Did Google Just Win the Cloud Wars?

According to bgr.com, Google may have won the cloud wars, with the announcement at I/O yesterday that their Photos app will allow for unlimited photos and videos in the cloud for FREE! By comparison, Apple gives you 5 Gigs of free storage on iCloud, then hits users with a buck a month for 20 gigs or $20 a month for a terabyte. If you have a large collection, and switched from Apple to Google, you’d save $240 a year. Google photos runs on Android, iOS, or the web, and syncs across all your devices.

Although that was just one of the things rolled out at Google I/O that caused gnashing of teeth at Apple, they should be smiling about this: Appleinsider.com says Consumer Reports ranked Apple highest for computer tech support in their annual survey. According to Consumer Reports, 4 out of 5 Mac owners using AppleCare said the service was able to solve their problem, compared to 61% for Dell and Lenovo. They were ranked pretty much even with indy stores for retail support, although Best Buy’s Geek Squad and Staples EasyTech both charge, and Apple’s geniuses will diagnose problems for free.


GoPro Quadcopter Out Next Year

Why wear a camera for active videos when you can fly one overhead? Theverge.com says GoPro announced at the Code Conference that they plan to launch their own quadcopter drone the first half of next year. Although they declined to put a price point on the drone, CEO Nick Woodman noted that they’re a consumer focused company, so expect it to be competitively priced. GoPro also said there will be a number of related products available when the quadcopter launches.

Lenovo has dropped a competitor to Chromecast. According to slashgear.com, the hockey puck shaped gadget is due to sell for $49, and should be out in August. Like Chromecast and Roku and the rest, it’s plug and play. It has HDMI and micro USB ports, dual band WiFi, supports up to 1080p resolutions, and comes with a bracket, so you can mount it on the back of the TV instead of laying it on your TV stand.

Force Touch in iOS9 & Jony Ive’s Elevation at Apple

Apple looks like they’re integrating ‘Force Touch’ across the upcoming iOS 9. Another big feature is supposed to be split screen for iPads…so you can switch quickly between a couple of open apps (I hope this will work on older models!) Future MacBooks with Force Touch could lose trackpads, making for even more insanely slim and small footprints…you could swipe your fingers across the keyboard and different amounts of force on the keys could allow for multiple functions. Force Touch might also help the new super slim Macbook, which has gotten rapped for its keyboard. apple is expected to show it off iOS9 at World Wide Developers’ Conference. WWDC is June 8-12…also at Moscone Center in S.F.

At Apple on Monday, Jony Ive was elevated to Chief Design Officer, and two of his trusted lieutenants were made VPs and will handle the day to day management of design teams. There has been a bit of hand wringing this week as analysts and Apple watchers are worrying that Ive may partially retire, move back to England, and Apple will go down the tubes. Apple didn’t implode when Steve Jobs left the planet, and it probably won’t if Ive leaves entirely, but it does provide lots of fodder for the tech chattering class.

The Next Version of Android

Google is getting ready to unveil the latest version of Android…Android M. 9to5google.com says so-called ‘Macadamia Nut Cookie’ will bring improvements to battery life and RAM performance. No, they won’t be calling it by that mouthful of a code name upon rollout…it will likely be called Marshmallow for the public. We should get a preview Thursday at Google I/O, with the final release of the latest, greatest Android version slated for August.

An amazing number of people will be online by the end of the year. According to a report from the International Telecommunications Union picked up by thenextweb.com, that number would be 3.2 billion people. Out of those, 2 billion are from developing countries. There will be a mind-numbing 7 billion active cellular connections…nearly equaling the population of the entire planet!

Google Prepares to Enter the Internet of Things OS Sweepstakes

Google reportedly may unveil an internet of things OS at their I/O conference next week. According to a report in The Information picked up by theverge.com, it runs on low power devices, and gives them the ability to communicate with other connected devices in proximity. The OS has had the code name ‘Brillo,’ but will likely carry an Android name when it’s rolled out. It’s expected to work on everything from refrigerators to small monitoring gadgets. The biggest issue with the internet of things may well end up being which OS to go with, since Google, Apple, Microsoft, Huawei, Samsung, and others are all angling to be in this market!

Microsoft is quietly working on an app that will at as a clipboard across your devices, whether iOS, Android, Windows Phone, or Windows PC. Thenextweb.com points out that this would compete with the Pushbullet app in many ways. Microsoft’s OneClip auto detects if the item on the clipboard is a URL, physical address, phone number, text snippet, or image, and categorizes it for you.

New iPhones May Roll Out Earlier Than Expected

We could get a look at the next generation iPhones in August, and they will launch in September, according to usually reliable KGI Securities. According to macrumors.com, the bulk of the next generation Apple phones will be built by Foxconn…around 60-70% of them. In addition, the report from KGI says Foxconn will build the widely rumored 12.9 inch ‘iPad Pro.’ As previously reported, the next-gen iPhones are likely to have Force Touch, a faster A9 processor, 2 gigs of RAM, a 12 megapixel camera, and offer a Rose Gold color choice.

A number of intelligence agencies planned to hack Android phones by compromising app stores. 9to5google.com says in new Ed Snowden documents released to CBC news, spies from the US, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand planned to hack the Google and Samsung app stores back in 2012. The scheme was to plant spyware that would let them extract data from targeted phones, or even take control of them. They succeeded in exploiting UC Browser, a popular Android browser used in China, India, and other emerging markets. This may be one of the big reasons Google was among tech companies that asked President Obama to reject calls for government access to encrypted data.

Tiny LiteOS Prepares for the Internet of Things

Huawei is readying their minuscule operating system, LiteOS, to power everything from wearables to cars to the electronics around your home. The system is 10 KILObytes! For a little perspective, Apple’s iOS 8 takes a gigabyte of space, and ancient DOS 2.11 was 28 kilobytes! The mini-system is designed for zero configuration, auto-discovery, and auto-networking. The verge.com says it isn’t intended to compete with iOS or Android, but to power small internet connected gadgets from light bulbs to toothbrushes.

From the very small to the biggest on the block…or in this case, the planet. Despite growing competition from Microsoft and Google, Amazon is the 800 pound gorilla of the cloud world. According to geekwire.com, Amazon Web Services not only increased market share in 2014, but operates more cloud capacity than the next 14 providers combined! Google cut cloud prices by 30% just yesterday, to try to grab more share, but it’s a long climb. Microsoft’s strategy is to provide more complete services for a price, where Amazon sticks to a la carte pricing. Microsoft’s revenues from cloud were up 96%, making them the leader by that metric.

Updated Automatic Smart Driving Monitor

Automatic has rolled out its second generation smart driving monitor. The gadget plugs into the ODB2 port on your car….and by ‘your car,’ that’s all cars built since 1996. Cnet.com says the new gadget not only gives you driving data and tracks mileage and fault codes, but works as an app store for cars, with 20 apps available right now. A couple apps pull data so you can easily generate mileage reports for expense reporting, and another to split the cost of carpooling. It now works with Apple Watch and Pebble, with Android Auto integration in the works. Best of all, the second generation model is priced like the 1st at $99.95.

Apple Pay…after an initial splash last fall, has been pretty well operating under…or maybe even off the radar. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple just signed 34 new banks and credit unions, and now there are nearly 300 institutions using it. Trader Joe’s just announced in the last few days that they are starting to activate it in some stores, and Home Depot is moving towards most stores accepting it by the end of the year…although Home Depot says they play to accept as wide a variety of payment systems as possible. If you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and haven’t used it, here’s a tip: when you hold the phone near the terminal, don’t touch the fingerprint image on the screen, touch the home button…and touch, don’t PRESS the home button…pressing will activate Siri instead of authorizing the payment!

New Force Touch Macbook Pro and iMac Out This Week

Wednesday looks to be the day that Apple drops new 15 inch Macbook Pros and 27 inch iMacs with Force Touch baked in to the track pads. 9to5mac.com says that otherwise, the update will be a minor one, with upgrades to the CPU and graphics processors.

In a story from tech crunch.com penned by the CEO of Zuora, the present car industry is compared to the early PC industry of the mid 80’s. The auto makers are cast as being as clueless as giant IBM was at that time, and Digital Equipment…remember them…even more out of touch. IBM went on to be clobbered as the platform…like Windows or Mac…became much more important to consumers than the brand itself. With Gartner predicting that there will be 250 million connected cars on the road by 2020, the platform makers, like Google with Android Auto and Apple with Car Play, may become far more important that the actual brand of cars…causing a gigantic shakeup in the auto industry.

‘Googlemobiles’ Will Be On The Loose This Summer

Don’t look now…but look later! ‘Googlemobiles’ will be hitting the public pavement in Mountain View this summer. Yes, according to the official google blog, self-driving Google cars will be tooling around…albeit with a safety driver aboard, and limited to 25 miles per hour. Google notes that 94% of crashes are caused by human error. The second generation Google cars still look like a VW Beetle that’s been hit with an ugly stick, but there’s plenty of time to get the styling right later after self driving is perfected.

Amazon may be working on making its Prime membership more valuable to members. Cnet.com reports that they have been reaching out to third party merchants, looking into letting them shop goods directly to customers, instead of drop shipping the goods to Amazon first. This would make a lot more goods in on the free two day shipping, and also expand the selection of goods available to you that way. It’s likely that the reports that Walmart is going to test free 3 day shipping this summer for a $50 annual fee is pushing Amazon to sweeten their Prime membership, which is $100.