Not Quite a Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button

Marketingland.com says that while Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has said the social network is working on something like a ‘Dislike’ button, it’s not exactly that. They are very close to shipping a test of the new feature, but Zuckerberg has reiterated his opinion that Facebook doesn’t want to create a situation where people are downvoting other people’s posts. He gave no specifics about what the button or buttons would be called but said the idea is to give people a way to express empathy. He says the real trick is to make something that fits this criteria, but still keep it simple enough for a button.

AT&T has kicked up it’s so-called ‘unlimited’ plan to a ceiling of 22 gigs of downloads a month before getting throttled. The old policy was 5 gigabytes. The move wasn’t due to their great altruism…it was the threat of a 100 million dollar FCC fine that did the trick. Throttling is actually prohibited under the new net neutrality rules, according to theverge.com, but the federal agency does allow for ‘reasonable network management.’


Next Year’s Android Smartphones Getting a Big Boost

Qualcomm has already said the next Snapdragon 820 chips will boost charging speeds…from dead to 80% charged in 90 minutes, to a lightening fast 30 minutes. Now, 9to5google.com reports that the 820 chip will increase maximum LTE download speeds by one third…from 450 megabytes per second to 600, and upload speeds will double to 150 megabytes per second. Look for the Snapdragon 820 in your next hero level Android smartphone. All US carriers are supposed to be in position to allow the upload and download speeds in 2016.

Researchers at a Japanese university, building on a concept from Stanford researchers, have built a nearly transparent lithium ion battery…something right out of Tony Stark’s Iron Man! According to bgr.com, besides being practically transparent, the battery can also charge via solar power. The battery was demoed at Innovation Japan early this month, and so far, no word on when it might be commercially available.


Google Looks Poised to Do Full Scale Launch of Self-Driving Car

9to5mac.com spotted a report last night from Automotive News that Google has hired the former CEO of Hyundai to run its self-driving car program. In an email, he mentions the cars being used by millions of people, and saving thousands of lives. Google is still saying it has no plans to manufacture cars itself, but will partner with a number of different companies. They still seem on track to have a self-driving car on the market by 2020.

Apple told Financial Times that strong weekend orders indicate the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will beat the 10 million sold the first weekend of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last year. In the past, the off-year ’S’ models have lagged behind sales of the pure numbered models. Thenextweb.com reports that the 6S Plus models show sold out right now, and the 6S rose gold models have a wait time of 3-4 weeks before shipping. We’ll know more if this sales pace will be maintained when the phones show up in stores next weekend.


Google and Twitter Partnering For Instant News Articles

Google and Twitter are partnering on making their own version of instant news articles. Recode.net says they are teaming up with a small group of publishers, and should launch this fall…joining the likes of Facebook, Apple, and Snapchat. The plan is for either Twitter users or people using Google search who click on a link via their smartphones to see the full article pop up on screen nearly instantly, instead of having to wait several seconds. A big difference between the Google-Twitter partnership and the others is that this one is based on open source publishing tools. The articles are also cached from the publishers’ sites, not hosted by Google. An interesting twist is that it will operate without either Google or Twitter branding.

It’s both amazing and a little creepy…we are on the verge of becoming like Wolverine! After a Spanish man lost his sternum and part of his rib cage to cancer, surgeons at Salamanca University installed a 3D printed replacement out of titanium. Gizmodo.com reports the implant was made by Anatomics in Australia. This isn’t the 3D printer the geek next door has in the garage…titanium is tricky…it’s a $1.3 million electron beam Arcam 3D printer. The patient was out of the hospital after 12 days, and is recovering well…and part of him is pretty bulletproof, now!


Apple ‘Recapple’

Apple rolled through their product updates and introductions in a couple of hours yesterday at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Here are a few hi lights:

Apple Watch- Mainly about fashion band accessories, particularly from high end Hermes, and new colors of gold and rose gold. It was announced that Watch OS will drop on September 16th, and include messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and also tight third party integration with AirStrip.

iPad Pro- It’s huge, has a great 12.9 inch screen, and…gasp…a stylus, which Steve Jobs famously mocked years ago. The Apple Pencil will be a separate $99 option. That screen…it has a higher pixel density than a Macbook Pro Retina. Apple claims 10 hours of battery life. It has a keyboard cover that screams ‘Microsoft Surface!’ iPad Pro starts at $799, and will be out in November.

Apple TV- Apple says this will be a game changer…you may have seen a clip of Tim Cook repeatedly on TV by now saying ‘we think the future of TV is apps.’ Apple TV has tight Siri integration, a new remote with the top part being touch screen, and buttons for volume, activating Siri and on-off. The remote is Bluetooth, so you don’t have to point it right at the box. A couple of cool features include asking Siri what did they say, and it will rewind about 15 seconds and playback…with captions. Also, you can ask Siri to search for something, and it will search across all platforms…Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. With the remote, it has gaming capabilities, but don’t look for it to displace gaming systems any time soon. Apple TV is $149 or $199 depending on memory, and out the end of the year.

iPhone- The iPhone 6S and 6S plus debuted, with the expected banner feature of Force Touch, which Apple has renamed 3D Touch for the phones. It recognizes 3 levels of finger pressure, and will call up different results…for example, menus, or when pressing an email, it will pop it open so you can read it, and return you to the previous screen when you lift your finger. The new camera is a big leap…up to 12 megapixels, and capable of 4K video and an new gimmicky feature that records a second and a half of video and sound before and after each picture. When you press the picture on the phone, it shows you that 3 seconds of motion. Hey Siri now allows you to just say that, and Siri will respond without having to press and hold the home button. There’s a new rose gold color (and it and the other gold will now be exclusive to the 6S and 6S Plus). iOS 9 will be available September 16th, and iPhones go on preorder this Saturday, with deliveries to start September 25th. Prices are the same as on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, while those models will be dropped as has been Apple’s past practice…so the 16 gig iPhone 6S will start at $199 with a two year contract. Apple has also added a contractless payment plan like a couple of the carriers have, that starts at $32 a month…PLUS carrier service costs, of course.


Verizon To Test Insanely Fast 5G!

Later this year, and into next, Verizon will be testing out 5G for mobile devices. It’s insanely fast! How fast? Faster than Google Fiber’s direct connection into homes. 30 to 60 times faster than 4G. For example, you could download ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ in 6 minutes over 4G, but with 5G, it’ll be downloaded to your smartphone in 15 seconds! Cnet.com says according to Verizon, some commercial deployment will start by 2017. All that blazing speed and responsiveness will become more important as we add to the ‘internet of things’ around the house and office, and more connected cars come online. South Korea and China are pushing to upgrade to 5G quickly, too…South Korea hopes to have it showing up by 2018, but Verizon may well beat them by a year.

Yesterday, Amazon announced they were rolling out restaurant food delivery via Prime Now, starting in Seattle. Google is jumping into food delivery, but fresh food and groceries, starting later this year through Google Express. According to bloomberg.com, they will begin trials in San Francisco and one other city to be named later. Whole Foods and Costco will be among the rollout partners for the grocery delivery service. Grocery delivery is already a space populated by Amazon Fresh, and startup Instacart. Note that they will be delivering fresh food…they won’t have the capacity for refrigeration to deliver refrigerated or frozen items. For those, you’ll have to drag yourself to the supermarket!


Amazon Rolls Out Food Delivery Service

Amazon has announced that it’s adding restaurant delivery an option for its one hour delivery app Prime Now. The initial service is just in specific zip codes in Seattle for the launch. Prime Now customers can view menus from participating restaurants in the app, order, and then track their delivery in real time like with package deliveries via the service. Amazon says there is no additional charge for the hour or less delivery, unlike other Prime Now one hour deliveries, which cost an additional $7.99. There are several dozen restaurants participating, but no national chains as yet. It’s likely that New York will be the second city to get the service.

Most people know that plenty of patents are filed that never see the light of day in products. According to Jalopnik.com, Toyota has filed one that may well be in that category. It’s for multiple, stacked wings that expand out of the roof of a future flying car. In the drawings, it appears to borrow from a pre-1900 ill-fated multi-winged airplane! Besides the flying issues, it seems the thing would put additional drag on the car while on the ground, hurting mileage….or maybe it’s an electric car-plane? We may never know!


The iPhone 7 (It’s Never Too Early For Apple Rumors!)

With the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus due out in just days, are you ready for a rumor about the iPhone 7…probably a year away? Appleinsider.com picked this up from usually reliable KGI Securities. the iPhone 7 will be between 6 and 6.5 millimeters thick. This would put it in the range of the iPod Touch and iPad Air 2, both of which are 6.1 mm thick. The present iPhone is just over 7 millimeters thick. In order to allow for Force Touch 3D, which needs a wafer thin circuit board under the touch pad, this probably means no 4K super high def iPhone 7…this is probably ok, since you eyes can’t tell the difference on that size screen anyway!

Samsung first exploded into the smartphone world back in 2010 by shamelessly copying Apple for it’s Galaxy S. Now, according to theverge.com, there’s a new, better copycat in town. Chinese manufacturer Huawei is not only pushing the limits of Apple intellectual property, it is lifting features, look and feel from a number of device makers. The 5.5 Mate S smartphone’s banner feature? Force Touch! Although already out on Apple Watch, Huawei has jumped ahead of Apple getting the feature to a smartphone. As for look and feel, when you first see the Mate S, a lot of what you see will make you think you’re looking at the HTC One M9! The motion gestures are borrowed from Samsung and HTC, and swiping down on the home screen brings up a dead ringer for Apple’s Spotlight.


Future Fuel Cell Powered Macbook Could Run Days or Weeks

We just reported about 10 days ago about a British company called Intelligent Energy working with Apple on a fuel cell battery case that can keep your iPhone going for a week. Now, businessinsider.com says Apple has a patent for a fuel cell battery that could run some of its devices for days or even weeks. This one describes a “portable and cost-effective fuel cell system for a portable computing device,” and it joins others Apple already had on the books. This one seems to be aimed at MacBooks…the filing mentions the ‘MagSafe’ connector, but not the Lightening connectors used on iPhones and iPads. Apparently, you would just replace a fuel cartridge ‘detachably affixed to the fuel cell system’ when the fuel runs out.

It seems like everyone has a smartphone now…and that perception isn’t far from reality. According to an analysis by ComScore picked up by marketingland.com, US smartphone penetration hit 77% in July. In the social media race on smartphones, Facebook dominates more than ever. They stay #1, and Facebook’s freestanding Messenger app is now #2, bumping YouTube to third place. Don’t shed a tear for Google though…their apps hold down slots 3, 4, 5, and 6! Pandora radio, Gmail, Instagram, and Yahoo stocks round out the top 10.


When Will That ‘Baby Tesla’ Be Available?

Elon Musk Tweeted yesterday that the Model 3, the smallest Tesla, will go into production in 2017. Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that pre-orders will start next March when the car is unveiled. It’s expected that the Model 3 will sell for around $35,000, nearly half the price of the current top line Model S, and have a 200 mile cruising range. Musk said the 2017 date is because demand for the cars will mean the giant battery producing factory will have to be up and running. It will come in both sedan and crossover suv models.

Intel has rolled out it’s new 6th generation core processor, Skylake. The advanced chip has 2-1/2 times better speed, 3 times the battery life, and 30 times the graphics power of an average 5 year old PC. According to businessinsider.com, it will enable cutting the weight and thickness of a PC in half, and for some laptops to go fanless…great news if you’re looking at a laptop, but a blow to the struggling tablet market. Expect the Skylake chips to start showing up in laptops late this year.