Apple looking to reinvent keyboards

Apple is reimagining its keyboards with an eye to making them thinner and lower-travel yet rigid and satisfying to the touch, according to a patent unearthed by AppleInsider. The company laid out its plans for a “single support lever keyboard mechanism” in the patent. Apple explained that “it would be beneficial to provide a keyboard for a portable computing device that is aesthetically pleasing, yet still provides the stability for each key that users demand.” Per the patent, Apple could use rigid support levers to hold key caps in place and provide that stability while enabling a travel range of just 0.2 millimeters.

Google to build 7-inch tablet, analyst says

With rivals Apple and Amazon dominating the tablet scene, Google’s feeling left out. But that could change later this year, according to a DisplaySearch analyst. That analyst told CNET that Google’s just months away from production of a 7-inch, $200 tablet – specs that directly target Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The same source said the tablet will have a resolution of 1280×800, besting the Fire’s 1024×600 display, and an initial run of 1.5 million to 2 million units.

CNET’s Brooke Crothers finds the news curious considering Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. After all, Google will soon call Motorola’s three tablets, the Xoom and two Xyboards, its own, so why bother with a fourth?

Source: CNET

White House weighs in on online privacy, proposes one-click solution

The White House waded into the online privacy debate on Wednesday with the groundwork for a privacy code that could eventually enable users to opt out of companies’ data-gathering policies with a simple and universal one-click process. But before that comes to pass, Congress will have to draw up legislation governing the use of data gleaned from browsers, and the companies behind those browsers, Google, Apple, and Microsoft, will have to agree to the terms. Neither are expected to happen this year, but the Commerce Department is at work on a privacy-minded code of conduct that the Federal Trade Commission could start enforcing much sooner.

President Obama had this to say about online privacy in a statement:

American consumers can’t wait any longer for clear rules of the road that ensure their personal information is safe online. By following this blueprint, companies, consumer advocates and policy makers can help protect consumers and ensure the Internet remains a platform for innovation and growth.

Microsoft, Google, and Netflix looking to add DRM to HTML5

While many companies have decided to ditch Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight in favor of the free and open HTML5, Microsoft, Google, and Netflix are looking to add a measure of the former’s rigidity to the snow-white standard in the form of DRM.  The companies have submitted a proposal to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) seeking “encrypted media extensions” for HTML5. Ian Hickson, HTML5 editor and a Google employee, has come out against the proposal, saying “I believe this proposal is unethical and that we should not pursue it.”

iPad 3 just the tip of the Retina iceberg

If you can’t wrap your head around the iPad 3′s rumored Retina resolution, fire up Photoshop and create two images, one with the iPad 2′s 1024 x 768 pixels, and one with exactly double that amount — 2048 x 1536. I did, and it wasn’t until I’d seen the two side by side that I realized just what we’re in for, and it’s not entirely good. Scrolling, anyone?

ipad3vsipad22 iPad 3 just the tip of the Retina iceberg

Can I expect to wear out my MacBook’s trackpad every time I happen upon an iPad 3 screenshot? And what about developers? How will they cope? After all, it can’t be easy to develop games you can’t preview at full scale. And that’s a concern echoed by independent iOS developer David Smith in a recent blog post:

This will present problems for developers and designers of iPad apps unless Apple also releases a new display with either a higher resolution or a HiDPI mode. Otherwise we will no longer be able to view 1:1 mockups or run the simulator at full size without clipping part of the view.

Some would argue it’s a pleasant problem to have, but it’s a problem nonetheless. So how will Apple solve it? With a Retina Revolution, of course.

Apple fired the first shot 2 years ago with the iPhone 4, and its latest Retina entry, the upcoming iPad 3, is very likely the first wave of a high-res onslaught — one that’ll see the company’s laptops, iMacs, and displays get the Retina treatment.

But when? That’s when things get a bit fuzzy. It’s been 122 days since Apple’s MacBook Pro was last refreshed, and it’s generally overhauled every 267 days or so. With that in mind, not to mention OS X Mountain Lion, which debuts in late June and includes hints of Apple’s Retina Revolution, we could see more ultra-high-resolution displays from Cupertino in as little as four or five months. I’ve also been told by a reliable source that Retina MacBook Pros exist, but that source gave me no indication of when they’d be rolled out.

But rest assured, they’re on the way, both because Apple’s trying to stay ahead of the curve, and because its developers hate scrolling just as much as I do.

Google Music falling short of expectations

CNET reports that Google’s music service, launched on November 16 of last year and dubbed Google Music, originally enough, is not living up to the company’s expectations. Although Google claims nearly 200 million Android users, only 10 percent of them, or 20 million users, have thus far embraced Google Music. Despite the lukewarm start, CNET suggests Google isn’t panicking because it has yet to throw the “full force of its marketing muscle behind the service.”

Apple acquires App Store search and discovery company Chomp

TechCrunch reports that Apple has acquired Chomp, an App Store search and discovery outfit. According to M.G. Siegler, Apple swallowed the company to bring its expertise to the table and help Apple’s users more easily browse its more than 500,000 apps. Sieger also says Apple’s purchase is not a cheap “acqui-hire”, and that it plans to completely redesign and revamp its App Store search and recommendations using Chomp.

Google, occasional champion of Internet rights, is currently stomping all over them

Google isn’t making any friends in the tech community. Fresh off a user-tracking controversy, where it was revealed that Google had been tracking the surfing habits of Safari and Internet Explorer users without their knowledge, the company is again under fire, this time for attempting to ban Microsoft’s products both at home and abroad for the most hypocritical of reasons: they access video on the Web. Specifically, they access video on the Web wirelessly using Motorola patents — patents the Google-acquired company promised years ago anyone could use for a fair and reasonable fee. Only, now their terms aren’t so fair or reasonable.

They’re now demanding a whopping $22.50 from Microsoft for every Windows-equipped, thousand-dollar laptop, and that price doubles for $2,000 laptops. All for 50 patents that have to do with the H.264 video standard. To give you an idea of how ridiculous that asking price is, Microsoft pays 29 companies a grand total of just two cents per device for use of the 2,300 other H.264 patents.

If Microsoft doesn’t pay up, Google will look to squash sales of the company’s products.

Microsoft’s Dave Heiner had this to say in a lengthy blog post this morning:

There is an obvious way out of all this. Motorola should honor its promises, and make its standard essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. Microsoft is certainly prepared to pay a fair and reasonable price for use of others’ intellectual property. Within just the past few years, Microsoft has entered into more than a thousand patent licenses. We know how it’s done.

Microsoft has also filed a competition-law complaint that both the European Commission and U.S. Department of Justice are currently investigating. If Google’s case were to stand, it could have devastating consequences for technical standards everywhere.

Futuristic Google glasses feature HUD, will go on sale later this year

A few weeks ago, we reported Google was hard at work on a pair of futuristic glasses that incorporate a screen and feed information to their users in real time. At that time, it looked as if the high-tech glasses might reach the public for beta testing this year. Now, however, The New York Times reports the Android-powered glasses will go on sale later this year and likely fetch $250 to $650 a pop, or roughly the price of a smartphone. For more details, check out our original post:

If you’ve fantasized about a Terminator-like heads-up display (HUD) that could spit out everything from definitions to driving directions in real time, you’re in for a treat. According to 9to5Google, Google’s been hard at work on a pair of glasses that would do that and more – and the fruits of their amazing labor are nearing the testing phase. A source privy to the project said the prototype glasses resemble Oakley Thumps, or slightly bulky sunglasses, and incorporate a screen into one of the lenses.  In current guise, the glasses also feature a small (duh) camera, speakers, and a microphone, all powered by hardware found in last-generation Android phones. Oh, and they can make and receive calls, too.

Apple to Chinese court: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. That was Apple’s message to a Shanghai court Wednesday, where it’s defending its use of the iPad name against allegations of trademark infringement. Proview, a Chinese display manufacturer, disputes Apple’s claim that it bought rights to the name in 2009 and is seeking a national ban on the tablets. Apple warned that such a ban could cost China dearly.

Proview has no product, no markets, no customers and no suppliers. It has nothing. Apple has huge sales in China. Its fans like up to buy Apple products. The ban, if executed, would not only hurt Apple sales but it would also hurt China’s national interest.

The court is expected to rule soon.