Apple’s Siri Speaker in Production; Skype Gets Major Makeover With ‘Me Too’ Features

Apple’s smart speaker, powered by Siri, is apparently in production and will be showed off at WWDC, according to bloomberg.com. In an effort to outshine Amazon and Google offerings, it will feature virtual surround sound, be louder and reproduce sound more ‘crisply’ than others, and (of course) have deep integration with other Apple products. It will also serve as a hub for Apple HomeKit connected devices. The device will be built by the Taiwanese company Inventec, which produces AirPods for Apple. It is expected to be out later this year.

Microsoft is giving Skype yet another makeover, but this one is much more than a fresh coat of paint. The latest iteration takes on the look of Snapchat. Theverge.com reports that although Skype has done well for video and audio calls, it hasn’t made much of a dent in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, or Snapchat….and messaging is where the growth in conversations live. The new interface includes 3 sections in a conversation: find, chat, and capture. Chat is what is sounds like, but the other two allow you to search a convo, or find images, restaurants, or content to drop into a message. Capture is where Microsoft has added the Snapchat like capabilities….the cam opens so you can shoot pics or video, then you can add stickers, text, or annotate the shot. There’s also a Highlights feature so friends can stream pics and videos of yours and react with emoji.


Apple TV Confirmed As the Hub for HomeKit

As Moscone Center in San Francisco is being readied for Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference next week, more keeps leaking out. This week, several early HomeKit devices from 3rd parties rolled out, and now thenextweb.com reports that…as expected…you’ll need Apple TV to remotely control HomeKit gadgets. Apple has posted a setup page to help people configure the system. If you already have Apple TV, it needs to be 3rd generation or later with software version 7 or newer.

Amazon has rolled out free shipping on small and light products…that is, ones that weigh less than 8 ounces. According to geekwire.com, ‘Fulfillment by Amazon Small and Light’ will also focus on items that cost less than 10 bucks. No more $35 minimum purchase requirement or Prime membership for free shipping of these small and light items. It won’t be free TWO Day shipping though…expect your items in 4 to 8 days.


Coming With Apple TV Update

The next version of Apple TV should make its debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Thenextweb.com says it will sport a new faster processor, more storage, Siri and HomeKit integration. They are likely to reveal more about their streaming TV service at WWDC, and preview an App Store just for Apple TV.

If you are really considering a smart watch, but worry about the poor battery life most have, bgr.com reports that Vector has a couple models available for preordering now. They claim 30 days of battery life for both the rectangular and round dial versions. A ‘sensor activated notification system’ pulls up notifications with the flick of a wrist. They sell for between $244 and $425.

According to tech crunch.com, next week at their F8 developer conference, Facebook will announce new ways for third parties to offer experiences through its messenger app. Facebook is wanting to turn Messenger into a freestanding platform.


Apple’s HomeKit Won’t Need Apple TV- Except to Use Siri


More is out about Apple’s Home Kit. The good news is, it won’t need Apple TV for a hub. Cnet.com says the downside is that it needs Apple TV to use Siri to control it from outside your network. That may be temporary, according to Homekit partners.

Bgr.com reports that GoPro’s Hero 4 cameras are about to get better. The Silver and Black editions are getting a firmware upgrade in a couple months that auto converts time lapses into videos, and gives you burst mode and auto rotate.

Stereo maker Harman has rolled out a touchscreen free Carplay competitor called Integrated Essentials Cockpit. 9to5mac.com says It puts the controls on your steering wheel, and the display is centered between the speedometer and tachometer. So far, no word on what car makers may use it.


Another Player Joining the ‘Internet of Things’ Party

Samsung is about to join the ‘internet of things’ party, in talks to buy SmartThings for $200 million. Bgr.com reports this would put them in the game with Google’s Nest and Apple’s HomeKit. Another option for those who need to control their appliances, light bulbs, security system, & garage door with their smartphones!

Gigaom.com reports that Amazon is testing a Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service for $9.99 a month. It gives unlimited access to 600,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks.

Metromile is expanding to California. Techcrunch.com says you plug the gadget into your car, and you can save money on pay-per-mile insurance if you’re one of the 70% of people that drives less than 10,000 miles a year. Keep in mind that 70% of Bay Area drivers DON’T drive less than 10,000 miles a year, though.