HomePod Pre-Orders Sell Out; Apple Patents Stylus for Thin Air; Twitter Makes Money; Amazon Prime Tries Limited Whole Foods Prime Now Delivery

Apple’s HomePod has gotten great reviews all around for sound, but knocked for it’s lack of support of music other than Apple’s and the puny skills of Siri so far. That said, it has sold out in pre-orders a day before it officially launches. TechCrunch.com reports that some retailers do have it in stock, so if you desperately want one now, check around. People that pre-ordered are getting shipping notices for delivery tomorrow.

Also from Apple, Cupertino has apparently patented a stylus you can write in thin air…think air guitar only with drawing and words. The stylus…or ‘pencil’ in Appletalk, can be used on a tablet, any flat surface, or actually in the air, according to the patent. Thenextweb.com says on use of the latter would be to aid in drawing 3 dimensional objects…that is, for those of you who can draw at all. I can’t draw a straight line with help on a page or tablet, so it’s rather academic to me!

Twitter lost monthly users in the US…a million of them…down from 69 to 68 million. They are living steady worldwide at 330 million, though. On the plus side…and it’s a BIG plus…Twitter finally made a quarterly profit! Theverge.com points out it’s the first time they’ve turned a profit in 12 years or existence! Their revenue also grew last quarter, after declining in most of 2017. Twitter says the drop in use in the US is due to a change in Safari’s third party app integration. Interestingly, the expansion to 280 character Tweets seems to have helped pick up use…although most people rarely exceed the old limit.

Amazon is dipping its mighty toe in the water of Prime Now delivery for Whole Foods. They had already rolled out discounts related to Amazon use, and now, 4 markets will get in on Prime Now delivery of Whole Foods items delivered to your door in 2 hours. According to arstechnica.com, the cities are Austin and Dallas, Texas, Virginia Beach, Florida, and Cincinnati, Ohio. If all goes well, Amazon will be expanding Prime Now delivery to other cities, but no time frame has been given. The two hour delivery is free for all Prime members on orders of $35 or more, or customers can pay an extra $7.99 to get one hour delivery.

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Next iPad Pro Gets Face ID; Microsoft Joins AirDrop Party; Amazon Makes Sub-$100 Sound Bar

Apple is going all-in on Face ID. The iPad Pro will get it in 2018, according to a Bloomberg report picked up by 9to5mac.com. The top line Apple tablet will also get an improved Apple Pencil, and smaller top and bottom bezels, but no OLED screen, which could be quite pricey on a 12.9 inch device.

Just a couple days ago, there was a report that Google was working on an answer to Apple’s AirDrop over Android, which allows sharing between devices nearby that are connected via WiFi or Bluetooth. Now, theverge.com reports that Microsoft has begun testing its own similar system called ‘Near Share’ for Windows 10 devices. It’s available now on the latest Insider build of Windows 10, and makes sharing documents or photos to nearby PCs virtually seamless over Bluetooth. Redmond is also adding a mute tab to the Edge Browser.

Amazon has brought out its own sound bar for under $100 under the AmazonBasics line. Bgr.com says the $94.99 system works over Bluetooth, and has a built in subwoofer. It has 3 sound modes: Standard, News, & Movie, plus its own remote (it’s not compatible with universal or TV remotes.) If you want to spring for a few bucks more, and get a sound bar with a REAL, 6” subwoofer, check Amazon’s deal on the Klipsch Reference Series R-4B, for just under $150 while supplies last.


Updated iPad Air May be Another iPad Pro; Facebook Rolls Out Live Video to Android

Apple may not be launching a freshened 9.7 inch iPad Air in March…it may be an iPad Pro. Appleinsider.com picked up a rumor that the smaller sized Pro will have Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard support, complementing it’s larger 13 and 15 inch models. There may also be a 9.7 inch Air version, without Smart Connector and Apple Pencil support, and Apple may make the iPad Mini a version of the Air. The 9.7 inch Pro will reportedly have a rear camera flash and quad speakers…it should be rolled out March 15th.

Android phones should be seeing live video streaming via Facebook in the next week. Theverge.com says the rollout will start in the US, as it did with the iOS version, then expand to other countries within weeks. Facebook claims that people watch live video 3 times longer than video posted that was pre-recorded.


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.