A year and a half pilot program is starting in California to encourage electric BMW i3 owners to charge them up in off-peak hours. To reduce stress on the power grid, BMW iChargeForward is giving incentives of up to $1540 in gift cards if owners don’t charge during high demand hours. Under the program, cnet.com says BMW can delay charging by up to an hour if data from PG&E says it’s warranted. Drivers can still override this with a smartphone app if they need to drive somewhere sooner than that. BMW plans to up the trial group to as many as 400 owners soon.
A heads up for Nvidia Shield tablet owners…it’s been one of the top selling tablets for Android users the last year, but the company is recalling a large subset of them because the battery can burst into flames. Gizmodo.com reports that all Shield tablets made between July 2014 and July 2015 are involved. Under the recall, the company will send you a new tablet with a less fire prone battery. They say if you have one of the tablets, stop using it now!
The Amazon site Amazon Destinations, which launched in April, has now added several areas, to cover a total of 35 cities and 6 metro regions, including the Bay Area and Northern California. According to techcrunch.com, the site isn’t intended as a full boat travel service…but more for planning and booking weekend getaways near where people live. Hotels and the like don’t pay upfront to participate, instead amazon keeps a percentage of what users pay as a commission. It now covers the Northwest, all of California, Texas, as well as Southeast and Northeast areas.
Great news for full blown Apple fanboys and fangirls…Apple’s spaceship shaped Campus 2 headquarters will have a visitor center with and observation deck and store. Appleinsider.com reports that the visitor’s center will be a free standing glass walled structure keeping the theme of the main spaceship building. It will apparently have a cafe in addition to the store, and will be open 7-7 weekdays and 9-7 on weekends. Now, ultra fans can eat an apple at Apple, and go home with even less money after buying lots of Apple branded merchandise.
While Amazon is trying to get the FAA to let them use a band of protected airspace to fly their delivery drones in, Workhorse has applied to that agency for special permission to launch delivery drones from the back of its electric cargo vans! As the van tools around, the roof-mounted HorseFly UAV selects, transports, and drops off the correct parcel right outside its recipient’s front door. Besides driving the route, all the driver has to do is watch to make sure the drone’s landings go ok. Engadget.com reports that the HorseFly drone can fly for up to a half hour carrying 10 lbs. This idea may ‘fly’ better than Amazon’s plan to have drones fly from their warehouses all the way to people’s homes.
Yes, at long last, it’s here…and by most accounts, it’s good. The antidote to terrible Windows 8, Windows 10 is out. According to bgr.com…somewhat in jest…the best new feature is that it’s NOT Windows 8, but actually there’s a lot more. The beloved Start menu is back, for starters. Probably the best new feature is a decent web Browser called Microsoft Edge…which is faster, sleeker, and far less clunky than Internet ‘Exploder.’ Microsoft hasn’t actually killed old Internet Explorer yet, but will be nudging companies to leave it and move on. The Cortana voice assistant is pretty good, but doesn’t work with all systems…some computer microphones, for example, don’t support it well. You will see the update tool appear, but be aware unless you really want to dive into the weeds to update right away, you’ll be put in line for the update to be pushed out to you.
Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6+ sales have exploded, but Samsung has had pretty disappointing numbers for the metal clad Galaxy S6 and Edge. The Galaxy Note series has done pretty well, though. Samsung has announced Galaxy Unpacked, a rollout event in New York for August 13th. According to theverge.com, look for announcements about the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus. The new Notes have been dropping in September, so it’s thought that Samsung has moved the event up in order to get the drop on Apple…which is expected to show the iPhone 6S in September.
Mobile developer NextBit is cooking up something cool for Android users. NextBit is run by alums of Google, Apple, HTC, and Amazon, and they brought out app transfer software last year called Baton…which works like Apple’s Handoff to let you move smoothly from one device to another and continue with what you were working on, watching, or listening to seamlessly. Recode.net says now they’re working on their own handset. They are claiming it will be very cool, and ‘not for everybody.’ Is this a take on the old Apple mantra ‘Think Different?’ We’ll apparently know soon.
Samsung has revealed the first monitor that wirelessly charges phones. If your phone has the Qi wireless charging standard, venturebeat.com says you can lay it on the stand’s charging area, a little green LED lights, and that’s it! The monitor also features an ‘eye saver mode’ that reduces the blue light that causes eye strain. The SE370 monitor will come in 23.6 and 27 inch sizes, and will be out before the end of the year. No pricing has been announced yet.
Android Auto will be out in the next year, as will Apple’s further integration with Car Play, and arstechnica.com has ferreted out some cool future features by activating developer mode. It looks like Android Auto will eventually include roadside assistance, vehicle check, and service history later on. There is also a dummy screen titled ‘more car apps,’ so the system has code baked in to operate as a launcher for additional car apps. Arstechnica also found a huge list of sensors hidden away in Android auto, that will allow it to monitor more than just the speed and location of the car, including the cryptic ‘driving status.’ Could this be a mode for self-driving? Stay tuned.
Yes, it’s time for Apple’s annual back to school promotion, and this year, Cupertino is giving away a free pair of Beats Solo2 headphones to students and teachers that buy a Mac through their education program…literally music to your ears! Theverge.com notes that the headphones usually go for $200, and that for an additional $100 bucks, you can upgrade to wireless ones. The deal’s good on iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Pros through September 18th.
The latest iteration of the Motorola Moto X should roll out next Tuesday. 9to5google.com says leaked pictures indicate a 5.5 inch screen and a front facing flash for selfies. It’s also rumored to have a fingerprint sensor integrated into the bottom speaker, and there may be a version with dual SIM cards to allow for multiple numbers.
It’s been 4 months since Amazon Home Services bowed, and now they’re adding 11 more cities, to cover a total of 15. Home Services allows you to not only buy things like water heaters and wall mounted TVs, but to locate someone to install them…horning in on Angie’s List and American Home Shield. Geekwire.com says they plan to be in 30 cities by year’s end. Already available in New York, LA, San Francisco, & Seattle, Amazon has tacked on providers in: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Jose and Washington D.C.
They are offering what they call their Happiness Guarantee on the jobs.
A big gift for history buffs has dropped…AP and British Movietone have added their entire historical news archives to YouTube, dating back to 1895. That’s more than a million minutes of historical footage! 9to5google.com reports that AP may try to monetize later with ads, but for now are relying on licensing deals with documentary makers and the like.
Jet, which has been operating in beta since April, officially launched today. They’ve raise 225 million in their effort to out-Amazon Amazon. Businessinsider.com reports the site promises prices 10-15% lower than anywhere else. Product prices start at about 8% cheaper, but Jet gives further discounts when you bundle multiple orders into a single shipment. The company claims not to take a cut of product prices, but just be about making money from a Costco like $50 annual membership fee.
Google has released a new plug in that allows you to open files for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint right from Google Drive. When you’re ready to save, you can save right inside Drive, too. According to engadget.com, it works with Office on Windows machines, but Google hasn’t announced when the plug in might be available on Macs.
Apple has 41% market share in smartphones, compared to 53% for Android, but when it comes to podcast listening, they crush all comers. 9to5mac.com says a report by Clammr on podcast listening habits gives Apple 82% of all podcast listening…with Android owners a distant 2nd at 16%. Even with a large selection of third party podcast apps, three fourths of users listen on Apple’s native Podcasts app.
The Mag Safe connector Apple supplies with its MacBooks has probably saved hundreds of thousands of laptops from damage, by easily disconnecting the cord whey you clumsily trip over it. Now, gizmodo.com reports a new Kickstarter called Znaps brings that tech to the rest of us. The system uses a little adapter that plugs into the Lightening or micro USB port, and another small adapter that goes on the end of your charging plug. A little LED on the connector tells you your phone’s charging. Znaps was shooting for $120,000 on Kickstarter, but has raised a half million. You can preorder a single pair of adapters for just 9 bucks.