Apple Working With Hertz; Apple Buys Eye Tracking Company; An Infarm in Every Grocery Store; Oscar Meyer Weiner Drone

Apple has tapped car rental firm Hertz to assist with testing of its autonomous vehicles. Macrumors.com reports that Cupertino is leasing vehicles from Donlen, the Hertz fleet management unit. The info showed up in information filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Meanwhile, Apple seems to be ramping up further towards an AR future. A story from appleinsider.com indicates they are buying a German company called SensoMotoric Instruments. They make hardware and software for eye tracking sensors, something key to augmented reality. The present tech tracks a wearer’s gaze in real time 120 times per second, which reduces input lag…that cuts down motion sickness when viewing. This tech probably won’t get into the iPhone 8, but could be important for the smart glasses Apple is reportedly working on.

What if fresh produce wasn’t trucked in and put in bags in your store, but was grown right there? A German startup called Infarm is working on indoor vertical farming that could grow herbs, lettuce, veggies, and fruit. According to techcrunch.com, this builds on something the Japanese have been doing, but brings it right into the supermarket, and on a modular scale. It could also find its way into restaurants. Infarm is partnering with EDEKA, Germany’s largest supermarket chain, to further develop the idea.

Everyone knows, and most people love, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. Now, besides the iconic hot dog cars and motor scooter with sidecar, Oscar Mayer has launched a WeinerDrone. Gizmodo.com says it has enough lifting power to transport a single wrapped hot dog about a mile. No word on if it can hold a fully loaded dog with all the trimmings some people like, or on how it delivers it to you….I’m not wanting to pick up a cold dog that hits the ground, even if it IS wrapped!


Echo Show Will Connect to Security Cams; Vivo-1st Smartphone To Screen-Embed Fingerprint Sensor; Facebook Tests Securing Profile Pics

Amazon says the new Echo Show will connect to Nest, Ring, and other security cams via Alexa. According to geekwire.com, the $230 smart speaker with screen, which ships next week, will also talk to cams from August, Amcrest, EZViz, IC Realtime, Vivint, and Arlo….with just a simple command to Alexa like ‘show me the front door .’

Vivo may beat both Apple and Samsung to the punch, showing the 1st smartphone with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the screen at Mobile World Congress next week in Shanghai. Macrumors.com reports that a video leaked shows the Chinese maker’s phone being unlocked with a fingerprint. Samsung had to put a sensor on the back of the Galaxy S8, but the new Note may have an embedded sensor when it launches in August, and the iPhone 8 reportedly has the feature.

Facebook is testing out a feature aimed at protecting profile pictures from scammers. Techcrunch.com says it is being piloted in India right now. The so-called ‘photo guard’ will prevent other users fro downloading a profile pic or sharing it with others, prevent others from tagging using a profile pic, and prevent others from taking screenshots of another person’s profile pic…although that appears to be an Android only feature. If activated by the user, the optional guard will show a blue border and shield around your profile pic. If it tests out, look for Facebook to roll it out to other countries soon.


iPhone 8 Launch Timing-Supplier Leak; Google’s New AI Powered Jobs Engine; VR & AR Headsets May Hit 100 Million By 2021

There had already been rumors that the iPhone 8 would be actually in peoples’ hands in October, now a supplier may have confirmed that. Bgr.com reports that Finisar, which supplies the high-tech lasers built into iPhone 8 for AR depth mapping and image recognition, will be supplying tens of millions of the lasers to one company later this year. Analysts have put things together, and look for a rollout in September as usual, but the phones actually shipping in October.

Google has launched a jobs search feature right in its search results pages that lets you search for jobs across virtually all major online jobs boards. According to techcrunch.com, that includes LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Facebook, and more. This may save job seekers a lot of hassle, as it eliminates duplicate postings and a lot of irrelevant jobs for you. Just key in something like ‘jobs near me’ or ‘writing jobs,’ and the job search widget will pop up. It’s on both Google’s desktop and mobile versions. You can also see Glassdoor and Indeed ratings.

It may not quite be here yet, but VR and AR really are The Next Big Thing, and a report by IDC picked up by cnet.com says sales of VR and AR headsets will reach about 100 million by 2021. Last year, less than 10 million of the headsets shipped. Right now, ones powered by smartphones, the so-called ‘screenless viewers’ are most popular. IDC thinks AR will fundamentally change industrial jobs in the next 5 years, and that at first, 80 percent of AR headsets will be for commercial use.


Varjo VR Headset With ‘Human Eye Resolution’; Ikea May Partner With Apple on AR; Musk Talks ‘Boring’ LA

A company out of Finland called Varjo is working on a formerly secret VR headset code named 20/20 which they claim has ‘human eye resolution.’ Engadget.com reports that the rig will display over 70 megapixels per eye…that compares to 1.2 per eye for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The company says they have patented a tech that mimics how the eye actually works, building on work by scientists that were formerly at Microsoft, Nokia, NVIDIA, and Rovio. They are shooting for shipping professional level products by late this year.

On a related note…augmented reality, furniture giant Ikea could partner with Apple when they roll out their AR setup. According to 9to5mac.com, Ikea already has 3D images of their furniture, and Apple may be able to take those and drop them into and AR system so you could see how the furniture could look in your house ahead of trying to head to the store to buy, and then bringing home to assemble. If they REALLY want to get crazy with the AR, they could show the assembly directions with it!

Call him crazy, call him brilliant, maybe straddling both, but it’s hard to avoid Elon Musk and his ideas. Cnet.com says Musk Tweeted Sunday about talks he’s had with the mayor of LA about using his Boring Company tunnel machine to criss-cross LA with a network of tunnels to move cars, bikes and pedestrians. Musk has said that getting the permits from local governments has been more of a challenge than the tech!


Supplier Appears to Confirm iPhone 8 Wireless Charging & Waterproof; Twitter Freshenes Design; Flight Prescreening By Fingerprint Being Tested

the CEO of Apple’s prime partner in India, Wistron, let it slip that the iPhone 8 will indeed be waterproof and have wireless charging! 9to5mac.com reports that he was speaking to shareholders about different testing for the new handset, and mentioned that those features would alter the assembly and after-testing process a bit. iPhone 7 already got a good level of water resistance.

Twitter is trying to bulk up on new users, and has put a new coat of paint on the app across all platforms….mobile desktop, and web. According to techcrunch.com, its’ not a major makeover…mainly a move in settings, different typography, change in icon shape, and round profile pictures. A lot of these features were already in use on the Android app, but now have made the jump to all Twitter’s other platforms.

The TSA Precheck is nice for people who fly frequently, but now they are testing out making it even quicker and less painful. Cnet.com says TSA is testing out a fingerprint scanner….you won’t even need to show your boarding pass and Driver License or passport. The biometric screening is being tested out in Atlanta and Denver right now. As long as bad guys don’t get hold of James Bond type peel off fake fingerprints, it should be golden.


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.


Some Highlights From Apple’s WWDC Keynote

The Apple home speaker got a sneak preview. It does look a lot like a mini-Mac Pro tower, and is called HomePod. There is no screen, it is powered by Siri. HomePod is 7 inches tall, and has 7 tweeters with a 4 inch upwards firing woofer, it runs an Apple A8 chip. With 6 mics, Apple claims it can hear you from across the room and respond even with loud music playing. They are touting acoustic modeling, echo cancelation, and spatial awareness. In other words, it will detect the room, and fire the speakers to give you the best sound for that area. If you run two, they are smart enough to sync up. Besides for music, it will use Siri in the usual way to get information, and also control your HomeKit devices. It will run $349. Comes in White & Space Grey, and ships in December.

Another tease was the iMac Pro. It will have an 8 core Xeon processor for base, and up to 18 core available. It runs Radeon Vega graphics with 16 gigs of vRAM. It can roll with 128 gigs of memory and 4TB of SSD storage. The iMac Pro ships in December, and will start at $4999. All the iMacs and MacBooks get Kaby Lake Intel processors and faster SSD drives. The freshened iMacs and MacBooks are shipping today.

As expected, the new iPad was shown off extensively. It has the 10.5 inch screen in the same size as the 9.7 inch model, and still weighs just a pound. It starts at 64 gigs, and $649. Preorders open now, and they ship next week.

A number of other reveals revolve around the software systems and content. For content, Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV later this year. Also, the new iOS 11 will have a pretty amazing AR developers kit. A couple of demos put AR right on a desktop at the stage, with the audience right in the shot! Another had a developer standing in the middle of a Star Wars world she was manipulating on the fly…watch out for Darth Vader swinging that light saber! Steam is bringing their VR to the Mac later this year! Apple will probably post the VR Star Wars video and AR demo later today, and you should watch them!

In the new Mac OS…High Sierra, Apple File System will be brought over from iOS, modernizing Apple’s ancient file system. For Safari, we get autoplay blocking!! Now you can read an article without the annoying autoplay audio blasting away. They also touted intelligent tracking prevention using machine learning. New, better compression for video and pictures.

iOS 11 gets some major features on the iPad…the App Tray can be brought up in apps, it will save configurations of screen splits for you to return to, and now, there is a files function and DRAG and DROP! You can send money or receive it in iMessage using Touch ID, and there’s a translation feature that works on the fly with Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Other languages follow later this year.

The App Store gets a total makeover. It starts with a Today screen, and separates out Games from other apps.