More Meta Quest 3 & Price Drop on Quest 2; Amazon Settles Ring & Alexa Privacy Suits; Top Reason Android Users Switch to iPhone; Google Wallet-Add Passes by Taking PhotoPosted: June 1, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Meta will hold its Connect conference on September, 27th, and look for much more about the Quest 3. Meta dropped more info about the upcoming mixed reality headset today, including the price…$499. In a blog post on Instagram CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it “The first mainstream headset with high-res color mixed reality. 40% thinner and more comfortable.” With the Quest 3 on the way, Meta has cut the price of the Quest 2 back down to $299.99 for the 128 gig version. The 256 gig model will be $349.99. Those prices are effective June 4th. Meta also said they are working on a software update that will improve CPU and GPU performance for the Quest 2.
Amazon has settled lawsuits for millions…pocket change for the online giant. According to techcrunch.com, they will cough up $25 million over violations to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Amazon had been accused of keeping kids’ speech data basically forever, and had also kept geolocation information about kids. In addition, Amazon must pay $5.8 million to settle with the FTC over allegations that Ring gave employees and third-party contractors full access to every customer video until 2017. Someone, somewhere who is better at calculating than I am is already figuring how many MINUTES worth of profit this is costing Amazon!
The top reason cited for people switching from Android to iPhone is usually attributed to people…especially teens…wanting the ‘blue bubble’ in their texts, instead of green, which Apple assigns to non-iOS users of their text service. well, that’s not it, apparently. Computer Intelligence Research Partners did a study, and 15% of new iPhone buyers are conquest sales from Android. the top reason? An issue with the Android experience. Over 53% of respondents said they moved to iPhone because of problems with their Android smartphone. Specifics cited were “their old phone did not serve them, because it was aging, needed repair, or had some deficiency that affected their user experience.”The second most common reason to switch was for new features on iPhone like “a better camera, enhanced accessory options, or a more intuitive user interface.” Only 6% switched because of the iMessage blue bubble vs green one!
A cool new trick has been added to Google Wallet. It will now let you add passes by just taking a photo. Engadget.com reports that for example, if a store you frequent doesn’t have digital membership cards, you can take a photo, and add the card to your wallet. As long as there is a bar code or QR code, you will be good to go on your phone. Google is also matching Apple in supporting digital IDs. As of today, Maryland residents can add their driver’s licenses and ID cards to Wallet on any device using Android 8 or newer. Arizona, Colorado and Georgia residents will have the option in the months ahead.
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.
Twitter Worth 1/3 of What Elon Paid; Meta Quest 3-Lighter & Faster; Alexa Loses Celeb Voices; iPhone 16 May Get New Aspect RatioPosted: May 31, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
It’s been well-known that Elon Musk took quite a haircut when he went through with the Twitter deal…instead of dropping a couple billion to walk away. Now, mashable.com reports that Fidelity is pricing Twitter at 33% less than what Elon paid for it. That’s based on the investment firm’s own valuation for its own stake in Twitter. Despite Musk’s recent claims about Twitter soon breaking even or even becoming profitable, the company’s outlook has not been particularly good. Twitter lost around half of its biggest advertisers when Musk took over. Many still had not returned by earlier this year and those who had continued to advertise on the platform were spending significantly less.
With Apple about to roll out their mixed reality headset next week at WWDC, Meta is gearing up to make the Meta Quest 3 more competitive and desirable. With Apple expected to price their headset at about $3 grand, the Quest 3 will be cheaper anyway…the Quest 2 has been $400. According to bgr.com, Meta is making it lighter and faster. There will be “three vertical pill-shaped sensor areas across the front. The left and right pills each include one color video pass-through camera…the middle pill includes a depth sensor, a first for a Quest.” Meta appears to be staking out the lower end of mixed reality headsets, ceding the high end to Apple for now.
The celebrity voices for Amazon’s Alexa are about to be silenced. No more. Shaq, Samuel L. Jackson, or Melissa McCarthy. Cnet.com notes that the voices were originally an extra buck, but lately have been priced at $5 extra. If you were expecting a refund, just imagine Mr. T saying ‘I pity the fool that thinks a refund is coming.’ It is likely that Amazon is ditching the celeb voices as it prepares to use AI in its Alexa responses. You can still choose from a variety of accents for Alexa, including American, Australian, British, Canadian and Indian.
Next year’s iPhone 16 Pro may not only be bigger, but may have a new aspect ratio. Appleinsider.com reports that the display may slightly change from 19 point 5 to 9 to a 19 point 6 to 9 ratio. If anything, you may just notice a seemingly longer and narrower iPhone. The screens will grow to 6.27 inches and 6.86 inches. The non-pro iPhone 16s will get the pill at the top of the screens instead of a notch, and will have screen sizes of 6.12 inches and 6.69 inches.
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.
AI Researchers Warn of Risks to Humans; Netflix Users Cancelling En Masse over Password Share Fee; Ford Cuts Deal to Use Tesla Superchargers; Self-Flying Robot CameraPosted: May 30, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Remember how a number of prominent people in tech warned recently about the dangers of AI? Well, now we have more. Top AI researchers, engineers, and CEOs have put out a brief, 22 word statement that warns humanity is at risk of extinction if they don’t handle AI correctly. Theverge.com reports that the statement says “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war.” That’s pretty ominous. The statement was published by San Francisco based non-profit, the Center for AI Safety. It’s signed by figures from Google, Open AI, the 2018 Turing Award winners, and a number of others. Both AI risk advocates and skeptics agree that, even without improvements in their capabilities, AI systems present a number of threats in the present day — from their use enabling mass-surveillance, to powering faulty “predictive policing” algorithms, and easing the creation of misinformation and disinformation. That alone ought to be enough to get world governments off their butts and taking action to carefully regulate AI.
Netflix finally made their move, and started banning password sharing in the US. If someone outside your household has been on the account, you will have to pay an extra $7.99 a month, or kick them off and let them get their own account. According to bgr.com, users have been cancelling en masse…there is even a Twitter hashtag #CancelNetflix circulating the last few days. Netflix still expects that after the churn and cancellations, they will se growth again…as has happened in Latin America. Sorry greedy Flix streamer…I gave you the chop. I’m not paying $20 a month for a family member who lives down the road to use the account…and they aren’t going to make an account, either!
Something that happened late last week which flew under a lot of peoples’ radar was a deal inked between Ford and Tesla to let Ford EVs use Tesla Supercharger stations. Engadget.com says the deal takes effect in the spring of 2024. Existing Ford EVs will need an adapter to connect to the Tesla system. Tesla uses open source North American Charging Standard on its cars. Ford and others have used the global semi-standard Combined Charging System. Considering that Ford is one of the world’s biggest vehicle makers, and biggest seller of trucks in the US for years, this is a pretty huge deal. With a Ford EV and an adapter, you will be able to charge at any EV charging station in the US now…a big boost to would-be buyers who have had range anxiety worrying about being able to find chargers when they travel.
It’s something that seems to be right out of a James Bond movie. A company called Zero Zero Robotics has just launched the Hover Camera X1. The gadget is a pocket sized self-flying camera. Nordot.app notes it is available today on Indiegogo. The cam can be flown entirely hands free, not needing either a controller or an app to operate. t is about the size of a smartphone. There are five classic automatic flight paths and more user customizable flight paths that can be selected with an on-device button. Just select flight mode, and press a button for it to take off and start recording video. Battery packs last 11 minutes, which the company says is good for up to 2 intelligent flights. It comes with two batteries and a charging hub. Early bird price at Indiegogo is $299…they expect it to ship within the month.
I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.
The DeSantis Twitter Fiasco; Sony’s Q Handheld; Microsoft Says Chinese Hackers Target US Infrastructure; ‘Smart Pants’ Immodesty AlertsPosted: May 25, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
This report is about tech, and not politics, but sometimes those worlds collide…or in this case crash! I can’t ignore the fiasco that was supposed to be Ron DeSantis’ big announcement of his presidential campaign yesterday on Twitter Space. As it turned out, it was a colossal catastrophe…for both DeSantis and Twitter CEO Elon Musk. Let’s just say that maybe Musk shouldn’t have laid off quite so many good people and eliminated so many servers. TechCrunch.com reports that after the Twitter Space went live at 3 PM Pacific yesterday, the audio repeatedly glitched in and out…sometimes just playing reverb sounds and distorted voices. At the start, there were about 580,000 listeners who tuned in. By the end, that was down to about 100,000. In retrospect, DeSantis would have gotten 10 to 20 times that audience if he had announced in the normal way…and Elon wouldn’t have gotten embarrassed…if Elon CAN be embarrassed…by the disasterous performance of Twitter Space.
It’s official…Sony has confirmed that they are working on a PlayStation handheld to make it easier to play your PS5 games. According to theverge.com, it’s dubbed Project Q for now. The system has an 8 inch screen, and honestly looks from renderings like an iPad with a controller stuck on the left and right sides when held in landscape position. Sony says it has “all of the buttons and features of the DualSense wireless controller.” Note that games you play on the Q or whatever it ends up being called must first be installed on an PS5 console…the Q unit is apparently designed to be a companion to the console…and is NOT freestanding like a Steam Deck. Since Sony does have a robust cloud gaming service, it’s possible that at sometime after rollout, the Q device could be made into a freestanding gaming uint. Sony plans to launch the unit later this year…no word was given on how much it might cost.
There have been warnings about this for years…how the tech hasn’t kept up and how the US hasn’t maintained protections for critical infrastructure. Now, Microsoft has warned that it has uncovered “stealthy and targeted malicious activity” by a state-sponsored actor in China aimed at disrupting “critical infrastructure organizations” in the United States. Microsoft says that the ‘Volt Typhoon’ campaign has been active in the US and Guam since 2021. Targets include communications, manufacturing, utility, transportation, construction, maritime, government, information technology, and education sectors. Remember a few years ago when a number of ATMs got hacked because banks were too cheap to upgrade from Windows 7? Microsoft recommends that those affected by Volt Typhoon should close or change credentials for all compromised accounts. Also, businesses, utilities and government agencies need to get serious about keeping up security systems that protect against hackers…you, too. Make sure to keep your anti-virus and security software up to date…or YOUR critical infrastructure…that is, your bank info and hard drives…are at risk.
A developer is trying to line up support for his great idea…smart pants. Androidpolice.com reports that the developer, Guy Dupont, has come up with jeans that notify you via an app he calls WiFly when you have left your zipper down. It’s unclear how many washes the jeans could take and still retain their claimed intelligence. Another issue potential investors wonder about…if you aren’t likely to check your fly, you aren’t likely to pay that much attention to a notification from an app on your phone, either. Dupont hasn’t put a price point on the denims, but they will no doubt be more than the jeans you’ve been buying. Unless you’re ‘advertising’ something, just check your fly after you use the restroom!
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘technified’ for now.
Netflix Starts Password Share Crackdown; Apple Smart Display Plan; Samsung Teases Long, Rolling Screens; Plug & Play Meter Collar for Home EV ChargingPosted: May 24, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
The time a lot of people have been dreading has arrived. Netflix has stated to crack down on password sharing in the US now. TechCrunch.com reports that the streaming giant had originally planned to roll out the ‘paid sharing’ first quarter, but pushed the date back to summer after seeing cancellations in countries where they had already rolled out the fee. What does it mean for you? Well, under the new rules, subscribers will either have to kick relatives or friends off their Netflix account or pay $7.99 a month for an additional membership outside your main household. The company offers tools to make this transition easier, including a way for current subscribers to view which devices are signed into their account and remove those that shouldn’t have access, as well as tools to reset their password. For those sharing someone else’s Netflix account, they can make the transition to an account of their own through a “Transfer Profile” option that will help them to relocate their existing account information, including their viewing history and watchlist.
More on Apple’s iOS17 system. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple plans to turn locked iPhones into smart displays, They would show calendar appointments, weather, and notifications in a similar manner to smart home displays. The idea is to make the phones more useful when they are laying on a desk, or resting in a slanted wireless charger on a night stand. The view appears when the phone is locked and positioned horizontally…much like dedicated home displays from Google and Amazon.
Samsung has showed off the ‘Rollable Flex,’ a new flexible screen that can be unrolled up to 5 times its length. The example they showed could unroll from about 2 inches to 10 inches. Theverge.com notes that the displays are relatively slim, too. The idea is to let one shrink a hard to carry large display into ‘a portable form factor. This display has another trick up its sleeve, too. It can read and recognize fingerprints anywhere on the screen. But perhaps more interesting is its ability to measure a person’s “heart rate, blood pressure and stress level” from fingers. The technology works by reading the OLED screen’s light as its reflection changes due to the “contraction and relaxation of the blood vessels inside the finger.” No word on when the screens from Samsung Display might make its way into Samsung smartphones or even iPhones, but it does give us a peek into what’s coming down the road a couple years or so.
A company out of Philadelphia called ConnectDER just picked up $27 million in funding to help them market a pretty amazing gadget. Electrek.co reports it is a plug and play meter collar adapter that wraps around the round part of your electric meter…and gives instant access for EV chargers, solar, and battery storage…all without upgrading your electric panel for a pretty penny. The gadget is a single access point for so-called distributed energy resources. This will open up older homes and less expensive housing to allow for owners to buy electric cars and charge at home, or add solar panels, a converter, and battery backup for your house. ConnectDER says they are operating in 17 states already and that they have deployed some 15,000 of the collars so far. The collars are around $400…way less than getting an electric panel upgrade!
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.
Microsoft Rolls Bing-ChatGPT into Windows 11; Apple Pours Billions into Broadcom Deal; Amazon Fire 11 Max Bows; New Dyson Robot Vacuum 360 Vis Nav ComingPosted: May 23, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
A lot of people and companies have been putting off migrating to Windows 11 for a number of reasons. Now, Microsoft is adding another for some folks…but something others may be moved to upgrade for. Techcrunch.com reports that Microsoft is building its ChatGPT based Bing right into Windows 11. Not only that, the system will allow users to ask the chatbot to change Windows settings, too. What can possibly go wrong, right? The system is dubbed Windows Copilot, and it will be available right in the Windows 11 taskbar. Look for the new Bing integration in June. Will it move people and businesses to switch to Windows 11? Time will tell, but so far, only 20% of Windows users have made the switch.
Apple has announced a big new partnership with Broadcom, a long time Apple partner. According to 9to5mac.com, Cupertino is calling it a ‘multibillion dollar deal.’ The plan is to have Broadcom develop and build a number of key 5G frequency components in the US. Apple says it already helps support over 1100 jobs at Broadcom’s Fort Collins, Colorado facility. Apple is still on track to invest $430 billion in the US economy over 5 years, something they announced in 2021. Note that Apple is continuing to work on developing its own Bluetooth and Wi-Fi components..which would reduce its reliance on companies like Broadcom. An Apple combo Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip could be ready as soon as 2025.
Amazon has announced the new Fire 11 Max tablet…its biggest and most powerful tablet so far. Mashable.com says the new 11-inch, Alexa enabled device can be paired with a full-sized detachable keyboard case, and an Amazon Stylus Pen. Here’s the thing…while it’s not quite an iPad, you can get the Fire 11 Max, the keyboard, and the pen starting at $329.99. the older 9th generation iPad (which Apple still sells, even though the 10th gen model is out) is $329 without a keyboard or pen (which Apple calls a pencil.) The Fire 11 Max has a more adult looking gray aluminum case and strengthened glass. Amazon claims it is certified for low blue light, which helps with streaming, gaming, and long hours of use. The base model has 64 gigs of storage, just like the base iPad. The cams are nothing to write home about…an 8MP rear one and an 8MP front cam….not top drawer, but better than the 2MP and 5MP ones of previous Amazon tablets. It’s available for preorder now.
Dyson makes great…albeit…expensive vacuums, among other things. Now, after a luke warm robot vac called the 360 Eye, comes the 360 Vis Nav. Engadget.com reports that the new robot vac was just introduced in Australia, and is expected in the US later this year. Dyson is claiming ‘twice the suction’ of any other robot vacuum, and it sports a top-mounted fisheye lens that helps it navigate and map. The new vac is supposed to have better low light performance and has 26 sensors to try to avoid getting stuck in tight spots. An over the top feature on the 360 Vis Nav is an arm that pops out and cleans right up against the wall. With all that suction, you’d think the 360 Vis Nav would have less range on the battery…and you’d be right. It can sweep for 50 minutes before returning to its dock to charge…but it recalls where it left off and goes right back to finish starting there. Since no vacuums since the door-to-door Kirby ever sold for more than Dyson’s, you’re probably wondering how much. Well, if you buy the 360 Vis Nav, you may have to put off getting a folding phone…no US price yet, but it’s $1590 in US dollars in Australia!
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.
Big EU Fine for Meta; Meta’s Twitter Competitor; AT&T and Others Oppose Starlink T-Mobile Deal; Amazon Palm Scanner to Verify Age, TooPosted: May 22, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Meta has just been whacked with a record $1.3 billion fine over the company’s transferring of Facebook data of European Union customers to the US. The EU regulators believe such data transfers expose EU users to privacy violations….a complaint with its roots going clear back to 2013. Transferring data is crucial to Meta’s ad-targeting system. Last year, they told the EU they might be forced to shut down Facebook and Instagram in the EU if they weren’t able to send data back to the US. Meta has said they will appeal immediately. One EU official said that the $1.3 billion fine was akin to a parking ticket to Meta, which makes many billions serving ads to EU users.
In what may be better news for Meta, but not so great for Twitter, Meta may be ready to launch a Twitter competitor as soon as June. According to engadget.com, it will be under the Instagram banner, and you will be able to use your Instagram credentials to log in. It is reportedly a decentralized network like Mastodon or Jack Dorsey’s still-in-beta Blue Sky. Apparently you will be able to use the Meta app to interact with other services like Mastodon without switching between apps. Text updates will allow for up to 500 characters, and you will be able to share pics and videos, too. No name has been leaked yet, the service is only known by codenames like Barcelona and P92.
T-Mobile and Starlink have proposed a partnership for satellite to phone service, and now AT&T and some rural wireless carriers have filed with the FCC to oppose the deal. Engadget.com says they have raised concerns that the companies’ service, in its current proposed state, could interfere with existing wireless services. AT&T has spectrum adjacent to that which the proposed T-Mobile—Starlink deal would use. It should be noted that AT&T has it own partnership plans for satellite service in conjunction with AST Space Mobile. They have already successfully conducted the first 2 way satellite audio calls on AT&T’s network in Texas to a Rakuten number in Japan using a Samsung Galaxy S22 smartphone just last month. AT&T claims in their FCC filing that Applicants’ (meaning T-Moble and Starlink’s) technical showings are woefully insufficient regarding the risk of harmful interference posed by their planned SCS deployments. The battle for space phones is on!
Amazon One, Amazon’s palm scanning tech, is now adding age verification. Techcrunch.com reports that customers at sports events will be able to buy adult beverages by hovering their palm over the Amazon One reader. Coors Field will be the first to use the tech (presumably to sell you a Coors, not a Bud!) The tech will hit other venues in the next few months. Because palm prints are unique, when you scan yours, the biometric tech confirms your handprint with a credit card you inserted at sign up for the service plus your government ID like a driver’s license that you have uploaded in advance. Amazon says the palm print images are encrypted and stored in a secure area of the AWS cloud…which has restricted employee access.
I’m Clark Reid and you’re Technified for now.
Apple Execs Cautious Over Mixed Reality Headset; Some YouTube Videos Will Get Unstoppable Ads; OpenAI Releases iPhone Version of ChatGPT; Montana’s TikTok ‘Ban’Posted: May 18, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
According to a report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, of Power On newsletter fame, Apple’s top execs are tiptoeing around the introduction of the long-awaited Mixed Reality headset expected at WWDC in June. Apple is still working on the fabled pair of unobtrusive glasses that can be worn all day, but the system due out next month will be more like what’s been leaked…looking like pair of ski goggles. Apple is hopeful that third party apps like games will help power sales of the AR/VR product. Originally, Cupertino had toyed with selling the units below cost to get more initial sales, but now they are expected to sell the rigs for wholesale…still thought to be around $3000. Apple had hoped to sell 3 million the first year, but now is dropping expectations down to about 900,000. Their internal projections still see the AR/VR headset or glasses category as becoming as big as the Apple Watch or iPad.
You’ve been asking for them…demanding them, begging for them…and now you will have them…unstoppable 30 second ads on top performing YouTube content on TVs. Of course no one alive except toe people at Google who will profit from this and advertisers who want access to your eyeballs really want this. Variety reports that YouTube will also be testing out ‘Pause Experiences’ on TV screens, showing an ad when viewers pause a video…much like the pause ads Hulu rolled out 4 years ago. The new 30-second unskippable ads will be available in YouTube Select, the top 5% of its most-viewed and most-engaging content on the service…so at least for now, we don’t have to deal with the pesky things on every video we watch. The back to back two 15 second ads YouTube has had for a while will continue to show up, though.
A free version of ChatGPT is now available from Apple’s App Store, and it runs natively on iPhones and iPads. Axios.com says it works largely like the web version, but adds speech input support using Whisper, OpenAI’s open-source speech recognition system. The availability is US only now, but will expand to other countries in the coming weeks, according to maker OpenAI. The company says an Android version will be coming soon, too.
In a foolish move of ‘harrumphing, Montana has passed a law banning TikTok in the state starting next year. The law carries a $10,000 daily fine for app stores for violating the law…although no fines or punishments for users. Engadget.com notes that legal challenges may delay the implementation, but the reality is that kids already know how to use VPNs, and can easily side load the app and use a VPN to go undetected by Montana’s TikTok police. OK, I made that up…they really don’t have separate TikTok police…but no police or others will be able to enforce this law, should it survive the legal challenges. More crazy grandstanding by politicians…just what we need.
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.
Amazon Updates Echo Line & Works on Its Own Chatbot; Uber Launching Teen Accounts; Google Will Delete Your Gmail After a Couple Years; You May Be Able to Use Pixel as Dash CamPosted: May 17, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Amazon is freshening up the Echo lineup. A new device all together is the Echo Pop. Techcrunch.com reports that the Pop is more of a semi-circular gadget…as opposed to the Dot, which is basically spherical. the Pop comes in what Amazon calls ‘teen friendly’ colors like lavender and teal, and sells for $39.99. It will also extend your home WiFi network via eero. In addition to the Pop, there is an updated Echo Show 5, and Echo Buds and Auto get a bit of fresh paint. Amazon also teased that they are working on their own proprietary chatbot. The Amazon chatbot will…what else? Help shoppers (read that as help shoppers to buy more and more expensive stuff from Amazon!)
Uber has announced several updates, one of which might ultimately be a can of worms, in this reporter’s opinion. According to engadget.com, on May 22nd, Uber will roll out teen accounts. The company claims this will helping younger folks travel more safely by themselves. Uber says that only screened drivers who are experienced and highly rated will be able to carry out trips with teens. Drivers will be able to opt out of such rides. Teen accounts have a series of built-in safety features, including audio recordings, RideCheck (which proactively checks in with riders if the vehicle has stopped for a while) and the option to use a PIN to ensure young users are getting in the right car. Parents and guardians will be able to track the trips of teens. This really seems to be another one of those ‘what can possibly go wrong’ issues. Uber’s screened drivers in the past have turned out to be not so screened. In a better move, Uber is starting to offer rides with available car seats, so parents can secure a child while they ride with Mom or Dad.
If it’s been a while, log into that dusty Gmail account you have. 9to5google.com says that Google is starting to delete accounts that haven’t been active in at least 2 years. In addition to the email address becoming inaccessible, Gmail messages, Calendar events, Drive, Docs, and other Workspace files, as well as Google Photos backups, will be removed. Right now, Google isn’t planning to delete accounts with YouTube Videos. The deletions will start this coming December, and will be phased in.
In other Google news, an analyst has found some unreleased code in the Personal Safety Android app and managed to enable a new, unannounced “Dashcam” feature for Pixel phones. Mashable.com reports that while you can already do this with any phone and a dash mount, in this code there’s a setting to automatically start and stop recording when the Pixel connects to a certain Bluetooth access point, which would be your car in this case. Recordings are also deleted after three days unless you manually decide to keep them around, which should save on storage space. Since the code is basically complete, we could see this new Pixel feature rolled out soon.
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.
Apple’s New Accessibility Features; TSA Tests Facial Recognition at Airports; Free TV, 2 Screens, Big Catch; Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Hearing BoostPosted: May 16, 2023 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Apple has been a leader for years in accessibility features, and now they are previewing more of them that will be coming soon to iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Techcrunch.com reports that the suite of features is called Assistive access. First off, the Phone and FaceTime apps are merged into one. In addition, the icons are larger and Apple has increased the contrast and put in clearer labels. A totally new feature uses the camera an LiDAR scanner in iPhones to help visually impaired people with physical objects that have several text labels. For example, using Point and Speak, you can aim at the microwave, and it will tell you which buttons are ‘popcorn,’ ‘pizza,’ and ‘power level.’ Besides some increased help for visually impaired folks, a new feature called Personal Voice creates an automated voice that sounds like you, not Siri. This is intended for people who are at risk of losing their voice due to things like ALS. To make it work, the user has to read random text into the mic for about 15 minutes. The feature is apparently like what Acapela has been doing with its ‘my own voice’ service. The features are expected to be rolled out later this year.
As if the so-called ‘rape scan’ machines you have to stand in at airport security aren’t enough…now the TSA is testing out facial recognition at some US airports. According to zdnet.com, you will hand over your driver’s license or passport to the TSA agent, and then your face is scanned by a camera that compares your mug to the pic on your license or passport. The airports that are testing the process are Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, and a handful of others. Once the process is complete, the TSA agent approves the screening…then you are off to said machine to stand with your arms up so it can electronically strip search you. The facial recognition is voluntary so far. Interestingly, several Senators…Jeff Merkley, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, Liz Warren, and Bernie Sanders, have written to the TSA to express their concerns. The Senators note the well known racial bias of facial recognition systems. They also are alarmed about the invasion of privacy…the TSA hasn’t said what it might do with your biometric data. Let’s hope this system isn’t put in everywhere….until and unless facial recognition gets much more accurate.
How about a FREE 55 inch flat screen TV? It even comes with TWO screens separated by a soundbar. So what’s the catch? Glad you asked. Under the main 55 inch display is a smaller display that serves up ads, sports scores, a news ticker, and and stock prices. Theverge.com says ads can also pop up on the far right side of the main display, too. The set is from Pluto TV. But wait…there’s more! (Shades of Ron Popiel.) There is also a cam to watch ‘how you interact with the TV. If you are still actually thinking about one of these, what’s the matter with you? Ok…it’s freetelly.com.
Samsung has a firmware update coming to their Galaxy Buds 2 that will amplify sound for clearer hearing. Androidpolice.com notes that this is intended for folks who are hard of hearing. The update will increase the amplification levels by two, giving users up to 5. In addition, you will be able to independently adjust each earbud’s volume using the Amplify ambient sound feature. Samsung claims the buds will deliver enhanced sound clarity by allowing “customization to tune to users’ ears through the Adapt Ambient Sound feature for more clarity in sound.” Granted, none of this will affect most users who aren’t hard of hearing, but for those who are and like to listen to music, it will be a real plus. Expect the firmware update in the coming weeks.
I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.