Wireless Charging from 30 Feet Away; Hello Again Nvidia Tablet and Goodbye Zune Services

There is a new wireless tech that promises to be a lot more wireless than what is currently offered. Right now, you have to lay your device on a special pad to charge, and often you have to use a bulky case, as well…nice if you’re too lazy to plug it in, but not that helpful. Si Ware Systems has developed a new chip that allows wireless charging from 30 feet away. According to geekwire.com, the tech is based on the Cota technology from Ossia…which was founded by a former Microsoft engineer. It allows for wireless charging that works a lot like wi-fi…one chip in the charging station, and others in the devices you are charging. It can deliver 10 watts of power…your smartphone plug in charger generally puts out one or two watts. The tech is small enough to fit into a AA battery, so some older items like TV remotes wouldn’t even have to be replaced. Did I mention it charges from 30 feet away?

A couple of quick notes…theverge.com reports that Nvidia’s Shield Tablet is back on sale for $199 after the fire hazard recall of every single one. That’s $100 less than originally…this time with a hopefully less fire prone battery. The question, as posed by Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, is ‘do you feel lucky?’

RIP Zune services. Yes, you read correctly. The hapless Microsoft Zune mp3 player, which actually wasn’t a bad, was killed off in 2011, but the music streaming and download service continued on with the Zune brand until now. Mashable.com says people with Zune Music Pass subscriptions will be converted over to the Groove Music Pass, which is basically the same thing…or can apply for a prorated refund.


Twitter Testing Emotion Emojis as Plus to Hearts; Uber’s Carpooling Feature for Drivers

As some users are still pining for the star that Twitter killed in favor of the new heart, a user has uncovered the fact that Twitter is testing out a variety of emoji you will be able to use to express your reaction to Tweets. According to thenextweb.com, the user found the emoji through a hack that opens up developer test features. Right now, clicking on one makes the floating emoji go ‘poof,’ and revert to the heart. No word from Twitter as to when the feature might be rolled out.

Uber drivers wanting a few extra bucks on their commutes to and from home — especially those who drive part-time — will be able to with the ride-hailing app’s new “destinations” feature. Theverge.com says drivers rolling in a particular direction can plug their destination into the app, and Uber’s algorithm will send them ride requests that appear along the way. Requests that would force them to deviate from their route would be filtered out. Uber says it will heighten driver flexibility, but it could have much more far-reaching consequences. 61 percent of drivers in the US have full- or part-time jobs outside Uber. If you never have to deviate from your route, suddenly anyone has the potential to be an Uber driver, regardless of employment status. It will launch in San Francisco first.


Big Bluetooth Speed & Range Boosts Coming; Apple Pay Between Individuals

Huge improvements may turbocharge people connecting more of their homes to the internet of things. Engadget.com reports that the firm that oversees Bluetooth is making big updates in 2016…meaning Bluetooth connections should see a 100% speed boost and quadruple the range. This will be for all Bluetooth, not just connected internet of things gadgets. They’re also working on mesh networking- so a whole area, home, or building can be connected.

As more stores embrace Apple Pay…I just used it for the first time at Trader Joe’s this week…Apple is expanding in a new way. Geek.com says they’re working with banks on setting up peer to peer payments between friends and family over Apple Pay. This will hit PayPal’s Venmo right in the pocketbook, as Apple doesn’t play to charge the banks processing fees. It looks like they will just use it to attract and keep Apple Pay users and financial institutions. Of course, it also gives them more data to better target ads towards you!


Build a Virtual Store From Your Phone; Comcast $15 Stream Service Cord Cutters Might Actually Want

Consumer non-favorite Comcast has kicked off a $15 a month streaming service with the original name ‘The Stream,’ that includes local networks, HBO, and on-demand movies and TV shows. Thenextweb.com reports it’s just out in Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire so far. It will be in Chicago and Seattle soon, and nationwide early next year. Naturally, there’s a catch…you have to be an Xfinity…or Comcast internet…customer. Even if it doesn’t lure you back to Comcast, it will certainly force other ISPs to look at making similar deals available.

Shopify has dropped a new app called Sello for iOS and Android that lets anyone create an online store from their phone. According to techcrunch.com, you just put up a photo of the item you plan to sell, add a price and description, and off you go! Through the app, you can accept credit card and PayPal payments, and share product listings on social networks. Shopify expects most products will be found on social nets, and not through the app. The Sello app is free, and there are no transaction fees…they make the money on payment processing.


Google Weighs Building Its Own Smartphone From Scratch; Samsung Galaxy S7 Update

Google already has the Nexus, and two models just recently rolled out. Now, according to bgr.com, which spotted something in The Information, Google may not look to HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola, or Huawei for future smartphones, but may roll their own. The Silicon Valley giant is apparently considering developing its own chips for mobile devices…like Apple does. Even though Android dominates the smartphone market, they continue to lose share to Apple. Nothing’s decided yet…including whether or not they would use the Nexus brand.

Earlier, we reported that Apple may be on track to drop the iPhone 7 by June or July, instead of September as with the iPhone 6S and 6 before it. Now, it appears Samsung is at least a month ahead of last year in developing firmware for it’s next iteration of the Galaxy, the S7. 9to5google.com notes that his could allow them to get the drop on Apple with a rollout as early as January or February.


Google Maps Adds OFFLINE Features; Vizio TVs Sleazy ‘Opt Out’ Data Harvesting

Google is rolling out a MAJOR new feature for Google Maps on Android…full offline support. 9to5google.com says you could already see a map area without a net connection, but now you will be able to use features like navigation and business info without being connected. You will need to download sections of the map while you’re online first…once you’ve done that, all of the above is available without using your cellular or wi-fi connection. Keep in mind that some features…like traffic alerts…won’t work if you’re offline. The rollout of the feature is underway to Android users now.

Big Brother may not be watching, but your big screen TV may be. Of course, you knew that some brands have had this dubious feature….it’s been reported about Samsung, LG, & Toshiba…but on those, you have to opt in. It turns out that Vizio smart TVs make you opt out of their spying on you and selling your data. Geek.com reports that they’ve buried the option under the ‘Smart Interactivity’ label, and they even tell you the so-called feature is at ‘no cost to you,’ and warn that you’ll miss out on coupons and special offers if you turn it off. As geek.com pointed out, if you’ve ever wondered how Vizio can sell its TVs so cheaply, with the same features as the big boys, now you know.


iPad Pro On Sale Wednesday; ‘Periscope Glass’ Cracking On New Google Nexus 6P’s

Apple’s huge 12.9 inch iPad Pro goes on sale Wednesday, November 11th. According to thenextweb.com, Apple says it will take a few more days for it to show up in the Apple stores. They claim it will be huge for productivity, with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, and it will need to be with competition from the hot Microsoft Surface Book. Base price starts at $799 for 32 Gigs wi-fi only, $1079 for 128 Gigs, wi-fi and cellular. Oh…and for all that productivity, plan to hand over another $99 for the pencil and $169 for the Smart Keyboard!

A problem is showing up on the newest Google flagship smartphone, the Nexus 6P. Businessinsider.com, 9to5google.com, and others report that the so-called ‘periscope’ panel of camera glass across the top is spontaneously cracking for some owners…NOT from a drop. Some users have said they’ve heard the glass snap while the phone is laying on a table, leaving a little pile of glass shavings under it. The phone launched in late September, and is made by Huawei. No comment so far from Google.