Apple’s Siri Can Now Help You Shop for Electronics

Learn more about Siri

With the introduction of the iPhone 4S, Apple also introduced an artificial intelligence agent called “Siri.” Siri is capable of doing many things (ex: create a task, read out loud an email), but it also is integrated with one of the most powerful search engines; Wolfram Alpha. Wolfram Alpha plus Siri allows users to find out what flights are above them, solve math problems, and much more!

Today, Wolfram Alpha has quietly announced that it is now pulling data from Best Buy’s public APIs to enable queries against the retailer’s database of 35,000 consumer products. This means that iPhone 4S Siri users have a new way to shop and compare products using their voice. Sorry Android owners, you are once again left out in the dark.

Users can search now for a general product category or a specific product model and obtain a detailed report detailing product features, prices and availability, users ratings, price comparisons with similar models. Oh, but it just doesn’t stop there!  Wolfram Alpha notes that users can even shop for products based on their specific needs, such as asking for “the lightest digital camera under $100 with a pixel resolution greater than 12MP.This is just one step forward to moving away from answer engines to search engines.

Siri Best Buy

Currently, the Best Buy  data is only available to users in the United States. Yesterday, Apple released a new ad promoting the iPhone 4S and Siri, but the ad never actually mentiones or displays the words “iPhone 4S” or “Siri.” You know your brand is strong built when you don’t have to mention a feature or the product’s name. Which other company can do that today?

[image credit: AppleInsider]

Apple Wins Patent Case Against HTC

Apple vs HTC

Back in June, it was reported that a  patent dispute  had been going on between Apple and HTC. The judge found that HTC had indeed been infringing upon two of Apple’s patents, and initially had ruled in Apple’s favor. Then,  Bloomberg reported  that HTC is interested in striking a deal with Apple for the patent dispute between the companies.  FOSS Patents  pointed  out that these two patent infringements could put Android in serious trouble. In October, ITC pointed out that Apple did not violate these two patents back then, but now that decision has been changed. Now, Apple has won this patent dispute. You know, because Android clearly isn’t infringing on any of Apple’s patents.

What Apple has won is a formal import ban scheduled to commence on April 19, 2012, but relating only to HTC Android phones implementing one of two claims of a “data tapping patent”: a patent on an invention that marks up phone numbers and other types of formatted data in an unstructured document, such as an email, in order to enable users to bring up other programs (such as a dialer app) that process such data.

The win gets even better for Apple. Not only does it increase their chances of winning against copy-cat Samsung and others, but they also have won an import ban on certain HTC Android phones that infringe the patents. HTC can overcome this ban by ensuring Android drops the feature or implements it in a way that does not infringe. Now, you have to wonder…where’s Google when you need them? Instead of helping HTC, they kept quiet. According to the decision, the patent being infringed is:

– U.S. Patent No.  5,946,647  on a “system and method causes a computer to detect and perform actions on structures identified in computer data.”

Currently, Apple is also involved in many legal  disputes  with Samsung.

Apple Releases New iPhone 4S and Siri Ad for the Holidays

While Samsung and other companies are insulting Apple and Apple fans in their ads, Apple is keeping it classy. The latter works unlike the other approach. Today, Apple has released a beautiful ad just in time for the holidays. The new commercial is for the iPhone 4S/Siri, which shows Santa using Siri to find directions and information like upcoming appointments and weather. Genius! He also searches an email  with his “naughty or nice” list, and hears an email read out loud from Mrs. Claus reminding him to “go easy on the cookies”. You know, I had a hunch that Santa used an iPhone.

Finally,  Santa asks to check his schedule for the rest of the day. Since this part is funny, I won’t ruin it for you. Apple aired its first iPhone 4S commercial just days after the launch, and followed that with three more commercials at the end of October. I think this commercial is pure genius and it has got to be my favorite one yet.

Now, let’s take a look at Apple’s Christmas ads from previous years:



After watching them, we can conclude that Apple’s Christmas commercials get better every year!

Samsung Starts Producing A5 Chips in Texas

Apple vs Samsung

Oh boy, Samsung and Apple sure have one heck of a love-hate relationship. Apple has been suing the hell out of copy-cat Samsung, but ironically Samsung makes the A5 chip for the iPhone 4S and iPad 2. Without Samsung, the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 would just be a fantasy!

Apparently, Apple and Samsung have still been working closely. Today,  Reuters  reports  that Samsung, Apple’s manufacturing partner for a number of components in its iOS devices, has completed work on a new factory in Austin, Texas. This new factory is handling the production of the A5 processor in the iPhone 4S and iPad 2. Turns out that while Samsung had announced    the $3.6 billion project in June 2010. They had not publicly mentioned that facility is dedicated to producing components for Apple.

In fact, the report reveals that the entire facility is dedicated to Apple. Samsung’s new factory is said to have created 1,100 new jobs being brought on by Samsung, which also employs 2,400 employees at a NAND flash memory factory in Austin. Rumors have suggested that Apple may sway away from dealing with Samsung, but at this point it doesn’t look like it will occur for a while. However, if Apple does acquire a flash memory company like it is rumored to, the transition might not be far off.

New iOS Build Fixes “No Sim Card” Error on iPhone 4S

iOS 5 icon

Recently, Apple has been releasing updates for the iPhone 4S so they can squash all the bugs it may have. Turns out the iPhone 4S had a battery life bug, but Apple fixed it by releasing iOS 5.0.1 within just weeks of releasing the new iPhone. You know, we iOS owners get constant updates unlike *cough* Android owners. Surprisingly, yesterday Apple released a tweaked version of iOS 5.0.1 (build 9A406), but the purpose of the update was unknown and  was not being made to all users. The update was only made available to those newly updating to iOS 5.0.1.

Today, a new Apple support document suggests that the tweaked update may have been designed to deal with  some users experiencing with SIM card-related errors.  According to the support document, the “iPhone 4S may have difficulty recognizing a micro-SIM card,” and will subsequently display “Invalid SIM” and “No SIM Card installed” alerts or “No Service” and “Searching” status bar messages. Since the update may only affect a small portion of users, Apple may have chosen not to make the update available to all users.

According to Apple, if you are encountering these issues, download and install the latest build of iOS 5 by restoring the unit through iTunes, and confirm that the software version reads “5.0.1 (9A406).

Apple May Purchase a Flash Memory Company for $500 Million

Apple logo

In a span of just 10 years, Apple has disrupted the way every major company thinks and reacts to what Apple releases. It seems that these tech companies just try to replicate what Apple does in a poor way. Now, the company is about to disrupt the chipmaker companies (ex: Intel, Samsung). A new report has it that Apple is planning to acquire Anobit, an Israel-based flash memory company for anywhere between $400 million and $500 million.

TechCrunch cited a  Hebrew-language report that says Apple plans to acquire the 200-employee Israeli fabless semiconductor company that specializes in flash storage. Hmmm, let’s think for a minute. If Apple acquires this flash memory company, then that means they don’t need to rely on chipmakers like Intel and Samsung. Currently, Samsung makes the A5 processor for Apple and Macs use Intel’s chip. Now if Apple does decide to ditch both these chipmakers, majority of their revenue is significantly decreased, which will eventually make them rethink their business model. Another possible target for acquisition is Fusion-io (another chip maker which Apple uses).

If the deal goes through,  it’s believed to be the first acquisition for Apple with Tim Cook as CEO. Rumor has it that Apple is already relying on Anobit’s solutions for its flash-based products, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. The company is said to find the  Anobit’s MSP20xx embedded flash controllers for mobile devices the most interesting.



Employees Rate Apple 10th Best Company to Work For

Apple logo

Lately, Apple Inc. has been in the news not just for rumors and news for its latest products, but also for company-related news. Recently, it was revealed that Apple had submitted revised renderings for the company’s new campus. The company is planning a circular spaceship-like office building in Cupertino that will house up to 13,000 of its employees.  Today, it has been reported that Apple is the 10th best company to work for. (not surprising at all), a company that looks inside jobs and companies, has  released  the results of its annual 2012 Employees’ Choice awards. Apple is number 10 on that list and earned a    “Satisfied” rating of 3.9 out of 5.  Apple placed 20th in last year’s survey with a score of 3.7 and came in 22nd in 2010, which is a significant improvement from last year.

The report also revealed ratings for many other companies.  Consulting firm Bain & Company took the top spot, followed by McKinsey & Company. Last year, Facebook won the top spot, but this year it slipped to third place with a score of 4.3, while Google came in fifth with a score of 5.0. used a 20-question company survey to determine employees’ attitudes  for over 65,000 firms.



Apple Posts Panorama of Grand Central Retail Store Opening

Last Friday, Apple had its grand opening for the gorgeous new store in Manhattan’s Grand Central. A massive crowd showed up and Apple handed out 4,000 T-shirts for the opening.  Fortune  noted  that  main concourse of the terminal was filled with hundreds of people waiting for the store to open as hundreds more red-shirted Apple employees prepared to welcome them.

Apple Grand Central Pano

Today, The Next Web notes that  Apple has posted a 360-degree panorama of its new Grand Central Terminal retail store on  opening day, and oh boy, it sure is amazing! The panorama puts the large crowds and new store in perspective. In fact, it makes us feel like we were there.  The panorama can be viewed by  visiting Apple’s  Grand Central retail store page  and tapping on the “View More Photos” link on the featured store photo. The final image in the gallery is a panorama from the opening day of the store.

Now you must think Apple must have only posted a panorama, but they took one step further with the panorama. The panorama can be  navigated by gyroscope on newer iPhone and iPad devices and by clicking/tapping and dragging on other devices. It is pretty cool and worth checking out.


‘Steve Jobs’ Tops Amazon’s List of Best-Selling Print and Kindle Books for 2011

Last week, it was reported that    Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography of Steve Jobs had become Amazon’s top-selling book of 2011. This was impressive because the book was not released until October.    Steve Jobs,sold a total of 379,000 copies in its first week in America. The biography outsold the next-best selling title, Bossypantsby Tina Fey.

Steve Jobs bio cover

Today, MacRumors reports that the that ranking only included print sales,  and with digital books now representing a  majority  of book sales at Amazon, rankings should have included Kindle e-book sales is the first place. This is so that people can get a clear picture of overall book sales.

After the year of recommending books to our customers, it’s always fun to see what books really resonated with them,said Chris Schluep, Senior Editor of Books, We chose Steve Jobs’ as one of the Top 10 best books of the year, and even though it was published in October, the sales have been phenomenal in both formats. And we’re really excited that Kindle Direct Publishing authors have taken two of the top spots this year for book sales overall.

The top 10 best-selling books overall are:

1. Steve Jobsby Walter Isaacson
2. Bossypantsby Tina Fey
3. A Stolen Lifeby Jaycee Dugard
4. The Mill River Recluseby Darcie Chan
5. In the Garden of the Beastsby Erik Larson
6. A Dance with Dragonsby George R.R. Martin
7. The Paris Wifeby Paula McLain
8. The Litigatorsby John Grisham
9. The Abbeyby Chris Culver
10. Inheritance (The Inheritance Cycle)by Christopher Paolini

Amazon has made that change today by    releasing its  list of best-selling books of 2011, and Isaacson’s  Steve Jobs  once again topped the list.  In addition,  Sony Pictures has  acquired the movie rights  to the authorized biography, and Aaron Sorkin is  strongly considering  writing the screenplay for the film.

Mac App Store Hits 100 Million Downloads

With the introduction of OS X Lion, Apple took the first step to get rid of boxed software. In OS X Lion, Apple introduced the Mac App Store, which allows customers to download apps in the same way as iOS. Search for the app, purchase, and it automatically installs. Yup, it is that simple. Sorry Windows users, you are left out in the dark once again. Luckily, Microsoft is playing the copy-cat game and will introduce an App Store in Windows 8….sometime next year.

App Store logo

Today, Apple revealed some mind blowing numbers regarding its App Stores (iOS and Mac). The biggest news is that the Mac App Store has passed 100 million downloads in less than a year. “In just three years the App Store changed how people get mobile apps, and now the Mac App Store is changing the traditional PC software industry,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. In fact, The Loop points out that these numbers don’t include Lion updates or downloads to other Macs.

In addition, Apple’s App Stores for iOS and the Mac have more than 500,000 applications available that have been downloaded more than 18 billion times. Users continue to download more than a billion applications per month. Can Google claim the same about its App Stores? Nope. Oh, and remember Amazon’s App Store? They haven’t released download numbers to date.

Apple’s press release also includes comments from a number of developers and companies who have found success with the Mac App Store. The entire press release can be read on Apple’s press release page.