Patent Reveals Striking Future Google Pixel Feature; Survey Shows Way More Switching PC to Mac Than Vice Versa; Best Buy’s Interactive Alexa and Google Home Displays

Google will continue the unusual glass/metal back with the Pixel 2, and now we may know where they’re going with it. Bgr.com reports on a Discovery by Patently Mobile -a patent that highlights a touch sensitive surface on the back that would let the user control the device without touching with any elements on the screen-instead, touching the back of the handset. This allows commands and selection without obstructing anything you would be viewing on the screen.

A survey of US computer owners indicates that 21% of Windows laptop users will switch to Mac next time, but only 2% of Mac owners will change to Windows. The number switching Windows to Mac is even higher for Windows desktop users. According to 9to5mac.com, the survey is from Verto Analytics. The biggest no shock in the survey— most of the PC to Mac flippers are in higher income brackets, reflecting Apple’s pricey offerings!

Best Buy is rolling out Amazon Alexa and Google Home products in 700 stores, to be highlighted in separate, free standing display areas. Geekwire.com says the setup will allow customers to use Alexa devices and Google Home devices to interact with nearby products like Nest thermostats, Philips Hue lighting, and Insignia Smart Plugs…a way to try before you buy. 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year according to IHS Markit, up 64% from 2015. They expect 130 million to be sold this year.


Skype Getting Real Time Language Translation on PCs

Microsoft has announced that Skype Translator, which has been freestanding and Spanish to English only, will be coming to Windows PCs in the next few weeks. Geekwire.com reports that it will be a baked in feature to PC based Skype, and will also add French, German, Italian, and Mandarin for voice, plus 50 written languages. They won’t have it out for smartphones, at least for a while. Microsoft admits it’s not perfect, but early tests indicated people can carry on a conversation with it.

Battery life just sucks, and virtually every gadget we use runs by battery power. Something better may be on the way, at least for the smaller devices. According to engadget.com, scientists in Canada and France have come up with a micro-supercapacitor with the same energy density of most lithium ion batteries. Even Elon Musk has lusted for capacitors as a replacement for batteries, since you can recharge them infinitely without loss of capacity. The rub with the micro-supercapacitor is it’s built from exotic materials like gold and ruthenium oxide, so crazy expensive when you scale up in size. The scientists say for replacing micro batteries, though, the capacitors can store 1000 times the energy of those tiny batteries. They may be showing up in wearables before long, but we’ll have to wait a while for instant charging cell phones and electric cars.


New Force Touch Macbook Pro and iMac Out This Week

Wednesday looks to be the day that Apple drops new 15 inch Macbook Pros and 27 inch iMacs with Force Touch baked in to the track pads. 9to5mac.com says that otherwise, the update will be a minor one, with upgrades to the CPU and graphics processors.

In a story from tech crunch.com penned by the CEO of Zuora, the present car industry is compared to the early PC industry of the mid 80’s. The auto makers are cast as being as clueless as giant IBM was at that time, and Digital Equipment…remember them…even more out of touch. IBM went on to be clobbered as the platform…like Windows or Mac…became much more important to consumers than the brand itself. With Gartner predicting that there will be 250 million connected cars on the road by 2020, the platform makers, like Google with Android Auto and Apple with Car Play, may become far more important that the actual brand of cars…causing a gigantic shakeup in the auto industry.


Google Plans Apple Watch Access from Android

Google seems poised to pull something clever regarding the Apple Watch. Businessinsider.com notes they may be building support for the iPhone into their Android Wear smartwatch software. The present Android wear smartwatches only work with Android phones, and of course Apple Watch only talks to iPhones.

According to forbes.com, Paypal will be allowed to work with Amazon and Alibaba after the split from eBay later this year. The parent company has been positioning Paypal as a ‘true neutral third party’ to commerce and retail clients. In the short term, eBay will remain Paypal’s biggest client, however.

Microsoft has launched without fanfare a new Android app that lets you control Powerpoint presentations on a PC from your Android smartphone. Thenextweb.com reports says the Office Remote app also works with Excel and Word. The remote app has previously only been available on Windows phones.

Amazon has quietly acquired Shoefitr, a startup that uses 3D tech to help match online shoppers with shoes that will fit them better. TechCrunch.com says it’s unclear so far if they will operate it as a freestanding site, roll it into their Zappos subsidiary, or both.


Microsoft Surface 3 Grows Up

Microsoft has just unveiled the latest version of their Surface 3 tablet. The verge.com says the $499 tablet may have cracked the code this time…it has an Intel Atom chip instead of an ARM processor, and will run full Windows 8.1 and apps like the Surface Pro or a laptop.

Techcrunch.com reports that Amazon has launched a dedicated STEM toy shop. Toys for all ages focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math skills are featured.

WhatsApp has been updated for Android. According to thenextweb.com, you can now make and receive voice calls. It’s in the Google Play store now. WhatsApp says an iOS version will be out in a few weeks.


Connected Home: Mattress Pad, Meet Thermostat

From Luna, there’s a smart mattress cover that tracks your sleep. The next web.com says that although many gadgets can do that, this $179 mattress pad also can connect with Nest thermostats and adjust the heat in your home.

Geekwire.com reports that Alaska Air is phasing out their digEplayer, and will rent out Windows powered Toshiba tablets for 8-10 bucks for long haul flights. They’ll have an array of movies, Xbox games, music, and magazines. Free for first class, of course.

Secure chat app Wickr has added the ability to save photos and share with up to 151 friends securely for 24 hours on Facebook. Engadget.com says your friends logged into Wickr will see your post…others will just see random cat pictures!


Snapchat Adds Non-Disappearing Content

Snapchat is readying to start publishing original videos and articles…a feature that was delayed from implementing last fall. Theverge.com says the service, famous for self-deleting pictures that vanish in seconds, will launch its ad supported ‘Discover’ service late this month. In addition to original pieces from their own journalists and video producers, they will have content from CNN, ESPN, and Vice.

One of the great drags on electric car sales is the fear of running out of battery power. Cnet.com reports that BMW and VW have partnered with Chargepoint to create charging corridors. In the deal, Chargepoint will deploy at least 100 chargers along the East and West coasts. These will be able to fast charge, getting an electric vehicle up to 80% charge in less than a half hour. The plan is to have no more than a 50 mile gap between stations, and have them in place by the end of the year.

If proof was needed to show how badly people want to get away from Windows 8 iterations, 170,000 have signed up since Microsoft’s event this week to be Windows Insider beta testers for the upcoming Windows 10. Gigaom.com says that’s a 10% bump since the program started last fall. A lot of people are at least WANTING to love Windows.