Apple could take location tracking to the next level

Mar 24, 2015 - 4:08 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple Maps could benefit directly from peer-to-peer location sharing

You’re driving home late one night with your friend following. You lose him at a red light and, realizing he doesn’t have your address, need to tell him where to go.

You ask Siri to share your route with your friend, and voila, he’s able to follow your location as you drive with the Maps app.

Such is the kind of scenario that could arise in the future, thanks to a new Apple patent.

Titled “Sharing location information among devices,” the iPhone maker was awarded a patent today that details how one device could track another in real time.

The most obvious use of similar technology is evident in Waze, the Google-owned mapping app that lets you see where other Waze users are on the road as you drive.

Apple’s Find My Friends service could easily benefit from what the patent details, as users could be tracked more precisely as they move. Currently, Find My Friends can send alerts when someone leaves or arrives at a certain location. What Apple has patented would basically work like getting peer-to-peer directions with another user’s device as the destination.

The location data could be communicated over cellular, WiFi, iCloud, and even Bluetooth. Whatever device that’s being tracked could potentially provide more efficient directions than what Apple Maps would normally provide. Interestingly, Apple notes that both devices participating in the location sharing “could be carried by a human being on foot, or an animal, or a robot.”



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Twitter experiments with autoplay video ads on iPhone and iPad apps

Mar 24, 2015 - 4:00 PM - by sparkyscott21

Twitter on Monday initiated an ad engagement test through its iOS apps that will cause sponsored video ads to automatically play on select iPhone and iPad devices in the U.S.

According to a report from Ad Age, Twitter is looking to gauge whether users are more likely to watch a video ad if it queues up and plays automatically.

"We're running a small test on a few variations on the video playback experience," Twitter said.

The experiment has two embodiments in which some users will see complete videos play in a loop, while others get a looped six-second teaser clip. Both versions are muted by default until users tap on the video, which causes the ad to expand to full size with sound.

As for ad content, an unnamed source claims test videos will be selected from Twitter's Promoted Video ads like pre-roll footage from big-name advertisers, the report said. Videos posted to Twitter's six-second video blogging app Vine app will not be featured.

Twitter is reportedly looking to replicate success in advertising enjoyed by other social networks, especially Facebook, which currently logs over three billion video views per day. A large part of Facebook's results have been attributed to autoplay videos, as users are more likely to engage with content that is already playing.

Currently, Twitter's iOS apps are "click-to-play," meaning users have to interact with the ad to see the video, with each click equaling one view. Facebook, on the other hand, calculates views on a time watched basis, with users notching a view after looking at content for at least three seconds.



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Apple invents 3-sensor iPhone camera with light splitting cube for accurate colors

Mar 24, 2015 - 3:54 PM - by sparkyscott21

An Apple patent published on Tuesday details a miniaturized iPhone camera system that employs a light-splitting cube to parse incoming rays into three color components, each of which are captured by separate sensors.

As granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's U.S Patent No. 8,988,564 for a "Digital camera with light splitter" examines the possibilities of embedding a three-sensor prism-based camera module within the chassis of a thin wireless device, such as an iPhone. Light splitting systems do not require color channel processing or demosaicing, thereby maximizing pixel array resolution.

Commonly found in prosumer video cameras, and more recently in handheld camcorder models, three-sensor imaging technology splits incident light entering a camera into three wavelengths, or colors, using a prism or prisms. Usually identified as red, green and blue, the split images are picked up by dedicated imaging sensors normally arranged on or close to the prism face.

Older three-CCD cameras relied on the tech to more accurately capture light and negate the "wobble" effect seen with a single energy-efficient CMOS chip. Modern equipment employs global shutter CMOS modules that offer better low-light performance and comparable color accuracy, opening the door to entirely new shooting possibilities.

Apple's design uses light splitting techniques similar to those applied in current optics packages marketed by Canon, Panasonic, Philips and other big-name players in the camera space. For its splitter assembly, Apple uses a cube arrangement constructed using four identical polyhedrons that meet at dichroic interfaces.

By coating each interface with an optical coating, particular wavelengths of incident light can be reflected or allowed to transmit through to an adjoining tetrahedron. Adjusting dichroic filters allows Apple to parse out red, green and blue wavelengths and send them off to three sensors positioned around the cube. Aside from RGB, the patent also allows for other color sets like cyan, yellow, green and magenta (CYGM) and red, green, blue and emerald (RGBE), among others.

Light splitters also enable other desirable effects like sum and difference polarization, which achieves the same results as polarization imaging without filtering out incident light. The process can be taken a step further to enhance image data for feature extraction, useful in
... [Read More]
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Woz really hopes Apple will release its own car

Mar 24, 2015 - 3:37 PM - by sparkyscott21

It seems the rumors are true and Apple is indeed working on a vehicle project of its own, although we likely won’t see an actual car on the road for years to come, if ever. Talking to Australian publication Financial Review, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said he doesn’t know if Apple is making a car, but that he hopes the current rumors prove to be true.

“I don’t know if Apple’s doing that, or if they’re just working on their CarPlay apps for the dashboard of your car, but it seems like they might be hiring a lot of people who could really build a vehicle,” Woz said. “There are an awful lot of companies right now who are playing with electric cars and there’s a lot more playing with self-driving cars, this is the future and it might be huge … there are so many openings here and it is perfect territory for a company like Apple.”

The former Apple executive said that making cars might be the next big thing for Apple, as this particular type of product should help it continue its growth in the future.

The company reportedly has hundreds of employees working on its car project, although it’s not clear at this time whether the company is simply developing a next-gen software solution for cars or whether it’s actually building an “Apple Car.” Reports have stated that Apple is also actively trying to poach Tesla employees by offering them substantial signing bonuses and huge salary increases.



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Intel Core M lets new MacBook go light and fanless, but with sacrifices

Mar 23, 2015 - 1:23 PM - by sparkyscott21

At the heart of Apple's upcoming 12-inch MacBook is the Intel Core M, a processor series launched late last year and meant to power extremely light notebooks and tablets. But the new chips come with their own set of benefits and sacrifices, particularly for people considering other MacBook models.

At the moment there are seven models of Core M available, ranging in speed from 800 MHz to 1.2 GHz. All of them are dual-core, have a 4 MB cache, and are paired with the same integrated graphics chip, Intel's HD Graphics 5300.

Apple has chosen to go with the two fastest speeds — 1.1 and 1.2 GHz — for its stock configurations. The company is also promising a 1.3 GHz upgrade option, though no such chip is (yet) listed on Intel's website or even when browsing MacBooks at Apple's online store.

Pros: Smaller, quieter, more efficient

One of the leading traits of the Core M line is its standard 4.5 W of power consumption, a miniscule figure when you consider that other notebook processors can easily consume over 10 W. That effiency is attributable in large part to Intel using 14 nm architecture, claimed to be a first for processors.

It offers another advantage too, which is a smaller chip and die package. Indeed, the entire logic board for the new MacBook is about a third the size of the one in the MacBook Air, which is one way the computer manages to be so incredibly thin and light.

Less power also means less heat, allowing Core M machines to run fanless as long as they have proper ventilation channels. This contributes to the tiny dimensions of the MacBook, and should effectively eliminate noise.

Cons: Performance hits, no great battery leaps

There is one major drawback to Core M, and that's performance. Even the upcoming 1.3 GHz chip will still be clocked below the slowest current MacBook Air processor, which is a 1.6 GHz dual-core Core i5.

The two stock MacBook CPUs can Turbo Boost to 2.4 or 2.6 GHz, but the Air supercharges to at least 2.7 GHz. The Air can moreover be upgraded to a 2.2 GHz chip with a 3.2 GHz boost, and no matter which model you pick, you'll get an Intel HD Graphics 6000 chip for video.

Next to the MacBook Pro, the 12-inch MacBook doesn't even compete. Entry-level Pro specifcations begin with a 2.7 GHz dual-core Core i5, paired with Intel's superior Iris Graphics 6100.

Since the new MacBook hasn't been released, it hasn't been benchmarked, but we can get a good approximation from another Core M system, the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. That notebook has a 1.1 GHz chip identical to Apple's, and according to Digital Trends has Geekbench scores of just 2,453 in single-core mode and 4,267 in multi-core. That slots it below the 2,565 and 5,042 of the cheapest 2015 Air.

For whatever reason, the Core M also fails to grant the MacBook any dramatic battery life advantage. Both it and the 11-inch Air are rated for nine hours of web
... [Read More]
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Apple outs wireless keyboard refresh on Czech store, could include backlight

Mar 23, 2015 - 1:19 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple looks set to update its venerable wireless keyboard, with the aluminum slab appearing on the company's Czech online store with a tweaked layout and altered function keys that could indicate plans to add backlighting in the next version.

At press time, the Czech-language version appears with a new power key in place of the eject key, an overdue change now that the only Apple product that ships with a disc drive is the legacy non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro. Czech blog Letemsvetemapplem was first to notice the update.

Additionally, the F5 and F6 keys — which are blank on the current generation — appear with the same keyboard illumination illustrations found on Apple's laptops. That could mean that the new keyboard will come with backlighting, or it could simply be designed to make the wireless keyboard match exactly with the built-in models.

The text description remains the same, so it is unclear whether Apple has any other changes in store. The all-new MacBook boasts new "butterfly" style key switches in place of the older "scissor" versions, but it remains to be seen if Apple will eventually propagate that new design across its lineup.

Apple last updated the wireless keyboard in 2007.



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