Waze Ridesharing Coming to San Francisco; Google Dropping Nexus Brand; Ford Patents Button Press Car PasscodesPosted: August 31, 2016
In what may be a precursor to driverless service, Google is going to open up a ride share pilot program through the Waze app this fall. They had already tested a smaller version near Google headquarters that allowed people to grab a ride with another Waze user. Appleinsider.com says this may not just be aimed at Uber and Lyft, but to get a head start on Apple in the driverless car arena. The service will roll out in San Francisco.
Google is also dropping the Nexus brand for its smartphones. Theverge.com reports that they’ll still be made by HTC, but will be branded with a ‘G’ logo. For the first time, they won’t run a ‘pure’ version of Android. The next version of Google phones will be slightly smaller, with 5 inch and 5.5 inch screen models offered. This will be the first use of the Google brand on hardware for the company.
Ford has patented an interesting method to safeguard your car. With key fobs being relatively easy to hack, Ford has developed a way to set a security code with a series of presses. Cnet.com notes that the interesting part is it’s not all buttons, which makes it much tougher to hack. It will use the radio buttons, both on the dash and steering wheel, and the brake pedal. The car won’t start without the correct sequence. It could be used with keyless and keyed entry systems, or maybe without any key fob at all. No word from Ford on when…or if…the feature might be available.
Facebook’s Firing Trending Editors Brings SNAFUs; Future iPhones May Get Better Than OLED Screens; Amazon’s Amazing NumbersPosted: August 30, 2016
It didn’t take long….barely half a week has passed since Facebook canned 18 editorial contractors and went algorithm only for its Trending Topics. There have been some obvious goofs, like wrong videos linked to stories, but yesterday a completely made-up story made it and stayed for hours. Theverge.com says the fake story about Fox commentator Megan Kelly’s secret affinity for Hillary Clinton sat in the trending topics for hours…proving that algorithms and engineers make lousy news editors! The story, by the way, came from libertarian source End the Fed.
We’ve reported that the iPhone 8 may switch to OLED screens. Now, according to thenextweb.com, Apple may already be looking at a better tech in the next couple years. It’s micro LED. Cupertino bought LuxVue two years ago, and a secret Taiwan facility is working on the tech…which supposedly combines the best advantages of LED screens with OLED ones. It would also be another way for them to cut a further tie with Samsung, which makes OLED screens.
Just how big a gorilla is Amazon online? More than 800 pounds! Businessinsider.com reports that Amazon sold 6 times more online than the next 8 biggest retailers COMBINED! That’s 59 billion worth of stuff in the 2nd quarter of the year, while Walmart, Target, Best Buy and the rest totaled $10 billion together. The Department of Commerce calculates Amazon generated around 30% of US retail sales growth by itself!
Much Bigger Apple Watch Battery; Possible Light Blue iPhone; Subtile Improvements to Fitbit Charge 2Posted: August 29, 2016
A key rumor about the Apple Watch 2. Macrumors.com has picked up a report out of China from Weibo that the 42mm Watch will have a 35% bigger battery. Prior rumors had a faster processor, GPS, barometer, superior waterproofing…but apparently NO cellular. It may launch with the iPhone in a bit over a week.
Speaking of the iPhone 7, invites to the media should be going out this week for a showing next week, if the rumors are right. Bgr.com has spotted Tweets with a new blue color, and it’s a cool light grayish blue, not the very dark color mentioned earlier. If so, it could be hotter than the Rose Gold was when Apple introduced it. [Update: The invitations are out, and the iPhone 7 rollout date is officially September 7th. The event will be at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.]
No ‘wow’ features in Fitbit’s Charge 2, but some nice adds to a lot of peoples’ constant companion. Techcrunch.com says they have added removable bands. A standard fitness one is $30, while a premium leather band sets you back $70. The Charge 2 is a bit more streamlined than the previous model. As for tracking, it can tell if you’re walking or using an elliptical, and Fitbit has added Guided Breathing. It has two and 5 minute sessions, allowing the device to be used as a meditation wearable. It’s $150.
MobileEye & Delphi Partner For Self-Driving System; Tesla’s Ludicrous Mode Goes Beyond Plaid; Playstation Now Cloud GamingPosted: August 24, 2016
A big announcement yesterday from Delphi and sensor-maker Mobileye. They plan to partner to build a fully autonomous car system that auto manufacturers can use to make their cars self-driving. The system will be production-ready for car makers by 2019, according to arstechinca.com, and could show up in new cars between late 2019 and 2021. Mobileye recently split the sheets with Tesla, but will apparently continue to work with BMW and Intel on BMW self-driving platforms.
Speaking of Tesla, businessinsider.com reports that they have announced an upgrade to the Model S and Model X. A beefed up battery pack will extend mileage from 289 to 315 miles on a charge, and Ludicrous mode will get the Model S P100D from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds, making it the world’s fastest production car. The upgrade is $20 grand, or an additional $10 grand if you already ordered a P90D Ludicrous but haven’t taken delivery yet.
Pictures of the Playstation PS4 Slim and a new controller have already leaked out prior to Sony’s rollout September 7th. Now, bgr.com says a Sony blog post mentions “PS Now on PC Announce Post”. This may have accidentally spilled the beans on release of their Playstation Now cloud gaming service on PCs. No word on pricing, but it had better be more reasonable if Sony expects it to catch on.
Next Year’s iPhone Anniversary May Bring 3rd Model; Twitter Night Mode Hits iPhone; Facebook Tests Autoroll Video With SoundPosted: August 23, 2016
In a report out of Japan picked up by macrumors.com, Apple is planning a third iPhone model next year with a 5.5 inch OLED screen that will sport curved edges. Earlier rumors had Apple adapting OLED screens in 2018, but now it appears one model of the iPhone 8, or 10th Anniversary iPhone, or whatever they plan to call it will have it, while the 4.7 inch and other 5.5. inch models will have the same LCD screens as the present models. OLED screens have blacker blacks, and the colors on screen ‘pop’ more. Samsung has been using them on their Galaxy series. Of course, the Galaxy S7 Edge also already has the curved screen Samsung has made for a couple years now.
Last month, Android users got Twitter’s Night Mode, and yesterday it rolled out on iOS, according to cnet.com. I like it. It darkens all the white space and pictures, and the Tweets show up as white text on a black background. It even works on my old iPad that doesn’t support Apple’s Night Mode. Find the little settings cog icon, and it’s one of the selections.
In a move certain to infuriate everyone (except advertisers), Facebook is testing out autoplaying video WITH sound! Thenextweb.com says actually, the social giant is testing two versions in Australia. One just autoplays, and another has an unmute button in the lower right corner. The so-called ‘feature’ can apparently be disabled in settings. Hopefully, Facebook will choose the unmute button version if they decide to roll the feature out to everyone.
We may be seeing quite a few car makers and tech companies rolling out self-driving cars by 2020 or 2021, but meanwhile, Uber is rolling out a small fleet of self driving Volvo SUVs later this month in Pittsburgh. Thenextweb.com says they’ll still have a driver supervising from behind the wheel. The cars will be assigned at random, and here’s the cool part….rides in them will be free for the time being! Uber will be staffing them with a co-pilot of sorts, to take note of how everything is working. Uber has had a $300 million dollar deal with Volvo to build fully autonomous cars, and apparently has been working on its own global mapping system, so they won’t have to rely on Google for navigation.
Facebook is looking to go after Steam, or at least claw back some of the revenue it’s lost since casual gaming moved to mobile. According to techcrunch.com, the social media giant announced it was working with game engine Unity to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform, in addition to broadening the Facebook.com experience for gamers. It’s thought the desktop app will support both casual games and more hardcore games. Of course, Oculus was a big…and pricey…step back to gaming for Facebook, but the bulk of us still stare at screens, as opposed to strapping on headsets for hours at a time at this point.
Ford announced yesterday that they expect to have self-driving cars on the road by 2021…the same time frame as Google and Apple’s secretive Project Titan. According to appleinsider.com, the car will be specifically built ‘’for ride sharing and ride hailing.’ The cars will have no steering wheel or pedals, and will only drive a pre-programmed area that’s been 3D mapped. Ford says these will meet SAE Level 4 standards for autonomous operation…Tesla and Mercedes only make Level 2 right now. Ford didn’t say if the cars would be hybrid, electric, or even still take old-fashioned gasoline.
A couple of interesting patents show that Amazon is looking at different kinds of drones for different applications. Geekwire.com reports that one shows 4 rotors in a protective shroud. Another design has shrouded rotors, plus two smaller pusher props, and a fixed wing. It’s thought the shrouds are to protect people and property in the event of a crash. The extended wing would provide extra lift, perhaps giving the small electric motors more range and a better flying time than 20 minutes, like a lot of drones out there now. Amazon has said they have a goal of delivering small packages weighing 5 pounds or less in a half hour or less.