Infamous patent troll VirnetX has formally asked a Texas court this week to order Apple to stop providing its FaceTime and iMessage features to customers. The request follows VirnetX’s victory in court earlier this year to the tune of $625 million, which the firm wants to see increased by $190 million or more, Law360 reports:
Earlier this week it was reported that an upcoming MacBook Pro refresh would bring a thinner design, Touch ID support, and an OLED touch bar above the keyboard. One of the longstanding requests by MacBook users, however, has been an option for cellular connectivity and now it looks like we might be one step closer to that coming to fruition. As noted by PatentlyApple, Apple has recently been granted a patent for a MacBook with cellular connectivity.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard whispers that Apple is working on MacBook with cellular connectivity. In 2011, a MacBook Pro with 3G connectivity and a SIM card slot from 2007 was put up for auction on eBay with the seller claiming it was an unreleased prototype model, but is it still possible that Apple is considering finally adding the feature?
The patent was originally filed in 2014, when Apple referred to the Apple Pencil as ‘the stylus.’ Much of the text focuses on use of the stylus with a ‘touch screen display’ (aka an iPad), but several of the drawings show what appear to be a trackpad and iMac …
Concept designers have been creating renderings of bezel-free iPhones – where the display extends all the way to the edges of the phone – for years now. One major barrier to realizing this vision has, of course, been the Home button with its embedded Touch ID sensor.
Third-party companies have already developed transparent fingerprint sensors capable of being embedded into a smartphone display, and an Apple patent filed in March of last year but only published yesterday describes the exact same approach …
A recent patent filed by Apple and discovered by PatentlyApple hints at ways in which Apple is planning to make its HomeKit platform smarter. The patent, published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is for an “automated environment” in which HomeKit would be able to track the routines of users and implement automated behaviors based on those habits.
Apple has today been granted a patent for an iPad Smart Cover with more smarts than usual: it incorporates a built-in display, and even a Wacom-style drawing tablet.
The patent illustrates a number of different ways the Smart Cover display could be used, from simply extending the iPad’s own display through text-only displays of things like reminders to a combined display and touchpad. Some of the options show the display acting as a full input device too, allowing both handwritten notes and drawings.
While we of course add our usual disclaimer that Apple patents way more things than it actually makes, two element of this patent have actually made it into production …
Earlier this year Immersion Corporation, one of the leading companies in haptic feedback technology, filed a lawsuit against Apple over haptic technology used in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and Apple Watch. Today, the company has filed a second lawsuit against Apple and AT&T in which it says the MacBook and MacBook Pro violate one patent relating to haptic feedback. Additionally, Immersion says the iPhone 6s infringes on three more of its patents not mentioned in the first lawsuit.
With Apple widely believed to be planning to drop the headphone socket in the iPhone 7 in favor of Lightning-connected and wireless headphones, a patent application published today describes how a single set of headphones could switch smoothly between wired and wireless modes without any interruption of playback.
There’s of course nothing new in headphones that support both wired and wireless use – many Bluetooth headphones come supplied with a plug-in audio cable that allow them to fall back to wired use if they run low on battery power or you just want the higher quality a wired connection typically delivers.
But switching between wired and wireless use typically has a couple of issues, and Apple’s patent aims to solve both of them …
Apple has agreed to pay $24.9M to settle a long-running lawsuit alleging that Siri violated a patent owned by a New York institute and exclusively licensed to a company in Dallas. The patent predates the launch of Siri by four years.
The Albany Business Review notes that Apple was sued not by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which holds the patent, but by Dallas-based Dynamic Advances, which licensed it. The company reportedly receives $5M now, and the balance after meeting unspecified conditions. In return, Apple gets a license to use the patented technology for three years.
The settlement means that the patent trial, due to take place in New York next month, will no longer proceed. However, that may not be the end of it …
The last update to the Magic Mouse, back in October, swapped the removeable batteries for a curiously placed Lightning-charged built-in one, and added a new pairing method – but as yet there’s no way to use Force Touch features. That looks set to change as Apple highlights the missing functionality in a new patent granted today …
A patent application spotted by Patently Apple suggests that the Apple Watch turning on its display as you raise your wrist could be just the first of many supported gestures. Pointing, waving and even extending pinky and thumb in a ‘phone me’ gesture could all be used to initiate actions on either the Watch itself or a paired iPhone.
While voice and touch input can be an effective way to control a device, there may be situations where the user’s ability to speak the verbal command or perform the touch gesture may be limited.
This [patent] relates to a device that detects a user’s motion and gesture input through the movement of one or more of the user’s hand, arm, wrist, and fingers, for example, to provide commands to the device or to other devices […] The device can interpret the gesture as an input command, and the device can perform an operation.
Apple gives a number of illustrative examples of such gestures …
The endless patent battles between Apple and Samsung took an interesting turn this week when Apple claimed that the most recent court ruling violated the Seventh Amendment of the U.S. Constitution: the right to trial by jury.
Back in 2014, Apple was awarded $119.6M when Samsung was found to have violated three of the five patents in dispute. That award was overturned last month when an appeals court ruled that Samsung didn’t infringe one of the three patents, and declared the other two invalid.
The problem, explains Reuters, is that the appellate court didn’t just refer to the trial court record in reaching its conclusions, it also considered new evidence …
The Smart Connector Apple introduced on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and used again on the latest 9.7-inch model, may become more capable over time. An Apple patent granted today reveals possible plans to allow multiple devices to be simultaneously connected to the port, using stacked connectors.
Interestingly, while the much-loved MagSafe power connector was removed in the 12-inch MacBook, it seems that Apple hasn’t altogether abandoned the idea, as the patent describes using magnetic retention to stack the plugs – with one drawing showing what looks very much like a MagSafe Lightning plug …
Update: Some are suggesting that the patent could simply be for tiny shifts that would allow the iPhone camera to fill in missing detail that falls between pixels, though it’s unclear how this would differ from a technique already in use by Hasselblad. Thanks to James for the Hasselblad link.
iPhones have long allowed you to create panoramic images by taking multiple photos which the camera stitches together. But an Apple patent granted today could allow future iPhones to take panoramic photos effectively with a single shot. Apple describes this as ‘super resolution mode.’
The reality would be that the iPhone would still take multiple photos to switch together, but the process would be automated so the user experience would be taking just one shot …
While the patent wording doesn’t specifically name either the Apple Watch or iPhone, the meaning of one electronic device cooperating with another one seems pretty clear.
An occurrence of one or more “care events” is detected by an electronic device monitoring environmental data and/or user data from one or more sensors. The electronic device transmits one or more alerts regarding the detected occurrence to at least one other electronic device. In some cases, the electronic device may cooperate with at least one other electronic device in monitoring, detecting, and/or transmitting.
Apple says that the setup could detect a range of emergencies, and take appropriate action depending on the severity – ranging from sending an email to a family member at the low end to calling 911 in the most urgent of cases …
When Apple signed an exclusive deal to use the superstrong alloy liquidmetal way back in 2010, there was a lot of speculation about how Apple might use it. The only immediate answer we saw was in the SIM ejection tool supplied with iPhones.
While some had expected Apple to use liquidmetal for product casings, the high cost of the material seemed to rule that out, at least in the short-term. There’s also been no sign of the super long-lasting batteries some had suggested.
But Apple clearly does have a use for it beyond SIM eject tools, last year renewing those exclusive rights – and a patent granted to the company today suggests one possible reason why …