Cheaper Retina MacBook Coming; Ford Self-Driving Car Rescue Drone; Free Alexa Calling Moves to Tablets; 3D Printed MicroHomes in 24 Hours

There may be a new lower cost 13 inch Retina MacBook in June, around World Wide Developers Conference, according to Word is, it will be priced lower than the present 12 inch MacBook. It will have the same pixel density as the present 13 inch MacBook Pro. If sources are correct, Apple will roll it out for just a little more than the $999 price of the present MacBook Air. This rumor doesn’t say it is an air, but since KGI Securities was already predicting a cheaper 13 inch MacBook Air, this could be the same device. The Retina display would be a first for this price level.

Long ago, Ford ran ads that crowed, ‘Ford has a better idea.’ Now, reports on a patent that really is a great idea. Ford envisions a drone that could fly i and dock with a fully self-driving car in case of sensor and camera failure (which would render the vehicle helpless.) The docked drone would be equipped with its own sensors and cams, and could safely guide the vehicle home, or to a shop for service help. Getting such a drone out into the world will take time…but widely used self-driving cars are probably still 10 years away, too, so Ford has time to flesh out this idea!

Free calls and messages over an Echo speaker using Alexa is cool, and now that service has been expanded. says you can now use Alexa to place calls, video calls, and send messages from Android tablets, iPads, and Amazon’s Fire tablets. It’s a snap on the Fire HD 10, where you you just have to ask Alexa to get in touch. For other Fire tablets, you hit the home button first. On Android and iOS, you will need to open the Alexa app. You can also communicate with other devices in your house, basically making it a tablet to Echo or tablet to tablet intercom. This will reduce yelling by Moms when dinner is ready!

An Austin based startup is showing off 3D printable homes today at SXSW. According to, they can print a house out of concrete (one report says cement, which is incorrect) in less than 24 hours…and have already printed a permitted micro house in Austin! The 1st one was about $10,000 for a single story, 650 square foot house with one bedroom, a bathroom, and a wrap around porch. (Note: no mention of a kitchen.) Icon believes they can get the cost down to $4000 each, and plan to start building in El Salvador. The idea is to ease the global housing crisis, but Icon says eventually they could produce micro houses in the US, too…up to 800 square feet with the present tech. (The average New York apartment is 866 sq. ft.)


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, 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. 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. 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.

No MacBookTouch Bar Use for Bar Exams; Baby Monitor Tracks Breathing Wirelessly

In the ‘Dark Ages,’ law students couldn’t even take a typewriter with memory into bar exams. Now, many states that allow laptops will require MacBooks with Touch Bars to have that feature disabled in order to be used. says it’s because of the ‘predictive text’ feature built in. Assessment software maker ExamSoft notes that this will work in some states, although others….like New York….flatly ban Touch Bar laptops. In the past, California Bar Examiners have required that a device be brought in a week ahead and left with them prior to the exam to prevent un-permitted ‘assistance.’

After an engineer saw a friend’s premature infant hooked up to monitoring equipment at home, an idea was hatched. The engineer and a couple colleagues have come up with Raybaby. According to, it is launching on Kickstarter. Raybaby looks like a regular baby monitor, with a camera that picks up movements and connects with smartphone apps. The difference with Raybaby is that it uses wideband radar tech, which can pick up the slightest movement…less than a millimeter…so can detect breathing from up to 15 feet away…even if baby is wrapped in a blanket. The monitor will sell for $250, but it you are an early backer, you can score one for $99.

Mac Rollout This Week; Crazy New iPhone 8 Rumor; The Planned Galaxy Note 8

Apple is expected to roll out freshened MacBook Pros and a 13 inch MacBook on Thursday. says the MacBook Pro will have the OLED touch bar and Touch ID sensor in both the 13 and 15 inch models, as previously leaked, USB C and Thunderbolt 3 connectors, but also will have an oxide panel screen for better display quality and energy efficiency, and get this…a TWO terabyte SSD available!

There have been rumors for most of the year about the iPhone 8 having glass panels front and back with either an aluminum or stainless steel bezel. Most think it will have an edge to edge glass screen with the fingerprint sensor and home button under the screen. Now, reports that it may be more radical than originally thought. New rumors have the iPhone 8 as being a clear Gorilla Glass sandwich…with polycarbonates to help make it more shatter resistant…and with an OLED screen. According to some sources, you will be able to see straight through it, so it can be popped into an AR headset, and it allegedly will have a higher frame rate than a PC with an Nvidia 1080 card installed. It will have a next gen 3D sensor from Apple owned Primesense. Apple supposedly has 600 engineers in Israel working on the sensor alone. Buckle up, this could be youuuuge.

Samsung is officially planning a Galaxy Note 8 to replace the Note 7 after it’s flameout. According to, they plan to offer buyers in Korea who traded their Note 7’s for S7 or S7 Edge models a 50% discount for the monthly upgrade program to keep them in the fold. No word yet if the deal will be extended to the US or other countries.

Amazon’s Music Unlimited Service; Apple Really Magic Keyboard

Amazon has kicked off its new Music Unlimited service. says it starts at $4 a month to use on a single Echo smart speaker, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap. The Echo works well, and getting millions of songs for half the price of Apple Music or Spotify Premium should be a heck of a draw. To use it on unlimited devices, it’s $7.99 a month for Prime members, $9.99 otherwise. Prime members already have access to a couple million songs with their membership.

There’s been plenty of reporting about Apple adding a smart touchscreen strip above the keyboard on the upcoming MacBooks to replace the function keys. Apparently, morphing function keys isn’t the only thing like that they are working on. A leak out of China picked up by says Apple is working on an even more magical Magic Keyboard…one with a changing, color E ink display on the keys that can change up depending on the user’s needs or application in use. Apple is apparently working with a startup called Sonder on this, and is working to buy Sonder. The Really Magic Keyboard could be out in 2018.

Google Might Replace Some Passwords With Trust Score; New Thinner MacBook by Late This Year

With all the announcements at Google I/O last week, this one didn’t get much glory, but could actually end up being pretty huge. According to, Google is working to replace passwords with ‘trust scores’ that pull from user-specific data points, including current location, facial recognition, and typing patterns to detect if they’re really that person. A banking app would require a higher score than a social media app, for example. The Trust API has been in the world at least a year, and will rollout to several ‘very large’ financial institutions in the next few weeks. If all goes well, it will be opened up to all Android developers by the end of the year.

Apple will roll out a big revamp of the Macbook Pro by 4th quarter this year, according to KGI Securities and other sources. reports that it will be thinner and lighter, have Touch ID support, and a new OLED touch bar above the keyboard that will replace function keys. Apple will also put out a 13 inch MacBook similar to the 12 inch Retina MacBook, giving them 3 levels of laptops…the MacBook Air will stay the entry level, and the Pro the top tier.

Apple Rolls Out New 12” Retina MacBooks; Android App Keeps Screens Away From Kids’ Faces

Apple has refreshed its 12 inch Retina MacBook. According to, there are new Skylake processors, increased overall performance, and a new rose gold color. They say the updated internals give you an additional hour of battery life. It continues to have the single USB-C port and edge to edge keyboard, and remains $1299. A quibble with Apple: their so-called rose gold is a lot more pink than the rose gold you find in watches, pens, and musical instruments. You can always go space grey or silver, though. Processor speed gets bumped to 1.2 gigs, and it comes with 8 gigs of memory standard, and the graphics are 25% faster. It’s available today at Apple’s website or Apple Stores and resellers.

Samsung has built an Android app that alerts kids….or adults for that matter, when they have mobile device screens too close to their face. According to, it’s called Safety Screen, and uses facial recognition to calculate if a smart device is too close to the user’s face. If so, a cute animation pops up to let the user know…it disappears when the gadget is moved to a safer distance. The app’s creators say kids are more at risk for developing computer vision syndrome than adults. Parents set it up, and password protect the app, and it’s ready to go.