APPLE COMPUTER: NEWTON COMMUNICATION; PRESS BACKGROUNDER
CUPERTINO, Calif., July 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Daytimers, databases, messages, stock quotes, faxes, customer records, E-mail, voice mail, shopping lists. The avalanche of information that comes at us from so many different sources every day is staggering. In response, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has developed a new category of products, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) to help people and businesses manage and communicate information anywhere, anytime. Apple's Newton is not an extension of an existing personal computer operating system: 1980s code crammed into the small form-factor of a PDA. Rather, Newton technology was built from the ground up to address a new way of carrying out everyday communications tasks simply and easily. However, every user and every business has different communications needs. There is not one communications technology that meets every need, and some technologies have not come into the mainstream because of standards, infrastructure, and acceptance issues. It is unlikely that one PDA will be able to support every available or emerging combination of communications technology, from personal area networks (PANs) to local area networks (LANs) to wide area networks (WANs) over wired and wireless connections. Apple developed a core communications architecture that responds to these realities: it is the foundation for a family of Newton communications products, communications and connectivity accessories, services and applications for both wired and wireless communications devices. The objective is to provide a complete line of intelligent communications solutions for different markets and customers. To achieve this goal, the architecture was designed with five critical components:
-- plug-and-play communications modularity, -- built-in communications capabilities, -- industry standard I/0 support, -- communication architecture integration into Newton technology, -- high-level developer APIs.
Newton is based on a modular communications architecture that will make it possible to use the most appropriate set of communications technologies. Because the communications technologies and infrastructure are changing, the communications architecture is designed to support a wide variety of communications capabilities, and be application, media and data link independent. This modularity allows Apple to build devices with applications and services that support low to high bandwidth, voice and data and wired and wireless technologies.
Built-In Communications Capability
Key communications capabilities were built into Newton technology to raise the level of simplicity, ensure ease-of-use for the user, and offer performance and cost practicality. Apple chose the key communications capabilities that would provide the best breadth of PAN, LAN, and WAN connectivity and services with any Newton technology-based device. This also allows Apple to develop very focused communications products built around a core set of communications technologies. The following protocols and services are built in:
-- Low-speed, point-to-point infrared protocol for PAN connectivity. -- AppleTalk/LocalTalk and serial capability to Macintosh and PC desktop and LAN connectivity. -- DTMF touch-tone generator for telephony-based public and private network capabilities such as automatic phone and modem dialing and telephone services access such as fax and voice mail. -- Fax send services (standard T30/T4). -- Error correction and compression, (MNP5 and V.42bis). -- NewtonMail client to allow connectivity to Apple OnLine Services to send and receive e-mail between Newton users and to other users on different e-mail systems through the Internet.
Standard I/O Support
To ensure that all PDA MessagePads and communications devices are compatible with add-in and add-on communications accessories and peripherals, the Newton technology supports the most popular I/O ports:
-- PCMCIA type II, 2.0, the slot standard for small mobile devices. The slot accommodates miniaturized PCMCIA cards designed for this form factor which can be anything from memory storage cards, to fax, modem and pager cards.
-- Serial Connect, RS-422/232, the standard Macintosh serial port. The serial port supports LocalTalk and serial connectivity for both Macintosh and personal computers as well as third-party, add-on hardware products that don't fit into the PCMCIA form factor, such as printers, scanners and barcode readers, or communications accessory products that don't fit into the PCMCIA form factor or need external battery and antenna sources.
-- Infrared (IR) Low-speed, point-to-point IR allows for the spontaneous exchange of personal information such as business cards, addresses, notes, scheduling of calendars, between people using Apple PDAs and other mobile devices such as Sharp's Wizard.
By using NewtonScript and high-level communications APIs, developers can quickly and easily write applications and forms that take advantage of the underlying communications capabilities. The NewtonScript communications API provides developers with a consistent interface to various transports. For example an application that transfers information over a modem, can transfer information via wireless connection just by selecting a different medium. In addition, by writing to the high-level APIs, developers' applications are communications-ready and can run on whatever communications media are available now and in the future. The hardware interface is written to low-level communications drivers and APIs to provide plug-and-play transport capability.
Communications Integration with Newton Technology
The integration of the communications architecture with the object- oriented database, recognition, and intelligence software allows every application within the devices to be communications-aware. And Newton intelligent assistance performs communications tasks simply and automatically. For example, with Newton products, action words such as send, page, beam, print and fax are recognized by the device and acted upon. Users can synchronize calendars, send messages, exchange business cards, send transactions or queries. This can be done regardless of the mode of transmission for each addressee, e- mail, fax, page, etc. No setup or special configuration is required. Integrating the communications architecture with the information database is key because of the database's ability to tag, sort and find bits and pieces of unstructured data. The database tags each piece of data and allows the user to view this free-floating information independent of the application. Newton technology does not require separate data/information for each application being used. This means that users do not have to open separate files or applications to perform communications tasks, nor does the user have to store duplicate information for each type of communications method. Users simply can send, fax, or mail any piece of information by simply writing the action word or using the routing capability that exists from any application within Newton.
Newton PDAs Newton MessagePad
The first in a family of Newton modular handheld products is the Newton MessagePad, designed to be small and low-cost for use as a personal communications assistant. The PDA has the architecture described above and built-in capabilities for PAN, LAN and WAN communications along with notepad, contact and calendar applications. The MessagePad comes with built-in and standard PCMCIA and serial connectivity, low-speed IR, and E-Mail to client services. Additional Apple accessories are available, including an external fax modem, a PCMCIA Message card, and serial connectivity kits for printer, Macintosh, DOS and Windows communications. It is anticipated that a range of third-party serial driven accessories or PCMCIA card communications services will be available over time.
Because of Newtons's extensible and intelligent communications architecture, the Newton platform is positioned to provide the most complete communications solutions to help people and businesses stay in touch and on top of information. The modular communications architecture enables Apple and its licensees and partners to spin off products for specific needs and support existing and and new communications capabilities as they become available. In addition because developers can produce applications and services that are communications-ready without additional development effort and develop a variety of plug-and-play communications accessories, Newton users will have the greatest choice of services, applications and capabilities. Capitalizing on its unique communications and intelligence technology, Apple believes that the Newton platform will lead the industry in redefining the way people communicate. Apple and the Apple logo are registered trademarks and Newton and MessagePad are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. -0- 7/30/93 /CONTACT: Christopher Escher of Apple Computer Inc., 408-974-2202/ (AAPL)
CO: Apple Computer, Inc. ST: California IN: CPR SU: PDT
TB -- SJ002 -- 7551 07/30/93 03:04 EDT