Oculus Connect 5 Tomorrow; Apple Watch Gets 2nd Manufacturer; Google Chrome Addressing Log in Privacy; ARM Chip Just for Autonomous Cars; Airport Face Scanning #FAIL

Facebook is holding their Oculus Connect 5 event in San Jose. According to techcrunch.com, they will be showing off their stand alone headset, which has been code named ’Santa Cruz.’ What’s unknown now is the pricing. With the Oculus Go selling for $199, some analysts expect the free standing headset to run $349-$399. It will be powered by a Snapdragon 845, while the Go has the older 821 chip set. Also expected tomorrow will be a sneak peak at the next-gen Oculus Rift. The present Rift is 2 years old, and it’s thought the update will utilize the ‘half dome’ manner of lenses focusing on objects…dynamically like your eyeballs instead of fixed focal distance. [UPDATE: The Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset that uses touch controllers, will go on sale next spring for $399. Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the product today at the company’s Oculus Connect developer conference.]

It’s been noted that the Apple Watch 4 is selling much better than Apple had expected. Now, macrumors.com says Apple is adding another manufacturer in Taiwan to help keep up with demand. Compal Electronics will begin mass producing Watch 4 in November, joining Quanta Computer, which is apparently maxed out trying to keep up with Apple Watch 4 sales. Apple Watch is now not only the most popular smartwatch by an number of metrics, but has apparently passed Rolex as the world’s most popular watch of any kind.

We just reported that there was a dubious feature that when you logged into a Google account, you got logged into Chrome too, and your browsing data got sent to Google. Now, thenextweb.com reports Google will address this privacy concern in the next release of Chrome….which will be version 70. With the update, you will be able to toggle an option called Allow Chrome sign-in, so can choose not to if you prefer. Also to be addressed is a nasty little issue…Chrome 69 apparently keeps Google cookies EVEN if you delete them! They have promised that 70 will fix this issue, too.

ARM has added what they call a Split-Lock feature to their 64 bit Cortex A76…which will now be the A76AE….for automotive enhanced. According to the Register, the improved chip is aimed at running code controlling self-driving vehicles. By allowing the split of cores, if there’s a malfunction, the other core should be able to keep running code, which is pretty important when it’s driving your vehicle. ARM hopes the improvement will keep them in the self-driving auto game along with Intel and Nvidia.

The US has been testing face scanning at airports, but with less than stellar results so far. Engadget.com says they are only catching about 85%, and have trouble matching people from specific age groups and countries. The Inspector General’s Office says they may not be ready for deployment in the top 20 airports by 2021 as originally planned.


ARM Based MacBook; Uber Panic Button; Cali Digital License Plates; Pixel 3 XL May Get ‘Notch’

Reports were out earlier this year that Apple will be releasing a new 13 inch entry level MacBook to take the place of the Air in the latter half of 2018. Now, macrumors.com says that Pegatron will be making ARM chips for the laptop…ditching Intel silicon as has been rumored. Using the ARM chips not only reduces Apple’s dependence on Intel, but the chips require less power and fewer transistors and are smaller…which is why they power iPhones and iPads. If another rumor holds, Apple may be trying to get a MacBook out with an entry level price of $799.

Because being able to call 911 on your phone isn’t enough, and because Uber wants to buff up its tarnished image for safety, you can now call 911 directly from the Uber app in the US. Theverge.com reports that Uber has been testing this out in as part of its ‘safety center.’ You can press the 911 button, and it will ask you if you really want to call 911…then puts the call through. It does send the rider’s location and trip details to the dispatchers when the app is used. Uber plans to add a panic button to the driver app soon, too.

From the ‘what could possibly go wrong’ department, California is rolling out a pilot project for digital license plates. According to the Sacramento Bee, the connected plates will have to be installed at a dealership for a pricey $699 PLUS installation. After that, owners will have to pay $7 a month. The plates have their own chip and battery, and can notify authorities if the car is stolen and give the location (at least of the plates…smart thieves will probably pitch them immediately.) If DMV decides to allow it, the plates can display a message as well as the tag number. Also, when you renew, it just changes the year…no stickers need be attached. It goes without saying that hackers should have a field day with these!

Some leaked images of new screen protectors indicate that Google’s Pixel 3 phones may get the dreaded Appleesque ‘notch.’ 9to5google.com says that the Pixel 3 appears to have somewhat thicker bezels than the XL, but could match features of the bigger phone. The cut outs in the notch may be for an ambient light sensor and front cam, or could be for dual front cameras. The notch on the 3XL doesn’t take up as much screen real estate as Apple’s. We’ll have to wait a few months to see if this turns out to be the real deal (or at least for more leaks.)


iPhone 8 May Be Slightly Taller Than 7s; ARM Chips For Brain Injury Implants; Emojis Prove Intent in Court

Molds for new iPhones (the design of which is probably finalized by now) have been spotted that show the iPhone 8 as slightly taller than the 7S, but not as tall as the 7S Plus. Bgr.com says the mold pics were originally shown by Weibo, and they also show the vertical rear camera that has been widely reported for the 8…and no cutout or knockout for a rear fingerprint reader…so Apple must have gotten the under screen one to work. They are expected to be rolled out in September.

ARM is working with researchers to develop tiny, very low power processors that can be implanted in the brain. According to bbc.com, they would be made to help people with brain and spinal injuries, and would be placed inside the skull. The goal is to let people with such injuries carry out tasks and receive sensory feedback. They might be available within 10 years.

It hasn’t happened in the US yet, but in Israel, a court has ruled that emoji can be evidence of intent. Mashable.com reports that it was in a landlord/tenant dispute. The parties had exchanged texts for days, The court found that a sting of positive emojis from the prospective renter, while not enough to consist of a binding contract, did convey their desire to rent the place. The landlord relied on the text, and took down the ‘for rent sign.’ He was awarded $2200.


On the New MacBook Pro; Galaxy S8 Getting Enhanced AI Assistant

Apple showed off the new MacBook Pros yesterday, with lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing about the Touch Bar that replaces the function key row. Macrumors.com points out that there are a number of other notable changes, including Touch ID, and a much larger trackpad. It’s thinner (of course), and weighs less, but ships with only 4 combo Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports…and the headphone jack we lost on the iPhone. Delivery dates have already slipped to a month for preorders, with the 13 inch model starting at $1799 and the 15 inch model at $2399…or, you can opt for the ‘cheapie’ 13 inch model without TouchBar and only 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports for $1499. The lost ports? You’re going to need a bag full of hated dongles. TechCrunch.com crunched the numbers, and it’ll set you back a little over $250 for all of them! Although Apple has said they would never make a MacBook that runs iOS, this one does…sort of. There’s an ARM chip in it running a version of Watch OS to power the TouchBar and Touch ID, as well as the camera…utilizing the ARM chip’s secure area like on the iPhone.

We expect to see the Samsung Galaxy S8’s to hit in late February, hopefully along a non-exploding Note 8. Thenextweb.com reports that the S8 will feature an upgraded AI assistant courtesy of Viv, which Samsung acquired. They are also touting an even better camera…and Samsungs already have had some of the best of those in any mobile devices.


New ARM Chip Will Be a Big Boost to Samsung Phones; Apple Working on Flexible Touch Displays; Base iPhone 7 Gets a Simple, Big Upgrade

ARM will have new chips out in time for next year’s flagship smartphones like those from Samsung that will boost performance by 30% while giving 30% better power efficiency. Cnet.com says ARM claims you will be able to run a phone’s chip at full speed for the duration of a movie, game, or VR experience! It’s the Cortex-A73 computing processor and Mali-G71 graphics processor. The graphics processor gives 50% higher performance with 20% energy savings. Samsung and a couple others have already licensed the tech…no word about Apple, but they’ve used ARM in the past.

An Apple supplier, TPK…which is a division of Foxconn, has a silver nanowire tech rolling out that will allow for flexible touch screens. Since Foxconn is the major supplier of iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, patentlyapple.com notes that there’s a high probability that you’ll be seeing these everywhere in the next 2-5 years. More to the point, TPK says they expect their clients to launch flexible touch panel devices in the 2nd half of 2016! If they’re talking about Apple, a folding 7 inch tablet or display that wraps around your arm will be one hell of a ‘one more thing! Stay tuned!

One of the most boring, yet important tidbits has just dropped about the iPhone 7…bgr.com reports it will finally ship with 32 gigs of memory instead of the nearly useless 16 gigs in the base phone. No more cheapskate Apple buyers whining about having to delete pictures and songs from their iPhones anymore!


Microsoft Surface 3 Grows Up

Microsoft has just unveiled the latest version of their Surface 3 tablet. The verge.com says the $499 tablet may have cracked the code this time…it has an Intel Atom chip instead of an ARM processor, and will run full Windows 8.1 and apps like the Surface Pro or a laptop.

Techcrunch.com reports that Amazon has launched a dedicated STEM toy shop. Toys for all ages focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math skills are featured.

WhatsApp has been updated for Android. According to thenextweb.com, you can now make and receive voice calls. It’s in the Google Play store now. WhatsApp says an iOS version will be out in a few weeks.