Ford will produce and all electric SUV in 2020. Theverge.com reports it will be built in Flat Rock, Michigan, and will sport a range of 300 miles on a charge. They are also cooking up hybrid versions of the Mustang and F-150 pickup. Present electric vehicles are mostly stuck in the low 200’s for range, with the Chevy Bolt claiming 238 miles and the upcoming Tesla Model 3 at 215. Ford is also testing wireless charging for their models.
Amazon’s Fire TV will now come in several lower cost 4K TV models. According to Variety.com, Seiki, Westinghouse and Element Electronics will all roll out Fire powered TVs this year ranging from 43 to 65 inch screen models. An integrated mic will double as a direct line to Amazon’s Alexa assistant.
Intel has announced the ‘Go’ brand, and will build chips aimed at the self-driving car market. Cnet.com says Intel’s driving group has a $250 million R&D budget, and they will go head to head with Nvidia and Qualcomm in trying to get car makers to integrate their processors in upcoming self-drivers.
Last night, Elon Musk revealed his Master Plan part 2.0…it’s been 10 years since his first one. Some of the hi lights as noted by recode.net: Teslas will use solar panels on the roofs that will integrate with batteries (which is the reason behind the Solar City deal), and the company is planning to add a smaller SUV, big rig trucks, and busses. The whole fleet will be self-driving, and Musk sees owners renting out their cars for money when they aren’t needing them, competing with Uber and Lyft…but of course, without needing drivers. One has to think a new level of protection against hacking and car theft would be needed!
Corning has dropped Gorilla Glass 5…so to speak. Actually, according to theverge.com, Corning claims to have improved resistance to breakage when dropped onto a rough surface from between waist and shoulder height. They claim it survives 80% of the time when dropped from 1.6 meters. Corning says 85 percent of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once in the past year, and that two-thirds of those drops are from waist height to shoulder height. Note that the test glass was .6 mm thick, and many phones now use .4 mm screens…and also the test drops were face first, and it’s a hit to the corner that usually breaks screens. Corning claims these breaks are more a function of the phone’s construction though, and out of their control.
On the heels of showing the ability to summon your car from its parking spot and dispatch it to park, the other shoe dropped yesterday. Engadget.com reports that Elon Musk predicts that the Summon feature on Teslas will work anywhere by 2018. Musk says you could summon your car from New York City to pick you up in Los Angeles…provided you have a couple days to wait around. Tesla’s snake-like automatic chargers would keep the car juiced up for the trip. It remains to be seen if states coast to coast will allow self-driving cars…right now, only a handful do. Musk did concede the cars will need a lot of redundancy to be able to do this.
From the tech right now department, Tuesday’s State of the Union speech will be streamed by Amazon. With more and more cord-cutters, the White House wants to reach people where they are, according to gizmodo.com. The stream should work with any Amazon product like the Fire TV stick. It probably won’t pick up millions of views, but it’s nice to see the White House embracing the tech.
It was all over the tech news yesterday, and first reported by the Wall St. Journal, that Apple had put it’s Project Titan…their car project…on the front burner, and want an Apple car on the road by 2019. Google has spoken out couple times, underscoring that they are NOT planning to actually build a Google self-driving car, but will partner with car makers. Apple’s electric car project, by the way, will apparently not be self-driving. Apple will not be building their own car. As bgr.com snarked, who is going to build it…it won’t be Foxconn! I predict that Apple will have to partner with one or more actual car maker. Right now, it takes a car maker a minimum of 4 years to get a model out, and they have the actual plants and equipment to build cars at scale. Apple doesn’t, and can’t possibly be ready to produce them by 2019. Even an electric with no EPA emission requirements will still have to meet federal standards in various countries for safety. Which manufacturer or manufacturers will they partner with, and will it be sold from present dealerships or out of Apple branded car stores, like Tesla is doing? Stay tuned.
From Microsoft’s Office blog, comes something that’s NOT vaporware…Office 2016 for Windows and Office 2016 for Mac are available now to everyone. The Windows version is more tightly integrated with both Windows 10 and Office 365, and subscribers can get more frequent updates with new features and improvements. Microsoft says the Mac version had been out since July for 365 subscribers, but now is a one-time purchase option open to all with several new and enhanced Office 365 services. As is typical for Office and Microsoft products, the features and even pricing are beyond the time constraints we have here.
Samsung has revealed the first monitor that wirelessly charges phones. If your phone has the Qi wireless charging standard, venturebeat.com says you can lay it on the stand’s charging area, a little green LED lights, and that’s it! The monitor also features an ‘eye saver mode’ that reduces the blue light that causes eye strain. The SE370 monitor will come in 23.6 and 27 inch sizes, and will be out before the end of the year. No pricing has been announced yet.
Android Auto will be out in the next year, as will Apple’s further integration with Car Play, and arstechnica.com has ferreted out some cool future features by activating developer mode. It looks like Android Auto will eventually include roadside assistance, vehicle check, and service history later on. There is also a dummy screen titled ‘more car apps,’ so the system has code baked in to operate as a launcher for additional car apps. Arstechnica also found a huge list of sensors hidden away in Android auto, that will allow it to monitor more than just the speed and location of the car, including the cryptic ‘driving status.’ Could this be a mode for self-driving? Stay tuned.
Don’t look now…but look later! ‘Googlemobiles’ will be hitting the public pavement in Mountain View this summer. Yes, according to the official google blog, self-driving Google cars will be tooling around…albeit with a safety driver aboard, and limited to 25 miles per hour. Google notes that 94% of crashes are caused by human error. The second generation Google cars still look like a VW Beetle that’s been hit with an ugly stick, but there’s plenty of time to get the styling right later after self driving is perfected.
Amazon may be working on making its Prime membership more valuable to members. Cnet.com reports that they have been reaching out to third party merchants, looking into letting them shop goods directly to customers, instead of drop shipping the goods to Amazon first. This would make a lot more goods in on the free two day shipping, and also expand the selection of goods available to you that way. It’s likely that the reports that Walmart is going to test free 3 day shipping this summer for a $50 annual fee is pushing Amazon to sweeten their Prime membership, which is $100.
Although he was characteristically mum about an Apple car, CEO Tim Cook did tease about cars in London. Geekwire.com reports he said in an interview that the Apple Watch is designed to be able to replace car keys and what he called ‘the clumsy, large fobs’ which are now used by many vehicles. Apple already has a patent on smartphone tech to unlock cars.
Ford is working on cutting car emissions by speeding parking. Arstechnica.com says the automaker is looking towards self driving cars, and using off the shelf parts and a crowdsourced, real time database, your car would head right to a parking space. Ford claims 20-30% of vehicle emissions now come from hunting for parking.
YouTube for Android is getting a useful…and some say overdue…feature. According to thenextweb.com, you can finally trim videos. It’s reportedly precise enough to nearly edit down to the frame. A preview allows you to check your work before finalizing the upload.
Nokia is jumping back into the tablet business. Slashdot.org says they’ll launch a one piece aluminum bodied tablet running Android Lollypop in China on January 7th.
Legendary film company Kodak is going to roll out a smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show. According to engadget.com, the Android phone will be made for them by British firm Bullitt, who make the ruggedized Caterpiller phones.
LG and Mercedes-Benz are partnering to make a system to power self driving cars. Techcrunch.com says the system is based on LG’s Advanced Drive Assist Program. LG’s entertainment systems are also slated to go into Mercedes cars.