iPhones May Get USB-C Ports; Microsoft Revamps Office; Tesla Laying Off 9%; Big Names Back Better Battery Quest

After going all-in on USB-C on the MacBook Pro line, it looks like Apple may be getting ready to retire the Lightening connectors on the upcoming iPhones in favor of the more universally used connection. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple may also include an 18 watt charger to take advantage of quick charging…which the current phones are already capable of, but only with 3rd party chargers. It’s worth noting that this rumor comes from Digitimes, which doesn’t have the stellar accurate leak record of the likes of KGI Securities. That said, Apple has run with the Lightening port since 2012, so a change is more likely than not.

Microsoft is porting over its Fluent Design system from Windows 10 to Office, in an effort to simplify them for the some billion users of the productivity suite. According to theverge.com, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook will all get a new, simplified ribbon that is smaller and easier to use. There are new animations, icons that are more accessible, and more. The goal is to modernize Office, and make it more intuitive. The changes will hit the main desktop versions first, but also will be brought over to the web versions. They should appear on the apps for Windows next month, and on Macs by August. Microsoft also promises and increase in speed for the productivity suite.

As first indicated last month, Tesla has begun laying off salaried employees as they move to what Elon Musk calls ‘flattening the management structure’, and a ‘thorough reorganization’ of the company aimed at helping Tesla achieve profitability by the end of this year. Electrek.co notes that as many as 3,500 employees could be let go. No line workers will be involved in the layoffs, as Tesla continues to ramp up Model 3 production, and they will still be hiring ‘mission critical’ people. After the Solar City acquisition, Tesla laid off about 20% of that workforce, cutting duplicate positions and restructuring. They are also not continuing the residential sales agreement with Home Depot…although those employees will have the opportunity to move to Tesla retail locations.

Billion dollar startup Breakthrough Energy Ventures has dived into a couple startups aimed at power storage. Form Energy is working on novel chemistries for low-cost, long-term, high-density batteries, and Quidnet Energy is working on storing energy in highly compressed water. Geekwire.com says Breakthrough is backed by some really big players in tech: Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma. The fund was started a couple years ago, but the two energy storage tech startups are two of the first investments revealed by Breakthrough. Cheap, efficient energy storage will allow power generated by renewable energy sources to be stored for use 24/7 on the energy grid.

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iPhone 8 Will Not Go to USB-C; Chevy to Offer Cheap, Unlimited In-Car Data; Lyric Thermostat Talks to Alexa and Siri

After reports that Apple would ditch the Lightening port on iPhone 8, now comes a new report from KGI Securities disputing that. 9to5mac.com says the new iPhone will have internal upgrades that will support fast charging over lightening. Apparently, Apple didn’t want to go to the larger form factor if the USB-C connector…at least not yet.

Chevrolet has announced that it will offer unlimited in-car data for just $20 per month. According to thenextweb.com, it will be available on any vehicle with OnStar, and will be LTE. The system will support up to 7 devices. It will apply to cars sold in the US starting tomorrow. Ford is working on something similar which will include Europe, as more people clamor for fast connectivity in vehicles.

The Nest Learning thermostat got the ball rolling for smart thermostats and in-home smart devices, but is still pricey at $200 to $250. Now, bgr.com reports that Honeywell has rolled out the Lyric T5, a smart thermostat that can talk to Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri via HomeKit for half the price of a Nest. It’s $114.95, and great if you’re too lazy to pick up your phone to adjust the thermostat upstairs…now, you can just ask your virtual assistant to do it!


Apple May Switch iPhone to USB-C; Mozilla Buys Pocket

In something of an unusual move for them, Apple may ditch their proprietary Lightening port for USB-C on upcoming iPhones. Arstechnica.com says that since the switch to USB-C on the MacBook Pro, it makes sense, as then Apple devices could settle on an industry standard in all their devices that can do all the Lightening port can do and more. Apple has used Lightening for some 5 years. Get ready to buy yet more dongles and converters!

Theverge.com reports that Mozilla has bought Pocket, a sort of DVR for the internet. Pocket saves articles and videos for viewing and reading later. It’s something of a Back to the Future moment, since Pocket first bowed as a Firefox extension. It has already been Firefox’s default read later service for a couple years. This should help Mozilla grab more eyeballs on mobile, where they have lagged as desktop use has been declining.


Galaxy S8 Rumors; iPhone 7 Models Sold Out in Stores

Battery fire issues on the Note 7 aside, Samsung is pressing ahead with the Galaxy S8 series. According to 9to5google.com, there are now official code names of Dream and Dream2, and it looks like the whole Galaxy line will go to wraparound Edge screens. On the down side, Samsung is probably going to not only ditch the headphone jack like Apple, but roll out their own proprietary port like Apple’s Lightening. That would allow them to charge accessory makers a licensing fee…and irritate all of us, who will now have to carry around Lightening, USB-C, and Samsung adapters everywhere. Since the Note 7 battery fire issue, it’s looking like Samsung will move the rollout up a week or two…maybe even to a month ahead of Mobile World Congress.

Yes, there’s very slim inventory of iPhone 7 models for stores tomorrow. TechCrunch.com says no Jet Black phones are available, and iPhone 7 Plus models are completely sold out. Your best bet is to order online and wait. If you really want one tomorrow, try a phone carrier store or other non-Apple store…they sometimes have a few phones early in the morning.


Alphabet & Chipotle Test Drone; iPhone 8-No Home Button, etc; Samsung to Kill Phone Jack; iOS 10 Bricking Issue Supposedly Solved

It’s really all about the food, right? Alphabet and Chipotle are testing drone deliveries at Virginia Tech, according to 9to5google.com. So far, the Project Wing drones have only flown short distances, and they have pilots standing by…but it’s a peek into the future when you could have a burrito or pizza delivered to your door in 20 minutes or so by…drone. The drone won’t expect a tip, either!

There have already been plenty of rumors about the iPhone 8 next year being ‘all glass’. Zdnet.com says expect a full front screen with no home button..it’ll be haptic and under the screen. The screen may also wrap around the edges. As for Jony Ive’s all glass phone, don’t expect that…actually, according to bgr.com, it may be a Zirconia ceramic and polymer body. One of the new Apple Watch 2’s is ceramic. It’s stronger and more scratch resistant, dissipates heat better than aluminum, and no antenna bands….they can transmit right through it.

The hating goes on over no phone jack on the iPhone 7. Meanwhile, thenextweb.com says Samsung is considering following Apple’s lead and ditching it, too. On top of that, Sammy may roll out their own proprietary jack like Apple’s Lightening connector, so they can charge licensing fees to accessory makers. It looks like we can kiss universal standards like USB and phone jacks goodbye when it comes to phones.

Some users upgraded to iOS 10 yesterday, and bricked their phones. According to macrumors.com, the only cure was to plug into your computer and update through iTunes. That’s fine if you were near your computer or have a computer…some don’t. Apple put out a statement within hours, saying the bug is squashed, and it’s all clear…but you might want to wait another day in case. Messages has gotten a lot of add ins, and there’s a redesigned lock screen and much more, when you finally download it.


Nexus 6 for $250 at Amazon; Hi-Res Music May be coming to iTunes & Apple Music

If you are in the market for a phablet at a great deal, or for a last minute gift for someone you REALLY like, Amazon has a 32 gig Nexus 6 for $249.99 shipped in Cloud White or Midnight Blue. With Amazon Prime, it can be under the tree by the 23rd. 9to5toys.com says the 64 gig model is $299.99, and both come with Android Marshmallow.

A rumor is afoot again that hi-resolution audio is on the way to iTunes and Apple Music. This one is from Japanese blog Macotakara, picked up by 9to5mac.com. The blog claims Apple will have better than CD quality for iTunes sometime next year. The leak is from some manufacturers that make Lightening based headphones, which would support the higher res format.