4 Inch iPhone & iPad Air 3 On Sale March 18th; Mattel To Sell 3D Printer-Kids Can Make Own Toys

Apple has an event March 15th, where it’s widely anticipated they will introduce the 4 inch iPhone 5se and iPad Air 3. 9to5mac.com says there’s an interesting wrinkle…apparently, instead of a couple weeks of preorders, Apple will just start selling both in stores and online on March 18th. Production of the fresh 4 inch iPhone started in January. The new phone will sport Apple’s latest A9 and M9 processors, an NFC chip for Apple Pay, support for always-on Siri activation, the iPhone 6’s camera system, and the ability to take Live Photos. It will feature the same color options as the 6S: gold, rose gold, silver, and space gray.

Mattel is going back to the future, re-introducing the old ThingMaker at the New York Toy Fair. It will be a quantum leap from the past ThingMaker, though…Fortune.com reports this one will be a 3D printer that will let kids print action figures, jewelry, and wearables at home. It won’t be out until fall, but preorders are open now on Amazon for $299. A large figure will take about 10 hours for the device to generate, so kids may want to fire it up before bedtime, and could have the toy or jewelry by morning.


The Two Biggest Carriers Now Testing Blazing Fast 5G; Facebook Testing SMS Integration With Messenger on Android

Last year, Verizon began testing its 5G network, and now AT&T has said they have as well. According to 9to5mac.com, AT&T expects speeds of 10-100 times faster than today’s LTE. Verizon has estimated their 5G system will be 30-50 times faster. AT&T says at 1 gigabit per second, you will be able to download a TV show in less than 3 seconds! Because standards have to be agreed upon, full 5G won’t hit until 2020, but some carriers are planning to offer at least some service by next year.

Facebook is testing out bringing back SMS message support to Messenger for Android. They had dropped such support in 2013 due to lack of use, but now think it will take off. Venturebeat.com says they are also adding multiple account support. Facebook says this will allow family members and friends to access their individual accounts from a shared phone, or a person to use their personal and business page accounts from the same device. For now, both SMS and multiple account access are only out on Android in the US.


Smarter, Thinner, Always-On Smartwatches; Apple Dumps Samsung for Next Gen iPhone Chips; Tesla Model 3 Deposit News

Qualcomm has developed a new processor it has dubbed the Snapdragon Wear 2100 that it says will enable ‘always on’ smartwatches that are smarter and thinner than the current ones…and don’t need to be tethered to phones. 9to5google.com reports that there are actually 2 versions…one for tethered and one free range, so to speak. The chips are much more efficient and 30% smaller. Look for them in the next generation of Android Wear smartwatches.

Speaking of chips, Apple has finally jilted frenemy Samsung. TSMC of Taiwan will build all the A10 chips for the upcoming iPhone 7. 9to5mac.com says TSMC made all the chips for the iPhone 6 series, but Samsung was brought back in to produce part of the chips for the 6S and 6S Plus. Benchmarks have showed that the TSMC chip ran cooler and had better batter life than the Samsung version of the A9.

Elon Musk tweeted last night that the Tesla Model 3 won’t have a Signature Edition, and that you can preorder (with $1000 deposit) at Tesla stores starting March 31st and online starting April 1st.


$30,000 or Less Tesla Preorders Next Month; Feds Rule Google Self-Driving Car IS Driver; Twitter Does Tweak Newsfeeds a Bit

Elon Musk has announced that pre-orders for the small Tesla Model 3 will start in March, and that the car will be on the pavement by 2017. It will be priced at $35,000, but that’s before federal and state rebates. The federal rebate is $7500, Colorado adds another 6 grand, and California, Massachusetts, and Tennessee give you $2500. Bloomberg.com says the average car right now is 31 grand, so this is right in the sweet spot for mass production. It’s supposed to have a 200 mile range. Tesla can’t be late on this as with past launches…GM’s $30,000 Bolt EV with a 200 mile range will be out late this year.

While on the topic of future cars, the NHTSA has ruled that Google’s self-driving car is its own driver for regulatory purposes. This is a victory for Google, as it allows them to move forward with their self-driving vehicle design…without steering wheel, pedals, etc. Cnet.com reports that state rules will still apply regarding how the Googlemobiles can be operated on public roads.

There was a big uproar last week about Twitter changing its newsfeed to non-chronological. It was so big, the CEO had to come out and deny it. Now, according to thenextweb.com, Twitter has expanded and tweaked its ‘While you were away’ feature. If you have been gone a while, they will serve you tweets at the top of the feed based on what an algorithm determines you might be interested in. The feature will be on by default when it rolls out to everybody, but it’s opt-in…you can dismiss it, at least for the time being.


iPhone and Others May Get Sony Dual-Lens Cameras; Google Baking VR Into Android

We’ve reported earlier that Apple was testing a dual lens camera for the iPhone 7. Highly reliable KGI Securities says the top iPhone 7 will get the next gen camera, which will have dramatically improved image quality and optical zoom, plus other features. Now, macdailynews.com says a Sony report confirms that their dual lens camera system will be out in iPhone and 3 other unnamed smartphones, and they expect it to be widespread by 2017. Other vendors, including the one that supplies 60% of iPhone camera lenses, have sent dual lens camera samples to Apple. It isn’t much of a reach to think that Samsung is one of the 3 makers besides Apple that will bow these vastly improved cameras.

Facebook has Oculus, and we know Apple has a division working on virtual reality. Google has had a VR division too, and now comes word that they…as Apple…are working on more than just a Rift or Gear-like VR headset. Google is reportedly working on Android VR. According to 9to5google.com, Google plans to bake VR software right into Android….where the current Cardboard is just an app. This means latency would be decreased, and users could spend significantly more time in VR without getting queasy. It looks like they and Apple are working towards eventually making VR essentially an operating system. Google may show off it’s latest VR for Android at Google I/O in May.


Apple Next Big Thing- VR; Your Twitter Timeline Isn’t Changing

Ever since Steve Jobs left the mortal world, there’s been fairly continuous hand-wringing about what Apple’s going to do when they run out of his clever ideas. Now, it appears Apple’s next big thing may well be virtual reality. What could be bigger than a powerful computer in your hand? How about dropping you into a totally computer generated world of VR, or assisting you with amazing augmented reality? Business insider.com points out that Cupertino is already staffing up, and that a division has been building VR prototypes for months, and that Apple has purchased at least 4 startups in related tech. Then, there’s the fact that Apple-ites hadn’t set foot in Stanford’s VR lab for 13 years…until lately. Now, they’ve dropped in 3 times in the last 3 months. Finally, think about the dual lens camera Apple has been placing large orders for…as we’ve reported, to go into the iPhone 7. Besides shooting stills and video at the same time, and multi focus adjustable pictures, a dual lens is good for augmented reality.

After a major freakout that Twitter was going to kill the chronological timeline, CEO Jack Dorsey had to come out over the weekend and say ‘it ain’t so.’ Dorsey says such a change was never planned, and in fact Twitter hopes to make your timeline feel more…not less…live. As engadget.com notes, the chronological feed is the feature that separates Twitter from the other social networks…and despite out of order features like ‘while you were away,’ it will continue to be a firehose of breaking news and fresh information.


Facebook Killing Medical Pot Pages; Apple Patents Way to Share Touch ID

Facebook is deleting pages for medical marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey and other states where they’re legal. Businessinsider.com says a dispensary got a popup on login that said ‘We remove any promotion or encouragement of drug use.’ On Facebook’s ad policy page, it does day the site also won’t allow ads that ‘promote the sale of prescription pharmaceuticals.’ Ironic that this story is out on Facebook’s 12th birthday, when they’re offering up cheery ‘Friends Day’ videos to users.

According to 9to5mac.com, Apple has a patent for additional functionality for the Touch ID home button…allowing different actions for different fingerprints. The patent application is mind numbingly technical, but looks like a way to give temporary access to an iPhone or iPad with only specific apps available….useful for letting kids use your device. The function would also limit the time the guest could use the iPhone or iPad. No word on when, or if, Apple will actually bake this feature in.


New Details About iPhone 7 Leaked; Zagg Buys Battery Phone Case Maker Mophie

If rumors are true, the iPhone 7 due out in September will lose its camera bump on the back, as well as the unsightly antenna bands across the back. Macrumors.com reports that a thinner camera module, made possible by a patented curved portion, yields the flat rear surface. Apple has ordered dual lens camera modules from a supplier in addition to single lens ones, so the iPhone 7 Plus may get the duel lens camera that can shoot snapshots and HD video at the same time.

I have used Mophie’s Juicepack battery cases since the iPhone 3, and find their doubling of battery life invaluable for travel. Engadget.com says Zagg has swallowed up Mophie for a cool 100 million. It should be a good marriage…Zagg makes all kinds of mobile accessories from keyboards to screen protectors and cases, while Mophie has focused on battery cases and added memory cases for iPhones and Androids and stand alone battery packs. Yes, I’ll probably buy another Juicepack when the iPhone 7 rolls out…you can’t do a road trip without one.


March 15th Rollout for iPhone 5se, iPad Air 3, & Apple Watch Update; 2nd Tesla Powerwall Coming This Year

Apple plans to unveil the new 4 inch iPhone 5se, as well as the iPad Air 3, and new band options for the Apple Watch at an event currently scheduled for March 15th. The small iPhone will be powered by the current 6S A9 chip, have better cameras, and run Live Photos and Apple Pay. The iPad Air 3 will feature better speakers and a Smart Connector, and likely a better than Retina screen. New bands will be showed off for the Apple Watch, including an entirely new one fashioned from a new material.

At a speech in Paris last week, Elon Musk said V 2.0 of the Tesla Powerwall home battery will likely be out in July. According to Gizmodo.com, it will get at least a bump in capabilities, but mainly that they will build enough that you might actually have a chance to buy one. No price point has been given yet for V 2.0, but the original ran $3500, and was about 7 grand installed with power inverter to hook it up to your home power system. A video of the Musk speech is up on YouTube.