It’s slightly bigger than the present hockey puck, but still has a small footprint. The 4th generation Apple TV is rolling out in October, and will sell for between $149 and $199, according to 9to5mac.com. This is a bump of $50 to $100 bucks, depending on Apple’s final decision, and a good deal more than Roku, Google, or Amazon. Apple will keep the 3rd generation at $69, which it’s been selling for since March. The 4th gen model will feature Siri and a new remote control with a touchpad on top, a microphone for Siri, and motion sensors. There will also be an App store. Apple plans to launch a cable replacing streaming TV service next year for $40 a month that bundles multiple TV channels. The cheaper 3rd gen model won’t have the fancy remote control or Siri support.
It’s a constant battle for computers and smart devices to try to keep up with malware. Qualcomm is taking a new approach with their upcoming new Snapdragon 820 mobile processor. Engadget.com reports the processor will use what they call Smart Protect tech, which uses machine learning to watch for possible security issues in real time, as opposed to relying on a list of threats. In addition the Snapdragon 820 will have faster graphics capability, and an API for security software makers to utilize the chip’s heightened awareness.
You have probably heard that Apple is holding their rollout event for the new iPhones and more on September 9th. One of the marquee features, as reported by 9to5mac.com and others is a 12 megapixel main camera, and upgraded signal processor for larger, higher resolution pictures. 4K video is also in store on the 6S and 6S+…which a lot of people won’t need as they don’t have 4K TVs or monitors. One thing you WILL use is the upgraded front selfie cam with flash…no, there’s not a front-facing LED flash…Apple will flash the screen white when you shoot, like Snapchat and Photo Booth. The front cam is also likely to get panorama and slo-mo video, too.
In a move that will improve performance, Google’s Chrome web browser will start pausing Flash ads by default September 1st. The function has been in the beta version for a while now. By pausing auto-playing flash, Chrome users should see speed improvements and better batter life. Google, in addition to Apple, has been trying to get away from Flash tech for quite a while. YouTube switched over to streaming HTML5 video by default the first of the year.
Facebook has begun a soft rollout of ‘M,’ its new virtual assistant that runs in the freestanding Messenger app. According to wired.com, it will not only make restaurant reservations, shop for a birthday present for your sweetie, suggest-then-book a weekend getaway…Facebook claims it will perform tasks Siri, Google Now, and Cortana can’t. That’s because it doesn’t just rely on artificial intelligence…the secret ingredient in Facebook’s M is people.The people Facebook has in place behind the AI interface have customer service backgrounds. You’ll know when you get the new assistant when a new button appears at the bottom of you Facebook Messenger mobile app.
New cars come with a fair amount of connectivity, and a few companies like Automatic, and Zubie sell gadgets that let you turn an older vehicle into a connected one. Now, Forbes.com reports that Verizon is getting into the act with Hum. The communications giant will offer it directly to consumers, and Hum is designed to be installed by the user in their own cars. It has two pieces of hardware…a cellular modem that plugs into the ODB diagnostic port, and a Bluetooth connected speaker that lives on your visor. It should be able to spot issues before they get out of hand, and relay miles per gallon, overall vehicle health, and so on, which will display on a mobile app. Hum also comes with roadside assistance, emergency assistance, parking info, and a vehicle finder. The hardware is $120, and subscription to the service is $15 a month.
Theverge.com says Uber is setting up a new self-driving car project at the University of Arizona. The new project will focus on self-driving car technology, particularly the mapping and optics challenges involved in developing a fully autonomous vehicle. Earlier this year, Uber went on a major hiring binge for their Pittsburgh center, which many complained had hired so many experts away from the local robotics lab that they had effectively gutted competing projects. The Arizona partnership will focus on the optics systems necessary for mapping and safety. It appears that Tucson will be a new hub for much of Uber’s ongoing research into autonomous vehicles.
Some companies have been working on hydrogen fuel cells for cars since the 80’s. Now, one has managed to shoehorn one into smartphone size. Geek.com says Intelligent Energy has added a very slim hydrogen fuel cell to an iPhone 6! It reportedly doesn’t replace the rechargeable battery, but complements it. The company has been working closely with Apple on integrating it without modifying the phone. The back of the phone with the hydrogen cell is covered with vents to allow heat and water vapor to escape, but not enough that you will notice that. The upside? You can use your iPhone for a week without recharging! They are working on a disposable cartridge at this point, and have to decide on pricing, but this could be a huge game changer in smart devices and our other portable electronics!
Amazon has added home town Seattle and surrounding area to it’s one hour delivery service Prime Now. It was already available to Amazon Prime members in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Manhattan, Miami, and Indianapolis. More cities are on tap for later this year. Speaking of on tap, they have added the option to order beer, wine, and liquor for quick delivery, according to techcrunch.com. Other last minute needs are included in the service, which is via a standalone iOS or Android app…including party supplies, gifts, household items, and cold items like milk or frozen ones such as ice cream. Cheers!
Because we wouldn’t want any politicians’ hasty and foolish, embarrassing Tweets to bite them later, or journalists to be able to actually report them, Twitter has kindly blocked Politwoops and sister site Diplotwoops from access of it’s API. Techcrunch.com reports Twitter says it violates terms of service. Surely it can’t be from pressure from politicians and governments? The US version was shut down earlier this year. The Open State Foundation and watchdog Sunlight Foundation said they will look for other ways to report deleted Tweets, noting that politicians shouldn’t have the same expectation of privacy as private citizens.
According to businessinsider.com, Apple is bringing a couple of major changes to the Apple Watch with the software update due out next month. Watch OS 2 will have native access to the watch, which means it won’t have to ‘phone home’ to your nearby iPhone constantly. Apps should load much faster. It will also remember WiFi connections you’ve used previously with your phone, allowing you to connect to the web without having your iPhone tagging along. This won’t work for everything, but will for iMessages and using Siri.
Samsung had good success for a while supersizing smartphones into phablets, and now theverge.com says SamMobile is reporting the company is working on an 18.4 inch Android tablet. Internally, it’s called Tahoe, and it has a TFT LCD display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, a 1.6 GhZ processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and rear and front cameras — 8 megapixels and 2.1 megapixels, respectively. SamMobile speculates that it wouldn’t be aimed at mainstream users, but for salespeople to make presentations, and architects needing a large mobile device for site visits. No word on when it might hit the market.
As Apple is rumored to be working in secret on their own electric car that would run their Car Play software, Mercedes-Benz is apparently open to different types of collaboration with Cupertino. In an interview out in the last few days, the Daimler CEO, Dieter Zetsche, was quoted as saying “Google and Apple want to provide system software for cars and bring this entire ecosystem around Apple and Google into the vehicle. That can be interesting for both sides.” According to macrumors.com, Apple hired former Mercedes R&D VP Johann Jungwirth, who is now Director of Mac Systems Engineering.
Microsoft is planning a monster product launch event in October. According to theverge.com, they’ll show two new Lumia handsets, the Surface Pro 4, and a Microsoft Band 2. There MAY be a slimmer Xbox One as well, but that’s an outside chance. More likely is additional Surface hardware in addition to the Surface Pro 4….Maybe a Surface Mini.
Ford has patented an autonomous car that allows for the driver pivoting around with their back to the wheel. This would enable 4 adults to sit facing each other. It will be interesting to see how this works out, as Mercedes-Benz already has a functioning self-driving car that does this, and has demonstrated it to the press. A fresh wrinkle in the Ford version is that the entire front seat can fold back, creating a bed or leg rest for back seat passengers. That in and of itself will present interesting scenarios for future parents when junior asks to borrow the car!
As Apple does more and more with Siri, and Microsoft does the same with Cortana, a long time player in speech recognition will be dropping mobile apps this fall. Thenextweb.com reports that Dragon Anywhere…the app…will be released for iOS and Android, with the focus on professionals. At least the initial release will be designed for lawyers, social workers, insurance adjusters, and public safety officers, according to Nuance…which envisions such pros using the app to create and edit complete reports and documents, or take detailed notes on the go. It will play nice with Evernote and Dropbox, according to the maker. Updates to the PC desktop app will be out in August, and for the Mac in September.
We previously reported on Silent Circle’s 2.0 product, the Blackphone 2. Now, techcrunch.com says it should be launching in September….a little bit of a slide from a promised summer launch, and still no word on a price. It will sport an all-glass front and rear, plus a larger 5.5 inch full HD display, have a 64-bit processor, and more RAM.
Facebook Notes has been one of the social network’s least used and least updated features. It has sat there for years largely unloved and useless…you may not have touched it since 25 Things About Me…remember that? Thenextweb.com reports that Facebook is putting a fresh coat of paint on Notes, and it looks suspiciously like Medium…a blogging platform used by techies and hipsters. One has to wonder if people will blog on Facebook, but they are testing out layouts and features, including cover photos, user tagging, photo resizing, adding links and hashtags. You’ll be able to share notes with the audience of your choice, as you can with normal posts right now.
No specific news on when this might roll out.
It looks like a revamp of Apple TV will roll out along with iPhone 6S and the rest on September 9th, and 9to5mac.com says it will run a full blown iOS 9 core, albeit optimized for the little box. The box is apparently slimmer and a bit wider, and will sport a new remote, with new and more tactile keys, in addition to touch based input and gesture support. The remote will use both Bluetooth and infrared, which should give it better response. It will use Siri for easier search, and Apple TV will have a faster processor and more memory. Sources say it won’t launch with the long sought Apple Cable TV killer service…at least not initially. That may come next year.