In something of an unusual move for them, Apple may ditch their proprietary Lightening port for USB-C on upcoming iPhones. Arstechnica.com says that since the switch to USB-C on the MacBook Pro, it makes sense, as then Apple devices could settle on an industry standard in all their devices that can do all the Lightening port can do and more. Apple has used Lightening for some 5 years. Get ready to buy yet more dongles and converters!
Theverge.com reports that Mozilla has bought Pocket, a sort of DVR for the internet. Pocket saves articles and videos for viewing and reading later. It’s something of a Back to the Future moment, since Pocket first bowed as a Firefox extension. It has already been Firefox’s default read later service for a couple years. This should help Mozilla grab more eyeballs on mobile, where they have lagged as desktop use has been declining.
Comcast Partners with YouTube; Twitch Readying ‘Buy Now’ Button for Games; iPhone Getting Cam with 3D For Both Biometrics and Putting Users in GamesPosted: February 27, 2017
Comcast is partnering with YouTube, and will offer an app to watch it over their Xfinity boxes later this year. According to variety.com, no details are out about the deal, but you will be able to browse and watch YouTube’s entire catalog of videos, and use the X1 remote to do it by voice command if you like.
Twitch is getting ready to roll out a buy now button to allow you to pay streamers and buy games right in a stream you’re watching. Partnered streamers will get 5% share of the purchase, an game developers 70% of the revenue. Cnet.com says for starters it will only be available in the US to players with Amazon accounts. Ubisoft, Telltale Games and 11Bit are making their games available through Twitch stream.
Apple appears to be working on a camera for iPhones with ‘3D sensing and modeling capabilities,’ that will reinvent the user experience. Businessinsider.com reports that KGI Securities thinks it may appear in the new iPhone 8, but may well be improved on even more in a later phone. One application might be facial recognition for new biometric security, but another could be to put the user’s face into games on a character.
Dates for Galaxy S8 Release; Apple- 5 Groups Working on Wireless Charging; Tesla Formulating All-in-One Pricing & More GigafactoriesPosted: February 23, 2017
Samsung had originally wanted to show the Galaxy S8 at Mobile World Congress, but the Note 7 mess threw a wrench into that plan. Now, bgr.com says they will show the latest handset on March 29th, and likely preorders in the US will begin on April 13th. Competitor LG WILL show their new G6 model at MWC, and it will go on sale March 10th.
Apple reportedly has 5 groups working on wireless charging. There has been speculation for months about the iPhone 8 getting that feature, but disagreement about whether it would be inductive charging…which other phones have…or a longer range system. According to macrumors.com, they have also been testing 10 different versions of the iPhone 8. It’s likely things are pretty well finalized, and Apple did join the Wireless Power Consortium, which pushes the Qi inductive system. They may be looking to the across the room charging systems for future iPhones.
Tesla is working on formulating all-in-one pricing for their cars, which would include lifetime insurance and maintenance. Thenextweb.com reports that the insurance would come from traditional insurers. Tesla feels that with their autopilot and future self-driving, the accident rate would be low enough to make this work financially. Their electric cars have far less mechanical systems to maintain already. Also, Elon Musk wrote to shareholders that they may be looking at adding 3 more Gigafactories. The first one is in Reno, and they call the solar plant in New York Gigafactory 2.
Samsung will show off its Tab 3 mini tablet at Mobile World Congress. Bgr.com says originally, the Galaxy S8 was supposed to be the big star there for them, but they had to push back the rollout of it after the Note 7 disaster. Of note with the Tab 3 is that it will dock and is rumored to be connectable to an external monitor…so you could use it as both a desktop and portable device! The Galaxy S8 and S8+ are also being rumored to have the desktop mode, but you’ll need a special accessory called the DeX station to connect to a bigger display.
Apple will officially open its Campus 2 in April, and begin moving employees in….more than 12,000 of them. According to macrumors.com the move will take 6 months. Officially, it will be known as Apple Park, and the thousand seat theatre there has been christened Steve Jobs Theatre. Maybe most of important of all, there’s a visitors’ center with an Apple Store and cafe which will be open to the public.
Across the Board iPad Refresh Coming; Snapchat Starts Selling Spectacles Online; BMW & VW Partner With Mobileye To Crowdsource Info For Self-Driving CarsPosted: February 21, 2017
Apple will do a top to bottom refresh of iPads next month. Arstechnica.com reports that often reliable site Mac Otakara reaffirms that apple will add a new 10.5 inch iPad to the 7.9, 9.7, and 12.9 inch models. It will be something of a ‘mini’ version of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, and will sport 4 speakers, Smart Connector, True Tone Display, and a 12 MP rear camera. The biggest iPad will also get True Tone and the better camera.
Snapchat maker Snap has been selling its Spectacles camera glasses in pop up vending machines for a while now, but has put that on hold as they have started selling them online. According to businessinsider.com, anyone in the US can order a pair of the $130 glasses which record 10 second video clips and send them to the Snapchat app.
BMW and Mobileye are partnering to crowdsource traffic data for self-driving cars, starting in 2018. Techcrunch.com says BMW will join Volkswagen in the crowdsourcing of road hazards, traffic delays, weather info, and parking availability. The more cars that provide data to the cloud and then back to other cars, the more accurate it will be.
Galaxy S8 Pay Surpass iPhone $$; Apple Acquired Facial Recognition Startup; Chevy to Test Thousands of Self-Driving Bolts; Bill Gates & the Robot TaxPosted: February 20, 2017
Usually, smartphone rumors are pretty exciting…especially about the handsets from Samsung and Apple. Here’s one that has a bit of a chill to it…bgr.com says that the upcoming Galaxy S8 may pass up the iPhone 8 in price! The iPhone 8 is rumored to be around $1000, but SamMobile spotted a leaked database in Ukraine (since taken down), and it shows the Galaxy S8 models at $950 and $1050. Whatever the price, they will launch next month in black, gold, and Orchid Gray. Get your wallet ready!
According to a report from and Israeli finance website called Calcalist picked up by 9to5mac.com, Apple has acquired facial recognition startup RealFace. This lends credence to the rumor that the next generation of iPhones may have facial recognition either in addition to or in place of the fingerprint reader. The tech may first be rolled out on the iPhone 8 this fall.
Chevrolet is aiming to field a test fleet of thousands of self-driving electric Bolts in 2018. Techcrunch.com reports that the fleets will mainly be operated with partner Lyft for on-demand ride-hailing. This is a couple years ahead of competitor Ford and others who have been shooting at 2020 for deployment of test fleets. Self driving cars may be here sooner than you think.
Yes, it sounds like the title of a Tom Swift book….Bill Gates and the Robot Tax…but actually, the tech magnate is calling on governments to look a bit further into the future. Engadget.com says in an interview with Quartz, Gates advocates taxing worker robots to offset job losses. the funds would be used for training of the people who lost jobs to robots…training in areas where humans will still be needed…he specifically points to child and senior care. The European Parliament has rejected a robot tax for now, but that is to develop guidelines for deploying
iPhone 8-Bigger Screen, Smaller Form Factor; WWDC Moves to San Jose; Verizon Snags Drone Management Software MakerPosted: February 16, 2017
We’ve written plenty about the iPhone 8’s OLED screen, as has everybody, and how it will have a 5.8 inch size. Now, macrumors.com, in a report from KGI Securities, picks up some new tidbits. The form factor of the handset will be about like the 4.7 inch iPhone 7, easing one hand operation. Because the front will be virtually all screen, the display size will be like that of the 5.5 inch iPhone Plus in the smaller chassis. The bottom of the screen will feature a row of virtual buttons, but KGI Securities says it may not have a home button or fingerprint sensor at all…instead, adapting ‘other biometric technologies,’ like iris or facial recognition.
Apple has announced WWDC 2017. 9to5mac.com says it is moving from San Francisco to the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, and will be June 5th through the 9th. Registration for tickets starts March 27th. The San Jose venue is roughly the same size as Moscone Center in San Francisco, so will accommodate 5000 developers and around a thousand Apple engineers. The Proximity to Apple’s Cupertino HQ and Campus 2 will ease attendance of more Apple engineers.
Verizon has picked up Skyward, a startup out of Portland that makes drone management software. According to geekwire.com, the code helps commercial drone operators track, connect, and manage drones. The software can be used by businesses in agriculture, construction, film production and telecommunications, and helps smooth compliance with FAA regulations.
Voice Calling On Amazon Echo & Google Home; Big Facebook Video Update; Apple May Add Additional OLED Screen SupplierPosted: February 15, 2017
Voice calling may be coming to Amazon Echo and Google home. Theverge.com reports that the feature could be rolled out this year, but both companies ‘have concerns about privacy, emergency services, and regulatory hurdles.’ Apparently, you will only be able to make calls over speakerphone, which may put off some users. Google will probably just extend Google Voice, while Amazon is looking at options such as syncing to your present number, call forwarding, or even having the Echo get its own number. They also haven’t finalized switching to your phone if you leave the house or room where the Echo is located.
Facebook is rolling out a major update for video. Thenextweb.com says one of them will seem more like a bug than a feature…videos will now auto play sound. There is apparently an app setting to disable it, at least. On the plus side, vertical video will now take up more of the screen on Android and iOS devices, and there is a picture in picture mode. Facebook will also be rolling out a video app for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV, as well as other platforms, but no firm date on those yet.
Apple is apparently looking at adding China’s BOE as a supplier of OLED screens for the iPhone 8, according to macrumors.com. Samsung, LG, Sharp, and Japan Display are already believed to be used, but there are concerns that they couldn’t keep up with demand. At this point, it’s still thought that the OLED screen will only be available on the iPhone 8, with the 7S and 7S Plus models staying with LCD displays. BOE is opening an additional factory this summer, and another about 2 years down the line.
Verizon Rolls Out $80 Unlimited Data Plan; Google Maps Lets You Share Faves; Cook Says AR May Rival iPhone’s ImpactPosted: February 13, 2017
For the first time since 2011, Verizon has an unlimited data plan. Macrumors.com says the $80 a month plan called Verizon Unlimited gets you unlimited talk, text and 4G LTE data on one smartphone or tablet or $45 a month for 4 lines. Verizon has had an access charge of $20 per month per smartphone, but it’s not clear if that applies or is included. If it applies, the plan is really $100 per month. Unlike the cheaper T-Mobile and Sprint unlimited plans, Verizon’s includes full HD streaming.
Google Maps has unveiled Lists on Android and iOS. According to techcrunch.com, the feature lets you make lists of places you can share with friends. Some power users have been testing this out since Fall. It appears that Starred and Favorites have some overlap. The Lists can be shared with friends, and even public Lists can be created, similar to Foursquare.
More and more, AR looks like Apples Next Big Thing. In an interview with The Independent, picked up by cnet.com, Tim Cook called Augmented Reality a big idea, like the smartphone. He noted that like a smartphone, AR isn’t limited to certain demographics, countries, or other niche….it can be for nearly everyone. With AR overlays seen through some lightweight glasses….which Apple is reputedly working on with Carl Zeiss, Apple’s Next Big Thing could soon be right before our eyes.