Apple’s Previously Secret Screen Repair Machine Coming To 3rd Parties; Waze App Hits Android Auto in Beta

Soon, you won’t have to necessarily send an iPhone in to Apple or go to one of their stores for a cracked screen. Apple is planning to put 400 of its proprietary machines in 400 third party repair centers in 25 countries. Reuters.com says one of the first will be Best Buy. The Horizon machine has been restricted to now to only Apple stores, and Apple has been quite secretive of it. According to Apple, it’s not due to legislative pressure that they are making the machines available. Some in the tech world wonder if this is a preparation for the all glass iPhone 8 models…is Apple expecting a lot more breakage? Up to now, a good repair shop could replace your screen without voiding the warranty, but couldn’t activate the fingerprint sensor. The Horizon machine takes care of that, so you can unlock with your digits and get your Apple Pay and bank apps to work.

A lot of people use and like Waze, and now the Google owned navigation app with crowd sourcing is getting into Android Auto…at least in beta. Arstechnica.com notes that most of the data for navigation is and has been available in the Google Maps app anyway, but if you love the crowd sourced traffic info…and many folks swear by it, sign up for the beta if you want to use it with your Android Auto system.


Google & Chrysler Pairing for Android Powered Infotainment System; Theatre Mode for iOS; Tesla Autopilot Update

Google and Chrysler are partnering on more than just self-driving tech. 9to5google.com says they are also working on an Android powered infotainment system. This is not Android Auto…it’s built on the Android Open Source Platform, and should provide full access to Google Assistant, Maps, and other resources like Pandora, Spotify, NPR One, and Pocket Casts. It will probably live within the Uconnect system on rollout.

Bgr.com reports that Apple’s iOS 10.3 is getting something called ‘Theatre mode.’ It’s not clear what it is….a popcorn icon denotes it on the screen….but it’s thought to be a Dark Mode something like ‘Do Not Disturb’ where all sounds are muted, and many apps display white text on a black screen. Twitter already has a dark mode for its iOS app, and it works well…easy on the eyes and discreet.

Tesla has started rolling out what they call HW2 Autopilot updates to cars made since October. By next week, according to techcrunch.com, the rest of the Tesla fleet will start seeing the updates. The rewrite of the Autopilot software will eventually enable full self driving mode in Tesla cars. Tesla wants to test complete autonomy by the end of 2017!


Battery Advancement Doubles Capacity; Sony In-Dash Aftermarket Receiver Does Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay

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A startup company hatched at MIT has cooked up a new ‘anode free’ lithium metal battery that is smaller, and has twice the energy capacity of most lithium ion batteries. This means either batteries could take up half the space, or one the same size could last twice as long. Mashable.com says the key is that the batteries have very thin, high-energy lithium-metal foil, which holds many more ions than the more widely used graphite. More ions means more energy capacity, and the batteries are twice as energy-dense as lithium-ion batteries. In addition to that, they’re also safer. The company, Solid Energy, expects to have the tech available for smartphones by next year and cars by 2018.

There have been aftermarket car audio systems available, but none up to now have offered both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. According to techcrunch.com, Sony just rolled one out for $500 retail. It sports a 6.4 inch touch screen, and supports NFC, Bluetooth, has an aux input, and a dedicated hardware button for triggering voice input. The Pioneer AppRadio 4 has a similar screen, but only does CarPlay, and is $100 bucks more. Alpine’s offering is also more. Of course, you have to factor installation on any of them into the price, but on the other hand, it’s getting CarPlay or Android Auto without buying a whole new car!


Samsung Announces Galaxy Unpacked Date; Tesla May Mirror Apps On Big Screen

It’s official…Samsung has announced their Galaxy Unpacked event at Mobile World Congress February 21st in Barcelona. 9to5google.com says the event will be live streamed at 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern over Samsung’s YouTube channel. A teaser video has a person wearing a Gear VR virtual reality headset reaching for a cube with a 7 on it, a nod to the rollout of the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

Tesla is looking at allowing smartphone apps from iPhones and Androids to be mirrored on it’s big display in the centre console of the cars. Theverge.com reports that the maker may be going this direction instead of putting out their own native developer kit to wall the phone apps off from the system that controls the functionality of the car itself. Although Tesla has one of the better infotainment systems in any car, they haven’t embraced Android Auto and Apple CarPlay at this point.


Fords to Get Apple CarPlay & Android Auto; 18 Inch Roll Up LG Display!

Ford will integrate both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into its in-dash infotainment system. Thenextweb.com reports that all existing and future models with the Sync 3 connectivity system will support both platforms. This means all 2017 Ford models will work with either for calling, music playback, and voice commands. Ford predicts that 43 million Sync 3 equipped cars will be on the road by 2020. If you have a present Ford with Sync 3, you’ll be able to upgrade and add CarPlay or Android Auto later this year.

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The folks at LG have been experimenting with roll up screens for a while now. They are now going to show a prototype 18 inch screen at CES this week! Sony, Samsung, & Sharp are all looking into rollup screens, but this is the largest one by far. Theverge.com says LG will also show off a 55 inch ‘paper thin’ TV that has all the electronics installed independently.


Facebook Enters Crowdfunding; Ford Sees Self-Driving Cars in 4 Years

A lot of projects have been launched on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Now, it appears that Facebook is dipping its toe into the crowdfunding pool. According to techcrunch.com, they’ve just released something called Fundraiser, which lets non-profits set up a campaign page where they can roll a video, collect cash, and let people share on their newsfeed. As it stands, Fundraiser competes with Crowdrise, but it wouldn’t take much for Facebook to drop the ‘non’ from nonprofit. With people able to donate and never leave Facebook, it will be easier than ever to fund nonprofit projects…and perhaps in the near future, FOR profit ones.

The race is really on…figuratively, at least…to autonomous cars. Recode.net reports that Ford’s CEO Mark Fields said this week that he sees completely self-driving cars on the streets within 4 years. That’s even quicker than Google’s prediction of 5 years. Ford has started testing autonomous cars at Mcity, the 30 plus acre test layout operated by the University of Michigan. Mcity has a full scale urban streets test layout. The Ford CEO also said they have plans to include Apple Car Play and Google’s Android Auto in some of the Ford line, but he didn’t specify what models or the timetable.


Monitor Wirelessly Charges Phones

Samsung has revealed the first monitor that wirelessly charges phones. If your phone has the Qi wireless charging standard, venturebeat.com says you can lay it on the stand’s charging area, a little green LED lights, and that’s it! The monitor also features an ‘eye saver mode’ that reduces the blue light that causes eye strain. The SE370 monitor will come in 23.6 and 27 inch sizes, and will be out before the end of the year. No pricing has been announced yet.

Android Auto will be out in the next year, as will Apple’s further integration with Car Play, and arstechnica.com has ferreted out some cool future features by activating developer mode. It looks like Android Auto will eventually include roadside assistance, vehicle check, and service history later on. There is also a dummy screen titled ‘more car apps,’ so the system has code baked in to operate as a launcher for additional car apps. Arstechnica also found a huge list of sensors hidden away in Android auto, that will allow it to monitor more than just the speed and location of the car, including the cryptic ‘driving status.’ Could this be a mode for self-driving? Stay tuned.