Apple finally awarded patent for iPhone interface

Apple finally awarded patent for iPhone interface

When Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone at Macworld Expo 2007, he lauded its multitouch interface. “And boy, have we patented it,” he added. It seems that now, four and a half years after Jobs declared the iPhone’s innovations worth protecting, that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has agreed.

On Tuesday, Apple was awarded U.S. Patent 7,966,578, for a “Portable multifunction device, method, and graphical user interface for translating displayed content.” In other words, Apple received a patent on the basic behaviors of the iPhone.

The patent application was first filed back on December 19, 2007. In its patent-ese, the application laid out a description of the iPhone’s general function, with an emphasis on its multitouch interface:

An N-finger translation gesture is detected on or near the touch screen display. In response, the page content, including the displayed portion of the frame content and the other content of the page, is translated to display a new portion of page content on the touch screen display. An M-finger translation gesture is detected on or near the touch screen display, where M is a different number than N. In response, the frame content is translated to display a new portion of frame content on the touch screen display, without translating the other content of the page.

There’s no denying that Apple revolutionized the smartphone industry with the launch of the first iPhone. There’s similarly no denying that the iPhone’s interface spawned a slew of competitors who, shall we say, seemed to pay the iPhone the sincerest form of flattery. What might Apple’s newly-awarded patent mean for the Android and Windows 7 smartphones of the world?

Via an email to Macworld, patent expert Florian Muller–a vocal critic of software patents–described Patent 7,966,578 to as “excessively broad.” Though Muller acknowledged “that Apple is a truly innovative company,” he suggested that Apple–like other large companies–“understand[s] the name of the patent game,” and thus aimed for a broader patent that could theoretically give it more legal muscle to exert over potential competitors.

“Unless this patent is invalidated or at least narrowed, it will be a potential impediment to innovation until December 2027,” Muller said. “I don’t see any innovative achievement disclosed in that patent document that would justify a monopoly of that breadth and duration. Apple could use it in various ways throughout that period, including some that would be highly undesirable.”

The “highly undesirable” action to which Muller alludes is that, armed with its new patent, Apple now has new legal means by which to go after its rivals in the smartphone market. Apple could, in theory, demand high patent licensing fees from Google, Microsoft, and other multitouch mobile OS developers–or seek to prevent the sale of infringing devices in the U.S.

Matt Schruers, the vice president for law and policy with the non-profit Computer and Communications Industry Association concurred with Muller’s conclusions. “This seems to be a very broad patent,” he told Macworld. But, Schruers added that it’s hard to know just what would happen with Apple’s new patent were it tested in court. “The length and impenetrability of [the patent’s] claims will ultimately dictate the patent’s scope,” he said.

“Whether a court is going to uphold a patent of that kind of breadth is impossible to say… It’s hard to predict how a patent will be construed by an individual judge,” Schruers added.

According to Spyros J. Lazaris, a patent attorney with Los Angeles-based Lazaris Intellectual Property, “It could cover any mobile device with a screen capable of accessing the web and showing web pages, including tablet computers and smartphones.”

Added Muller: “This patent is so broad that I can’t see any alternative [technical] implementation that wouldn’t be found to infringe it.” That is, the patent seems to cover the breadth of multitouch support on mobile devices; even if a company achieved the same effect using a different technological approach, in Muller’s view, that approach would still violate Apple’s patent.

And how might Apple leverage its new patent, based on how the company has handled its patents historically? According to Muller: “In the smartphone patent wars no other company seeks to drive competitors out of business the way Apple does. The only way companies can deal with Apple is if they bring patents to the table that Apple needs. In that case, there can be a cross-license. If you don’t have that bargaining power, tough luck.”

Schruers was equally blunt. “Patents like this create uncertainty, which generally leads to negotiations. Patent lawyers for Apple show up with a big stack of accordion files, Google’s lawyers come with their stack, and back-room patent cross-licensing begins.” He described the process as “a cold war of mutually assured destruction of your opponent’s patent portfolio.”

Apple has a long history of pursuing legal protection for its user interfaces. The company sued companies that attempted to emulate its iPod interface on Microsoft Pocket PCs, threatened companies offering Aqua-style themes for Windows, and–most famously–fought (and lost) a drawn-out “look and feel” case against Microsoft over Windows’s own attempts to emulate the Mac’s visuals.

More recently, Apple has sued Samsung, claiming the company copied various elements of the iPad.

How Apple chooses to wield its new iPhone patent, of course, is entirely up to Apple. The company didn’t respond to Macworld’s request for comment on how it intends to leverage the patent. One suspects, however, that Google and Microsoft are asking, too.

Apple spurns PortalPlayer in future iPods

Apple spurns PortalPlayer in future iPods

Apple’s long-term iPod chip partner, PortalPlayer, has suffered a major setback with Apple switching to a new supplier for some of its products.

It’s a major blow for the company as 90 per cent of PortalPlayer’s sales go to Apple to power iPods.

The company told investors that its new media processor – the PP5021 System-on-Chip – hasn’t been selected for use in Apple’s “new mid-range and high-end flash-based iPods”. Apple’s flash based iPods currently include the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle. The new chip is designed to offer high-speed transfer of music between a computer and a music player.

PortalPlayer claimed its current processors will continue to be used in other members of the iPod family, however.

The new PP5021 chip was expected to be available in the second half of 2006. PortalPlayer announced in February that it was working on integrating Bluetooth and Wi-Fi into some chips.

Tory MP calls for hardcore porn sites to have age verification system

Tory MP calls for hardcore porn sites to have age verification system

A conservative MP has called for UK Internet service providers to protect youngsters by introducing an age-rated opt-in system for online porn.

According to Wiltshire MP Claire Perry, too many Internet users under the age of 18 are accessing online sex, either deliberately or by accident, with some consuming porn from ages as young as ten.

Her proposed solution is for the major UK ISPs – BT, Virgin, Talk Talk BskyB, Orange and O2 – to introduce a form of ratings system for online content similar to that used to classify movies, and to regulate TV content.

Perry doesn’t elaborate on how age verification might work in practice by referred to a system introduced by the last government to stop youngsters accessing gambling sites.

“I believe that time has come to stop ducking and diving on an issue that is of enormous concern to parents, teachers and carers across the country,” the MP wrote in an article on the website.

Many will have sympathy with the MP’s calls whilst doubting that what she is calling for is technically feasible. Others will oppose it on the grounds that even if it is possible such a system would amount to censorship.

Filtering sites for porn using IP blacklisting is tough work. The number of sites if huge and spotting them all is almost impossible. Many legitimate sites might be caught up if their IP was in the same address range. Sites can also be filtered using content analysis but this is prone to similar problems, especially false positives.

A better approach is whitelisting, where site access is restricted to all sites except given exceptions. This is easier to implement on home routers than at ISP level – no UK ISPs have such facilities to manage connections in this way at the moment – but would severely curtail Internet use.

As to the age verification system used on gambling sites, this limits access without the production of a credit card, but that is a special case. Gambling sites are small in number and require a credit card to gamble anyway. Porn sites invariably offer free content.

Perry’s call is a reversal of the current online porn regime which leaves filtering up to the Internet user. Some home routers allow certain search terms of sites tom be blocked, many don’t. Even those that do can be circumvented by a technically-proficient teen with relative ease.

The MP has put the proposal to the House of Commons during an adjournment debate, which is a technical way of saying that it was being raised as little more than a talking point.

Swedish company NetClean currently offers a system that directly identifies individual child porn images from an established database. The system is designed for use by police forces rather than consumers and would not begin to answer the huge technical issues raised Perry’s proposal.

Ghost Recon Future Soldier beta gets fourth patch, details revealed

Ghost Recon Future Soldier beta gets fourth patch, details revealed

Ubisoft has just released a new patch update for Ghost Recon Future Soldier beta. This new patch implement some weapons and equipments tweaks and is basically aim to fix issues faced by gamers.

This is the fourth patch update for Ghost Recon Future Soldier beta. You can check out complete changelog of it below.

Weapon Changes:

  • Adjusted aim sensitivity to improve consistency
  • Reduced the ability to quick scope from cover.
  • Reduced the maximum count of rounds in the Stun Gun to 6.

Equipment Changes:

  • Flash Bulb has been re-tuned, making it easier to aim but reducing the overall effect.
  • EMP Grenade blast radius has been increased.
  • Sensor Grenade detection range has been decreased.

Other Changes:

  • Melee has been adjusted to improve its usability on crouched or prone enemies.

The publisher has extended the multiplayer for one week, and has also confirmed that the game has achieve GOLD Status.

PSN update protects Sony from lawsuits

PSN update protects Sony from lawsuits

Sony may not be familiar with how to properly secure their own online service, but when it comes to high-profile lawsuits, they’ve got all of the dance steps down to a science.

That much has been made obvious with the PlayStation Network’s new a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which prevents users from joining class action lawsuits against the company — unless you jump through a few hoops, that is. So the next time you do a PSN update, you might to think twice about just automatically hitting the “I agree, now let me play my damn game” button. If you’re a reader, you can piece together the legal red tape via the official PDF document, or just read the important stuff right here:


As 1UP’s Chris Pereira explains, the new TOS don’t completely prevent you from filing a class action lawsuit. All you need is mail a letter to Sony, wait for them to lose it, send another one, and wait for their legal office to get back to you. Or, you can simply cancel your PSN account and file a lawsuit.

If you’re already part of a summertime lawsuit that was filed before August 20, 2011, when all the hacks and information loss were happening, you’re in the green, though.

Also, Sony is reportedly rebranding from Sony Network Entertainment America to Sony Network Entertainment International, which is also interesting, considering that the Sony Corporation is a Japan-based entity.

[Source: Sony, GameSpot via 1UP]

Titanfall Deluxe Edition for PC and Xbox One includes all previously released DLC

Titanfall Deluxe Edition for PC and Xbox One includes all previously released DLC

EA and Respawn Entertainment have announced Titanfall Deluxe Edition, which brings together all of Titanfall’ previous downloadable content, including DLC packs Expedition, Frontier’s Edge, and IMC Rising. The deluxe edition of Titanfall week add a total of 12 maps in addition to maps already available in the original game.

Titanfall Deluxe Edition will be made available on November 25th for $49.99 on Xbox One, while PC players can pick up the deluxe edition starting today for $39.99.

This seems like the perfect bundle for those who have yet to check Titanfall out, or would like to have a friend or family member join them in their addiction. Although, from what I’ve been hearing, there are barely any PC players playing Titanfall. Your best chance to play against other players would be on the Xbox One.

New SOE video goes behind the scenes of EverQuest II's 10th expansion Tears of Veeshan 

New SOE video goes behind the scenes of EverQuest II’s 10th expansion Tears of Veeshan 

EverQuest II’s 10th expansion, Tears of Veeshan, introduces a new character class, the channeler, nine-new dungeons, more AA options, new, more flexible itemization, and a lot more.

We’ll have more for you next week, once the embargo on today’s press livestream ends. For now, you can entertain yourself with a behind-the-scenes video from the the EQ2 dev team. Enjoy!

Fujifilm announces mega cameras

Fujifilm announces mega cameras

Fujifilm has announced the first consumer- and professional-digital cameras to use the company’s groundbreaking Super CCD Technology.

The consumer model, the FinePix 4700 ZOOM, delivers a 4.3 million-pixel image file (2,400-x-1,800 resolution), while the professional FinePix S1 Pro offers an image file with 6.1 million pixels (3,040-x-2016).

The high image resolutions are a result of Fujifilm’s Super CCD Technology. The Super CCD has larger, octagonal-shaped photodiodes, arranged at 45-degree angles. This increases sensitivity, improves signal-to-noise ratio and offers a wider dynamic range, according to Fujfilm.

The FinePix 4700 ZOOM, also offers shutter speeds of 1/2000 second to three seconds, an adjustable ISO sensitivity of 200/400/800, and a 3.7x optical zoom. The FinePix S1 Pro has four shooting modes, five exposure modes and five program modes. Both cameras are USB-compatible and ship with 16MB SmartMedia storage card.

The FinePix 4700 ZOOM will ship in the US in April, while the Pro camera will be available in June. UK availability has not been announced.

Extensis launches XPress Net preflighting

Extensis launches XPress Net preflighting

Extensis has added QuarkXPress support to its Preflight Online service.

Preflight Online can now remotely inspect and analyse QuarkXPress 4.x files. It is capable of identifying over 60 different problems, including common font, image and colour problems.

It’s a Web-accessed pre-flighting service for pre-press, production and design houses. It has been developed to smooth the transition between traditional-publishing and digital workflows. File analysis, collection and compression is all performed within the browser – jobs need not be uploaded to a remote server.

Speed and security
Document inspection takes place on the customer’s own machine. According to Extensis, document security and bandwidth are not an issue as Preflight Online does not move or copy original documents to the Preflight server at any point.

Preflighting is a trouble shooting tool used by publishers to diagnose potential printing problems before jobs are submitted. Extensis’ solution requires no additional software other than a browser plug-in, and will analyse all fonts and images used within a Quark document. The service will even generate a full report for printers and service bureaus before files are submitted to print houses.

Preflight Online now automatically collects all required fonts and linked images used in a QuarkXPress job and compresses them into a single archive for submission. One of the most common problems when jobs are submitted for print is that of missing data, such as fonts.

A demonstration version of the service is available from Preflight Online. Adobe PDF file analysis is also available.

Dead Island "Ryder White" DLC announced, first screenshot released

Dead Island “Ryder White” DLC announced, first screenshot released

Techland has announced brand new DLC content for Dead Island. The new DLC is titled as “Ryder White”, and it will allow gamers to play Ryder White “learn more about his motivations and why, from his point of view, he did what he had to do”.

Dead IslandIn addition to this, Dead Island Ryder White DLC will feature two new blueprints and weapons which will further expand the already impressive arsenal of Dead Island.

Dead Island Ryder White DLC will launch on February 1 for PS3, PC and Xbox 360. It will carry a price tag of 800 MS points and/or £7.99. Check out the screenshots of the DLC below.

Dead Island Ryder White DLC screenshot 1Dead Island Ryder White DLC screenshot 2Dead Island Ryder White DLC screenshot 3