New Snap Specs; No 3D Touch on Upcoming 6.1 Inch iPhone, Ford Dropping Most Cars for Trucks & SUVs

As rumored, Snap has revealed its new version of Spectacles…and updated the camera glasses with a new feature…and, of course, bumped up the price. According to businessinsider.com, the new Spectacles are a little slimmer, can take photos as well as video, and they are water resistant. Snap also says they have new and improved audio. The latest version are priced at $149.99, a $20 bump from the originals. You can buy them now at spectacles.com.

Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, probably the most accurate Apple prognosticator on the planet, has reaffirmed that the 6.1 inch LCD screen iPhone coming this fall…which will be priced noticeably lower than the successor to the iPhone X with its OLED screen…will not have 3D Touch. Apparently, it’s due to a tech Apple plans to use called Cover Glass Sensor tech that makes the display lighter and more shock resistant. Macrumors.com says the updates to the iPhone X and X Plus will continue to have 3D Touch, which is pretty well integrated through iOS. Apple is known to be moving towards a touchless gesture controls, but that is thought to be a couple years away. It’s possible the CGS tech can integrate some substitute for 3D touch, but what and how is unknown right now.

Talk about the end of an era. Ford has announced that it will kill off all its cars except for the Mustang and Focus Active. Arstechnica.com reports that the company would focus almost entirely on SUVs, crossovers, and trucks in the US. The very thing Henry Ford pioneered with mass production….the automobile…will become a virtual sideline. What would the old man think?


Screen Cost Much Higher for iPhone 8; Pricey But Cool Smartwatch; Volvo Rolls Out Cheaper Electric Car Than Tesla With Greater Range

We’ve reported, along with numerous others, that the upcoming iPhone 8 or Edition or whatever will probably break the $1000 barrier…now we know why. According to 9to5mac.com, the OLED screen and 3D Touch module is costing 60% more to make than the ones on the iPhone 7. That, along with other premium components that integrate the fingerprint sensor and allow wireless charging will cause the new hero phone to break the 1 grand barrier. BTW, that 60% increase? It’s to $15, so don’t feel sorry for Cupertino!

Even though smartwatches haven’t really caught fire…FIGURATIVELY, Samsung fans….the latest Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch is from premium watchmaker Tag Heuer partnering with Intel. Theverge.com says it’s $1600, which kind of gives perspective to the next iPhone and to the Samsung Galaxy S8 topping a thousand dollars! On the other hand, it’s a Tag Heuer, so it looks gorgeous AND it’s modular…both when you order, and later. They say you can swap out the internals when the current one becomes obsolete for new smartwatch guts or even an analog chronograph!

Volvo is out with an electric car that will compete with the Tesla Model 3, only apparently is cheaper and has better range. Bgr.com reports that the Volvo will have a 250 mile range and sell for $35,000 to $40,000. Chevy already has the Bolt out in that price band with a 238 mile range. It’s expected that since it’s a Volvo, a mini-SUV body will be offered. It’s out this year.


New iPhones May All Have Wireless Charging; Chevy Self-Driving Car…It’s Among Us

A lot has been made about the iPhone 8…OLED screen, possible all-glass form, and wireless charging. Now, businessinsider.com says wireless charging is not only a ‘go,’ but that the 7S and 7S Plus will also get it AND will all be all-glass. KGI Securities also predicts that the wireless charging is one reason the 8 will break the $1000 barrier. Extra layers have to be added to prevent overheating of the 3D Touch sensor from the wireless system. The two phones with the LED screens won’t have this issue. The new 3D touch sensor is expected to provide a better user experience.

General Motors has been testing out its self-driving car, code named Albatross, on the streets of San Francisco. SFGate.com reports that the Cruise Automation division of GM released a video of the vehicle rolling through the Potrero and then Mission neighborhoods. The dash cam video shows that the driver has hands near the wheel, but the car appears to be fully automatic. From the looks of the dash, it’s a Chevy Bolt electric vehicle. Last year, according to theverge.com, General Motors self-driving cars drove nearly 10,000 miles around California. During those test-drives, the cars had to be taken out of autonomous mode 181 times at a rate of 18.5 times per 1,000 miles.


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.


Tesla Not Alone in Looking to Solar Powered Cars; iPhone 7 May Have Had a Secret Outed

A Chinese solar panel maker is looking to make solar powered vehicles. Hanergy actually announced this last year, according to techcrunch.com, but this week rolled out 4 prototype vehicles in Beijing. They are running and driving prototypes…apparently not self-driving at this point. Right now, the range is about 50 miles, comparable with the Fiat 500e and VW e-Golf. If you also plug in and charge overnight, they say the cars have a 200 mile range.

There have been rumors of this for a couple months, but they’ve been sketchy. Now bgr.com says Macotakara is claiming the home button on the upcoming iPhone will be flush and not actually move. Vibration sensors under it will trigger it, and make it feel like a mechanical button. It will reportedly be pressure sensitive, too, allowing Apple to incorporate 3D Touch on both the screen and home button. Macotakara also claims that the new Space Black color will be in the lineup, although they say the Dark Blue won’t. If so, there will be 5 colors…Gold, Rose Gold, Space Grey, Silver, and Space Black.


Force Touch Keyboard for Apple MacBooks; Fresh 4 Inch iPhone Coming

Apple was granted a patent yesterday for a switch free Force Touch keyboard. Appleinsider.com says that, like the screens on the new iPhone 6+, sensors would measure finger pressure. This could lead to thinner MacBooks, and also allow different levels of pressure to give you different characters without using a function key or key combinations. A patent is no guarantee that we’ll see a Force Touch keyboard, but since Apple has already released the Force Touch Magic Trackpad, it’s a good bet.

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Speaking of Apple and good bets, KGI Securities has a pretty good record of touting upcoming Apple devices, and they forecast that there will be an A9-Based 4-Inch iPhone in Early 2016. It will have a metal case like the 6S and 6S plus. Don’t expect 3D Touch in this smaller, cheaper iPhone, though. Mac rumors.com reports that the iPhone 7 Plus due out next fall will Carry 3 Gigs of RAM! The iPhone 7 will roll with 2 Gigs, like the 6S and 6S Plus.


Facebook Adds 3D Touch Support for iPhone 6S and Plus

You wouldn’t know it from reading the little boilerplate blurb with the update, but Facebook has added 3D Touch actions to its mobile app for iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. You can now use 3D Touch in Facebook to pull up a quick menu to write a post, upload a picture or video, or to take a photo or video. As the 3D Touch feature can support up to 4 actions, 9to5mac.com says Facebook could add a further function later. Facebook owned Instagram already had added support for 3D Touch, and Apple expects Facebook and Instagram to activate Live Photos, Apple’s version of a several second wiggle picture, by the end of the year.

Boeing has developed a new metal product that’s 99% air, and is not only super light but very strong. According to thenextweb.com, it’s a micro lattice, a series of tubes in a criss-cross pattern with air gaps at each intersection. It can be compressed to high levels without breaking, and absorb more energy than normal metals. It should be very useful in aircraft manufacture, as it will reduce weight.


New 4K 21-1/2 Inch iMac Out Next Week; iPad Pro Coming

Apple will start selling it’s 21.5 inch iMacs with 4K Retina displays next week, probably Tuesday. According to 9to5mac.com, they’ll keep the current form factor, but will sport the new 4096×2304 screens and noticeably faster graphics cards. No pricing yet, but expect them to be bumped up from the non-4K current version. It’s also not clear if the Magic Mouse 2 with Force Touch and updated Bluetooth Keyboard with better battery life will be out by next week. The iPad Pro looks set to drop in early November now.

Apple’s killer feature for the iPhone 6S and Plus may see Android competitors soon. According to thenextweb.com. Synaptics has announced its ClearForce tech, which works very much like Apple’s 3D Touch, will be integrated into Android phones that should be shipping early next year. Huawei has already showed a pressure sensitive display on it’s Mate S phone, so expect a slew of high end Android smartphones to horn in on Apple’s 3D Touch turf by 1st quarter of 2016.


Apple ‘Recapple’

Apple rolled through their product updates and introductions in a couple of hours yesterday at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Here are a few hi lights:

Apple Watch- Mainly about fashion band accessories, particularly from high end Hermes, and new colors of gold and rose gold. It was announced that Watch OS will drop on September 16th, and include messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and also tight third party integration with AirStrip.

iPad Pro- It’s huge, has a great 12.9 inch screen, and…gasp…a stylus, which Steve Jobs famously mocked years ago. The Apple Pencil will be a separate $99 option. That screen…it has a higher pixel density than a Macbook Pro Retina. Apple claims 10 hours of battery life. It has a keyboard cover that screams ‘Microsoft Surface!’ iPad Pro starts at $799, and will be out in November.

Apple TV- Apple says this will be a game changer…you may have seen a clip of Tim Cook repeatedly on TV by now saying ‘we think the future of TV is apps.’ Apple TV has tight Siri integration, a new remote with the top part being touch screen, and buttons for volume, activating Siri and on-off. The remote is Bluetooth, so you don’t have to point it right at the box. A couple of cool features include asking Siri what did they say, and it will rewind about 15 seconds and playback…with captions. Also, you can ask Siri to search for something, and it will search across all platforms…Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. With the remote, it has gaming capabilities, but don’t look for it to displace gaming systems any time soon. Apple TV is $149 or $199 depending on memory, and out the end of the year.

iPhone- The iPhone 6S and 6S plus debuted, with the expected banner feature of Force Touch, which Apple has renamed 3D Touch for the phones. It recognizes 3 levels of finger pressure, and will call up different results…for example, menus, or when pressing an email, it will pop it open so you can read it, and return you to the previous screen when you lift your finger. The new camera is a big leap…up to 12 megapixels, and capable of 4K video and an new gimmicky feature that records a second and a half of video and sound before and after each picture. When you press the picture on the phone, it shows you that 3 seconds of motion. Hey Siri now allows you to just say that, and Siri will respond without having to press and hold the home button. There’s a new rose gold color (and it and the other gold will now be exclusive to the 6S and 6S Plus). iOS 9 will be available September 16th, and iPhones go on preorder this Saturday, with deliveries to start September 25th. Prices are the same as on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, while those models will be dropped as has been Apple’s past practice…so the 16 gig iPhone 6S will start at $199 with a two year contract. Apple has also added a contractless payment plan like a couple of the carriers have, that starts at $32 a month…PLUS carrier service costs, of course.