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.

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iPhone Curved After All-Just Not Screen; New iPad, iPhone 7 Color Update; Tesla Model S Sets Speed Record; Nintendo Originally Wanted Custom Android Running Switch

There has been a lot of chatter about the iPhone 8 having a curved screen, then flat, then slightly curved at the edges like the 7. Now, according to appleinsider.com, we may know why. A source out of Korea says it will have the flat AMOLED screen with slight curve at the edges, but the back will be a curved, 3D glass ‘water drop design.’

Apple today rolled out (RED) iPhone 7 and 7 Plus models, with part of the money going to the Global Fund for AIDS research. 9to5mac.com reports that they also announced a new $329 9.7 inch iPad which is on sale Friday. It replaces the Air 2, and has the older guts and just 32 Gigs of memory. This entry level iPad is out ahead of the expected upgrades and additional model to the iPad Pro line shortly.

A Tesla Model S P100 D just set a quarter mile speed record. It was already race car fast zero to sixty, but HorsepowerFreaks tweaked one a bit and pulled a quarter mile in 10.638 seconds. This is not a Tesla record, by the way….bgr.com notes it’s a record for ALL 4 door sedans…by an electric car. Let that set in, motorheads!

In a deal that never happened, Nintendo looked at getting a custom Android build from Cyanogen to run the Nintendo Switch. 9to5google.com says while that didn’t happen, the actual Switch runs an OS that is mostly a custom kernel with some ‘little bits of Android mixed inside.’ Cyanogen basically told them to ‘stick it,’ and Nintendo went back and rolled their own OS for the Switch…which seems to have worked out pretty well for them so far!


New iPad Drop Date; iPhone 8 Will Get New Name; CNN Starts VR News Unit

Apple will show it’s freshened iPads on April 4th, according to a report picked up by bgr.com. The 9.7 inch and 12.9 inch Pro models will be joined by a brand new 10.5 inch model that will supposedly have an edgeless display. The tablets may also be available the same day as the announcement. In a tantalizing rumor, the rollout may take place at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the new Apple ‘Spaceship’ campus!

A couple of rumors about the iPhone 8 are swirling. 9to5mac.com reports that the hero phone may be called the iPhone Edition instead of 8. While it’s still expected to be shown with the 7S and 7S plus in September, the Edition may come out later. Apparently, Apple is still prototyping models with and without home buttons, and mixes with and without OLED screens and glass or ceramic backs. Some important features are locked down, though. The Edition will have a 5 inch edgeless display, dual cameras, and wireless charging.

CNN has announced formation of a virtual reality news unit. Engadget.com says the new unit will produce videos and live streams of major events, and will put out 360 degree videos, and immersive VR content. Huffington Post and the New York Times already have VR units producing the futuristic rich mix of VR forms.


Across the Board iPad Refresh Coming; Snapchat Starts Selling Spectacles Online; BMW & VW Partner With Mobileye To Crowdsource Info For Self-Driving Cars

Apple will do a top to bottom refresh of iPads next month. Arstechnica.com reports that often reliable site Mac Otakara reaffirms that apple will add a new 10.5 inch iPad to the 7.9, 9.7, and 12.9 inch models. It will be something of a ‘mini’ version of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, and will sport 4 speakers, Smart Connector, True Tone Display, and a 12 MP rear camera. The biggest iPad will also get True Tone and the better camera.

Snapchat maker Snap has been selling its Spectacles camera glasses in pop up vending machines for a while now, but has put that on hold as they have started selling them online. According to businessinsider.com, anyone in the US can order a pair of the $130 glasses which record 10 second video clips and send them to the Snapchat app.

BMW and Mobileye are partnering to crowdsource traffic data for self-driving cars, starting in 2018. Techcrunch.com says BMW will join Volkswagen in the crowdsourcing of road hazards, traffic delays, weather info, and parking availability. The more cars that provide data to the cloud and then back to other cars, the more accurate it will be.


iPhone is 10; Freshened iPads Coming, Waymo Says It’s Cut Self-Driving Equipment Cost in Half; Mercedes Autopilot Will Give Tesla a Run

Ten years ago today Steve Jobs…remember him?…stood in front of the crowd at Macworld, and introduced the iPhone. Of course, we didn’t get it until almost July, but smartphones were absolutely revolutionized. Now, we wait until September to see if the iPhone 8 will be anywhere near as revolutionary with a wraparound screen that covers the front and wireless charging.

Meanwhile, 9to5mac.com reports that KGI Securities is expecting 3 updated iPads, and they believe a sales slump will be blunted. Apple appears to be preparing a 12.9” model, 10-10.5” size, and a 9.7” version. The first two will get a higher end A10X chip, with the smaller one keeping the A9. More business and enterprise users will gravitate to the larger models, but KGI thinks the cheaper model will grab 50-60% of total iPads sold. They may drop this spring.

The Waymo self driving car division of Google…or if you insist, Alphabet….has cut the cost of LIdar sensors for the rigs by 90%. They’re still pricey, but in 2009 ran $75,000! They have done it by building the sensors in house, according to recode.net. At $7500, and likely to fall more, self driving tech is becoming something that can roll out in vehicles to the mass market soon!

Mercedes showed off its Drive Pilot in conjunction with CES in Las Vegas. Theverge.com says it actually works better than Tesla’s system…in fact, so well, that Mercedes has ‘detuned’ it a bit to make it move around in the lane so drivers won’t be lulled into dialing out completely. It does the emergency stop routine like the Tesla, but in the case of the Mercedes, automatically calls the Mercedes SOS service to connect a live person…a nice touch since both are in the luxury car strata. Drive Pilot will bow this summer in the S class Mercedes cars.


Apple Going for Glasshole Market; Twitter Adds Mute to Convos and Hashtags; Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario Run a Month Away; Spotify Has Been Wearing SSDs-Patch Is Out

Yes, they were clunky, but that wasn’t the main reason people who had Google Glass were called ‘glassholes.’ Apple has revolutionized portable music players with the iPod and phones with the iPhone, can they do the same with digital glasses? Bloomberg.com says they’re working on some. A great AR headset would go a long way in bringing in the future, which at lot of people think will involve AR. The real trick will be having small enough components to produce a good AR experience, and batteries that power it which won’t weigh you down. It’s a huge challenge, but think about the iPod and iPhone…maybe by 2018 we’ll see the iAR or will it be Apple AR?

A lot of criticism has been thrown at Facebook and Twitter over fake news and trolls since the election. Now, bgr.com reports that Twitter has added a mute feature to conversations and hashtags to try to contain harassment. Previously, you could only mute individuals, and their friends could still gang up on a person. You will also now be able to mute keywords and hashtags.

Super Mario Run for iPhone and iPad will launch December 15th. Geekwire.com says it will sell for $10, and is specifically designed for mobile devices. Gamers can try before they by for free with elements of the games 3 modes. The game is designed to accomodate one-handed play….Mario runs forward on his own. Just tap to make him jump.

After sucking up life out of SSDs for months, Spotify has released a fix. According to bgr.com, a bug has allowed the app to continually rewrite data to your drive, even while in idle mode…up to 5 to 10 gigs an hour. Over a day, it would write up to 700 gigs. SSDs have a limited number of writes available, although most should last 10 years with normal use. Look for V. 1.0.42, it’s out and you should have it or upgrade to it on your desktop or laptop.


Google on Self-Driving; Good News (Finally) for Samsung; Trio of Fresh Spring iPads; Facebook Marketplace

In an interesting spin on self-driving cars, the head of Google’s program denies that they are building such things at all. Dmitri Dolgov says they’re really more like in the superhuman driver-making business. According to recode.net, he drilled down to make the point, talking about how the self-driving system has to recognize hand signals from human pedestrians and bike riders, and act appropriately. He points out that they already have run the system on Prius’, Lexus, their own ‘Googlemobiles,’ and now are working with Fiat Chrysler. Google wants it to be like getting into a rental car…it may feel and handle bit differently, but same basic system everywhere. Google says the cars communicate to learn from each other, but there’s firewall between that part of the software and the driving part, to prevent hacker access.

Now that the firebomb models have been replaced, Samsung Galaxy Note 7’s are flying off the shelves. Bgr.com reports that samsung sold 30,000 phones its first two days back on sale. Anything over 10,000 a day is considered good. They expect the demand to drop off, as it does with all new smart devices, but it appears they have dodged the bullet…or bomb…on what is considered the best Android handset you can by right now.

Apple will be freshening all 3 iPad sizes this spring, according to a Mac Otakara report picked up by macrumors.com. The 12.9 inch Pro will get a True Tone display like the mid sized model has, and all get upgraded to the 12mg camera. the Mini will get True tone, 4 speakers, and a smart connector. All 3 will have quad microphones…AND…keep the 3.5 mm headphone jack!

Facebook has rolled out Marketplace on Android and iOS. Appleinsider.com says it allows people to buy and sell goods locally like on craigslist. Facebookies can filter by price, category, and location, or just browse categories to see what’s out there. A tap on an item will jump to photos of the product and the seller, along with a price and general description. Shoppers can save an item, make an offer, or message a seller for more details. Sellers are identified not just by their usual Facebook details, such as friend connections, but also by how quick they are to respond to messages. Location is generalized.