Bloomberg: Apple is working on iPhones with designs and features like nothing we’ve ever seen

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iPhone X Plus Release Date

Apple’s tenth-anniversary iPhone X marked the first big redesign on the company’s smartphones since 2014, when Apple finally relented and released an iPhone “phablet” with a significantly larger display. Earlier iPhone models all had screens that measured between 3.5 inches and 4 inches diagonally, even as customers clamored for an iPhone with a bigger screen. The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus would end up flying off of store shelves as a result of the pent-up demand for bigger iPhones, and their sales record would still stand today if Apple’s holiday quarter the following year didn’t include an extra week.

But the iPhone X redesign was far more substantial than the iPhone 6 and even the iPhone 6 Plus phablet. The handset’s iconic home button was completely removed so that the phone could adopt an “all-screen” design, and some fancy internal engineering allowed Apple to extend the display almost all the way to the bottom of the phone. Touch ID fingerprint authentication, which had become a staple that was copied by every other smartphone maker in the world, was also removed and replaced by a new 3D facial recognition system called Face ID.

The iPhone X was indeed a bold reimagining of the iPhone, and it looks like Apple has no plans to stop there. According to a new report, Apple is working on new iPhone designs and new features that are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before from Apple.

Bloomberg on Wednesday issued a new report that may offer some insights into Apple’s plans for the iPhone of the future. We’re not talking about the distant future here, but rather a few years from now. The site has a good track record when it comes to Apple’s unannounced plans, so this may indeed be our first taste of things to come from the most successful consumer tech company in the world.

According to the report, Apple is working on both new designs and new features for its iPhone lineup that are unlike anything we’ve seen before from the Cupertino, California-based company. Bloomberg says Apple is internally developing “touchless gesture control” features that would let an iPhone user “perform some tasks by moving [his or her] finger close to the screen without actually tapping it.”

It’s unclear what exactly would be gained by moving one’s finger in front of the screen rather than tapping it. Apple does have several patents on glasses-free 3D display technology, however, and the company has also been researching various holographic display features. It’s possible that these touchless gestures could be tied to one of those solutions, though Bloomberg’s report makes no mention of holographic displays or glasses-free 3D images. The report does cite one unnamed source as indicating that this technology won’t make its way into Apple’s iPhone lineup for “at least two years,” if at all, so we’ll undoubtedly learn more about it soon.

On the design front, the report claims that Apple is working on curved screens for future iPhone models. Again citing just one anonymous source, Bloomberg says Apple is “developing iPhone displays that curve inward gradually from top to bottom.” This is a curious claim for a few reasons, but the biggest is the claim that Apple is considering the move “to differentiate design in crowded marketplace.” Apple is not a company that has been known to do things just to differentiate its products from competitive offerings.

On top of that, phones with screens that “curve inward gradually from top to bottom” are nothing new. LG released two different smartphones with that exact design, but then abandoned the “G Flex” line due to a lack of interest from consumers.

The only way we could see this rumor making sense is if the curvature of the phone serves an important purpose. For example, if Apple is indeed working on touchless gesture control, a slight curve could help Apple better position cameras and sensors in order to detect movements close to the screen. This is just speculation on our part, however.

Bloomberg notes that the new curved iPhone design and Apple’s supposed touchless gestures are “still in the early research and development stage and Apple could choose to not go forward with the enhancements.”

Apple – BGR

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Let’s Talk iOS 232: Now that we’ve got your attention

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Let's Talk iOS podcast on iPhone X

Cody and Sebastien talk about Apple’s education event and a recap of the products that might be unveiled. They also talk about the inevitable Facebook.
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We’ve Seen What Bots Do to Democracy. Are We Adapting Fast Enough?

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During the 2016 U.S. election, an estimated one in every five tweets about the election were from bots. They were also promoting far-right candidates in France and Germany in 2017, and now, are spreading false information in Ireland ahead of a contentious referendum on abortion. This keeps happening. Why?

Or rather: Why isn’t anything being done to prevent bots from interfering with voting?

Governments and media platforms are (ostensibly) trying. Federal and state authorities have begun looking into the proliferation of fake Twitter users, and a Russian bot farm was even indicted by the U.S. special investigation into the election. Twitter has been cracking down on bots by changing its software, and in January removed the over 50,000 Russian-linked accounts that posted automated messages during the election (though we can’t help but feel that’s too little, too late). Facebook did the same with several hundred fake accounts in September 2017.

In Ireland, officials are trying to introduce legislation that would require social media companies verify that anyone taking out a political ad is a real person, and share that information both with regulators and alongside the ad itself. Unfortunately, if it passes, that legislation likely won’t come into affect until after the referendum is over. Yet lawmakers also feel the law will be relevant to prevent foreign influence in future elections.

While government legislation moves frustratingly slow in comparison to the speed of news, it’s that kind of future-forward thinking that we’re going to need if we want to get our bot problem under control. Government action could be the only way to get social media platforms to implement broader countermeasures; as seen in the case of upcoming EU privacy laws, it’s often too difficult for platforms to cherry pick in which countries their settings apply, so legislation in one country can change a platform for everyone.

Facebook already has plans to verify ad buyers in a very old-fashioned way for the upcoming U.S. midterm elections, but those rules seem to only be applied in the U.S.

All of which is to say: Platforms are, understandably, reluctant to come up with rules that would make it harder for people to spend money on their sites, or that limit the growth of new users. Yet those platforms also rely on all of us that trust them to make social media a safe and trustworthy place to waste spend time. We can’t necessarily make online political discourse civil; but with enough pressure from users, we might be able to at least make it human.

The post We’ve Seen What Bots Do to Democracy. Are We Adapting Fast Enough? appeared first on Futurism.


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The MacBook Air is finally getting the Pro feature we’ve wanted for years

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MacBook Air 2018 Specs

Some rumors said not too long ago that the MacBook Air’s demise is almost certain, even though the Air is one of Apple’s most iconic designs and an inspiration for so many products from the competition. The new 12-inch Retina MacBook was seen as the Air’s replacement, and Apple did kill the 11-inch model.

But a recent batch of rumors indicated that Apple is looking to introduce an even cheaper MacBook Air this year. Currently, the $ 999 MacBook Air is the cheapest Mac you can buy from Apple. News from Asia, however, says that Apple might not reduce the price of the laptop. Instead, MacBook Pro feature Air owners wanted for years is finally making its way to the notebook.

Sources familiar with Apple’s supply chain told Digitimes that the new entry-level MacBook will be launched at the end of the second quarter, priced “bout the same level as that of the existing MacBook Air or slightly higher.”

This entry-level MacBook can only be an Air model because the same report says the device is getting a 13.3-inch a-Si panel made by LG Display. The screen will have the same 2560 x 1600 resolution as the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Current MacBook Air models sport 13.3-inch screens with 1440 x 900 resolution. The MacBook, meanwhile, has a 12-inch display with 2304 x 1440 resolution.

The report notes that LG Display will begin supplying the panel in April, with the new MacBook Air expected to enter mass production in May or early June. Quanta Computer won 70% of the orders, and Foxconn the rest. The report doesn’t mention an actual launch date for the new laptop, but a WWDC 2018 launch certainly makes sense.

Apple wants to manufacture six million units this year, although analysts expect volume to reach only four million.

Finally, the same Digitimes says that Apple is also going to release a new “inexpensive” 9.7-inch iPad, which will be a refreshed version of the current model. The tablet will go on sale in the second quarter of 2018, while new iPad Pro models are due in the second half of the year.

Apple – BGR

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Want some protection against the rollback of net neutrality? We’ve got an option…

It can’t hurt to take some precautions against any eventuality…and a VPN service from an industry stalwart like Private Internet Access may be just the ticket to assure at least some protection. Right now, you can even get a one-year subscription to PIA for just $ 34.95 (a 58 percent savings) from TNW Deals.
The Next Web

This is the lowest price we’ve seen on Amazon’s Cloud Cam

Don’t miss out on this limited-time deal.

Since its release (which wasn’t long ago), the Amazon Cloud Cam has sold for $ 119.99. You could get it for a little less if you bought multiple cameras at the same time, this is a match for the lowest price we’ve seen it hit. Grab one today for just $ 89.99, or maybe just go for two of them while you’re at it.

You have access to the last 24 hours of motion alert clips for free and the free Cloud Cam app will push notifications based on the settings you select. It has night vision, two-way audio and much more. Amazon offers a few different Cloud Cam Plans, starting at $ 6.99 a month or $ 69.99 a year and going up to $ 19.99 a month or $ 199.99 a year, depending on your needs.

See at Amazon

iMore – Learn more. Be more.

We’ve Seen Less Than One Percent of Mars. NASA’s New Lander Is Going To Change That.

Gaining Insight

NASA is just a few months away from the May 2018 launch of their Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) Mars lander. Once it touches down on the Red Planet in November, the craft is expected to provide NASA with highly desired information on Mars’s inner workings.

A Robotic Census Of Mars [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

Previous investigations into Mars have led to some remarkable discoveries, including exposed water ice and violent snowstorms, but to date, we’ve explored very little of our neighbor. The InSight mission aims to change that.

“We have yet to look inside of Mars. We have only seen less than one percent of Mars,” Sue Smrekar, deputy principal investigator of the InSight mission, told CNBC. “What we are going to do now is look under the hood. We are going to look at the rest of Mars, the other 99.9 percent that we have never seen before.”

An Informative Checkup

According to the InSight mission overview, the lander will study the size, thickness, density, and overall structure of Mars’s core, mantle, and crust. It will also measure the rate at which heat escapes the planet.

A solar array will ensure InSight collects and stores enough solar energy to power its many instruments, some of which Bruce Banerdt, the mission’s principal investigator, detailed in a NASA news release.

“We’ll study [Mars’s] pulse by ‘listening’ for marsquakes with a seismometer. We’ll take its temperature with a heat probe. And we’ll check its reflexes with a radio experiment,” said Banerdt. “Think of InSight as Mars’s first health checkup in more than 4.5 billion years.”

InSight’s objectives don’t end there. Recent studies have found evidence of water near the planet’s equator and potentially trapped in rocks. InSight has been tasked with locating ice and confirming whether or not liquid water flows beneath Mars’s surface. Any new information regarding water on Mars will be invaluable to attempts to establish habitats or colonize the planet.

Beyond teaching us about Mars, the InSight mission is expected to help us better understand how our own planet formed. Unlike Venus, Mercury, or the Moon, Mars is large enough to have undergone the same processes that shaped the Earth’s formation nearly 4 billion years ago, but small enough to still show signs of those processes.

By exploring Mars with InSight, we’ll learn more about our planet’s past and how to prepare for our species’ off-world future.

The post We’ve Seen Less Than One Percent of Mars. NASA’s New Lander Is Going To Change That. appeared first on Futurism.


The Return of a TouchArcade Favorite: ‘Disc Drivin 2’ Arrives February 1st, and We’ve Got All the Details

If there ever was a game that was like THE game of TouchArcade, I think Pixelocity Software’s Disc Drivin’ [$ 2.99 / Free / $ 4.99 (HD)] would earn that title hands down. Originally launching way back in December of 2010, Disc Drivin’ is a digital take on an obscure board game called Pitch Car where players would take turns flicking a disc around a course in an effort to cross the finish line first. This mechanic translated beautifully in Disc Drivin’ as the flicking of the disc felt totally at home on the touchscreen and the turn-based nature of the game meant that people could play the game around their own schedule. I loved Disc Drivin’ when it originally launched, and numerous updates added pretty much everything I could ever wish for in the game, like additional tracks and customizable discs. I can’t overstate just how much of an obsession Disc Drivin’ became amongst the TouchArcade staff in the following years, and there’s a dedicated base of fans who continue to play to this day. Here’s the very old original trailer for Disc Drivin’ just in case you’re not familiar with the game.

Well, you may remember back in February of last year Disc Drivin’ received a 64-bit update to save it from the 32-bit Appocalypse, and alongside that update came a tease that something new was cooking for the series. Many speculated that a sequel was in the works, and today Pixelocity is officially announcing Disc Drivin’ 2 as being a real thing that exists. This is the only gif I could think of to adequately express just how happy this news makes me.

So what’s new in Disc Drivin’ 2? Quite a lot actually. The biggest fundamental change is that now players will be able to take two swipes per turn instead of one. In the original game you’d aim and then flick your disc and let the momentum carry it to wherever it would go. You could bounce off of walls or other objects to change your trajectory or use different power-ups to ultimately change the movement of your disc, and indeed that was a big part of the strategy, but for the most part once you flicked you were at the mercy of the physics engine until your disc came to a stop. In Disc Drivin’ 2 you’ll be able to take that initial flick but then while your disc is in motion you can take a second flick and change the direction you’re going. Here’s a couple animated gifs that show the new second swipe functionality in action.

In both the above instances the person taking their turn would have flown off the edge of the track, nullifying their progress in that turn, had there been no second swipe. It’s a pretty fundamental change to the Disc Drivin’ formula, but I’m all for it. The next big change in this sequel is that Pixelocity is now using spline-based tracks, and all that really means in layman’s terms is that the tracks in the game will now have much smoother curvatures and can now feature elevation changes. Yes, elevation changes! The courses look absolutely awesome now and should be much more dynamic than they were in the original game.

Special power-ups and weapons will again be a big part of the formula in Disc Drivin’ 2. I expect many of the originals to make a return, but there are new ones too like a missile and a blast move, and the power-ups in the game are upgradeable now too. Just as important as the power-ups are the various types of hazards and traps you can encounter on a course, and those are making a return as well. Hazards are more dynamic this time around, and can feature moving parts. Below you can see two of the new and improved hazards, on the left a force field area that pushes you off the track if you don’t break through its resitance, and on the right a panel with spikes that pop in and out. This second gif also shows the new Blast weapon in action.

One more pretty major change in Disc Drivin’ 2 is something called Disc Abilities. As Pixelocity themselves explains them, “Before starting a race, you choose the one disc ability you’d like to use for the duration of that race. Abilities can counter a specific hazard (like preventing water puddles from slowing you down), improve a power (like increasing the power’s duration), or affect enemy discs (like push them out of the way).” With things like these new Disc Abilities and the upgradeable power-ups, it sounds like Disc Drivin’ 2 will offer a lot more depth and strategy than the original game, which was fun in its simplicity but also pretty shallow. Here’s a gallery of screenshots showing off some of the games 15+ new tracks, the new abilities and hazards, and plenty of new disc types. Click on any of the screens for a larger look.

Finally, both local and online asynchronous multiplayer are returning (obviously!) but Disc Drivin’ 2 will also include a neat-sounding single-player mode called Speedrun. Here you’ll have an unlimited number of swipes and your goal will be to complete 3 laps of a particular course in as little time as possible. Your progress in this mode will help you earn cards which go towards unlocking new Disc Abilities, upgrading power-ups, and unlocking new types of discs. While multiplayer has always been the focus of Disc Drivin’ I think it will be nice to have something to accomplish solo when you’re not partaking in online matches.

So that’s the skinny on Disc Drivin’ 2, as you can probably tell I’m pretty excited about the announcement as the original game stands as one of my longest and most enjoyed gaming experience ever. If you’ve got that Disc Drivin’ love too then you’re probably wondering when we can get our hands on the sequel. Well hold onto your butts because Disc Drivin’ 2 is set to go live in the App Store next week on February 1st. Yes, next week! Unsurprisingly given the times we live in Disc Drivin’ 2 will be free to play, so I’m interested to see how that’s handled, but knowing Pixelocity I’m sure it will be more than fine. Regardless I couldn’t be more excited to revisit this old friend of mine, so keep an eye out for Disc Drivin’ 2 when it hits next Thursday.


AT&T rumored to launch the most affordable iPhone deal we’ve seen this year

iPhone Prepaid Deal

The iPhone X may be the hottest new iPhone in town, but it’s not the only new iPhone you can buy right now. Apple has a large number of iPhone models in stock, many of them being a lot more affordable than the iPhone X.

If you’re shopping for a new iPhone on a budget, and you want to get a brand new model rather than a used device, you should keep an eye for an upcoming AT&T prepaid offer.

The carrier will soon sell the 32GB iPhone 6s for just $ 300 on a $ 45 monthly plan. $ 100 more gets you the bigger iPhone 6s Plus. In both cases, you have to pay the first month of service, so you’d pad $ 345 or $ 445, respectively.

AT&T did not announce the deal yet, but 9to5Mac got wind of. Compared to similar offers from Virgin and T-Mobile, you’d get some $ 150 in savings, the report notes.

AT&T already offers two iPhones on prepaid plans, including the iPhone SE and iPhone 6. AT&T’s iPhone 6 and iPhone SE are slightly cheaper, at $ 245 and $ 192, and these prices do not include the first month of wireless service.

But the iPhone 6s is a much better phone than the iPhone 6. It’s still a more than decent handset that has aged quite well, and I’m telling you this as a former iPhone 6s owner who just upgraded to the iPhone X. Rather than buying the Phone 6, you’d be much better off going for the iPhone 6s instead.

The iPhone 6s starts at $ 449 at Apple.

AT&T’s offer should be unveiled on Friday, the report notes, so keep checking AT&T’s site for more news on this iPhone prepaid deal

Apple – BGR

What We’ve Seen So Far at CES 2018

CES 2018: Status Report

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show is now in full swing. Between now and Friday, January 12, all kinds of technology — both conceptual and practical — will be unveiled and trotted out in front of audiences. We’ve already written about what you can expect to see from CES 2018, but as day one draws to a close, it’s a good time to check-in on what’s already trending.

Quantum Computing

Intel announced a 17-quantum bit (qubit) chip last October, but during the company’s keynote address on January 8, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich unveiled a 49-qubit chip — the company has taken a big step towards quantum supremacy. Code-named “Tangle Lake,” Intel explained in a press release that the chip will “allow researchers to assess and improve error correction techniques and simulate computational problems.” Specific details regarding when the quantum chip would be available for use were not given.

Intel’s announcements included details regarding a neuromorphic research chip code-named “Loihi.” The chip is designed to mimic the way neurons communicate in the brain. Loihi is meant to make machine learning more efficient, and could one day be used to make better security cameras, and enable smart-city infrastructure to communicate with autonomous vehicles.

TVs and Voice Assistants Unite

Get ready to talk to your TVs even more than you already do, as both Samsung and LG are implementing digital voice assistants into their 2018 TV lineup. Samsung is using its own Bixby assistant, which will allow users to search for movies and TV shows, play a song from Spotify, and even check the weather.

As reported by CNET, LG has decided to go with the Google Assistant, allowing users to command select TVs to search for the soundtrack from a movie, or turn off the TV when a show has finished. All of this can be done with voice commands via the remote.

Voice assistants are also being added to even more products. Bixby, for example, is making its way into Samsung’s Family Hub Refrigerator, while Amazon’s Alexa will be incorporated into LG’s InstaView ThinQ fridge and HiMirror’s Mini mirror. Google, meanwhile, is launching several Google assistant-powered smart displays to compete with the Amazon Echo Show.

HTC Vive Pro VR Headset

In Futurism’s “Five Things to Expect from This Year’s Biggest Tech Show,” we said HTC would be attending CES 2018 and could have something to reveal. Turns out, that something was the HTC Vive Pro headset. According to HTC, the Vive Pro is meant for hardcore VR enthusiasts who want the best audio and video possible. The new headset utilizes dual-OLED displays to provide a resolution of 2880 x 1600 — roughly a 78 percent improvement over the current Vive headset. Details regarding pricing and release date were not given.

Alongside the Vive Pro, HTC also unveiled the Vive wireless adapter. Compatible with the Vive Pro as well as the original Vive headset, the wireless adapter will enable wireless VR experiences — eliminating the possibility of getting tangled up in cables or unplugging the headset by accident. Like the Vive Pro, a price was not set, but the wireless adapter is scheduled to be released sometime later in 2018.

Robots Take One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Hanson Robotics’ Sophia, the robot that Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to in 2017, took her first steps at CES 2018 using a new pair of legs designed by the DRC-Hubo team at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.

But the story of LG’s Vice President of Marketing David VanderWaal having a less-than-ideal time with the company’s CLOi robot made a far bigger splash. As reported by Mirror, during the live demonstration, VanderWaal attempted to show how CLOi is supposed to help control various home appliances and organize everyday tasks. Things went smoothly at first, but then CLOi seemed to malfunction, failing to respond to VanderWaal’s prompts. In the end, VanderWaal had to continue the presentation using a touchscreen.

LG has yet to disclose when CLOi will be available for purchase, or how much it will cost, but based on its unexpected performance at the event, it may be a way’s off.

The Toyota e-Palette

Toyota debuted its e-Palette autonomous vehicle at CES 2018, and while the conceptual product looks like a high-tech rectangle on wheels, the company’s plans for the vehicle are ambitious, to say the least.

The company wants to create a multi-purpose transportation and mobility platform for itself and its partners, which include Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut, and Uber. Toyota explained that the interior of the e-Palette can by outfitted to suit a company’s needs, be it for package delivery, a ride-sharing service, or a mobile food truck.

Toyota and its aforementioned partners have formed an e-Palette Alliance to determine the best ways of using autonomous technology to forward their respective businesses and  improve on the e-Palette design. Toyota intends to begin testing in 2020, which aligns with the company’s previous declaration that they would test AI-powered cars in the same year.

An Electric Car With a 400-Mile Range

We heard about Fisker’s EMotion electric vehicle in 2017, but the company officially revealed the car at this year’s CES. The car has some notable specifications: a 400-mile range, 9-minute charging, autonomous driving capabilities, and a sleek exterior and interior design. If Fisker ends up incorporating its solid-state battery into the vehicle, the company could improve on the EMotion’s already impressive range and charging time.

$ 130,000 is a steep asking price, but anyone who wants one of the vehicles has time to save up. The car isn’t supposed to go into production until later this year, with a release to follow in 2019. Electrek suggests people temper their excitement, however, until it goes into production and people get to put the EMotion through its paces. Fisker’s last car, the Karma Revero, didn’t review well.

Radiation-Blocking Underwear

You can’t say CES 2018 doesn’t have something for everyone. According to Slate, the  Spartan underwear company was showcasing its cellphone radiation-proof boxers at the event. Spartan sold more than 30,000 boxers in 2017, so there’s clearly a market for underwear with an “electromagnetic shield that blocks radiation” among men who feel the need to offer their sensitive areas some additional protection.

The post What We’ve Seen So Far at CES 2018 appeared first on Futurism.