Mobileye, which makes the chips that help guide vision-based self-driving cars, has been snapped up by Intel for $15 billion. According to theverge.com, the chip making giant had already announced dropping $250 million the next couple years on self-driving car tech, so this is an enormous jump in investment in that sector. Previously, Intel, Mobileye, and BMW had partnered on 40 autonomous vehicles that will be tested on public roads later this year.
Google’s Jacquard showed off their Levi’s commuter jacket at SXSW South by SouthWest over the weekend. 9to5google.com reports the wearable looks like a classic Levi’s trucker jacket, but with a touch sensitive strip on the sleeve for controlling music, checking time, or taking phone calls. The plastic tag on the cuff with the electronics is removable from its USB port on the sleeve, so it does’t walk away when you’re not wearing the jacket. It all works through a smartphone app. It’s cool, but an eye-watering $350 when it drops this fall…compared to a normal Trucker jacket that runs less than $100…but hey, you can talk into your sleeve, like a Secret Service agent or Dick Tracy!
In what may be a ‘better late than never’ move, Pandora has rolled out Pandora Premium for 10 bucks a month, hoping to compete with Spotify and Apple Music in the on-demand streaming space. Geekwire.com says they feel their recommendation engine, continuously updated since 2000, should give them a leg up. The service initially will be invitation only…it will also be available free for 6 months for subscribers to the ad free radio service Pandora Plus.
Amazon has kicked off its new Music Unlimited service. Geekwire.com says it starts at $4 a month to use on a single Echo smart speaker, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap. The Echo works well, and getting millions of songs for half the price of Apple Music or Spotify Premium should be a heck of a draw. To use it on unlimited devices, it’s $7.99 a month for Prime members, $9.99 otherwise. Prime members already have access to a couple million songs with their membership.
There’s been plenty of reporting about Apple adding a smart touchscreen strip above the keyboard on the upcoming MacBooks to replace the function keys. Apparently, morphing function keys isn’t the only thing like that they are working on. A leak out of China picked up by bgr.com says Apple is working on an even more magical Magic Keyboard…one with a changing, color E ink display on the keys that can change up depending on the user’s needs or application in use. Apple is apparently working with a startup called Sonder on this, and is working to buy Sonder. The Really Magic Keyboard could be out in 2018.
Apple will show a revamp of it’s Apple Music streaming service at WWDC in June, according to a Bloomberg report picked up by macrumors.com. The interface will allegedly be more intuitive and easier to use. The service has grown to more than 13 million subscribers in the past year, but has also taken considerable criticism on it’s clunkiness and artists have griped that the social aspect….Connect….has failed miserably.
A Chinese company has figured out a way to use graphene to make e-paper that’s brighter and more flexible that the present screen material. Geek.com reports that the company- Guangzhou OED Technologies- already markets e-paper displays under the O-paper brand. They are promising that production will start yet this year, so the next generation Kindles from Amazon in 2017 may be not only much more readable, but ‘bendy,’ or there could even possibly be a roll up e-paper device.
If you are in the market for a phablet at a great deal, or for a last minute gift for someone you REALLY like, Amazon has a 32 gig Nexus 6 for $249.99 shipped in Cloud White or Midnight Blue. With Amazon Prime, it can be under the tree by the 23rd. 9to5toys.com says the 64 gig model is $299.99, and both come with Android Marshmallow.
A rumor is afoot again that hi-resolution audio is on the way to iTunes and Apple Music. This one is from Japanese blog Macotakara, picked up by 9to5mac.com. The blog claims Apple will have better than CD quality for iTunes sometime next year. The leak is from some manufacturers that make Lightening based headphones, which would support the higher res format.
In a move that should strike terror in the hearts…or at least indigestion in the bellies…of competitors, Amazon is talking to Boeing about acquiring 20 767 freighter jets. Geekwire.com reports that as of last month, some unknown firm, now presumed to be Amazon, was flying 4 cargo flights a day out of Ohio’s Wilmington Air Park…which was a DHL facility until 2008. They were bound for Allentown, PA, Ontario CA, Tampa, and Oakland…all close to Amazon distribution centers. DHL previously had 7500 employees at the air park. Earlier this month, Amazon bought thousands of truck trailers. They are getting ready to disrupt shipping and logistics….look out FedEX, UPS, and Post Office.
A lot of people questioned Facebook calving off Messenger into a separate app, bout according to Nielsen research picked up by techcrunch.com, it was a brilliant move. Facebook remains the top app of 2015, but Messenger is now the fastest growing app installed on smartphones. It’s not up as much as last year, when Facebook split it off and growth was 242%, but still up 31% from 2014. Now, Facebook has broken off its private photo-sharing feature into the Moments app. The second fastest growing app was Apple Music, at 26% increase year over year.
So you really need medical weed, but just can’t get yourself to a doctor? There’s an app for that, dude! Gizmodo.com reports that EazeMD, which works only in California so far, will hook you up with a board certified physician that will look at your medical history and do the evaluation. Once a recommendation is issued, you can order weed right on the spot from Eaze, and you will also get a recommendation in the mail you can take to a physical dispensary. The fee for the recommendation is billed directly by the doctor, and runs about $30.
We just reported on a 10 TB hard drive you can buy…if 6 or 8 isn’t enough, but storage limits may become a punchline if research on DNA pans out. Teams from Microsoft and the University of Washington, and a separate group at University of Illinois have published results that indicate all human knowledge could be stored in about 9 liters of solution. A speck of DNA the size of a grain of sand could store a million terabytes. According to geek.com, DNA storage stability is measured in centuries, so no worries about losing your data. It could be happening in just the next few years!
On the topic of enormous storage, great news for people with insanely large music collections. Appleinsider.com says Apple has finally increased the iTunes Match/Apple Music upload limits from 25,000 to 100,000 songs. Thank goodness, huh? Who has the time to upload, then listen to, 100,000 songs? I’ve been in broadcasting for a long time and only have 6369 as of today. A colleague has close to 15,000, and basically uploaded every track he’s ever come across. On behalf of the minuscule number of crazy people with this size library….thanks, Apple! Maybe in a few years we can store it in our DNA and won’t need a cloud.
Nope, on some Android handsets, even your fingerprints aren’t safe. FireEye researchers showed the Black Hat conference in Vegas 4 new ways of harvesting fingerprints, including one that can be done remotely at large scale. According to zdnet.com, the hacks work primarily on Samsung, Huawei, and HTC handsets. The researchers say the hacks are possible mainly because the manufacturers don’t fully lock down the sensor. Since these phones just require system privilege instead of root, jailbroken phones are more at risk, too. All three vendors have patched problems since being notified, but any prints that are taken in one kind of hack are out there forever. The FireEye researchers say iPhone fingerprint sensors are quite secure since they encrypt fingerprint data from the scanner.
Apple Music is now up to 11 million users trying out the 90 day free trial, According to the company’s Eddy Cue. Macrumors.com reports that of those, 2 million are test driving the more pricey family plan. Here’s an amazing App Store number that Cue shared, too…since 2008, Apple has paid out 33 billion to developers for apps!