Tesla Not Alone in Looking to Solar Powered Cars; iPhone 7 May Have Had a Secret Outed

A Chinese solar panel maker is looking to make solar powered vehicles. Hanergy actually announced this last year, according to techcrunch.com, but this week rolled out 4 prototype vehicles in Beijing. They are running and driving prototypes…apparently not self-driving at this point. Right now, the range is about 50 miles, comparable with the Fiat 500e and VW e-Golf. If you also plug in and charge overnight, they say the cars have a 200 mile range.

There have been rumors of this for a couple months, but they’ve been sketchy. Now bgr.com says Macotakara is claiming the home button on the upcoming iPhone will be flush and not actually move. Vibration sensors under it will trigger it, and make it feel like a mechanical button. It will reportedly be pressure sensitive, too, allowing Apple to incorporate 3D Touch on both the screen and home button. Macotakara also claims that the new Space Black color will be in the lineup, although they say the Dark Blue won’t. If so, there will be 5 colors…Gold, Rose Gold, Space Grey, Silver, and Space Black.


Samsung Gains Smartphone Share As Apple Slips; Amazon’s Seen on Kickstarter Section

Samsung has extended its reach in the smartphone market, according to 9to5mac.com, citing numbers from Strategy Analytics. Worldwide, Samsung was up from 21.3% to 22.8 from 2nd quarter 2015 to 2nd quarter of this year. Apple Dipped from 14.1% to 11.9%. The overall smartphone market ticked up .7% to 340 million units, and should be up more this year with the rollout of new Samsung and Apple smartphones. Apple did hit a milestone this week, delivering it’s one billionth iPhone!

Amazon started its Launchpad program last year, for startups and innovative products. Now, thenextweb.com reports that they have added a new section with crowdfunded products from Kickstarter. The section is already stocked up with over 300 items. It’s available today.


Microsoft Claims New iOS Cam App Beats Apple’s; Otto Keeps On Truckin’

Microsoft has rolled out an app called Pix that they claim takes better photos with no settings that the standard Apple app does with them. According to 9to5mac.com, it uses AI to automatically adjust the shots…taking particular aim at making sure people are brightened up, to compensate for backlighting…one of the biggest spoilers of smartphone pictures. The app also starts shooting when you open the app, and before hitting the shutter, to keep from missing that great shot you wanted to capture. It basically shoots a burst of pix, but only offers the 3-4 the AI picks as best, so as not to gobble up your memory. I read several reviews by professional photographers, who agreed that it gets close to professional results. It’s free, and at the app store now, and coming soon to Android.

We reported a while back about Otto, the self-driving truck startup built by a trio of ex-Googlers. Now, businessinsider.com finds they already have four trucks out 24/7. Otto doesn’t plan to build trucks but kits to retrofit them. Existing trucks can install one of Otto’s $30,000 kits to produce autonomous driving capabilities. Right now in a test truck, two people ride in the truck: one behind the wheel and another studying what the truck’s LIDAR and software systems are “seeing.” But ultimately, Otto envisions that trucks will only require one person, and that the “driver” will be able to take lunch breaks and naps in the cab while the truck fully steers itself down the highway, requiring the driver to take control only on city streets. The Otto folks see self-driving trucks in wide use within 5 years.


Amazon’s British Drone Tests; New (Old) Apple Car Boss; Future iPhones—Iris Scanning and Glasses-Free 3D

Amazon has gotten permission to test drone deliveries in the United Kingdom, according to venturebeat.com. They will test beyond line of sight operations, obstacle avoidance, and single-person supervision of multiple, highly-automated drones. FedEx and UPS have also shown interest in drone delivery.

Former Apple exec under Steve Jobs Bob Mansfield has come out of retirement to run Project Titan, the Apple car project. Businessinsider.com reports that he originally intended to retire in 2012, but moved to a special projects team that built the Apple Watch. Since then, not much has been heard from him. Apple allegedly intends to start selling vehicles in 2021.

A couple of interesting features may be coming to iPhones, one in 2018. Appleinsider.com says we might see ‘Iris ID’ replace Touch ID, as Apple brings iris scanners to the iPhone family. Meanwhile, Samsung may introduce iris recognition tech in its flagship Galaxy S series this year. More exciting than Iris ID, Apple has patented a method of ‘autostereoscopic’ displays. This would allow for 3D without the special glasses. It uses a pixel array featuring a second array of subpixels and lens structures, the latter emitting light at a number of different angles. The key component though would be the “beam steerer,” pointing the correct light at the viewer. No word on when we might have this in our hands yet.


Verizon Swallows Most of Yahoo; GM & Lyft to Launch Driverless Electric Car; iPhone 7 Rollout Date Determined

As rumored over the weekend, Verizon is buying Yahoo for $4.83 billion. Recode.net says they will roll up the core Yahoo business into Verizon-owned AOL. Tim Armstrong, who came to AOL from Google and revitalized it as a web sales engine, will run the combined AOL/Yahoo. Marissa Mayer will, as they say, exit. The sale does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba Group Holdings, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments, and Yahoo’s non-core patents. All of those will continue to be held by Yahoo, which will change its name at closing.

GM and Lyft will begin testing an electric, driverless vehicle before the end of the year. According to futuritech.info, the General plans to first release the vehicle on the Lyft platform, and then spread to the rest of the mass market. So far, GM and Lyft are keeping the timeline close to the vest as to when the vehicles will be available to most anybody, so stay tuned for that.

Two quick iPhone 7 notes from bgr.com…according to reputable leaker Evan Blass, the latest from Apple will hit the shelves September 16th. This points to a rollout by Tim Cook & company on September 6th or 7th. We also hear the headphone jack-less phone will ship with a dongle…oh, how we love those…so you can use your present headphones or earbuds. A new profit center for Apple, as angry users lose or break the stupid dongles, and have to buy more…probably for 20 or 30 dollars each!


Apple Car Delayed at Least A Year; Dyson Tests Robot Vac With 360 Degree Vision

This was probably telegraphed by the fact that Steve Zadesky, who’d led Project Titan for Apple, left after 16 years with the company, but now it looks like we won’t be seeing an Apple car before 2021. 9to5mac.com says Cupertino had been shooting for 2020. One tidbit…Apple is apparently looking into its own charging systems that would replace gas stations for EV drivers. Earlier this week, Elon Musk over at Tesla claimed that 2020 would be too late for Apple to enter the market…but anyone who remembers what happened when Apple entered the mp3 player market late with the iPod isn’t going to believe that! Right now, about 600 people are still working on Project Titan, the alleged Apple car.

Dyson has been hard at work on their ‘360 Eye,’ a robotic vacuum with 360 degree vision and connectivity. It’s bigger than a Roomba, and Dyson claims it will be far better, as the software and cameras plus sensors will let it get around rooms better and easier, even if you move the couch. According to techcrunch.com, Dyson has been refining the 360 Eye concept for 18 years, and is now working on version 3. After a lot of testing in Japan and then release, the 360 Eye launches in Canada today, and will roll out in the US soon. Dyson claims they can update the software over the air, and that they plan to do so frequently. They also hint that the tech in the vacuums is more widely applicable…will we see a Dyson household robot some day like Rosie from the Jetsons?


Elon Musk’s Vision 2.0; Corning Rolls Out Gorilla Glass 5

Last night, Elon Musk revealed his Master Plan part 2.0…it’s been 10 years since his first one. Some of the hi lights as noted by recode.net: Teslas will use solar panels on the roofs that will integrate with batteries (which is the reason behind the Solar City deal), and the company is planning to add a smaller SUV, big rig trucks, and busses. The whole fleet will be self-driving, and Musk sees owners renting out their cars for money when they aren’t needing them, competing with Uber and Lyft…but of course, without needing drivers. One has to think a new level of protection against hacking and car theft would be needed!

Corning has dropped Gorilla Glass 5…so to speak. Actually, according to theverge.com, Corning claims to have improved resistance to breakage when dropped onto a rough surface from between waist and shoulder height. They claim it survives 80% of the time when dropped from 1.6 meters. Corning says 85 percent of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once in the past year, and that two-thirds of those drops are from waist height to shoulder height. Note that the test glass was .6 mm thick, and many phones now use .4 mm screens…and also the test drops were face first, and it’s a hit to the corner that usually breaks screens. Corning claims these breaks are more a function of the phone’s construction though, and out of their control.