Amazon Go is a Go; Alexa for Business; Microsoft Goes For School Market; Moderating Kids’ Screen TimePosted: January 22, 2018
The first Amazon Go convenience store is now open to the public in Seattle. Geekwire.com says anyone with an Amazon account and the Amazon Go app can now enter the world of checkout free shopping. The online giant originally planned to go live a year ago, but has been test running the concept on their own employees. You scan in a QR code when you go in, then sensors and cams detect what has been taken off shelves, and kept…they know what you put back…then, your account is charged when you exit. There are only a couple of people in the store to help, with more in the back that restock, and a crew making fresh food…that’s it. The draw of a no-checkout-line convenience store, and perhaps grocery and other retail stores, may eventually be irresistible. The only location so far is at 2131 7th Ave in Seattle, and it’s open 7am to 9pm, if you happen to be in the area and want to check it out…so to speak!
Amazon is getting into the smart office market with Alexa for Business. Zdnet.com reports that they plan to leverage it with giant Amazon Web Services, and custom Echo devices. This could eat up a lot of the smart office assistant market, at the expense of Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Echo. One thing that immediately comes to mind…what about the security of business and trade secrets when there are always on, internet connected microphones, and speakers listening in…allegedly for commands?
For a generation, the education market was the domain of Apple…then along came Google with the Chromebook. Now, Microsoft is going after it and Google with $189 Windows 10 laptops for schools. According to theverge.com, the machines are built by Lenovo, and are called the 100e. There is also a 300e model for $279…it’s a 2-in-one, that has pen support. Microsoft is also putting out content, such as a new Chemistry Update for Minecraft: Education Edition, and they plan to put out some Mixed Reality content for the education market, too.
Some academics at University of St Thomas have offered a new theory on kids and smart devices….instead of limiting screen time to 1-2 hours, moderate it. 9to5google.com says it may work better to divide time into ‘passive’ screen time like viewing videos, and ‘active’ time such as (parent approved) video games. The professor types aren’t the only ones who have come to believe this. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, saying alternating between consuming and acting appears to work better than a hard limit of an hour or two.
HP Education Chromebook is Out; Sprint & T-Mobile Merger Talks; iOS 11 is Out for iPhone & iPad; Microsoft Mixed Reality EventPosted: September 19, 2017
HP has released their touted Chromebook x360. It had been only available as an education edition, but now is on sale to the public. According to theverge.com, it has a 1.1 Gig processor, 4 Gigs of RAM, and 32 Gigs of storage. The touch screen is Gorilla Glass, and it has 2 USB-C ports and two USB 3.0 ports. The rugged laptop will make it 11 hours on a charge. Best of all, it’s $299….and on sale at Amazon, Walmart, and Costco.
We’ve heard this story before, but now, it appears that Sprint and T-Mobile are actually in serious talks about a merger. Engadget.com reports that CNBC has picked up on the scent that the two are in active talks about a merger. This was a story back in 2014 too, but now the regulatory environment may have loosened enough that they think it will work. While less competition is usually not great for customers, it can be a boon to investors…or not. Sometimes, it’s like tying two bricks together and seeing if they’ll float. Time will tell…stay tuned.
Today is iOS 11 release day…10 am is the usual time Apple makes operating system updates like this live. Cnet.com notes that this upgrade really shines on the iPad. The iPad gets a dock much like the Mac OS has on laptops and desktops, and a Files App keeps files and folders handy…much like on a regular desktop. Also, the App switcher supports drag and drop…text, images, and more. Apple has said that the send money feature to friends via Apple Pay won’t go live until later…maybe when the iPhone X comes out in November.
Microsoft has invited a small number of journalists to a ‘mixed reality’ event in San Francisco October 3rd. Mashable.com says they don’t expect a huge reveal of gear, but more about Microsoft’s mixed reality strategy and Redmond has teased the opportunity to ‘experience Windows Mixed Reality for yourself.’
Netflix cut a deal with Disney back in 2012 to stream the Mouse’s library of movies and shows. According to theverge.com, it just kicked in last year, and now Disney is announcing they will end the deal in 2019 in favor of their own streaming service. Interestingly, Marvel and Star Wars aren’t mentioned in the new Disney streaming service. Apparently, they are kicking around freestanding streaming services for each. At any rate, by 2019, Disney’s amazing library of shows and movies, including their LucasFilm and Marvel material, will be available on stream from a new Disney streaming service.
If you don’t always buy the maxed out memory on your smartphone, you probably have hit the point where you’re deleting songs or pictures to keep from running out of storage. THEN, when you try to update the operating system, you don’t even have room to do that. Bgr.com reports that Google has solved that part of the problem with the new Pixel. Starting with Android 8.0, the phones have a dual partition system for faster streaming updates. Basically, you keep using the system on the phone while a second system updates in the background. After download and restart, the second one becomes the normal OS. With this partition, the phone only needs 100 KB of free space to update instead of a gig. Thanks, Google!
Acer has just bowed its updated Chromebook C771. 9to5google.com says there are two models, one with touch display and one without. The laptop has an 11.6 inch screen and features a spill resistant keyboard. The cheaper version is $279.99. If you don’t mind the chrome ‘all in cloud’ system, it’s practically a disposable laptop at this price.
Windows 10 S Laptop Guns for Chromebooks; 43 Inch LG Monitor Supports 4 Sources; Twitter Adds More Streams and ShowsPosted: May 2, 2017
Microsoft has revealed its answer to Chrome OS. Windows 10 S is a ‘streamlined and secured’ version of Windows 10…translation….it’s sandboxed. That’s not the biggest part, though. Techcrunch.com reports that Microsoft has talked most major PC makers into making Windows 10 S machines. Base level ones will start at $189, and should be out this summer. Redmond expects school districts to snap up the laptops at that price point. They come with a one year free subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition, and Office 365 apps are free for both students and teachers.
As Apple announced they were getting out of the monitor business (then had a change of heart of sorts), other companies have jumped in with displays to take up the slack. Now, 9to5mac.com says LG has quietly unveiled a 42.5 inch 4K job that has 4 HDMI ports and supports up to 4 display feeds….for under $700! Four feeds, so you could keep a browser open, watch a game, PLAY a game, and have a window for actual work!
We heard yesterday that Twitter was building out a 24/7 streaming video service with Bloomberg. Now, they’ve announced live video plans with Live Nation, Buzzfeed, The WNBA, and almost a dozen partners. According to recode.net, the partners look so far to be heavy on sports, then news, with a little entertainment sprinkled in. It remains to be seen how much of the new content will materialize and when.
Samsung & Google Partner on New Chromebooks; Batteries Now Rolling off Lines at Tesla Gigafactory; Energous Wireless Charging Debuts This Year; Nvidia Co-Pilot Driving ComputerPosted: January 5, 2017
The Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro have finally bowed from Samsung, in collaboration with Google. Theverge.com says they will be worthy competition for Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro. The Plus is out in February for $449, and sports baked in Android app support, a self-contained stylus, and on-screen inking. It has a 360 degree hinge to allow for both tablet and laptop modes. The Pro will be out later this year, and is basically the same except for a more powerful processor.
It took almost 3 years from the groundbreaking, but batteries are now rolling off the lines at Tesla’s Gigafactory. The first of the custom cells will go into Tesla’s storage products…the Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2, but are designed to fit into all Tesla cars according to theverge.com. They will start installing them in the new Model 3s when they start production this year. Tesla says the Gigafactory will eventually crank out enough batteries for 1.5 million cars.
Energous will begin shipping its truly wireless systems by later this year, but is holding off due to a partner. Macrumors.com notes that most believe that partner to be Apple, and that the Watts Up system will debut in the iPhone 8 in September. The difference between Energous and other wireless systems is that theirs is truly over the air, and can charge a device from up to 15 feet away…no need to lay the phone on a charging pad. Energous did show off several devices that use contact charging at CES this week.
Nvidia had teased a powerful AI system earlier, and now has announced Co-Pilot. They are baking the tech into their Xavier drive computers they are making to assist drivers when they are doing the driving. Techcrunch.com reports that the system will utilize data from sensors inside and outside a car, and alert a driver when they need to take action. The system can either operate in self-driving mode, or as the Co-Pilot, continuing to monitor and warn drivers to react…say, should you not spot a pedestrian. They are already partnering with ZF in Europe, and may with Bosch as well.
HP showed off it’s new 13 inch screen, ultra thin Chromebook today. It sports a QHD Display, has a slick all-metal case, and weighs in at 2.86 lbs. According to venturebeat.com, it’s packed with 16 gigs of memory, runs on an Intel Core M processor, and the battery should last 11.5 hours. It’s available now for pre-order, ships May 6th, and starts at $499.
Drawings and diagrams leaked show a 5.5 inch iPhone 7, and as rumored, there is no 3.5 mm audio jack, and it sports a dual camera. Bgr.com reports that the leak came from Macotakara, which leaked accurate diagrams of the iPad Pro. It does have a Smart Connector port on the back, and still has a single speaker. Surprisingly, it’s no thinner than the present model, and doesn’t have a larger battery…which had previously been given as the reason Apple wanted to drop the audio jack.
We’ve heard a lot about the ‘boring’ iPhone 7, which won’t change on the outside and won’t have a new, killer feature. Now comes a sketchy rumor out of China that it will have a flush, touch sensitive home button and waterproof, dustproof case. 9to5mac.com says Apple would use haptic feedback to make a flush, capacitive area act like the physical home button. A new, flat black case may join space gray and the golds for a new color choice that echoes of the old iPhones.
Speaking of old iPhones, another Apple product…the Apple Watch…has apparently sold twice as many units as the original iPhone did its first year. Bgr.com reports that a consensus of analysts is that Apple has pushed out between 12 and 13 million Apple Watches. That’s not only twice as many as the original iPhone sold in a year, it’s 61% of the global smartwatch market. Not bad for a flop.
Screen shots posted on Reddit Sunday indicate that the Google Play Store and millions of Android apps may be headed to the Chromebook and Chrome OS. According to cnet.com, arstechnica.com was able to replicate an option in settings on a second generation Chromebook Pixel that says ‘Enable Android apps to run on your Chromebook,’ which shows momentarily, then disappears. No response from Google, of course.