy S3 bitten by lock screen bypass bug

A bug lurking within the Samsung Galaxy S3 lets any old so-and-so access your smart phone's personal data, bypassing the phone's lock screen completely.
The glitch was discovered by one Sean McMillan, ZDNet reports, and follows on from a similar glitch which allowed momentary access to the homescreen and apps on the Galaxy Note 2.
The glitch is tough to replicate, but requires no technical know-how or tinkering. Instead, you simply press a sequence of buttons from the lock screen with careful timing, and eventually you'll be granted access to the phone in full.
I was able to replicate the glitch, bypassing a pattern lock screen on a Galaxy S3 running Android 4.1.1, while ZDNet writes that it was able to repeat the error on an S3 running Android 4.1.2. The glitch isn't easy to perform, and I succeeded only once in about 30 attempts.
Once you've successfully leapt past the lock screen, pressing the lock button subsequent times will open the phone at the homescreen every time, continually skipping the pattern lock screen. I had to restart the phone to get the lock screen to kick back in again.
Fingers crossed Samsung fixes this worrying glitch with an update sharpish, as it means anyone who physically holds your mobile could -- with enough patience -- tap their way into your smart phone, and all accompanying files therein.

iPhone 5S production rumored to have already begun

iPhone 5S production is under way. So says a Japan-based report.

Production of the iPhone 5S is beginning, at least in part, according to a Japan-based report.
iPhone 5S production has already kicked off, a Japanese-language Apple blog reported today.
Foxconn has begun "partial production" of the iPhone 5S, a "reliable source" has toldMacotakara. Both MacRumors and AppleInsider cited the report earlier today.
The 5S is being built on the same production line as the iPhone 5, according to Macotakara.
The Japanese blog goes on to claim that NTT Docomo is cutting back on orders for Androiddevices to make way for introduction of the iPhone. NTT Docomo does not currently carry the iPhone.
Rumors have been swirling in the last 24 hours as to when the iPhone 5S will become available. One analyst claims August, while another anticipates a June-July scenario.
Whichever it is, it would make sense for limited production to begin in March.
The 5S may use a new A7 Apple chip, a better camera based on a LED technology referred to as "Smart Flash, a fingerprint chip, and versions will support China's time-division duplexing (TDD) standard, according to recent speculation.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Jony Ive Ordered Boxes Full of Nike Watches in the Mid-2000s

Bloomberg today published a story on the much rumored Apple smart watch, offering information on potential functionality and profitability. The article also hinted at possible design cues for the iWatch, highlighting Apple designer Jony Ive's intense interest in watches, specifically those manufactured by Nike in the mid-2000s. 
Apple design chief Jony Ive has long had an interest in watches. Besides owning many high-end models himself, he had his team visit watch factories and ordered boxes of a sports watch made by Nike Inc. in the mid-2000s, said Wilson, who was then Nike's creative director.
New information from Business Insider reveals that Scott Wilson sent Jony Ive the Nike Presto Digital Bracelets and the Oregon Series Alti-Compass watches, which were manufactured in 2002–2004. 

Both of these watches feature clean, simple designs. The Presto Digital Bracelet is a cuff-style wraparound watch with a translucent plastic body, while the Oregon Series Alti-Compass has an aluminum face.
Well, he didn't buy them. We just gave them to them as designer bro deals. He and others in the design group just requested them and we sent them a ton of Nike Presto Digital Bracelets and the aluminum Oregon Series Alti-Compass watches. Was flattered that they were requesting them.
Wilson goes on to say that after receiving the watches, Apple asked questions about materials and processes.
This meshes up with their research in watch manufacturing during that timeframe which has been documented in previous stories. They definitely drew upon watch industry techniques and manufacturing in their products since the first iPhone. Interesting that it may come full circle to an actual iWatch at some point.
A patent application found last week suggested that Apple might be looking at a watch with a wraparound design, a touchscreen, and a flexible glass display, but it remains unclear what the actual watch might look like. 

Apple is said to have a team of 100 product designers working on the watch. The watch is rumored to run the full version of iOS and though a release date remains unclear,Bloomberg has suggested that it could launch as early as 2013.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

This iPhone Breathalyzer Wants To Call You A Cab

Last Saturday, I got sauced for purely journalistic purposes: I had to test out what could be the first law enforcement-grade iPhone breathalyzer accessory. It was also Purim, the delightful Jewish holiday that celebrates my people’s liberation from yet another anti-semitic tyrant with dancing and a lot of alcohol.
Alcohoot, an iPhone accessory that plugs into the phone’s audio port, wants to make accurate breathalyzers more affordable (at only $95) and seamlessly integrates with other notable smartphone apps, like on-demand car service Uber. If a user on the verge of drunk texting their ex-girlfriend while driving home blows over the legal limit, Alcohoot wants the software to seamlessly call the sad sack a discounted cab. With over 10,000 impaired driving deaths in 2010 alone, any technology that connects responsible drinking to the viral nature of iPhone software is a welcome addition to society.
Even without the potential software integration, the Israeli-based startup’s breathalyzer has an attractive price-point. While keychain breathalyzers go for the low-low price of $70, a Wired review found that they were extraordinarily inaccurate. Fuel-cell-based measures–the same used by police–will set responsible citizens back over $250. Alcohoot expects to hit the retail market for only $99.
Yet, what’s really attractive about the concept of an iPhone-based breathalyzer is the social integration. For starters, the slick interface is fun to pass around. I and my other ancient Hebrew descendants were eager to pass around Alcohoot and see how drunk we were. The device promotes sobriety awareness without the buzz kill of sending a grown-up hall-monitor to dish out guilt.
Second, the founders hope to partner with car services, such as UberLyft, or SideCar to offer blitzed users a discounted, convenient ride home. Imagine blowing into and Alcohoot, unexpectedly realizing you’re much drunker than you thought, and then being asked if you’d like to accept a discounted Uber? Psychologically, it’d be much harder to pass up the responsible decision, especially if you could automatically brag on Facebook for making the ethical choice.
The breathalyzer prototype debuted at a meeting of the Kairos Society in New York, an annual gathering of socially oriented young entrepreneurs. I go to a lot of startup pitch conferences, and Kairos had an impressive array of members. In addition to Alcohoot, the conference included a Dreambox, a 3D printing vending machine, Virtual U, a retail-based, full-body scanner that sizes up consumer body measurements for online shopping, DiagnoseMe, at-home kit for detecting serious illness through sweat, and Sword & Plough, stylish bags made by veterans from recycled military materials.