Remember the days when school desks were only useful for jotting down graffiti? Well those days might be coming to an end. Reuters reports that British scientists are testing out new “smart desks” that are essentially desk-sized tablets with multitouch screens capable of supporting multiple users at the same time. The researchers have apparently found that these new desks are particularly beneficial for teaching mathematics as they “have benefits over doing maths on paper” and “pupils are able to improve their fluency and flexibility in maths by working together.” More →
Apple will pay $5 million to settle a patent lawsuit with the Taiwan-based firm Elan, a report said Thursday. According to its website, Elan focuses on the research and development of integrated circuits and touchpad module solutions. Concluding an ongoing spat, the two companies have now agreed on a patent sharing relationship, according to Reuters. Elan originally filed a suit against Apple in 2009 alleging that Apple was infringing on two patents related to multitouch technology. Apple countersued in the United States and a judge eventually ruled last year that Apple was not in violation of Elan’s patents, Reuters explained. However, CNET said Elan continued its patent battle with Apple in a California court case that was expected to kick off in February. Apple is currently locked in a number of patent suits around the globe with several firms, including Samsung, and most recently tried to ban Samsung’s tweaked Galaxy Tab 10.1N in Germany. More →
Apple recently won an injunction that could prevent HTC from importing several Android phones into the United States, and now it has been granted a patent for a technology that may drastically affect how Android vendors design their devices and user interfaces. The Cupertino-based company was granted a patent titled “Portable electronic device with graphical user interface supporting application switching,” which basically means Apple has been awarded a patent for switching apps while on a phone call. That’s a pretty valuable patent, considering most smartphones allow users to switch to a new application while on a phone call. As CBS points out, the broad wording within the patent documentation could make it very hard for Apple’s competitors to create a workaround. For example, the patent describes how a user might use his or her finger to tap a menu and choose another application — something that can currently be done on all smartphones. Read on for more. More →
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday published 14 new patents that were recently granted to Apple. According to PatentlyApple, two of those patents are related to “high profile multitouch” technology. One describes “front-end signal compensation” on a display and a second involves a “method for forming crystalline ITO on top of a nonconductive substrate.” As PatentlyApple notes, the first patent is related to the touchscreen technology that was first introduced on the original iPhone, which made its debut in 2007. It describes how a “host device may, for example, correspond to a computer such as a desktop, laptop, handheld or tablet computer. The host device interprets the touch event and thereafter performs an action based on the touch event.” The other multitouch patent describes a more efficient way of creating a touchscreen by combining an LCD display with a touch panel. More →
Apple may be working on pico-projector technology that could be used with its iPhone and Mac products according to a patent filing discovered by UnwiredView. The patent, titled “Projected display shared workspaces,” shows how one might be able to use an iPhone or Mac to project content onto a larger open space, such as a wall, by attaching a small pico-projector. In addition, users could control the projection using multitouch gestures on their iPhone screen or Mac trackpad. The patent reminds us of AT&Ts LG eXpo, which had its own projector accessory but wasn’t much of a hit with consumers. Read on for a second image from Apple’s patent. More →
Apple on Tuesday officially announced that its iWork productivity applications, including Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, are now available for the iPhone and iPod touch. Apple has completely redesigned the applications to take advantage of iOS’s multitouch features. “Now you can use Keynote, Pages, and Numbers on iPhone and iPod touch to create amazing presentations, documents, and spreadsheets right in the palm of your hand,” Philip Shiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said. “The incredible Retina display, revolutionary multi-touch interface and our powerful software make it easy to create, edit, organize, and share all of your documents from the iPhone 4 or iPod touch.” The applications offer improved document management and a tools button in the toolbar for quickly sharing documents without closing the application. Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are available in the iTunes App Store now for $9.99 each. Existing iWork for iPad users can upgrade for free, and the Keynote Remote is available for $0.99. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
Google Maps has hit a new milestone as the first Android application to surpass the 50 million download mark. The free application has seen many revisions since its public introduction in 2008 — as part of Android 1.6 — and now includes 3D modeling with multi-touch zoom and panning, free voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation, and support for Google’s Latitude and Places products. Given that it’s available on every iteration of Android — that we can think of — we’re not surprised to learn it’s the most downloaded application ever. Congrats to the Google Maps team. More →
Apple has been testing multitouch gestures for quite a while, and we reported in January that this will likely lead to Apple ultimately ditching the home button on future iPad and iPhone devices. The feature, which simplifies certain tasks such as app switching, still isn’t available to the general public. But as it turns out, anyone can enable multitouch gestures on the iPad or iPad 2 with just a few minutes and $5. As pointed out by Gizmodo, users can simply purchase Apple’s iOS developer software Xcode 4 — available for $5 from the Mac App Store — and enable the nifty feature with a single click. Once enabled, users will be able to use a four-finger swipe from side to side in order to switch open apps, swipe up with four fingers to open the app switcher, and use a five-finger pinch to return to the home screen. Hit the break for the simple instructions. More →
On the heels of today’s MacBook Pro unveiling, Apple announced that it would be making a preview of Mac OS X 10.7 — codenamed Lion — available to developers. The company writes that Lion “takes some of the best ideas from iPad and brings them back to the Mac.” Apple details several, previously disclosed, features — such as Mission Control, Launchpad, and multitouch gestures — along with a handful of new, unannounced feature additions:
- A new version of Mail, with an elegant, widescreen layout inspired by the iPad; Conversations, which automatically groups related messages into one easy to read timeline; more powerful search; and support for Microsoft Exchange 2010;
- AirDrop, a remarkably simple way to copy files wirelessly from one Mac to another with no setup;
- Versions, which automatically saves successive versions of your document as you create it, and gives you an easy way to browse, edit and even revert to previous versions;
- Resume, which conveniently brings your apps back exactly how you left them when you restart your Mac or quit and relaunch an app;
- Auto Save, which automatically saves your documents as you work;
- The all new FileVault, that provides high performance full disk encryption for local and external drives, and the ability to wipe data from your Mac instantaneously; and
- Mac OS X Lion Server, which makes setting up a server easier than ever and adds support for managing Mac OS X Lion, iPhone®, iPad and iPod touch® devices.
The new operating system has been given a “summer of 2011” due date. A link to Apple’s new Mac OS X Lion page and the full press release are waiting for you after the break.
One of our Apple sources has just sent us over a couple screen shots from what we’re told is an internal test model of the iPhone 4. The shots are interesting because it looks like Apple is testing multitouch gestures on the iPhone in addition to the iPad. While this isn’t shocking, what’s interesting is that internally, the same amount of fingers applies to gestures on both devices. What we mean by this, is that you have to use four finger gestures on the iPhone just like the iPad — kind of difficult such a comparatively tiny screen. It might be easier with say… a multitouch gesture area below the screen, sort of where the home button is? Oh, wait. We imagine things will be refined as testing progresses, but we have to ask in all seriousness — can you handle four fingers? Check out our gallery for a few more images!
We just got some pretty wild information from one of our Apple sources and while it’s hard to believe at first, it does make sense. We have exclusively been told that the reason Apple just added multitouch gestures for the iPad in the latest iOS 4.3 beta is because the iPad will be losing the home button. Yes, we are told that Apple, at some point in time, will remove the home button from the iPad’s design. Instead of button taps, you will use new multitouch gestures to navigate to the home screen and also to launch the app switcher.
That’s not all, however. In addition to the home button disappearing from the iPad, we’re told that this change will make its way over to the iPhone as well. Our source said Apple employees are already testing iPads and iPhones with no home buttons on the Apple campus, and it’s possible we will see this new change materialize with the next-generation iPad and iPhone devices set to launch this year.
Additionally, we’re told Apple’s popular photo-taking application, Photo Booth, will be appearing on the next iPad. It’s also very possible that we’ll see iLife apps for iOS unveiled around the iPad 2 release as well.
It has been said that Steve Jobs didn’t want any physical buttons on the original iPhone at first, and it looks like he may soon get his wish.
Following news that iOS 4.3 beta 1 has been seeded to developers, Apple’s servers are no doubt being hammered by anxious developers looking to explore all the new features. We pinged a few of our dev friends for feedback on new additions they’ve found and here’s what we have so far:
- Personal hotspot capabilities for GSM devices — as we exclusively reported earlier today
- AirPlay support for third-party native apps and third-party Web apps
- Redesigned FaceTime icon
- Multi-touch gesture support for iPad — “This beta release contains a preview of new Multi-Touch gestures for iPad. You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen; swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar; and swipe left or right between apps. We are providing this preview before releasing them to the public to understand how these gestures work with your apps.”
- Configurable slide switch for iPad — users can now decide whether the hardware switch above the volume rocker on the iPad controls mute or rotation lock
- iAd full screen banners on the iPad — bigger ads… just what iPad users have been clamoring for
Interestingly, iOS 4.3 appears to also have dropped support for Apple second-generation iPhone — the iPhone 3G — and its second-generation iPod touch. This could make the current build Apple’s final software release for these devices.
UPDATE: Several readers have emailed us to point out that enthusiast blog iSpazio may have uncovered a little gem. References to the following effects have been found in the iOS 4.3 code, and they might be introduced as live video effects for video capture and FaceTime calls:
- Thermal Camera
- Tunnel of Light
The BendDesk is a new multitouch workspace created by the talented minds at The Media Computing Group, and it’s absolutely incredible-looking. It’s a fully curved display that looks to form a 90 degree bend and makes use of two projectors, 3 cameras, and loads of IR lights to view and track up to 10 touch points. The software they have come up with is also equally impressive — you can flick photos for instance from the top or bottom part of the display, or hold them in a locker in the middle where the curve is. Unfortunately this isn’t something you’re able to buy anytime due to the fact a ship date nor price were revealed, but we’ll keep waiting. In the meantime, check out their demo video after the break. More →