Week in review: Getting real with Google, Yahoo

Google's deal with Twitter is paying off.

Google announced the fruits of its earlier deal with the microblogging site, showing off how it has decided to present real-time Internet content within search results.

Google will build a section called "latest results" into the regular Google search results page that automatically refreshes Internet content from sources like Twitter. A demonstration showed off how a search for "Obama" would bring up tweets, Web pages, and other Internet content related to the president as it was generated. At the Web 2.0 conference in October, Google struck a … Read more

Apple files countersuit against Nokia

In response to Nokia's own claims of copyright violation, Apple on Friday accused the largest handset maker in the world of copying some of the technology inside the iPhone.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (PDF), Apple says Nokia is infringing 13 of its patents.

"Other companies must compete with us by inventing their own technologies, not just by stealing ours," Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel, said in a statement Friday.

Nokia issued this response: "We are aware that Apple has provided its response to Nokia Delaware … Read more

The iPhone moves from the quad to the classroom

Most college professors will tell students to put away their iPhone or iPod once class starts. But not Ken Joy. His class requires them.

Professor Joy teaches ECS 198H, Introduction To iPhone Application Development, to undergraduates at the University of California at Davis. On the first day of class in late September UC Davis became one of a growing number of schools that are tailoring classes and focusing academic resources on the making and selling of applications for Apple's popular mobile platform.

A professor for almost 30 years, Joy has mainly researched computer graphics and visualizations, until he and … Read more

Microsoft needs to go big with Windows Mobile

It's no secret that Windows Mobile has hit a rough patch as the iPhone and Android-based smartphones have take center stage. Recent statistics from AdMob shows that Windows Mobile market share of Web surfing was way down during the past 12 months--more than 70 percent year over year.

Any number of people postulate that Windows Mobile will be dead, some say as soon as 2011, unless Microsoft figures out a way to not only make the operating system better but to convince users that they should care.

On the New York Times Bits blog, Steve Lohr wrote earlier Thursday on analyst Mark Anderson's comments suggesting that Microsoft abandon their consumer efforts entirely--that the company has lost the battle for consumers:

Except for gaming, it is 'game over' for Microsoft in the consumer market. It's time to declare Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of Dodge.

I'm not a huge fan of Windows Mobile, but Microsoft certainly can't give up on smartphones and really has no alternative but to make a big move in the mobile operating system space. And Windows Mobile is not nearly as bad as many people think--if you don't believe me, check out these results from mobile blog jkOntheRun.

I recently toyed with Windows Mobile phones at both Verizon and AT&T stores and I could absolutely see the appeal of the common desktop functional paradigm if I were a Windows user. But consumers are fickle and don't want to add an OS decision into their buying process. They just want the phone and its applications to work and be easy to use.

There remains a huge opportunity for Microsoft to take its dominant position and make Windows Mobile truly great, even if it means walking away from the status quo. And while that's not typically the Microsoft way, the company has shown with Bing that it can make those kinds of decisions (as well as less-positive choices.)

There are two very simple moves Microsoft could make that would not only shake up the whole market, but also build a path for the future:

Read more

Is an Apple 'tablet' just a bigger iPhone?

It's too tempting not to pose that question as the monthly Apple tablet rumors fly.

Conjecture about future Apple products is always an interesting exercise because it requires a lot of imagination to make up for the copious lack of hard data. This is especially the case for the rumored Apple tablet, despite analyst claims about product specifications, such as the oft-repeated 10.1-inch screen.

But there is one theme that keeps popping up that is highly plausible: it will be a device to view media and book content (rumor: 30/70 revenue split between Apple/publisher) in a &… Read more

Apple patent shows tamper-resistant label

A new patent application from Apple dug up by AppleInsider reveals ways in which the company's products could be fitted with a simple label or tag that provides evidence of tampering. If the strip is compromised, it gives Apple leverage to void your warranty.

Apple's patent application notes that it is in the best interest of an electronics manufacturer to be able to know when a device has been "compromised" and opened, thus voiding its warranty. Unauthorized tampering with an electronic device can destroy it, and without evidence of such tampering, a manufacturer may be obligated … Read more

QR code readers for your iPhone

QR Code, a two-dimensional bar code storing addresses and URLs, is a widely used technology in Japan and elsewhere that can be scanned with camera phones equipped with the appropriate reader.

It's likely to gain ground quickly in the U.S. now that Google has sent out a QR code to 100,000 of the most popular companies in its Local Business Center. When those companies display the QR code, customers can use code-scanning applications on their iPhones and other devices to retrieve the firm's individual Google listing.

The only problem is, many of those QR code-reading apps for the iPhone just don't do a good job. That prompted me to sift through more than a dozen QR code readers to find some of the best. I came up with four.

QR Code it up

NeoReader NeoReader is one of the most useful apps in this roundup. The program is simple, it's intuitive, and it does a relatively good job of reading QR codes.

NeoReader is an extremely simple app. When it's open, you need only to point your iPhone's camera at the QR Code, click the scan option, and you're all set. Within a few seconds, the app delivers the unique content directly to your iPhone. It works with QR (obviously), as well as Data Matrix, and Aztec bar codes. To ensure the app is working properly, you can even go to NeoReader's home page and scan the QR Code examples to see if it's returning the right results. But beware that the application works best on iPhones running OS 3.0 or higher. NeoReader is free, so it's worth trying out.

Optiscan Optiscan's developers say the application is the fastest QR Code scanner in the App Store. That's not necessarily true. But it's certainly quick.

Overall, Optiscan is a really nice QR Code reader. The application is able to capture QR codes on monitors, paper, and other places where you might find the code. Upon scanning a QR code within the app, you can view the company's QR code information. You can also save that data for later, so you don't have to come back to the QR code every time you want to view it. Even better, Optiscan allows you to share QR codes with others. It's a full-featured app that should satisfy most users. It costs $1.99.… Read more

Cleaning and disinfecting your Macs

The last time I needed to clean my computer I considered setting it on my patio and blasting it with the garden hose, then decided that probably was not the best idea. Apple has a knowledgebase document they've released with instructions on how to best clean various Mac models, but I should warn you if you care to read it, to be prepared for redundancy.… Read more

iTunes Store: Genius feature not updating

Several users, for the last few days, have been reporting issues surrounding the Genius feature in iTunes. Genius mixes allow users to forget about taking all that time it takes to search through you iTunes Library to find the perfect array of songs that blend seamlessly into an original set of tunes by doing it all for you. With data gathered by the iTunes Store and synced to your specific list of songs, iTunes can create perfect playlists in seconds. Issues with syncing, however, have limited this function in recent days for some users.… Read more