HP’s Leather Laptop; Google Pixel Slate Rumors; Google Maps Gets Commute Tab; US Internet & Social Media Flattens; California Presses for Electric & Hydrogen Vehicles

HP has rolled out the Spectre Folio, and is claiming they are ‘reinventing the PC.’ While some would love it if they’d reinvent their printers to not take expensive ink cartridges so often, the Spectre Folio does have a cool and interesting set of features. Theverge.com reports that it has a skeletal magnesium frame that attaches to a leather skin, and that HP has shrunk down to tiny size the convertible laptop’s motherboard to maximize battery size. HP claims 18 hours of battery life. It runs on an 8th gen. Intel Core i7, with 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 Gig solid state drive. The display is 13.3 inches, and a 4 K display is coming by year’s end. With the mag frame and leather skin, it folds down almost like a magazine or thin book. You can use it in laptop mode, or slide the display forward to slot it in media mode when the keyboard is covered by the display. A Core i5 version is $1299, the Core i7 starts at $1399, and one with LTE connectivity and i7 runs $1499….all available at Best Buy or HP.com.

Meanwhile, over at Google, the Pixel Slate is rumored to be able to run Windows 10 as well as the Chrome OS. 9to5google.com says that other Chromebooks may be getting dual boot capability later, but we’ll probably see it exclusively on the Pixel Slate first. The Slate should roll out at Google’s October 9th event.

Here’s a Google update that’s rolling out right now…a new version of Google Maps will have a ‘Commute’ tab. Google is claiming it will give you one tap access to live traffic and transit info, and introduces support for mixed mode commutes…like driving to a park and ride lot then taking mass transit. According to engadget.com, you can also listen to streaming over Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play music within the app! The Maps update should be available everywhere by week’s end.

After years of growth, US internet, social media, and device use has flattened out. It’s stayed basically the same since 2016, according to Pew Research Center. 65% say they have broadband internet, down a couple ticks from the 67% in 2015. Similarly, laptop ownership is off slightly…from 78% in 2016 to 73% today…possibly due to the increased capability of tablets. Pew points out the obvious that growth has slowed because a lot of the population has reached near saturation level. 9 out of 10 adults under 50 report that they go online or use a smartphone. The use and confidence level in electronics is notably lower among the elderly. One growth area….digital voice assistants. Right now, about 46% of adults use them.

California is often in the vanguard of progress, and the Golden State is increasing its push towards electric and hydrogen vehicles. Arstechnica.com says the California Air Resourses Board has announced tighter restrictions on transportation fuels, calling for a 10% reduction in ‘carbon intensity’ for all fuels sold by 2020. This buzzy expression basically means lower lifetime carbon emissions…including from processing oil into gas, or feedstock into ethanol, or transporting fuel from a refinery to a point of sale (gas station.) The CARB mandates that carbon intensity drop by 20% by 2030. They are allowing the state to issue credits to utilities for installing electric vehicle charging stations. the utilities can then sell those credits to fuel producers who can’t hit the 20% reduction number.

Advertisements

Big iPhone Name Rumor; Apple Watch 4 Resolution Bump; Google Maps Feature Coming; Self-Emptying Roomba

The rollout of the new iPhones and Apple Watch is less than a week away, and more has leaked out, of course. Remember the uproar (and memes) about the naming of the ‘iPad?’ Well, according to businessinsider.com, Apple may be poised to do it again with the new bigger iPhone. Word is it will be called the iPhone Xs Max. Now, we all know Apple pronounces ‘X’ as ‘Ten,’ but no one else in the world does. So…the most expensive iPhone will be the ‘Excess Max,’ huh? Oh, Apple….the memes will practically make themselves!

The latest leak about the Apple Watch 4 indicates it will have a resolution of 384×480, and apps will be capable of showing much more content. 9to5mac.com reports that in one marketing pic for the upcoming Watch model, you can count up to 9 complications! It is widely expected that the Watch will have a bigger screen size staying in the same basic space by reducing the bezel all the way around the screen.

Google is testing out several new features for Google Maps. Bgr.com notes that one of those should really please users. It’s called ‘Current Trip,’ and allows you to use Maps to check on restaurants, shows, and the like, then return to your driving directions without having to input things all over again. Another great feature combines your trip into a ‘Commute’ option. This one shows you your drive and transit portions of a trip together. Both features should make Maps users very happy when they are released.

The iRobot Roomba has taken it to the next level. The flagship 980 model not only maps your floor and vacuums unassisted… it not only returns to the dock to recharge….now, the little moving disc EMPTIES itself! Engadget.com says the $949 robotic vacuum now does with a vacuum in the charging doc that sucks all the dust, dirt, and debris out of the Roomba while it charges, so it’s ready to go again. The dock/dust bin, called a Clean Base, signals you when it’s full and needs to be emptied…it can hold about 30 dumps from the Roomba. Just pull out the dirtbag (ok, Dirt Disposal Bag…$15 for a 3 pack…I just liked being able to write dirtbag) and pop in a fresh one.


Twitter Testing Emotion Emojis as Plus to Hearts; Uber’s Carpooling Feature for Drivers

As some users are still pining for the star that Twitter killed in favor of the new heart, a user has uncovered the fact that Twitter is testing out a variety of emoji you will be able to use to express your reaction to Tweets. According to thenextweb.com, the user found the emoji through a hack that opens up developer test features. Right now, clicking on one makes the floating emoji go ‘poof,’ and revert to the heart. No word from Twitter as to when the feature might be rolled out.

Uber drivers wanting a few extra bucks on their commutes to and from home — especially those who drive part-time — will be able to with the ride-hailing app’s new “destinations” feature. Theverge.com says drivers rolling in a particular direction can plug their destination into the app, and Uber’s algorithm will send them ride requests that appear along the way. Requests that would force them to deviate from their route would be filtered out. Uber says it will heighten driver flexibility, but it could have much more far-reaching consequences. 61 percent of drivers in the US have full- or part-time jobs outside Uber. If you never have to deviate from your route, suddenly anyone has the potential to be an Uber driver, regardless of employment status. It will launch in San Francisco first.