New Ultra Thin HP Chromebook; iPhone 7 ‘Pro’ Drawings Leaked

HP showed off it’s new 13 inch screen, ultra thin Chromebook today. It sports a QHD Display, has a slick all-metal case, and weighs in at 2.86 lbs. According to venturebeat.com, it’s packed with 16 gigs of memory, runs on an Intel Core M processor, and the battery should last 11.5 hours. It’s available now for pre-order, ships May 6th, and starts at $499.

Drawings and diagrams leaked show a 5.5 inch iPhone 7, and as rumored, there is no 3.5 mm audio jack, and it sports a dual camera. Bgr.com reports that the leak came from Macotakara, which leaked accurate diagrams of the iPad Pro. It does have a Smart Connector port on the back, and still has a single speaker. Surprisingly, it’s no thinner than the present model, and doesn’t have a larger battery…which had previously been given as the reason Apple wanted to drop the audio jack.


Apple Watch 2 May Have Own Cellular Connection; Tesla’s Distant Cheaper 4th Model

The Apple Watch version 2.0 may have its own cell connection, which would allow it to operate without constant tethering to an iPhone. Macrumors.com also picked up from the Wall St Journal that the updated Watch may sport a faster processor as well and will drop in the fall. It would require its own cellular number and data plan, but that’s something a lot of users would be happy to pay for to be able to use it while leaving the phone in a bag, car, or even at home.

There’s been a lot of buzz in the last month about Tesla’s Model 3, which they began taking pre-orders for and which will have a base price of 35 grand. Now, according to bgr.com, Elon Musk says he’s already thinking about a 4th model…and he says it will be even more affordable than the model 3. At a meeting in Norway, Musk said ‘…with something like the Model 3, it’s designed such that roughly half the people will be able to afford the car. Then, with fourth generation and smaller cars, we’ll ultimately be in the position where everyone will be able to afford the car.”


Lobbying for Self-driving Cars Takes Quantum Leap; Amazon Prime Now SF Launch With New Guarantee

A gigantic lobbying group has just been formed to press regulators to allow for self-driving cars. Google, Ford, Uber, Lyft, and Volvo are all involved. It’s called the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, according to theverge.com, and is headed by David Strickland, a former NHTSA administrator. They will press the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to come up with a clear set of federal standards by this summer.

Amazon has added San Francisco as the 8th city for its Prime Now one hour restaurant delivery service. With over 4000 restaurants packed into 49 square miles, San Francisco may be the restaurant capital of the world, and Amazon has thrown in a new feature…for all markets with Prime Now…a price guarantee. Geekwire.com says if you find a lower price on the restaurant’s in-person menu within 24 hours, you’ll get a refund. 33 zip codes in the City by the Bay will get the service, and there are 117 restaurants to choose from. If you want to try it out, it’s FREE during launch. Regular price for One Hour Prime Now is usually $7.99.


Uber Settlement Keeps Drivers as Contractors; Google I/O Highlights Virtual Reality

Uber has settled a couple class action suits in California and Massachusetts that will eventually play out 100 million to drivers, but keeps them classified as independent contractors, and not employees. Cnet.com says it will also set up a ‘driver association’ to address driver concerns, and a key point is that Uber won’t be able to terminate drivers at will, and they will have to establish appeals panels for those who feel they have been terminated unfairly. Drivers will also be able to post signs to ask for tips. Lyft has already allowed for driver tipping. They also won’t be allowed to terminate drivers for turning down rides when logged in, which was considered a key issue in considering drivers as employees.

Google I/O is a month away, and much of the schedule has been posted. According to arstechnica.com, a large swath of time will be dedicated to virtual reality talks. VR is an entire content track at I/O this year, with 7 sessions dedicated to virtual or augmented reality…including one called ‘Google’s Vision for VR.’ The keynote for this year’s Google I/O is May 18th at 10am Pacific.


Facebook Considering Letting Users Monetize Posts; Apple Patents Folding Telephoto Lens for Smartphones

Facebook is apparently thinking about letting users accept donations in posts…either to make money or for a charitable cause. According to thenextweb.com, a survey from the social media giant points to this. They are also looking at branded content and sharing earnings from ads on posts. For better or worse, you may be getting your Facebook ‘tip jar’ ready before long!

Apple has patented a super compact folding telephoto lens for mobile devices. Apple insider.com says it resembles a small letter ‘r,’ or a periscope, with part of the lens cluster at the bottom of the upright, and the rest at the end of the top curve….the upright is mirrored. Moving the secondary lens at the bottom up or down gets the telephoto effect, which is passed on to the image sensor. It’s unknown if this will end up in the two camera system touted in the iPhone 7 Plus for this fall, a later model, or like some Apple ideas…be filed away.


Apple Rolls Out New 12” Retina MacBooks; Android App Keeps Screens Away From Kids’ Faces

Apple has refreshed its 12 inch Retina MacBook. According to 9to5mac.com, there are new Skylake processors, increased overall performance, and a new rose gold color. They say the updated internals give you an additional hour of battery life. It continues to have the single USB-C port and edge to edge keyboard, and remains $1299. A quibble with Apple: their so-called rose gold is a lot more pink than the rose gold you find in watches, pens, and musical instruments. You can always go space grey or silver, though. Processor speed gets bumped to 1.2 gigs, and it comes with 8 gigs of memory standard, and the graphics are 25% faster. It’s available today at Apple’s website or Apple Stores and resellers.

Samsung has built an Android app that alerts kids….or adults for that matter, when they have mobile device screens too close to their face. According to thenextweb.com, it’s called Safety Screen, and uses facial recognition to calculate if a smart device is too close to the user’s face. If so, a cute animation pops up to let the user know…it disappears when the gadget is moved to a safer distance. The app’s creators say kids are more at risk for developing computer vision syndrome than adults. Parents set it up, and password protect the app, and it’s ready to go.


Amazon Prime Adding Monthly Subscriptions; GoPro Rolling Out VR Camera

Amazon Prime has been $99, and if you get a lot of stuff from them, it’s a bargain in just the saved shipping, let alone Prime Video. Now, gizmodo.com reports that Amazon is offering Prime for $11 a month, and you can get just Prime Video for $9 a month…undercutting Netflix by a buck. The new pricing is available now.

On the heels of Facebook’s $30,000+ insane virtual reality camera that you’ll have to make yourself, GoPro has launched one you can buy from them for $4999. GoPro’s Omni only has 6 cameras….6 Hero4’s…compared to Facebook’s 17, but GoPro says the rig will capture up to 8K video. It’s available for pre-order at their website now. They have also introduced GoPro VR a website and app for iOS and Android to show off VR content and allow for sharing it. Mashable.com says GoPro will continue to offer its high end 16 camera GoPro Odyssey model for 16 grand.


iPhones to Finally Get OLED Screens in 2017; Huawei VR Headset Coming

OLED screens are known to have more vivid blacks and better viewing in bright sunlight, and have been used by many smartphone makers for years. Now, according to 9to5mac.com, Apple has cut a deal worth some 2-1/2 billion with Samsung to buy 100 million 5.5 inch panels by 2017. This probably means the iPhone 7S in 2017 will be a major upgrade. Because OLED screens are thinner and require less power, it could be a thinner iPhone.

Huawei has announced it’s putting out its own VR headset. Like rival Samsung, you’ll need a late model Huawei smartphone to use it. According to thenextweb.com, it has a touch panel and control buttons on the back so you can adjust the lenses to suit your eyes. The Huawei VR has a 95 degree field of view, and anti-blue light filter to cut down on eyestrain. They haven’t given the release date or price yet, but did tout 4000 movies and 40 games that will be available free at launch.


Body Scanning Fitness Mirror; Google Hybrid Fiber/Wireless Service to Extend Fast Internet

A San Francisco startup called Naked Labs is taking preorders for something everybody probably needs, but no one really wants. According to techcrunch.com, it’s a 3D body scanning system called the Naked 3D Fitness Tracker. It’s an internet connected full length mirror that plugs into a wall outlet, and a rechargeable scale. The body scans are displayed in grayscale, and show data about how you’re improving or sliding in your quest to get more fit. Scans take about 20 seconds, and the system can store data for 8 users. It’s $499 at naked dot fit, but won’t ship until next March. All it needs now is a voice assistant to say ‘get your butt back to the gym!

Google loves to push tech forward, and now, they are working to create a Fiber/Wireless hybrid service, to extend Fiber’s reach beyond cities. 9to5google.com reports that it involves connecting wireless towers to existing fiber lines, and also experimenting with different wireless tech. It will expand fast connections to areas where it’s not economically practical to run fiber optic lines.