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 9to5mac.com. 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, techcrunch.com 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. Engadget.com 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 theverge.com, 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.)

Advertisements

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 9to5mac.com, 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 thenextweb.com, 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.


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.


Thinner Apple Laptops Coming

According to macrumors.com, Apple will launch a thinner Macbook by the end of the year or early 2015. The 13 inch non-retina Macbook Pro will be retired at that point.

Dropbox just announced that Dropbox Pro is being consolidated from 3 price tiers to just one. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s $9.99 a month for a massive 1 TB of storage, plus remote wipe and password protected guest files.

Engadget.com says London is trying out inductive charging stations at bus stops for their electric and hybrid busses. If it works well, it could be huge. Imagine San Francisco streets without the overhead wires currently there for electric busses.