Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Apple using patents to delay adoption of WWW open standards again

  An initiative to standardize the way touch enabled devices interact with web content has had a wrench thrown into the works, at least temporarily, by Apple.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Events Working Group was created last year and tasked with standardizing the way touch devices, from smartphones and tablets to drawing pads and spatial sensors, interact with web applications. One of the specifications they have been working on is called 'Touch Events.'
  As part of the standard development process, the working group sent out multiple requests for patent exclusions. In layman's terms, these are requests for disclosure of any existing or pending patents which might be required to implement a standard.
  Responding to the third of three calls for exclusions this year, Apple provided the group with a list of four patents, one of which has already been approved, two which are pending approval, and a fourth which is in the early stage of application, which they say are related to the Touch Events specification.

  A developer for the Opera browser who blogs under the name Haavard is crying foul on Apple's move, and says they are simply trying to impede the creation of the Touch Events spec. He points to similar occurences in 2009 and 2010, when Apple made exclusion claims with respect to the W3C Widgets specification.
  Of the three patents listed in those claims, two were found to be nonessential, while the third was deemed both nonessential and invalid due to prior art.
  When a patent exclusion claim is made to a W3C working group, the organization must appoint a team to examine the patents in question to determine whether they are, in fact, necessary to the spec in its current state. This means delaying finalization until the determination is reached.
  Perhaps the key technology which Apple has used as a cornerstone for their multitude of patent lawsuits against handset and tablet makers around the world are is the touch screen. Simply put, Apple wants to use patents to restrict other companies' touch implementations.
  Of course that's despite the fact their touch screen technology isn't necessarily as revolutionary or original as their patents suggest. In some cases they cover technology which was in production by other companies before the Apple patent application was even filed.

Apple tries to reboot it's lost lawsuits

  In keeping with its strategy for world domination in consumer electronics, Apple has inconspicuously transferred a dozen patents that it previously "owned" to a non-existent corporate entity called Cliff Island LLC.
 Tech crunch have done a little digging and it appears that Cliff Island is a shell company, sharing a physical address with Altitude Capital, the main investor behind patent trolling company Digitude Innovations (ironic name, n'est pas?).

  Cliff Island then "transferred" those same patents to Digitude who have now filed a suit with the ITC (International Trade Commission) in the US against basically all the smartphone and tablet makers selling in America (RIM, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Amazon, and Nokia (note that Apple is not on this list). How mysterious.

  Digitude was founded in 2010 and raised $50 million from Altitude Capital Partners, with aims to “acquire, aggregate, and license key technology areas within the consumer electronics and related technology fields in a patent consortium” — in other words, it buys up patents and then sues other companies until they settle and agree to pay licensing fees, because it’s generally less expensive than actually going to court.
  So what we're seeing here is Apple suing its competitors out of the market, yet again, for patent law suites it already lost, but this time by proxy. And it's interesting that the patent transfers have taken place under some sneaky back-room sleight of hand. For new readers this might seem unethical even for Apple - what we know, is only the tip of the ice berg, unfortunately.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Burning iPhone endangers Australian flight, hundreds of passengers

   Australian airline reports case of burning iPhone on flight. Regional Express, Australia's largest independent regional airline, issued a press release on an incident shortly after a flight landed late last week. Flight ZL319 had just landed when a passenger's mobile phone started emitting a significant amount of dense smoke, and started glowing red.
   A flight attendant extinguished the burning phone immediately and no passengers or crew were harmed. Regional Express reported the incident to the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
   The mobile phone in question is identified as an Apple iPhone, which shows a significant amount of damage to the rear of the phone. Reports online indicate that the iPhone shows evidence that the burning came from the battery, which would explain the red glow and the release of smoke.

iOS fragmentation - Is it worse than Android's?

How do we define fragmentation?

This is what fragmentation (frgmn-tshn) actually means:
The scattering of parts of a computer file across different regions of a disk. Fragmentation occurs when the operating system breaks up the file and stores it in locations left vacant by previously deleted files. The more fragmented the file, the slower it is to retrieve, since each piece of the file must be identified and located on the disk.

Below we will try to explain the FUD term propagated by Steve Jobs and spread by Apple fans that also have a very vague idea of it's meaning.

  • the inability to update the OS because of the manufacturer?
  • the user's choice not to update?
  • the coexistence of multiple app stores?
  • exclusive apps?
  • different hardware configurations?

So let's start with updates

    If we are to consider updates as the sole factor in fragmentation, we would certainly be wrong. Both Android and iOS can run the same Apps. Forcing partial updates like iOS 4 on iPhone 3G and 3GS has lowered the device performance considerably while still not bringing the same features iPhone 4 had. Apple might have reduced fragmentation in statistics, but it has decreased user experience by making 3G and 3GS laggy devices.

So how are iPhone updates doing in 2011?
According to statistics, not too well. So far iOS 5 is only on 38% of all iPhones:

"According to Chitika Insights, one month after release, the new OS is on 38 percent of iPhones, 30 percent of iPads and 12 percent of iPod Touch.
iOS5 distribution in 2011
 The firm uses mobile ad network impressions to analyze traffic."

In comparison, Android's latest major distribution for Phones 2.x.x is spread across 95% of the devices, and the latest subversion, Gingerbread or 2.3.x is spread across 38.2% of the devices.

We should also mention that Android has a market share or 52.5% while Apple has a market of ~15%. Given the fact that there are 443 unique Android devices released and only 7 iPhones, I'd say Apple's closed eco-system idea is doing a lot worse in the real world than it did on paper.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

iPhone 4S packs Bluetooth 4.0 - no, you still can't beam anything over

   After a selective benchmark that only displayed the results where iPhone 4S excelled, Apple now tries to claim the title for "the first Bluetooth 4.0" phone. The FUD spread by Apple pretty much consists of obscure features such as collecting data from various sensors or connecting headsets, features that are available for everybody since bluetooth 1.0. Of course as with any bluetooth iteration there's lower power consumption and higher transfer rates - of course useful for phones that can actually beam data; so far the best bet is a jailbroken phone. It's unknown if Apple may allow sending files via iMessages to iOS only devices so Bluetooth is actually in the same status quo it's always been in on iOS.
   Unfortunately for Apple, the file transfer and the remote SIM access protocols are parts of the Bluetooth standard and with those missing it simply "ain't got no standard", just the same way iPhone doesn't really have USB but that is another story.

Kudos Apple for making the news and deceiving your fans all over again!