Apple Watch’s Force Touch tech could be about to get a whole lot better. Photo: Apple
The Force Touch technology seen in the Apple Watch and new MacBook is pretty great and all, but imagine being able to go further than the relatively simple haptic feedback Apple currently offers — by having your future Mac trackpad actually simulate different textures when you run your hand over it.
That’s the aim of a new patent application published today, which describes a new diamond-layered touch surface capable of using a variety of vibrations and temperatures to recreate a range of textures.
Apple is looking to up its selfie game in a new patent awarded to the company by the United States Patent and Trademark Offices today. The new patent would allow iPhone and iPad users to unlock their devices by simply taking a selfie, rather than using Touch ID or a passcode.
Android phones have had facial unlocking features for year, and there have been iOS jailbreak hacks as well, but Apple’s patent comes with a twist – devices will also automatically lock when they don’t recognize your face.
Chalk one up for Cupertino! A federal jury in Texas (where else?) said on Monday that Apple didn’t infringe on five wireless tech patents belonging to the patent licensing company Conversant Intellectual Property Management Inc.
The verdict comes as a relief, since it follows one month on from a jury in the same Texas courthouse ordering Apple to pay out $532.9 million for iTunes-related patent infringement: one of the biggest examples of damages awarded in patent history.
Apple has been ordered to shell out $532.9 million to a patent troll after apparently infringing on intellectual property with iTunes features related to data storage and managing access through payment systems.
The fee was awarded by a Texas court, and was positioned between the $852 million Smartflash was seeking in damages and the $4.5 million Apple had argued for.
Patent: 'Accessing a vehicle using portable devices'
Filed in late 2011, this patent application would allow you to unlock your car — and even start its engine — using a designated iOS device, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch.
Just as important as what it does is what it doesn't: This technology could let you disable your car's engine between particular hours, potentially cracking down on would-be burglaries while you're asleep.
Patent: 'Automatic identification of vehicle location'
Apple clearly has designs for Siri that go far beyond the intelligent assistant's current implementation. Siri forms a key component of CarPlay right now, but it could certainly go further. Apple also has a number of interesting concepts, such as a patent designed to let you ask "Siri, where's my car?" when you're lost in a parking lot — at which point, your dedicated AI helper will guide you back to your car. Helpful, no?
Siri's all well and good, but this 2009 patent filing goes further still, with calls for in-car camera technology — possibly letting you perform gestures from the driver's seat to control car functions such as window wipers and temperature adjustment.
The patent filing even mentions heads-up displays embedded into an automobile armrest and cameras built into a car to detect the head position of drivers.
Patent: 'Automatic configuration of self-configurable environments'
This car-related Apple patent, filed in early 2012, tries to solve the problem of how multiple people can easily configure one vehicle for all their individual needs. Apple's answer: Use an iPhone to program user preferences related to everything from seat and mirror orientations to ideal cabin temperature and favorite radio stations. Best of all, you could take the same preferences with you to another vehicle, immediately customizing it to suit your requirements.
This Apple automotive patent, filed in mid-2012, describes how the iPhone’s geo-location capabilities could be used to intelligently monitor and control certain car functions, based on “geofences.” Using signals sent via Bluetooth LE, the technology could execute functions like locking your car and arming its alarm when you are a certain distance from the vehicle.
Different geofences could also be established and configured for a variety of boundaries. For instance, moving toward the rear of your car could automatically pop the trunk.
Apple loves the idea that you get a lot of use out of your iPhone, but it doesn't want to be responsible for car crashes! This 2008 patent filing describes a Windows Phone-style "drive mode" that would use a variety of sensors or iPhone data to detect when you're operating a vehicle, and would then block certain functions that might distract you while driving.
This isn't so much a car patent as an iPhone one, but it still demonstrates that vehicular safety is a subject up for discussion in Cupertino. Could talk of self-driving cars naturally follow?
Patent: 'Method and apparatus for providing mobile inter-mesh communication points'
One possible challenge with a vehicle packed full of connected components is what happens when you're out of range of the Internet. That problem could be partially solved by technology described in a 2003 patent (the oldest on this list, although it was only published in 2012). The patent describes a mesh network capable of keeping a car running in such a scenario.
Apple has since explored mesh networks beginning with iOS 7, becoming one of the first mainstream consumer tech companies to do so.
Apple’s patent cover a Wikipad GameVice-style accessory capable of attaching to your iOS device. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
What is it with Apple and the gaming-related patents as of late?
Just weeks after the publishing of an Apple patent showing a concealed gaming joystick capable of being hidden in future iPhones, today the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office has revealed another Apple invention related to a snap-on gaming controller for iOS devices.
As with the joystick patent, the idea here is to allow gamers to fully capitalize on the present golden age of iOS gaming, without having to block parts of the screen using their fingers for multitouch controls.
Plenty of money’s at stake in the latest lawsuit Apple is wrapped up in. Photo: Pierre Marcel/Flickr CC
Ericsson’s former CEO has gone on the record as saying his company should have taken the iPhone more seriously when it arrived back in 2007. Today, everyone takes the iPhone seriously — and there are the lawsuits to prove it.
In the latest of these, Apple and Ericsson are suing each other after failing to come to an agreement about the pricing of Ericsson-owned patents used by Apple.
Apple is claiming Ericsson is chasing excessive royalty rates, while Ericsson is holding out for more cash.
GoPro shares have dropped 42 percent since hitting an all-time high in October. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac
Shares of GoPro stock plummeted as much as 15% this afternoon after it was announced that Apple was awarded a patent that could put the wearable camera company in serious trouble.
Apple was granted a series of 34 patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today relating to a camera system that can be mounted to helmets and scuba masks and controlled remotely. That patent specifically mentions weaknesses in GoPro’s system, which has sent investors worrying that Apple is aiming to crush the sports camera giant.
Imagine a lifetime job with Apple, that doesn’t require you going into the office every day, from which you can never be fired, but which still gives you a sizeable guaranteed paycheck at the end of each month.
If that sounds like a dream come true, apparently you share the same utopian vision as a little company called Hall Data Sync Technologies: a non-practicing patent troll company which just filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Apple.