No MacBookTouch Bar Use for Bar Exams; Baby Monitor Tracks Breathing Wirelessly

In the ‘Dark Ages,’ law students couldn’t even take a typewriter with memory into bar exams. Now, many states that allow laptops will require MacBooks with Touch Bars to have that feature disabled in order to be used. Thenextweb.com says it’s because of the ‘predictive text’ feature built in. Assessment software maker ExamSoft notes that this will work in some states, although others….like New York….flatly ban Touch Bar laptops. In the past, California Bar Examiners have required that a device be brought in a week ahead and left with them prior to the exam to prevent un-permitted ‘assistance.’

After an engineer saw a friend’s premature infant hooked up to monitoring equipment at home, an idea was hatched. The engineer and a couple colleagues have come up with Raybaby. According to engadget.com, it is launching on Kickstarter. Raybaby looks like a regular baby monitor, with a camera that picks up movements and connects with smartphone apps. The difference with Raybaby is that it uses wideband radar tech, which can pick up the slightest movement…less than a millimeter…so can detect breathing from up to 15 feet away…even if baby is wrapped in a blanket. The monitor will sell for $250, but it you are an early backer, you can score one for $99.


UK Military Picks iPhone Over Android; Fitbit Cutting Staff 10%, Focusing On Software

Due to security concerns, the British military has gone for the iPhone 7 instead of Android. According to bgr.com, they feel the overall security is tighter. BT Group is adding some additional security level for them on the handsets. They had originally looked at the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, but just couldn’t lock it down enough, according to TechRepublic.

The wearables market still hasn’t caught fire as many expected it to, and now Fitbit is cutting 10% of its workforce. Arstechnica.com reports that the company is pivoting to software and may be developing its own app store. The cutback is expected to reduce costs $200 million as Fitbit is getting ready to announce lower than expected Q4 earnings. Fitbit did show a freshened app at CES. With purchases of both Pebble and Vector, a European smartwatch startup, it’s possible that Fitbit may be writing a complete OS that could power a future full blown smartwatch.


Google Pixel 2 Rumors; Huawei Gunning to be World’s Largest Smartphone Maker

The Google Pixel is a good phone, but not near what it needs to be to cut into Apple or Samsung. 9to5google.com says they are looking to rectify some of its shortcomings with the Pixel 2. Rumors had already been out about possible waterproofing, but it looks like they are especially focusing on the camera. Google is reportedly testing better chipsets from a couple different manufacturers. The Pixel 2 likely won’t get a higher megapixel size, but better low light shooting and more features. Of interest, however, is that a ‘B’ model is being tested…a lower price point Pixel. Don’t get too excited though…it appears to be aimed at different markets, and not for US release.

The smartphone market the last 6 years has pretty well been Apple, Samsung, and everyone else fighting for scraps. Now, according to macrumors.com, Huawei is angling to go from just being China’s largest smartphone maker and #3 worldwide to #1. They are shooting for passing up Samsung and Apple by 2021, just 4 years from now. They have made big inroads in European markets, but so far, haven’t dented the US. Part of the problem for them has been no carrier agreements, but Huawei has now hired a former Verizon negotiator, so look for them to try to ‘go big’ in the US.


Google I/O Dates Announced; Apple Looks at Flex LCD Displays; Amazon’s STEM Initiative for Kids

Google I/O will be May 17-19 this year, and will be at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. This will be the third time around for holding the event in that outdoor venue. So far, no other details have been posted about the developer event. Suppose there will be some cool drone streaming footage or the like from the event this year?

In what would be quite a change for Apple if they decide to do it, Cupertino is looking at a flexible LCD display from Japan Display for possible future iPhones. According to 9to5mac.com, it would mean a plastic screen for iPhones, but would allow Apple to make a phone that bends and flexes.

Amazon launched STEM Club yesterday, to help introduce kids to more science, technology, engineering, and math. Thenextweb.com reports that for $19.99 a month + tax, your child gets a new STEM related toy. It’s set up by age groups…3-4, 5-7, and 8-13. There’s no long term contract, you can cancel any time you want.


iPhone 8 May Just Get Inductive Charging; Newest Snapdragon Chip May Be Exclusive to Samsung Galaxy S8; Amazon Echo For Trekkies; Kids & Internet Devices in Bed

We’ve reported before that Apple will probably have wireless charging for the iPhone 8. Some rumors have it getting the Energous system, which uses radio waves, and works across the room. Now, macrumors.com reports that patents filed as late as 2013 indicate Apple may just roll their own with inductive charging….in other words, the tried and true set the phone on a charging pad method. It’s not as zoomy or futuristic, but in filings, Apple claims the wireless radio charging is too inefficient and not practical now.

There’s a new Qualcomm chip coming out, the Snapdragon 835, and it looks like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will have it exclusively at first. 9to5google.com says LG’s new G6, which will be shown at Mobile World Congress, will ship with the 821 chip, the same as the Google Pixel. The Snapdragon 821 is a perfectly good chip, and not quite a year old, but for the latest and greatest, you’ll have to get the Galaxy S8 after April.

Amazon may have added a killer feature to the Echo for Trekkies. You can now change the wake word in the settings to ‘Computer.’ Cnet.com says in addition to ‘Alexa’ and ‘Computer,’ you can also choose ‘Amazon,’ or ‘Echo.’ A Cnet reporter asked Echo to set phasers to stun, and it replied that was coming in a future update!

According to a new study by Intel Security, 76% of parents let their kids take internet connected gadgets to bed, while only 23% of them monitor the kids’ usage. Venturebeat.com says the survey polled 13,000 people. They come by it honestly….the survey also found that 36% of parents had been called out by their kids for checking their smartphones during family time. Even though parents aren’t monitoring kids as they should, 34% of parents have caught children visiting inappropriate sites.


Galaxy S8 Delayed; iPhone 8 Gets Improved 3D Touch Sensor and Flex OLED Screen; All 2017 Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps

Samsung won’t be showing the Galaxy S8 at the upcoming Mobile World Congress, as they have done for years with predecessors. Instead, 9to5google.com reports they will show it at a dedicated event in New York City in April. In addition to rumors about losing physical keys, borrowing Apple’s 3D Touch, and wireless earbuds, Samsung will probably show off their dedicated assistant, Bixby.

Meanwhile, Apple will refresh 3D Touch to work with the expected new flexible OLED screens. According to 9to5mac.com, it will have a higher sensitivity and wider range of touch pressure levels. Analysts are still expecting a wrap around all glass front screen and glass back with stainless steel bezels and for the 8 to be larger than the 7 Plus.

All 2017 Chromebooks will support Android apps right out of the box. Techcrunch.com says none will require updated software, you can just fire them up and immediately hit the Google Play Store. Up to now, only select Chromebook models could run Android apps….this should goose popularity of Chromebooks, and give them an ecosystem more akin to Windows or mac OS.


iPhone 8 May Have Facial Recognition; LG Will Probably Show New Flagship at Mobil World Conference

Another analyst has predicted that Apple will bake facial and gesture recognition into iPhone 8, along with the Touch ID fingerprint biometrics. According to macrumors.com, the facial recognition will be powered by both a laser sensor and infrared sensor that will live near the front facing camera. This would not only increase security, but are steps towards augmented reality. Apple’s Tim Cook has strongly hinted that Apple is heavily involved in developing AR.

LG will host an event at Mobile World Congress next month, and likely roll out their latest flagship phone, the G6. 9to5google.com reports that LG has struggled to take market share from Samsung or Apple, but hopes to claw a percent or two with the 5.7 inch screen with multi-window support. They will have a ‘heat pipe’ cooling system to cool the battery, in a little shade throwing to Samsung.


Cheaper Android One Phones Coming to US; Tesla Will Build Model 3 Motors & Gearboxes at Gigafactory; Body Armor iPhone Case

Android One, the platform from Google, was initially introduced to make cheap Android devices available in developing markets. Now, theverge.com says they are opening up the US market to it for low cost and mid price phones. Having an Android platform that gets regularly updated and which is free of bloatwear should pick up market share for Android. You should start seeing phones running it by midyear…although don’t expect actual Google branded phones aside from the premium level Pixels.

Tesla will build motors and gearboxes for the Model 3 at the Gigafactory in Nevada. According to techcrunch.com, the production will add on 550 jobs there. The electric motors and transmissions for the Model S and X will continue to be made in the Fremont, CA plant.

Want good protection for your iPhone but don’t want a big, heavy Otterbox case? Now you can get a case made of body armor that’s as thin as a dime. Bgr.com reports that the PITAKA Aramid Fibre Super Slim Fit cases are available for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It has a grippy surface and has a ballistic tempered glass screen protector. About $38 bucks for the 7 and $43 for the Plus.


Verizon Says Demand for Pixel Outstripping Supply; Flying Airbus Taxis by 2017; MacBook Pros Get Updated Again This Year; Caffeine Blocks Inflammation; Smartphone Air Freshener

The buzz on the Google Pixel phone is enough that demand at Verizon is outstripping supply. 9to5google.com says it has accounted for over 12% of smartphone sales at Verizon. Right now, it looks like you won’t be able to score most Pixel models until March!

Forget Uber…which knows nothing about flying. Airbus is shooting for testing self-flying taxis by the end of 2017! Zdnet.com reports that commuters could book an Airbus flying cab with a smartphone app. There are obvious regulatory hurdles before this can happen, but as they point out, it could free up roadways and the cost associated with them enormously. Besides Uber’s flirt with this, you have Terrafugia, Aeromobil, and EHang working on them, but Airbus is really the 800 lb. gorilla for the flying cab future, with their vast aircraft experience.

The new Macbook Pros that dropped this fall have been panned for lack of ports and battery life. Now, 9to5mac.com reports that they will be refreshed again this year, and get Intel Kaby Lake processors, and 32 gigs of ram. The processors are more stingy with power consumption, and the higher ram will ease a knock from actual pro power users who need all that memory. They will probably debut this fall.

Ok, take another big swig of that coffee! There have been numerous studies finding correlation between caffeine, coffee, and better health, but according to a new one from Stanford picked up by theverge.com, we may now know why. Caffeine may apparently be able to block inflammation! The study actually started as one on aging, but it turned out that people who consumed more caffeinated beverages had less inflammation, had lower blood pressure, and were generally healthier. Have another cup!

In the another first world problem department, isn’t it a hassle to have to change that room air freshener cartridge, or grab a can of air freshener? What if you could do it from your phone? Engadget.com says there’s an Indiegogo campaign for a tabletop air freshener called Moodoo. You can put up $139 for one, plus 4 scent capsules, and will be able to control it from your phone…including setting up ‘fragrance playlists.’ Yeah, this is a major first world problem for sure!


HTC Rolls Out New All Glass Phone With AI; CVS Announces Cheaper Alternative to EpiPen; Amazon Will Hire 100,000 Full-time the Next 18 Months

Getting the drop on both Samsung and Apple, HTC has made an early announcement about its new flagship phone, the U Ultra. Bgr.com reports it has a 5.7 inch screen, a small second screen next to the camera and above the main screen, AI to learn your habits and offer suggestions, and a glossy glass back. It has a 3000 mAh battery, but no headphone jack. It’s on presale today at $749, but won’t be out aside from Taiwan until March.

CVS Pharmacy has partnered with Impax Labs to make a much cheaper alternative to the EpiPen from Mylan, which has been priced at $600 brand name, $300 generic for the two pack. According to arstechnica.com, the CVS generic version of Adrenaclick will sell for $109.99, with or without insurance. A factory coupon cuts that to $9.99 for qualifying patients.

Amazon has announced that it plans 100,000 new full time jobs in the US over the next year and a half. Theverge.com says they will be in all areas of the company, but you can bet most will be in their fulfillment centers…Amazon is planning more of the warehouses around the country. While this is great news, it is likely to be much of a wash, as a number of big retailers seem to be on the verge of folding due to sagging sales…while Amazon grows at warp speed. Some analysts see the expansion as a move by Amazon to curry favor with the incoming administration.