t’s no secret that iPad sales haven’t be setting the world on fire, and with the Air 3 supposed to be out in March, Apple needs something to create excitement. Bgr.com reports that they may have that something. There hasn’t been a real ‘oh wow’ feature on the iPad since the Retina display in 2012. The Air 3 may be taking it up a notch with a 4K screen! The next gen iPad Air will also reportedly have 4 gigs of ram and improved battery life.
A number of companies have wireless charging systems for their smartphones, but according to bloomberg.com, Apple may roll one out by next year that doesn’t rely on the phone making contact with a charging mat or plate. Cupertino is reportedly working on a system that can charge iPhones from across the room, and it may bow with the models out in 2017.
A company called Starry is working on over the air internet that could REALLY let you be a cable cutter. Their system uses 4 foot transmitters they call Beams that a small receiver called a Starry Point in a home’s window picks up and converts to something your router can broadcast through the house as regular WiFi. Businessinsider.com says t’s supposed to be significantly cheaper than the service from your cable or phone company, have no data caps, and offer speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. They aren’t up and running yet, but claim to be able to set up in a town in a matter of weeks, once permissions for their rooftop Beam antennas is granted. Stay tuned!
Google Box On Wheels For Drone Deliveries; Another Feature Samsung Borrows from Apple for the Galaxy S7Posted: January 28, 2016
Since announcing last November that they were launching the Project Wing drone delivery service, not much has been heard from Google on the topic. Now, thenextweb.com says a patent reveals a so-called ‘delivery receptacle.’ It’s essentially a box on wheels with a computing system and drive mechanism, so a drone can drop it off, and it rolls the final distance to you…even into your garage, if you have concerns with packages being stolen off your porch. Google is aiming for a system that will deliver packages of 5 lbs or less to your home or office in under 30 minutes, and this may be an important piece of that puzzle.
We had already reported that the Galaxy S7 will sport its own versions of Apple’s Live Photos and 3D Touch. Bgr.com reports that Samsung will also be rolling out an upgrade program like Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program that arrived with the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. The leasing type program will drop in South Korea first, then come to the US.
Lyft thinks that by 2030, they’ll be offering you driverless rides. That’s not so surprising, but what they will be IN may well be. As we’ve reported, Lyft has partnered with General Motors, with the latter pumping a half billion into the ride sharing service. According to buzzfeed.com, Lyft plans to furnish different types of vehicles to customize your ride. The vehicles will be like pods, according to the ride share service…not built around a driver as with present day vehicles. For a longer trip, you might call a napping pod, or you could hail one that offers a mani-pedi for a little spiffing up. Some may be all glass at the top for scenic routes. Other options considered may be carriage seating, where people face one another, or single pods for a quick trip across town. As predicted by others, individual car ownership may dwindle to a tiny number of hardcore driving enthusiasts. It’s only 15 years away…tech has a way of disrupting industries at warp speed.
A Kickstarter that every commuting coffee drinker will love, and Starbuck’s will hate is on the way by May. Mashable.com reports that the MoJoe mobile coffee system, which had shot for $20,000, has raised over $73,000, and will be on the way to backers by May. It looks like a Thermos, but you pour water into it, and a battery heats the water and pushes it up at 200 degrees through a mini filter full of grounds. Presto! Freshly brewed coffee in 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of water you pour in! The coffee is held in a separate chamber. The battery is rechargeable, and you can plug it in…the Thermos is designed to fit regular cup holders.
Could the Reviled iPhone ‘Camera Bump’ be Going Away; Apple Car on Hold; Amazon Prime’s Explosive GrowthPosted: January 26, 2016
A clever Apple patent filed in 2013 and granted today points to the hated camera bump on the back of iPhones going away. 9to5mac.com reports that Cupertino has come up with an interesting way to defy physics, and make a smaller lens. Physics determines just how thin you can make a sensor and lens arrangement for any given aperture while retaining quality. But instead of the usual flat sensor, the patent describes a ‘spherically curved photosensor’ that would allow the distance between the lens elements and the sensor to be reduced, allowing for a thinner camera module…and no bump. It’s unclear if this will make it into the iPhone 7.
After the exit of Steve Zadesky, who was running Apple’s semi-secret car project dubbed Project Titan, macrumors.com is hearing that the Apple Car is on hold due to execs not being happy with progress being made on it’s development…especially Jony Ive. Rumors are that the Titan team feels Apple’s deadlines and goals are unattainable. Apple has apparently wanted final engineering specs for the car by 2019 or 2020…now, it looks like that deadline will slip for certain.
Amazon Prime’s US membership grew by 35% to 54 million in 2015. Think about that. The figure is according to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners picked up by geekwire.com. When they went to $99 a year for the package of free shipping, videos, and audio, a lot of people predicted a fall off in members, but the exact opposite has happened. Prime members spend an average of $1100 a year with Amazon, compared to $600 for non-members, so Amazon can afford free Prime shipping as a bit of a loss leader.
Several sources say the updated smaller iPhone will carry the 5se name when it drops in mid-March. 9to5mac.com also reports that the smaller phone will probably be powered by the current iPhone 6s’s A9 and M9 processors. Apparently, when the iPhone 7 comes out in the fall, Apple doesn’t want the 5se to have chips that are two generations older than the iPhone 7’s expected A10 system. The M9 chip will allow the 5se to have the always-on ‘Hey Siri’ feature. It’s also now thought it will replace the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the fall when iPhone 7 comes out.
Before all that happens at Apple, we now know the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will launch in the US on March 11th. Samsung is widely expected to show the phones at a special event February 21st, or at Mobile World Congress the 22nd through the 25th in Barcelona. Bgr.com says the S7 will probably have a pressure sensitive display…a nod towards Apple’s 3D Touch, as well as Vivid Photos, which appears to be an answer to Apple’s Live Photos.
Japan Display says it will start mass producing OLED displays within the next 2 years, according to a Reuters report picked up by theverge.com. This is being seen as angling for the Apple iPhone business Samsung and LG are gunning for. It’s been widely rumored that iPhones will use OLED screens by 2018. Numerous Android phones already have them, with Samsung touting Super OLED. Those screens are lighter and thinner than the LCD displays Apple uses, and have more vibrant colors and greater contrast.
Those pesky lawyers! An attorney for Oracle said in court that Google’s Android generated revenue of $31 billion and $22 in profit. If my math is correct, that’s around a stunning 70% profit margin! Bloomberg.com says the disclosure was made January 14th in an Oracle suit accusing Google of using Java software without paying for it to develop Android. Meanwhile, Oracle’s copyright suit against Google also revealed that Google dropped a cool billion with Apple in 2014 to keep it’s search bar on the iPhone! Note to Apple: I’m available for adoption.
UberEATS Going Live in 10 Cities; More On iOS Nightshift and New Music Memos App; GM Launches Ridesharing BusinessPosted: January 21, 2016
If you’re really wanting carry out, but don’t want to get out, and don’t want a pizza, there have been limited options. Uber has been testing UberEATS, where they’ve partnered with restaurants to deliver food to your door. According to thenextweb.com, UberEATS will go live in March in LA, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, NY, Austin, Washington, D.C., Houston, San Francisco, and Atlanta. The test service has been lunch only, but in March, you’ll be able to order breakfast, lunch, or dinner delivered.
Nightshift, the new feature coming to iOS that dims the blue portion of screens evenings so users don’t disrupt their sleep so much, may be available on the Control Center pull up. Macrumors.com says it has showed up on Apple Canada’s iOS 9.3 preview page there. It may not fit on the smaller iPhone screens, but there’s room on the Plus models and iPads. Apple also rolled out a nice companion app to GarageBand. Music Memos lets musicians and songwriters record, analyze, and manipulate uncompressed audio on iPhones and iPads. You can also overlay the tracks with added bass and drums…it calculates the correct tempo and chords. GarageBand has added Live Loops, a visual feature to help in loop creation, and gesture controlled DJ type effects.
Just days ago, we reported that General Motors quietly bought defunct ride sharing business Sidecar, and previously had put $500 million into Lyft. Now, detroitnews.com reports that GM has launched Maven, a car sharing brand, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The citywide service-something like Zipcar- features GM vehicles in 21 spots around the city a person can rent for as low as $6 and hour. Although the auto maker sees private car ownership continuing for some time, they note that 5 to 6 million people right now already use transportation sharing services. The cars are equipped with 4G wireless internet, and sync smartphones with Apple Pay and Android Auto while the owner uses the GM shared vehicle. Price includes insurance and fuel.
MS Recalls Some Surface Pro Power Cables; Nanoparticles May be Able to Kill Antibiotic-Resistant BacteriaPosted: January 20, 2016
Microsoft is recalling some Surface Pro power cables. ZDnet.com says they have overheating concerns. The cords are apparently wound too tightly, and as they are twisted or pinched over time, a small number of people have reported the heat issue. The recall does not affect the Surface Pro 4, or non Surface Pro models. If you have a Surface Pro, Pro 2, or Pro 3 bought before March 2015, you should be getting a new power cord.
Researchers at University of Colorado Boulder have found that light activated therapeutic nanoparticles may one day be used to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to bgr.com, the so-called ‘quantum dots,’ 20,000 times smaller than a human hair, can act directly on the infection without affecting the healthy tissue around it. The key these researchers have discovered is to taylor the dots to specific infections by activating the tiny particles with certain light wavelengths. Previously, the quantum dots had been known to kill bacteria, but also damaged the tissue around the area. In tests, the light activated ones killed 92% of the drug resistant bacteria! If perfected, the treatment could also be effective therapy for HIV and cancer.
Not long ago, we reported on Li-Fi, and how it could use light to replace Wi-Fi, only with much more speed and bandwidth. Now, thenextweb.com has found a reference to Li-Fi compatability in Apple’s iOS 9 code and iOS 9.1 firmware. This, along with an Apple patent dug up from 2013 that appears to be a Li-Fi transmitter point to Cupertino baking it in to iOS devices. Don’t look for it by the iPhone 7, though…the infrastructure doesn’t even exist yet…no one’s built a Li-Fi router, for example.
Recently, General Motors dropped $500 million into Uber rival Lyft. The plot thickens, and now it’s been revealed that they have quietly purchased failed rival Sidecar for $30 million. Most of the employees are moving over to GM. It looks like their plans to build autonomous vehicles specifically for ride sharing are heating up. Ford and Mercedes are also working on similar projects. Uber has lots of valuation and a head start, but it looks like the car makers are getting serious about not going the way of the buggy whip.
Audi and Mercedes are getting excited about hydrogen fueled cars. For Mercedes, it’s back to the future…they first had a fleet of them in 1980, but with a 150 mile range and 45 minutes to fuel up, killed the project. Now Audi has showed it’s h-tron Quttro fuel cell SUV at the North American International Auto Show, and according to arstechnica.com, Mercedes has green-lighted production of it’s fuel cell version of the GLC SUV to sell in 2017. BMW has showed an i8 and a 5 series with fuel cells, but neither is set for production so far. General Motors has partnered with the Army to investigate suitability of fuel cell EVs for military use. Toyota and Honda are well along in hydrogen fuel cell tech, too. Toyota has the 2016 Mirai that’s actually for sale. California…where you can buy a fuel cell EV, has now increased the subsidy on them up to $6500 on top of any federal incentive. A combination of hydrogen fuel cell and electric may be the wave of the automotive future…along with driving by Jarvis, apparently.
Details are sketchy, but Samsung may be about ready to launch new wearable, possibly to replace the less than exciting Gear Fit. It’s called SM-R150 for now, and a watch version has a rotating bezel like the Gear Fit. The interesting thing is a picture with one on a shirt…like a removable that you don’t have to keep on your wrist. Engadget.com points out that leaks so far don’t indicate if it will be a full blown smart watch or something more like a Fitbit, but expect it to be revealed in the coming months.