Amazon Drops New Echos; Google Making Higher End Home ‘Max;’ Next LED iPhones May Be Bezel-less, TooPosted: September 28, 2017
Amazon rolled out 2nd generation Echos yesterday, and they’re shorter by half, have a dedicated bass speaker, and are on sale for $99. Theverge.com reports that you can also pick up a 3 pack for $250, so you can have multi-room coverage. The new Echos can also make free calls to the US, Canada, and Mexico. If you just want the calling, Amazon also dropped a $35 gadget called Connect.
With the new Amazon Echos, upgraded Sonos speakers coming, and the Apple iHome looming in December, Google isn’t sitting on its hands, either. According to bgr.com, there’s an upgraded Google Home in the works called the Max. It will be a higher end version with so-called premium sound to compete with the Sonos and iHome. Since the Pixel 2 phones are supposed to roll out next week, maybe Google will tease the Max or even show it.
The iPhone X will be out in November in very short supply, and now we’re hearing the phones for next year may not all go to OLED screens like it has…Apple may stick with LCD for it’s lower tier phones. 9to5mac.com says Apple is working on a new form of advanced LED panel that will give the phones a near bezel free design like the OLED iPhone X has. Since LED screens cost less, it will help keep the price down on the successor to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.
Twitter Doubling Tweet Length to 280 Characters; iPhone X Shortage Will Be Due to Facial Recognition Hardware; Dyson Building Electric CarPosted: September 27, 2017
Twitter is testing out doubling Tweet length to 280 characters for some users. 9to5google.com reports that the company decided on the expansion after finally noting that character count allowed vastly more information in some languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Those languages can convey about twice as much information per character as can English, Spanish, or French. Twitter noted that 9% of Tweets in English hit the limit, but only .4% do so in Japanese. They still may not expand to everybody if they feel the test goes badly.
Apple’s iPhone X delay and expected shortage is apparently due to part of the module that allows 3D facial recognition. According to macrumors.com, it is taking more time to assemble the dot projector that beams 30,000 invisible dots to your face and allows the phone to map it, determining that it’s you. The hero iPhone may be hard to get through the first quarter of next year because of the issue.
Dyson is working on an electric car. One analyst at cnet.com joked that If it’s priced like its vacuums, it will cost 12 million dollars and have lots of vortices. Actually, James Dyson had already been working on vehicle-related pollution issues since 1990. Now, the company has confirmed that it will build an electric car. Dyson announced Tuesday that his company will build a battery-electric vehicle and it should by ready by 2020. A 400-plus-person team is already hard at work on the car. James Dyson said he’s committed to investing $2.68 billion on the project. No truth to the rumor that it will have 16 vortex nozzles, or that it will Hoover up road debris as you drive…
Google Assistant Now Controls Smart Appliances; App to Download Streamed Netflix & HBO Shows to Watch Offline; BMW Charging Pad..for Cars; Microsoft Dives Into Quantum ComputingPosted: September 26, 2017
Google Assistant can now control more smart devices, including appliances from LG. 9to5google.com reports that included are fridges, AC, ovens, washers & dryers…almost 90 different appliances. There are also some new headphone models that utilize Google Assistant. LG is even offering a deal…get an LG smart Wi-Fi appliance between October 8th and October 25th, and you’re eligible for a free Google Home unit.
When you’re binge watching a show from Netflix. Amazon, Hulu, or HBO, sometimes things get glitchy. Now, there’s an app on Android and iOS that lets you download the shows for later viewing OFFLINE! According to thenextweb.com the app, PlayOn Cloud, also supports YouTube, Yahoo Views, CBS, PBS CW, ABC, NBC, & Fox. There is an extra charge, though. It’s $0.99 per recording, or there are bundles for $0.20 each. Netflix has offered offline downloads as has Amazon, but they expire. With PlayOn, the videos are deleted from the cloud after 30 days, but anything you have downloaded stays on your device.
We’ve all been in places like Starbucks and seen the wireless charging pads, and of course Apple has made a big deal about joining the wireless charging smartphone club now with Qi charging…pads are already available from Mophie and Kensington. Theverge.com says BMW is getting ready to roll out one for their 530e iPerformance plug in hybrid. They claim 3.5 hour charging without a cable. The pad requires a 22o volt outlet, and is still awaiting final testing and UL approval, so it may be a year or more away, but faster, hassle free charging for cars will only accelerate the move to electric vehicles.
On Monday, Microsoft announced that it is going to be moving into the next big thing in computing….quantum computing. According to arstechnica.com, this should allow computers to do absolutely amazing things in the future. Redmond plans to release a new quantum computing programming language late this year, with full Visual Studio integration. If quantum computing sounds like Greek to you, don’t feel bad. In a Wall St. Journal interview, Bill Gates noted that while he was good at math and physics…probably an understatement….when the quantum computing slides came up in a presentation, it looked like hieroglyphics to HIM!
Tesla May Build Convenience Stores At Superchargers; Apple May Keep Some LCD Screen iPhones; Now YOU Can Have a $350 Smart JacketPosted: September 25, 2017
Tesla is adding still more Superchanger charging stations this year, and now it appears they may add small convenience stores so you can refill yourself (or empty your tank!) while you wait on the car to charge. According to engadget.com, Tesla’s CTO JB Straubel showed mockups at the FSTEC food tech conference last week. The company is already working with some restaurants on installing some charging stations along the roadways.
A report out of Korea says Apple is thinking of ditching the smaller 5.28 inch iPhone next year in favor of a bigger LCD screen phone with over 6 inches of screen real estate. Up to now, most analysts have thought Apple would switch all iPhones to OLED screens eventually. 9to5mac.com reports that orders for the bigger LCD panels have already been placed with Japan Display. The same report indicates that there will be 2 iPhones with the OLED screens like the iPhone X, however. It’s early, and just one report, so a little skepticism is in order on this one!
Ever wanted to control your smart devices from your jacket? That time has arrived. The Google powered Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket is finally out. Thenextweb.com says it uses Bluetooth and touch sensitive controls that allow you to play and pass music, get directions over your phone audio, and read incoming messages. It all works with touch sensitive fabric around the cuff, and is powered by a snap tag on one of the cuffs. (Watch someone wash it without removing the tag and ruin it right after they get it.) The real questions are: 1) would you wear a denim trucker jacket if you want to play with touch sensitive controls on your sleeve, and 2) would you drop $350 bucks on it? If so, it’s on sale Wednesday at select shops, and online next week at levis.com.
Tesla Working on Own Self-Driving aI Chip; Google Acquires People and IP Rights from HTC; Nest Bows Smart Doorbell and Security SystemPosted: September 21, 2017
Tesla is teaming up with AMD to make its own AI processor for their self-driving systems. Techcrunch.com notes that the e-car maker already has a relationship with Nvidia, whose GPUs run its Autopilot system. The new in-house designed chip could reduce or eliminate relying on third party AI software. Tesla reportedly already has pre-production samples in hand. The autopilot program at Tesla is run by Jim Keller, who spent much of his career at AMD and then Apple…he helped design the Apple A4 and A5 chips.
Google has struck a deal with HTC to acquire intellectual property rights (non-exclusively) and certain employees for 1.1 billion. The employees were ones already working with Google to develop Pixel smartphones. Google will continue to partner with HTC on smartphones and other hardware, including virtual reality.
Nest showed off new product lines in San Francisco yesterday. Cnet.com reports they include the Nest Hello…a connected doorbell with cam, speaker and microphone. The entryway gadget wasn’t priced, but will be out 1st quarter of next year. Also debuting was the Nest Secure security system. It has a keypad and motion sensor, and a key fob they call the Nest Tag. Systems start at $500, and roll out in November. A new iteration of cam was also revealed, the Nest Cam IQ…which comes in outdoor and indoor versions. The indoor model will have Google Assistant built in. The cam is $255.
HP Education Chromebook is Out; Sprint & T-Mobile Merger Talks; iOS 11 is Out for iPhone & iPad; Microsoft Mixed Reality EventPosted: September 19, 2017
HP has released their touted Chromebook x360. It had been only available as an education edition, but now is on sale to the public. According to theverge.com, it has a 1.1 Gig processor, 4 Gigs of RAM, and 32 Gigs of storage. The touch screen is Gorilla Glass, and it has 2 USB-C ports and two USB 3.0 ports. The rugged laptop will make it 11 hours on a charge. Best of all, it’s $299….and on sale at Amazon, Walmart, and Costco.
We’ve heard this story before, but now, it appears that Sprint and T-Mobile are actually in serious talks about a merger. Engadget.com reports that CNBC has picked up on the scent that the two are in active talks about a merger. This was a story back in 2014 too, but now the regulatory environment may have loosened enough that they think it will work. While less competition is usually not great for customers, it can be a boon to investors…or not. Sometimes, it’s like tying two bricks together and seeing if they’ll float. Time will tell…stay tuned.
Today is iOS 11 release day…10 am is the usual time Apple makes operating system updates like this live. Cnet.com notes that this upgrade really shines on the iPad. The iPad gets a dock much like the Mac OS has on laptops and desktops, and a Files App keeps files and folders handy…much like on a regular desktop. Also, the App switcher supports drag and drop…text, images, and more. Apple has said that the send money feature to friends via Apple Pay won’t go live until later…maybe when the iPhone X comes out in November.
Microsoft has invited a small number of journalists to a ‘mixed reality’ event in San Francisco October 3rd. Mashable.com says they don’t expect a huge reveal of gear, but more about Microsoft’s mixed reality strategy and Redmond has teased the opportunity to ‘experience Windows Mixed Reality for yourself.’
Facebook Testing ‘Snooze’ Feature; Huawei Takes a Shot at the iPhone X; Your Nintendo Switch Has Hidden Copy of NES GolfPosted: September 18, 2017
Everyone with more than a handful of friends on Facebook has a few who post really annoying things…whether it’s too many food pictures, political posts, dozens of kid of cat pics, or hourly selfies. Up to now, you’ve either had to unfollow them or unfriend them. Mashable.com reports that Facebook is testing another alternative…’snoozing’ them. The feature lets you temporarily unfollow for 24 hours, a week, or 30 days. While Facebook tests out things that don’t make it into the app for everyone, let’s hope this one does! It will live on the menu with unfollow.
We noted earlier that Huawei will be rolling out their next flagship phone in October. It’s the Mate 10, and the verge.com says they are now running an ad saying they will unveil ‘the Real AI Phone’ next month…specifically on October 16th! Actually, they have had a chipset that does a decent job with AI, and the new iteration will of course be an improvement. With a nod to Apple’s Neural Engine, Huawei calls the system on a chip the “Neural Processing Unit,” or NPU. Keep you skepticism shields up, but we’ll see what they roll out on October 16th!
Hackers at SwitchBrew.org have discovered a fully playable copy of NES Golf buried inside the Nintendo Switch. According to arstechnica.com, they found it under ‘flog,’ which is golf spelled backwards, and it’s the old 80’s NES golf game, updated specifically to run on the Switch. Since the hackers posted screen shots, it’s presumed they have found how to run it, but so far haven’t given up the button combination to unlock it.
Facebook Working On Voice Assistant; Waymo Focuses on Ride-Sharing & Big Rigs; Apple’s Face ID Only Does One Face at LaunchPosted: September 14, 2017
Facebook always has a number of things going on under the radar, and now businessinsider.com says one of those is a voice assistant much like Siri or Alexa. Code was spotted by a developer in a prior mobile app that indicates the assistant would be capable of making suggestions and finding basic information like scores or times of ball games. Facebook said they weren’t working on such a feature ‘right now’ earlier this year, but BI has learned that they are doing so in their secretive Building 8. The voice is code named Aloha, and Facebook is shooting for rolling it out in May 2018.
Waymo’s CEO confirmed in an interview at a Bloomberg conference that the Google subsidiary is focusing…at least initially…on ride sharing and trucking. 9to5google.com reports that CEO John Krafcik said ‘there’s a good and compelling use-case’ for ‘goods transportation,’ in other words, self-driving trucks. The ride-sharing is well underway with the fleet of Chrysler minivans that begun a public trial in Phoenix earlier this year. Also bearing down on the trucking sector….Tesla. Elon Musk announced that they will reveal their electric big rig October 25th.
According to multiple people who spoke to Apple at the rollout Tuesday, Face ID on the new iPhone X will only support one registered face per device…at least at first. According to techrunch.com, which also confirmed this separately, this could limit letting a loved one have that type of access to your phone. The iPhone Touch ID can store up to 5 fingerprints. The fix for now…or even always…is to merely give your loved one your passcode. Presumably Apple will make allowances for additional faces as Face ID expands to iPads and laptops, as those are even more likely to be shared by family members.
Samsung Teases Foldable Smartphone in ’18; Facebook Testing Group Video App & Messenger Feature; British Warships Going Voice ControlledPosted: September 13, 2017
Ahead of the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 on Friday, Samsung’s CEO of Mobile said that it aims for the next version of the Galaxy Note to be bendable in some way, and they are shooting for launching it next year. Mashable.com says there are “several hurdles” Samsung has to overcome to implement a smartphone with a bendable screen. Analysts note that mass production on a premium smartphone with a bendable display and a thin body “will take time.” As for the Note 8…in spite of its eye-watering price tag (about $930 in the United States), Samsung said that pre-orders were the highest ever for the Note smartphone line, “beating its predecessor Note 7 over five days by about 2.5 times.”
Facebook has stealthily been testing out a new stand alone group video chat dubbed Bonfire. According to techcrunch.com, up to 8 friends can video chat, and use effects like are found in Instagram and Snapchat. Apparently, you can join the chats via the Messenger app without downloading the Bonfire app. Right now, it’s being tested in Denmark, but users can invite friends to join in worldwide.
Britain is apparently working to integrate Siri like voice systems into their warship controls. Engadget.com reports that the voice controls will join touchscreen displays, and possibly even AR in the Navy’s quest to allow officers to think and act decisively. They are shooting (pun intended) for deployment by 2023.