Apple Echo-Type Smart Speaker Coming; Galaxy S8 Random Reboots; Samsung Approved for Testing Self-Driving Cars in Korea

There are now two sources saying Apple will make a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google’s speaker. Bgr.com reports that now KGI Securities says they will launch a ‘Siri Speaker’ at WWDC in June. No word on the cost (don’t think cheap), but it’s expected to hit stores and the web in the second half of the year. It will reportedly have 7 tweeters and a subwoofer, which should give it great sound. It will use some type of Beats tech and run a version of iOS.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 had record preorders, but as it gets to peoples’ hands, there’s word that some are having random reboots. 9to5google.com reports there’s quite a thread about this on Samsung’s forums. It can happen when in use, or just sitting around. The phone does fully reboot, and it appears it may be related to an SD card issue, as removing the SD card seems to fix the problem until Samsung rolls out a software patch.

Speaking of Samsung…for those of you who thought they only made phones and TVs, etc, the Korean giant is now approved to test self-driving cars on roads in Korea. According to techcrunch.com, Hyundai has been at it for about a year now, so Samsung will be playing catch up to an extent. Samsung started as a trading company, and has interests in shipping, insurance, and more. The Korean approval allows for operating without steering wheels or pedals, which is also part of proposed new regulations in California and which Michigan already allows.


‘Great’ Desktop Macs Ahead; ’Tis the Season to Shop-Online; Hyundai ‘Affordable’ Self-Drivers Coming; AR Wearables Will Replace iPhones?

There was no mention of desktop machines at the MacBook rollout, but Apple CEO Tim Cook did post to an internal employee message board that Apple has ‘great desktops in our roadmap.’ According to theverge.com, Cook commented that the desktop is very strategic to Apple, noting ‘…you can pack a lot more performance in a desktop — the largest screens, the most memory and storage, a greater variety of I/O, and fastest performance.’ The iMac got a minor refresh last year, but the Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in 3 years. Some analysts think it may be dropped.

Never let it be said that most shoppers aren’t bargain hunters. TechCrunch.com says this is the main thing driving online shopping, NOT convenience. A full 79 percent of us now shop online in the US…up from 22% in 2000! Over half of people have bought something via their smartphone. That said, in the PEW study, 65% of people said that…all things being equal, they would rather shop in a physical store. Price, time constraints, and availability of products often dictate going online, though.

Most of the self-driving cars we see in the pipeline are upscale models. Teslas are cool, but pricey. Mercedes, BMW, Volvo…none of them will have anything on the cheap. Hyundai is working on one, though, and they claim it will be a self-driver for the masses. Techcrunch.com reports that the Korean maker rolled out their tech this week, with rides in Vegas ahead of CES coming up in January. The cars look pretty close to stock Ioniq models…no big cluster of sensors on the roof…they do include four optical cameras behind the windshield, front and side facing LiDAR unit, front mid- and long-range radars and rear-facing radars, too…so they’re not exactly rolling blind! Hyundai hopes to have something on the road by 2019-21, but full self-driving may be a few years after that.

AR seems to be nearly the operating system of the future, if you talk to some people, and Apple analyst Gene Munster, who is striking out on his own after Piper Jaffray, thinks AR wearables may eclipse smartphones like the iPhone. Zdnet.com points out that although Munster has a very good track record, he has predicted an Apple branded TV several times, and we’re still waiting for that! Nonetheless, Munster says that in the next 10 years, we may all be using some type of wearable in PLACE of our pocket smartphone from Apple. The amount of miniaturization is staggering, to say nothing of batteries, but considering that the iPhone would by then be 20 years old…that’s a lifetime in tech!


Google Looks Poised to Do Full Scale Launch of Self-Driving Car

9to5mac.com spotted a report last night from Automotive News that Google has hired the former CEO of Hyundai to run its self-driving car program. In an email, he mentions the cars being used by millions of people, and saving thousands of lives. Google is still saying it has no plans to manufacture cars itself, but will partner with a number of different companies. They still seem on track to have a self-driving car on the market by 2020.

Apple told Financial Times that strong weekend orders indicate the new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus will beat the 10 million sold the first weekend of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last year. In the past, the off-year ’S’ models have lagged behind sales of the pure numbered models. Thenextweb.com reports that the 6S Plus models show sold out right now, and the 6S rose gold models have a wait time of 3-4 weeks before shipping. We’ll know more if this sales pace will be maintained when the phones show up in stores next weekend.


No Mega iPad Until Fall

Apple is delaying production of the reported 12.9 inch iPad until September according to bloomberg.com. In addition to business tools from IBM, it’s rumored to have a USB port, a first for an iPad.

T-Mobile has spilled the beans about the pricing of the new Samsung Galaxy S6…and bgr.com reports that it’s more expensive than an iPhone! The base 32Gb model will start at $699, 50 bucks more than the cheapest iPhone 6. It’s still expected to be $199 with a contract.

The Blue Link app is out for Hyundai owners. Engadget.com says the app, previewed at CES, will let owners of Hyundais as old as 2012 use Android Wear smart watches to lock and unlock their cars, start and stop the engine, honk the horn, and flash the lights.