US20140289314A1 - Systems for distributing applications and methods of operation of same - Google Patents

Systems for distributing applications and methods of operation of same Download PDF

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US20140289314A1
US20140289314A1 US14/268,734 US201414268734A US2014289314A1 US 20140289314 A1 US20140289314 A1 US 20140289314A1 US 201414268734 A US201414268734 A US 201414268734A US 2014289314 A1 US2014289314 A1 US 2014289314A1
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Prior art keywords
application
portal
device
user
example
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US14/268,734
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Robert M. Dare
Vadim Kacherov
Paul Krzyzanowski
Daniel Gittleman
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OpenPeak Inc
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OpenPeak Inc
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Priority to US13909008P priority Critical
Priority to US12/639,139 priority patent/US20100159898A1/en
Priority to US13/179,510 priority patent/US8788655B2/en
Priority to US13/179,514 priority patent/US8856322B2/en
Application filed by OpenPeak Inc filed Critical OpenPeak Inc
Priority to US14/268,734 priority patent/US20140289314A1/en
Assigned to OPENPEAK INC. reassignment OPENPEAK INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: DARE, ROBERT M, KACHEROV, VADIM, KRZYZANOWSKI, PAUL, GITTLEMAN, DANIEL
Publication of US20140289314A1 publication Critical patent/US20140289314A1/en
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/34Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications involving the movement of software or configuration parameters
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F8/00Arrangements for software engineering
    • G06F8/60Software deployment
    • G06F8/61Installation
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/04Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications adapted for terminals or networks with limited resources or for terminal portability, e.g. wireless application protocol [WAP]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/42Protocols for client-server architectures

Abstract

A managed services platform and method of operation of same are described herein. The platform can include a device management service (DMS) server in which the DMS server can act as a gateway for communications with one or more computing devices, and the computing devices are associated with a first entity. The platform can also include an application service (AS) server in which the AS server is communicatively coupled with the DMS server. When a first computing device contacts the DMS server, the DMS server is operable to provide a bundle to the first computing device. As an example, the bundle contains content that at least includes one or more configuration messages and an application set that contains one or more predefined applications. The content of the bundle can be determined at least in part by the first entity.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/179,510, filed on Jul. 9, 2011 and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/179,514, filed on Jul. 9, 2011, each of which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/639,139, filed on Dec. 16, 2009, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/139,090, filed Dec. 19, 2008, each of which is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates to systems and methods for managing and offering services to networked devices.
  • BACKGROUND
  • The use of applications, commonly referred to as “apps,” has become prevalent over the past few years. To meet this demand, several entities have developed services to enable users of mobile devices to download apps to such devices. For example, Apple, Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. offers an interface to permit apps to be uploaded from app developers and for users to search, select and possibly purchase apps for download to Apple devices. As part of this process, the company offers a software development kit (SDK) to developers for guidance on creating these apps, and the apps must be approved by Apple before being made available to users. In addition, Apple shares with the app developers the revenue that is generated by the downloads. Other companies, such as Google, Inc. of Mountain View, Calif. and Research In Motion, Ltd., of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, also offer interfaces for developers to create and upload apps and for users to retrieve such software.
  • Thus, there are multiple companies that offer this service, and it is expected that the number of them doing so will increase. While this recent development has established a new platform for the delivery of software to a wide variety of mobile devices, general oversight of this process is lacking. This aspect can be particularly troublesome in an enterprise setting. For example, a company may be leery of allowing employees to access and download apps from these services onto its work devices because the employer has no control over the process. A similar concern exists in a personal or family environment because a parent will not have any control over his/her child's activities in this area. In fact, supervisory authorities, like employers and parents, have very little control over mobile devices that are distributed to their subordinates.
  • SUMMARY
  • As described herein, telephony and digital media services may be provided to a plurality of locations, such as to a plurality of homes and offices, though the deployment of telephony and digital media services devices to the locations, wherein each device is configured to function as a voice, data and media information center. A services platform in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention enables entities to deploy, manage optimize and monitor a network of such devices in a turnkey fashion.
  • In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the services platform is implemented on one or more computers and includes at least a device monitoring subsystem, a device management subsystem and a user interface. The device monitoring subsystem and the device management subsystem are each communicatively connected to a plurality of devices that provide telephony and digital media services to one or more end users. The device monitoring subsystem is operable to monitor each of the plurality of devices. The device management subsystem is operable to manage each of the plurality of devices. The user interface is communicatively connected to the services platform and is operable to provide access to functionality of at least one of the subsystems.
  • A managed services platform is also described herein. The platform can include a device management service (DMS) server in which the DMS server acts as a gateway for communications with one or more computing devices and the computing devices are associated with a first entity. The platform can also include an application service (AS) server in which the AS server is communicatively coupled with the DMS server. When a first computing device contacts the DMS server, the DMS server can be operable to provide a bundle to the first computing device. Providing a bundle can mean direct transmission of content to the first device, indirect transmission of content by directing a source to transmit such content to the first device, through messaging the first device to obtain or retrieve content from a source or any combination of these alternatives. In one arrangement, the bundle can contain content that at least includes one or more configuration messages and an application set that contains one or more predefined applications. The content of the bundle is determined at least in part by, for example, the first entity. In another arrangement, the first computing device can include a display, and the configuration messages can cause the display to present graphical user interface (GIU) elements that are associated with the first entity.
  • As an example, the application set can include a default application set that contains one or more default applications. The default application set can be selected from an application repository that is associated with the first entity. As another example, the application set can include a custom application set that includes one or more custom applications, which can also be from an application repository that is associated with the first entity.
  • The content of the bundle provided to the first computing device can be based on an identification associated with the first computing device. As an example, the identification associated with the first computing device can be a unique identifier assigned to the first computing device. In addition, the configuration commands or the application set can be provided to the first computing device according to the identification associated with the first computing device. In one arrangement, the identification associated with the first computing device can be related to a performance function of a first intended user of the first computing device such that the configuration commands or the application set that are provided to the first computing device are related to the performance function of the first intended user.
  • The DMS server can be further operable to provide a second bundle to a second computing device. This second bundle can contain content that at least includes one or more configuration messages and an application set that contains at least predefined applications. The content of the second bundle provided to the second computing device, like the first computing device, can be based on an identification associated with the second computing device such that the configuration messages or the application set are provided to the second computing device according to the identification associated with the second computing device. Also similar to the first computing device, the identification associated with the second computing device can be related to a performance function of a second intended user of the second computing device such that the configuration messages or the application set that are provided to the second computing device are related to the performance function of the second intended user. The performance function of the second intended user may be different from the performance function of an intended user of the first computing device. If so, the content of the bundle provided to the second computing device may be different from the content of the bundle provided to the first computing device.
  • The DMS server can be further operable to provide a default set of applications and a custom set of applications for both the first computing device and the second computing device. As an example, the default set of applications can be the same for both the first computing device and the second computing device. In contrast, the custom set of applications for the first computing device may be different from the custom set of applications for the second computing device, particularly if the performance functions of the users of such devices are different. The first intended user and the second intended user may be both associated with the first entity, although not necessarily so.
  • The first computing device can include a DMS client, and the first computing device can contact the DMS server through a consolidated polling technique, although communications between these components are not limited to such an arrangement. In any event, the bundle may be provided to the first computing device through a series of message exchanges using the consolidated polling technique.
  • In one particular arrangement but without limitation, the DMS server and the AS server can be hosted by a second entity that is distinct from the first entity. The second entity may be a managing entity that is responsible for preparing and providing the bundles according to input from the first entity.
  • In response to the receipt of the bundle, the first computing device can be provided with access to an application repository that is assigned to and associated with the first entity. The first device can also be provided with access to one or more other application repositories, which may be associated with the first entity or other entities, i.e., second entity, third entity, etc.
  • The content of the bundle provided to the first computing device can be based on an identification associated with the first computing device, and the DMS server can be further operable to provide a second bundle to the computing device based on the identification associated with the first computing device. For example, a first user and a second user can be both assigned to the first computing device, and the first computing device can provide an identification for both the first user and the second user of the first computing device. The content of the bundle can be arranged for the first user, and the content of the second bundle can be arranged for the second user. As an example, the first user and the second user can both be associated with the first entity.
  • A method of managing services for a first client is also described herein. The method can include the steps of receiving an activation notice in which the activation notice is from a first computing device that is associated with the first client and in response to the receipt of the activation notice, providing a bundle to the first computing device. The method can also include the steps of maintaining an application repository that is associated with the first client and presenting the application repository to the first computing device based on an identification of the first computing device.
  • In one embodiment, the bundle can contain content that at least includes one or more configuration messages and an application set that contains one or more predefined applications. The application set can include a default application set or a custom application set, and the default application set can contain one or more default applications from the application repository. In contrast, the custom application set can contain one or more custom applications from the application repository. In another embodiment, the first computing device can include a display, and the configuration messages are arranged to cause the display to present graphical user interface (GUI) elements that are associated with the first client.
  • As an example, providing the bundle to the first computing device further includes providing the bundle to the first computing device based on the identification of the first computing device. The identification of the first computing device can be related to, for example, a performance function of a first intended user of the first computing device. Thus, providing the bundle to the first computing device further includes providing the bundle to the first computing device such that the content of the bundle is related to the performance function of the first intended user. The bundle provided to the first computing device can include a first default application set or a first custom application set. The first default application set or the first custom application set can be based on the performance function of the first intended user.
  • The method can further include the step of receiving a second activation notice in which the second activation notice is from a second computing device that is associated with the first client. In response to the receipt of the second activation notice, a second bundle can be provided to the second computing device. The options for providing a second bundle to a second computing device can be similar to that described above in relation to the first computing device. The method can also include the step of presenting the application repository to the second computing device based on an identification of the second computing device.
  • As an example, providing the second bundle to the second computing device can further include providing the second bundle to the second computing device based on the identification of the second computing device. The identification of the second computing device can be related to a performance function of a second intended user of the second computing device. Moreover, providing the second bundle to the second computing device can further include providing the second bundle to the second computing device such that the content of the second bundle is related to the performance function of the second intended user. The content of the second bundle for the second computing device may be different from the content of the bundle for the first computing device if the performance function of the second intended user is different from the performance function of the first intended user.
  • In one embodiment, the second bundle provided to the second computing device can include a second default application set or a second custom application set, and the second default application set or the second custom application set can be based on the performance function of the second intended user. The default application set for the second computing device can be the same as the first default application set for the first computing device. Additionally, the second custom application set for the second computing device may be different from the first custom application set if the performance function of the second intended user is different from the performance function of the first intended user. The first intended user and the second intended user may be both associated with the first client, although not necessarily so.
  • Providing the bundle to the first computing device at least partly comprises providing the bundle to the first computing device through, for example, a series of messages exchanges using a consolidated polling technique. It is understood, however, that other communication methods can be used.
  • The activation notice can be received by a DMS server and the application repository is maintained by an AS server. The DMS server and the AS server can be hosted by an entity that is different from the first client. As an example, the entity that hosts the DMS server and the AS server can provide the bundle as a service for the first client in which the first client provides input to the entity for the bundle.
  • The method can also include the step of receiving a second activation notice from the first computing device. In response to the receipt of the second activation notice, a second bundle can be provided to the first computing device. It can be determined that a first user and a second user are both assigned to the first computing device. As such, the bundle can be sent to the first computing device for the first user, and the second bundle can be sent to the second computing device for the second user. The first user can have a first performance function, and the second user can have a second performance function. In one arrangement, the content of the bundle can be related to the first performance function of the first user and the content of the second bundle can be related to the second performance function of the second user. The content of the bundle may be different from the content of the second bundle if the first performance function of the first user is different from the second performance function on the second user. As an example, the first user and the second user may be both associated with the first client, although not necessarily so.
  • Another managed services platform is described herein. The platform can have a DMS server in which the DMS server is a gateway for communications with one or more computing devices. The computing devices may be associated with a first client. This platform can also include an AS server that is communicatively coupled with the DMS server. When one of the computing devices is activated, the DMS server can be operable to flash the activated first computing device to cause the first computing device to incorporate, for example, a GUI layout that is associated with the first client. The AS server is also operable to maintain an application repository that includes at least applications that are associated with and at least partially determined by the first client. The activated first computing device can be provided with access to these applications.
  • A second computing device may be activated, and the second computing device can be associated with a second client. The DMS server can be operable to flash the activated second computing device to cause the second computing device to incorporate a GUI layout that is associated with the second client. Further, the AS server can be operable to maintain an application repository that includes at least applications that are associated with and at least partially determined by the second client. The activated second computing device is provided with access to the applications.
  • In one arrangement, in addition to the first managed services platform, a second managed services platform is described herein. The second platform can include a second DMS server in which the second DMS server can be a gateway for communications with one or more second computing devices and the second computing devices are associated with a second client. The second platform can also include a second AS server that is communicatively coupled with the second DMS server. When one of the second computing devices is activated, the second DMS server can be operable to flash the activated second computing device to cause the second computing device to incorporate a graphical user interface (GUI) layout that is associated with the second client. The second AS server can be operable to maintain a second application repository that includes at least applications that are associated with and at least partially determined by the second client. The activated second computing device can be provided with access to the applications of the second application repository. There can be any suitable number of managed services platforms for servicing any suitable number of portable computing devices. The first managed services platform or the second managed services platform can be hosted by, for example, a managing entity that is distinct from the first client and the second client.
  • A method of managing services is described herein. The method can include the step of receiving a first activation notice from a first computing device that is associated with a first client. In response to the receipt of the first activation notice, one or more configuration messages can be transmitted, and these messages can be arranged to cause the first computing device to incorporate a GUI layout that is associated with the first client. The method can also include the step of maintaining an application repository that includes at least applications that are associated with and at least partially determined by the first client. The activated first computing device is provided with access to the applications. A second activation notice can be received from a second computing device that is associated with a second client. In response to the receipt of the second activation notice, one or more configuration messages can be transmitted, and the messages can be arranged to cause the second computing device to incorporate a GUI layout that is associated with the second client. The method can also include the step of maintaining another application repository that includes at least applications that are associated with and at least partially determined by the second client. The activated second computing device can be provided with access to the applications.
  • A computer program product is also described herein. The computer program product can include a computer readable storage medium having stored thereon computer readable program code. When executed by a system including a processor and a memory, the computer readable program code can cause the system to receive an activation notice in which the activation notice is from a first computing device that is associated with the first client. In response to the receipt of the activation notice, the code can cause the system to further provide a bundle to the first computing device and maintain an application repository that is associated with the first client. The code can further cause the system to present the application repository to the first computing device based on an identification of the first computing device.
  • A portable computing device is also described herein. The device can include a display that is configured to display GUI elements that are associated with a client and a transceiver that is configured to communicate with a managed services platform. The device can also include a processor that is communicatively coupled to both the display and the transceiver. The processor is operable to instruct the transceiver to transmit an activation notice to the managed services platform and in response to the activation notice, receive from the managed services platform a first bundle that is associated with the client and that is arranged to cause the display to display GUI elements that are associated with the client. The first bundle can include predefined applications in which the content of the first bundle can be determined at least in part by the client.
  • In this context, receiving a first bundle from the managed services platform can refer to several different alternatives. For example, content of the bundle can be directly received from the managed services platform or indirectly from another component under the direction or assistance of the managed services platform. As another example, the managed services platform can direct the portable computing device to retrieve or obtain content from a source. Content of the bundle can also be delivered to the portable computing device in accordance with any combination of these alternatives or other suitable techniques. In one embodiment, the predefined applications can be selected from an application repository that is associated with the client, although not necessarily so.
  • The activation notice can include an identification that is unique to the portable computing device. At least some of the content of the first bundle can be based on the identification of the portable computing device. In one arrangement, the identification of the portable computing device can be related to a performance function of an intended user of the portable computing device such that at least some of the content of the first bundle is related to the performance function. In another arrangement, responsive to the receipt of the first bundle, the portable computing device can be configured to gain access to an application repository that is associated with the client.
  • The processor can be further operable to switch between a first account associated with a first user and a second account associated with a second user. Here, the first bundle can be assigned to the first account, and the processor can be further operable to, in response to a second activation notice associated with the second account, receive a second bundle assigned to the second account. The content of the first bundle assigned to the first account can be related to a first performance function, and the content of the second bundle is related to a second performance function. As an example, the first user and the second user may be both associated with the client.
  • In one arrangement, the portable computing device can be configured to communicate with the managed services platform through the use of a consolidated polling technique. It is understood however, that other techniques may be employed to effect such a communication.
  • A method of operating a portable computing device is also described herein. The method can include the steps of transmitting an activation notice to a managed services platform and in response to the activation notice, receiving from the managed services platform a first bundle that is associated with a client. In response to the receipt of the first bundle, GUI elements that are associated with a client can be displayed. The first bundle includes predefined applications, and the content of the first bundle is determined at least in part by the client. As an option, the predefined applications of the first bundle can be from an application repository that is associated with the client.
  • Transmitting an activation notice to the managed services platform can further include transmitting an identification that is unique to the portable computing device. In addition, at least some of the content of the first bundle can be based on the identification of the portable computing device. In one particular arrangement, the identification of the portable computing device can be related to a performance function of an intended user of the portable computing device such that at least some of the content of the first bundle is related to the performance function. Responsive to the receipt of the first bundle, access to an application repository that is associated with the client can be gained or permitted.
  • The method can further include the step of switching between a first account associated with a first user and a second account associated with a second user in which the first bundle can be assigned to the first account. In response to a second activation notice associated with the second account, a second bundle can be received in which the second bundle can be assigned to the second account. The content of the first bundle assigned to the first account can be related to a first performance function, and the content of the second bundle can be related to a second performance function. As an example but without limitation, the first user and the second user can be both associated with the client.
  • In one arrangement, communications with the managed services platform can be conducted through a consolidated polling technique. It is understood, however, that other suitable techniques for communications with the platform are within contemplation here.
  • Another method of operating a portable computing device is described herein. This method can include the steps of receiving the portable computing device based on an assigned performance function and transmitting an activation notice from the portable computing device to a managed services platform. For example, a company may assign the computing device to one of its employees who has a particular job function, and the employee may then cause an activation notice to be transmitted from the computing device. The method can also include the step of receiving—from the managed services platform—a first bundle that can be associated with a client (e.g., the employee) and that can be related to the assigned performance function. In response to the receipt of the first bundle, GUI elements that are associated with the client can be displayed. As an example, the client may assign the performance function. In addition, the first bundle may include predefined applications, and the content of the first bundle can be determined at least in part by the client based on the performance function.
  • A computer program product is also described herein. The computer program product can be a computer readable storage medium having stored thereon computer readable program code. When executed by a system including a processor and a memory, the computer readable program code can cause the system to transmit an activation notice to a managed services platform and in response to the activation notice, receive from the managed services platform a first bundle that is associated with a client. In response to the receipt of the first bundle, the program code can also cause the system to display GUI elements that are associated with a client. The first bundle may include predefined applications, and the content of the first bundle can be determined at least in part by the client.
  • A system for approving applications is also described herein. The system can include a first computing device that can be configured to present a first interface to permit application developers to submit applications for approval for selective publication in a first application repository associated with a first client and a second application repository associated with a second client. The system can also include a second computing device that can be communicatively coupled to the first computing device. The second computing device can be configured to present a second interface to permit the approval of submitted applications for the selective publication in the first application repository and the second application repository. If a submitted application is approved, the second computing device can be configured to notify the first computing device that the submitted application has been approved.
  • The first computing device can be further configured to enable the upload of applications prior to being submitted for approval. In addition, the first computing device can be further configured to present an uploaded application and information associated with the uploaded application. As an example, the information includes one or more of the following items: an application name; a language type; a category; a version; a rating; a licensing model; or a transaction price. The first computing device can be further configured to enable the selection of the information prior to the uploaded application being submitted for approval. In one arrangement, the first computing device can be further configured to push the uploaded application to or pull the uploaded application from a testing device.
  • The second computing device can be further configured to enable a user to permit the rejection of a submitted application. In addition, the second computing can be further configured to notify the first computing device when the submitted application has been rejected.
  • The first computing device can be further configured to present one or more of the submitted applications. In one arrangement, the submitted applications can be assigned a status indicator at the first computing device that provides information as to the stage of review for approval for a submitted application. For example, once an application is submitted for approval, the status indicator can indicate the submitted application as being in a pending state. As another example, once a submitted application is approved for publication, the status indicator can indicate the approved application as being in an approved state. In yet another example, once an approved application is published in either the first application repository or the second application repository, the status indicator can indicate the published application as being in a published state. Conversely, if a submitted application is rejected for approval for publication, the status indicator may indicate the submitted application as being rejected. In addition, if an application has been upgraded, the status indicator may indicate the application as being upgraded. The upgraded application can be a submitted application, a published application or a rejected application.
  • The first computing device can be further configured to provide performance data relating to a submitted application once the application is published in the first application repository or the second application repository. In addition, the first computing device can be further configured to provide cumulative performance data relating to a plurality of published applications in the first application repository or the second application repository. As an option, the first computing device can be further configured to selectively isolate performance data relating to submitted applications such that access to such performance data is restricted. This can prevent sensitive data from being seen by unauthorized individuals, for example.
  • The second computing device, in one arrangement, can be further configured to receive the submitted application, and the second interface can enable the selection of an approval indicator or a rejection indicator. If the submitted application is approved, the second computing device may notify the first computing device of the approval of the submitted application upon the selection of the approval indicator. The second computing device can be further configured to notify the first computing device of the rejection of a submitted application upon the selection of the rejection indicator. As another option, the second computing device can be further configured to provide the first computing device with rejection information when notifying the first computing device of the rejection of the submitted application.
  • The second computing device can be further configured to present the submitted application and to provide information associated with the submitted application. The following items are examples of such information: an application name; a language type; a category; a version; a rating; a licensing model; or a transaction price.
  • In one arrangement, the second computing device can be further configured to push the submitted application to or pull the submitted application from a testing device. The second computing device can be further configured to notify a third computing device that the submitted application has been approved. The third computing device can be configured to notify operators of the first application repository and the second application repository of the approval of the submitted application.
  • A method for approving applications is also described herein. The method can include the step of presenting a first interface to permit application developers to submit applications for approval for selective publication in a first application repository associated with a first client and a second application repository associated with a second client. The method can also include the steps of presenting a second interface to permit the approval of submitted applications for the selective publication in the first application repository and the second application repository. If a submitted application is approved, the application developer can be notified that the submitted application has been approved.
  • The method can further include the steps of enabling the upload of applications prior to being submitted for approval and presenting an uploaded application and information associated with the uploaded application. As an example, the information can include one or more of the following items: an application name; a language type; a category; a version; a rating; a licensing model; or a transaction price. The method can also include the step of enabling the selection of the information prior to the uploaded application being submitted for approval.
  • One or more of the applications can be tested. As such, the method can include the steps of pushing the uploaded application to a testing device or pulling the uploaded application from a testing device.
  • In another arrangement, the method can include the steps of enabling a user to permit the rejection of a submitted application and notifying the application developer that the submitted application has been rejected. The method can also include the steps of presenting one or more of the submitted applications and assigning a status indicator to the presented submitted applications. In particular, the status indicator can provide information as to the stage of review for approval for a submitted application. For example, once an application is submitted for approval, assigning a status indicator can include assigning a status indicator to the submitted application that indicates that the application is in a pending state. As another example, once a submitted application is approved for publication, assigning a status indicator can include assigning a status indicator to the approved application that indicates that the application is in an approved state. In yet another example, once an approved application is published in either the first application repository or the second application repository, assigning a status indicator can include assigning a status indicator to the published application that indicates that the application is in a published state.
  • There are several other examples to consider. Specifically, if a submitted application is rejected for approval for publication, assigning a status indicator can include assigning a status indicator that indicates that the submitted application is in a rejected state. If an application has been upgraded, assigning a status indicator can include assigning a status indicator that indicates that the application is upgraded. The upgraded application can be a submitted application, a published application or a rejected application.
  • The method can also include the step of providing performance data relating to a submitted application once the application is published in the first application repository or the second application repository. Cumulative performance data relating to a plurality of published applications in the first application repository or the second application repository may also be provided. The method can also include the step of selectively isolating performance data relating to submitted applications such that access to such performance data is restricted.
  • In one embodiment, the method can include the steps of receiving the submitted application and enabling the selection of an approval indicator or a rejection indicator. As an example, the submitted application may be approved, and a notification of the approval of the submitted application can be provided upon the selection of the approval indicator. As another example, a notification of the rejection of a submitted application can be provided upon the selection of the rejection indicator. Providing a notification of the rejection of the submitted application can include providing rejection information when providing notification of the rejection of the submitted application. The method can further include the steps of presenting a third interface that is configured to indicate that the submitted application has been approved and notifying operators of the first application repository and the second application repository of the approval of the submitted application.
  • Another method for approving applications is also described herein. The method can include the step of presenting a first interface that is configured to permit an application developer to submit an application for approval for selective publication in a first application repository associated with a first client and in a second application repository associated with a second client. The method can also include the steps of presenting a second interface that is configured to enable the approval of the submitted application, approving the submitted application and notifying the application developer that the submitted application has been approved. The method can also include the step of notifying a managing entity that the submitted application is available for publication in the first application repository that is assigned to and associated with the first client and available for publication in the second application repository that is assigned to and associated with the second client. The term “available for publication” is defined as actually being published or being in a condition that enables publication.
  • A computing device for accepting applications for selective publication in multiple application repositories is also described herein. The computing device can include a display that is configured to present one or more applications that may be received from an application developer and a processor that can be communicatively coupled to the display. The processor can be operable to receive a publication command for a submitted application and in response to the receipt of the publication command, can cause the transmission of the submitted application to an approval entity for at least possible publication of the submitted application in a first application repository assigned to a first client and in a second application repository assigned to a second client. “At least possible publication” includes actual publication of the application in the first or second application repositories or a condition in which the application is able to be published in the first or second application repositories.
  • The processor can be further operable to cause the display of performance data relating to the submitted application once the submitted application is published in the first application repository or the second application repository. In addition, the processor can be further operable to receive a notification that the submitted application has been approved for publication in the first application repository or the second application repository.
  • A method for accepting applications for selective publication in multiple application repositories is also described herein. The method can include the steps of receiving one or more applications and receiving a publication command for a submitted application. The term “publication command” is defined as an indication that an application is to be submitted or has been submitted for approval for publication in an application repository. In response to the receipt of the publication command, the submitted application can be sent to an approval entity for at least possible publication of the submitted application in a first application repository assigned to a first client and in a second application repository assigned to a second client.
  • The method can also include the step of presenting performance data relating to the submitted application once the submitted application is published in the first application repository or the second application repository. In addition, the method can include the step of receiving a notification that the submitted application has been approved for publication in the first application repository or the second application repository.
  • A computing device for accepting and approving applications for selective publication in multiple application repositories is also described herein. The device can include a display that is configured to present one or more applications that are submitted for approval and a processor that is communicatively coupled to the display. The processor can be operable to receive an approval command for a submitted application. An “approval command” is defined as an indication that a submitted application meets the requirements for at least possible publication in an application repository. In response to the receipt of the approval command, the processor can be further operable to notify a managing entity that the submitted application is available for publication in a first application repository assigned to a first client and in a second application repository assigned to a second client.
  • In one arrangement, the computing device is communicatively coupled to a developer computing device and the processor is further operable to notify the developer computing device when the submitted application has been made available for publication in the first client application repository and the second client application repository. In another arrangement, the processor can be further operable to receive a rejection command for a submitted application and in response to the receipt of the rejection command, notify the developer computing device of the rejection of the submitted application.
  • Yet another method for accepting and approving applications for selective publication in multiple application repositories is described herein. The method can include the steps of presenting one or more applications that are submitted for approval and receiving an approval command for a submitted application. In response to the receipt of the approval command, a managing entity can be notified that the submitted application is available for publication in a first application repository assigned to a first client and in a second application repository assigned to a second client. The method can further include the step of notifying a developer computing device when the submitted application has been made available for publication in the first client application repository and the second client application repository. In another arrangement, the method can include the steps of receiving a rejection command for a submitted application and in response to the receipt of the rejection command, notifying the developer computing device of the rejection of the submitted application.
  • A computer program product is described herein. The computer program product can include a computer readable storage medium having stored thereon computer readable program code. When executed by a system comprising a processor and a memory, the program code causes the system to receive one or more applications and receive a publication command for a submitted application. The program code can also cause the system to—in response to the receipt of the publication command—send the submitted application to an approval entity for at least possible publication of the submitted application in a first application repository assigned to a first client and in a second application repository assigned to a second client.
  • Yet another computer program product is described herein. The computer program product can include a computer readable storage medium having stored thereon computer readable program code. When executed by a system comprising a processor and a memory, the program code causes the system to present one or more applications that are submitted for approval and receive an approval command for a submitted application. The program code can also cause the system to—in response to the receipt of the approval command—notify a managing entity that the submitted application is available for publication in a first application repository assigned to a first client and in a second application repository assigned to a second client.
  • A managed services portal is also described herein in which the portal can include one or more user interface elements that can be configured to enable a user to make selections associated with the management of services for a first client portal and a second client portal. The first client portal can be assigned a first application repository that is associated with the first client portal, and the second client portal can be assigned a second application repository that is associated with the second client portal. The managed services portal can also include a processor that is communicatively coupled to the user interface elements. The processor can be operable to receive a notification of an application that has met an approval threshold, and to cause the presentation of the application. The processor can be further operable to cause the transmission of the availability of the application to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository and to cause the transmission of the availability of the application to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository.
  • In one arrangement, the managed services portal can be associated with a managing entity, and the managing entity can be assigned a third application repository. The third application repository can be associated with the managed services portal, and the processor can be further operable to cause the publication of the application in the third application repository.
  • The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of the application in an available category or an in-house category or to cause the presentation of an application that has not yet met an approval threshold in a pending category. The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of an application that has been published in a third application repository in a published category. The presentation of the application may include an identification of the application and one or more of the following exemplary, non-limiting parameters: a description of the application; an identification of the developer of the application; a category of the application; a version of the application; a creation date of the application; a most recent update of the application; a rating of the application; a licensing model of the application; a cumulative user rating of the application; or a transactional fee for the application. In one arrangement, the licensing model is selectable from one of the following exemplary, non-limiting arrangements: a free model; a subscription-based model; a floating model; a volume model; or a paid model.
  • The processor can be further operable to cause the application to be pushed to or pulled from one or more testing devices. In addition, the managed services portal and the testing device can both be associated with a managing entity.
  • In another arrangement, the processor can be further operable to cause a global addition of the application to a plurality of portable computing devices or a global removal of the application from the plurality of portable computing devices. The managed services portal can be associated with a managing entity, one or more portable computing devices may also be associated with the managing entity, and a display can be one of the user interface elements. In this case, the processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of at least some of the portable computing devices on the display. As an example, the presentation of the portable computing devices can be such that the portable computing devices are segmented into one or more distinct groups. As another example, the managed services portal can also include a searching feature that is configured to enable the portable computing devices to be searched individually or by the groups.
  • In one embodiment, the processor can be further operable to generate a message for selective transmission to the portable computing devices such that the message can be sent to the portable computing devices on an individual basis, a group basis or a broadcast basis. Also, the presentation of a portable computing device may include a listing of applications that are installed on the portable computing device or that are available for installation on the portable computing device. Further, the processor can be further operable to enable the installation of applications on a portable computing device or the removal of applications on the portable computing device on an individual basis, a group basis or a broadcast basis. The processor can further be operable to enable the management of certificates on the portable computing devices on an individual basis, a group basis or a broadcast basis.
  • As an example, one of the user interface elements can be a display, and the processor can be further operable to cause an arrangement to be shown on the display. The arrangement may demonstrate an application repository relationship between the managed services portal, the first client portal and the second client portal. In another embodiment, the first client portal can be associated with one or more first sub-client portals or the second client portal can be associated with one or more second sub-client portals. The arrangement can further demonstrate an application repository relationship between the managed services computing portal, the first and second client portals and the first and second sub-client portals, if such sub-client portals exist. As an example, the arrangement that the processor is operable to cause to be shown on the display can be a hierarchical arrangement.
  • In one embodiment, the processor can be further operable to cause the selective presentation of information relating to an application repository associated with the managed services portal. In addition, the processor can be operable to cause the selective presentation of information relating to an application repository associated with the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal.
  • As an example, the presented information may include at least one of the following: identification of an application repository managing entity and one or more security keys; identification of one or more certificates; or identification of settings or applications. As another example, the settings can include one or more of a VPN setting, a location services setting, an application repository control setting or a firmware setting. The processor can be further operable to cause an editing of the settings, the certificates or the applications. In yet another example, the processor can be further operable to present a schedule rollout option to set a delivery schedule for the editing of the settings, the certificates or the applications.
  • Delivery of any settings, certificates or applications may be intended for portable computing devices that may be assigned to the application repository associated with the managed services portal. In one arrangement, the settings and the applications may be default settings and default applications. Also, the processor can be further operable to receive a control notification, and in response to the receipt of the control notification, the managed services portal can be operable to control the operation of the first application repository of the first client portal, the second application repository of the second client portal, an application repository of the first sub-client portal or an application repository of the second sub-client portal.
  • The managed services portal can be operable to control the operation of the first application repository of the first client portal, the application repository of the first sub-client portal, the second application repository of the second client portal and the application repository of the second sub-client portal. This control can be by at least one of causing the publication of the application in the first client portal application repository, the second client portal application repository, the first sub-client portal application repository or the second sub-client portal application repository or causing the selective presentation of information relating to the first client portal application repository, the second client portal application repository, the first sub-client portal application repository or the second sub-client portal application repository.
  • The processor can be further operable to receive a control notification. In response to the receipt of the control notification, the managed services portal can be operable to provide settings or applications to portable computing devices that are assigned to the first client portal, the second client portal, the first sub-client portal or the second sub-client portal. As an example, the settings and the applications may be default settings and default applications. When the processor receives the control notification, the processor can be further operable to generate messages and cause them to be transmitted to the portable computing devices that are assigned to the first client portal, the second client portal, the first sub-client portal or the second sub-client portal.
  • One or more portable computing devices may be associated with the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal, and the processor can be further operable to receive a control notification. In response to the receipt of the control notification, the processor can be further operable to selectively cause the removal or modification of one or more applications installed on the portable computing devices of the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal. In response to the receipt of the control notification, the processor can be further operable to also cause the installation of one or more applications on the portable computing devices of the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal. In one arrangement, the processor can be further operable to cause the removal, modification or installation of the applications on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • The managed services portal may be associated with a managing entity, and one or more portable computing devices may be associated with the managing entity. The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of user identifications that may be associated with the portable computing devices. The portable computing devices that are associated with the managing entity can include portable computing devices that may be assigned to an application repository of the managing entity, portable computing devices that are assigned to application developers who develop applications for the application repository of the managing entity or portable computing devices that are assigned to testing personnel. The processor can be further operable to enable access control to at least some of the portable computing devices that are associated with the user identifications.
  • One or more portable computing devices may be associated with the first client portal or the second client portal, and the processor can be further operable to receive a control notification. In response to the control notification, the processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of user identifications that are associated with the portable computing devices that are associated with the first client portal or the second client portal.
  • One or more additional portable computing devices may be associated with the first client portal or the second client portal. The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of at least some of the portable computing devices associated with the first client portal or the second client portal on the display. The portable computing devices may be presented as available portable computing devices or provisioned portable computing devices. The processor can be further operable to cause an available portable computing device to become a provisioned portable computing device if, for example, the processor receives a control notification.
  • In yet another embodiment, the processor can be further operable to receive a notification that a firmware update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the first client portal and to receive a notification that a firmware update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the second client portal. The processor can be further operable to cause the transmission of the availability of the firmware update for the first client portal portable computing devices to the first client portal and cause the transmission of the availability of the firmware update for the second client portal portable computing devices to the second client portal.
  • The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of one or more bundles. As an example, the bundles can be assigned to one or more performance functions, and the bundles can contain information that may be based on their assigned performance function. In addition, the information contained in the bundles can include one or more configuration settings or one or more applications, and the configuration settings and the applications may be arranged based on the assigned performance function. The processor can be further operable to enable the information contained in the bundles to be edited such that the configuration settings or the applications may be modified.
  • In another embodiment, the bundles may be designated for users associated with a managing entity, and the managed services portal can be associated with the managing entity or the bundles may be associated with the first client portal or the second client portal. The processor can be further operable to enable the managing entity to modify the bundles associated with the first client portal or the second client portal if, for example, the managed services portal has respective authority from the first client portal and the second client portal. In another arrangement, the processor can be further operable to selectively generate a modification signal in response to the information contained in a bundle being edited such that modifications of the configuration settings or the applications may be dynamically effected on one or more portable computing devices that have already received the bundles.
  • A method for managing services is also described herein. The method can include the step of enabling a user to make selections associated with the management of services for a first client portal and a second client portal. The first client portal can be assigned a first application repository that can be associated with the first client portal, and the second client portal can be assigned a second application repository that can be associated with the second client portal. The method can also include the steps of receiving a notification of an application that has met an approval threshold, presenting the application, transmitting the availability of the application to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository and transmitting the availability of the application to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository.
  • In one arrangement, enabling the user to make selections associated with the management of services for a first client portal and a second client portal further includes enabling the user to make the selections through a managed services portal that can be associated with a managing entity. The managed services portal can be assigned a third application repository, and the method can further include publishing the application in the third application repository.
  • As an example, presenting the application further includes presenting the application in an available category, an in-house category or a published category. The method can also include the step of presenting an application that has not yet met an approval threshold in a pending category. As another example, presenting the application can further include presenting the application in the published category if the application has been published in a third application repository.
  • Presenting the application can further include presenting an identification of the application and one or more of the following exemplary, non-limiting parameters: a description of the application; an identification of the developer of the application; a category of the application; a version of the application; a creation date of the application; a most recent update of the application; a rating of the application; a licensing model of the application; a cumulative user rating of the application; or a transactional fee for the application. The licensing model can be selectable from one of the following arrangements: a free model; a subscription-based model; a floating model; a volume model; or a paid model.
  • The method can further include the step of pushing the application to or pulling the application from one or more testing devices. As an example, the testing devices can be associated with a managing entity. The method can also include the steps of performing a global addition of the application to a plurality of portable computing devices or performing a global removal of the application from the plurality of portable computing devices.
  • One or more portable computing devices can be associated with a managed services portal, and the method can further include presenting at least some of the portable computing devices associated with the managed services portal. Presenting the portable computing devices can further include presenting the portable computing devices such that the portable computing devices are segmented into one or more distinct groups. In another embodiment, the method also includes the steps of presenting a searching feature that is configured to enable searching of the portable computing devices and searching the portable computing devices in accordance with an individual or group basis. The method can further include the steps of generating a message for selective transmission to the portable computing devices and transmitting the message to the portable computing devices on an individual basis, a group basis or a broadcast basis. In another embodiment, presenting the portable computing devices can further include presenting a listing of applications that are installed on a portable computing device or that are available for installation on the portable computing device.
  • The method can also include the step of enabling the installation of applications on a portable computing device or the removal of applications on the portable computing device on an individual basis, a group basis or a broadcast basis. Similarly, the method can include the step of enabling the management of certificates on the portable computing devices on an individual basis, a group basis or a broadcast basis.
  • In one embodiment, the method can include the step of displaying an arrangement that demonstrates an application repository relationship between a managed services portal and the first and second client portals. As an example, the managed services portal may oversee the management of services for the first client portal and the second client portal. The first client portal can be associated with one or more first sub-client portals, or the second client portal can be associated with one or more second sub-clients portals. The arrangement can further demonstrate an application repository relationship between the managed services computing device, the first and second client portals and first and second sub-client portals, if such sub-client portals exist. As an example, the arrangement can be in a hierarchical form.
  • The method can also include the step of selectively presenting information relating to an application repository associated with the managed services portal and the step of selectively presenting information relating to an application repository for the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal. As an example, the presented information can include at least one of the following: identification of an application repository managing entity and one or more security keys; identification of one or more certificates; or identification of settings or applications. As another example, the settings can include one or more of a VPN setting, a location services setting, an application repository control setting or a firmware setting.
  • The method can also include the steps of editing the settings or the applications, and presenting a schedule rollout option to set a delivery schedule for the editing of the settings or the applications. The method may also include the step of delivering settings or applications to portable computing devices that are assigned to the managed services computing device. As an example, the settings and the applications can be default settings and default applications.
  • In another arrangement, the method can further include the steps of receiving a control notification, and in response to the receipt of the control notification, at least partially controlling the operation of the application repository of the first client portal, the application repository of the second client portal, an application repository of the first sub-client portal or an application repository of the second sub-client portal. In one example, controlling the operation of the application repository of the first client portal, the application repository of the first sub-client portal, the application repository of the second client portal and the application repository of the second sub-client portal is conducted by at least one of causing the publication of the application in the first client portal application repository, the second client portal application repository, the first sub-client portal application repository or the second sub-client portal application repository or causing the selective presentation of information relating to the first client portal application repository, the second client portal application repository, the first sub-client portal application repository or the second sub-client portal application repository.
  • The method can include the steps of receiving a control notification, and in response to the receipt of the control notification, providing settings or applications to portable computing devices that are assigned to the first client portal, the second client portal, the first sub-client portal or the second sub-client portal. As an example, the settings and the applications are default settings and default applications. When the control notification is received, messages to be delivered to the portable computing devices that are assigned to the first client portal, the second client portal, the first sub-client portal or the second sub-client portal can be generated. The method can further include the step of transmitting the messages to the portable computing devices that are assigned to the first client portal, the second client portal, the first sub-client portal or the second sub-client portal.
  • One or more portable computing devices are associated with the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal, and the method can further include the steps of receiving a control notification, and in response to the receipt of the control notification, selectively causing the removal or modification of one or more applications installed on the portable computing devices of the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal. Also in response to the receipt of the control notification, the method can further include the step of causing the installation of one or more applications on the portable computing devices of the first client portal, the first sub-client portal, the second client portal or the second sub-client portal. As an example, the removal, modification or installation of the applications is on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • In another embodiment, one or more portable computing devices may be associated with a managed computing services device, and the method can further include the step of presenting user identifications that are associated with the portable computing devices. The portable computing devices that are associated with the managed services portal may include portable computing devices that are assigned to an application repository associated with the managed services portal, portable computing devices that are assigned to application developers who develop applications for the application repository of the managing entity and portable computing devices that are assigned to testing personnel.
  • The method can further include the step of enabling access control to at least some of the portable computing devices that are associated with the user identifications. One or more portable computing devices may be associated with the first client portal or the second client portal. Thus, the method can further include receiving a control notification and in response to the control notification, presenting user identifications that are associated with the portable computing devices that are associated with the first client portal or the second client portal. One or more additional portable computing devices may be associated with the first client portal or the second client portal, and the method may further include presenting at least some of the portable computing devices associated with the first client portal or the second client portal.
  • Presenting the portable computing devices associated with the first client portal or the second client portal can include, for example, presenting the portable computing devices associated with the first client portal or the second client portal as available portable computing devices. The method can further include the step of converting an available portable computing device to a provisioned portable computing device if a control notification is received.
  • In another arrangement, the method can include the steps of receiving a notification that a firmware update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the first client portal and receiving a notification that a firmware update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the second client portal. As such, the method can include the steps of transmitting the availability of the firmware update for the first client portable computing devices to the first client portal and transmitting the availability of the firmware update for the second client portable computing devices to the second client portal.
  • In yet another arrangement, the method can further include the step of presenting one or more bundles in which the bundles can be assigned to one or more performance functions. As an example, the bundles can contain information that is based on their assigned performance function. As another example, the information contained in the bundles may include one or more configuration settings or one or more applications, and the configuration settings and the applications can be arranged based on the assigned performance function. The method can further include the step of enabling the information contained in the bundles to be edited such that the configuration settings or the applications may be modified.
  • As another example, the bundles may be designated for users associated with a managed services computing device, or the bundles may be designated for the first client portal and the second client portal. The method can also include the step of enabling the managed services portal to modify the bundles designated for the first client portal and the second client portal if the managing entity has respective authority from the first client portal and the second client portal. The method can further include the step of selectively generating a modification signal in response to the information contained in a bundle being edited such that modifications of the configuration settings or the applications may be dynamically effected on one or more portable computing devices that have already received the bundles.
  • Another method of managing services is described herein. The method can include the step of presenting an interface to enable selections associated with the management of services for a first client portal and a second client portal. The first client portal can be assigned a first application repository that can be associated with the first client portal, and the second client portal can be assigned a second application repository that can be associated with the second client portal. The method can also include the steps of receiving a notification of an application that has met an approval threshold and transmitting the availability of the application to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository. The availability of the application can be transmitted to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository.
  • Another managed services portal that is associated with a managing entity is described herein. The managed services portal can include one or more user interface elements configured to enable a user to make selections associated with the management of services for a first client portal and a second client portal. The first client portal can be assigned a first application repository that can be associated with the first client portal, the second client portal can be assigned a second application repository that can be associated with the second client portal and the managing entity can be assigned a third application repository that can be associated with the managing entity. The managed services portal can also include a processor that can be communicatively coupled to the user interface elements. As an example, the processor can be operable to receive a notification of an application that has met an approval threshold, cause the presentation of the application, cause the transmission of the availability of the application to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository, cause the transmission of the availability of the application to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository and cause the publication of the application in the third application repository.
  • Yet another method of managing services is described herein. The method can include the step of presenting an interface to enable selections associated with the management of services for a first client portal and a second client portal by a managed services portal. The first client portal can be assigned a first application repository that can be associated with the first client portal, and the second client portal can be assigned a second application repository that can be associated with the second client portal. The method can also include the steps of receiving a notification of an application that has met an approval threshold, transmitting the availability of the application to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository and transmitting the availability of the application to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository. The method can also include the step of publishing the application in a third application repository that is assigned to and associated with the managed services portal.
  • A method for managing configuration updates for a first client portal and a second client portal is described herein. The method can include the steps of receiving a notification that a first configuration update is available for the first client portal and that a second configuration update is available for the second client portal and notifying the first client portal that the first configuration update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the first client portal. The first client portal can determine whether to provide the first configuration update to the first client portal portable computing devices. This method can further include the step of notifying the second client portal that the second configuration update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the second client portal. The second client portal can determine whether to provide the second configuration update to the second client portal portable computing devices.
  • The method can further include the step of notifying—through the first client portal—a first sub-client portal that is associated with the first client portal that the first configuration update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the first-sub client portal. The first sub-client portal may determine whether to provide the first configuration update to the first sub-client portal portable computing devices. As an example, the configuration update can at least include a firmware update.
  • A managed services computing device for managing one or more bundles is also described herein. The managed services computing device can include one or more user interface elements configured to enable a user to assign a first bundle to a first performance function category, assign a second bundle to a second performance function category and select the contents of the first and second bundles. The managed services computing device can also include a processor that can be communicatively coupled to the user interface elements. As an example, the processor can be operable to generate the first and second bundles by loading the contents of the first and second bundles and to direct the storage of the first and second bundles for selective transmission to one or more portable computing devices.
  • The processor can be further operable to, in response to an editing process conducted through the user interface elements, correspondingly edit the contents of the first bundle or the second bundle. As an example, the first bundle and the second bundle may have been respectively received at a first portable computing device and a second portable computing device and the processor is further operable to generate a signal that is configured to cause the contents of the first bundle on the first portable computing device or the contents of the second bundle on the second portable computing device to be correspondingly edited.
  • A method for managing one or more bundles is also described herein. The method can include the steps of assigning a first bundle to a first performance function category, assigning a second bundle to a second performance function category, selecting the contents of the first and second bundles, generating the first and second bundles by loading the contents of the first and second bundles and moving to storage the first and second bundles for selective transmission to one or more portable computing devices. The method can also include the steps of editing the contents of the first bundle or the second bundle, forwarding the first bundle to a first portable computing device, forwarding the second bundle to a second portable computing device, detecting the editing of the contents of the first bundle or the second bundle and generating a signal that is configured to cause the contents of the first bundle or the second bundle to be correspondingly edited.
  • Yet another managed services platform is described herein. The managed services platform can include a first computing device that can be configured to present a first interface to permit application developers to submit applications for eventual publication, a second computing device that can be communicatively coupled to the first computing device and that can be configured to present a second interface to permit the approval of submitted applications and a third computing device that can be communicatively coupled to the second computing device. The third computing device can be configured to receive a notification from the second computing device that a submitted application has been approved, transmit the availability of the approved application to a first client portal for publication in a first application repository that is associated with the first client portal and transmit the availability of the approved application to a second client portal for publication in a second application repository that is associated with the second client portal.
  • A method of managing applications is also described herein. The method can include the steps of receiving an application that has been submitted for approval for possible publication in a first application repository that may be associated with a first client portal and a second application repository that may be associated with a second client portal and approving the submitted application for the possible publication in the first application repository and the second application repository. The method can also include the steps of receiving a notification that the submitted application has been approved and in response to the receipt of the notification, transmitting the availability of the approved application to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository. In response to the receipt of the notification, the availability of the approved application can be transmitted to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository.
  • A method of managing applications is also described herein. The method can include the step of receiving a notification that an application submitted for approval for possible publication in a first application repository that is associated with a first client portal and for possible publication in a second application repository that is associated with a second client portal has been approved. In response to the receipt of the notification, the availability of the approved application can be transmitted to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository. Also in response to the receipt of the notification, the availability of the approved application can be transmitted to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository.
  • A computer program product is also described herein. The computer program product can include a computer readable storage medium having stored thereon computer readable program code. When executed by a system that includes a processor and a memory, the program code causes the system to enable a user to make selections associated with the management of services for a first client portal and a second client portal. The first client portal can be assigned a first application repository that can be associated with the first client portal, and the second client portal can be assigned a second application repository that can be associated with the second client portal. The program code can also cause the system to receive a notification of an application that has met an approval threshold, to present the application, to transmit the availability of the application to the first client portal for publication in the first application repository and to transmit the availability of the application to the second client portal for publication in the second application repository.
  • A client computing device associated with a first client is also described herein. The client computing device includes one or more user interface elements configured to enable a user to make selections associated with the management of services for the first client. The client computing device can be assigned a first application repository. The client computing device includes a processor that is communicatively coupled with the user interface elements. The processor can be operable to receive a notification of the availability of an application for publication into the client computing device application repository. The notification can be from a managing computing device that may also provide notification of the availability of the application for publication into an application repository associated with a second client computing device. The processor can also be operable to selectively cause the publication of the available application into the client computing device application repository.
  • The processor can be further operable to generate a publication notice for transmission to the managing computing device when the available application is published in the client computing device application repository. In addition, the client computing device can be communicatively coupled with a sub-client computing device that may be associated with a sub-client and may be assigned a sub-client computing device application repository. When the available application is published in the client computing device application repository, the processor can be further operable to generate a notification for transmission to the sub-client computing device that the application is available for publication in the sub-client computing device application repository.
  • A system is also described herein in which the system can include a first computing device that can be associated with a first application repository and that can be configured to receive a notification of the availability of an application for publication in the first application repository, and in response, to selectively cause the publication of the available application in the first application repository. The system can also include a sub-client computing device that can be communicatively coupled to the first computing device and that can be associated with a sub-client. The sub-client computing device can be assigned a sub-client application repository. The sub-client computing device can be configured to receive a second notification of the availability of the application for publication in the sub-client computing device application repository when the application is published in the first application repository.
  • A method for managing services for a first client is also described herein. The method can include the step of receiving a notification of the availability of an application for publication into an application repository associated with the first client portal. The notification can be from a managing computing device that can also provide notification of the availability of the application for publication into an application repository associated with a second client portal. The method can also include the step of selecting the available application for publication into the first client portal application repository such that the application is available for download from the first client portal application repository to computing devices that are associated with the first client portal but not for computing devices that are associated with the second client portal.
  • The method can also include the step of generating a publication notice for transmission to the managing computing device when the available application is published in the first client portal application repository. As an example, the client computing device can be communicatively coupled with a sub-client computing device that can be associated with a sub-client and that can be assigned a sub-client computing device application repository. When the available application is published in the first client portal application repository, the method can further include the step of generating a notification for transmission to the sub-client computing device that the application is available for publication in the sub-client computing device application repository.
  • A method for managing applications of a client portal and a sub-client portal is also described herein in which the client portal can be assigned a client portal application repository and the sub-client portal can be assigned a sub-client portal application repository. The method can include the step of receiving a notification of the availability of an application for publication in the client portal application repository, selecting the application for publication in the client portal application repository and in response to the publication of the application in the client portal application repository, notifying the sub-client portal of the availability of the application for publication in the sub-client portal application repository.
  • A managed services computing device for managing configuration updates for a first client portal and a second client portal is also described herein. The managed services computing device can include a processor. The processor can be operable to receive a notification that a first configuration update is available for the first client portal and that a second configuration update is available for the second client portal. The processor can also be operable to generate a notification for the first client portal that the first configuration update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the first client portal. The first client portal can determine whether to provide the first configuration update to the first client portal portable computing devices. The processor can also be operable to generate a notification for the second client portal that the second configuration update is available for one or more portable computing devices that are associated with the second client portal. The second client portal may determine whether to provide the second configuration update to the second client portal portable computing devices.
  • A managed services portal is also described herein. The managed services portal can include one or more user interface elements configured to enable a user to make selections associated with the management of services for one or more portable computing devices and a processor that can be communicatively coupled to the user interface elements. The processor can be operable to receive a request to determine a status of one or more of the portable computing devices or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices. The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices. The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • As an example, a display can be one of the user interface elements, and the processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of at least some of the portable computing devices on the display. The managed services portal can also include a searching module that can be configured to enable the portable computing devices to be searched individually or by groups.
  • In one arrangement, the processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by generating a message for transmission to the portable computing devices and causing the delivery of the message to the portable computing devices. In another arrangement, the processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices by causing the presentation of a listing that includes applications that may be installed on a portable computing device or a listing that may include applications that may be available to be installed on the portable computing device.
  • The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by causing the installation of applications on the portable computing devices or by causing the removal of applications from the portable computing devices. As an example, the installation of applications and the removal of applications may be executed in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule. The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices by providing location information of the portable computing devices.
  • The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by causing one or more of the following: locking at least a portion of a portable computing device; unlocking at least a portion of a portable computing device; logging a user in a portable computing device; logging a user out of a portable computing device; wiping at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device; restoring at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device that has been deleted from the portable computing device; resetting a portable computing device to one or more default settings; adding a user to a portable computing device; removing a user from a portable computing device; or ringing a portable computing device.
  • The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by causing the delivery of content to the one or more portable computing devices. For example, the content can include one or more configuration settings or a firmware package. As another example, the delivery of content can be executed in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule.
  • The processor can also be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices by causing the presentation of user identifications that are associated with the portable computing devices. In another arrangement, the processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by controlling access to a portable computing device that may be associated with one or more of the user identifications.
  • The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices by presenting the one or more portable computing devices as available portable computing devices or as provisioned portable computing devices. The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by causing an available portable computing device to become a provisioned portable computing device.
  • In another arrangement, the processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of one or more bundles in which the bundles may be assigned to one or more performance functions, and the bundles can contain information that can be based on the assigned performance functions. As an example, the information can include configuration settings or applications. The applications may be default applications, and the processor can be further operable to enable an application to be designated as a default application for a bundle.
  • The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by causing the delivery of a bundle to the portable computing devices. Moreover, the processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices by generating a modification signal in response to the information contained in a bundle being edited such that modifications of such information may be dynamically effected on portable computing devices that have already received the bundle.
  • As an example, the configuration settings include one or more of the following: a password profile; a wireless protocol profile; a VPN profile; a hardware profile; or a certificate profile. The configuration settings may include one or more policies, and the policies can define one or more actions to be executed in response to a detected event. The policies can include one or more of the following: a VPN policy; a proxy policy; a blacklist policy; a whitelist policy; or a report policy.
  • For example, the policy can be the VPN policy, and the action can include the implementation of one or more VPN settings. As another example, the policy can be the proxy policy, and the action can include the enablement of a proxy. In yet another example, the policy can be the blacklist policy, and the action can include blocking the download or installation of an application. In yet another example, the policy can be the whitelist policy, and the action can include allowing the download or installation of an application. In yet another example, the policy can be the report policy, and the action can include reporting a characteristic of the portable computing device.
  • The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of user identifications. As an example, the processor can be further operable to manage user identifications by at least controlling the access of the user identifications.
  • A method for managing services is also described herein. The method can include the steps of enabling a user to make selections associated with the management of services for one or more portable computing devices and receiving a request to determine a status of one or more of the portable computing devices or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices. The method can also include the step of providing the status of the one or more portable computing devices or to effecting the action on the one or more portable computing devices. The status of the one or more portable computing devices can be provided or the action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • The method can further include the steps of presenting at least some of the portable computing devices on the display, and enabling the portable computing devices to be searched individually or by groups. As an example, the action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by generating a message for transmission to the portable computing devices and causing the message to be sent to the portable computing devices.
  • As another example, the status of the one or more portable computing devices can be provided by presenting a listing that includes applications that can be installed on a portable computing device or a listing that can include applications that may be available to be installed on the portable computing device. The action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by selectively causing the installation of applications on the portable computing devices or selectively causing the removal of applications from the portable computing devices. Causing the installation of applications and the removal of applications can be such that the installation and removal may be executed in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule.
  • The status of the one or more portable computing devices can be provided by providing location information of the portable computing devices. The action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by one or more of the following: locking at least a portion of a portable computing device; unlocking at least a portion of a portable computing device; logging a user in a portable computing device; logging a user out of a portable computing device; wiping at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device; restoring at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device that has been deleted from the portable computing device; resetting a portable computing device to one or more default settings; adding a user to a portable computing device; removing a user from a portable computing device; or ringing a portable computing device.
  • The action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by delivering content to the one or more portable computing devices. For example, the content can include one or more configuration settings or a firmware package. The method can further include the step of executing the delivery of content in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule. The status of the one or more portable computing devices can be provided by causing the presentation of user identifications that are associated with the portable computing devices. Also, the action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by controlling access to a portable computing device that may be associated with one or more of the user identifications. As another example, the status of the one or more portable computing devices can be provided by presenting the one or more portable computing devices as available portable computing devices or as provisioned portable computing devices. As yet another example, the action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by causing an available portable computing device to become a provisioned portable computing device.
  • The method can further include the step of presenting one or more bundles in which the bundles may be assigned to one or more performance functions, and the bundles can contain information that may be based on the assigned performance functions. As an example, the information of the bundles can include configuration settings or applications. As another example, the applications can be default applications, and the method can further include the step of designating an application as a default application for a bundle.
  • In one arrangement, the action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by causing a bundle to be sent to the portable computing devices. In another arrangement, the action on the one or more portable computing devices can be effected by generating a modification signal in response to the information contained in a bundle being edited such that modifications of such information may be dynamically effected on portable computing devices that have already received the bundle.
  • As an example, the configuration settings may include one or more of the following: a password profile; a wireless protocol profile; a VPN profile; a hardware profile; or a certificate profile. As another example, the configuration settings can include one or more policies, and the policies may define one or more actions to be executed in response to a detected event. For example, the policies may include one or more of the following: a VPN policy; a proxy policy; a blacklist policy; a whitelist policy; or a report policy.
  • In one embodiment, the policy can be the VPN policy, and the action may include the implementation of one or more VPN settings. In another embodiment, the policy can be the proxy policy, and the action may include the enablement of a proxy. In another embodiment, the policy can be the blacklist policy, and the action may include blocking the download or installation of an application. In yet another embodiment, the policy can be the whitelist policy, and the action can include allowing the download or installation of an application. In yet another embodiment, the policy can be the report policy, and the action may include reporting a characteristic of the portable computing device.
  • The method can also include the steps of presenting user identifications and managing user identifications by at least controlling the access of the user identifications.
  • A managed services portal is also described herein. The managed services portal can include a display that can be configured to present representations of one or more portable computing devices and a processor that can be communicatively coupled to the display. The processor can be operable to receive a request to populate at least one of the portable computing devices with a bundle and to direct the delivery of the bundle to the portable computing devices. The bundle can include configuration settings and applications that may be selected at least partially based on performance functions associated with the portable computing devices. It is important to note that for all embodiments and arrangements described herein, content may be delivered to any number of portable computing devices, including on an individual basis, and is not necessarily limited to being delivered in bundles.
  • As an example, the configuration settings include one or more of the following: a password profile; a wireless protocol profile; a VPN profile; a hardware profile; or a certificate profile. Also, the configuration settings may include one or more policies, and the policies define one or more actions to be executed in response to a detected event. For example, the policies include one or more of the following: a VPN policy; a proxy policy; a blacklist policy; a whitelist policy; or a report policy.
  • A method of managing services is also described herein. The method can include the steps of presenting representations of one or more portable computing devices, receiving a request to populate at least one of the portable computing devices with a bundle and directing the delivery of the bundle to the portable computing devices. The bundle can include configuration settings and applications that are selected at least partially based on performance functions associated with the portable computing devices.
  • In one arrangement, the configuration settings can include one or more of the following: a password profile; a wireless protocol profile; a VPN profile; a hardware profile; or a certificate profile. The configuration settings can include one or more policies, and the policies may define one or more actions to be executed in response to a detected event. The policies may include one or more of the following: a VPN policy; a proxy policy; a blacklist policy; a whitelist policy; or a report policy.
  • Another method of managing services is described herein. The method can include the steps of presenting representations of one or more portable computing devices, generating one or more bundles that include configurations settings and applications that are selected at least partially based on performance functions associated with the portable computing devices, receiving a request to populate at least one of the portable computing devices with a bundle and directing the delivery of the bundle to the portable computing devices.
  • Another managed services portal is described herein. The managed services portal can include one or more user interface elements that can be configured to enable a user to make selections associated with the management of services for a first set of portable computing devices and to enable a user to make selections associated with the management of services for a second set of portable computing devices. The managed services portal can also include a processor that can be communicatively coupled to the user interface elements. The processor can be operable to receive a first request to determine a status of one or more of the portable computing devices of the first set or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices of the first set and to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the first set or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the first set. The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the first set or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the first set on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • The processor can also be operable to receive a second request to determine a status of one or more of the portable computing devices of the second set or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices of the second set. If authorized, the processor can also be operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set. The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • As an example, the first set of portable computing devices can be associated with a first entity, and the second set of portable computing devices can be associated with a second entity. As another example, the first entity can be a managing entity responsible for operating the managed services portal.
  • A display is one of the user interface elements, and the processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of at least some of the portable computing devices of the second set on the display. The method can further include a searching module that can be configured to enable the portable computing devices of the second set to be searched individually or by groups.
  • The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by, for example, generating a message for transmission to the portable computing devices and causing the delivery of the message to the portable computing devices. As another example, the processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by causing the presentation of a listing that includes applications that are installed on a portable computing device of the second set or a listing that includes applications that are available to be installed on the portable computing device of the second set. The processor can also be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by causing the installation of applications on the portable computing devices of the second set or causing the removal of applications from the portable computing devices of the second set. The installation of applications and the removal of applications can be executed in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule.
  • In one arrangement, the processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by providing location information of the portable computing devices of the second set. The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by causing one or more of the following: locking at least a portion of a portable computing device of the second set; unlocking at least a portion of a portable computing device of the second set; logging a user in a portable computing device of the second set; logging a user out of a portable computing device of the second set; wiping at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device of the second set; restoring at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device of the second set that has been deleted from the portable computing device of the second set; resetting a portable computing device of the second set to one or more default settings; adding a user to a portable computing device of the second set; removing a user from a portable computing device of the second set; or ringing a portable computing device of the second set.
  • The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by causing the delivery of content to the one or more portable computing devices of the second set. As an example, the content can include one or more configuration settings or a firmware package. The delivery of content can be executed in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule.
  • The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by causing the presentation of user identifications that are associated with the portable computing devices of the second set. Moreover, the processor can be operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by controlling access to a portable computing device of the second set that may be associated with one or more of the user identifications.
  • The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of one or more bundles. As an example, the bundles can be assigned to one or more performance functions, and the bundles can contain information that may be based on the assigned performance functions. As a more specific example, the information may include configuration settings or applications. The applications may be default applications, and the processor can be further operable to enable an application to be designated as a default application for a bundle.
  • The processor can be further operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by causing the delivery of a bundle to the portable computing devices of the second set. In another arrangement, the processor can be operable to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set by generating a modification signal in response to the information contained in a bundle being edited such that modifications of such information may be dynamically effected on portable computing devices of the second set that have already received the bundle.
  • As an example, the configuration settings can include one or more of the following: a password profile; a wireless protocol profile; a VPN profile; a hardware profile; or a certificate profile. As another example, the configuration settings can include one or more policies, and the policies may define one or more actions to be executed in response to a detected event. For example, the policies can include one or more of the following: a VPN policy; a proxy policy; a blacklist policy; a whitelist policy; or a report policy.
  • In one embodiment, the policy can be the VPN policy, and the action may include the implementation of one or more VPN settings, while in another embodiment, the policy can be the proxy policy, and the action may include the enablement of a proxy. In another embodiment, the policy may be the blacklist policy, and the action cam includes blocking the download or installation of an application. In another embodiment, the policy can be the whitelist policy, and the action can include allowing the download or installation of an application. In yet another embodiment, the policy can be the report policy, and the action may include reporting a characteristic of the portable computing device.
  • The processor can be further operable to cause the presentation of user identifications. In addition, the processor can be further operable to manage user identifications by at least controlling the access of the user identifications.
  • Another method for managing services is also described herein. The method can include the steps of enabling a user to make selections associated with the management of services for one or more portable computing devices of a first set, enabling the user to make selections associated with the management of services for one or more portable computing devices of a second set, receiving a request to determine a status of one or more of the portable computing devices of the first set or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices of the first set and providing the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the first set or effecting the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the first set. The status of the one or more portable computing devices of the first set can be provided or the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the first set can be effected on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • The method can also include the steps of receiving a second request to determine a status of one or more portable computing devices of the second set or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices of the second set and if authorized, providing the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set or effecting the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set. The status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be provided or the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis. The first set of portable computing devices can be associated with a first entity, and the second set of portable computing devices can be associated with a second entity. The first entity can be a managing entity responsible for operating the managed services portal.
  • The method can further include the steps of presenting at least some of the portable computing devices of the second set on the display and enabling the portable computing devices of the second set to be searched individually or by groups. In one arrangement, the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected by generating a message for transmission to the portable computing devices of the second set and causing the message to be sent to the portable computing devices of the second set.
  • In another arrangement, the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be provided by presenting a listing that includes applications that can be installed on a portable computing device of the second set or a listing that can include applications that may be available to be installed on the portable computing device of the second set.
  • In yet another arrangement, the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected by selectively causing the installation of applications on the portable computing devices of the second set or selectively causing the removal of applications from the portable computing devices of the second set. As an example, causing the installation of applications and the removal of applications can be such that the installation and removal may be executed in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule.
  • In one embodiment, the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be provided by providing location information of the portable computing devices of the second set. In another embodiment, the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected by one or more of the following: locking at least a portion of a portable computing device of the second set; unlocking at least a portion of a portable computing device of the second set; logging a user in a portable computing device of the second set; logging a user out of a portable computing device of the second set; wiping at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device of the second set; restoring at least a portion of the data on a portable computing device of the second set that has been deleted from the portable computing device of the second set; resetting a portable computing device of the second set to one or more default settings; adding a user to a portable computing device of the second set; removing a user from a portable computing device of the second set; or ringing a portable computing device of the second set.
  • The action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected by delivering content to the one or more portable computing devices of the second set. As an example, the content can include one or more configuration settings or a firmware package. The method can also include the step of executing the delivery of content in real-time or in accordance with a delivery schedule.
  • In another embodiment, the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be provided by causing the presentation of user identifications that are associated with the portable computing devices of the second set. In yet another embodiment, the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected by controlling access to a portable computing device of the second set that is associated with one or more of the user identifications.
  • The method can also include the step of presenting one or more bundles. For example, the bundles can be assigned to one or more performance functions, and the bundles may contain information that can be based on the assigned performance functions. The information of the bundles can include configuration settings or applications. The applications, for example, can be default applications, and the method can further include the step of designating an application as a default application for a bundle.
  • In one arrangement, the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected by causing a bundle to be sent to the portable computing devices of the second set. In another arrangement, the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second set can be effected by generating a modification signal in response to the information contained in a bundle being edited such that modifications of such information may be dynamically effected on portable computing devices of the second set that have already received the bundle.
  • As an example, the configuration settings include one or more of the following: a password profile; a wireless protocol profile; a VPN profile; a hardware profile; or a certificate profile. As another example, the configuration settings may include one or more policies, and the policies may define one or more actions to be executed in response to a detected event. The policies can include, for example, one or more of the following: a VPN policy; a proxy policy; a blacklist policy; a whitelist policy; or a report policy.
  • In one arrangement, the policy can be the VPN policy, and the action can include the implementation of one or more VPN settings. In one embodiment, the policy can be the proxy policy, and the action can include the enablement of a proxy. In another embodiment, the policy can be the blacklist policy, and the action may include blocking the download or installation of an application. In another embodiment, the policy can be the whitelist policy, and the action may include allowing the download or installation of an application. In yet another embodiment, the policy can be the report policy, and the action includes reporting a characteristic of the portable computing device.
  • The method can also include the step of presenting user identifications. The method can further include the step of managing user identifications by at least controlling the access of the user identifications.
  • A managed services portal that can be operated by a first entity is also described herein. The managed services portal can include one or more user interface elements that can be configured to enable the first entity to make selections associated with the management of services for portable computing devices associated with a second entity. The managed services portal can also include a processor that can be communicatively coupled to the user interface elements. The processor can be operable to receive a request to determine a status of one or more of the portable computing devices of the second entity or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices of the second entity. If authorized, the processor can be operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity. The processor can be further operable to provide the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity or to effect the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • Another method for managing services is described herein. The method can include the steps of enabling a management entity to make selections associated with the management of services for one or more portable computing devices associated with a second entity, receiving a request from the management entity to determine a status of one or more of the portable computing devices of the second entity or to cause an action to occur on one or more of the portable computing devices of the second entity and if authorized and in response to the request, providing the status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity or effecting the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity. The status of the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity can be provided or the action on the one or more portable computing devices of the second entity can be effected on an individual basis, a group basis or a global basis.
  • Embodiments are also directed to a supervisory portal systems and methods. In one method, a user interface element is presented to manage or control one or more portable computing devices. An input can be received from the user interface element to manage or control all of or a subset set of the one or more child devices. In response to receiving the input, a directive, content or a message can be transmitted to the child device. In this way, supervisory oversight of the one or more child portable computing devices can be provided.
  • Further features and advantages of the invention, as well as the structure and operation of various embodiments of the invention, are described in detail below with reference to the accompanying drawings. It is noted that the invention is not limited to the specific embodiments described herein. Such embodiments are presented herein for illustrative purposes only. Additional embodiments will be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art(s) based on the teachings contained herein.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS/FIGURES
  • The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated herein and form part of the specification, illustrate the present invention and, together with the description, further serve to explain the principles of the invention and to enable a person skilled in the relevant art(s) to make and use the invention.
  • FIG. 1 depicts exemplary elements of a system for providing telephony and digital media services to a location, such as a home or office.
  • FIG. 2 is a back perspective view of an exemplary telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an exemplary system for providing telephony and digital media services.
  • FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an exemplary alternative system for providing telephony and digital media services.
  • FIG. 5 is a block diagram of an exemplary system for providing telephony and digital media services that supports multiple devices and handsets via an adapter unit in an environment in which a telecommunication carrier provides Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service.
  • FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an exemplary system for providing telephony and digital media services that supports multiple devices and handsets via an adapter unit in an environment in which a telecommunications carrier provides POT service.
  • FIG. 7 is a block diagram of an exemplary system for providing telephony and digital media services that supports multiple devices and handsets via an adapter unit in an environment in which a telecommunications carrier provides VoIP service.
  • FIG. 8 is a block diagram of an exemplary system for providing telephony and digital media services that supports multiple devices and handsets via an adapter unit in an environment in which a telecommunications carrier provides POT service.
  • FIG. 9 depicts an embodiment in which an adapter unit within a system for providing telephony and digital media service provides PBX-like features to a user of a computer connected to the adapter unit.
  • FIG. 10 is a hardware block diagram of an exemplary telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 11 is a hardware block diagram of an exemplary telephony and digital media services device designed for office environments.
  • FIG. 12 is a block diagram of an exemplary architecture of a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 13 is a block diagram that depicts exemplary system elements of a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 14 is a block diagram of an exemplary application framework that may be implemented by a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 15 depicts an exemplary application installation package that may be provided from a remote application server to a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 16 depicts an exemplary application manager that comprises two movie applications.
  • FIG. 17 depicts an exemplary manager movie portion of an application manager.
  • FIG. 18 depicts an exemplary theme movie portion of an application manager.
  • FIG. 19 is a diagram that illustrates an exemplary process for handling an asynchronous event associated with an inactive application during execution of an active application.
  • FIG. 20 is a diagram depicting the overlaying of a first application movie with a second application movie pursuant to an asynchronous event handling protocol in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 21 is a diagram depicting the use of an exemplary watchdog timer to monitor application liveliness.
  • FIG. 22 illustrates an application that includes an exemplary first movie that comprises the business logic of the application and an exemplary second movie that comprises the graphical assets of the application.
  • FIG. 23 is a block diagram of an exemplary system for logging and reviewing application usage information, system configuration information and system health information associated with one or more telephony and digital media services devices.
  • FIG. 24 depicts an exemplary interface screen that may be presented by an exemplary system for reviewing application usage information associated with one or more telephony and digital media services devices.
  • FIG. 25 depicts another exemplary interface screen interface screen that may be presented by an exemplary system for reviewing application usage information associated with one or more telephony and digital media services devices.
  • FIG. 26 depicts an exemplary interface screen that may be presented by an exemplary system for reviewing application usage information, system configuration information and system health information associated with one or more telephony and digital media services devices.
  • FIG. 27 is a front perspective view of an exemplary handset.
  • FIG. 28 is a back view of an exemplary handset.
  • FIG. 29 is a front perspective view of an exemplary handset docking station.
  • FIG. 30 is a back perspective view of an exemplary handset docking station.
  • FIG. 31 depicts an exemplary home graphical user interface (GUI) screen that may be displayed by an exemplary telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 32 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a telephony application.
  • FIG. 33 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a call log application.
  • FIG. 34 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a voicemail application.
  • FIG. 35 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a contacts application.
  • FIG. 36 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a weather application.
  • FIG. 37 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a movie showtimes application.
  • FIG. 38 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a media application in which a photos interface is displayed.
  • FIG. 39 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a media application in which a music interface is displayed.
  • FIG. 40 depicts a further exemplary GUI screen for a media application in which a music interface is displayed.
  • FIG. 41 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a media application in which a videos interface is displayed.
  • FIGS. 42 and 43 depict an exemplary GUI screen for a video player application.
  • FIG. 44 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a media application in which a podcasts interface is displayed.
  • FIG. 45 depicts a further exemplary GUI screen for a media application in which a podcasts interface is displayed.
  • FIG. 46 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a cameras application.
  • FIG. 47 depicts an additional exemplary GUI screen for a cameras application.
  • FIG. 48 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a news application.
  • FIG. 49 depicts an additional exemplary GUI screen for a news application.
  • FIG. 50 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a horoscopes application.
  • FIG. 51 depicts an additional exemplary GUI screen for a horoscopes application.
  • FIG. 52 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a recipes application.
  • FIG. 53 depicts an additional exemplary GUI screen for a recipes application.
  • FIG. 54 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a calendar application.
  • FIG. 55 depicts an additional exemplary GUI screen for a calendar application.
  • FIG. 56 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for an Internet radio application.
  • FIG. 57 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a stocks application.
  • FIG. 58 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for an Internet video application.
  • FIG. 59 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for an Internet-based photo application.
  • FIG. 60 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for an alarm application.
  • FIG. 61 depicts an additional exemplary GUI screen for an alarm application.
  • FIG. 62 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a screensaver application.
  • FIG. 63 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a directory services application.
  • FIG. 64 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a memos application.
  • FIG. 65 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a television (TV) programming guide application.
  • FIG. 66 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a network setup application.
  • FIG. 67 depicts an additional exemplary GUI screen for a network setup application.
  • FIG. 68 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for an advanced network setup application.
  • FIG. 69 depicts an exemplary GUI screen for a home control application.
  • FIG. 70 depicts an exemplary overlay interface for performing home control functions associated with a selected room that may be displayed over the GUI screen of FIG. 69.
  • FIG. 71 depicts a further exemplary overlay interface for performing a selected home control function that may be displayed over the GUI screen of FIG. 69.
  • FIG. 72 is a block diagram of an exemplary system that includes a services platform for enabling entities to deploy, manage optimize and monitor a network of telephony and multimedia services devices.
  • FIG. 73 depicts four main areas of an exemplary application store life cycle.
  • FIG. 74 depicts an exemplary GUI screen that may be used to provide an interface to application store.
  • FIG. 75 is a block diagram that shows an example of how a content aggregation subsystem may be used to aggregate content from multiple content providers.
  • FIG. 76 is a block diagram of an exemplary system that obtains directory services information from a single IP-based directory for presentation on a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 77 is a block diagram of an exemplary system in accordance that obtains directory services information from multiple IP-based directories for presentation on a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 78 is a block diagram of an exemplary system in accordance that obtains premium placement directory services information, standard directory services information and advertisements for presentation on a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 79 is a block diagram of an exemplary system that uses click-to-dial reporting to provide community-based popularity information for presentation on a telephony and digital media services device.
  • FIG. 80 depicts various components of an exemplary directory services application.
  • FIGS. 81-83 depict exemplary GUI screens of a directory services application.
  • FIG. 84 depicts an exemplary computer system that may be used to implement various features.
  • FIG. 85 is a block diagram of an exemplary application store.
  • FIG. 86 illustrates an example of a system that includes a managed services platform.
  • FIG. 87 illustrates an example of a managed services system.
  • FIG. 88 illustrates an example of an application developer portal and an approval portal.
  • FIG. 89 illustrates an example of an interface that can permit application developers to submit applications.
  • FIG. 90 illustrates an example of an applications page.
  • FIG. 91 illustrates an example of an application presentation page.
  • FIG. 92 illustrates an example of a file page that can present information related to files.
  • FIG. 93 illustrates an example of a comments page.
  • FIG. 94 illustrates an example of a statistics page.
  • FIG. 95 illustrates an example of a devices page, which can list one or more testing devices.
  • FIG. 96 illustrates an example of a device information page.
  • FIG. 97 illustrates an example of an interface that facilitates an approval process.
  • FIG. 98 illustrates an example of an application review page.
  • FIG. 99 illustrates an example of a files page.
  • FIG. 100 illustrates an example of a statistics page.
  • FIG. 101 illustrates an example of a testing devices page.
  • FIG. 102 illustrates a block diagram of an exemplary administrator portal.
  • FIG. 103 illustrates a block diagram of an exemplary client portal.
  • FIG. 104 illustrates an example of an applications page.
  • FIG. 105 illustrates an example of an application selection page.
  • FIG. 106 illustrates an example of a devices page.
  • FIG. 107 illustrates an example of a device details page.
  • FIG. 108 illustrates an example of a device application page.
  • FIG. 109 illustrates an example of a users page that can present one or more user identifications.
  • FIG. 110 illustrates an example of an information page.
  • FIG. 111 illustrates an example of a roles page.
  • FIG. 112 illustrates an example of a firmware page.
  • FIG. 113 illustrates an example of a bundles page.
  • FIG. 114 illustrates an example of a bundle application page.
  • FIG. 115 illustrates an example of a VPN page.
  • FIG. 116 illustrates an example of a Wi-Fi page.
  • FIG. 117 illustrates an example of a general editing page.
  • FIG. 118 illustrates an example of a VPN editing page.
  • FIG. 119 illustrates an example of a Wi-Fi editing page.
  • FIG. 120 illustrates an example of a certificates editing page.
  • FIG. 121 illustrates an example of an application editing page.
  • FIG. 122 illustrates an example of a management page.
  • FIG. 123 illustrates an example of an application repository information page.
  • FIG. 124 illustrates an example of a general default page.
  • FIG. 125 illustrates an example of a default certificates page.
  • FIG. 126 illustrates an example of a default applications page.
  • FIG. 127 illustrates an example of a general default edit page.
  • FIG. 128 illustrates an example of a delivery page.
  • FIG. 129 illustrates an example of an applications edit page.
  • FIG. 130 illustrates an example of a users page.
  • FIG. 131 illustrates an example of an information page.
  • FIG. 132 illustrates an example of a roles page.
  • FIG. 133 illustrates an example of a devices page.
  • FIG. 134 illustrates an example of an interface that can be useful for enabling the management of portable computing devices.
  • FIG. 135 illustrates an example of a devices page.
  • FIG. 136 illustrates an example of a device information page.
  • FIG. 137 illustrates an example of a location page.
  • FIG. 138 illustrates an example of a menu.
  • FIG. 139 illustrates an example of a firmware page.
  • FIG. 140 illustrates an example of a bundles page.
  • FIG. 141 illustrates an example of a bundle information page.
  • FIG. 142 illustrates an example of a profile menu.
  • FIG. 143 illustrates an example of a wireless or Wi-Fi profile page.
  • FIG. 144 illustrates an example of a VPN profile page.
  • FIG. 145 illustrates an example of a hardware profile page.
  • FIG. 146 illustrates an example of a certificate profile page.
  • FIG. 147 illustrates an example of a policy page.
  • FIG. 148 illustrates an example of a proxy policy page.
  • FIG. 149 illustrates an example of a VPN policy page.
  • FIG. 150 illustrates an example of a blacklist policy page.
  • FIG. 151 illustrates an example of a whitelist policy page.
  • FIG. 152 illustrates an example of a report policy page.
  • FIG. 153 illustrates an example of an application page.
  • FIG. 154 illustrates an example of an application edit page.
  • FIG. 155 illustrates an example of a bundle devices page.
  • FIG. 156 illustrates an example of a users page.
  • FIG. 157 illustrates an example of an application interface.
  • FIG. 158 illustrates an example of an application information page.
  • FIG. 159 illustrates an example of a users page.
  • FIG. 160 illustrates an example of a user control page.
  • FIG. 161 illustrates an example of a user identification page for a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 162 illustrates an example of a user authentication page for a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 163 illustrates an example of a home page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 164 illustrates an example of a home page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system in which information is displayed for a selected child user.
  • FIG. 165 illustrates an example of an applications page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 166 illustrates an example of a devices page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 167 illustrates an example of a usage page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 168 illustrates an example of a location page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 169 illustrates an example of a wish list page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 170 illustrates an example of an allowances page for an administrator of a supervisory portal system.
  • FIG. 171 is an example of a supervisory portal method.
  • Applicants expressly disclaim any rights to any third-party trademarks or copyrighted images included in the figures. Such marks and images have been included for illustrative purposes only and constitute the sole property of their respective owners.
  • The features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the detailed description set forth below when taken in conjunction with the drawings, in which like reference characters identify corresponding elements throughout. In the drawings, like reference numbers generally indicate identical, functionally similar, and/or structurally similar elements. The drawing in which an element first appears is indicated by the leftmost digit(s) in the corresponding reference number.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION I. Introduction
  • The following detailed description refers to the accompanying drawings that illustrate exemplary embodiments; however, the scope of the present claims is not limited to these embodiments. Thus, embodiments beyond those shown in the accompanying drawings, such as modified versions of the illustrated embodiments, may nevertheless be encompassed by the present claims.
  • References in the specification to “one embodiment,” “an embodiment,” “an example embodiment,” or the like, indicate that the embodiment described may include a particular feature, structure, or characteristic, but every embodiment may not necessarily include the particular feature, structure, or characteristic. Moreover, such phrases are not necessarily referring to the same embodiment. Furthermore, when a particular feature, structure, or characteristic is described in connection with an embodiment, it is submitted that it is within the knowledge of one skilled in the art to implement such feature, structure, or characteristic in connection with other embodiments whether or not explicitly described.
  • Several definitions that apply throughout this document will now be presented. The term “exemplary” as used herein is defined as an example or an instance of an object, apparatus, system, entity, composition, method, step or process. The term “gateway” is defined as an element or a group of elements that enable or facilitate the transfer of communication signals from one component or network to another. The term “communicatively coupled” is defined as a state in which two or more components are connected such that communication signals are able to be exchanged between the components on a unidirectional or bidirectional manner, either wirelessly, through a wired connection or a combination of both. A “computing device” is defined as a component or a group of components that are configured to process and/or present data to a user or another component or group of components. The term “identification” is defined as information or data that is used to uniquely distinguish a component or a group of components from other components or groups of components. The term “set” is defined as a collection of one or more. A “portable computing device” is defined as a mobile or fixed communication device that presents a user interface to a user and that is capable of being managed.
  • The term “managing entity” is defined as an entity or a group of entities that are assigned to oversee or are otherwise responsible for an operation, act, component or service on behalf of a separate entity or group of entities. A “user interface element” is defined as a component or a group of components that enables a user to interact with a machine. The term “graphical user interface element” is defined as an image or a portion of an image that presents information to a user or allows the user to interact with a device through a display. An “interface” is defined as a component, system or arrangement or groups thereof that enable information/data to be entered into a machine.
  • A “display” is defined as a component or a group of components that present information/data in visual form. A “processor” is defined as a component or a group of components that at least execute instructions. A “transceiver” is defined as a component or a group of components that transmit signals, receive signals or transmit and receive signals, whether wirelessly or through a hard-wired connection. The term “managed services platform” is a collection of one or more components that manage services for one or more portable computing devices by controlling the exchange of messages and data with the portable computing devices. The term “portal” is defined as any combination of components or systems that permit a user or another system or component to input, output, manage, generate, process or manipulate data or to control another component or system and can include hardware, software or any suitable combination of hardware and software. The term “firmware” is defined as a software component or components that lend to the state and user interface of a device, including a complete image of a device or an edit or modification to an existing image on a device. Examples include micro-code, a bootloader, a kernel, a root file system and the dissemination of configuration of details, updates (such as updates to artifacts of a running system), profiles and settings.
  • II. Example System for Providing Telephony and Digital Media Services II.A Example System Elements
  • FIG. 1 depicts elements of a system 100 for providing telephony and digital media services to a location, such as a home or office, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As used herein, the term “digital media services” broadly refers to any service that is based on the transfer and/or presentation of digital content to a user. As shown, in FIG. 1, system 100 includes a telephony and digital media services device (“device”) 110 and associated handsets 120.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, device 110 includes a display 112. Display 112 is used to provide a graphical user interface (GUI) that enables a user to initiate, manage and experience telephony and digital media services provided by system 100. In one embodiment, display 112 comprises a color LCD display with a capacitive touch screen panel. In such an embodiment, a user may interact with the GUI by touching display 112 with a finger.
  • Handsets 120 provide a means for extending the telephony services, and optionally other services, of device 110 to other areas within a given location, such as to other areas within a home or office. As shown in FIG. 1, each handset 120 includes a user interface that comprises both a display 122, such as a color LCD display, and a keypad 124. Each handset 120 may be placed in a corresponding docking station 126. Docking station 126 provides an interface by which a battery internal to a handset may be recharged and also provides a means for supporting a handset when it is not in use.
  • Handsets 120 are configured to wirelessly communicate with device 110 for the purposes of providing telephony services and to optionally provide other services to a user. In one embodiment, such communications are carried out in accordance with the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard published by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). Thus, in one embodiment, device 110 is configured to act as a DECT base station and handsets 120 are configured to act as DECT handsets. Other communication configurations will be discussed elsewhere herein, as the device 110 may be arranged to communicate with other units in addition to or in lieu of the handsets 120.
  • FIG. 2 is a back perspective view of device 110. As shown in FIG. 2, device 110 includes an interface 202 for connecting to a power supply, such as an AC adapter as well as an interface 204 for connecting to a network, such as a local area network or wide area network. In one embodiment, interface 204 comprises an Ethernet interface, such as a 10/100/1000 megabit per second (Mbps) Ethernet interface. Device 110 may also include an internal wireless network adapter, such as an 802.11 wireless network adapter, for providing network connectivity. As will be described in more detail herein, such network connectivity may be utilized by device 110 for providing telephony services and/or certain digital media services to a user.
  • The foregoing provides by way of introduction only a brief description of certain implementations of device 110 and handsets 120 that comprise a portion of telephony and digital media service delivery system 100. Additional details concerning such implementations, as well as various alternative implementations, will be described in detail herein.
  • II.B System Connectivity Options
  • In order to provide telephony services and certain digital media services, device 110 and handsets 120 may be communicatively connected to a telecommunications carrier and/or Internet Protocol (IP) network. Various manners of implementing such connectivity will now be described with reference to FIGS. 3-8.
  • FIG. 3 depicts connectivity aspects of a first example installation 300. In installation 300, device 110 is communicatively connected to a remote telecommunication carrier switch 302 and is configured to receive Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony services therefrom via a VoIP connection. The VoIP connection may be implemented, for example, over a broadband data service such as Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Integrated Services Digital Network (IDSN), data over cable, T1/T3, optical carrier, carrier-class Ethernet, satellite, cellular or any other suitable data service. The various physical transport media used for implementing such data services are well known. In one embodiment, device 110 connects to the appropriate data service via an Ethernet interface or WiFi interface, although these are only examples. The broadband data service may be also used by device 110 to provide other services, such as digital media services, to a user.
  • In one embodiment of installation 300, carrier switch 302 acts as a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) server and device 110 acts as a SIP client for the purposes of conducting VoIP telephony services. Handsets 120 are wirelessly connected to device 110 using the well-known DECT protocol, which is used to extend telephony services to each handset. A limitation of installation 300 is that the installation is limited to one device 110, which is configured to act as a DECT base station.
  • FIG. 4 depicts connectivity aspects of an alternative example installation 400. In installation 400, a carrier switch 402 is configured to perform shared trunking. This arrangement allows multiple devices, including device 110 and additional device(s) 410, to be associated with the same telephone number for the purposes of receiving incoming telephony calls. As shown in FIG. 4, a separate VoIP connection is maintained between carrier switch 402 and each device. Additionally, each device is associated with one or more handsets (e.g., device 110 is associated with handsets 120, each of device(s) 410 is associated with corresponding handset(s) 420) and communicates wirelessly therewith using DECT. A limitation of installation 400 is that the handsets associated with one device cannot communicate with handsets associated with another device through standard DECT intercom mechanisms because each handset is configured to communicate with a different DECT base station.
  • FIG. 5 depicts an alternate installation 500 that supports multiple devices 506 and handsets 508 via an adapter unit 504 in an environment in which a telecommunication carrier provides VoIP service. In installation 500, devices 506 do not act as DECT base stations but instead are configured to operate as DECT clients in a like manner to handsets 508. Adapter unit 504 is installed on-site along with devices 506 and handsets 508 and is connected to a remote carrier switch 502. Adapter unit 504 includes an Analog Terminal Adapter (ATA) and DECT base station 510. As will be appreciated by persons skilled in the relevant art(s), an ATA comprises an adapter that allows a Plain Old Telephony System (POTS) telephone to interface to a VoIP provider.
  • In installation 500, devices 506 and handsets 508 perform telephony-related operations by communicating via the DECT protocol with the DECT base station within ATA and DECT base station 510. Installation 500 also advantageously supports the operation of legacy POTS equipment (such as POTS telephones, fax machines and security systems) by allowing such equipment to be connected via a POTS interface to the ATA within ATA and DECT base station 510.
  • Adapter unit 504 further includes a Wi-Fi access point (i.e., an IEEE 802.11 access point) and/or Ethernet switch 512. This element provides access to the Internet via an IP link. As shown in FIG. 5, the IP link may be supported by the same data service and physical transport media used to support the VoIP connection with carrier switch 502. In an embodiment, each of devices 506 is communicatively connected to Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 512 for the purpose of accessing digital media that may be used to provide services to a user. In an alternate implementation, Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 512 is not integrated within adapter unit 504 but instead comprises one or more separate stand-alone devices.
  • FIG. 6 depicts an installation 600 that supports multiple devices 606 and handsets 608 via an adapter unit 604 in an environment in which a telecommunications carrier provides POTS service. In installation 600, devices 606 do not act as DECT base stations but instead are configured to operate as DECT clients in a like manner to handsets 608. Adapter unit 604, which includes a DECT base station 610 and a Wi-Fi access point and/or Ethernet switch 612, is installed on-site along with devices 606 and handsets 608. DECT base station 610 is connected to a carrier switch 602 via a POTS interface.
  • Devices 606 and handsets 608 perform telephony-related operations by communicating via the DECT protocol with DECT base station 610. Legacy POTS equipment may be connected to a POTS interface to receive POTS service directly from carrier switch 602.
  • Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 612 provides access to the Internet via an IP link that is not associated with carrier switch 602. Such IP link may be provided using any known data service/physical transport media combination. In an embodiment, each of devices 606 is communicatively connected to Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 612 for the purpose of accessing digital media that may be used to provide services to a user. In an alternate implementation, Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 612 is not integrated within adapter unit 604 but instead comprises one or more separate stand-alone devices.
  • FIG. 7 depicts an alternate installation 700 that supports multiple devices 706 and handsets 708 via an adapter unit 704 in an environment in which a telecommunications carrier provides VoIP service. In installation 700, VoIP services are provided directly to devices 706 and handsets 708. To achieve this, adapter unit 704 is installed on-site along with devices 706 and handsets 708. Adapter unit 704 includes an ATA and a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) proxy 710 that is communicatively connected to a carrier switch 702 via a VoIP connection. Adapter unit 704 also includes a Wi-Fi access point and/or Ethernet switch 712 that is communicatively connected to carrier switch 702 via an IP link and to ATA and SIP proxy 710.
  • The SIP proxy within ATA and SIP proxy 710 allows devices 706 to register with it and maintains a local numbering plan. Thus, SIP proxy essentially operates as a home private branch exchange (PBX). The SIP proxy in turn registers with carrier switch 702. Communication between each device 706 and the SIP proxy is via Wi-FI access point/Ethernet switch 712. Preferably, each handset 708 is also capable of communicating with the SIP proxy via Wi-Fi or some other protocol capable of supporting SIP communication.
  • In installation 700, the ATA within ATA and SIP proxy 710 can provide a POTS interface for providing telephony service to legacy POTS equipment. Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 712 can be used by devices 706 to access digital media for providing services to a user. Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 712 may either be integrated within adapter unit 704 or comprise one or more separate stand-alone devices.
  • FIG. 8 depicts an alternate installation 800 that supports multiple devices 806 and handsets 808 via an adapter unit 804 in an environment in which a telecommunications carrier provides POTS service. In installation 800, VoIP services are provided directly to devices 806 and handsets 808. To achieve this, adapter unit 804 is installed on-site along with devices 806 and handsets 808. Adapter unit 804 includes a Foreign Exchange Office (FXO) gateway (SIP server) 810 that is connected via a POTS interface to a carrier switch 802. Adapter unit 804 further includes a Wi-Fi access point and/or Ethernet switch 812 that provides access to the Internet via an IP link and that is connected to FXO gateway 810.
  • FXO gateway 810 allows devices 806 to register with it and maintains a local numbering plan. Thus, FXO gateway 810 essentially operates as a home PBX. Communication between each device 806 and FXO gateway 810 is via Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 812. Preferably, each handset 808 is also capable of communicating with FXO gateway 810 via Wi-Fi or some other protocol capable of supporting SIP communication. FXO gateway in turn communicates with carrier switch 802 via one or more POTS lines.
  • In installation 800, legacy POTS equipment may be connected to a POTS interface to receive POTS service directly from carrier switch 802. Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 812 can be used by devices 806 to access digital media or other information for providing services to a user. Wi-Fi access point/Ethernet switch 812 may either be integrated within adapter unit 804 or comprise one or more separate stand-alone devices.
  • Depending upon the implementation, the adapter unit described above in reference to FIG. 7 or FIG. 8 may be configured to function as a “mini-PBX,” offering a variety of features to a user acting as administrator. For example, the adapter unit may be configured to present a Web page, Adobe® Flash® movie, or some other interface that provides programmatic control to a user of a computer that is connected to the adapter unit. The computer may be connected to the adapter unit via a wired interface, such as an Ethernet or Universal Serial Bus interface, or via a wireless interface, such as an 802.11 interface. Such a configuration is depicted in FIG. 9, which shows a computer 902 connected to an adapter unit 904 having PBX functionality (which may represent, for example, adapter unit 706 of FIG. 7 or adapter unit 806 of FIG. 8) for the purpose of providing a user with programmatic control over certain features implemented by adapter unit 904.
  • The adapter unit may be configured to discover new devices or handsets in a location such as a home. The discovery protocol may be implemented, for example, using an IP protocol or via DECT.
  • The adapter unit may also be configured to present a list of newly-discovered devices and handsets to the user. The adapter unit may permit a user to assign names, locations and/or extension numbers to the devices/handsets. In an implementation in which the devices and handsets are VoIP devices, the adapter unit may allow a user to define a numbering plan (e.g., 4-digit extensions) and assign numbers to the devices. If DECT is used for communication with the devices, then single-digit identifiers may instead be used due to limitations associated with that protocol. The adapter unit may also be configured to allow a user to assign an owner to a device, wherein the association of an owner with a device may cause other items of information to be associated with the device. Thus, for example, if a particular owner is associated with a device, then the device may be configured with a contact list associated with the particular owner.
  • The adapter unit may also be configured to allow a user to manage permissions for each connected device or handset. Such permissions may include, for example: time-of-day restrictions on calls (e.g., no calls after 10:00 PM except for 911 calls); dialing restrictions (e.g., no calls to 1-900 numbers or international numbers); call restrictions (e.g., no outgoing calls or no incoming calls); and restrictions on the ability to modify device settings or add/modify/delete contacts. This list of examples is by no means exhaustive and other types of permissions may be managed as will be appreciated by persons skilled in the relevant art(s).
  • The adapter unit may also be configured to present a user with status information associated with each device/handset. Such status information may include, and is not limited to, whether a device is in use, whether a device is still functioning (i.e., whether the device is “alive” or “dead”), and other properties associated with a device.
  • II.C Example Device Hardware Architecture
  • FIG. 10 is a block diagram of an example hardware architecture 1000 of device 110. This hardware architecture is described by way of example only and is not intended to limit the present invention. Persons skilled in the relevant art(s) will readily appreciate that other hardware architectures may be used to implement device 110 that are within the scope and spirit of the present invention.
  • As shown in FIG. 10, hardware architecture 1000 includes an embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 that is connected to a plurality of peripheral devices or chips. The embedded processor is preferably one that has been designed for use in portable and low-power applications, such as Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs). The system controller hub comprises a chipset that handles peripheral input/output (I/O) and performs memory and power management functions for the embedded processor. In one embodiment, the embedded processor comprises a 1.1 Gigahertz (GHz) Intel® Atom™ processor designed and sold by Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif., and the system controller hub comprises the Intel® System Controller Hub US15W Chipset, also designed and sold by Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif., although this is only one example; other processors can be implemented into the architecture 1000.
  • As shown in FIG. 10, hardware architecture 1000 includes volatile system memory in the form of SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory) 1004. In one embodiment, the embedded processor supports an integral 64-bit-wide 4-Gigabits (Gbits) of DDR2 (Double Data Rate 2) SDRAM clocked at 533 Megahertz (MHz). In such an embodiment, SDRAM 1004 may comprise four 512 Megabit (Mbit) DDR2 SDRAM 667 MHz integrated circuits (ICs) directly mounted onto a motherboard along with embedded processor and system controller hub 1002. The capacity may be increased from 512 Megabytes (MB) to 1 gigabyte (GB) by populating the board with four 1 Gbit ICs instead. However, these are only examples, and other DDR2 SDRAM configurations, other types of SDRAM, or other types of volatile memory may be used.
  • Hardware architecture 1000 also includes non-volatile memory in the form of a managed NAND flash memory 1006, although other forms of non-volatile memory may be used. In one embodiment, managed NAND flash memory 1006 comprises a 512 MB or 1 GB MMC NAND flash memory that is mounted on a motherboard along with embedded processor and system controller hub 1002. The use of an MMC NAND flash memory avoids the inclusion in device 110 of spinning media storage devices, such as hard disk drives or optical drives. The use of an MMC NAND flash memory also means that it is not necessary to employ wear-leveling and error correction when using a file system such as YAFFS2 and that an EXT3 file system can be used instead.
  • Hardware architecture 1000 further includes a chip 1008 for storing the system BIOS. In one embodiment, chip 1008 comprises an 8 Mbit NOR flash memory that is connected to the system controller hub via a Low Pin Count (LPC) bus, although this is only an example.
  • Power management functions are performed in hardware architecture 1000 by a power management chip 1010. In one embodiment, power management chip 1010 comprises an Intel® Mobile Voltage Positioning chip designed and sold by Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif. that is connected to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 via an Inter-Integrated Circuit (I2C) bus. Power management chip 1010 is used to sequence power to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002. As a secondary function, a subset of a plurality of general purpose input/output (GPIO) connections of power management chip 1010 are used to connect to a Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) interface of a DECT processor 1012 (to be described below). This enables updating of the firmware of DECT processor 1012 in a manner that minimizes the likelihood that the firmware will be left in an unrecoverable state.
  • Hardware architecture 1000 also includes a DECT processor 1012. In one embodiment, DECT processor 1012 comprises a DECT base station processor that supports up to five handsets. In an implementation in which DECT processor 1012 has no explicit hardware reset input, a GPIO connection from the embedded processor may be used to reset the device by turning its power supply off and then on again.
  • A Universal Serial Bus (USB) is used to transfer audio (e.g., up to four channels of audio) in each direction between DECT processor 1012 and the system controller hub. DECT processor 1012 may be configured to act as the bus master and drive the USB bus. In an implementation in which the maximum speed of the USB bus is 4.096 MHz, DECT processor 1012 may drive the USB bus with a bit clock rate of 2.048 MHz.
  • In one embodiment, universal asynchronous receivers/transmitters (UARTS) on the system controller hub and DECT processor 1012 implement a 115200 baud channel that is used to transfer control and data packets between the two. Packets on this link are encapsulated using Serial Line IP (SLIP) (as documented in Request for Comments: 1055, published by the Internet Engineering Task Force, June 1988). Layered on top of this is a cordless telephone application programming interface (CTAPI) protocol. The CTAPI protocol comprises request, response and event message types. These message types all have a common header and, optionally, some data. Responses and events are asynchronous; each request is tagged with a sufficiently unique identifier that is copied into a header of the corresponding response. The identifier is used to match responses with their originating requests.
  • To perform an API operation (e.g., obtain firmware version number, go off-hook, update handset name, etc.), a main application running on the embedded processor sends a request message to DECT processor 1012 or to one of handsets 120 via DECT processor 1012. The message recipient performs the requested actions and returns a response. Additionally, a spontaneous action such as a handset going off-hook or propagating a name or address book update can generate an event message to be sent from DECT processor 1012 to the embedded processor.
  • In one embodiment, DECT processor 1012 is configured to execute acoustic echo cancellation (AEC) software. In accordance with such an embodiment, a microphone and speakers 1024 internal to device 110 are connected directly to DECT processor 1012 whenever speakerphone functionality of device 110 is in use. During high-fidelity audio playback, however, speaker and microphone 1024 are connected to an audio codec 1022.
  • As noted above, hardware architecture 1000 includes an internal microphone and speakers 1024. The microphone may comprise a mono microphone and the speakers may comprise stereo speakers with an associated stereo amplifier. The speakers may be driven by an audio codec 1022. In one embodiment, audio codec 1022 comprises a 2-channel audio codec such as the Intel® High Definition Audio (HDA) system designed and sold by Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif. In such an embodiment, audio codec 1022 connects to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 via an HDA bus.
  • A stereo jack may be provided on device 110 for connecting headphones or an external amplifier and speakers to audio codec 1022. In one embodiment, when a plug is inserted into this jack, the internal speakers are automatically disconnected and their amplifier is powered down. The state of this jack may be determined by software.
  • As described above in reference to FIG. 1, device 110 includes an LCD display 1016. As shown in FIG. 10, LCD display 1016 connects to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 via a low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) connection over twisted pair copper cables. In one example implementation, LCD display 1016 comprises a thin film transistor (TFT) LCD display that has a 7 inch (17.8 centimeter (cm)) wide screen and supports 24-bit color. LCD display 1016 may provide an active viewing area of 152.4 millimeters (mm)×91.4 mm, support a pixel format of 800×480 pixels, and have a pixel pitch of 0.1805 (H)×01.905 (V). LCD display 1016 may further provide a 15:9 aspect ratio, a display mode that is normally white, LED backlighting, and a brightness of approximately 350 candelas per square meter (cd/m2).
  • In an embodiment, LCD display 1016 may be used in both a transmissive mode and a reflective mode. In accordance with such an embodiment, a color display may be used when in the transmissive mode and a very low-power monochrome display may be used when in the reflective mode. In further accordance with such an embodiment, the LCD backlight for the transmissive mode may be provided by white light emitting diodes (LEDs). In particular, multiple LEDs may be connected in series into three chains in order to equalize their brightness. These chains may then be powered in parallel. LEDs from all three chains may be interleaved to minimize the impact of a single chain burning out. In one implementation, up to 60 milliamps (mA) of current at 25.6 Volts (V) is provided to drive the backlight. Two signals may be used to control the backlight operation. The first signal enables/disables the backlight and the second signal is pulse-width modulated to generate a voltage that varies the brightness of the backlight.
  • As also described above in reference to FIG. 1, a touch panel is integrated with LCD display 1016 to provide a user interface to device 110. The touch panel includes an integrated programmable system on chip (PSOC) controller 1014 that is connected to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 via a USB bus.
  • In one embodiment, the touch panel comprises a 7 inch capacitive touch panel having a glass surface. As will be appreciated by persons skilled in the relevant art(s), capacitive touch panels are highly responsive to the touch of a finger, but do not respond to other types of touches. Consequently, the use of such a panel reduces the chance of false touches from jewelry, clothing or other contaminants. Furthermore, it is expected that such a glass capacitive touch panel will be more durable and last longer than other types of touch panels such as resistive touch panels. A glass capacitive touch panel will also have less of an impact on screen brightness as compared to resistive touch panels.
  • Hardware architecture 1000 further includes an internal Wi-Fi controller 1018 for supporting wireless networking. Wi-Fi controller 1018 is connected to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 via a USB interface. In one embodiment, Wi-Fi controller 1018 comprises an 802.11b/g controller. In an alternative embodiment Wi-Fi controller 1018 comprises an 802.11b/g/n controller. Wi-Fi controller 1018 may include an integrated internal antenna.
  • Hardware architecture 1000 also includes an Ethernet chip 1020 that supports wired networking in accordance with the Ethernet protocol. In one embodiment, Ethernet chip 1020 comprises a 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet chip. As shown in FIG. 10, Ethernet chip 1020 is connected to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 via a PCI Express (PCIe) bus. An external RJ45 jack is provided on device 110 to facilitate connection to Ethernet chip 1020.
  • Hardware architecture 1000 may further include an external USB 2.0 port (not shown in FIG. 10) that connects to embedded processor and system controller hub 1002 via a USB bus. Also not shown in FIG. 10 is a power supply that is connected to hardware architecture 1000 and supplies power thereto. In one embodiment the power supply comprises a 5V, 4 A AC power supply.
  • FIG. 11 depicts an alternate hardware architecture 1100 for a device 110 that has been designed specifically for office environments. Hardware architecture 1100 may be thought of as a modified version of hardware architecture 1000 of FIG. 10, or vice versa. As shown in FIG. 11, hardware architecture 1100 does not include a DECT processor for wireless handset support or a Wi-FI controller for 802.11 wireless networking. These features may be deemed less useful or not useful in an office environment.
  • Hardware architecture 1100, however, does include some additional elements as compared to hardware architecture 1000. These include a Bluetooth® adapter 1126, an Ethernet switch 1130, and a Power over Ethernet (PoE) connector.
  • Bluetooth® adapter 1126 allows an end user to invoke the telephony features of device 110 using a Bluetooth® cordless headset or like device. Bluetooth® adapter 1126 may be connected to embedded processor and system controller hub 1102 via a USB bus. In a further embodiment, hardware architecture 1100 may also include an integrated charger that allows an end user to charge the battery or batteries of a Bluetooth® cordless headset or like device by plugging the device into a USB port, mini-USB port, or other suitable port of device 110.
  • Ethernet switch 1130 comprises a multi-port (e.g., two-port) Ethernet switch with an additional port host interface via PCIe. Ethernet switch 1130 provides a convenient Internet pass-through for other network-capable devices (e.g., personal computers, laptops, printers, storage devices, or the like) that might be used in an office environment. Because it is a switch, Ethernet switch 1130 allows multiple Ethernet devices to be connected to a single Ethernet connection in a non-interfering manner.
  • PoE connector 1130 comprises a connector that allows power to be delivered to device 110 via an Ethernet connection. In one embodiment, PoE connector 1130 comprises an eight-pin RJ-45 connector that uses two pairs for power (two for + and two for −) as well as the normal two pairs for data (1-2, 3-6). A switching regulator with good isolation (transformer and opto-coupler).
  • Although not shown in FIG. 11, hardware architecture 1100 may further include a fingerprint scanner that allows device 110 to be placed in a locked/unlocked state by only authorized user(s). Such protection may be deemed desirable in an office environment. In a further embodiment, the configuration of device 110 (e.g., owner, phone number, contacts, etc.) may be determined based on the fingerprint used to unlock device 110.
  • The other components shown in FIG. 11 (embedded processor and system controller hub 1102, SDRAM 1104, managed NAND 1106, BIOS 1108, power management 1110, touch panel controller 1114, LCD display 1116, audio codec 1122 and microphone/speakers 1124) are generally similar to like-named elements of hardware architecture 1000, although certain implementation details may vary. In addition, both of the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10 and 11 can include components for wide area networks (WAN), wired or wireless. These components will not be described herein for the sake of brevity.
  • II.D Example Device Software Architecture
  • FIG. 12 is a block diagram of an example software architecture 1200 of device 110. As shown in FIG. 11, software architecture 1200 includes a plurality of software components running atop an embedded processor and peripherals 1202. As noted above, the embedded processor preferably comprises a processor designed for use in portable and low-power applications, such as Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), and in one embodiment comprises an Intel® Atom™ processor designed and sold by Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif.
  • The embedded processor executes an operating system 1204 that provides a context for the execution of system and application processes that will be described in more detail herein. In one embodiment, operating system 1204 comprises a Linux-based operating system, such as an Ubuntu® MID Edition operating system based on Linux kernel release 2.6.24, although this is only an example. In one embodiment, operating system 1204 is optimized through custom configuration for a small size and rapid startup.
  • Certain system and/or application processes that run in the context of operating system 1204 are designed to interact with hardware peripherals that are communicatively connected to the embedded microprocessor. To facilitate such interaction, software architecture 1200 includes a plurality of device drivers 1210, each of which provides an abstraction layer between a hardware peripheral and the system and/or application processes that use it.
  • As shown in FIG. 12, device drivers 1210 include a device driver 1212 for facilitating interaction with a display, a device driver 1214 for facilitating interaction with a touch panel associated with the display, a device driver 1216 for facilitating interaction with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) device or port, a device driver 1218 for facilitating interaction with a power management device, and a device driver 1220 for facilitating interaction with a managed NAND flash memory. These are only examples, and other device drivers 1210 may be used depending on the hardware peripherals present in telephony and digital media services device 110.
  • As further shown in FIG. 12, software architecture 1200 also includes a plurality of shared system libraries 1220 that contain code and data that may be used to provide services to independent programs running in the context of operating system 1204. System libraries 1220 include codecs 1222, cryptographic functions 1224, home device management services 1226, and other system libraries 1228.
  • Codecs 1222 are utilized for performing compression and decompression of multimedia content such as images, audio content and video content. Codecs 1222 may include, for example, codecs for compressing/decompressing images in accordance with one or more of the JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF and BMP image compression formats, codecs for compressing/decompressing audio content in accordance with one or more of the MP3, WAV, WMA and RealAudio audio compression formats, and codecs for compressing/decompressing video content in accordance with one or more of the MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2, MPEG-4 part 10 (H.264), WMV 9, DivX, VC1 and FLV compression formats. However, these are only examples and other types of codecs may be used.
  • Cryptographic functions 1224 comprises a library of cryptographic algorithms and tools that may be utilized for encrypting and decrypting data. End-user device management services 1226 include functions necessary to implement protocols for remotely managing end-user devices, such as protocols in accordance with the DSL Forum Technical Specifications TR-069/TR-111.
  • As shown in FIG. 12, software architecture 1200 also includes an operating system (OS) abstraction layer 1206 that runs atop operating system 1204. OS abstraction layer 1206 serves to insulate any component running above it (e.g. application player 1208 and applications 1240) from any idiosyncrasies of operating system 1204. This serves to localize the efforts of porting applications to a single component.
  • Software architecture 1200 further includes a plurality of class modules 1230. Class modules 1230 comprise libraries, such as C and/or C++ libraries, that may be used by certain applications to perform certain functions. In one embodiment, class modules 1230 define function calls that can be made available to one or more applications running in the context of application player 1208. For example, class modules 1230 may define ActionScript function calls that can be made available to one or more Shockwave Flash (SWF) applications that are executed by application player 1208. As will be described in more detail herein, class modules 1230 may be downloaded to telephony and digital media services device 110 along with applications that they support.
  • Class modules 1230 include an application (app) manager/loader 1232 which provides functionality for an application (app) manager application 1244, a media player 1234 that provides functionality for applications that play back digital media, and a VoIP module 1236 that provides functionality for a VoIP telephony application 1246. VoIP module 1236 may provide, for example, access to SIP functionality, audio engine functionality and DECT functionality used in performing VoIP telephony operations. Class modules 1230 also include additional class modules 1238 as well. Additional class modules 1238 may include, for example, APIs for sending requests to Web services made available over a Wide Area Network (WAN) such as the Internet and receiving content responsive to the requests.
  • Software architecture further includes an application player 1208. In one embodiment, application player 1208 comprises an Adobe® Flash® Player or an equivalent Flash® player, suitable for executing Shockwave Flash (.swf) files to display vector-based animations, to stream audio and video content, and to allow various forms of user interaction. Application player 1208 may comprise, for example, a Flash®-compatible player that has been optimized for embedded environments. In accordance with such an embodiment, application player 1208 provides support for an embedded scripting language called ActionScript, which is based on ECMAScript. Application player 1208 may provide native support for a plurality of ActionScript function calls. Furthermore, as noted above, class modules 1230 may define additional ActionScript function calls that can be used by one or more applications that are executed by application player 1208.
  • Software architecture 1200 further includes a plurality of applications 1240, each of which may be executed by application player 1208. Applications 1240 may comprise Flash® applications. Applications 1240 may be selectively executed by users to invoke telephony or digital media services provided by device 110. Where an application provides digital media services, such services may be provided using functionality and/or data stored locally with respect to device 110 as well as using remotely-located functionality and/or data, such as functionality and/or data obtained over a WAN such as the Internet. For example, provision of a digital media service may entail invoking a Web service via the Internet.
  • As shown in FIG. 12, these applications may include a status/monitoring application 1242, an application (app) manager 1244, a VoIP telephone 1246, a local or network calendar 1248, a YouTube™ application 1250, a traffic monitoring application 1252, a news application 1254, an alarm clock 1256, and other applications 1258.
  • Other applications 1258 may include for example, a calculator, a local or network address book, a media player, an Internet radio/video application, a weather application, a comics application, a to-do list application, a world clocks application, a countdown timer (e.g., days until Christmas), a games application (e.g., solitaire, Soduko, Tetris, etc.), a Web browser, an e-mail application, a city guide application, a wireless cameras application, a home monitoring application, a home control application (e.g. lights, audio/video (A/V) system, HVAC, UPnP), a Flickr™ photos application, a Google™ talk application, a map application, a directory services/yellow pages application, an EPG (TV Guide) application, a word of the day application, a joke of the day application, a quotations application, a dictionary application, a movie times application, a delivery services application, an RSS reader, a stock ticker, or a social networking application, such as a Ning™ or Facebook™ application. Various features associated with certain ones of these applications will be described in more detail herein.
  • The use of Flash® applications to implement the various GUI screens of device 110 provides distinct advantages over using more traditional programming languages such as C or C++. For example, development of GUI screens using Flash® is simpler and easier as compared to programming bit maps in C code. Furthermore, because Flash® files are small, a complex GUI screen may be rendered smoothly and at very high speeds. Also the use of Flash® applications provides a distinct separation between the implementation of a GUI screen and the underlying functionality, such that the GUI screen may be constructed, revised or upgraded without affecting underlying programs.
  • II.D.1 Systems Software
  • FIG. 13 is a block diagram that depicts systems software elements 1300 of the software architecture of device 110 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 13, systems software elements 1300 include a BIOS 1302, a boot loader 1304, an operating system 1306, a file system 1308, and system files 1310. Each of these elements will now be described.
  • BIOS 1302 defines a software interface between the operating system and the platform firmware and hardware of device 110. BIOS 1302 is stored in non-volatile memory that is connected to a system controller hub within device 110 and is executed automatically at system startup. In one embodiment, BIOS 1302 is stored in an 8 Mbit NOR flash memory that is connected to the system controller hub via an LPC bus.
  • In one implementation, BIOS 1302 comprises a software interface defined in accordance with the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) specification. As will be appreciated by persons skilled in the relevant art(s), EFI comprises an improved replacement of the legacy BIOS used by all IBM PC-compatible computers. EFI has a modular structure that provides a set of modular interfaces that replace the traditional BIOS interfaces. EFI dramatically shortens boot times and improves the reliability of the boot architecture while providing full legacy support.
  • In an embodiment, BIOS 1302 may also be thought of as encompassing a video BIOS. The video BIOS provides a set of video-related functions that are used by programs to access video hardware within device 110. The video BIOS may comprise for example an Intel® Embedded Graphics Driver (IEGD) video BIOS, developed and sold by Intel Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif., although this is only an example.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, BIOS 1302 outputs a splash screen to the display of device 110 during system startup. In a further embodiment, system hardware allows a video feed to be overlaid upon the splash screen prior to initialization of a graphic sub-system. In such an embodiment, the video feed functionality may be used to overlay a visual progress indicator upon the splash screen during system startup. The visual progress indicator may comprise a status bar, text, or some other visual indicator of the progress of the loading of BIOS 1302 and booting of the operating system. This visual progress indicator can advantageously be used both by developers during manufacturing and end-users after deployment to monitor device performance. Such a visual progress indicator can be displayed even in an instance where initialization of the graphic sub-system has failed.
  • Boot loader 1304 comprises a program that is launched by BIOS 1302 during system startup and that is configured to load operating system 1306 of device 110. As noted above, in one embodiment, operating system 1306 comprises a Linux-based operating system, such as an Ubuntu® MID Edition operating system based on Linux kernel release 2.6.24, that has been optimized through custom configuration for a small size and rapid startup.
  • Boot loader 1304 and the files that comprise operating system 1306 are each stored within a file system 1308 implemented using non-volatile storage. In one embodiment, the non-volatile storage comprises a managed NAND flash memory that is connected to a system controller hub within device 110.
  • In one implementation, file system 1308 comprises two distinct file systems: a Virtual File Allocation Table (VFAT) file system that is used to store boot loader 1304 and an EXT3 file system that is used to store operating system files and application files. A VFAT file system may be required for storing boot loader 1304 in an implementation in which BIOS 1302 comprises an EFI BIOS that can only read files from a VFAT file system.
  • In order to ensure system operability, in a further embodiment, a fail-safe version of the operating system kernel is stored in the VFAT file system while another updateable version of the operating system kernel is stored in the EXT3 file system. The fail-safe version of the operating system and boot loader 1304 are not updateable (or are only updateable in a highly restricted manner), thereby providing a means for starting up the system even when the updateable version of the operating system kernel is corrupted (e.g., due to a failed update). In such a case, the fail-safe version of the operating system can be booted from the VFAT file system and can load its file system from VFAT into volatile memory (e.g., SDRAM) and run out of the volatile memory. This allows for files in the EXT3 file system to be repaired without fear of overwriting the kernel. This approach also allows for diagnostic testing and the establishment of a network connection to a known server to download the latest stable version of the system firmware (operating system and applications).
  • In one embodiment, boot loader 1304 selects the fail-safe kernel instead of the updateable kernel image based on a flag stored in non-volatile storage, which as noted above may comprise a managed NAND flash memory. This flag may be set to select the fail-safe kernel by a process monitor daemon when the process monitor daemon determines that the operating system has been in an unresponsive state for a period of time that equals or exceeds a predetermined period of time. The flag may also be set to select the fail-safe kernel when the system first boots and may be reset to select the updateable kernel upon successful startup of the operating system and process monitor daemon. If the system fails to boot, then a subsequent attempt to boot will force the fail-safe kernel image to boot.
  • In an embodiment in which the non-volatile memory comprises a managed NAND flash memory, certain features may be implemented to ensure that the EXT3 file system is written to as seldom as possible in order to extend the useful life of the managed NAND flash memory. These features may include, for example, configuring applications that access the EXT3 file system to ensure that such applications do not frequently write files to the file system and configuring the length of a journaling interval of the EXT3 file system so that the lifetime of the managed NAND flash memory will extend beyond the expected lifetime of device 110. Another feature that may be used to extend the life of the managed NAND flash memory comprises turning off a feature of the EXT3 file system that records the last access time of a file. These features are provided by way of example, and other features not described here may be used to extend the life of the managed NAND flash memory.
  • System files 1308 comprise shared libraries that contain code and data that may be used to provide services to independent programs running in the context of operating system 1306. In an embodiment, the number of system files 1308 maintained on the system is kept to a minimum to conserve system resources. Such files may be stored in an EXT3 file system as described above and updated or added to as needed to support system and application programs.
  • In one implementation, BIOS 1302, boot loader 1304, operating system 1306 and system files 1308 are all updateable. As noted above, restrictions may be placed on updating boot loader 1304 and a fail-safe version of operating system 1306 that reside in a VFAT filing system in order to ensure that those software modules do not become corrupted. Safe updates of BIOS 1302 may be achieved by maintaining separate version of BIOS 1302 within the same non-volatile memory, such that a first version of BIOS 1302 can be updated while a second version of BIOS 1302 may be maintained in case the update of the first version of BIOS 1302 fails, thereby resulting in the corruption of the first version.
  • II.D.2 Application Framework
  • As will be described in more detail in this section, the software architecture of device 110 provides a framework that supports a variety of applications, including applications that delivery telephony and digital media services to an end user. To ensure that device 110 may be deployed by a variety of different service providers (e.g., telecommunications companies, multi system operators, Internet Service Providers, or the like), the application framework supports multiple GUI themes and languages, proprietary protocols, and incremental deployment of applications. The application framework also provides an infrastructure within which a variety of different applications can operate and co-exist without any preconceived notion of what those applications may be. For example, although device 110 may support VoIP telephony, device 110 may nevertheless be deployed without a VoIP telephony application.
  • The application framework also provides a modular approach for deploying applications such that a common set of application can be deployed for different service providers. Application deployment models supported by the framework include subscription models in which a user of device 110 determines at runtime which applications are to be installed as well as a model in which a static set of applications are deployed that are updated monolithically. Because multiple applications may be deployed, each of which may generate asynchronous events, the application framework also provides a method for synchronizing applications.
  • FIG. 14 is a block diagram of an application framework 1400 that may be implemented by device 110. As shown in FIG. 14, application framework 1400 includes an application player 1402 that is analogous to application player 1208 described above in reference to FIG. 12. Application player 1402 provides native support for a plurality of ActionScript function calls. In the absence of desired functionality, application player 1402 may be enhanced by adding custom software libraries, such as custom C/C++ libraries, that define additional ActionScript function calls. Such libraries are denoted class modules 1406 in FIG. 14 and are analogous to class modules 1230 described above in reference to FIG. 12. A class module 1406 may be introduced in conjunction with a new application. Also, several class modules 1406 may be provided as part of an initial deployment to assist applications with common functionality such as usage monitoring and language translations.
  • As shown in FIG. 14, class modules 1406 may include an application manager class module 1410, an internationalization class module 1412, a status/monitoring class module 1414, a VoIP class module 1416, a YouTube™ class module 1418, as well as other class modules. YouTube™ class module 1418 is representative of a class module that provides an API for allowing an application to request and obtain digital content from a Web service such as YouTube™.
  • Application framework 1400 further includes an application manager 1404, which in an embodiment comprises one or more movie applications. Application manager 1404 may also be thought of as encompassing corresponding class module 1410, which serves to extend the functionality thereof. Application manager 1404 comprises the launching point for all applications on the system.
  • In particular, application manager 1404 is configured to interrogate corresponding class module 1410 for a list of available applications, which in one embodiment is acquired from a local XML file. In one embodiment, the list contains sets of Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) that identify an icon movie and application movie corresponding to each application. Application manager 1404 can then display each application icon accordingly via the GUI provided by touch-panel display of device 110. When a user selects an icon, application manager 1404 invokes the corresponding application URL. Because the icons are themselves small applications, they can advantageously be configured to include animations, or to include intelligence for presenting dynamically-changing data such as current weather conditions, stock prices, or time of day.
  • The following provides an example of an XML configuration file that lists two applications:
  • <apps>
     <app name= “Phone” version=“1.0” GUID=“00df-3434-cccc-3422”>
     <icon url= “file://apps/phone/icon_phone.swf”/>
     <app url=file://apps/phone/app_phone.swf/>
     </app>
     <app name=“YouTube” version=“1.0” GUID=“00df-3664-aacc-3555”>
     <icon url=“file://apps/youtube/icon_youtube.swf”>
     <app url=file://apps/youtube/app_youtube.swf/>
     </app>
    </apps>
  • As mentioned above, depending on the deployment model, new and updated applications may be distributed as part of a monolithic update, or incrementally on a device or subscriber basis. In one example of an incremental approach, application manager 1404 is configured to query a remotely-located application server for the latest list of available applications. A user may also optionally be allowed to select certain applications. In response, the application server returns a list that identifies an installation package for each of the various applications. The identification for each installation package may comprise a URL. The following provides an example of such a list:
  • <apps>
     <app name=“App1” install=“http://www.customer.com/app1.tar”/>
     <app name=“App2” install=“http://www.customer.com/app2.tar”/>
    </apps>
  • In the foregoing example, each installation package comprises an archive file. Application manager 1404 may be configured to retrieve and install the applications by executing a shell script (which may be denoted, for example, “install.sh”) that is contained in each installation package archive. Once the installation process is complete, application manager 1404 updates the local XML file that contains the list of all installed applications. Similarly, if a user wishes to remove an application, application manager 1404 can be invoked to execute an uninstall shell script that was provided as part of the installation package.
  • FIG. 15 depicts an example installation package 1500 that may be provided from a remote application server to device 110 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 15, application package 1500 includes an install script 1502 that may be executed to install an application, an uninstall script 1504 that may be executed to uninstall an application, an icon movie 1506 that may be executed to display an icon representative of the application within a GUI, an application movie 1508 that may be executed to deliver the functionality of the application to a user, and a language file 1510 that may be used to provide representations of text elements to be displayed by the application in one or more languages.
  • A sample directory structure of an application installed on device 110 is as follows:
  • /tango
    /apps
     /guid
     /install.sh
     /uninstall.sh
     /icon_app1.swf
     /app_app1.swf
     /language.xml

    In the foregoing, “install.sh” is the name of an install shell script, “uninstall.sh” is the name of an uninstall shell script, “icon_appl.swf” is the name of the icon movie used to represent the application on the GUI, “app_appl.swf” is the name of the application movie, and “language.XML” is an XML file that includes representations of text elements to be displayed by the application in one or more languages.
  • FIG. 16 depicts an embodiment of the invention in which application manager 1404 comprises two Flash® movie applications: a manager movie 1602, which may be denoted “manager.swf”, and a theme movie 1604, which may be denoted “theme.swf”. The prefix .swf denotes a Shockwave Flash file. This embodiment will now be described in more detail.
  • Manager movie 1602 consists of three layers as illustrated in FIG. 17: a watermark layer 1702, a theme layer 1704 and a splash screen layer 1706. Watermark layer 1702 is optional and is reserved for a branding statement that is viewable via transparent application layers. Above that, theme layer 1704 serves as a container in which theme movie 1604 is loaded. Splash screen layer 1706 is visible during initialization time. Once theme movie 1604 has been loaded, splash screen layer 1706 becomes transparent. Splash screen layer 1706 may contain minimal graphical assets.
  • One purpose of theme movie 1604 is to provide a vehicle by which a service provider deploying device 110 can customize the look and feel of the GUI of device 110. Theme movie 1604 consists of four layers as illustrated in FIG. 18: an icon layer 1802, an application layer 1804, a status bar layer 1806 and a screen saver layer 1808. Icon layer 1802 is used to present small graphic representations of the various applications that are available on device 110. Each icon presented within icon layer 1802 itself comprises a movie. Application layer 1804 is reserved for the application movies that are executed by application player 1402. Within this layer, multiple applications can be stacked. When a user selects an icon, the corresponding application is launched by pushing it onto the application layer stack, hiding icon layer 1802. When the application stack is emptied, icon layer 1802 becomes visible again. Status bar layer 1806 is used to display common information such as titles, navigational buttons and date/time. Screen saver layer 1808 may optionally be overlaid on the other three layers when device 110 has been active for some period of time. The conditions under which screen saver layer 1808 is displayed and the content of the layer may be configurable by a user.
  • The foregoing application framework further provides common components for alerts, keyboards, a movie player, options, and a photo viewer. Applications may interact with these components via ActionScript listener objects.
  • II.D.2.a Application Interaction
  • With continued reference to FIG. 18, when a user launches an application, the application is granted focus and is thus presented in application layer 1804 hiding the lower icon layer 1802. Thus, when an application is running, icon movies continue to run in icon layer 1802 although they are hidden. In one implementation of application framework 1400, a user must exit an active application in order to execute another application. This approach may be deemed suitable for a majority of use cases. However, there are certain scenarios that may require a different approach. For example, consider the case in which an asynchronous network event arrives at a class module 1406, but the Flash® movie corresponding to the class module is not active.
  • As a specific example, assume that a YouTube™ application is active at the time an incoming telephone call arrives at VoIP class module 1416. Desired behavior may be that the YouTube™ application would be paused, a VoIP telephone application would be instantiated on the GUI foreground, and a user would be allowed to answer or ignore the telephone call. If the user chose to answer the call, then the telephone application would remain active. However, if the user chose to ignore the call, then the telephone application would be dismissed and the YouTube application would regain focus and automatically resume.
  • To implement this behavior, an embodiment of the invention espouses a solution that allows a class module 1406 to surface an asynchronous event during a period when its corresponding application movie is not active. In accordance with this embodiment, each icon movie associated with an application is required to register an event listener with its corresponding class module. When an asynchronous event is raised by the class module, the corresponding icon movie is notified directly. Subsequently, the icon movie requests that application manager 1404 launch the application represented by the icon movie—for example, the icon movie may request that application manager 1404 launch a specified application URL. Prior to executing the URL, a function of the currently-active application is called (which may be denoted “onFocusOut”) to allow the currently-active application to take action (e.g., pausing a movie). Next, application manager 1404 launches the URL and the corresponding application (“the event application”) is displayed in the foreground. During initialization, the trigger event is passed to the event application as a means to communicate context. When the event application is eventually dismissed, a function associated with the underlying inactive application (which may be denoted “onFocusIn”) is called to allow that application to take further action (e.g., resume playback of a movie).
  • The foregoing process will now be described in reference to a specific example process 1900 illustrated in FIG. 19. As shown in FIG. 19, the process begins at step 1912 when a phone class module 1902 notifies a corresponding phone icon movie 1904 of an asynchronous event—namely, an incoming telephone call. As discussed above, phone icon movie 1904 previously registered an event listener with phone class module 1902 that makes such notification possible.
  • At step 1914, responsive to being notified of the event, phone icon movie 1904 requests that application manager 1404 launch the appropriate application for handling the event, which in this case is an incoming call application 1908. Requesting that application manager 1404 launch incoming call application 1908 may comprise requesting that application manager 1404 launch a specified URL associated with incoming call application 1908.
  • Prior to launching incoming call application 1908, application manager 1404 places a function call to a currently-active YouTube™ application 1906 as shown at step 1916. This function call is denoted “onFocusOut” in FIG. 19. Placement of this function call allows YouTube™ application 1906 to take some action in advance of launching of incoming call application 1908. This action may comprise, for example, pausing playback of a movie or some other action.
  • At step 1918, after placing the onFocusOut function call, application manager 1404 launches incoming call application 1908 (for example, by launching a specified URL associated with the application) and passes the incoming call event to application 1908 for appropriate handling. At this point, the interface for incoming call application 1908 is overlaid on top of YouTube™ application interface in application layer 1804 of theme movie 1604. This is depicted in FIG. 20, which shows incoming call application 1908 and YouTube™ application 1906 executing at different Z orders within application layer 1804. The call application 1908 interface may allow the user to perform a variety of actions, including answering the incoming call or ignoring the incoming call. Answering the call may cause yet another application to be launched to perform necessary functions or the necessary functions may be handled exclusively by incoming call application 1908 depending upon the implementation.
  • In process 1900, it is assumed that the user chooses to ignore the call through some form of interaction with a GUI of incoming call application 1908 or through inaction. In this case, the fact that the call was ignored 1920 is reported from incoming call application 1908 to phone class module 1902 as shown at step 1920. After the call has been ignored, incoming call application 1908 is dismissed either automatically or through some user action. The dismissal of the application is reported to application manager 1404 as shown at step 1922 at which point application manager 1404 removes incoming call application 1908 from application layer 1804.
  • At step 1924, after incoming call application 1908 has been dismissed, application manager 1404 places a function call to currently inactive YouTube™ application 1906 as shown at step 1924. This function call is denoted “onFocusIn” in FIG. 19. Placement of this function call allows YouTube™ application 1906 to take some action responsive to the dismissal of incoming call application 1908. This action may comprise, for example, resuming playback of a movie or some other action.
  • It is noted that an application can leverage multiple class modules. For example, if an address book application required support for click-to-dial, e-mail and SMS, it could leverage VoIP, e-mail and SMS class modules. This example introduces an interesting issue. If a user activated a click-to-dial function from the address book, an out-bound call would be initiated from the VoIP class module. The user would need to operate the phone. Given the event listening feature discussed above, the event associated with placing a call would surface accordingly, resulting in the phone application being launched in the foreground. The address book application need only have knowledge of the APIs exposed by the VoIP module. The application framework implements the rest.
  • II.D.2.b Application Watchdog Timers
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, software watchdog timers are used to monitor application liveliness. FIG. 21 provides a diagram illustrating such an approach. As shown in FIG. 21, after an application process 2102 has been launched, application process 2102 sends a registration message 2112 to register itself with a process monitor daemon 2104. After registration, application process 2102 periodically sends messages 2114 to process monitor daemon 2104 to prove that it is still operating. Upon receipt of each message 2114, process monitor daemon 2104 resets a watchdog timer. If process monitor daemon 2104 fails to receive a message from application process 2102 after a period of time that is greater than or equal to the maximum value of the watchdog timer, denoted silent period 2116 in FIG. 21, process monitor daemon 2104 assumes that application process 2102 is unresponsive, terminates application process 2102, and then restarts it as denoted by reference numeral 2118 in FIG. 21.
  • Application restart behavior may be configurable on a per-application basis. In one embodiment, one can define the maximum number of restarts per time before an application is considered to be in a state of perennial failure and the action to take in that case. Actions may include uninstalling the application (running an uninstall script that is associated with the application) or rebooting the entire system. The user may be presented with an on-screen dialog in either case. Also, in certain implementations, such actions will not be undertaken while a telephone call is in progress.
  • Process monitor daemon 2104 may also be configured to monitor the operating condition of the operating system of device 110 using a watchdog timer in a like manner to that described above in reference to FIG. 21. If the watchdog timer expires before the operating system sends a reporting message to process monitor daemon 2104, then process monitor daemon 2104 forces a reboot of the operating system.
  • II.D.2.c Application Portability
  • Different service providers may wish to deploy the same application. However, each service provider may want the application to reflect its own graphical theme. To simplify the porting effort, an embodiment of the invention implements each application as two movies. An example of this is depicted in FIG. 22, which shows an application 2200 that comprises a first movie 2202 that comprises the business logic of the application and a second movie 2204 that comprises the graphical assets of the application. This approach advantageously allows an application to be ported by simply replacing theme movie 2204, removing most of the risks of regression.
  • II.D.2.d Internationalization of Applications
  • In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, multiple language support is achieved by enabling applications to query application manager 1404 for text translation. The active language can be defined on a user or device basis. When application manager 1404 launches an application, it will pass a unique application identifier, which may be referred to as a global unique identifier (GUID), to the application using an application programming interface (API). This API may be denoted the “startApplication” API. Subsequently, the launched application passes the GUID, an identifier of the text to be translated, and optionally the language to translate to. If the language parameter is not provided, application manager 1404 uses a system default language (e.g., English). Application manager 1404 returns the corresponding text in the selected language from a language XML file associated with the application. The functions for querying for and obtaining text translation may be included within internationalization class module 1412 in FIG. 14.
  • II.D.2.e Activity Logging and Device Heartbeating
  • An embodiment of the present invention provides the ability to log application usage, system configuration and system health to a remote server. At the application level, each application notifies status/monitoring class module 1414 of page transitions and other events, such as placing a phone call, clicking a button, or entering a search term. The amount of detail reported may vary from application to application. Application manager 1404 also contacts status/monitoring class module 1414 to report application launch and exit events. In an embodiment, application launch occurs when a user activates an application icon and application exit occurs when a user returns back to the icon screen.
  • As represented by FIG. 23, status/monitoring class module 1414 accumulates the reported event information in event logs and periodically sends the logs to a configured remote logging server 2302. In one embodiment, status/monitoring class module 1414 will attempt to send this data every five minutes by default. If logging server 2302 is not reachable, status/monitoring class module 1414 will append new events to the log and then will attempt to send the data again. The number of events that may be added to a log may be limited to some predefined number. Events may be marked with timestamps indicative of the time at which each event occurred. In one embodiment, the timestamps are stored as relative offsets so as not to rely on the time of day setting on each specific device 110. In accordance with such an embodiment, the offsets may be converted to a time-of-day timestamp at logging server 2302.
  • Logging server 2302 is configured to receive a sequence of logs from a plurality of deployed devices 110 and to add each log record to a database 2304, which is shown in FIG. 23. A front end, such as a Web front end, executing on a computer 2306 may then be used to provide a human-friendly interface for viewing the data. Where a Web front end is used, the Web pages may comprise PHP programs that perform Structured Query Language (SQL) queries on the data and allow a user to examine aspects such as the top applications used by a specific group of users or the amount of time customers spend in different applications. Understanding which applications are most popular is valuable to service providers deploying applications via devices 110. Such information can be used, for example, to perform trend spotting and to drive new application development.
  • FIG. 24 depicts an example interface screen 2400 that may be presented by computer 2306 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 24, interface screen 2400 presents a bar chart 2402 showing an execution frequency 2404 of a plurality of applications 2406 that comprise a plurality of most used applications. Each application 2406 is represented by a different colored bar, as shown by a legend 2408.
  • FIG. 25 depicts another example interface screen 2500 that may be presented by computer 2306 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 25, interface screen 2500 presents a pie chart 2502 showing a frequency of use of a plurality of applications as a percentage of a total frequency of use over a given time period. Each application is represented by a different colored sector of the pie chart, as shown by legend 2504.
  • Periodic updates received by logging server 2302 may also serve as a device heartbeat, allowing logging server 2302 to present a status of active or dead devices. The front end presented by computer 2306 may include a Web interface that shows a list of devices 110 associated with a particular customer and a visual indicator of the last heartbeat status of each such device 110. An example of such an interface 2600 is shown in FIG. 26. As shown in that figure, interface 2600 includes a column 2612 that displays a last heartbeat date and time for a plurality of devices associated with a customer.
  • Other information that may be obtained by logging server 2602 and provided by interface 2600 includes a total number of devices associated with the customer 2602, a total number of devices associated with the customer that are currently online 2604, a most popular application for the day 2606 (based on customer usage), a MAC address for each device 2608, a comment for each device 2610, a number of application records for each device 2614 (which itself comprises a link to the application records), a number of phone records for each device 2616 (which itself comprises a link to the phone records), a number of boot records for each device 2618 (which itself comprises a link to the boot records), a number of applied updates for each device 2620 (which itself comprises a link to information about the applied updates), a number of group memberships for each device 2622 (which itself comprises a link to information about the group memberships), a start date for each device 2624, an end date for each device 2626, and a link to device usage information for each device 2628. The information collected and presented by server 2302 may be useful for performing status monitoring, troubleshooting, upgrading and service provisioning.
  • In an embodiment, logging server 2602, database 2304 and computer 2306 each comprise part of a device monitoring subsystem that is described in Section II.G.2 below.
  • II.E Example Handset Implementation Details
  • Example implementation details concerning handset 120 will now be provided. As discussed above in reference to FIG. 1, each handset 120 includes a user interface that comprises both a display 122 and a keypad 124. In an embodiment, display 122 comprises a 2 in. (5.1 mm) 18-bit color TFT LCD display having an active viewing area of 31.68 mm×39.6 mm, a pixel format of 176×220 pixels, a pixel size of 0.18 mm×0.18 mm, LED backlighting, and a maximum brightness of 350 cd/m2. Keypad 124 comprises a standard telephone keypad including 10 numbers, “*” and “#” keys. In an embodiment, each key is implemented using a pressure membrane switch that is responsive to 180 grams of pressure.
  • As shown in FIG. 27, handset 120 further comprises user interface navigation controls in the form of a 4-way scroll pad 2714 and a selection/activation button 2716 (also referred to as an “OK” button).
  • As further shown in FIG. 27, handset 120 includes a microphone 2706 and speaker 2708 for conducting a telephone call in a normal mode. As shown in FIG. 28, handset 120 also includes a rear-facing speaker 2802 for conducting a phone call in a speakerphone mode. A speakerphone button 2704 is provided for activating the speakerphone mode. An earpiece and microphone connector 2804 is provided for plugging in a wired headset. To control speaker volume, a “volume up” button 2710 and a “volume down” button 2712 are provided on one side of handset 120. A mute button 2702 is also provided to turn off microphone 2706 during a telephone call.
  • Handset charging contacts 2718 are provided at the bottom of handset 120. When handset 120 is placed in a corresponding docking station 126 (as shown in FIGS. 1, 29 and 30), handset charging contacts 2718 come into contact with docking station charging contacts 3002. This allows docking station 126 to charge a battery internal to handset 120. In one embodiment, the battery internal to handset 120 comprises a 550 mAh Lithium-Ion battery. The battery is accessible for replacement via a removable back plate 2806. Docking station 126 also includes a connector 2902 for receiving power via an AC adapter. In one embodiment, the AC adapter comprises a 5V/500 milliampere-hour (mAh) AC adapter.
  • As described above, in one embodiment, handset 120 is configured to act as a DECT client that wirelessly communicates with device 110 which acts as a DECT base station. In accordance with such an embodiment, handset 120 may include DECT firmware that supports features such as two- or three-party conferencing, an enhanced graphical user interface, uploadable ringtones (e.g., MIDI and MP3), a synchronized address book, and remotely managed firmware upgrades.
  • II.F Example Device Graphical User Interface Screens
  • As discussed above in reference to FIG. 1, a device 110 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention includes a display 112 that is used to provide a GUI by which a user may initiate, manage and experience telephony and digital media services. Example GUI screens by which the user may perform such functions will now be described. The example GUI screens described in this section are particularly suitable for use with an embodiment of device 110 in which display 112 comprises a color LCD display and integrated capacitive touch screen panel. In accordance with such an embodiment, a user may interact with the GUI by touching display 112 with a finger. For example, a user may touch a portion of display 112 corresponding to a graphic element in order to activate or select that element. However, the GUI screens described in this section are not limited to such an implementation and other forms of interaction may be used.
  • FIG. 31 depicts an example home GUI screen 3100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 31, example home GUI screen 3100 comprises a plurality of icons 3104, each of which is representative of a different application that may be executed on device 110. In an embodiment, an application is launched when a user activates an icon associated with the application. An exception to this is icon 3120 which, when activated, will display addition application icons. As noted above, in an embodiment, activation of an icon may comprise touching the icon on display 112, although other forms of activation may be used depending upon the implementation. Home GUI screen 3100 also includes a status bar 3102. Status bar 3102 includes an icon 3112 representative of home GUI screen 3100, a name 3114 (“Home”) associated with home GUI screen 3100, and an indication of the current date 3116 and time 3118.
  • As discussed elsewhere herein, each icon on home screen 3100 may comprise a Shockwave Flash movie that is executed within an icon layer of a theme movie displayed on display 112. Likewise, status bar 3102 may comprise a Shockwave Flash movie that is executed within a status bar layer of the theme movie. Various example GUI screens described below also include a status bar that may be implemented in a like manner.
  • FIG. 32 depicts an example GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 32, example GUI screen 3200 includes a status bar 3202 and a telephony application interface 3204. Telephony application interface may comprise a Shockwave Flash movie that is executed within an application layer of a theme movie displayed on display 112. Various example GUI screens described below also include application interfaces that may be implemented in a like manner.
  • Status bar 3202 includes an icon 3212 representative of the telephony application, a name 3214 (“Phone”) associated with the telephony application, an indication of the current date 3216 and time 3218 and a “home” button 3220. When a user activates “home” button 3220, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Telephony application interface 3204 includes a keypad 3230 that can be used to enter a telephone number 3262 which appears in a display window 3254. Any numbers entered in this fashion can be deleted using a delete button 3256. Display window 3254 also includes an indication of a call status 3260. In the example GUI depicted in FIG. 32, the call status is “connected.”
  • Telephony application interface 3204 further includes a button 3240 for increasing the volume at which the audio content of a call will be heard and a button 3242 for decreasing the volume. A volume indicator 3244 provides a graphical indication of the current volume level. A “redial” button 3246 may be activated to automatically dial the most-recently dialed number. A “mute” button 3248 may be activated to turn off a microphone associated with device 110 during a telephone call. A “flash” button 3250 may be activated to perform special services that may be provided by the telephony application such as, for example, three-way calling, call waiting, conference calling, or call transfers. A “call” button 3252 may be activated to place a call to the number shown in display window 3254.
  • Telephony application interface 3204 also includes a “contacts” button 3232 that when activated causes a contacts application to be launched, a “call logs” button 3234 that when activated causes a call logs application to be launched, a “messages” button 3236 that when activated causes a voicemail application to be launched, and a “handsets” button 3238.
  • FIG. 33 depicts an example GUI screen 3300 for a call log application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 33, example GUI screen 3300 includes a status bar 3302 and a call log application interface 3304.
  • Status bar 3302 includes an icon 3312 representative of the call log application, a name 3314 (“Call Log”) associated with the call log application, an indication of the current date 3316 and time 3318, a “phone” button 3320 and a “home” button 3322. When a user activates “phone” button 3320, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 3322, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Call log application interface 3304 displays all or a portion of a log 3330 of previously-placed outgoing and incoming telephone calls. To page up through log 3330 a “page up” button 3332 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 3334 may be activated. A page indicator 3336 indicates which of one or more pages of log 3330 is currently being displayed. To see incoming calls only, an “incoming” tab 3338 may be activated, to see outgoing calls only an “outgoing” tab 3340 may be activated, and to return to a list of all incoming and outgoing calls an “all” tab 3342 may be activated. For each call listed in log 3330, the following information is displayed: a name of a calling/called party 3344, a phone number associated with the calling/called party 3346, a date/time of the previous call 3348 and a duration of the previous call 3350. To select a call listed in log 3330, the horizontal bar that provides information about the call may be activated. Call log application interface 3304 further includes a “remove” button 3352 that can be used to remove a selected entry from log 3330 and a “remove all” button 3354 that can be used to remove all incoming and/or outgoing entries from log 3330.
  • FIG. 34 depicts an example GUI screen 3400 for a voicemail application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 34, example GUI screen 3400 includes a status bar 3402 and a voicemail application interface 3404.
  • Status bar 3402 includes an icon 3412 representative of the voicemail application, a name 3414 (“Voicemail”) associated with the voicemail application, an indication of the current date 3416 and time 3418, a “phone” button 3420 and a “home” button 3422. When a user activates “phone” button 3420, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 3422, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Voicemail application interface 3404 displays all or a portion of a list 3430 of saved voicemail messages. To page up through list 3430 a “page up” button 3432 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 3434 may be activated. A page indicator 3436 indicates which of one or more pages of list 3430 is currently being displayed. For each voicemail message in list 3430, the following information is displayed: a name of a party that left the voicemail message 3438, a phone number 3440 associated with the party that left the voicemail message, and a date/time 3442 that the voicemail message was left. To select a voicemail message listed in list 3430, the horizontal bar that provides information about the voicemail may be activated.
  • Voicemail application interface 3404 further includes a “play” button 3444 for playing a selected voicemail message, a “rewind” button 3446 for rewinding the content of a selected voicemail message, and a “fast forward” button 3448 for fast forwarding the content of a selected voicemail message. A button 3450 is provided for increasing the volume at which the content of a voicemail message will be heard and a button 3452 is provided for decreasing the volume. A volume indicator 3454 provides a graphical indication of the current volume level. A “mute” button 3456 is also provided for turning off the audio output associated with a voicemail message.
  • FIG. 35 depicts an example GUI screen 3500 for a contacts application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 35, example GUI screen 3500 includes a status bar 3502 and a contacts application interface 3504.
  • Status bar 3502 includes an icon 3512 representative of the contacts application, a name 3514 (“Contacts”) associated with the contacts application, an indication of the current date 3516 and time 3518, a “phone” button 3520 and a “home” button 3522. When a user activates “phone” button 3520, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 3522, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Contacts application interface 3504 displays all or a portion of a list 3530 of user contacts. To page up through list 3530 a “page up” button 3532 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 3534 may be activated. A page indicator 3536 indicates which of one or more pages of list 3530 is currently being displayed. To view contacts starting with a particular letter of the alphabet, one a series of buttons 3538 corresponding to each letter of the alphabet may be activated. For each contact in list 3530, the following information is displayed: a name of the contact 3540, a first phone number 3542 associated with the contact, and a second phone number 3544 associated with the contact. To select a contact from among those in list 3530, the horizontal bar that provides information about the contact may be activated.
  • Contacts application interface 3504 further includes an “add name” button 3546 that when activated launches a dialog for adding a person to list 3530 and an “add group” button 3548 that when activated launches a dialog for adding a group of people to list 3530.
  • FIG. 36 depicts an example GUI screen 3600 for a weather application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 36, example GUI screen 3600 includes a status bar 3602 and a weather application interface 3604.
  • Status bar 3602 includes an icon 3612 representative of the weather application, a name 3614 (“Weather”) associated with the weather application, an indication of the current date 3616 and time 3618, a “phone” button 3620 and a “home” button 3622. When a user activates “phone” button 3620, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 3622, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Weather application interface 3604 includes a display area 3630 that provides weather information for a particular location 3632. In the example of FIG. 36, the particular location is “Phoenix, Ariz.” The particular location may be one of a series of predefined locations for which weather information is available. To view weather information for a preceding location in the series a “page up” button 3634 is provided. To view weather information for a subsequent location in the series a “page down” button 3636 is provided. An “add” button 3638 is provided that, when activated, launches a dialog by which a location may be added to the series of locations. A “remove” button 3640 is also provided that, when activated, launches a dialog by which a location may be removed from the series of locations. A button 3642 allows a user to select whether temperatures should be displayed in degrees Fahrenheit (° F.) or degrees Celsius (° C.). A “video” button 3644 is provided that allows a user to watch weather-related video content such as a video feed from a weather camera or the like.
  • FIG. 37 depicts an example GUI screen 3700 for a movie showtimes application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 37, example GUI screen 3700 includes a status bar 3702 and a movie showtimes application interface 3704.
  • Status bar 3702 includes an icon 3712 representative of the movie showtimes application, a name 3714 (“Showtimes”) associated with the movie showtimes application, an indication of the current date 3716 and time 3718, a “phone” button 3720 and a “home” button 3722. When a user activates “phone” button 3720, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 3722, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Movie showtimes application interface 3704 includes a first display area that displays all or a portion of a list of movie theaters 3730 associated with a particular location 3732. In the example of FIG. 37, the particular location is “Boca Raton Fla.” To page up through list 3730 a “page up” button 3734 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 3736 may be activated. A page indicator 3738 indicates which of one or more pages of list 3730 is currently being displayed. To select a movie theater from among those in list 3730, the horizontal bar that provides information about the movie theater may be activated.
  • Movie showtimes application interface 3704 also includes a second display area that displays all or a portion of a list of movies and associated showtimes 3740 associated with a movie theater selected in the first display area. To page up through list 3740 a “page up” button 3742 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 3744 may be activated. A page indicator 3746 indicates which of one or more pages of list 3740 is currently being displayed.
  • A “change location” button 3748 is provided that, when activated, launches a dialog by which a user can select a different location for which to obtain movie showtime information.
  • FIG. 38 depicts an example GUI screen 3800 for a media application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 38, example GUI screen 3800 includes a status bar 3802 and a media application interface 3804.
  • Status bar 3802 includes an icon 3812 representative of the media application, a name 3814 (“Media”) associated with the media application, an indication of the current date 3816 and time 3818, a “phone” button 3820 and a “home” button 3822. When a user activates “phone” button 3820, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 3822, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Media application interface 3804 comprises four different interfaces, only one of which may be shown at any given time: a photos interface that may be selected by activating a “photos” tab 3830, a music interface that may be selected by activating a “music” tab 3832, a videos interface that may be selected by activating a “videos” tab 3834, and a podcasts interface that may be selected by activating a “podcasts” tab 3836. In FIG. 38, the photos interface is currently being displayed. As shown in that figure, the photos interface includes a display area 3840 within which a plurality of digital photos is displayed. The displayed photos may comprise one page in a series of pages of digital photos. To page up through the series a “page up” button 3842 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 3844 may be activated. A page indicator 3846 indicates which of one or more pages in the series of pages is currently being displayed.
  • FIG. 39 depicts a GUI screen 3900 for the aforementioned media application in which the music interface is displayed. As shown in FIG. 39, the music interface includes a display area that displays all or a portion of a list of songs 3930. To page up through list 3930 a “page up” button 3932 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 3934 may be activated. A page indicator 3936 indicates which of one or more pages of list 3930 is currently being displayed. For each song in list 3930 the following information is provided: a performer of the song 3942 and the song title 3944. A song in list 3930 may be selected by activating the horizontal bar upon which the song information is provided.
  • The music interface further includes a “play” button 3946 for playing a selected song, a “rewind” button 3948 for rewinding the content of a selected song, and a “fast forward” button 3950 for fast forwarding the content of a selected song. A button 3952 is provided for increasing the volume at which the audio content of a song will be heard and a button 3954 is provided for decreasing the volume. A volume indicator 3956 provides a graphical indication of the current volume level. A “mute” button 3956 is also provided for turning off the audio output associated with a song.
  • The music interface allows song information to be displayed in two formats. The list format shown in FIG. 39 may be obtained by activating a first display format button 3938. An icon format shown in GUI interface screen 4000 of FIG. 40 may be obtained by activating a second display format button 3940. As shown in FIG. 40, when the icon format is selected, a display area 4002 is presented that displays an icon associated with each song. The song performer and title is displayed below each icon.
  • FIG. 41 depicts a GUI screen 4100 for the aforementioned media application in which the videos interface is displayed. As shown in FIG. 41, the videos interface includes a display area that displays all or a portion of a collection of movies 4102. To page up through collection 4102 a “page up” button 4104 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 4106 may be activated. A page indicator 4108 indicates which of one or more pages of collection 4102 is currently being displayed. For each movie in collection 4108 the following information is provided: a graphic icon representative of the movie and the name of the movie. A movie in collection 4102 may be selected by activating the icon associated with the movie.
  • The videos interface allows movies to be displayed in two formats. A list format in which information about each movie is provided in a horizontal bar may be obtained by activating a first display format button 4110. The icon format shown in FIG. 41 may be obtained by activating a second display format button 4112.
  • FIG. 42 depicts a GUI screen 4200 for a video player application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In one embodiment, the video player application is launched and GUI interface screen 4200 is presented to a user when the user activates a movie in collection 4102 that is displayed within GUI screen 4100.
  • As shown in FIG. 42, GUI interface screen 4200 includes a display area 4202 for displaying video content such as video content associated with a movie. GUI interface screen 4200 also includes a “back” button 4204 that allows a user to terminate the playback of the video content and return to a previously-viewed GUI screen, a “play” button 4208 that allows a user to play the video content, a “rewind” button 4206 that allows a user to rewind the video content, a “fast forward” button 4210 that allows a user to fast forward the video content, a button 4214 that allows a user to increase the volume of audio content associated with the video content, a button 4212 that allows a user to decrease the volume of the audio content, and a “mute” button 4216 that allows the user to turn off the audio content entirely.
  • In FIG. 42, display area 4202 displays a message that indicates that video content is being loaded. FIG. 43 depicts another view of GUI interface screen 4200 in which video content 4302 associated with a movie is playing in display area 4202.
  • FIG. 44 depicts a GUI screen 4400 for the aforementioned media application in which the podcasts interface is displayed. As shown in FIG. 44, the podcasts interface includes a display area that displays all or a portion of a list of podcast providers 4402. To page up through list 4402 a “page up” button 4404 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 4406 may be activated. A page indicator 4408 indicates which of one or more pages of list 4402 is currently being displayed. A name 4414 is provided for each podcast provider in list 4402. A podcast provider in list 4402 may be selected by activating the horizontal bar upon which the song information is provided.
  • Control over the playback and volume of audio content of a podcast is provided using an interface 4416 that includes elements that are substantially similar to elements described above in example GUI screen 4000 of FIG. 40.
  • The podcasts interface allows podcast provider information to be displayed in two formats. The list format shown in FIG. 44, in which information about each podcast provider is displayed in a horizontal bar, may be obtained by activating a first display format button 4410. An icon format shown in GUI interface screen 4500 of FIG. 45 may be obtained by activating a second display format button 4412. As shown in FIG. 45, when the icon format is selected, a display area 4502 is presented that displays an icon associated with each podcast provider. The name of the podcast provider is displayed below each icon.
  • FIG. 46 depicts an example GUI screen 4600 for a cameras application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 46, example GUI screen 4600 includes a status bar 4602 and a cameras application interface 4604.
  • Status bar 4602 includes an icon 4612 representative of the cameras application, a name 4614 (“Cameras”) associated with the cameras application, an indication of the current date 4616 and time 4618, a “phone” button 4620 and a “home” button 4622. When a user activates “phone” button 4620, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 4622, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Cameras application interface 4604 includes a first display area that displays all or a portion of a list of cameras 4630 that are capable of providing a video feed to device 110. To page up through list 4630 a “page up” button 4632 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 4634 may be activated. A page indicator 4636 indicates which of one or more pages of list 4630 is currently being displayed. For each camera identified in list 4630, a name 4638 is provided. To select a camera from among those in list 4630, the horizontal bar that provides the name of the camera may be activated.
  • Cameras application interface 4604 also includes a second display area that displays video content received from a selected camera in a preview window 4640. A “view” button 4642 may be activated to allow a user to view the video content from the selected camera in a further cameras application interface 4702 which is depicted in example GUI screen 4700 of FIG. 47. As shown in FIG. 47, cameras application interface 4702 includes an expanded window 4704 in which video content from the selected camera is displayed as well as a camera control interface that includes a “zoom out” button 4706, a “zoom in” button 4708, a “pan left” button 4712, a “pan right” button 4714, a “tilt up” button 4716 and a “tilt down” button 4710. As will be appreciated by persons skilled in the relevant art(s), these buttons may be used to control pan, tilt and zoom features of cameras that support such functionality.
  • FIG. 48 depicts an example GUI screen 4800 for a news application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 48, example GUI screen 4800 includes a status bar 4802 and a news application interface 4804.
  • Status bar 4802 includes an icon 4812 representative of the news application, a name 4814 (“News”) associated with the news application, an indication of the current date 4816 and time 4818, a “phone” button 4820 and a “home” button 4822. When a user activates “phone” button 4820, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 4822, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • News application interface 4804 includes a display area 4830 that displays all or a portion of a collection of news sources that are capable of feeding news articles to device 110. To page backwards through the collection of news sources a “page backward” button 4836 may be activated and to page forward a “page forward” button 4838 may be activated. A page indicator 4840 indicates which of one or more pages of the collection is currently being displayed. For each news source identified in display area 4830, a graphic icon (such as icon 4832) is provided and a name of the news source (such as name 4834) is provided. To obtain news from a news source identified in display area 4830, the icon representing the news source may be activated.
  • If a user activates a news source icon, a further news application interface is provided by which news articles from the selected source may be viewed. An example of such an interface 4902 is depicted in example GUI screen 4900 of FIG. 49. As shown in FIG. 49, interface 4902 includes a display area 4904 that presents content associated with a news article. Such content may include for example a title of the news article 4912, a graphic or video associated with the news article 4912, and text associated with the news article which is displayed in a text display area 4916. A user may scroll the text displayed within text display area 4916 up and down by activating a “scroll up” button 4918 and a “scroll down” button 4920 respectively.
  • Additional news articles from the same news source may be available on one or more preceding or subsequent pages viewable within display area 4904. To access such articles, a “page backward” button 4906 or a “page forward” button 4908 may be activated. A page indicator 4910 indicates which of one or more pages of news articles is currently being displayed. A “back” button may be activated to return to GUI screen 4800 of FIG. 48.
  • FIG. 50 depicts an example GUI screen 5000 for a horoscopes application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 50, example GUI screen 5000 includes a status bar 5002 and a horoscopes application interface 5004.
  • Status bar 5002 includes an icon 5012 representative of the horoscopes application, a name 5014 (“Horoscopes”) associated with the horoscopes application, an indication of the current date 5016 and time 5018, a “phone” button 5020 and a “home” button 5022. When a user activates “phone” button 5020, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 5022, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Horoscopes application interface 5004 includes a display area that displays a graphic icon representing each sign of the zodiac (such as icon 5030) and an associated name (such as name 5032). To obtain a current horoscope for a zodiac sign identified in horoscopes application interface 5004, the icon representing the zodiac sign may be activated.
  • If a user activates a zodiac sign icon, a further horoscopes interface is provided in which a current horoscope for the activated zodiac sign may be viewed. An example of such an interface 5102 is depicted in example GUI screen 5100 of FIG. 51. As shown in FIG. 51, interface 5102 displays the name of the relevant zodiac sign 5104, an icon 5106 that represents the relevant zodiac sign, and a text display area 5108 in which the horoscope text for the relevant zodiac sign is displayed. A user may scroll the text displayed within text display area 5108 up and down by activating a “scroll up” button 5110 and a “scroll down” button 5112 respectively. A “back” button 5114 may be activated to return to GUI screen 5000 of FIG. 50.
  • FIG. 52 depicts an example GUI screen 5200 for a recipes application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 52, example GUI screen 5200 includes a status bar 5202 and a recipes application interface 5204.
  • Status bar 5202 includes an icon 5212 representative of the recipes application, a name 5214 (“Recipes”) associated with the recipes application, an indication of the current date 5216 and time 5218, a “phone” button 5220 and a “home” button 5222. When a user activates “phone” button 5220, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 5222, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Recipes application interface 5204 includes a display area 5230 that displays all or a portion of a collection of recipes. To page backwards through the collection of recipes a “page backward” button 5236 may be activated and to page forward a “page forward” button 5238 may be activated. A page indicator 5240 indicates which of one or more pages of the collection is currently being displayed. For each recipe identified in display area 5230, a graphic icon (such as icon 5232) is provided and a name of the recipe (such as name 5234) is provided. To obtain details concerning a recipe identified in display area 5230, the icon representing the recipe may be activated.
  • If a user activates a recipe icon, a further recipes interface is provided in which recipe details may be viewed. An example of such an interface 5302 is depicted in example GUI screen 5300 of FIG. 53. As shown in FIG. 53, interface 5302 displays the name of the relevant recipe 5304, a picture or graphic icon 5306 that represents the relevant recipe, and a text display area 5308 in which the recipe text for the relevant recipe is displayed. A user may scroll the text displayed within text display area 5308 up and down by activating a “scroll up” button 5310 and a “scroll down” button 5312 respectively. A “back” button 5314 may be activated to return to GUI screen 5300 of FIG. 53.
  • FIG. 54 depicts an example GUI screen 5400 for a calendar application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 54, example GUI screen 5400 includes a status bar 5402 and a calendar application interface 5404.
  • Status bar 5402 includes an icon 5412 representative of the news application, a name 5414 (“News”) associated with the news application, an indication of the current date 5416 and time 5418, a “phone” button 5420 and a “home” button 5422. When a user activates “phone” button 5420, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 5422, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Calendar application interface 5404 comprises two different interfaces, only one of which may be shown at any given time: a monthly calendar interface that may be selected by activating a “month” tab 5436 and a daily calendar interface that may be selected by activating a “day” tab 5438. In FIG. 54, the monthly calendar interface is currently being displayed. As shown in that figure, the monthly calendar interface includes a display area 5430 within which a monthly calendar is displayed. Activating a particular date within the monthly calendar will cause the daily calendar interface to be displayed for that date. An “up arrow” button 5432 allows a user to display a previous month within display area 5430 and a “down arrow” button 5434 allows a user to display a subsequent month within display area 5430.
  • FIG. 55 depicts a GUI screen 5500 for the aforementioned calendar application in which the daily calendar interface is displayed. As shown in FIG. 55, the daily calendar interface includes a temporally-ordered list of scheduled daily activities or appointments 5504 corresponding to a particular date which is displayed in a window 5502. To page up through list 5504 a “page up” button 5506 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 5508 may be activated. A page indicator 5510 indicates which of one or more pages of list 5504 is currently being displayed. For each scheduled appointment or activity scheduled in list 5504 an appointment/activity time 5520 and descriptor 5522 is displayed. An “add” button 5512 may be activated to launch a dialog by which a new appointment or activity may be added to list 5504. A “remove” button 5514 may be activated to remove a selected appointment or activity from list 5504. To change the date for which calendar information is being displayed to a previous date a “backward arrow” button 5516 may be activated and to change the date to a subsequent date a “forward arrow” 5518 button may be activated.
  • FIG. 56 depicts an example GUI screen 5600 for an Internet radio application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment, the Internet radio application comprises an application premised on SIRIUS® Internet radio service offered by SIRIUS XM Radio of New York, N.Y. As shown in FIG. 56, example GUI screen 5600 includes a status bar 5602 and a calendar application interface 5604.
  • Status bar 5602 includes an icon 5612 representative of the Internet radio application, a name 5614 (“Sirius”) associated with the Internet radio application, an indication of the current date 5616 and time 5618, a “phone” button 5620 and a “home” button 5622. When a user activates “phone” button 5620, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 5622, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Internet radio application interface 5604 comprises two different interfaces, only one of which may be shown at any given time: a categories interface that may be selected by activating a “categories” tab 5652 and a controls interface that may be selected by activating a “controls” tab 5654. In FIG. 56, the categories interface is currently being displayed. As shown in that figure, the categories interface includes a first display area that displays all or a portion of a list of radio categories 5630. To page up through list 5630 a “page up” button 5632 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 5634 may be activated. A page indicator 5636 indicates which of one or more pages of category list 5630 is currently being displayed. A name 5638 is provided for each category in list 5630. A category in list 5630 may be selected by activating the horizontal bar upon which the category name is provided.
  • As further shown in FIG. 56, the categories interface further includes a second display area that displays all or a portion of a collection of radio channels 5640 corresponding to a selected radio category in list 5630. To page up through collection 5640 a “page up” button 5642 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 5644 may be activated. A page indicator 5646 indicates which of one or more pages of collection 5640 is currently being displayed. For each channel displayed in collection 5640, a graphic icon 5648 representing the channel and a name 5650 of the channel is displayed. A channel in collection 5640 may be selected for listening by activating the icon associated with the channel.
  • FIG. 57 depicts an example GUI screen 5700 for a stocks application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 57, example GUI screen 5700 includes a status bar 5702 and a stocks application interface 5704.
  • Status bar 5702 includes an icon 5712 representative of the stocks application, a name 5714 (“Stocks”) associated with the stocks application, an indication of the current date 5716 and time 5718, a “phone” button 5720 and a “home” button 5722. When a user activates “phone” button 5720, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 5722, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Stocks application interface 5704 includes a first display area that displays all or a portion of a list of stocks 5730. To page up through list 5730 a “page up” button 5732 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 5734 may be activated. A page indicator 5736 indicates which of one or more pages of list 5730 is currently being displayed. For each stock identified in list 5730 the following information is provided: a stock symbol 5738, a current share price 5740, a visual indicator 5742 of whether the current share price is up or down for the day, and an amount 5744 by which the current share price is up or down for the day. A stock in list 5730 may be selected by activating the horizontal bar upon which the stock symbol is provided. A user may activate an “add” button 5746 to launch a dialog by which a stock may be added to list 5730. A user may also activate a “remove” button 5748 to remove a selected stock from list 5730.
  • Stocks application interface 5704 further includes a second display area 5750 that provides details about a stock selected from list 5730. As shown in FIG. 57, second display area 5750 includes a window 5752 that displays textual information about the relevant stock such as opening price, high price, low price and volume for the current day. As further shown in FIG. 57, second display area 5750 further includes a stock chart 5754 that graphically depicts the performance of the relevant stock for the current day. By activating stock chart 5754 a user may access additional charts associated with the relevant stock.
  • Stock application interface 5704 also includes a dynamically-updated stock ticker 5756 which displays stock symbols and associated share prices for a variety of stocks in a scrolling fashion.
  • FIG. 58 depicts an example GUI screen 5800 for an Internet video application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment, the Internet video application comprises an application premised on a YouTube™ Web service offered by YouTube LLC of San Bruno, Calif. As shown in FIG. 58, example GUI screen 5800 includes a status bar 5802 and an Internet video application interface 5804.
  • Status bar 5802 includes an icon 5812 representative of the Internet video application, a name 5814 (“You Tube”) associated with the Internet video application, an indication of the current date 5816 and time 5818, a “phone” button 5820 and a “home” button 5822. When a user activates “phone” button 5820, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 5822, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Internet video application interface 5804 comprises four different interfaces, only one of which may be shown at any given time: a video search interface that may be selected by activating a “search” button 5842, a featured videos interface that may be selected by activating a “featured” button 5844, a top-rated videos interface that may be selected by activating a “top rated” button 5846 and a popular videos interface that may be selected by activating a “popular” button 5848. In FIG. 58, the top-rated videos interface is currently being displayed. As shown in that figure, the top-rated videos interface includes a display area 5830 that displays all or a portion of a collection of top-rated videos 5830. To page up through the collection a “page up” button 5832 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 5834 may be activated. A page indicator 5836 indicates which of one or more pages of the collection is currently being displayed. For each video identified in the collection, an icon 5838 and a name 5840 is displayed. A video in collection 5830 may be selected for playback by activating the icon associated with the video.
  • FIG. 59 depicts an example GUI screen 5900 for an Internet-based photo application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. In an embodiment, the Internet-based photo application comprises an application premised on a Flickr™ Web service offered by Yahoo! Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. As shown in FIG. 59, example GUI screen 5900 includes a status bar 5902 and an Internet-based photo application interface 5904.
  • Status bar 5902 includes an icon 5912 representative of the Internet-based photo application, a name 5914 (“Flickr”) associated with the Internet-based photo application, an indication of the current date 5916 and time 5918, a “phone” button 5920 and a “home” button 5922. When a user activates “phone” button 5920, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 5922, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Internet-based photo application interface 5904 comprises two different interfaces, only one of which may be shown at any given time: a personal photos interface that may be selected by activating a “my photos” button 5938 and a search interface that may be selected by activating a “search” button 5940. In FIG. 59, the search interface is currently being displayed. As shown in that figure, the results from a search premised on the query terms “Andy Warhol” has returned a collection of photos 5930. To page up through the collection a “page up” button 5932 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 5934 may be activated. A page indicator 5936 indicates which of one or more pages of the collection is currently being displayed. A photo in collection 5930 may be selected for viewing in a larger window by activating the photo.
  • FIG. 60 depicts an example GUI screen 6000 for an alarm application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 60, example GUI screen 6000 includes a status bar 6002 and an alarm application interface 6004.
  • Status bar 6002 includes an icon 6012 representative of the alarm application, a name 6014 (“Alarm”) associated with the alarm application, an indication of the current date 6016 and time 6018, a “phone” button 6020 and a “home” button 6022. When a user activates “phone” button 6020, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6022, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Alarm application interface 6004 includes an alarm on/off button 6036 that a user may activate to turn on or off an alarm. A window 6030 displays a time at which the alarm will sound. A “backward arrow” button may be activated to select a previous time while a “forward arrow” button may be activated to select a subsequent time.
  • Alarm application interface 6004 further includes all or a portion of a list 6040 of audio files that may be used as an alarm. To page backward through list 6040 a “page backward” button 6042 may be activated and to page forward a “page forward” button 6044 may be activated. A page indicator 6044 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6040 is currently being displayed. For each audio file identified in list 6040, an audio source 6048 and a descriptor associated with the audio file 6050 is displayed. System-provided alarms as well as digital music files may be used as the alarm. For system-provided alarms, the audio source is listed as “alarm” and the descriptor of the audio file denotes the alarm type. For digital music files, the audio source is the performer of the digital music and the descriptor provides a name of the song. To select an audio file displayed in list 6040 as the alarm, the horizontal bar that provides information about the audio file may be activated.
  • Alarm application interface 6004 allows audio file information to be displayed in two formats. The list format shown in FIG. 60 may be obtained by activating a first display format button 6052. An icon format shown in GUI interface screen 6100 of FIG. 61 may be obtained by activating a second display format button 6054. As shown in FIG. 61, when the icon format is selected, a display area 6102 is presented that displays an icon 6104 associated with each audio file. A playback button 6106, a title 6108 and performer 6110 may be displayed below each icon.
  • FIG. 62 depicts an example GUI screen 6200 for a screensaver application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 62, example GUI screen 6200 includes a status bar 6202 and a screensaver application interface 6204.
  • Status bar 6202 includes an icon 6212 representative of the screensaver application, a name 6214 (“Screensaver”) associated with the screensaver application, an indication of the current date 6216 and time 6218, a “phone” button 6220 and a “home” button 6222. When a user activates “phone” button 6220, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6222, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Screensaver application interface 6204 includes all or a portion of a list screensavers 6230 that may be activated by a user for display after a predetermined period of device inactivity. To page up through list 6230 a “page up” button 6232 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 6234 may be activated. A page indicator 6236 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6230 is currently being displayed. To select a screensaver, a user may activate one of the screensavers displayed in list 6230.
  • Screensaver application interface 6204 further includes a window 6240 that displays the current amount of delay (i.e., time of device inactivity) that must occur before a selected screensaver will be displayed. The amount of delay may be decreased by activating a “left arrow” button 6242 or increased by activating a “right arrow” button 6244. A window 6246 displays a preview of a currently selected screensaver. A screensaver configuration may be saved by activating a “save” button 6238. A “back” button 6248 is also provided on screensaver application interface 6204 that, when activated, causes a previously-displayed GUI screen to be displayed.
  • FIG. 63 depicts an example GUI screen 6300 for a directory services application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 63, example GUI screen 6300 includes a status bar 6302 and a directory services application interface 6304.
  • Status bar 6302 includes an icon 6312 representative of the directory services application, a name 6314 (“Find A . . . ”) associated with the directory services application, an indication of the current date 6316 and time 6318, a “phone” button 6320 and a “home” button 6322. When a user activates “phone” button 6320, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6322, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Directory services application interface 6304 includes a first display area that displays all or a portion of a list of business categories 6330. To page up through list 6330 a “page up” button 6334 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 6336 may be activated. A page indicator 6338 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6330 is currently being displayed. To select a business category from among those in list 6330, the horizontal bar that provides information about the business category may be activated.
  • Directory services application interface 6304 further includes a second display area that displays all or a portion of a list of businesses 6340 of the type currently selected in list 6330. The businesses are selected based on proximity to a particular location 6332. In the example of FIG. 63, the particular location is “Boca Raton Fla.” To page up through list 6340 a “page up” button 6342 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 6344 may be activated. A page indicator 6346 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6340 is currently being displayed. For each business identified in list 6340, a name, address and phone number is provided. A “telephone” button 6350 associated with each business may be activated to place a telephone call to the business via device 110.
  • A “change location” button 6348 is provided that, when activated, launches a dialog by which a user can select a different location for which to obtain directory services information.
  • FIG. 64 depicts an example GUI screen 6400 for a memos application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 64, example GUI screen 6400 includes a status bar 6402 and a memos application interface 6404.
  • Status bar 6402 includes an icon 6412 representative of the memos application, a name 6414 (“Memos”) associated with the memos application, an indication of the current date 6416 and time 6418, a “phone” button 6420 and a “home” button 6422. When a user activates “phone” button 6420, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6422, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Memos application interface 6404 includes a first display area that displays all or a portion of a list of memos 6430. Each memo may comprise a task, appointment or reminder that a user might wish to make note of. To page up through list 6430 a “page up” button 6432 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 6434 may be activated. A page indicator 6436 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6430 is currently being displayed. For each memo identified in list 6430 the following information is provided: a text descriptor 6450 of the subject matter of the memo and a date 6452 and time 6454 associated with the memo (such as the date and time the memo was created). List 6430 may be temporally-ordered. A memo in list 6430 may be selected for viewing by activating the horizontal bar upon which the memo information is provided. A user may activate an “add” button 6446 to launch a dialog by which a memo may be added to list 6430. A user may also activate a “remove” button 6448 to remove a selected memo from list 6430.
  • Memos application interface 6404 further includes a window 6438 that displays the text content of a memo selected from list 6430. A user may scroll the text displayed within window 6438 up and down by activating a “scroll up” button 6440 and a “scroll down” button 6442 respectively.
  • FIG. 65 depicts an example GUI screen 6500 for a television (TV) programming guide application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 65, example GUI screen 6500 includes a status bar 6502 and a TV programming guide application interface 6504.
  • Status bar 6502 includes an icon 6512 representative of the TV programming guide application, a name 6514 (“TV Programs”) associated with the TV programming guide application, an indication of the current date 6516 and time 6518, a “phone” button 6520 and a “home” button 6522. When a user activates “phone” button 6520, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6522, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • TV programming guide application interface 6504 includes a display area 6530 that provides TV programming information for a plurality of TV channels across a plurality of time slots. To view information about other channels than those currently shown in display area 6530 a user may activate either a “page up” button 6532 or a “page down” button 6534. A page indicator 6536 indicates which of one or more pages of channel information is currently being displayed. To view programming information for previous time slots a user may activate a “backward” button 6538 and to view programming information for subsequent time slots a user may activate a “forward” button 6540.
  • FIG. 66 depicts an example GUI screen 6600 for a network setup application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 66, example GUI screen 6600 includes a status bar 6602 and a network setup application interface 6604.
  • Status bar 6602 includes an icon 6612 representative of the network setup application, a name 6614 (“Network Setup”) associated with the network setup application, an indication of the current date 6616 and time 6618, a “phone” button 6620 and a “home” button 6622. When a user activates “phone” button 6620, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6622, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • In FIG. 66, network setup application interface 6604 is overlaid by a network selection interface 6630 that allows a user to select a wireless network to which device 110 may attempt to connect. As further shown in that figure, network selection interface 6630 displays all or a portion of a list 6632 of detected wireless networks. To page up through list 6632 a “page up” button 6634 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 6636 may be activated. A page indicator 6638 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6632 is currently being displayed. For each wireless network identified in list 6632, a visual indicator 6642 of the strength of the wireless signal and a name 6644 of the wireless network is provided. Optionally, a visual indicator 6646 of whether the network is encrypted and a connection status 6648 may also be provided. A “back” button 6640 is also provided in network selection interface 6630 to allow a user to return to network setup application interface 6604.
  • FIG. 67 depicts an additional example GUI screen 6700 for a network setup application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 67, example GUI screen 6700 includes a status bar 6702 and a network setup application interface.
  • Status bar 6702 includes an icon 6712 representative of the network setup application, a name 6714 (“Network . . . ”) associated with the network setup application, an indication of the current date 6716 and time 6718, a “phone” button 6720 and a “home” button 6722. When a user activates “phone” button 6720, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6722, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • In FIG. 67, the network setup application interface is overlaid by an encrypted network interface 6704 that allows a user to enter an encryption key for setting up or logging into an encrypted wireless network. As further shown in that figure, encrypted network setup interface 6704 displays a keyboard 6730 that may be used to type an encryption key that appears in a window 6732. The user may save the key by activating a “save” button 6734. A “back” button 6740 is also provided to allow a user to return to the normal network setup application interface.
  • FIG. 68 depicts an example GUI screen 6800 for an advanced network setup application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 68, example GUI screen 6800 includes a status bar 6802 and an advanced network setup application interface 6804.
  • Status bar 6802 includes an icon 6812 representative of the advanced network setup application, a name 6814 (“Network Setup”) associated with the advanced network setup application, an indication of the current date 6816 and time 6818, a “phone” button 6820 and a “home” button 6822. When a user activates “phone” button 6820, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6822, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Advanced network setup application interface 6804 displays all or a portion of a list 6830 of network-related information and parameters, some of which may be configurable. To page up through list 6830 a “page up” button 6832 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 6834 may be activated. A page indicator 6836 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6830 is currently being displayed. As shown in FIG. 68, information/parameters provided within list 6830 include a connection status, a network type, a network name, a security protocol type, an encryption key, whether Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is used and whether proxy is used. A “back” button 6838 is provided to allow a user to return to the normal network setup application interface.
  • FIG. 69 depicts an example GUI screen 6900 for a home control application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 69, example GUI screen 6900 includes a status bar 6902 and a home control application interface 6904.
  • Status bar 6902 includes an icon 6912 representative of the home control application, a name 6914 (“Home Control”) associated with the home control application, an indication of the current date 6916 and time 6918, a “phone” button 6920 and a “home” button 6922. When a user activates “phone” button 6920, GUI screen 3200 for a telephony application will be displayed. When a user activates “home” button 6922, the user will be returned to home GUI screen 3100.
  • Home control application interface 6904 displays all or a portion of a list 6930 of rooms for which home control functionality may be provided. To page up through list 6930 a “page up” button 6932 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 6934 may be activated. A page indicator 6936 indicates which of one or more pages of list 6930 is currently being displayed. As shown in FIG. 69, such rooms may include, for example, a living room, a family room, a home theater, a main office, a master bedroom and a dining room. A room may be selected by activating the horizontal bar upon which the room name is displayed.
  • Once a room has been selected an overlay interface for performing home control functions associated with the selected room may be displayed. Example GUI screen 7000 of FIG. 70 shows such an overlay interface 7002. As shown in that figure, overlay interface 7002 displays all or a portion of a collection 7004 of home control functions for a living room. To page forward through collection 7004 a “page forward” button 7006 may be activated and to page backward a “page backward” button 7008 may be activated. A page indicator 7010 indicates which of one or more pages of collection 7004 is currently being displayed. Each home control function in collection 7004 is represented by an associated icon and text. The home control functions shown in FIG. 70 include “Watch TV,” “Watch DVD” and “Play CD.” A user may select a home control function by activating the icon associated with the function. A “back” button 7012 is provided to return to the original home control application interface.
  • Once a home control function for a room has been selected a further overlay interface for performing the selected function may be displayed. Example GUI screen 7100 of FIG. 71 shows such an overlay interface which is configured to control a TV. As shown in that figure, overlay interface 7102 includes a channel selection interface 7104, a function navigation interface 7106 and an audio/video control interface 7108 for a TV. An on/off button 7110 is provided for powering the TV on and off and a “back” button 7112 is provided to return to the previous overlay interface.
  • II.G Example Services Platform
  • FIG. 72 depicts a system 7200 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention that includes a services platform 7202 for enabling entities to deploy, manage optimize and monitor a network of devices 7204 (such as a network of devices 110) in a turnkey fashion. As shown in FIG. 72, services platform 7202 includes a device management subsystem 7212, a device monitoring subsystem 7214, an application store 7216, an application intelligence subsystem 7218 and a content aggregation subsystem 7220.
  • System 7200 further includes a computer 7230 that provides a Web-based user interface for easy access to the functionality provided by services platform 7202. Such a Web-based user interface may include, for example, a control panel for user access assignment and administration. Although only a single computer 7230 is shown in FIG. 72, any number of such computers may be provided to access services platform 7202.
  • Depending upon the implementation, services platform 7202 may include less than all of subsystems 7212, 7214, 7216, 7218 and 7220. Furthermore, an integrated user interface may be provided for accessing all of the included subsystems or, alternatively, separate user interfaces may be provided for each subsystem. Each of the various subsystems will now be described.
  • II.G.1 Device Management Subsystem
  • Device management subsystem 7212 is responsible for reliably communicating updated firmware and device configuration to deployed devices. These types of operations may be focused on a single device, various sub-sets of devices, or applied to all devices on network 7204. For example, a firmware update may be applied to a small community of devices as a test prior to updating the entire network 7204 of devices. This is critical to prevent a network of end users from having a negative experience.
  • Device configuration information may include but is not limited to GUI configuration, brand information, applications, or the like.
  • The ability to provision the network of devices is a critical component, especially when telephony is involved. Depending upon the implementation, this may involve integration with an existing telephony infrastructure. An embodiment of the present invention provides a “faceless” Web service that enables customers to populate a device configuration database. Device management subsystem 7212 then communicates those parameters to devices in network 7204. An embodiment of the invention also provides a provisioning application to administrators so as to support provisioning of small trials as a sales tool.
  • II.G.1.a Updates
  • A firmware image for a particular deployment may comprise a boot loader, kernel, file system, a branded framework application, and optionally DECT firmware for both a device and associated handsets. In one embodiment, these images are provided from device management subsystem 7212 to end user devices via File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Device management subsystem 7212 may include an import mechanism that maps the firmware images to particular device product line. Once a firmware image has been imported, an administrator may then explicitly instruct that the image be deployed to a specific group of devices on network 7204. This could equate to single device or tens of thousands. As devices complete the upgrade process, they will register the firmware update with device monitoring subsystem 7214.
  • In an embodiment, device management subsystem 7212 provides a unique deployment process for each of four categories of firmware updates: (1) new device initial start-up; (2) new application; (3) software version updates; and (4) fixes.
  • The process for new device initial start-up occurs automatically and no scheduling is required. Between the time of manufacture to end user activation, software upgrades may have occurred. Upon initial start-up, a set-up wizard executing on a device 110 automatically “checks in” with device management sub-system 7212 to pull down the latest version of the code.
  • The deployment of new applications is scheduled by a telecommunications carrier or other entity that administers network 7204 and pushed. Such applications may be communicated to end users via proactive promotion, and deployment may include post-delivery notification.
  • Software version updates may be dependent upon expansion of a feature set or technology progression (e.g., a new version of a video codec). Such updates may not be urgent in nature any may not produce a visible difference to an end user. In an embodiment, such updates are communicated from device management subsystem 7212 to a device using a non-intrusive awareness notification, such as a simple update in a settings screen of the device.
  • Fixes may be required as determined via support teams. Fixes may be global or individual in nature. Depending upon the severity and impact to the user, it may be desirable for the implementation of such fixes to be as “invisible” to an end user as possible. Different types of fixes include scheduled global fixes, immediate global fixes and individual fixes
  • Scheduled global fixes may be planned and pushed from device management subsystem 7212 to devices on network 7204. Such fixes may be non-interruptive in nature.
  • In the event a global fix must be immediately deployed (e.g., the severity of the problem is high), device management subsystem 7212 may cause a device to display an interruptive, non-dismissable dialog box with messaging that an important download is in progress and apologizing for any inconvenience.
  • Support representatives may be required to update an individual device to implement a fix. This may occur, for example, when a support representative is troubleshooting with an end user. To facilitate this, device management subsystem 7212 is configured to allow a release to be pushed to a device on demand. Also, devices may be configured to automatically check for the latest firmware upon re-boot. In this case, a support representative may request that an end user reboot his/her device. Devices may also provide an automatic update tool as part of a device settings application and may be directed to utilize the tool by a support representative to pull the latest update.
  • In an embodiment, device management subsystem 7212 is configured to minimize device interruption and required end-user activity while keeping end users appropriately notified. To this end, device management subsystem 7212 may be configured to perform one or more of the following functions: (1) confirm prior to download that a target device is currently inactive; (2) not disrupt any customer-initiated activity in progress; (3) wait for a target device to return to an idle state before deployment; (4) display to the user a notification message such as “update in progress, please wait”; (5) cause a device “version number” to be updated on a settings screen of a device when all updates have been deployed; (6) after delivery of a new application update, deliver a notification message to the user (such as “Congratulations, you have new features to enjoy from . . . ”) that can be deleted or saved by the user.
  • Device management subsystem 7212 may also be configured to obtain necessary end user permissions prior to delivery of new applications or firmware updates. For example, a global permission may be obtained via a general notification during new device initial start-up. Alternatively or additionally, individual permissions may be obtained for each download. For example, device management subsystem 7212 may be configured to display a message on a device requesting permission to deliver a firmware update and provide an interface by which an end user can provide a yes or no decision. Device management system 7212 will take the appropriate action based on the end user decision.
  • Device management subsystem 7212 may deploy a firmware update automatically in certain instances. For example, this may occur at new device initial start-up as mentioned above. In an embodiment, logic that automatically checks for the most recent software version is embedded in a set-up wizard that is executed by a device during initial start-up. This ensures that each new end user has the latest approved software and application set in the event devices have been shelved for periods of time prior to purchase/deployment.
  • A firmware update may also be automatically triggered in the event that a periodic check function implemented by device monitoring subsystem 7214 (described below) determines that a device does not have the latest firmware code.
  • An automatic firmware update may also be triggered upon device re-boot in an embodiment in which devices are configured to automatically check for the latest firmware upon re-boot.
  • Ideally, service providers will deploy firmware updates when devices are least likely to be in use (e.g., 1 A.M.-4 A.M.). Accordingly, in one implementation, device management subsystem 7212 allows an approved firmware update to be deployed immediately (upon command execution) or at a future set time via pre-programming
  • II.G.1.b Provisioning
  • Preferably, every application is responsible for implementing its own provisioning solution. To simplify field trials of a telephony application and customer deployments, an embodiment of the invention implements this support as part of the solution. A provision database exposes a Web service that enables a customer's existing telephony infrastructure to populate a device's telephony parameters. A change in configuration triggers notification of the device. The device will in turn retrieve the latest configurations via Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This does not suggest that a physical file needs to be created on the file system of the provisioning server. Again, the device contacts device monitoring subsystem 7214 to log the event.
  • II.G.1.c Administration
  • The Web-based user interface provided on computer 7230 provides administrative functions required for device management. In an embodiment, it allows assignment of view, approval and update authorization and implements a hierarchy for various levels of access. Example access levels may include: (1) view only (for tier 1 support representatives; the platform may be able to manage potentially hundreds or thousands of view access grants); (2) view and individual device deployment (for tier 2 support representatives, allowing them to proactively push the latest software version to an individual device at a time); (3) view and global device deployment (for managers that have access and authority to push a global or group targeted update); (4) view and release approval; (5) product managers (required to approve any new application global updates prior to such updates being made available for deployment); (6) technical managers (required to approve any software upgrades or fixes prior to such upgrades/fixes being made available for deployment); and (7) system administration (employees with access to assign and manage the above access).
  • II.G.1.d Web-Based Interface
  • In an embodiment, the Web-based interface implemented on computer 7230 is uncluttered and simple by design. It easily accommodates a change of look and feel (e.g., logo and brand color palette) so that it may be tailored for individual service providers. The user interface may also be configured to take into consideration scalability by providing easy search functionality to locate an individual device, or subsets of devices, among many thousands. Such device searching may permit devices to be searched for based on MAC ID, customer name, billing telephone number, zip code, etc.
  • Main sections of the user interface may include administration, device monitoring (as will be described in more detail below) and device management. In an embodiment, the device management interface allows for selection, approvals, push and monitoring of all upgrades. It may further include firmware history that provides a reference guide to version control. The firmware history may indicate when an update occurred, what was updated, why it was updated, who approved the update, and when the most recent update occurred. The device management interface may further include the ability to manage (view, create, add, change, delete) assigned groups of devices. The user interface may further include an “about device upgrades” section that comprises a central source for device management policies, procedures and frequently asked questions (FAQs). This section may be customizable by a service provider for their internal use.
  • FIG. 26, described above in reference to the application framework of device 110 provides an example of a Web-based user interface screen for interacting with device management subsystem 7212/device monitoring subsystem 7214.
  • II.G.2 Device Monitoring Subsystem
  • Device monitoring subsystem 7214 is configured to perform functions such as identifying a device's firmware version, installed applications, and activity. These functions may be important in providing customer support. Device monitoring subsystem 7214 also provides a reporting interface that allows near real time data to be presented to accurately understand device state, health and performance. Such reports may be provided for an individual device or for large groups of devices to provide global, visual views for executive management reporting.
  • By allowing a network of devices (such as network 7204) to be surveyed, device monitoring subsystem 7214 allows administrators as well as customer support representatives to determine what firmware a device is executing, the health of that device, as well as the frequency and the manner in which the device is used. Such information may be used for individual device insight and action as well as to monitor and report on devices on an aggregated basis.
  • II.G.2.a Customer Support
  • In an embodiment, device monitoring subsystem 7214 is configured to report the following information about a device: connection state, if in active or fail-safe mode, current firmware version, information on when historical updates were applied and frequency of usage (daily, weekly, etc.). This information may be made available to customer support representatives so that they can take appropriate action in the event of a customer issue.
  • II.G.2.b Reporting
  • In an embodiment, device monitoring subsystem 7214 is configured to allow an administrator to query near real time statistics of deployed device and applications. For example, an administrator may determine what percentage of all registered devices is actively connected. The aggregate number may be used as a metric of overall performance and also as an important tool for customer retention teams. For example, such data can provide such teams with the ability to proactively contact those customers that have purchased and registered a device but for some reason are not currently connected. Additionally, device monitoring subsystem 7214 may be queried to identify any devices not currently using the most current firmware version and to initiate an investigation as to why such devices are not accepting pushed updates.
  • II.G.2.c Administration
  • In one implementation, the Web-based user interface to device monitoring subsystem 7214 provides administrative functions necessary for device monitoring. It may implement a set of access levels such as was previously described in reference to device management subsystem 7212. However, it may expand functionality to allow authorization to specified tiers to run subset or global reports.
  • II.G.2.d Web-Based Interface
  • In an embodiment, the Web-based interface to device monitoring subsystem 7214 is configured to take into consideration scalability by providing easy search functionality to locate an individual device, or subsets of devices, among many thousands. Such device searching may permit devices to be searched for based on MAC ID, customer name, billing telephone number, zip code, etc. Additionally, the Web-based interface to device monitoring subsystem 7214 may provide the capability to generate predetermined queries and to display query results in various manners (text or visual).
  • FIG. 26, described above in reference to the application framework of device 110 provides an example of a Web-based user interface screen for interacting with device management subsystem 7212/device monitoring subsystem 7214.
  • II.G.3 Application Store
  • Application store 7216 comprises a portal that promotes application development in a managed subscription-based model. New applications are developed by authorized developers, verified by a regional organization, and subsequently released to the public via this platform. Revenue sharing is supported.
  • In one implementation, application store 7216 comprises a repository of Flash applications that device 110 and like devices can subscribe to, which may be offered for free, or at a nominal fee to an end user.
  • FIG. 73 depicts four main areas of the application store life cycle 7300. As shown in FIG. 73, the life cycle begins with the development 7302 of the applications. Applications may be developed by any number of entities including a developer of device 110, service providers that provide services via device 110, and independent developers. Such applications are tested 7304 and uploaded to a services database. Once applications have been validated, they can then be distributed 7306 to selected (or global) devices by an administrator. At this point, the selected devices in the field would now be capable of browsing 7308 and subscribing to the new application.
  • II.G.3.a Develop
  • As shown in FIG. 73, application store life cycle begins with development 7302.
  • II.G.3.a.i Developer Registration
  • In one embodiment, before a developer is eligible to submit applications, they must first register. This may involve creating a profile consisting of contact information, technical experience and account information for revenue sharing purposes. Once registered, a developer may become a Beta tester of his/her own applications. In addition, necessary terms and conditions may be required for developers to view and accept.
  • II.G.3.a.ii Application Development—SDK, Tools and Resources
  • In an embodiment, application development involves working within predefined guidelines. By conforming to such guidelines, a developer may ensure that the application will behave correctly on all devices 110.
  • To assist the development community, encourage their interest in creating new applications, and provide them with the aforementioned guidelines, a Web-based developers program may be made available under an appropriate license. The Web-based developers program may comprise a Software Development Kit (SDK) and additional tools and resources.
  • In an embodiment, the Web-based developers program includes but is not limited to: (1) an introduction and overview; (2) a getting started guide for development on a personal computer (PC) and installing the SDK; (3) a programming guide for a Flash player used by device 110; (4) a description of how applications work within the application framework of device 110; (5) a “Hello World” program; (6) additional sample code via simple program examples; (7) user interface and design information, including guidelines and Actionscript code for common design elements and components; (8) an emulator that allows the application to be developed and tested on a PC prior to migrating the application to device 110; (9) go-to-market insight, including information about target audiences, most popular categories and the like; (10) application lifecycle information, including information about managing updates and changes; and (11) frequently asked questions.
  • The resource pool for developers may also include an Internet-based developers' blog or community forum.
  • II.G.3.b Test
  • Developers may be provided with development devices and software that allow them to test and optimize their applications prior to submission. Some means of support for questions and assistance may further be provided.
  • A service provider may require that an approved ITL (Independent Test Lab) certify an application at the developer's expense before it will be accepted for publishing.
  • II.G.3.c Distribute
  • Once an application has been created and tested by a developer, it may be packaged for distribution, approved and published. Life cycle management may also be accommodated for.
  • II.G.3.c.i Packaging Applications for Distribution
  • Once various application components have been developed and tested to run on a device such as device 110, they may be packaged as defined for a target platform and uploaded accordingly. The upload process may be configured to identify the application as vendor specific or generic.
  • The developer may be required to package up several resources to satisfy deployment requirements. For example, the developer may be required to supply an application store icon and information movie. These two movies can then be utilized by application store 7216 when a user is browsing for applications to install. Once an application has been selected to be installed, the runtime requirements may require an icon movie and application movie. Optionally, a supporting native library and language file may also be provided. There may be instances when an application requires additional files. In addition, pricing requirements may need to be specified and included with the submitted package.
  • II.G.3.c.ii Upload to the Application Store
  • At this point in time, the developer can test the application through application store 7216 and seek any necessary approvals from a developer of device 110 or a service provider based upon agreed upon terms and conditions. For example, if a service provider positions device 110 as a family device, a term and condition may state that explicit content is not permitted.
  • Once approved, the application package may be uploaded and published as generally available, or to a certain device platform, and possibly vendor. Global or specified users would now have access to the application.
  • II.G.3.c.iii Lifecycle Management
  • Application store 7216 may enable independent developers, developers of device 110, or service providers (as appropriate) to post updated versions of an application, as well as the ability to delete.
  • Depending upon the implementation, update and delete capabilities may apply to applications available on application store 7216, applications already deployed to devices, or both. In certain situations, a published application may be revoked. Such revocation may result in a notification being sent to all subscribed devices and an automatic uninstall of the application. Alternatively, a developer may elect to allow existing users to keep the current application and simply decide to remove the offering from further availability.
  • Application store 7216 may also be configured to provide developers with a summary of customer reviews on a per-application basis to promote improvements in future releases.
  • II.G.3.d Browse—The Application Store
  • Application store 7216 is an application storefront that is executed on the display/touch panel of device 110. Its purpose is to present a list of authorized applications from which the user can optionally install, wherein the list of authorized applications may be a subset of all the applications stored in an application repository. Whether an application is authorized for a particular user may depend upon the identity of the user, upon which vendor is offering the application, and/or upon other alternative or additional factors. Depending upon the implementation, access to application store may be via devices 110 only or also via an Internet-based customer portal accessible to any browser-enabled system or device.
  • Certain applications may have associated costs to the end user. When these applications are purchased, a charge is processed to the appropriate subscriber account. To facilitate this, application store 7216 may be integrated with a billing system administered by a service provider.
  • Research has validated that consumers want to be able to choose from a range of applications and services, and then tailor them to their individual needs. Since device 110 may be accessible to various family members in a home, it may be configured to distinguish between individual users. A device so configured may present a list of applications to all users and then allow for presentation of a particular application within a single active user's profile.
  • FIG. 85 is a block diagram of an exemplary application store 8500 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 85, application store 8500 includes a repository of applications 8502 that are suitable for downloading to and installation and execution upon one or more networked telephony and digital media devices such as those described elsewhere herein. Each application stored in repository 8502 may comprise an application package such as was described elsewhere herein that includes: (1) an application movie that is executable by an application player installed on each of the network devices; (2) an install script that, when executed by a networked device, installs the application movie on the device; (3) an uninstall script that, when executed by a networked device, uninstalls the application movie from the device, and (4) an icon movie that, when executed by an application player installed on a networked device, presents a graphical representation of the application movie to a GUI of the device and that is operable to invoke the application movie after installation thereof on the device.
  • As further shown in FIG. 85, application store 8500 further includes at least a first vendor interface 8504 and a second vendor interface 8506. First vendor interface 8504 is associated with a first vendor (e.g., a telecommunications company, multi system operator, Internet Service Provider, or the like) and is operable to provide access to a first subset of the applications stored in application repository 8502 for downloading to and installation and execution upon a first plurality of networked devices. The first plurality of networked devices are associated with one or more customers or subscribers of the first vendor, denoted first vendor users 1-n in FIG. 85.
  • Second vendor interface 8506 is associated with a second vendor that is different than the first vendor and is operable to provide access to a second subset of the applications stored in application repository 8502 for downloading to and installation and execution upon a second plurality of networked devices. The second plurality of networked devices are associated with one or more customers or subscribers of the second vendor, denoted second vendor users 1-n in FIG. 85.
  • Although only two vendor interfaces 8504 and 8506 are shown in FIG. 85, it is to be understood that any number of vendor interfaces may be used in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
  • First and second vendor interfaces 8504 and 8506 may each comprise an application storefront that is executed on a display/touch panel of device 110. The storefront may comprise, for example, a GUI such as that described above in reference to FIG. 74. Because application store 8500 includes a different interface for each vendor, each vendor may advantageously customize the “look and feel” of its associated interface. For example, each vendor may include vendor-specific branding or other user-viewable content within its associated interface. As another example, each vendor may include vendor-specific functionality or features within its associated interface.
  • The subset of applications made available via first vendor interface 8504 may be entirely different from that made available via second vendor interface 8506. Alternatively, the subsets of applications made available via each vendor interface may be overlapping or even identical. The system shown in FIG. 85 advantageously enables each vendor to selectively determine which applications will be made available to its customers and/or subscribers. Applications may also be customized to include functionality or user-viewable information uniquely associated with a particular vendor.
  • II.G.3.d.i Device User Interface
  • In view of the breadth of potential application additions and limited screen real estate of certain implementations of device 110 in comparison to a PC, a user interface to application store 7216 may be designed for convenience and simplicity while planning for expansion in navigation and caring for complexities. For example, categorization of applications may be used to assist a user in searching for applications. Example categories include genre, paid vs. free, most popular, highest rated, or newest.
  • Additionally, as device 110 may comprise a device that is accessible to an entire family, it may be configured to require a password before providing access to application store 7216. This feature may be used, for example, by parents to prevent unauthorized application purchases by their children.
  • FIG. 74 depicts one example GUI screen 7400 that may be used to provide an interface to application store 7216 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 74, example GUI screen 7400 includes a status bar 7402 and an application store interface 7404.
  • Application store interface 7404 includes a first display area that displays all or a portion of a list of application categories 7410. To page up through list 7410 a “page up” button 7412 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 7414 may be activated. To select an application category from among those in list 7410, the horizontal bar that displays the title of the application category may be activated.
  • Application store interface 7404 further includes a second display area that displays all or a portion of a collection of applications 7416 that fall within the category currently selected in list 7410. To page up through collection 7416 a “page up” button 7418 may be activated and to page down a “page down” button 7420 may be activated. A page indicator 7422 indicates which of one or more pages of collection 7416 is currently being displayed. For each application identified in collection 7416, an icon 7424, a name 7426 and a rating 7428 (which may be based on end user feedback and/or some other source) is provided. To select an application from among those in collection 7416, the icon associated with the application may be activated. A “checkout” button 7430 may be activated to launch a dialog by which a selected application may be purchased for download and installation to a device 110.
  • II.G.3.e Administration
  • As developers submit applications, a formal process may be used to validate the applications before releasing them to the general public. This process may include provisioning devices that will participate in a Beta program. Any Beta device may be able to install newly uploaded applications for early review. The goal is to protect the public from any rough applications that introduce a negative experience.
  • The network administrator may manage the various users on the platform including subscribers, developers, managers, and customer support representatives.
  • The network administrator may be able to provision groups of devices. These groups can be assigned various rights that determine their role on the network. To be subjected to early application access, the Beta permission would be granted.
  • II.G.3.f Web-Based Interface
  • A Web-based interface for the developers program and application store 7216 provides a face of the platform and may facilitate its successful implementation. In one embodiment, the Web-based interface includes four areas that correspond to the four stages of the application store life cycle—namely, develop, test, deploy and browse. Such a Web-base interface may be simple in design and easy to navigate.
  • II.G.4 Application Intelligence Subsystem
  • Application intelligence subsystem 7218 is configured to provide application usage analysis by tracking specific application metrics. Such functionality advantageously enables valuable trend spotting for end-user-driven, new application development.
  • II.G.4.a Usage Analysis
  • Application intelligence subsystem 7218 may be configured to deliver vital usage analysis by tracking specific application metrics. Such metrics may be of value to marketing teams, product management teams, customer retention teams and developers. In one embodiment, application intelligence subsystem 7218 enables a user to view a ranking of most frequently used/least used applications for all end users in the aggregate or for some subset of end users. Application intelligence subsystem 7218 may also provide statistics on day of week/time of day usage behavior.
  • In addition to the benefits offered to the service providers and developers, the data may be extended to end users. For example, end users may be notified which applications are the most popular applications.
  • Application intelligence subsystem 7218 may also be configured to permit end users to rate applications and to share such ratings information in the aggregate with other end users.
  • II.G.4.b Administration
  • A system administrator may have the ability to grant or deny entities the ability to generate and view application intelligence reports. Given customer proprietary information policies, the usage behavior of individual devices is securely protected.
  • II.G.4.c Web-Based Interface
  • In an embodiment, a Web-based interface to application intelligence subsystem 7218 is visual in nature, and has the capability to produce executive level reports. Such reports may be transferable to standard Microsoft® PowerPoint® (developed and sold by Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Wash.) presentations. FIGS. 24 and 25, described elsewhere herein, depict example Web-based interface screens that may be used to report application intelligence information in accordance with various implementations.
  • II.G.5 Content Aggregation Subsystem
  • Content aggregation subsystem 7220 is configured to remove the burden on service providers of individually having to manage delivery of content to devices within network 7204 from multiple content providers. Content aggregation subsystem 7220 provides a pre-packaged content solution with personalization, recurring revenue, ad insertion and aggregated billing opportunities. By managing content processing/transcoding, caching and user preferences, content aggregation subsystem 7220 can optimize the performance of a device within network 7204 by alleviating the content processing needs of the device.
  • FIG. 75 is a block diagram 7500 that shows how content aggregation subsystem 7220 may be used to aggregate content from multiple content providers in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. As shown in that figure, a plurality of content providers—namely, content providers 7502 a, 7502 b and 7502 c, are configured to provide content for delivery to device 110. Such content may include for example video content, audio content, graphic content, text content, or any other form of content that can be delivered over a network. Device 110 uses such content to a plurality of content-based applications—namely content-based applications 7504 a, 7504 b, 7504 c and 7504 d.
  • Content provided to device 110 by content provider 7502 a is processed entirely by device 110. Such processing may include content processing via ActionScript functionality of a Flash player executing on device 110, via a dedicated C/C++ class module which is a part of a software architecture of device 110, or via various codecs for audio, video and images that also form a part of the software architecture of device 110.
  • In contrast, content provided to device 110 by content providers 7502 b and 7502 c is first received and processed by content aggregation subsystem 7220. Such processing may include, for example, audio or video transcoding. Content aggregation subsystem 7220 may also cache content so that it need not be retrieved by subsystem 7220 each time it is requested by a device. Any of a variety of caching protocols may be used. Content aggregation subsystem 7220 may also filter or modify content based on user preferences. Processed content is then provided from content aggregation subsystem 7220 to device 110 for use in supporting content-based applications 7504 a-7504 d. Since a certain amount of content processing has already been performed by content aggregation subsystem 7220, the amount of processing that must be performed by device 110 is reduced. This helps improve performance by device 110.
  • Content aggregation subsystem 7220 may perform additional functions such as the insertion of ads into content prior to delivery to device 110. Content aggregation subsystem 7220 can advantageously provide a source of recurring revenue to an administrator of the subsystem. The subsystem can also aggregate services provided by multiple content providers to a single bill.
  • II.H Directory Services and Click-to-Call
  • As discussed above with respect to FIG. 63, device 110 may include a directory services application that allows a user to search for businesses within various service categories. Businesses may be selected based on geographic proximity to a particular location. Once a business has been found, the user can activate a telephone button icon associated with the business to place a telephone call directly from the directory services application interface (also referred to herein as “click-to-call”). In an embodiment, the directory services application also supports text messaging to a business in accordance with a Short Message Service (SMS) protocol.
  • As shown in FIG. 76, a directory services application 7602 executing on device 110 may obtain directory services information in real-time from a single IP-based directory 7604. In particular, directory services application 7602 sends a query via the Internet to IP-based directory 7604. The query may specify, for example, a name of a business, a category of businesses, or one or more search keywords. The query may also include geographic information, such as city, state or zip code in order to obtain location-specific results. Based on the query, the IP-based directory will return one or more results in the form of business names, addresses and telephone numbers. IP-based directory 7604 may comprise a directory provided by any of a wide variety of IP-based directory service providers.
  • As shown in FIG. 77, a directory services application 7702 executing on device 110 may also obtain directory services information in real-time from multiple IP-based directories, such as directories 7706 a, 7706 b and 7706 c. In this case, directory services application 7702 sends a query to an aggregator 7704 that is configured to distribute the query to each of the multiple directories. The query may be formulated in the manner described above in regard to FIG. 76. Aggregator 7704 then receives query results A, query results B and query results C from IP-based directories 7706 a, 7706 b and 7706 c, respectively, and aggregates the results for delivery to directory services application 7702. Aggregating directory information in this fashion may be beneficial in that it may provide an end user with access to more comprehensive directory information. Certain IP-based directories may also provide certain types of information that other IP-based directories don't. Furthermore, if a first IP-based directory is currently being built, a second IP-based directory may also be used as a fallback directory in case the first IP-based directory is not capable of delivering adequate results.
  • In either of the scenarios depicted in FIGS. 76 and 77, query results may be ordered for presentation to an end user. Depending upon the implementation, results may be ordered by the IP-based directory, the aggregator, and/or the directory services application executing on device 110. Such results may be ordered, for example, alphabetically or by geographic proximity to a specified location.
  • In one embodiment, results are ordered in accordance with a “premium placement” scheme in which businesses can pay to have their information appear at the top of the query results or highlighted in some other fashion intended to garner the attention of an end user. Such highlighting techniques may include, for example, providing a larger listing or using bold text, background highlighting, animations or the like. As shown in FIG. 78, an aggregator 7804 may be configured to obtain such “premium placement” results from a premium placement directory 7806 based on a query received from a directory services application 7802, while also obtaining standard directory results from at least one IP-based directory 7808. The query information may also be used to obtain ads from an ads database 7810 for display within the directory services application interface on device 110. This provides yet another revenue opportunity for a proprietor of aggregator 7804. Premium placement directory information, standard directory information and ads may all be returned from aggregator 7804 to directory services application 7802.
  • Payment for “premium placement” may be based on the display of the premium placement directory information by directory services application 7802 and/or upon the use of directory services application 7802 to place a telephone call to a premium placement business. For example, a payment may be due each time premium placement directory information is displayed or each time a phone call is placed that is attributable to a premium placement entry. The latter payment method is easily implemented because directory services application 7802 is capable of attributing the placement of a call to a particular business entry and can be configured to instantaneously report such information.
  • A directory services application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention may also permit a user to click on or otherwise activate a directory entry to access additional information or functionality associated with a particular business. Additional information may be in the form of graphic, audio (e.g., voice) and/or video content that is displayed or played back by device 110. Additional functionality may be in the form of an application interface that allows an end user to place an order or otherwise acquire products or services from the business (e.g., an interface that allows a user to place an order for pizza from a restaurant). A business may pay a fee in order to have such information or functionality associated with its entry and/or may pay a separate fee each time such information or functionality is accessed or used.
  • Information aggregated from multiple devices 110 can be used to generate valuable reports regarding what types of products and services end users are looking for and which businesses have actually been contacted using the click-to-dial feature. A directory services application or other application operating on device 110 may also solicit ratings or rankings information from end users about businesses that they have called via device 110. Such information may advantageously be used to answer community-based queries such as “What electrician do most people in my neighborhood call?” or “What is the favorite pizza place in my area?”
  • One implementation of the present invention that uses click-to-dial reporting to provide community-based popularity information will now be described in reference to FIG. 79. As shown in that figure, a directory services application 7902 executing on device 110 provides click-to-dial reporting information to a dialed calls database 7908 each time an end user uses the click-to-dial feature of application 7902. Database 7908 acquires such information from multiple devices 110 to generate accumulated information regarding which businesses have been dialed using the click-to-dial feature and how many times such businesses have been dialed. Dialed calls database 7908 may maintain such information for each of a plurality of geographic locations.
  • When an end user solicits directory information from directory services application 7902, directory services application 7902 sends a query to an aggregator 7904. Aggregator 7904 distributes the query to multiple directories 7906, which may include both a premium placement directory 7910 and a standard IP-based directory 7912 as discussed above, and obtains corresponding results in the form of business names, addresses and telephone numbers. Such results may be limited to a particular geographic area. Aggregator 7904 then queries dialed calls database 7908 with the returned telephone numbers to determine the popularity of each business based on click-to-call volume. Aggregator 7904 then returns the results along with the popularity information returned from dialed calls database 7908 to directory services application 7902. Directory services application 7902 then presents the results to the end user. For example, directory services application 79Y02 may present all results sorted from most popular to least popular. As another example, directory services application 7902 may present premium placement results followed by ordinary results, wherein the premium placement results and the ordinary results are each sorted by popularity. Still other sorting approaches may be used.
  • In the foregoing example of FIG. 79, the popularity of a business is determined based on reported click-to-call volume alone. In additional embodiments, end user feedback such as end user rating or ranking information may additionally or alternatively be solicited via device 110 and used to determine the popularity of a business. Directory services application 7902 may also be configured to display end user comments about particular businesses.
  • FIG. 80 depicts an embodiment 8000 of a directory services application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention that includes preferences logic 8002, contacts integration logic 8004, ratings logic 8006 and favorites integration logic 8008. Each of these elements will now be described.
  • Preferences logic 8002 allows an end user to “tag” an entry for a business that is listed in the application interface of directory services application 8000. The method by which an entry is tagged may vary depending upon the implementation. Once an entry has been tagged it will subsequently be presented at the top of the list for the relevant business category. Thus, for example, if an end user tags a particular movie theater, that movie theater will appear at the top of the list the next time the movie theater category is selected. If multiple businesses within the same category have been tagged, a sorting algorithm may be used to determine the order in which the tagged businesses appear. For example, a most-recently-used sorting algorithm may be used. Preferences logic 8002 thus allows a user to easily access directory information for a preferred business without having to actually create, maintain or find contact information for the business.
  • Contacts integration logic 8004 is configured to allow an end user to add contact information associated with a business identified in the application interface of directory services application 8000 to an address book maintained by a contacts application resident on device 110.
  • Ratings logic 8006 is configured to permit a user to submit ratings information about a particular business identified in the application interface of directory service application 8000. Such ratings information can then be aggregated by a service provider and used by directory services application 8000 to display community-based ratings for businesses, or to sort business entries by ratings.
  • Favorites integration logic 8008 is configured to enable a user to add a business identified in the application interface of directory services application 8000 to a favorites list that may be maintained by directory services application 8000 or a separate application resident on device 110. Activating an entry in the favorites list will invoke a speed-dial feature that will cause the business to be called.
  • One implementation of a click-to-call user interface flow in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 81, 82 and 83. As shown in FIG. 81, the flow begins with the presentation of a GUI screen 8100 associated with a directory services application to an end user. GUI screen 8100 includes a list of business categories 8102 and a plurality of entries 8104 corresponding to a selected category within category list 8102.
  • In an embodiment, category list 8102 represents a sub-category within a hierarchical list of business categories. Thus, for example, category list 8102 may represent the category of “pizza restaurants” which itself is a sub-category of the category “restaurants.” In one implementation, the directory services application associated with GUI screen 8100 allows a user to navigate among a hierarchical list of business categories and sub-categories in order to find a desired list of businesses.
  • In one embodiment, category list 8102 represents a “quick access” list of categories that are deemed most useful to a user. The quick access list may be automatically compiled based on historical information relating to which categories are most often accessed by an end user. Alternatively or additionally, the quick access list may be manually compiled based on express designation of categories by the end user. The use of a quick access list helps ensure that end users are not presented with categories that they do not often use. Category list 8102 may also represent categories that have most recently been accessed by an end user.
  • Depending upon the implementation, category list 8102 may be sorted alphabetically, by frequency of use, or based on some other sorting algorithm. For manageability, category list 8102 may be limited to some maximum number of entries. End users may be given the option to delete a category from category list 8102.
  • In a further embodiment, category list 8102 may represent the results of a category search executed by an end user via another GUI screen of the directory services application.
  • Once an end user has activated one of entries 8104 shown in GUI screen 8100, a GUI screen 8200 depicted in FIG. 82 will be displayed. GUI screen 8200 provides additional information 8202 about the selected business. Such information may include an image 8204, audio and/or video content 8206, and text 8208. Such information also includes a telephone number 8210.
  • The information presented in GUI screen 8200 may be provided from the business itself or from some third party information provider, such as a third party IP-based directory service. The information may be provided in a very simple format or may be provided in an elaborate format, using animation, streaming audio/video content, or the like.
  • Upon activation of telephone number 8210 by an end user, a GUI screen 8300 depicted in FIG. 83 will be displayed. As shown in FIG. 83, GUI screen 8300 includes a dial button 8302, a contacts button 8304, a favorites button 8306, a bookmark button 8308, a comment button 8310 and a cancel button 8312.
  • When an end user presses dial button 8302, the click-to-dial functionality of the directory services application will be invoked and a telephone call will be placed from device 110 to the selected business. As noted above, the placement of the call via this interface may be reported to an external entity for tracking business popularity or other statistics.
  • When an end user activates contacts button 8304, information about the selected business will be imported into an address book maintained by a contacts application resident on device 110. Depending upon the implementation, this process may involve launching an interactive dialog in which the end user must engage.
  • When an end user activates favorites button 8306, the selected business will be tagged such that it will subsequently be presented at the top of the list for the relevant business category. Thus, for example, if an end user activates favorites button 8306 for a particular movie theater, that movie theater will appear at the top of the list the next time the movie theater category is selected. If multiple businesses within the same category have been selected as favorites, a sorting algorithm may be used to determine the order in which the businesses appear.
  • When an end user activates bookmark button 8308, the selected business will be saved to a “bookmarked” business category for easy access during subsequent use of the directory services application.
  • When an end user activates comment button 8310, the user is presented with an interface by which the end user can submit feedback about the selected business. Depending upon the implementation, such feedback may be submitted in the form of a rating (e.g., a certain number of stars out of 5 stars, a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”, etc.) and/or as text comments. Such feedback can then be aggregated by a service provider and then used by the directory services application to display community-based ratings or comments for businesses or to sort business entries by ratings.
  • When an end user activates cancel button 8312, the end user terminates the transaction and may be returned, for example, to GUI screen 8100.
  • It should be noted that depending upon the implementation, either or both of GUI screens 8200 and 8300 need not be used. For example, activating an entry within GUI screen 8100 may automatically place a phone call to the selected business. Also, activating phone number 8210 within GUI screen 8200 may automatically place a phone call to the selected business.
  • Click-to-call records generated by a directory services application in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention may be used to generate a variety of valuable business reports. Such reports may provide a volume of calls per time period, busy hours, a number of entries viewed without calls/skips, a number of hang-ups or unanswered calls or a number of favorite registrations for a particular business.
  • III. Example Computer System
  • Embodiments of the present invention described herein, including systems, methods/processes, and/or apparatuses, may be implemented using one or more processor-based computer systems, such as computer system 8400 shown in FIG. 84. As shown in FIG. 84, computer system 8400 includes a processing unit 8404 that includes one or more processors or processor cores. Processor unit 8404 is connected to a communication infrastructure 8402, which may comprise, for example, a bus or a network.
  • Computer system 8400 also includes a main memory 8406, preferably random access memory (RAM), and may also include a secondary memory 8408. Secondary memory 8408 may include, for example, a hard disk drive 8422 and/or a removable storage drive 8424. Removable storage drive 8424 may comprise a floppy disk drive, a magnetic tape drive, an optical disk drive, a tape backup, or the like. Removable storage drive 8424 reads from and/or writes to a removable storage unit 8432 in a well-known manner. Removable storage unit 8432 may comprise a floppy disk, magnetic tape, optical disk, or the like, which is read by and written to by removable storage drive 8424. As will be appreciated by persons skilled in the relevant art(s), removable storage unit 8432 includes a computer-readable storage medium having stored therein computer software and/or data.
  • In alternative implementations, secondary memory 8408 may include other similar means for allowing computer programs or other instructions to be loaded into computer system 8400. Such means may include, for example, a removable storage unit 8434 and an interface 8426. Examples of such means may include a memory stick and an industry standard interface (such as a universal serial bus (USB) interface) suitable for interfacing with the memory stick, a memory card and associated card reader, a removable memory chip (such as an EPROM or PROM) and associated socket, a program cartridge and cartridge interface (such as that found in video game devices), and other removable storage units 8434 and interfaces 8426 that allow software and data to be transferred from removable storage unit 8434 to computer system 8400.
  • Computer system 8400 may further include a display 8410 for presenting user-viewable content rendered by processing unit 8404 and/or optional display interface hardware (not shown in FIG. 84) as well as one or more input/output (I/O) devices 8412 for receiving input from or producing output to a user. Exemplary input devices include a keyboard, mouse, keypad, touch screen, or the like. Exemplary output devices include audio devices such as speakers. Display 8410 may also be considered an output device.
  • Computer system 8400 may also include a communication interface 8414. Communication interface 8414 allows software and data to be transferred between computer system 8400 and external devices. Examples of communication interface 8414 may include a modem, a network interface (such as an Ethernet card), a communications port, a PCMCIA slot and card, or the like. Software and data transferred via communication interface 8414 are in the form of signals which may be electronic, electromagnetic, optical, or other signals capable of being received by communication interface 8414. These signals are provided to communication interface 8414 via a communication path 8442. Communications path 8442 carries signals and may be implemented using wired communication media such as a phone line, coaxial cable or fiber optic cable, as well as wireless communication media such as radio frequency (RF) or infrared communication channels.
  • As used herein, the terms “computer program medium” and “computer readable medium” are used to generally refer to media such as removable storage unit 8432, removable storage unit 8434 and a hard disk installed in hard disk drive 8422. Computer program medium and computer readable medium can also refer to memories, such as main memory 8406 and secondary memory 8408, which can be semiconductor devices (e.g., DRAMs, etc.). These computer program products are means for providing software to computer system 8400.
  • Computer programs (also called computer control logic, programming logic, or logic) are stored in main memory 8406 and/or secondary memory 8408. Computer programs may also be received via communication interface 8414. Such computer programs, when executed, enable computer system 8400 to implement features of the present invention as discussed herein. Accordingly, such computer programs represent controllers of the computer system 8400. Where the invention is implemented using software, the software may be stored in a computer program product and loaded into computer system 8400 using removable storage drive 8424, interface 8426, or communication interface 8414.
  • The invention is also directed to computer program products comprising software stored on any computer readable medium. Such software, when executed in one or more data processing devices, causes a data processing device(s) to operate as described herein. Embodiments of the present invention employ any computer readable medium, known now or in the future. Examples of computer readable mediums include, but are not limited to, primary storage devices (e.g., any type of random access memory) and secondary storage devices (e.g., hard drives, floppy disks, CD ROMS, zip disks, tapes, magnetic storage devices, optical storage devices, MEMs, nanotechnology-based storage device, etc.).
  • IV. Managed Services Platform
  • As noted previously, several companies offer services where a user can search for and download applications to his mobile device. Currently, however, there is no oversight of such a process, and an enterprise may be averse to permitting employees to freely download applications from such services onto company mobile devices. The description contained herein presents several arrangements that address this concern and that present a secure environment for the retrieval and installation of applications on protected enterprise mobile devices or portable units whose access is or should be restricted in some manner.
  • To achieve this objective, a managed services platform is presented in which the platform includes a DMS server and an AS server. The DMS server can act as a gateway for communications with one or more computing devices, and the computing devices can be associated with a first entity. The AS server can be communicatively coupled with the DMS server. When a first computing device contacts the DMS server, the DMS server can be operable to provide a bundle to the first computing device. As an example, the bundle contains content that at least includes one or more configuration messages and an application set that contains one or more predefined applications. In another arrangement, the content of the bundle can be determined at least in part by the first entity.
  • The arrangement described above can permit safe and secure delivery of content to a portable computing device, as the downloaded material can be from a known and authorized source. In addition, steps can be taken to ensure that the content that is delivered is authorized to be delivered to a particular mobile device. Embodiments that have been described above and those that will be presented below can be used to provide such a system.
  • Referring to FIG. 86, an example of a system 9000 that includes a managed services platform 9010 is shown. The managed services platform 9010 can communicate with a network 9020, which can be comprised of any suitable number and type of interconnected communications infrastructure operating in accordance with any suitable type and number of protocols and standards. As an example, the network 9020 can be accessed through a conventional Internet connection, whether wired or wireless. In one arrangement, the platform 9010 can include a device management service (DMS) server 9030 and an application service (AS) server 9040, and the DMS server 9030 and the AS server 9040 can be communicatively coupled to one another such that bi-directional communication exchange between these two components can occur.
  • The managed services platform 9010 can be configured to communicate with one or more portable computing devices 9050. The DMS server 9030 can serve as a gateway for communications with one or more of the devices 9050 such that the DMS server 9030 is responsible for exchanging messages and data with the devices 9050 or for directing or otherwise overseeing the exchange of messages and data between the devices 9050 and other suitable components. The term “DMS server” is defined as a component or a group of components that enable bi-directional communication with at least a portable computing device such that messages, updates, settings or other data can be delivered to such a device.
  • In one arrangement, the DMS server 9030 can be a computer that includes a processor (not shown), memory (not shown), a computer-readable storage medium (not shown), a network adapter (not shown), and other components known to those skilled in the art. A DMS client interface 9060 can be stored on the computer-readable storage medium, or stored to a data storage device that is communicatively linked to the DMS server 9030. The DMS client interface 9060 can interface with the portable computing devices 9050. For example, the DMS client interface 9060 can include a message publisher interface (not shown) that communicates DMS commands to the portable computing devices 9050 and that facilitates a communication service that employs a consolidated polling technique to conduct message exchange. This communication service, referred to as a heartbeat service, provides a common message transport bus where individual applications running on a managed device can subscribe to receive messages.
  • A portable computing device 9050 can be any device that subscribes to or is configured to subscribe to the managed services platform 9010 and that may be communicatively linked to the DMS server 9030 to receive one or more commands from the DMS client interface 9060. As an example, a portable computing device 9050 is a tablet, a laptop computer, a smart phone or a communications device that is embedded within another component, such as a vehicle or an appliance. In one arrangement, a portable computing device 9050 can include a DMS client 9070 and a DMS agent 9080 instantiated thereon. The DMS client 9070 and DMS agent 9080 can be implemented as computer-readable program code that, when executed by a processor, implements the various processes described herein. A portable computing device 9050 can also include one or more displays 9090, one or more transceivers 9100 and one or more processors 9110. The transceivers 9100 can enable the device 9050 to communicate with the DMS server 9030, the AS server 9040 and any other component via any suitable wired or wireless connection.
  • The term “DMS client” is defined as client-side software instantiated on a portable computing device that establishes a communication link with a DMS server and, among other things, receives DMS commands from the DMS server. In addition, the term “DMS agent” is defined as client-side software that is instantiated on a portable computing device that implements the DMS commands received from the DMS server. The DMS agent 9080 can be implemented on the devices 9050 as a component of the DMS client 9070 or on the devices 9050 as a separate component with which the DMS client 9070 communicates.
  • In one embodiment, the DMS commands can be communicated to a portable computing device 9050 in response to the DMS server 9030 receiving a solicitation or heartbeat from the device 9050. In this regard, the command can be requested by the DMS client 9070 via the heartbeat, as opposed to being pushed by the DMS server 9030 to the device 9050.
  • In illustration, the heartbeat service of the portable computing device 9050 can periodically communicate a heartbeat to the DMS server 9030 to indicate that the device 9050 is turned on or active and available to receive DMS commands, which may be available from the DMS server 9030. As used herein, the term “heartbeat” is defined as a message communicated from a portable computing device to a DMS server that indicates the availability of the portable computing device to receive DMS commands or messages. A portable computing device 9050 can be configured to communicate the heartbeat intervals defined by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, a certain event, etc. Such intervals can be static, user configurable, or configurable via the update process.
  • When a heartbeat is received from a portable computing device 9050, the DMS server 9030 can communicate a heartbeat response. If no commands are presently available, the heartbeat response can indicate such to the device 9050. If one or more commands are available for the device 9050, the heartbeat response can indicate that one or more commands will be communicated to the device 9050. For example, the heartbeat response can indicate that the DMS command will be communicated to a device 9050 in response to a next heartbeat, or at a particular time. In this regard, the heartbeat and heartbeat response can include data that facilitates coordination between the DMS server 9030 and the device 9050 for delivery of the commands. After the commands have been executed, a next heartbeat generated by the portable computing device 9050 can indicate to the DMS server 9030 the status of the update, the status of the device 9050 or any other relevant data. As will be explained below, this transport mechanism can permit the delivery of various types of data to the portable computing devices 9050. It is understood, however, that the system 9000 is not limited to this particular transport mechanism, as other suitable techniques for establishing and maintaining communications in the system 9000 may be used.
  • The AS server 9040 can be a computer that includes a processor (not shown), memory (not shown), a computer-readable storage medium (not shown), a network adapter (not shown), and other components known to those skilled in the art. An AS client interface 9120 can be stored on the computer-readable storage medium, or stored to a data storage device that is communicatively linked to the AS server 9040. The AS client interface 9120 can interface with the portable computing devices 9050. The AS server 9040 can also host one or more application repositories 9130, which can offer one or more applications for download to the portable computing devices 9050. An “application repository” is defined as a medium for storing one or more applications for download to a computing device. An “application” is defined as software that when installed on a machine enables a user to perform one or more specified tasks. As will be explained below, the application repository 9130 can offer applications to the devices 9050 on an individual, global or group basis, a process in which several applications are grouped together for download to a device 9050. A suitable entity can add applications to, modify applications in or remove applications from the application repositories 9130.
  • Similar to the DMS arrangement described above, a portable computing device 9050 can include an AS client 9140, which can be implemented as computer-readable program code that, when executed by a processor, implement the various processes described herein. The term “AS client” is defined as client-side software instantiated on a portable computing device that establishes a communication link with an AS server and enables the device or facilitates its ability to receive application downloads.
  • In one arrangement, one or more of the portable computing devices 9050 can be associated with a first entity, while one or more other portable computing devices can be associated with a second entity. For example, the first entity or second entity may be an enterprise, such as a private business or a government agency, a family or some other group linked by one or more common factors. The phrase “associated with an entity” is defined as a relationship between a first entity and a component, service, employee, agent or other entity such that the first entity maintains at least some control over that component, service, employee, agent or other entity. For example, a portable computing device 9050 can be assigned to a first entity such that information relevant to the operation of the first entity is presented on the device 9050 and employees or agents of the first entity can operate the device 9050 on behalf of the first entity.
  • As an example, all or a portion of the managed services platform 9010 can be hosted by an entity that is distinct from the first and second entities. Such an arrangement can alleviate from the first and second entities the burden of hosting these systems. For example, if the first entity is a private business, the private business may contract with another business to host the managed services platform. Of course, the first entity may wish to host all or a portion of the managed services platform 9010 itself. In addition, different entities may also host portions of the managed services platform 9010. In particular, a first hosting entity may manage the DMS server 9030, while a second hosting entity may be responsible for the AS server 9040.
  • Virtually any number of portable computing devices 9050 can be assigned to the managed services platform 9010, and these devices 9050 can be associated with any suitable number of entities. In addition, a portable computing device 9050 can be configured to communicate with several managed services platforms 9010. For example, a first platform 9010 may serve as a primary platform, while a second platform 9010 may operate as a secondary platform. In particular, a portable computing device 9050 may communicate with a primary platform 9010 during normal operation but may communicate with a secondary platform 9010 if the primary platform 9010 malfunctions. Moreover, the device 9050 may initially communicate with the secondary platform 9010 upon activation and then can receive instructions to switch to the primary platform 9010. The use of a secondary platform 9010 can also permit additional messages, such as updates or corrective actions, to be sent to the device 9050, if necessary. The secondary platform 9010 can also be used to ensure security by directing the portable computing device 9050 only to an authorized primary platform 9010 such as, for example, when a device 9050 is first activated or following an update.
  • As explained earlier, multiple portable computing devices 9050 that are associated with numerous entities are contemplated in this arrangement. In addition, a user who is associated with the first entity may be assigned a portable computing device 9050 that is associated with the first entity. For example, a private business may purchase or lease a portable computing device 9050 and can assign the device 9050 to one of its employees. If desired, the private business can also assign a single device 9050 to multiple employees in which each of the employees can be assigned log-in credentials to access/operate the single device 9050. Additional examples of this principle will be presented below.
  • The arrangement described above can enable the selective download of applications, settings and other data to be sent to one or more portable computing devices 9050. Such information can be provided to a device 9050 on an individual basis, a group basis or a broadcast basis. Multiple examples of this process and other supporting structures will be presented below. A description will be presented here in which a device 9050 is ready for an initial activation.
  • In this example, a first entity, which may be a private business, wishes to assign a portable computing device 9050 to a person who is associated with the first entity. This person may be, for example, an employee, agent or contractor of the business. As such, this person may have a performance function that is related to or associated with the business. The term “performance function” is defined as one or more tasks assigned to a person to be conducted on behalf of the assigning party. As an example, a performance function can be the duties assigned to an employee or an agent of the business.
  • The portable computing device 9050 that is assigned to the person associated with the first entity can have an identification that enables the device 9050 to be uniquely identified from other computing devices 9050. In addition, this identification can be used to identify a particular user of a device 9050, especially if that person is the only user assigned to the device 9050. Of course, multiple users may be assigned to a single device 9050, if so desired. As an example, the unique identifier for a device 9050 can be a media access control (MAC) address, although other elements can be used for such a task. If the portable computing device 9050 supports multiple users, then the identification can also include information that enables the users of the device 9050 to be distinguished from one another. For example, a user name or other moniker can be included with a MAC address to identify the device 9050 and which user of the device 9050 is currently active or currently wishes to receive/transmit/exchange data.
  • When the user activates the assigned portable computing device 9050, the device 9050 can contact the managed services platform 9010, such as by generating and sending an activation notice to the DMS server 9030. The device 9050 can send the activation notice when the device 9050 is first activated or even during subsequent power up cycles, and this notice can be conducted in accordance with the heartbeat process previously described or some other suitable process. The term “activation notice” is defined as a notice that is intended to inform a component or a group of components that the element that sent the notice is ready to receive data from the component or group of components. In receipt of the activation notice, the DMS server 9030 can use the unique identifier(s) to identify the device 9050 and, if necessary, the user of the device 9050. Additionally, the DMS server 9030 may be operable to provide a bundle to the device 9050, and the contents of the bundle can provision the device 9050 in accordance with one or more predetermined arrangements. The phrase “operable to provide a bundle to a computing device” is defined as directly transmitting content to a computing device, indirectly transmitting content to a computing device by directing a component to effect the transmission of content to the computing device or by directing or assisting the portable computing device to seek the delivery of content from a component.
  • In one arrangement, the content of the bundle can be determined at least in part by the first entity or client to which the portable computing device 9050 is associated. In particular, the content of the bundle can at least include one or more configuration messages and an application set that contains one or more predefined applications. As an example, the managed services platform 9010 can provide the bundle to the device 9050 through a series of message exchanges in accordance with a consolidated polling technique (i.e., the heartbeat process).
  • Several definitions of some the terms listed above will now be presented. The term “bundle” is defined as one or more messages or transmissions that include content that is intended for a particular computing device or group of computing devices or one or more directives that cause a computing device or a group of computing devices to retrieve content from one or more sources. The term “content” is defined as data, settings or parameters that when received by a computing device, cause the computing device to perform an action that corresponds to the received data, settings or parameters. A “configuration message” is defined as one or more messages or transmissions that are designed to cause a computing device to select or adjust one or more operational settings of the computing device.
  • Turning to the configuration messages, the DMS server 9030, once it has been contacted by the device 9050, can forward one or more of them to the device 9050. As an example, a configuration message can include virtual privacy network (VPN) settings, wireless communication settings (such as Wi-Fi settings), location service settings, security certificates, firmware packages or download control settings. Specifically, location service settings can be settings that enable, for example, a managing entity to monitor the whereabouts of the device 9050, and security certificates can be employed for securing communications to and from the device 9050, such as Internet Protocol (IP) communications. As another example, firmware packages can include one or more firmware releases that include programming/code to effect or facilitate operational adjustments or settings in one or more components of the portable computing device 9050, as will be explained below. Control settings, for example, can be used to permit a managing entity or other external party to send messages to or make adjustments to the device 9050.
  • In addition to the configuration messages, the bundle can include one or more applications, such as application sets that include one or more predefined applications. For example, the managed services platform 9000 can take steps to cause the delivery of applications to the portable computing device 9050 or to direct the device 9050 to one or more different components that make such applications available for download. In one arrangement, the DMS server 9030 can be operable to provide applications to the device 9050 by directly transmitting such data to the device 9050. Alternatively, the DMS server 9050 can direct the AS server 9040 to transmit the applications to the device 9050 or can direct the device 9050 to contact the AS server 9040 to retrieve the applications. The device 9050 can also receive applications via any combination of these options listed here.
  • As noted above, the AS server 9040 can host one or more application repositories 9130, which can offer multiple applications for download to any number of portable computing devices 9050. In one arrangement, the application set that is to be sent to a particular computing device 9050 can include a default application set that includes one or more default applications. In addition to or in lieu of the default application set, the application set can include a custom application set that includes one or more custom applications. A default application set can include applications (i.e., default applications) that have been approved to be installed on all the devices 9050 of a particular group or all devices associated with an entity. In contrast, a custom application set can include applications (i.e., custom applications) that are geared towards a particular characteristic associated with a device 9050 or a user of the device 9050.
  • As an example, the content of the bundle provided to a portable computing device 9050 can be based on the identification associated with the device 9050. As such, the configuration messages and/or the applications can be provided to the device 9050 according to the identification associated with the device 9050. In one embodiment, the identification associated with the device 9050 can be related to a performance function of an intended user of the device 9050 such that the configuration messages or the applications that are provided to the device 9050 are related to the performance function of the intended user.
  • For example, a first entity, such as a corporation, may distribute a portable computing device 9050 to an individual, like an employee. This employee can have a performance function, such as generating sales of the company's products or services. Because this worker is involved in sales, the bundle to be delivered to his device 9050 can be tailored to that function. That is, the configuration message(s) and the applications that are to be provided to the employee's device 9050 can be related to the employee's job function, which is in sales. For example, because this employee may be using public Wi-Fi networks, a configuration message sent to the device 9050 may require the device 9050 to only communicate over a VPN. As another example, because the employee may travel frequently, a configuration message for the device 9050 may direct the enablement of a location service on the device 9050. In addition, the configuration message may include firmware and other code designed expressly for this employee's sales job.
  • In one arrangement, the receipt of the configuration messages can cause visible changes to the portable computing device 9050. For example, a firmware package that is delivered to the device 9050 may cause the display 9090 of the device 9050 to present certain GUI elements. In one particular arrangement but without limitation, the GUI elements that are displayed can be associated with the first entity that distributed the device 9050 to the user. The first entity can cause the device 9050 to be flashed such that, for example, a company logo or other mark can appear on the display, along with other predetermined visual elements, like a background or other various skins and/or themes. This process can be conducted with other devices 9050 that are associated with a second entity such that these devices 9050 can be provisioned to have a look and feel associated with the second entity.
  • As previously noted, as part of the bundle for each employee, a default set of applications can be provided to the device 9050 as each employee activates his/her device 9050 or at any other suitable time(s). For example, these default applications can be applications that are relevant to each employee's association with the corporation, such as an application for sharing work contacts, an application that presents written articles about the company's industry or an application that is useful for remembering important personal information related to business contacts. Default applications can also be made available for retrieval by a group of devices 9050, such as from an application repository, at any other suitable time. These default applications can simply be made available to the devices 9050 or can be pushed to the devices 9050 when the default applications become available.
  • As also referenced earlier, if desired, a custom set of applications can be prepared and provided to employees who are part of a specific group or who meet certain requirements. These custom applications can be related to the performance function of an employee or a group of employees. Continuing with the example concerning the sales employee, because this employee may need to visit clients, a navigation application can be provided to that employee's device 9050. In another example, because this employee will be dealing with numerous clients, an application that manages information concerning business contacts can be provided to the device 9050. Like the default applications, custom applications can be pushed to the device 9050 or made available at an application repository, whether at activation or during any suitable, subsequent time.
  • The managed services platform 9010 can provide services to multiple portable computing devices 9050. Two or more users of such devices 9050 may be associated with a first entity, although not necessarily so. Similar to the description above, the DMS server 9030, once it identifies the second device 9050, can be operable to provide a second bundle to the second device 9050 that is assigned to, for example, an administrative assistant. The second bundle can also contain content that at least includes one or more configuration commands and an application set that contains at least predefined applications. The second bundle can be provided to the second device 9050 when an activation notice is received from the second device 9050 or by some other suitable act by the second device 9050.
  • The content of the second bundle can be based on the identification associated with the second computing device 9050 such that the configuration messages and/or the application set that are provided to the second device 9050 are done so according to the identification associated with the second device 9050. The identification associated with the second device 9050 can be related to a performance function of a second intended user of the second device 9050 such that the configuration messages or the applications that are provided to the second device 9050 are related to the performance function of the second intended user. In one arrangement, the performance function of the second intended user is different from the performance function of a first intended user of the first device 9050 described above. In this arrangement, the content of the bundle provided to the second intended user can be different from the content of the bundle provided to the first intended user of the first device 9050.
  • In view of these multiple devices 9050, the DMS server 9030 or some other suitable component can be operable to provide a default set of applications and a custom set of applications for both the first computing device 9050 and the second computing device 9050. As an example, the default set of applications can be the same for both the first device 9050 and the second device 9050, while the custom set of applications for the first device 9050 can be different from the custom set of applications for the second device 9050.
  • Continuing with the above example, one of the users may be an employee of the first entity and can be involved in sales. This first user can be assigned a first computing device 9050, which can receive configuration messages and applications that are related to the type of work, i.e., sales, conducted by the first user. A second user may be an administrative assistant who is also an employee of the entity and who is assigned a second portable computing device 9050. This second user has a different performance function from that of the first user. As such, some of the configuration messages for the second device 9050 assigned to this user may be structured differently from those provided to the first device 9050 that is assigned to the first user. As an example, the administrative assistant may only be permitted to use the second device 9050 on the entity's campus, which may eliminate the need to set the second device 9050 for permanent use of a VPN.
  • Further, some of the applications provided to the first user's device 9050 may be different from those provided to the second device 9050 assigned to the second user. For example, the administrative assistant may never travel on the company's behalf, which would obviate the need for provided the second device 9050 with a navigation application. Accordingly, one or more applications designed for use by the administrative assistant on the second device 9050, i.e., a custom set of applications, can be different from those of the employee involved in sales. Nevertheless, some of the applications provided to the sales employee, the administrative assistant and other employees can be common, i.e., a set of default applications, installed on all relevant devices 9050.
  • As such, the presentation of applications to employees or other individuals can be general or selective in nature. This control of access to applications can occur when the portable computing device 9050 is initially activated or at any other subsequent time. Moreover, this feature applies to applications that are pushed to a device 9050 without any solicitation from a user or when a user tries to access applications from an application repository. In the latter scenario, a managing entity may control the type of applications that a user of the device 9050 can retrieve from an application repository. For example, the managing entity may only present to a user those applications in the application repository that the user is entitled to install on his/her device 9050, which can be based on, for example, the user's performance function.
  • In certain embodiments, multiple users may be assigned to a single portable computing device 9050. For example, an entity may assign a first user and a second user to a first device 9050, and both the first user and the second user can set up accounts on the first device 9050. The first device 9050 can be operable to identify the first and second users through various conventional means, like passwords or biometric identification. In addition to providing its own unique identifier, the first device 9050 can provide identification for both t