Some Highlights From Apple’s WWDC Keynote

The Apple home speaker got a sneak preview. It does look a lot like a mini-Mac Pro tower, and is called HomePod. There is no screen, it is powered by Siri. HomePod is 7 inches tall, and has 7 tweeters with a 4 inch upwards firing woofer, it runs an Apple A8 chip. With 6 mics, Apple claims it can hear you from across the room and respond even with loud music playing. They are touting acoustic modeling, echo cancelation, and spatial awareness. In other words, it will detect the room, and fire the speakers to give you the best sound for that area. If you run two, they are smart enough to sync up. Besides for music, it will use Siri in the usual way to get information, and also control your HomeKit devices. It will run $349. Comes in White & Space Grey, and ships in December.

Another tease was the iMac Pro. It will have an 8 core Xeon processor for base, and up to 18 core available. It runs Radeon Vega graphics with 16 gigs of vRAM. It can roll with 128 gigs of memory and 4TB of SSD storage. The iMac Pro ships in December, and will start at $4999. All the iMacs and MacBooks get Kaby Lake Intel processors and faster SSD drives. The freshened iMacs and MacBooks are shipping today.

As expected, the new iPad was shown off extensively. It has the 10.5 inch screen in the same size as the 9.7 inch model, and still weighs just a pound. It starts at 64 gigs, and $649. Preorders open now, and they ship next week.

A number of other reveals revolve around the software systems and content. For content, Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV later this year. Also, the new iOS 11 will have a pretty amazing AR developers kit. A couple of demos put AR right on a desktop at the stage, with the audience right in the shot! Another had a developer standing in the middle of a Star Wars world she was manipulating on the fly…watch out for Darth Vader swinging that light saber! Steam is bringing their VR to the Mac later this year! Apple will probably post the VR Star Wars video and AR demo later today, and you should watch them!

In the new Mac OS…High Sierra, Apple File System will be brought over from iOS, modernizing Apple’s ancient file system. For Safari, we get autoplay blocking!! Now you can read an article without the annoying autoplay audio blasting away. They also touted intelligent tracking prevention using machine learning. New, better compression for video and pictures.

iOS 11 gets some major features on the iPad…the App Tray can be brought up in apps, it will save configurations of screen splits for you to return to, and now, there is a files function and DRAG and DROP! You can send money or receive it in iMessage using Touch ID, and there’s a translation feature that works on the fly with Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Other languages follow later this year.

The App Store gets a total makeover. It starts with a Today screen, and separates out Games from other apps.


‘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!


New 4K 21.5 Inch iMac is Out Now

As expected, Apple has rolled out a new 21.5 inch iMac, featuring a 4K video display. Theverge.com reports it will sell for $1499, and in addition to the eye-popping new screen that can show 25% more colors, it has faster RAM and processor, and bigger storage options. It ships today with a new Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and optional $129 Force Touch trackpad. The 1080p model stays in the lineup starting at $1099.

Meanwhile, over at Samsung, a completely un-shocking rumor is floating around. According to 9to5google.com, they’re working to add pressure sensitive touch screen to the next Galaxy smartphone, the S7. It will be the ClearForce hardware from Synaptic, which we reported was being shopped around to Android makers and which is already in the Huawei Mate S. The Galaxy S7 will also come with a new Snapdragon processor.

We had previously reported on the Skarp, that laser razor on Kickstarter, which has now raised $4 million. Well, Kickstarter has kicked them off the platform, claiming they are quote “in violation of our rule requiring working prototypes of physical products that are offered as rewards.” Kickstarter says the ‘semi-functional prototype’ in Skarp’s video isn’t enough. We expect the gadget to pop up on another crowdfunding site anyway, considering they got 4 million worth of interest on Kickstarter. [Update: It’s already on Indiegogo!]


New 4K 21-1/2 Inch iMac Out Next Week; iPad Pro Coming

Apple will start selling it’s 21.5 inch iMacs with 4K Retina displays next week, probably Tuesday. According to 9to5mac.com, they’ll keep the current form factor, but will sport the new 4096×2304 screens and noticeably faster graphics cards. No pricing yet, but expect them to be bumped up from the non-4K current version. It’s also not clear if the Magic Mouse 2 with Force Touch and updated Bluetooth Keyboard with better battery life will be out by next week. The iPad Pro looks set to drop in early November now.

Apple’s killer feature for the iPhone 6S and Plus may see Android competitors soon. According to thenextweb.com. Synaptics has announced its ClearForce tech, which works very much like Apple’s 3D Touch, will be integrated into Android phones that should be shipping early next year. Huawei has already showed a pressure sensitive display on it’s Mate S phone, so expect a slew of high end Android smartphones to horn in on Apple’s 3D Touch turf by 1st quarter of 2016.


New Force Touch Macbook Pro and iMac Out This Week

Wednesday looks to be the day that Apple drops new 15 inch Macbook Pros and 27 inch iMacs with Force Touch baked in to the track pads. 9to5mac.com says that otherwise, the update will be a minor one, with upgrades to the CPU and graphics processors.

In a story from tech crunch.com penned by the CEO of Zuora, the present car industry is compared to the early PC industry of the mid 80’s. The auto makers are cast as being as clueless as giant IBM was at that time, and Digital Equipment…remember them…even more out of touch. IBM went on to be clobbered as the platform…like Windows or Mac…became much more important to consumers than the brand itself. With Gartner predicting that there will be 250 million connected cars on the road by 2020, the platform makers, like Google with Android Auto and Apple with Car Play, may become far more important that the actual brand of cars…causing a gigantic shakeup in the auto industry.