Apple’s iPhone SE & Smaller iPad Pro, etc; Chromecast Becomes Googlecast

If there was a ‘one more thing’ at Apple’s event yesterday, it didn’t come from Apple. The FBI put on hold it’s demand for Cupertino to crack the San Bernardino terrorist iPhone, claiming it had outside help to do so. Since two former CIA directors have said the NSA could do it, that’s a pretty good guess. Meanwhile, back in Cupertino, Apple showed the 4 inch iPhone SE, the new 9.7 inch iPad Pro model, and new Apple Watch bands. the iPhone SE is pretty much an iPhone 6S squeezed into an iPhone 5S case. It starts at $399 for the nearly useless 16 gigs of memory, and is $499 for the more useable 64 gigs. Preorders start Thursday, and it’s available March 31st.

Apple has shoehorned its iPad Pro into a smaller 9.7 inch version. You get the same 4 speakers and Apple Pencil stylus support. It weighs less than a pound, and has it’s own version of the keyboard case. The smaller Pro…Pro-ette? comes in silver, gold, space grey, and rose gold, and starts at $599 for 32 gigs. A loaded up one with the Pencil will pretty well murder a grand. It is also available for preorders starting Thursday and out on the 31st.

As expected, Apple Watch gets a so-called ‘Spring lineup’ of bands, but the big news is the price cut from $349 to $299. It’s a good guess that an Apple Watch v. 2.0 will be out in the fall with this price reduction.

Over at Google, or if you insist…Alphabet…Chromecast has morphed into Googlecast. 9to5google.com says some Vizio TVs will come with Googlecast built in, and there are some new Googlecast enabled speakers. The app is also renamed Googlecast, and the updated version will be out on Android and iOS this week.


Looking Past Apple’s March Event; Google to Wire Cuba

There will be a bigger iPhone with a brighter screen in 2017 or 2018, according to applenws.com and Digitimes. Apple is reportedly going to go with OLED screens, which some competitors already use. They give users more vivid color and blacker blacks. The biggest phone will apparently grow from 5.7 to 5.8 inches, too. Apple giveth, and Apple taketh away…pictures have appeared online of Apple EarPods with a Lightening connector, instead of the standard everywhere else…including all iPhones up to now…1/8th inch phone jack. It appears that the rumor about iPhone 7 models losing the headphone jack are true. We’ll have a full recap of the Apple event today tomorrow morning.

The President is in Cuba, and announced today that Google has a deal to set up more WiFi and broadband across the island nation, immensely adding to the capacity of the state run system of public WiFi hotspots…which cost $4.50 an hour, and are out of reach to most Cubans anyway. Engadget.com reports that Cubans will still have to put up with government censorship of their internet.


Details on iPhone SE Being Shown Monday; Preorders and Update for PlayStation VR

The iPhone SE will look almost identical to the iPhone 5s on the outside. 9to5mac.com says the updated 4 inch iPhone, which will be shown Monday, does have less shiny edges and slightly curved glass, but otherwise is a dead ringer for the 5s. Inside, however, it’s a whole different thing…the SE will sport the fast A9 processor and M9 chip, so it will offer ‘Hey Siri’ always on support, as well as an NFC chip for Apple Pay and a 12 megapixel camera that records 4K video. It will have 16 and 64 gig memory, and include the Rose Gold color option of the 6 and 6s. Best….it starts at $450.

Sony has announced that you can preorder the PlayStation VR starting next Tuesday. We reported earlier this week that the VR would be $399, but that’s not including camera or controllers. Now, according to bgr.com, Sony has clarified that an official launch bundle will be available for $499 including PlayStation Camera, a couple Move controllers, and PlayStation VR Worlds game. The limited preorders start at 10am Eastern, 7am Pacific Tuesday, so get ready. Another preorder window will open this summer. The system should be here by the holidays 2016.


Self-Tying Nike Kicks Coming; End to End Encrypted Mail for iOS and Android

Shades of Back to the Future II – Nike has some self-tying shoes on the way for this year’s holiday season. Thenextweb.com points out that they’re not quite like the self-lacing MAG shoes in the movie, but the HyperAdapt 1.0 shoe tightens around your foot as soon as your heel is into the shoe and activates a sensor there. It also sports two buttons on the side to custom adjust the fit. You’ll have to get used to looking like a little kid, though…there’s a greenish light under the arch of the shoe. No pricing available yet, but you need to be a Nike + member to get a pair.

ProtonMail has just officially launched end-to-end encrypted mail for iOS and Android. Seamless PGP encryption should make your email significantly more secure. According to 9to5mac.com, ProtonMail has been around since 2013 as a desktop email app. They use open source cryptography, own their own servers, and use full disk encryption. You can also create self-destructing messages. That feature works whether you send to a ProtonMail or non-ProtonMail address. The app is free, and there’s a free account level, plus two paid levels…mainly with more storage space as an option, and the ability to use alias accounts.


iPhone 7 May Have Big Jump in Storage Capacity; PlayStation VR Out This Fall…at a Lower Price Than Oculus or Vive

A new leak and photo shows a new, thinner and smaller 256 gig flash chip from Sandisk. Apple has used their flash memory in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and with a 256 gig model that is smaller and thinner than the 64 gig model, could offer a king-sized jump in memory capacity for iPhone 7. Businessinsider.com writes what a lot of us have been thinking…it’s time for Apple to kill the ridiculous 16 gig entry level model that won’t hold much more than the OS and a few apps, pictures, and songs. We’ll have to wait to see if this rumor pans out…along with ones about Apple dropping the headphone jack and including a powerful dual lens camera.

PlayStation VR headset will be arriving in October for $399, a dramatically lower price for gamers looking to take a whack at virtual reality. With the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive priced at $599 and $799, respectively, while also requiring powerful PCs, PSVR has a real shot at being the headset to beat in terms of popularity. Techcrunch.com says the $399 price tag notably doesn’t look like it includes the $45 PlayStation Camera, or the glowing orb Move controllers, though PSVR users will definitely be able to use the motion-tracked DualShock controller that’s included with the system. There will be 5 Sony made games when it rolls out.


Lyft & GM Roll Out Car Rental Program; Glass Goes From Clear to Opaque in a Second

A major change for Lyft, as their partnership with GM bears fruit. Reuters.com says General Motors will begin supplying rental cars, so that Lyft drivers will no longer have to own a car. For starters, GM will provide a fleet of 125 Chevrolet Equinoxes in the Chicago area by month’s end. Drivers can rent the cars for up to eight weeks. Depending on how many rides drivers complete, the cost will range from $99 a week plus 20 cents per mile to free for drivers who complete at least 65 trips a week. Lyft and GM will pay for maintenance and insurance.

Those quickie blind making companies are going to be gnashing their teeth. Cnet.com reports that scientists at Harvard have developed ‘tunable glass,’ which can go from clear to opaque in less than a second. The problem up to now has been that this type of pane has been difficult to make and expensive. The new way has a sheet of glass sandwiched between two sheets of clear, soft elastomer, sprayed with a coat of silver nanowires. Turn on the electrical current, and presto….it turns opaque. They are working on making it turn with less current at this point. One does wonder if all the windows would turn back to clear with a power failure. You might not want to walk around naked during a storm!


Galaxy S7 Costs Samsung About What the S5 Did; Amazon Applies for Pay By Selfie Patent

Costs are dropping for high end smartphone components apparently. 9to5google.com reports that an IHS teardown shows it costs Samsung about $255 to make the new Galaxy S7. That’s in the same range as the S5 cost 2 years ago. The priciest item? The Qualcomm quad core Snapdragon 820 processor at $62. In the US, the S7 sells for $670 unsubsidized, so Samsung pulls in $415 each on them. Of course, they have to cover marketing, R&D, software development, etc, so that’s not all pure gravy.

Amazon has filed a patent application for a process that lets people pay by selfie, instead of keying in their password. According to recode.net, it’s a companion patent for one Amazon has on tech to verify a user by photo or video. Amazon believes this will encourage customers to buy when they’re out and about, or chatting with friends….you do that right? ‘Wait a minute, I’ve got to buy this thing right now from Amazon?’ All joking aside, it actually should be a simpler and safer way to log in than remembering a password.