Apple’s spring event will be the week of March 21st, instead of earlier, as previously reported. It’s expected that they’ll show off the 4 inch iPhone SE, with the beefed up A9 processor, Live Photos, and Apple Pay. According to 9to5mac.com, the smaller phone won’t have 3D touch like the 6 and 6 Plus. It’s supposed to have 16 gig and 64 gig models, and sell for between $400 and $500. Apple will probably drop the price of the aging 5S down to $250 or less upon rollout of the new SE model.
Preorders have started for Microsoft’s developer edition today. It will start shipping March 30th, for a princely $3000! Microsoft didn’t say when the consumer version would be available. Theverge.com says the HoloLens will be bundled with 7 apps and games for developers. The 30th is also the date for Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco…tickets sold out in less than a minute!
Apple may not be launching a freshened 9.7 inch iPad Air in March…it may be an iPad Pro. Appleinsider.com picked up a rumor that the smaller sized Pro will have Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support, complementing it’s larger 13 and 15 inch models. There may also be a 9.7 inch Air version, without Smart Connector and Apple Pencil support, and Apple may make the iPad Mini a version of the Air. The 9.7 inch Pro will reportedly have a rear camera flash and quad speakers…it should be rolled out March 15th.
Android phones should be seeing live video streaming via Facebook in the next week. Theverge.com says the rollout will start in the US, as it did with the iOS version, then expand to other countries within weeks. Facebook claims that people watch live video 3 times longer than video posted that was pre-recorded.
In the middle of the dust up with the FBI over writing a software backdoor to hack it’s own iPhones, which Tim Cook has called ‘the software equivalent to cancer,’ Apple is working on making their phones even more impenetrable. Theverge.com reports that they are working to plug a troubleshooting feature that allows Apple to install new firmware on an iPhone to upgrade the operating system without inputting the user’s passcode. If they remove the feature, which security experts deem highly likely, they won’t be able to open up a backdoor no matter who wants one or tries to force them to.
Samsung has started mass producing 256 gig embedded chips, double what it had last year. According to engadget.com, they will run the Universal Flash Storage 2.0 standard, which will make them red twice as fast as current ones. These chips will not only give future phones the storage capacity of a lot of laptops, but will make it easy to store memory hogs like 4K movies…and transfer them faster using USB 3.0. It will also make it much more practical for phones to carry virtual reality content.
Apple’s assistant Siri is coming to the Mac in OS X 10.12. 9to5mac.com reports that the feature will live in the Menu Bar like the Spotlight icon…click it, and a little translucent Siri window will pop up below, and voice control will switch on. A keyboard shortcut is also planned, and the ‘Hey, Siri’ feature too, if the Mac is plugged in to power.
Google’s Boston Dynamics company, has shared a peek at what it is calling the “next generation” of its Atlas robot. The new Atlas is designed to can work both indoors and outdoors, the company says, and weighs a solid 180 pounds, according to 9to5google.com. The ‘bot is 5 feet 9 inches tall and has sensors in its legs and body to help it balance, as well as LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, survey surrounding terrain, and aide in seamless navigation.
Tesla Motors has acquired the tesla.com site from a fan of the scientist that’s owned it since the 90’s. Businessinsider.com says right now, it redirects to teslamotors.com. It looks like Tesla is about to drop motors and just become Tesla…as Apple Computer became Apple years ago. They will fold their Tesla energy brand under this umbrella…the division that makes the Powerwall and Powerpack batteries, as well as the auto operation. The storage division is expected to be a third of their battery factory production by 2020.
Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is on the way to getting wireless charging. According to mashable.com, a supplier called Plugless is taking $244 deposits on a wireless charger they plan to introduce late this spring. It will cost $2440 if you order now…more later. The wireless rig can run off any 50 amp circuit, and only needs pro installation for outdoors. It will give a Model S 20 miles of range per hour charge. Right now, no system is available for the all wheel drive Model S, the Model X, Roadster, or upcoming Model 3.
Text…the most old-school thing besides voice available on mobile phones…may be getting a makeover. Theverge.com reports that Google has partnered with 19 phone carriers to update SMS and MMS messages. The new moniker? RCS, or Rich Communications Service. It would allow for sending higher quality photos, starting group chats, and video. T-Mobile has already used it for video calling. If it ends up being baked into Android, it would simplify contacting people…in fact, a simple text could seamlessly start a video chat without choosing Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc.
The long-awaited Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge were showed off yesterday at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Looking great with a premium metal and glass case, the latest Edge has a bigger screen than last year’s S6 at 5.5 inches. The regular S7 has a 5.1 inch Super AMOLED screen. The micro SD slot is back, so you can expand to an insane 200 GB of memory! The upgraded 12 MP camera is almost flush with the back, and shoots 4K video. The S7 has a 3000 mAh battery, and the edge a 3600 mAh power supply. Pre-orders start February 23rd, and they go on sale March 11th in black, gold, wine red, and gray/silver.
LG has showed off their new 360 VR headset, and it’s a pleasant departure from others. Instead of large goggles that hold your smartphone in view, the 360VR looks like an overgrown pair of glasses, something like those telescopic ones you could buy. The smartphone plugs in, and you also jack into it for audio. LG says it simulates a 130 inch TV that’s 2 meters away, with a resolution of 630 ppi. It works with their own 360 cam footage, and also with Google Cardboard content. Pricing and availability to be announced later.
Mitsubishi has developed a 56 inch projection screen a person can walk through. The midair display is clean enough that you can read text from it, according to geek.com. It might be overkill for home use, but this could well be a big thing in advertising. The tech to project it can be either off to a side, or a meter back from the image. Mitsubishi expects to have it on the market within 4 years.
The supposedly failed Apple Watch sold 5.1 million during the holiday quarter, grabbing 63% of the smartwatch market. Macrumors.com says that, combined with Samsung, the two makers held down 80% of the smartwatch market. The Swiss watch market, which has been slow to react to smartwatches, dropped off 4.8%, selling 7.9 million in the holiday quarter. If the next gen Apple Watch can actually be used to call, text, and so forth even if you leave your iPhone at home, it may really blow the smartwatch market wide open.
Apple has introduced Trade Up with Installments, which lets you put the price of a trade-in towards payments on a new iPhone, with payments down to as low as $15 a month. This is on top of your phone plan, of course, but the interesting thing noted by techcrunch.com is that Apple will take non-Apple trade-ins. Android users can get up to $300 for their used devices…like a Samsung Galaxy S6 in good condition will net you $290 towards the purchase of a new iPhone. Apple basically gets you and writes a mini-loan through Citizens Bank. If you like to trade more than every 2 years, this might be the deal. Apple is cleverly stealing the concept of conquest sales from the auto business, which has done this as well as loyalty discounts for decades.
Amazon has had Flex, and Uber-like home delivery service for Prime Now customers. The retail giant is now working to contract with private drivers to take even standard packages to customers’ doors, cutting out UPS, FedEx, and the Post Office more than ever. According to geekwire.com, the program is in effect already in part of Texas. They are reportedly paying drivers $18 an hour, and shifts can be scheduled 8a to 4p 7 days a week. Considering that Amazon has been working on leasing over 20 planes from Boeing, and flying out of a center formerly used by DHL, it sure looks like they are moving full force into doing their own logistics.
Apple Opposes Court Order for Backdoor to iPhone; Superman Memory Crystal for Long Term Digital StoragePosted: February 17, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook has posted a letter to customers online, stating Apple’s opposition to creating backdoor software to iPhones. The demand for the back door was issued by a federal magistrate yesterday, to get the FBI access to the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c. Cook points out that such software doesn’t exist, and were Apple to create it, it would act as a master key, making every iPhone owner’s private info available…not only to law enforcement and governments, but to hackers and thieves. It’s important to note that iPhones with Touch ID have the Secure Enclave…a separate, walled off processor, and even Apple can’t create a way around its protections at this point. We’ll be watching…as will Apple customers, other manufacturers, governments and no doubt thieves around the world…to see how this unfolds.
Scientists at the University of Southhampton have demoed new tech nicknamed the Superman memory crystal at a conference in San Francisco. Mashable.com says it uses lasers and nanostructures to record enormous amounts of data onto tiny glass discs. Back in 2013, they were able to load 300 KB of text on a disc. With advancements, they can now store 360 TB on a disc. The most amazing thing is the lifespan…they estimate data on the discs will survive 13.8 billion years at room temperature! The next step is designing a way to write the data without very expensive lasers. It does take a polarizer and optical microscope to read it, too.
Apple May Have Added 2nd Supplier for 4 Inch iPhone; Zillow Ups Game for Video Walkthroughs of Homes for SalePosted: February 16, 2016
Apple has been using 2 suppliers for iPhone 6S production, and it looks like they are doing the same for the upcoming 4 inch iPhone 5se. Foxconn, Apple’s long time main supplier will build the new small model, and Wistron will make some as well. Apparently Apple started working with Wistron in February of 2015 on this. Bgr.com says that Wistron will join Foxconn in building the 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus this fall, while Foxconn and Pegatron will crank out the 4.7 inch iPhone 7 models.
Zillow Group has announced a new feature to apps that lets agents and homeowners shoot and post video walkthroughs. According to geekwire.com, the idea is to make video walkthroughs more common on its Zillow and Trulia sites, in addition to the photo galleries posted with home listings. Agents can shoot and upload videos through the Premier Agent App. There’s no sound in the 2 minute clips, and they plan to add baked in video stabilization for smooth, consistent videos. Homeowners and photographers can create video walkthroughs via the Zillow Real Estate App, for approval by the agent before uploading. No word on when the video feature goes live yet.