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.

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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.