Nintendo Scores big with the Switch; Lyft Donation Program Going Live; SiriusXM Buys Automatic

Nintendo has a serious hit in the Switch. The new gaming system sold 2.74 million in less than a month, and geekwire.com says that’s more than the Wii U sold in its first full year. The flagship game, “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” slightly outsold the console, too!

Lyft had announced it would be offering a ‘Round Up and Donate’ feature, allowing users to top off their fare to the nearest buck and give to a worthy cause. Now, tech crunch.com reports that the program will go live May 1st. It will bow on Android first, followed quickly by an iOS version. The first organization Lyft is supporting is the USO, the folks that provide support and entertainment to military members and veterans. There will be a number of other charity partners, with the user getting to choose which one they donate to.

SiriusXM has snapped up smart car accessory maker Automatic for a cool $100 million plus. Automatic makes a Bluetooth gadget that lets you track and read driving data from your iPhone.The Automatic Link plugs into the OBD….on board diagnostic port of your car, and transmits data to your phone. They also have a cheaper device called the Automatic Lite.


Facebook’s New Virtual Assistant

Facebook has begun a soft rollout of ‘M,’ its new virtual assistant that runs in the freestanding Messenger app. According to wired.com, it will not only make restaurant reservations, shop for a birthday present for your sweetie, suggest-then-book a weekend getaway…Facebook claims it will perform tasks Siri, Google Now, and Cortana can’t. That’s because it doesn’t just rely on artificial intelligence…the secret ingredient in Facebook’s M is people.The people Facebook has in place behind the AI interface have customer service backgrounds. You’ll know when you get the new assistant when a new button appears at the bottom of you Facebook Messenger mobile app.

New cars come with a fair amount of connectivity, and a few companies like Automatic, and Zubie sell gadgets that let you turn an older vehicle into a connected one. Now, Forbes.com reports that Verizon is getting into the act with Hum. The communications giant will offer it directly to consumers, and Hum is designed to be installed by the user in their own cars. It has two pieces of hardware…a cellular modem that plugs into the ODB diagnostic port, and a Bluetooth connected speaker that lives on your visor. It should be able to spot issues before they get out of hand, and relay miles per gallon, overall vehicle health, and so on, which will display on a mobile app. Hum also comes with roadside assistance, emergency assistance, parking info, and a vehicle finder. The hardware is $120, and subscription to the service is $15 a month.


Updated Automatic Smart Driving Monitor

Automatic has rolled out its second generation smart driving monitor. The gadget plugs into the ODB2 port on your car….and by ‘your car,’ that’s all cars built since 1996. Cnet.com says the new gadget not only gives you driving data and tracks mileage and fault codes, but works as an app store for cars, with 20 apps available right now. A couple apps pull data so you can easily generate mileage reports for expense reporting, and another to split the cost of carpooling. It now works with Apple Watch and Pebble, with Android Auto integration in the works. Best of all, the second generation model is priced like the 1st at $99.95.

Apple Pay…after an initial splash last fall, has been pretty well operating under…or maybe even off the radar. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple just signed 34 new banks and credit unions, and now there are nearly 300 institutions using it. Trader Joe’s just announced in the last few days that they are starting to activate it in some stores, and Home Depot is moving towards most stores accepting it by the end of the year…although Home Depot says they play to accept as wide a variety of payment systems as possible. If you have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and haven’t used it, here’s a tip: when you hold the phone near the terminal, don’t touch the fingerprint image on the screen, touch the home button…and touch, don’t PRESS the home button…pressing will activate Siri instead of authorizing the payment!


MacBook Air Will Gain An Inch But Lose Girth

Apple will reportedly release a 12 inch Macbook Air before April. Geek.com says it will replace the 11 inch model, and..as rumored…will be even slimmer and drop all ports but a USB type C for charging and other connections.

You can already turn your Nest thermostat from ‘away’ to heating from your phone, but engadget.com reports Automatic has a car tracker that plugs into the ODB port of your car to do it hands free. It’s $100. The dongle also tracks your driving and helps save fuel.

According to appFigures, Google Play passed up Apple’s App Store in the number of new apps for the first time in 2014. Techcrunch.com says Google Play also now has more developers building its apps…388,000 to Apple’s 282,000.