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середа, 21 грудня 2011 р.

Advanced SystemCare Pro 5 Review [Giveaway]

Windows users have lots of choices when it comes to maintaining and optimizing the operating system. They can use built-in tools, make use of single-purpose applications or install a full system maintenance suite like IOBit’s Advanced SystemCare 5. The software is provided as a limited free version and a professional version that are both packed with system tools that improve system performance, clean junk files, defragment hard drives and fix spyware problems: there is hardly anything that Advanced SystemCare does not provide a tool for.

The clean looking interface displays the four core modules, and the PC health status in the footer area on the screen.

advanced systemcare pro

The program recommends to run the deep care module first to tune-up the PC right away. Deep Care basically is a set of optimizations the program performs, from defragmenting the Registry to fixing vulnerabilities and optimizing the system configuration.

Unlike other tool collections who do not give you a say in what to run and what not, Advanced SystemCare gives you the option to run all, only select or even none of the modules (which would not make a lot of sense).

deep care

Scans take anywhere from one or two minutes to ten or more, depending on the PC. Results are displayed for each scan individually, with options to display details for all issues that have been found. It is recommended to look at the details before running the optimization to avoid issues later on.

Here is a list of all Deep Care modules:

Full Malware Removal – Scans the system for spyware and security threats.
Deep Registry Fix – Scans the Registry for errors, broken links and other issues.
Registry Defrag – Optimizes the Registry to speed up system start.
System Optimization – Optimizes select system parameters to speed up the PC.
Startup Optimization – Optimizes and delays startup items to speed up the start of the computer.
Shortcut Fix – Fixes or removes broken and invalid shortcuts.
Privacy Sweep – Deletes web browser, Windows and third party application history information from the PC. Supports Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Opera, as well as
Junk Files Clean – Deletes temporary files that are not longer need to free up disk space.
Security Defense – Offers to block known, malicious or unwanted websites, cookies and ActiveX-based spyware.
Disc Scan – Scans the hard drives for disk errors and attempts to fix them.
Vulnerability Fix – Checks for vulnerabilities, e.g. security patches that have not been installed – and prompts to install them.
Disk Defragment – A defragmentation tool. Advanced SystemCare blocks the defragmentation tool from running on Solid State Drives, a fragmentation scan is however still performed on those drives.

Advanced SystemCare Pro 5 creates a backup before it performs the selected actions. It is therefor always possible to restore the system if issues are encountered afterwards.

The Quick Care module runs only some of the scans that Deep Scan offers. The optimizations are configured to run automatically when the system is idle and on log on. The parameters can be changed in the options, for instance to only run select modules automatically or none at all.

New users should look at the – extensive – program settings. Every Deep Care and Quick Care module comes with its own set of options. Privacy Sweep for instance displays additional objects that can be removed when the module is run. It is on the other hand also possible to exclude a browser or program for the cleanup.
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Kindle for iPad, iPhone update outshines iBooks

Amazon updated its Kindle software for the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch on Wednesday introducing new features that ensure its app stays on the top of the e-reader pile, even as it pushes its own tablet platform with the Kindle Fire.

The update includes some iPad-only goodies that take advantage of the device’s larger screen, as well as some general changes for all versions that replicate and one-up features found in Apple’s own iBooks, making it a much better all-around solution for users who’d rather just have one e-reading app on their devices. Here’s a breakdown of what’s new:
All devices

Kindle Personal Documents Service. Both iPhone and iPad users can now take advantage of Amazon’s Kindle Personal Document Service, which lets users email their own documents to special Send-to-Kindle email addresses assigned to each Amazon Kindle user account. The document will then show up in their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch Kindle app library, and be available for re-download across devices. Note that this does incur a fee, and requires a few initial steps to get set up. You can check out Amazon’s full guide to its Personal Document Service here for more info.

PDF Reader. Kindle apps for iOS now feature a built-in PDF reader that can open files from Mail or Safari, or PDFs transferred directly from a user’s computer via iTunes. The PDF feature also works with documents transferred using the newly-integrated Personal Documents Service mentioned above. This was the main (if not the only) advantage of iBooks over the Kindle app in my opinion, so now that it’s gone I’ll probably just use the Amazon app full-time.
iPad-only

New magazine design. Amazon is clearly trying to stay on top of the competition from Newsstand here, and in fact, its magazines now work with Newsstand. Amazon’s Kindle newspaper and magazine library now extends to the over 400 titles available on the Kindle Fire.

Print replica textbooks. Those still in school will benefit greatly from this feature, which makes thousands of print replica textbooks available on the iPad via the Kindle app. Textbook rentals are also available, and the print replica formatting means that it’ll be even easier for students to follow along in class with page and section numbering while also enjoying the advantages of a digital edition (searching, linked content, etc.)

This is a big, solid update from a company that’s currently nursing its own competitive tablet platform, and I must say I’m pretty impressed. What do you think of the new Kindle apps?
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iPhone app sales kicking app on Android Market, says study

different app stores this past year, research firm Distimo found that sales of iPhone apps alone in Apple's iPhone App Store generated four times the revenue seen by Android Market. Sales of iPad apps in the App Store chalked up the second highest revenue total.

The standings were compiled by looking at the total revenue created by the 200 highest grossing apps across each store. For the purposes of its report, Distimo separated Apple's store into two distinct entities--one for iPhone apps and one for iPad apps.

One country Apple can thank for its app store sales is China, where downloads jumped dramatically in 2011. Comparing China with the U.S., Chinese iPhone users accounted for 30 percent of the total downloads between the two countries, while Chinese iPad owners generated 44 percent of the downloads among the two nations.

Apple's App Store did see a drop in downloads twice this past year--once in February before the new iPad debuted and again in October before the iPhone 4S launched. But each dip was followed by a jump in downloads after the new device hit the market.

(Credit: Distimo)

Beyond Apple's iPhone and iPad stores and Google's Android Market, Distimo's full 2011 report examined Amazon's Appstore, BlackBerry App World, Nokia's Ovi Store, and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. Among those, almost all doubled the number of apps being offered this year.

Collectively, the major app stores now offer more than 1 million apps. But Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 store showed the greatest relative growth in 2011, increasing its available apps by more than 400 percent, noted Distimo.

Counting just the number of free apps, Android Market was the leader this year, outpacing iPhone apps this past June. iPad aps took third place, followed by the Ovi Store, Windows Phone 7 Marketplace, BlackBerry App World, and Amazon's Appstore.


This past year also proved the success of the freemium and in-app purchase models, where users grab an app for free but pay for individual options or a more full-featured version.

Among the 200 top-grossing apps, Google's Android Market generated 65 percent of its sales from freemium apps, while iPhone apps captured 50 percent from freemium software.

And drilling down just to games, always one of the most popular categories, the three largest stores for gamers were Apple's App Store (for iPhone apps only) with 79,077 games, the Android Market with 46,045, and the App Store (for iPad) with 28,683. However, the Windows Phone 7 store showed strong growth in the number of games offered, surpassing the Ovi Store and BlackBerry App World this year.

So, which apps proved to be most popular in 2011, according to Distimo?

Based on the most downloads, Angry Birds nested on the top perch, followed by Facebook, Skype, Angry Birds Rio, and Google Maps. Rounding up the Top 10 were Apple's iBooks, Angry Birds Seasons, Fruit Ninja, Talking Top Cat, and Twitter.
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Apple Acquires Anobit: Bringing NAND Endurance Technology In-House

I'd seen speculation that Apple was going to drop $500M on Anobit over the past few weeks. Ars Technica also published a piece believing the acquisition to be true, and it looks like the office of Israel's Prime Minister tweeted a bit of a confirmation (Anobit is based in Israel). I looked at Anobit's extremely vague technology descriptions and dug a bit into their patent portfolio to better understand Apple's motivation behind the acquisition.

If you've followed our SSD coverage over the years you'll know that NAND endurance was a valid concern in the early days of consumer SSDs. When Intel arrived on the scene with the X25-M, its controller technology included a number of enhancements to work around common NAND errors and degradation over time. Other companies followed suit and eventually NAND error correction and reliability were major selling points of SSD controllers.

More recently, Micron announced that it would be baking ECC technology into a separate line of NAND called Clear NAND. Micron believes that in the future if you don't have access to a controller that does significant ECC or a NAND solution that includes active ECC technology that you won't be able to deliver competitive NAND based storage.

Today not much of this is necessary for consumer SSDs, even forthcoming 20nm IMFT NAND is still good for 3000 - 5000 program/erase cycles, which is more than enough for client use. However if you're using greater than 2-bit-per-cell MLC (e.g. 3-bit-per-cell MLC) then the need for better error correction is more urgent.

Smartphones and tablets need not-insignificant amounts of NAND (16 - 64GB for high end devices today, twice that next year). The cost of this NAND isn't all that much in the grand scheme of things, at the low end you're looking at several dollars and at the high end the cost is more than offset by the ridiculous increase in device pricing. The problem is not at the high end but what happens when you start selling cheaper phones. If we are indeed heading toward a future where mainstream computing is done on smartphones, then we're also headed toward a future where all smartphones need dozens of GBs of NAND on-board. That includes the ultra cheap devices as well as the high-end flagships.

Price sensitivity in these devices means that the high grade, compute NAND used in SSDs isn't what gets used by smartphone manufacturers. Instead you get the mid-grade stuff at best, but more likely you find some slow, 3-bit-per-cell NAND in the cheaper devices. There's no room (physically or budget) for sweet SSD controllers by Intel, Marvell or SandForce, thus NAND management is typically handled by an eMMC controller (or something similar) integrated into the phone/tablet's applications processor (e.g. Snapdragon, Tegra 3, A5, etc...).

Cheaper MLC NAND trades off endurance and performance for cost. How do you get to have your cake and eat it too? Well if you're set on using cheaper NAND, you have to do more processing on the controller side to clean up the data you're reading back from the shaky NAND. This isn't a problem on day one, but it becomes an issue over the months/years as you've written more data to the NAND. Cells have to be periodically refreshed, storing redundant data becomes necessary, the controller must recover/reconstruct lost data, etc... Every company has their approach to dealing with these problems. It was the first solutions to these problems that allowed consumer SSDs to use cheaper MLC NAND, and the solution to the smartphone/tablet issue is of a similar nature.

Anobit appears to be applying a lot of signal processing techniques in addition to ECC to address the issue of NAND reliability and data retention. In its patents there are mentions of periodically refreshing cells whose voltages may have drifted, exploiting some of the behaviors of adjacent cells and generally trying to deal with the things that happen to NAND once it's been worn considerably.

Through all of these efforts, Anobit is promising significant improvements in NAND longevity and reliability. At the high end Anobit promises 50,000 p/e cycles out of consumer grade MLC NAND, and in the smartphone/tablet space Anobit promises more useful lifespan out of 3-bit-per-cell MLC NAND.

As for why Apple would want Anobit, the potential reasons are huge. First the company was a cheap buy for Apple, although expensive if you look at the market as a whole (SandForce went for ~$370M). If all Apple gains from Anobit is bringing some smart NAND folks on staff the cost won't really break the bank. The obvious fit is to integrate Anobit's technology into Apple's ARM based SoCs. These SoCs already talk to NAND directly and integrating better error correction/reliability processing into the SoC just makes sense. For all we know, Apple already uses this technology in its SoCs and is simply acquiring Anobit to make it more difficult for competing SoC makers to do the same. Integration and assimilating value are the cornerstones of building a good SoC, this move makes sense (assuming Anobit's technology is actually good).

Note that if you look at the graph above, continuing to use 3-bit-per-cell NAND requires more than just standard ECC. It's clear Apple wants to continue to use value NAND in its devices, Anobit is simply a guarantee that it will be able to do so in the future.

At the other end of the spectrum, Anobit has enough technology to build a decent SSD controller (it already appears to do so for enterprise SSDs). If Apple wanted to really commoditize SSDs, it could use Anobit to produce its own SSD controllers. Apple would then simply buy NAND from memory vendors instead of the present day solution of buying a complete SSD solution for its Macs. This would shave a not insignificant portion of the BOM (bill of materials) cost of SSD production, which would help Apple transition to SSDs in more of its systems. This is more of a longshot as far as I'm concerned as, at least today, there are a lot of low-cost, competent controller makers in the SSD space.

Apple has been internalizing many of the pieces used in its SoCs over the past few years. It even owns a 9.5% stake in Imagination Technologies, the GPU company that supplies IP for Apple's SoCs. While I understand Apple's motives from the standpoint of a mostly vertically integrated hardware/software entity, there is a bit of defocus that comes with going too far down this path. I'm still not sold on the idea of Apple becoming a full fledged silicon vendor. It makes sense today, but as these SoCs become hugely complex, billion+ transistor devices I'm unsure if Apple wants to assume even more of the burden involved in bringing one of those parts to market.

Until we get to that point however, acquistions like Anobit come relatively cheaply for Apple and should help guarantee NAND reliability and performance for its more cost sensitive products (particularly as NAND geometries continue to shrink going forward). If Anobit's technology is up to muster, it should also mean that Apple will be able to continue to scale up NAND capacities in its devices without resorting to increasing device costs. NAND is ultimately driven by Moore's Law, however reliability doesn't follow the same curve by default. Integration of Anobit-like technologies are necessary to ensure it does.
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Big number for the Big Apple: New York bursts through the 50-million visitors

It is the year that is supposed to have brought bleak tidings for the travel industry, as cash-conscious holidaymakers opt to count the pennies and stay close to home shores.

But it seems that, despite these financially-tricky times, visitors have been rolling into New York.
Times Square

A fabulous 50: Michael Bloomberg (right) announces New York's landmark figure

Drawn by the bright lights, towering skyscrapers, iconic museums and shopping opportunities of the world’s most famous city, over 50 million people have headed to the Big Apple in the last 12 months, according to figures released this week.

Yesterday saw the Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, announce that the city had breached the 50-million barrier for tourist visits – a rise of 1.5 million on 2010.


These figures leave it as the most popular tourist destination in the United States, with 40 million of those visitors coming from within the US, and 10 million from abroad.

‘New York City’s quality of life has contributed to this great success, and we are confident we will sustain the success of our tourism industry in the months and years ahead,’ Bloomberg commented at a special ceremony to celebrate the landmark statistic.

The Big Apple’s big number has also proved fortuitous for one British couple.

Craig and Lucy Johnson, from Lichfield and Staffordshire, were selected as the honorary 50 millionth visitors after travelling to the US to get married at the ‘Top Of The Rock’ viewing deck – at the summit of the iconic Rockerfeller Center complex.
New York

50 (million) good reasons: New York has enjoyed a boom year

As well as enjoying 850ft-high views of the metropolis as they swapped their vows, the newlyweds have been presented with a ‘Golden Ticket’ to the city worth some $21,000 (£13,500) in gift vouchers, spending money and shopping vouchers.

Then again, New York can afford such gold-plated extravagance. Its plentiful visitor haul over the last 12 months equates to $32billion (£20.5million) in revenue.

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Look, no hands: Apple's Siri iPhone assistant 'learns piano' - and the results look ghostly Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2077061/Apples-Siri-voice-assistant-learns-play-piano--help-Yamaha.html#ixzz1hBIWgOxI

Apple's Siri voice assistant is designed to book appointments, play tracks on your iPhone - or even find nearby businesses (in America, at least).

But Yamaha has shown off a truly unique trick - a 'hack' that lets you play tracks on a Yamaha digital piano, simply by saying to a nearby iPhone, 'Play,' then the title of the track.

Yamaha performer Craig Knudsen shows off how it works - the secret being wi-fi and special digital tracks which also store a MIDI version (the file format that digital pianos understand). Simply saying, 'Play' automatically starts Siri - and the Disklavier - playing together.




The 'hack' uses Apple's Airplay technology to 'send' a track via wi-fi - but with MIDI cues built in, the format which digital pianos 'understand' as instructions. Cue the piano playing as if 'ghostly' hands are touching it

The 'hack' uses Apple's Airplay technology to 'send' a track via wi-fi - but with MIDI cues built in, the format which digital pianos 'understand' as instructions. Cue the piano playing as if 'ghostly' hands are touching it

The clever use of Siri was developed by Yamaha for its Disklavier digital piano series.

It relies on special music files with MIDI signals built in - so you won't be able to make the piano improvise your entire music collection.

The piano itself also can't receive music instructions via wi-fi - so hidden out of shot, there's an Apple Airport Express receiver unit, which receives the file and sends the instructions to the piano.

Naturally, this being Siri, there are some 'Easter Eggs' built in - for instance, saying, Play it again, Sam,' launches the piano into 'As Time Goes By' from Casablanca.



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Apple granted patent on using apps during calls

On Tuesday Apple was granted a patent related to using apps while also on a call. This could change everything … for the competition.

Patent number 8,082,523, called Portable electronic device with graphical user interface supporting application switching, is interesting because it seems so specific while in fact also being very broad:

A method, comprising: at a portable electronic device with a touch screen display: displaying on the touch screen display a first user interface for a phone application during a phone call; detecting activation of a menu icon or menu button during the phone call, in response to detecting activation of the menu icon or menu button, replacing the first user interface for the phone application with a menu of application icons including an icon for the phone application and an icon for a non-telephone application; maintaining the phone call while displaying the

menu of application icons on the touch screen display; detecting a finger gesture on an application icon in the menu of application icons other than the phone application icon; in response to detecting the finger gesture on the application icon other than the phone application icon, displaying a corresponding application user interface on the touch screen display while continuing to maintain the phone call and modifying the corresponding application user interface to include a switch application icon that is not displayed in the corresponding application user interface when there is no ongoing phone call; detecting a finger gesture on the touch screen display on the switch application icon; and in response to detecting the finger gesture on the switch application icon, replacing display of the corresponding application user interface with the first user interface for the phone application while continuing to maintain the phone call.

This patents the entire process of switching between a call and an app (and back again) on the iPhone. But what’s interesting is that the more you read this patent, the more you realize how cunning it is. It’s not impossible for someone to develop a method for switching between a call and apps that wouldn’t violate this patent, but the existence of this patent could very well make it hard for the solution to be an elegant one.

This is yet another in a stack of mobile technology related patents that Apple will undoubtedly use to keep Google and Microsoft (or Android and Windows Phone handset makers) in line.
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Apple Initiates Negotiations Concerning Apple TV with Media Execs.

Apple has started to discuss its forthcoming Apple TV-set with media executives from various large companies. Among the key features of Apple TV technology will be Internet streaming of the content to various devices, including smartphones or tablets. Another key feature will be control of the TV using voice and gestures.

At present Apple is talking with its partners about TV in general in a bid to understand how much of the universe of video content the providers actually had the rights to and whether media companies would be interested in creating new TV-like services or, perhaps, even special channels for Apple devices, reports the Wall Street Journal. The company is also exploring whether it can use its iCloud syncing and storage service for its TV services.

One of the main features of Apple's television set is projected to be an ability to quickly search for content from numerous sources, including Apple's own iTunes. Given the fact that the user experience should be integrated, this feature alone presents a number of challenges. In order to provide unique capabilities and simplicity, Apple TV will likely integrate iCloud as Siri along with motion sensing support for content sharing and control purposes. In a bid to be able to control the TV using iPhone, iPad or iPod, the TV will be compatible with Apple's AirPlay technology.

Apple traditionally remains tight-lipped about its future television set, nobody knows whether it will receive content using radio broadcast, cable or the Internet. Actual peculiarities and capabilities of Apple TV will be determined after the company negotiates with media partners.

The Apple TV project has been discussed by market observers for several years already, this year Apple's former chief executive officer Steve Jobs confirmed his biographer Walter Isaacson that the work on TV was underway as well as that the Apple TV would have a simple user interface and would wirelessly synchronize content across all Apple devices.

Apparently, Apple already has a prototype TV in the works and may introduce a product for sale by late next year or in 2013, according to some analysts., Apple is investing in manufacturing facilities and securing supplies of LCD screens of up to 50".

It remains to be seen whether the Apple TV device will also support high-definition gaming as presently Apple's ecosystem clearly has a weak spot due to absence of high-quality games on Macs and lack of a game console in Apple's lineup.

Although Apple currently sells Apple TV set-top-box, to enable customers to watch iTunes content on their HDTVs, the device is not popular. As a result, the actual Apple television set will have to offer a lot more that the STB does today to be successful. Given the fact that Apple is in process of negotiations with its partners at the moment, it is almost a guarantee that the firm is on-track with its TV for the second half of 2012 or the first half of 2013.
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Apple's Patent Victory Over HTC/Android Shouldn't Inconvenience Users

The latest patent squabble in the mobile world--Ho TC vs. Apple (or vice versa)--has ended in a mixed victory for both parties. It's also become a little clearer that most of these patent fights aren't likely to snatch existing devices from the hands of corporate users.

HTC and Apple have been at loggerheads over whether some of HTC's devices infringe on certain data-processing patents held by Apple. On Monday, the International Trade Commission sided in part with Apple and instituted an import ban on some of HTC's phones, starting in April of next year. (Nokia also was cited as an infringer in some of the patents, but settled separately back in June and set up a cross-licensing agreement.)

One of the infringing patents involves an Apple technology called data detectors, which allows an OS to recognize the presence of formatted data--phone numbers, email addresses--within a block of text. It also allows the user to take actions on that data; for instance, by dialing a detected phone number or firing off an email to a detected address. HTC was not, however, found to be infringing on another Apple patent (a "real-time signal processing system").

Patents that involve design or UI decisions can be worked around with varying degrees of pain. Infringing software typically can be fixed with an over-the-air update. But infringing hardware is thornier, depending on the timeframe of the ban for the offending device. In the current case, the ban against the infringing HTC phones goes into place on April 19, 2012.

That's time enough for HTC to change its designs and roll out a new version of the phone, which is precisely what they intend to do. As a result, existing HTC phone users aren't likely to feel much, if any, pain.

"The ongoing patent fights over Android are unlikely to impact current devices," says with Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation Business Services and an IP lawyer based in Calabasas, Calif. "The commission's order applies to new phone imports and doesn't force HTC to pull existing devices off U.S. store shelves. Furthermore, HTC can import refurbished phones to fulfill warranties or insurance contracts through Dec. 19, 2013. Hence, customers can assume, at least based on the latest decision, that their current services should not be interrupted."

But what about future infringements? Other patent suits against Android are ongoing, and could have broader scope or more severe fallout. Are they likely to make people regret buying devices if they become the object of a legal tussle?

Sweeney's take is that it's growing less likely such a thing will happen. "Typically with [such] rulings, there is breathing room to implement the ruling. If it's changing software, removing it from devices, etc., typically the courts are reasonable in trying to give each party time to sufficiently implement."

The ITC's own documentation of the ban has wording to that effect: "...based on consideration of competitive conditions in the United States economy, the exclusion of articles subject to the order shall commence on April 19, 2012 to provide a transition period for U.S. carriers." This would seem to hint that handsets, as opposed to other potentially patent-infringing devices, have unique standing due to the number of other business parties involved (specifically, the cell carriers).

Sweeney also notes: "Leniency and leeway often depend on the severity of the infringement. Among other factors, one major point of considerations is 'knowingly infringing' upon another's patent. In such cases, courts can go so far as to issue a complete and immediate restraining order. However, in a situation like this [the current Apple/HTC fight], it has been hashed out in so many different iterations that it's unlikely to yield an immediate and wholesale cessation of a critical feature or substantial portion of the device."

Most Android-related patent suits are aimed at handset makers rather than Google directly. Because Android typically is customized heavily by handset makers, much of the responsibility for the final form Android takes on a given device falls to the maker of that device.

This doesn't mean Google isn't the target--only that it's often easier to attack someone who uses Google's technology (e.g., a handset maker) instead of attempting to go head-to-head against Google directly. One of the more direct patent suits against Google involves Android's Dalvik virtual machine subsystem. Oracle claims Dalvik infringes on seven patents it holds that apply to Java.

Even if Oracle successfully prosecutes a claim against Google, it probably won't mean Android handsets will vanish from the marketplace. End users can breathe a little easier. But Google and handset makers as a whole are far from being off the hook.
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Apple’s App Store made big gains in China in 2011

According to a new report (PDF) from app market research firm Distimo, the App Store, which has traditionally been dominated by U.S. downloads, is seeing another major driving force on the rise as more and more Chinese shoppers pick up iOS devices.

When comparing the two countries, the Chinese App Store for iPhone devices was just 18 percent of download volume vs. the U.S. at the beginning of 2011. By November, that share had climbed to 30 percent, meaning that China jumped from less than a quarter to nearly a third over a 10 month period. The numbers are even more interesting when examining the iPad: China’s take is just south of 50 percent of combined downloads between the two countries.

China had already become the second largest market for Apple’s mobile software marketplace as of June, due in part to strong growth of its download volume but also to a decrease in downloads from western countries. Thanks to strong sales of Apple devices (sales of its physical products increased sixfold in China between 2010 and 2011) and the launch near the end of 2010 of an App Store in simplified Chinese, 2011 as a whole was a period of strong growth in mobile software. But the revenue picture for developers isn’t quite as rosy.

For one, translating App Store success from the U.S. to China isn’t a straightforward task. Localization is very important to Chinese customers, so investments like translation and culture-specific settings, contexts and themes are key to attracting downloads. But according to Distimo, there’s another problem facing developers: namely, Chinese app buyer aren’t as willing to pay for software as their western counterparts. Revenue share from the Chinese App Store is still behind its share of downloads.

Apple only just introduced the ability to pay for App Store purchases in Chinese yuan, however, which could have a considerable effect on the success of paid apps in China. In fact, early data from Distimo suggests things are already changing for the better, with paid app downloads nearly doubling in the first week following the new payment method’s introduction.

In 2012, we’ll probably see this trend continue, and it’s even possible that Apple will draw close to or maybe even surpass the U.S. in terms of App Store downloads during the year. ABIresearch predicts 5.5 billion mobile app downloads in China in 2012, of which Apple’s store will no doubt own a fair percentage.
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China probing blast at Apple supplier factory

Shanghai: Authorities are investigating the cause of an explosion over the weekend that injured dozens of people at the Shanghai factory of a supplier to Apple Inc.

The government formed an investigation group and ordered safety checks at the Riteng Computer Accessory Co. factory, a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple supplier Pegatron Corp., said Gan Shanjun, an official in the information office in Shanghai's Songjiang district.

Critics have taken Cupertino, California-based Apple to task for alleged violations of labour and environmental standards by its China-based suppliers, and the company has said it is working to resolve such problems.
China probing blast at Apple supplier factory

Local media reported that 61 people were hurt by the blast and more than 20 of them hospitalised, but none suffered life-threatening injuries.

"Our hearts go out to the people who were hurt in Songjiang. We are working closely with Pegatron to understand the cause of this accident," said Carolyn Wu, a spokeswoman for Apple in China.

She would not comment further. Apple provides little if any information about its suppliers in China.

Pegatron, in a statement, said the blast occurred in dust collection equipment. Its staff also said they would not make further comment.

The New York-based group China Labour watch said the explosion occurred when aluminium dust from polishing cases for iPads caught fire.

A similar explosion occurred in May at a factory of electronics maker Foxconn Technology Group. Three people died and 15 were hurt due to what Foxconn said was "an explosion of combustible dust in a duct" at the plant in the southwestern city of Chengdu.

Aluminium dust is highly combustible, according to the U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration, and some experts have stressed the need to take special precautions in making Apple's trademark shiny metallic cases.
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Apple Claims Samsung Tablet, Phone Cases Infringe Patents

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc., which on Dec. 9 lost a bid to keep Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy 10.1 tablet out of Australia, claims the case for the device and cases for Samsung phones infringe its patents and registered design.

Apple issued the notice of infringement to Samsung in Australia over the cases, and will file a statement of claim, Apple’s lawyer Stephen Burley said at a hearing in Sydney today. Samsung’s lawyer Katrina Howard said at the same hearing the company was served with the notice that the cases infringe at least 10 patents.

The latest claims further expand patent disputes between the two companies that have spread across four continents. Apple and Samsung have filed more than 30 lawsuits against each other, according to the Suwon, South Korea-based company.

The case dispute was disclosed at the end of a seven-hour hearing at which Apple attempted to persuade Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett to delay a scheduled trial in Sydney on Samsung’s claims that Apple’s iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPad 2, infringe its patents governing wireless transmissions on 3G networks.

“This matter can’t be ready in time for March,” Burley said. “It’d be unfair to Apple if the case were to be hurried on.”

Evidence Collection

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, needs time to gather experts, who must file reports, and will need time to collect evidence to defend itself, Burley said.

Howard opposed the request, saying the trial can proceed as scheduled.

Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones last quarter, dropped its bid for a temporary injunction barring Apple from selling the iPhones and iPad 2 and instead agreed to the early hearing, Howard said.

The company would be “severely prejudiced” if the trial were delayed, she told the judge.

Bennett deferred a decision on Apple’s request and will hold another hearing Feb. 3. She told the companies to proceed with evidence and expert testimony gathering.

The Australian trial will be a prelude for Samsung in its U.S. case before the International Trade Commission on similar claims. Burley had said at an earlier hearing that will be heard in May and June.
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Click here to find out more! Apple App Store sees 6x revenue versus Android in top apps

Apple’s App Store generates six times the revenue of Google’s Android Market for the top 200 grossing titles, app analysis firm Distimo has calculated, while in-app purchases account for 65-percent of revenues for the top grossing 200 Android software. The findings, part of Distimo’s January to November 2011 report, also include news that the Windows Phone Marketplace, Microsoft’s mobile download store, has overtaken Nokia’s Ovi Store and RIM’s BlackBerry App World for games, and is now the fourth largest app store in that category.

In fact, the Windows Phone Marketplace grew by 400-percent in 2011, as Microsoft ramped up its developer outreach and pushed the new platform. The Android Market remains the place for free apps, though freemium titles – where in-app purchases are used to make money off of a free download – now account for almost 50-percent of iPhone titles in the App Store.

iPhone app sales remain the biggest source of income from total revenue, including both one-off and in-app purchases, followed by those for the iPad. Distimo looks at iPhone and iPad performance separately, finding that iPhone app sales generate total revenues almost four times the revenue of the Android Market, and iPad app sales generate over twice those of Google’s store.

As for the most successful apps, Angry Birds took the top spot in Distimo’s findings, followed by Facebook and Skype. Google Maps took fifth spot, impressive since it’s only available to download on Android devices, though it does have an advantage what with being pushed on each handset and tablet.
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Apple poised to sell more iPhones: Susquehanna

(Reuters) - Susquehanna raised its price target on Apple Inc's stock and increased its iPhone shipment estimates as it sees the company ramping up smartphone production, now that Thailand-related constraints have been resolved.

"The revisions are based on positive sell-through data combined with recent supply-chain checks, which suggests that earlier component constraints have largely been resolved and build plans have increased for the fourth and first quarter." Susquehanna wrote in a note to clients.

The brokerage raised its iPhone shipment estimates for the first quarter to 30.3 million units from the 27.1 million it forecast earlier.

"Demand appears solid as iPhone 4S continues to ship in one to two weeks online and stores are generally sold out for in-store reservation and pickup."

The 4S is Apple's fifth iteration of its hugely popular iPhone smartphone range and was released to the public on October 4 this year.

Susquehanna sees strong holiday sales of the company's iPad tablets as well as new product launches such as the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 as significant positive catalysts to the stock.

The brokerage reiterated its "positive" rating on the stock.

Shares of the Cupertino, California-based Apple were down marginally in pre-market trade on Wednesday. They closed at $395.95 on Tuesday on Nasdaq.
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Apple fixes download bug for iPhone OS 3.1.3 users

iPhone owners still using OS 3.1.3 can once again install new apps from the App Store.

Users running the older OS reported on Apple's Support Communities over the past week that they were unable to download and install new apps directly onto their iPhone and iPod Touch devices, though they could update existing apps and sync new apps from iTunes. The glitch seemed specific to OS 3.1.3, though some iPhone 4S users with iOS 5 reported a similar problem.

As of yesterday afternoon, forum users started chiming in that the download bug had been squashed.

"Yes, it is true, after near one week after, the AppStore works again in our 'old' iOS3 devices," posted one commenter.

"I really think that our insistence and devotion of some, benefited to our cause. Thank to Apple to finally decide to correct this bug," wrote another.

A few people noted that some issues persist with OS 3.1.3, such as the Update button still not working, but the overall app download process seems to be up and running again.

The cause of the problem and its resolution remain a mystery. CNET contacted Apple yesterday and again today for comment, but so far the company has not responded with specific details.
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Apple EU design patent could lose sway in Samsung case

A EUROPEAN UNION (EU) design patent that fruit themed Apple used to win a sales ban on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 could be of little value after new evidence was shown in an appeal of the decision.

According to Bloomberg, Samsung bought in as evidence a US utility patent using a type of flat screen that was published 13 days before Apple filed its EU design patent.

At a hearing in Dusseldorf, the judge said this could limit the protection that Apple gets.

However, he said that Apple might still be able to rely on fair competition rules for a German ban, with a ruling set for 31 January.

"Apple's tablet design may have a rather broad range of protection, because it's widely known," said Judge Wilhelm Berneke. "But there are also elements that need to remain free, like the feature that tablets are very thin."

Both sides are appealing a 9 September sales ban issued by a lower court. While Samsung is looking to overturn the ban, Apple wants it extended to cover all EU countries and both Samsung's German sales company and its South Korea based parent.

The companies will face each other again tomorrow in the lower court, where Apple is also seeking a sales ban for the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Apple will only be able to get an EU wide ban if its design patent prevails on appeal. Under German fair competition rules it can only ask for a ban limited to that country

Source: The Inquirer (http://s.tt/14Xaq)
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Apple's Patent Win: Just a Feather in Its Cap?

In a decision 20 months in the making, the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled Monday that, starting in April, certain HTC smartphones cannot be imported into the U.S. due to a violation of one of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) patents.

Apple had alleged that HTC was violating 10 technology patents, though the ITC ruled that the Taiwanese smartphone maker was infringing on just one, a data tapping feature. It allows users to tap, for instance, a date, address, or phone number in the text of an e-mail or text message and open those digits in a feature such as a map to help find an address or dial a phone numbers.

However, due in part to the span of time until the ban is enacted, the decision isn't expected to be immediately devastating to HTC's Android-based devices.

The Way Around

"Patents are not invincible. The claims of the patent, the heart of the legal exclusivity, have limits. By omitting the infringing feature, HTC and any other company can avoid the draconian effects of an exclusion order. Of course, if a patent covers a key product feature, this may be impossible," Ray Van Dyke, a technology and IP attorney in Washington, D.C. told MacNewsWorld.

But the ruling gives HTC a buffer zone to regroup. The company has time for a redesign between now and April to eliminate the feature or design it so that it isn't infringing on a patent.

"U.S. patent laws encourage legitimate design around, which in the end increases the wealth of human knowledge. Thus, if HTC can merely omit the feature found infringing, then their market share for the Android could be preserved. If not, then that market share is up for grabs," said Van Dyke.

In addition, in case the company isn't able to redo the feature, HTC has from now until April to sell as many of the banned devices that it can.

"Another remedy in ITC cases is a cease and desist order, which would immediately ban all sales and importations. That order was not granted -- in favor of a transition period. Thus, existing products in the US are not affected, but could later be found infringing in a U.S. federal court action," said Van Dyke.

HTC and Apple didn't respond to our requests for further comments.
Explosions Hurt iPad 2 Production

An explosion at the Pegatron plant in Shanghai injured 60 workers recently, spurring an investigation. The development is expected to slow iPad 2 production to the degree that the company might be unable to meet demand.

Early reports indicate that aluminum dust might have been the cause for the explosion. A Foxconn explosion in Chengdu, China, earlier in the year, also reportedly from aluminum dust, killed three workers and also led to supply delays. Chinese labor advocates have expressed concern about the ongoing problems with worker conditions. Apple is looking to new areas, including Brazil, to continue manufacturing the devices, according to a report from Forbes.

Supply lines have also been upset by natural disasters this year. When the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan last spring, Apple and other electronics makers faced shortages and delays.
Anobit Goes Through

Apple's $500 million deal with Anobit, an Israeli company that makes backup and flash products for data center use, was completed Tuesday, Apple's first Israeli buy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted "Wecome to Israel, Apple Inc. on your first acquisition here. I'm certain that you'll benefit from the fruit of Israeli knowledge."

Apple has been eyeing the company for some time, and it hopes to set up semiconductor development in Israel.
The Vanishing Spies

Apple was spared much of the furor over Carrier IQ, the software found in many smartphones that's capable of snooping on users' actions. Even before Senator Al Franken took action, Apple had already announced most of its iPhones would be rid of the data collection software. Sprint (NYSE: S) followed suit late last week.

"On the one hand, collecting device performance information helps operators provide consumers with better services; on the other, it raises the trust and privacy temperature of consumers. If the industry doesn't police itself, we will be headed for government intervention. This is the worst of all possible scenarios. Apple's disclosures were both prudent and responsible," Bob Egan, VP of mobile strategy at Mobiquity and analyst at GigaOM Pro, told MacNewsWorld.
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