iPad Pro May Get Face ID; Google Looking to Release 3 Pixel 3’s; Asus ZenBook Pro Replaces Touchpad with Touch Screen; Firefox Tests Side by Side Browsing

After yesterday’s preview of iOS 12 at Apple’s WWDC, some techies have noticed changes that indicate that the upcoming refresh of the iPad Pro will have Face ID and no home button. Macrumors.com reports that the higher line iPads will also get gestures that match the iPhone X, like swiping up from the dock to open the home screen, and a swipe from top right to open the Control Center. Since no hardware was shown at WWDC’s keynote, most analysts think freshened iPads and maybe MacBook Pros may come later in the fall, after the iPhone rollout in September.

It looks like Google will be following Apple in adding a 3rd phone to the Pixel line with the Pixel 3’s. According to bgr.com, there will be a Pixel 3 and larger Pixel 3 XL, as expected, but also a cheaper Pixel 3 version…probably coming in 2019, which will run a midrange Snapdragon 710 processor instead of the latest and greatest ones expected in the other Pixel 3’s. The cheaper model just went into development last month, but should be out the first half of next year.

First we got the MacBook Pro with the semi-useful ‘Touch Bar.’ now Asus has introduced the ZenBook Pro with a 5.5 inch touch screen in place of the touch pad. Although kind of gimmicky, the touch screen may be more useful overall than Apple’s Touch Bar. Theverge.com says it adds, rather than taking away features from the keyboard. The touch screen can be used as an app launcher, calculator, calendar, or numeric keypad. You can even play back YouTube videos via a Chrome extension. Asus has partnered with Microsoft, and you can get access to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint shortcuts and adjustments via the pad. It hits the market the middle of next month starting at $2299.

Firefox has released a pilot of some features. One is a Theme Editor that lets you choose colors and even textures and background….if you happen to be very OCD about your browser. The other feature reported by techcrunch.com is pretty cool if you’ve used a later model iPad. With the iPad, you can pull in another window and run a second app, switching between the two…I have found this handy with social media like Facebook and a slide over of my Twitter feed. Firefox is piloting Side View..you can use a widescreen monitor and display two tabs side-by-side inside the browser without having to open a second Firefox window. This can be very handy…here’s hoping they make it a standard feature.

Advertisements

4K Android TV Dongle May Be Coming; Spotify & Hulu Discount Bundle; Amazon Post Office Use; Passwordless Authentication Via WebAuthn

There is a patent application at the FCC that seems to indicate that Google is getting ready to bring Android TV to a set near you. Thenextweb.com reports that the 4K dongle, which is from Shenzhen SEI Robotics, has an HDMI cable, micro USB port for charging, and Google branding. There’s also a remote with a built in mic and dedicated button so you can use voice commands via Assistant. Google already has 3 Chromecast gadgets that can stream fun HD video, 4K and audio to speakers from your mobile device, so a jump to the TV set is plausible.

Spotify and Hulu teamed up last fall, and now, they’re back. A bundle of services from the pair is being offered for $12.99 a month, according to techcrunch.com. Last fall, it was a students-only deal…this one is open to all Spotify Premium users. The $12.99 gets you Spotify’s on-demand Premium music service plus Hulu’s Limited Commercials plan. Sometime this summer, the deal will be opened up to all Spotify users, and new customers as well.

After the president came out a couple weeks ago and ranted that Amazon was fleecing the post office, numerous sources noted that the post office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon. So how much business does the online giant do with the post office? ZDNet.com says a report commissioned by Jefferies estimates that 62% of Amazon shipments flow through the US Postal Service.

It seems to always be on the horizon, but always ends up being a mirage. Now, arstechnica.com reports that we may actually be closer to passwordless authentication with a new spec from the World Wide Web Consortium and FIDO Alliance called WebAuthn. The spec allows browsers to expose hardware authentication devices, be then USB, Bluetooth, or NFC, to sites on the web. The hardware allows users to prove their identity without requiring usernames or passwords. With the WebAuthn standard, your credentials, whether biometric like fingerprints and face recognitions or a USB YubiKey, never leave the browser. This gives stronger protection against phishing, man in the middle attacks, and replay attacks than we have presently. WebAuthn has commitments for support from Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla. Chrome 67 and Firefox 60, both due out in May, will have WebAuthn baked in by default.It may not kill the dreaded password overnight, but now, that merciful death may be coming.


GM Starts Mass Producing Self-Driving Electric Cars; Firefox Gets Multiprocess Update (Finally); Amazon Patents Delivery Drone with Winch

It’s likely that the Tesla Model S can be fully self-driving with software activation, but isn’t yet. Meanwhile, they aren’t asleep at the switch at General Motors. GM has cranked out 130 electric Bolts on a production line. according to engadget.com, the General had already built 50 self-driving Bolt EVs, but this latest batch is fully mass produced, and more advanced than the hand finished models. The future really is coming at warp speed.

Mozilla has finally released Firefox with multiprocess architecture, 8 years after starting the project. Arstechnica.com says, without getting into the weeds, the net is that it’s faster and more stable, and despite multiprocess platforms hogging more memory, they were able to build it so it is quicker and uses less RAM than Google’s Chrome. It’ probably worth giving a spin if you’re not already a Firefox user.

Amazon has patented a couple of interesting things for drones. Geekwire.com reports that one is a winch setup that can lower packages to the ground on a tether. It has a counterbalance to keep the package from swaying wildly on its way to your porch or other delivery spot. Another patent is for folding wings, that fold in half, but then extend themselves for flight. Amazon had previously experimented with dropping packages with a small parachute.


Apple May Switch iPhone to USB-C; Mozilla Buys Pocket

In something of an unusual move for them, Apple may ditch their proprietary Lightening port for USB-C on upcoming iPhones. Arstechnica.com says that since the switch to USB-C on the MacBook Pro, it makes sense, as then Apple devices could settle on an industry standard in all their devices that can do all the Lightening port can do and more. Apple has used Lightening for some 5 years. Get ready to buy yet more dongles and converters!

Theverge.com reports that Mozilla has bought Pocket, a sort of DVR for the internet. Pocket saves articles and videos for viewing and reading later. It’s something of a Back to the Future moment, since Pocket first bowed as a Firefox extension. It has already been Firefox’s default read later service for a couple years. This should help Mozilla grab more eyeballs on mobile, where they have lagged as desktop use has been declining.


Firefox May Come to Internet of Things; First Ransomware on Macs

Mozilla bowed out with its Firefox OS for mobile the end of the year, but now, may be positioning the platform for the Internet of Things. Techcrunch.com says we could soon have a ‘personal user agent’ that understands your preferences for all the connected devices in your home. One TechCrunch staffer remarked that it was reminiscent of the personal assistant Samantha from the movie ‘Her,’ or even a light version of IBM’s Watson. Mozilla thinks that its Project Smart Home will fill the gap between do it yourselfers and tightly controlled IOT setups using Apple HomeKit. It would be cool to tell your IOT assistant ‘please turn the lights off upstairs,’ or turn the heat up a couple degrees!

Over the weekend, the first ransomeware showed up on Macs. It’s been around for a while on PCs, but Reuters.com says researchers at Palo Alto Networks first spotted the malware late Friday. Ransomware, one of the fastest-growing types of cyber threats, encrypts data on infected machines, then typically asks users to pay ransoms in hard-to-trace digital currencies to get an electronic key so they can get their data back. This ransomware has been dubbed KeRanger, and it first showed up on the Transmission website. Transmission offers open source software that some Mac users use to download videos, music, etc via BitTorrent peer-to-peer. Transmission has since released version 2.91 of their software, and advises to stay away from 2.90, which was infected.


Firefox Exploit Found in Wild…Patch it Now!

On Wednesday, an ad was spotted on a Russian news site for a nasty exploit in Firefox that uploads sensitive files. Yesterday, Mozilla pushed out a security update to close it off. If you run Firefox, go to the ‘about Firefox’ tab, download the update, and restart. It’s version 39.0.3. Interestingly, Mozilla says Firefox for Android is not effected, and some ad-blocking software acts to protect machines, but if you are running Windows or Linux, download the patch now!

Speaking of security, that brings up your privacy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just dropped Privacy Badger 1.0, their browser extension that blocks some of the sneakiest trackers that try to spy on your Web browsing habits. The EFF notes that more than a quarter million users…including yours truly….have already installed the Alpha or Beta releases of Privacy Badger. Version 1.0 includes blocking of certain kinds of super-cookies and browser fingerprinting—the latest ways that some parts of the online tracking industry try to follow Internet users from site to site.


Trade In Your Old Surface for a Surface Pro 3

Because everybody likes a deal, Microsoft is offering trade in credit on the Surface Pro 3. Cnet.com says you can get up to $650 in credit for your old Surface tablet on a 3, but only at Microsoft’s online site and from now until March 8th.

That OTHER tablet now has Inbox by Gmail. According to thenextweb.com, Google has released its invite only mail app for the iPad now. It works with Safari and Firefox, as well as Chrome. If you do have an invite, it’s available at the App Store now.

IF triple T has released a flurry of ‘DO’ apps for Android and iPhone. Gigaom.com says they just give you a big, simple button to do something when you’re ready…send pics to your family, turn on your connected thermostat, or send a document to Evernote with one press instead of a series of clicks and swipes.