Phones That Could Charge in Minutes; Apple Leasing Proving Grounds for Self-Driving Cars; Renewable Energy Takes Huge Price Drop

Samsung has developed battery tech that could allow for faster battery charging than ever. Businessinsider.com reports that with the advanced tech, batteries could fast charge in 12 minutes instead of an hour for present fast charging. They did it using graphene instead of copper. The tech could be used in car batteries as well as smart devices. Samsung says they have found a way to mass produce the batteries at an affordable price, but no word on when they might become available.

It appears that Apple has leased a former Chrysler proving grounds in Arizona to test self-driving cars. According to 9to5mac.com, the land is in Wittmann, AZ. Chrysler has a newer facility in Yucca. The word was that the old facility was being sold to home builders, but now it looks like Apple is leasing the area, with has 3000 acres of fenced land, and 5000 total acres…including a city traffic course.

The march to renewable energy doesn’t look like it will be slowing soon. A story from thinkprogress.org found that steadily improving tech has dropped the prices of solar and wind power by 25% in just this year! That’s on top of an 80% reduction the past 10 years, which makes building renewable sources cheaper now than running old coal and nuclear plants.

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iPhone 8 Will Not Go to USB-C; Chevy to Offer Cheap, Unlimited In-Car Data; Lyric Thermostat Talks to Alexa and Siri

After reports that Apple would ditch the Lightening port on iPhone 8, now comes a new report from KGI Securities disputing that. 9to5mac.com says the new iPhone will have internal upgrades that will support fast charging over lightening. Apparently, Apple didn’t want to go to the larger form factor if the USB-C connector…at least not yet.

Chevrolet has announced that it will offer unlimited in-car data for just $20 per month. According to thenextweb.com, it will be available on any vehicle with OnStar, and will be LTE. The system will support up to 7 devices. It will apply to cars sold in the US starting tomorrow. Ford is working on something similar which will include Europe, as more people clamor for fast connectivity in vehicles.

The Nest Learning thermostat got the ball rolling for smart thermostats and in-home smart devices, but is still pricey at $200 to $250. Now, bgr.com reports that Honeywell has rolled out the Lyric T5, a smart thermostat that can talk to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri via HomeKit for half the price of a Nest. It’s $114.95, and great if you’re too lazy to pick up your phone to adjust the thermostat upstairs…now, you can just ask your virtual assistant to do it!


Apple Corners Smartphone Profits; Super Battery Concept Charges in Seconds & Lasts Days

They may not have the biggest market share, but according to a Strategy Analytics report picked up by 9to5mac.com, Apple took in 91% of mobile industry profits in the third quarter of 2016. Huawei had the best showing of any Android maker with 2.4%. Samsung, of course, helped Apple by taking a big loss with the recall of their fiery Galaxy Note 7 models. LG and HTC also reported losses.

Thenextweb.com reports that a new battery concept from scientists at University of Central Florida may be able to charge in seconds and last 20 times longer than a conventional lithium ion cell….possibly lasting over a week! It’s essentially a super capacitor. The battery doesn’t degrade like present ones, either…holding the same charge after 30,000 recharges. Keep your fingers crossed, if this pans out, it will be a game changer for smart devices, electric vehicles, and anything else running on batteries.


Pictures Are Out of Google’s Pixel Phone a Day Before Launch; Tesla Makes Record Deliveries; 1st Test of Solar Road Tiles

pixel-cw-1

There’s already quite a bit of information about Google’s new Pixel phones that will be rolled out tomorrow, but thanks to a new leak, there are good pictures and more. 9to5google.com notes that in the pictures, you can see a couple of cutouts next to the USB-C port that look like two rear firing speakers. Google will also tout fast charging…claiming a 15 minute charge will get you 7 hours of battery life. A big feature will be what they’re calling ‘Your own personal Google Assistant.’ Google is also going to brag that Google photos will give you ‘unlimited storage for your photos and videos,’ all at full resolution. Of course, we’ll know all after tomorrow.

Tesla has ramped up and delivered a record number of cars in the 3rd quarter. Theverge.com says they got 24,500 Teslas into the hands of customers, a 70% increase over the previous quarter. Tesla said there were another 5500 cars in transit, but that didn’t get delivered, too. They still expect to put 50,000 cars into garages and carports the 2nd half of this year.

solarroadtiles

When we reported on this idea a while back, it seemed a bit like pie in the sky….solar road tiles. Now, according to engadget.com, Solar Roadways has installed its first public energy tiles in the pavement in Sandpoint, Idaho. Besides a light show, the panels will produce power for a fountain and restrooms in a public square. Sandpoint has put in a webcam so you can see the light show part yourself.


iPhone 7 May Have Fast Charging; New Audis Help With Speed & Green Lights; Ford Teams With Baidu, Buying LIDAR Tech

According to a rumor out of Asia, Apple’s iPhone 7 will have improved, fast charging circuitry supporting at least 5 volt, 2 amp charging. Right now, iPhone chargers put out a measly one amp. According to appleinsider.com, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge already have fast charge tech that gets them from totally drained to half charged in 30 minutes. As a lot of iPhone users have griped for years that their phones don’t even make it through the day, this will be a welcome upgrade if true.

New Audi models have what is really a gimmick, but a pretty cool one at that. Arstechnica.com reports that they’ll have a display that will show the real time time to green light countdown in cities that have city-wide traffic management systems. It will be on 2017 A4s and Q7s. Now, you’ll be able to check that display, and know when to mash the pedal to the metal and beat that light. As Evel Knievel used to say, ‘Speed and Green Lights!’ (Ok, no he didn’t…I made that up.)

Ford and Chinese search giant Baidu have dropped a combined 150 million into LIDAR tech. Theverge.com says the two companies, which are both hard at work on developing self-driving tech, have invested in Velodyne, a Silicon Valley operation that makes LIDAR sensors for autonomous cars. LIDAR works on the same principle as RADAR, except using light waves, which gives you the ability to make more detailed 3D maps of what’s around the vehicle. Baidu already has 100 people in the Valley working on self-driving tech, and Ford plans to triple the size of its test fleet this year.


Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Clones Apple Force Touch; Leather Tesla Stocking Stuffer

More is leaking out about the Samsung Galaxy S7. Due out in March, the S7 will have a pressure sensitive screen copying Apple’s Force Touch, according to theverge.com. The non-Edge version will have expandable storage like the S6 models, and it will sport an improved camera with no ‘bump’ on the back. Maybe best of all, the S7 will have a USB-C port….the kind that lets you insert the cable in either way, and fast charging…reportedly a nearly full charge in 30 minutes! There are still rumors of a retina scanner, but those have been popping up since the S5, so don’t hold your breath.

Be still my heart….a Tesla for Christmas! Well, sort of. Like many other manufacturers, Tesla has leather left over after cutting those buttery seat covers. Now, they’ve started making iPhone 6 cases out of the excess. Bgr.com reports that they run $45 to $50, depending on whether for a 6 or 6 Plus, and if you want a wallet case or not. The wallet case has RFID blocking, too. Thanks, Santa Musk!


Next Year’s Android Smartphones Getting a Big Boost

Qualcomm has already said the next Snapdragon 820 chips will boost charging speeds…from dead to 80% charged in 90 minutes, to a lightening fast 30 minutes. Now, 9to5google.com reports that the 820 chip will increase maximum LTE download speeds by one third…from 450 megabytes per second to 600, and upload speeds will double to 150 megabytes per second. Look for the Snapdragon 820 in your next hero level Android smartphone. All US carriers are supposed to be in position to allow the upload and download speeds in 2016.

Researchers at a Japanese university, building on a concept from Stanford researchers, have built a nearly transparent lithium ion battery…something right out of Tony Stark’s Iron Man! According to bgr.com, besides being practically transparent, the battery can also charge via solar power. The battery was demoed at Innovation Japan early this month, and so far, no word on when it might be commercially available.