iPad Refresh Imminent; New Air Pods; Whole Foods Break for Amazon Prime Shoppers; 5G Coming to Intel Laptops

A reliable tip-off that Apple is about to release new devices has popped up. Macrumors.com says Cupertino has registered new tablets with the Eurasian Economic Commission. This points to new iPads in just weeks. Most prognosticators are looking for a refresh of the current lower cost 9.7 inch iPad, and then either a cheaper yet version of it, or possibly an iPad Mini, which hasn’t gotten updated in a while. It’s thought that the updated iPad Pro with FaceID will bow at WWDC in June. Apple has dropped either an iPad or other new piece of hardware in March every year for the last 4 years.

While we’re in the Apple orchard, plucking rumors from the trees, there’s also one from Bloomberg that Apple is working on new models of AirPods. Apple is apparently developing a new wireless chip that helps better manage Bluetooth connections. An expected feature is a touch less Siri model…the present ones require a press in order to activate the Apple assistant, but a new model may allow for a voice only command of ‘Hey Siri’ to give total hands free use to people wanting to access the feature. A water resistant design is also thought to be in the works for at least one model of new Air Pods.

Amazon has added another perk for Amazon Prime. According to bgr.com, Prime members with an Amazon Rewards Visa card will now get 5% back on Whole Foods purchases, in addition to the 5% back on amazon.com purchases. Most such programs don’t offer as high as 5%, and almost all others restrict purchases, so having it available on all of Amazon and Whole Foods could really add up fast.

We just covered the 1st 3 cities that AT&T will wire for 5G service later this year. Now, word comes from reuters.com that Intel’s upcoming XMM 8000 modem chips will power laptops with 5G connectivity starting in the 2nd half of 2019. Blazing fast, always-connected internet could be a killer feature to push a lot more people into trading for a new laptop!

Advertisements

Samsung Upcoming Exynos Chip Challenges iPhone X; Lenovo’s Cool Low Tech Laptop Feature; Philip Morris Says It Will Ditch Cigarettes

Leading up to this year’s CES, Samsung is showing off its new Exynos 9810 chip, that will power some of the Galaxy S9 Smartphones. 9to5google.com says it brings a 40% bump in multi-core performance. With an obvious reference to iPhone X, Samsung says it uses neural networks for “accurately recognizing people or items in photos for fast image searching or categorization, or through depth sensing, scan a user’s face in 3D for hybrid face detection.” Samsung also mentions in a news release “realistic face-tracking filters” and “stronger security when unlocking a device with one’s face.” So, they are not only teasing their answer to Face ID, but also Apple’s popular animoji. They also tout an improved portrait mode. It looks like the S9 will be breathing down the neck of iPhone X when it rolls out later this spring.

We get so excited about the latest and greatest into the weeds high tech advancements, that sometimes it pays to pull back and admire an elegant low tech feature addition. According to businessinsider.com, the new Lenovo laptops will have such a feature. No more piece of tape or post-it note over your webcam! Lenovo has added a built in webcam cover. If you want to use the cam, just slide the cover…which Lenovo has dubbed the ThinkShutter cover, and cam or Skype away. No worries about the sticky note falling off at an inappropriate time!

Advancing tech may be finally killing off the cigarette. Philip Morris…venerable maker of Marlboro, Chesterfield, and Parliament….has announced it will be phasing out cigarette production. Bgr.com says the maker will abandon smoking products for so-called ‘smoke free products.’ They will make ‘heated tobacco’ gadgets that don’t actually burn the stuff and eCigarettes and vaping devices that deliver nicotine without any tobacco use. All these may be only marginally better than smoking, but it’s at least a step in the right direction. For non-smokers, it’s a huge plus…no more smelling nasty second hand smoke while someone gets their nicotine fix nearby!


Google Home Max Out; Big Apple Watch Series 3 Sales Uptick Coming; Deactivated Keylogger in Some HP Laptops

Google Home Max is rolling out to stores….it should be available in limited numbers today in Best Buy and Verizon stores, according to arstechnica.com. The $399 Home Has has dual 4.5 inch woofers and custom tweeters, and Google says it’s 20 times more powerful than the original Home. You can set it up either horizontally or vertically, and it has an aux input jack. Google’s ‘smart sound’ measures the room and it adjusts itself sonically to fit. With the delay of Apples HomePod, this gives Google a head start now in the premium home smart speaker market.

Number crunchers scouring supply lines are predicting that the Apple Watch Series 3, which was up in record territory for a wearable in November, will grow by 20% in 2018. 9to5mac.com reports that the Series 3 will hit 25 to 35 million units sold next year. The addition of health tracking, Gym Kit, Apple Pay Cash, and of course LTE connectivity seem to have been the magic combination that are propelling Watch sales now.

It’s bad enough that the FCC may be voting to allow paid fast lanes on the internet this week. Now, here’s a chilling nugget: Some HP laptops have a deactivated key logger on them. Techcrunch.com says the software has been found on over 460 HP laptop models. It’s deactivated by default, but could be turned on by any hacker getting physical access to the laptop. Upon raising the issue to HP, they have responded that it is a debug trace, that that there’s a software update out to remove it. Here’s a link to download the update: https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c05827409


Apple Considers iPhone Powered Apple Laptop; iPhone Owners Have More Smart Home Gear; App Converts Your DVDs Into a Personal Netflix

A patent just revealed that Apple is thinking about eventually making laptops that basically just run via your iPhone. According to cnet.com, the filing shows a cavity where the touchpad normally goes that holds an iPhone.The phone not only powers the laptop, but doubles as the touchpad. As always, keep in mind Apple patents lots of things that never see the light of day.

On the topic of iPhones, JD Power says iPhone owners have more smart home devices and are more satisfied with their phones. 9to5mac.com reports that- for example- 13% of iPhone owners have a smart thermostat, compared to 11% for Android owners. While Apple is still winning the satisfaction beauty contest, it’s just by a whisker now. Power says Apple’s average score is 840 out of 1000, but Samsung is just 1% behind at 839.

If you have a cabinet full of DVDs you rarely watch (raising hand here), there’s an app you may love. Businessinsider.com says Walmart’s Vudu will now let you scan the barcode of your DVDs and it will unlock the ability to watch that movie on the Vudu app for $2 each…and it works across all your devices that have the app. You can also upgrade from DVD to HDX for 5 bucks each. Right now, it works on about 8000 titles, but they are working to expand it…Vudu has around 100,000 total titles. Vudu says the average movie collector has about 100 DVDs and Blu Rays. Some of us have a lot more.