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ExtraBITS for 07 October 2013

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In this week’s ExtraBITS, Apple’s rescue of iOS developers from patent troll Lodsys is thwarted, we learn what 64-bit really means for the iPhone 5s, a developer dissects the iOS 7 date picker, the woman behind the original voice of Siri comes forward, and Fraser Speirs notes that putting games on educational iPads helps with discipline problems.

Allowing Games on Educational iPads Reduces Discipline Cases -- In a piece analyzing the recent news reports about Los Angeles public school iPads being “hacked” by students, Apple Distinguished Educator Fraser Speirs shares the fact that deploying several games on the iPads given to students at the Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland caused “a dramatic drop in petty indiscipline cases” as students played games instead of acting out during boring times. Subsequently, game playing was replaced with more creative use.

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The Original Voice of Siri Speaks -- Voice actress Susan Bennett has come forward to CNN as the original voice of Siri. While neither Apple or Nuance would offer confirmation, her claim has been verified by colleagues and an audio-forensics expert. Bennett’s specialty is interactive voice response (IVR), the technology behind automated phone systems. She was hired by ScanSoft in 2005 for an IVR project. ScanSoft later merged with Nuance, which is reported to be the source of Siri’s voice technology.

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Deconstructing the iOS 7 Date Picker -- Having trouble with the date and time picker in iOS 7’s Clock app? It’s not you — the “hit areas” are indeed smaller, making it harder to use. Developer Sean Woodhouse deconstructs the picker in this blog post, comparing it to the iOS 6 version that may be clunkier, but is kinder to the fingers.

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What 64-bit Support in iPhone 5s Really Means -- Thanks to author and programmer Mike Ash for this developer-focused explanation of Apple’s move to the 64-bit A7 chip in the iPhone 5s. In short, although details will vary by app, 64-bit code that takes advantage of new programming techniques can be faster and use less memory (though 64-bit apps use more memory in general). Plus, old 32-bit code can run on the A7 with no changes or performance penalty.

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Apple Motion Ignored after Lodsys Patent Troll Settlements -- Since 2011, patent troll Lodsys has been shaking down small iOS developers over patents. Apple attempted to intervene, arguing in a 2011 motion that it had already licensed the patents in question and developers were covered under Apple’s license. However, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap has now dismissed Apple’s motion because the defendants in the case have all settled. Help us, Martha Stewart, you are our only hope. Unless, that is, Apple were to go on the offensive, as Gilstrap suggests: “Nothing about the Court’s decision prevents Apple from filing an original declaratory judgment action, in a venue of its choosing, whereby each named developer and patent holder have an opportunity to defend themselves in open court.”

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