Future iPhones Could Be Inductively Charged-WITHOUT Added Parts!

A patent application by Apple is all about inductive charging…which several other smartphones have had for a while. Bgr.com reports that this is different because NO additional parts are required…a clever idea from thinness-obsessed Apple. Using software, Apple’s system uses electric coils already in the speakers, microphones, and haptic engines in iOS gadgets. It may even be possible to charge older iOS devices in this manner, using a dock designed for inductive charging. Amazingly, the tiny speakers and microphones would still be able to do their normal duties while charging. Since these coils are tiny, don’t expect rapid charging with them, and no word on when…or if Apple will introduce the feature.

Here’s a biggie for those of us in California that value what little privacy we think we have left…yesterday, Governor Brown signed into law an act that requires police to get a warrant before collecting email, IP addresses, or other electronic information. The new law has been pushed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ACLU, and it should apply to the notorious Stingray, the surveillance gadget that scoops up your info by posing as a cellular tower. Washington state has a similar new law, and the US Department of Justice has vowed to obtain a warrant when they utilize such tech.

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Reactions Emoji May Be the Facebook ‘Dislike’ Button

Reactions Emoji

Today, in Spain and Ireland, Facebook rolled out Reactions emoji alongside the thumbs up with the like button. Techcrunch.com says this may be their answer to a ‘dislike’ button that Mark Zuckerberg talked about last month. The little emoji are for like, love, haha, yay, wow, sad, and angry. Facebook says the reason for Spain and Ireland is that both have largely in-country friend networks, so work better as test groups…and of course enable testing in both English and Spanish. Right now, Facebook isn’t planning to add them to Messenger or other stand alone products. The emoji will eventually make it to their analytics dashboard, so social media managers will have a more granular idea about how people are responding to a particular post.

Amazon is moving in on Etsy’s territory. The giant online marketplace has launched ‘Handmade,’ with over 80,000 items from jewelry & stationary to party supplies and furniture. Users can filter by location to buy locally, or search the world. Sellers have their own profile pages where they can tell the story of themselves and their handmade products. According to geekwire.com, 600 of the items are eligible for Amazon Prime free 2 day shipping initially. Amazon is launching with a special promotion where they will just take a 12% cut until August 1st of next year…then their piece of the pie will be per existing category averages.


New 4K 21-1/2 Inch iMac Out Next Week; iPad Pro Coming

Apple will start selling it’s 21.5 inch iMacs with 4K Retina displays next week, probably Tuesday. According to 9to5mac.com, they’ll keep the current form factor, but will sport the new 4096×2304 screens and noticeably faster graphics cards. No pricing yet, but expect them to be bumped up from the non-4K current version. It’s also not clear if the Magic Mouse 2 with Force Touch and updated Bluetooth Keyboard with better battery life will be out by next week. The iPad Pro looks set to drop in early November now.

Apple’s killer feature for the iPhone 6S and Plus may see Android competitors soon. According to thenextweb.com. Synaptics has announced its ClearForce tech, which works very much like Apple’s 3D Touch, will be integrated into Android phones that should be shipping early next year. Huawei has already showed a pressure sensitive display on it’s Mate S phone, so expect a slew of high end Android smartphones to horn in on Apple’s 3D Touch turf by 1st quarter of 2016.


Microsoft’s Rollout Event

Today in New York, Microsoft showed their latest and greatest in Lumia phones, Surface Tablets, Microsoft Band 2, Xbox, and Hololens. First off, a new custom Halo 5 Xbox with a Terabyte of storage…that’s out October 20th for $499. The Hololens will have what Microsoft calls Console Class Graphics. It puts virtual game enemies right in your room, and is untethered…no wires, phones, or PC connection needed. According to theverge.com, Microsoft is taking applications for a Hololens development kit, and it should be out 1st quarter of next year for $3000.

Microsoft Band 2 is more circular, and has a curved Gorilla Glass 3 OLED screen. It has Built in GPS, UV monitoring, sleep and calorie tracking, a barometer to track elevation, and Cortana elevation. For golf, it knows if you’re putting, doing practice swings, or crushing the ball down the fairway! It works across iOS, Android, and Windows. It’s $249, and out October 30th. Trick or Treat!

The Lumia 5.2 inch 950 and 5.7 950 XL smartphones feature adaptive antenna tech, octacore and hexacore processors, and liquid cooling tech. There’s a 20 megapixel camera, better image stabilization, triple LED flash, and a dedicated camera button. 32 gigs of storage and USB C connector. They recharge to 50% in 30 minutes. The new Lumias run full Windows 10, and will be out in November starting at $549 for the 950 and $649 for the 950 XL.

The Surface Pro 4 tablet will have a fingerprint sensor on the keyboard and a larger GLASS trackpad. It has a 12.3 inch display, and thinner cover. It gets a hybrid cooling system and 6th generation Intel Core processor, with 16 gigs or RAM and 1 terabyte of storage. Microsoft claims Surface 4 is 30% faster than Surface 3, and 50% faster than a Macbook Air. The pen attaches magnetically to the side…it doesn’t need charging for a year! Double click one end and it launches One note…hold the ‘eraser’ button and it launches Cortana. Preorders open October 7th and it starts at $899.

New to the lineup is a 13.5 inch laptop they’ve dubbed Microsoft Surface Book. The display detaches into a tablet, which they claim is the thinnest and lightest Intel Core i7 tablet. The whole thing is 1.6 lbs, and 7.7 millimeters thick. It starts at $1499. Preorders start October 7th, and it’s available October 26th.


Your Internet May Be Coming Via Lightbulbs Before Long

The news this week had a story of a random hacker stealing Wi-Fi passwords, and having been hacked a few years ago by someone parked outside my home, I’ve always worried that even the top security level and a strong password aren’t enough for Wi-Fi. As thenextweb.com reports, we may all be safer and have better coverage with the next big thing…Li-Fi. As more of us add LED bulbs around the house…my son has them in every single fixture, I have them in about half…we also gain the ability to transmit signals on light frequencies…which can’t be hacked if your curtains and shades are closed, and will make available far more spectrum to handle the traffic of ‘the internet of things,’ like your fridge, thermostat, and virtually everything else electric with a chip that lives in your home with you. There are already companies in Scotland and France offering Li-Fi. It could be in your home in the next few years.

Perhaps nothing is as aggravating as trying to cancel a service, especially a tenacious one like Comcast cable, which actually has a manual and trains people on how to block your cancellation every step of the way. TechCrunch.com says there’s a new service called Airpaper that will do it for you for 5 bucks. You do, of course, have to give them your name, address, phone number, and Comcast account number. They claim not to use the info for any other purpose. It could get hacked…they could sell that info, but I’m betting a lot of people will roll the dice anyway, just to not have the hassle of dealing with trying to cut the cord.


Samsung Says TVs Don’t Have a ‘Volkswagen Problem’

A testing group in Europe funded by the European Union accused Samsung of using software to make its TVs look better in regulatory lab tests yesterday. Now cnet.com reports that Samsung has strongly denied its gaming the system. The feature is called motion lighting, and it reduces screen brightness, and therefore energy consumption when the picture on screen is in motion. ComplianTV said they detected the behaviors, but were unable to prove that Samsung was gaming the system…but they got that impression. Samsung says motion lighting is a default setting that works in the lab and at home to reduce environmental impact. This reporter confirmed that on his own TV after digging through a deep stack of menus. Let’s just be glad we don’t have diesel TVs!

Apple will begin selling some models of Apple Watch at some Target stores this week. Expect to see the Watch at target.com by October 18th, and at all Target stores effective October 25th. According to thenextweb.com, there will be 20 models available, priced from $349 to $599, in both the 38mm and 42mm sizes. In other words, Target will have all but the expensive Edition models. By adding Target to Best Buy, Apple is giving a more mid-market aura to the watch heading into the holidays.


Skype Getting Real Time Language Translation on PCs

Microsoft has announced that Skype Translator, which has been freestanding and Spanish to English only, will be coming to Windows PCs in the next few weeks. Geekwire.com reports that it will be a baked in feature to PC based Skype, and will also add French, German, Italian, and Mandarin for voice, plus 50 written languages. They won’t have it out for smartphones, at least for a while. Microsoft admits it’s not perfect, but early tests indicated people can carry on a conversation with it.

Battery life just sucks, and virtually every gadget we use runs by battery power. Something better may be on the way, at least for the smaller devices. According to engadget.com, scientists in Canada and France have come up with a micro-supercapacitor with the same energy density of most lithium ion batteries. Even Elon Musk has lusted for capacitors as a replacement for batteries, since you can recharge them infinitely without loss of capacity. The rub with the micro-supercapacitor is it’s built from exotic materials like gold and ruthenium oxide, so crazy expensive when you scale up in size. The scientists say for replacing micro batteries, though, the capacitors can store 1000 times the energy of those tiny batteries. They may be showing up in wearables before long, but we’ll have to wait a while for instant charging cell phones and electric cars.