Apple to Begin Producing New, Bigger iPhones Next Month, Report Says- David Gilinsky

Apple to Begin Producing New, Bigger iPhones Next Month, Report Says

(Image: Associated Press)

Apple’s suppliers will begin producing larger versions of the iPhone in China next month, Bloomberg reported citing sources.

Apple is ramping up production of iPhones with 4.7 and 5.5-inch screen sizes, which may be shipped to retailers around September, the report said. 

The current iPhone, the iPhone 5s, features a 4.0-inch screen, measured from corner to corner. That’s a far smaller display than competing smartphones from Samsung, whose Galaxy S5 has a 5.1-inch display. Analysts have prodded Apple to produce an iPhone with a larger screen: Surveys have shown increasing desire for bigger smartphone displays, especially in the developing nations where Apple can grow its business. 

Apple usually launches new versions of the smartphone line that drives half its business around the fall of every year. Many Apple-watchers expect the next iPhone, or iPhones, to arrive in September or October of this year. 

Mockups of the iPhone 6, from the tech site MacRumors. 

Tech blogger Sonny Dickson’s iPhone 6 mockup shows the 4.7-inch phone next to the 4.0-inch iPhone 5s and the 3.5-inch iPhone 4s.

The industry has speculated for some time now that Apple intends to design and sell a device with a larger screen, to fend off Samsung phones with much bigger displays that have proven popular in Asia and elsewhere.

Hon Hai Precision Industry will recruit over 100,000 people in mainland China to produce the newest iPhone from Apple, Taiwan’s Economic Daily News reported on Monday, in what the report called the firm’s largest single hiring spree in China.

Fellow Taiwanese contract manufacturer Pegatron Corp will also expand its workforce in one mainland factory by 30 percent, in response to expected high demand for the new iPhone.

Apple was not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

Apple Cuts Prices on iPod Touch- David Gilinsky

Apple Cuts Prices on iPod Touch

On Thursday morning, Apple announced price cuts to its line of iPod Touch devices, as well as an upgrade to its cheapest model.

The least expensive iPod Touch, which comes with 16 GB of storage, will now cost $199, and Apple has added a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and new color options, too. Previously, the 16 GB model cost $229, did not feature a camera, and was available only in silver. That’s a price drop of $30 and your choice of a new hue (pink, yellow, blue, silver, and space gray).

The price of the 32 GB iPod Touch dropped from $299 to $249, while the price of the 64 GB iPod Touch dropped from $399 to $299.

The 5-megapixel camera on the iPod Touch is a bit weaker than the one you’d get on an iPhone 5s, and the A5 processor is a bit slower, too.

Apple’s once-enormous iPod line has seen sales plummet as more buyers access their music libraries on smartphones. The iPod Touch features a touchscreen, WiFi access to the Internet, and Apple’s App Store, and, of course, a music player. 

The new iPod Touch is available immediately in the United States and will go on sale worldwide “in the coming days,” per an Apple press release. 

Hands on with a Google-powered smartwatch- David Gilinsky

Here’s a question to ask yourself before buying a smartwatch: Is it really that hard to just take your phone out of your pocket?

If you answered yes, you may want to consider the new watches from Samsung (SSNLF)and LG, the first to run on Google’s Android Wear software.

The main function of these devices is to save you the time of getting out your phone and opening it. This isn’t a very compelling problem, and the solutions Android Wear offers aren’t much of an improvement.

Android Wear runs on voice commands. There’s no keyboard function on LG’s G Watch or Samsung’s Gear Live. To do things like get directions or send texts and emails, you need to speak into the watch face. It’s up to you to decide which is more obtrusive: discreetly typing on your phone under the table or speaking loudly into your wrist like an elderly James Bond.

Related: Google Glass wearers can steal your password

The devices themselves won’t be first choice for the style-conscious, particularly those with smaller wrists. The watch faces are a bit bulky, and heavy enough that you’ll never forget they’re on your wrist.

With that said, they’re fairly sturdy — the Samsung Gear Live I tested survived several drops into a jug of water. The built-in step counter and heart rate monitor could be popular among the health-conscious, as could apps like fitness tracker Runtastic.

Android Wear has only recently been opened up to independent app developers, and the platform’s appeal will depend in large measure on what kinds of new watch uses these developers come up with.

For now, there are some fun novelty options: you can order takeout from your watch with Eat24, practice your language skills with Duolingo or find lasting romance with Tinder.Pinterest will even send you notifications when you’re walking near places you’ve pinned.

For more practical purposes, the MediSafe app will send reminders to your wrist about medications. Google (GOOGL, Tech30) Maps will give you turn-by-turn directions, and you can also get advance reminders about TV shows, appointments saved on Google Calendar and real-time traffic updates.

You’ll be able to do even more from your wrist as the world of connected devices grows. Philips has already released a line of lights that you can turn on or change colors using Android Wear.

Related: Google bans porn ads

But all these apps can be accessed from your Android phone as well — and in almost all cases with greater functionality. In fact, Android Wear will often direct you to open apps on your phone, including when you get alerts from Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) and Facebook(FB, Tech30) or when you search the Web.

Another shortcoming is the battery life — the Gear Live and LG’s G Watch need to be charged every night, an annoyance if you’re traveling a lot or used to sleeping with your watch on.

All this means that while these devices are an interesting concept, they don’t make sense to buy right now. They don’t do anything that can’t be accomplished easily via your smartphone, and they’re sure to be improved upon in the near future. Motorola is at work on a more stylish Android-powered watch that’s set for release within the next few months, and Apple (AAPL, Tech30) will likely debut a smartwatch of its own in the fall.

With longer battery life and a wider range of apps, these watches could one day compete to be your main entry point to the mobile Web. But for the time being, you’re better off with your smartphone and a Casio.

Why Is My Gadget Charging Very Slowly (or Not at All)?- David Gilinsky

Why Is My Gadget Charging Very Slowly (or Not at All)?

You plugged in your phone or tablet hours ago, and the battery has recharged about 10 percent. Or maybe the needle didn’t even move at all. The connection between the cable and the device seems fine, the charger’s plugged in, and the battery indicator says your device is charging. What went wrong?

It’s likely to be one of three problems (or a combination of them): You could be using the wrong kind of power outlet, the wrong kind of wall plug, or the wrong kind of USB cable. In each case, the slow charging has to do with amps, the rate at which electrons are flowing into your gadget.

Most mobile devices these days have 5-volt chargers, but they will still charge your device at different speeds depending on those amps. Smartphones usually come with 1-amp chargers. Tablets and larger phones usually come with 2-amp chargers. (This is why tablet chargers are also known as 10-watt chargers, as Amps × Volts = Watts. So, effectively, 1-amp chargers are 5W chargers and 2-amp chargers are 10W chargers.) If you’re charging directly from the USB port on your computer, the amperage may be as low as 0.5 amps.

Assuming the same voltage, the difference between a 0.5-amp, a 1-amp, and a 2-amp charger is like the difference between a one-lane, a two-lane, and a four-lane highway: At each step, twice as much charge is being delivered in the same amount of time.

The amperage of the charger that comes in the box with your device largely depends on the capacity of its battery. Because a lower-capacity battery will recharge more quickly, most phones come with a 1-amp charger in the box. But any device that ends with “-ablet” has a higher-capacity battery, so big smartphones, iPads and other tablets will come with a 2-amp charger to speed up the charge.

There are two cases where it’s easy to tell whether your amperage is insufficient for your device. First, avoid charging big gadgets from a powered USB 2.0 port on your computer; if it’s a USB 2.0 port, you’ll likely get between 0.5 and 1 amp. (USB 3.0 supports up to 5 amps when charging, so you should be OK with USB 3.0 port charging.) The same slower performance applies to many USB hubs, which may charge gadgets very slowly because they run at low amperage.

Second, just because the wall wart fits, it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for your device’s charging needs. The best example here is using the smaller (1-amp/5W) iPhone wall plug to recharge an iPad (which charges more quickly with a 2-amp/10W charger). In most cases, 1-amp AC adapters are physically smaller than 2-amp AC adapters, so you can usually judge how many amps you’re going to get based on the size of the adapter. If you’re unsure, the amperage is also printed on all wall plugs — albeit in the smallest, most eyesight-challenging font imaginable.

The third possible cause: It’s your choice of cable. This is trickier to identify, because all USB cables generally look the same. On the inside, however, they may support more or less amperage, and that important bit of information is never listed on the USB cable itself. At this point, you probably have an ever-growing collection of USB cables from various gadgets in a drawer somewhere. It’s hard to keep track of which cables go with which gadgets, but it really does make a difference, even if all the cables look identical.

One solution is to label or mark all your cables as soon as you get them. But what happens if a cable or two goes missing? If you want to replace a cable to charge your tablet without paying a premium for a manufacturer-supplied replacement, your best bet is to look for a 28/24 AWG (American Wire Gauge) USB cable. This is a wider gauge than the 28/28 cables supplied with 1-amp chargers, and more of the cables’ wires are dedicated to transferring a charge. These cables are easy to find at all the major outlets (Monoprice, Amazon, Newegg) starting at less than $2.

Don’t worry about any problems using a 2-amp charger with a device designed to be used with a 1-amp charger. In some cases, it may speed up charging of the smaller device. In other cases, the smaller device will limit its power-sipping to 1 amp. In general, if you want to take only a single cable on vacation to recharge all your mobile gear, the best bet is to bring along a 2-amp wall wart with a 28/24 cable. It should work fine with phones and tablets alike; just make sure you double-check that you packed it before leaving the house.

Man Faces Felony for Using a Drone to Film Outside a Hospital Window- David Gilinsky

Man Faces Felony for Using a Drone to Film Outside a Hospital Window

In the domestic drone debate, critics have argued that personal drones will usher in an era of rampant DIY surveillance, with cameras in the sky everywhere you turn. Proponents of that view have more ammunition this week, as an upstate New York man was arrested and faces felony charges for allegedly using a drone to film outside a medical exam room.

David Beesmer, 49, flew a drone within 15 feet of a hospital window where patients were being examined, according to a police report. There, Beesmer’s drone — a DJI Phantom 2, according to his Facebook page— was reportedly seen by patients and staff at the hospital. On Tuesday, Beesmer excitedly posted videos of the hospital to his page, but yesterday he apologized: “I truly realize that I should have asked first but did not think it would be an issue….only to discover that it sure is…” Beesmer was released from custody and will face the charges at a later date. He said the drone was unable to see through the tinted hospital windows.

Cases like this still aren’t an everyday occurrence, but as drone adoption rises in the United States, we’ll likely see more incidents. This week, the Federal Aviation Administration also announced that it was investigating whether a drone that filmed a congressman’s wedding was a violation of FAA regulations on commercial drones.

Apple iWatch Coming This October in Several Sizes, Reports Say- David Gilinsky

As promised, we are in full iWatch watch-mode, putting our ears to the ground for all the latest intel on Apple’s expected Internet-connected wrist device. The latest insider information points to a fall release, as early as October.

Oh, and, by the way, that may be “iWatches,” not just “iWatch.”

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Apple’s smartwatch will come in a variety of different screen sizes. And we should expect the iWatch(es) to pack 10 sensors, which will at least in part act as health and fitness trackers, according to The Journal.

Apple recently debuted Health, an app that collects your various health signs and stats in one place. For now, most of that data needs to come from devices made by other companies. An iWatch that can actually track all of those signs would make sense for Apple, to bring the process full circle. 

Also this week, sources cited by Reuters said they expect at least one iWatch display size to be 2.5 inches, shaped rectangularly and arching slightly upward to wrap around the wrist. These sources also “confirmed” that the iWatch will indeed use a touch display interface (like Samsung’s Gear) will charge wirelessly, (like Qualcomm’s Toq smartwatch), and will hit the production line this July.

Apple iWatch Coming This October in Several Sizes, Reports Say

Based on the Reuters report, the look of this iWatch concept may not be far off. (Mindspi Vision/YouTube)

None of this is confirmed, of course. But it’s looking more and more likely that we will indeed see an Internet-connected, touchscreen-toting smartwatch made by Apple this fall.

With an expected October released, the iWatch may already be well behind what could be its largest competition: smartwatches running Android Wear, Google’s recently announced operating system for wearable devices.

Google’s I/O developer conference is kicking off next week, and after the slow trickle of concept videos and wonky details, the anticipation is that we might finally see an honest-to-goodness unveiling of the first watch running Android Wear. Motorola, LG, and Samsung are a few companies that have said they will release Android Wear smartwatches; the Moto 360 has stoked the most interest, as its circular screen would be a smartwatch industry first. 

image

A still from the Android Wear developer preview video, released earlier this spring by Google. (Android Developers/YouTube)

Regardless of release timing, no one is counting out the impact Apple will likely have in the realm of smartwatches, regardless of how “late to the game” the company may end up being. Remember, the iPod launched well after other MP3 players; the iPhone debuted after several other smartphones; and the iPad was not the first tablet to hit the market.

Anyway, watch we will. If the swell of smartwatch reports concerning Apple, Samsung, LG, Google, and others is accurate, we could have a very lively and diverse smartwatch field for you to feast on by the time the year is up.

After Apollo: Do we need to go back to the moon?- David Gilinsky

In 1969 schoolboys were excitedly looking forward to the Apollo moon landing.In 1969 schoolboys were excitedly looking forward to the Apollo moon landing.

The Art of Movement is a monthly show that highlights the most significant innovations in science and technology that are helping shape our modern world.

            “Neil Armstrong is going to walk on the moon on Monday, July 21st.”

I couldn’t have envisaged that 45 years after writing that sentence during an infant school exercise I would still be writing about human exploration of the moon — or lack of it.

Throughout the 1970s, children’s magazines showed artists’ conceptions of the moon bases that would be built.

But following the global excitement of Armstrong’s step off the Eagle spacecraft’s ladder in July 1969 only 11 more astronauts have walked on the lunar surface and people have not been back since 1972.

The moon bases have not materialized and supersonic flights for commercial passengers, that looked like they would become commonplace after test flights during the Apollo era, came and then stopped.

 

‘One giant leap for mankind’

In the 1960s it was possible to see 3D movies just as it is today. In 1969 the Beatles were still together — just about, “Midnight Cowboy” won an Oscar for best picture, and Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” was published. They are all still firm favorites.

So have our advances been with such small steps in the intervening years or have we made giant leaps elsewhere? The 1960s might seem familiar but the world was actually very different.

There was no World Wide Web, no cell phones — at least not the kind that fit in your pocket — crude oil was a fraction of today’s price and the Soviet Union still existed.

The technology of today would have seemed like science fiction to a child of the 1960s.

The Apollo spacecraft that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon was equipped with a navigation computer that is puny in comparison to today’s devices.

NASA says the Apollo computers had a permanent memory of about 36,000 words and an erasable memory of about 2,000 words. Your smartphone likely has a 32 gigabyte storage facility — theoretically capable of storing about six billion words and it is a lot more versatile than the hardware on the moon capsules.

You can make a video call to a person on the other side of the world, find out your exact position on the Earth to an accuracy of a few meters thanks to satellite navigation, shoot video and share it almost instantaneously, and all from a device that fits in the palm of your hand.

Over the last few decades scientists have become more successful in treating cancers, identified individual genes that cause disease and created bionic limbs for disabled patients.

So why haven’t we been back to the moon?

NASA points out that the moon has not been ignored.

“In the 45 years since the Apollo program, NASA has continued scientific study of the moon through robotic explorers,” said a NASA spokesman.

“Contemporary missions like NASA’s GRAIL, LADEE, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have helped us explore the upper atmosphere, surface, and interior of our nearest neighbor in the solar system.

NASA’s fleet of robotic explorers are extending our senses throughout the solar system, as we seek answers to fundamental questions like ‘are we alone? How did life begin on Earth? Can we live on other worlds?
NASA spokesman

“At the same time, NASA’s fleet of robotic explorers are extending our senses throughout the solar system, as we seek answers to fundamental questions like ‘are we alone? How did life begin on Earth? Can we live on other worlds?'” he said.

Perhaps then, a better question should be: does it reallymatter that we haven’t returned to the moon in person?

Major advances

Amazing discoveries have also been made in space since the 1960s.

Hundreds of new worlds have been found outside our solar system since the existence of the first exoplanet was confirmed in the 1990s. This year, NASA announced for the first time that an Earth-sized planet that could be habitable had been found 490 light years from us.

READ: Will we find another Earth?

Astronomers estimate there are tens of billions of similar, possibly habitable planets in our own galaxy.

Closer to home, a fleet of NASA rovers has explored the surface of Mars sending back amazing panoramas and drilling into the rocks to test their composition. And it’s not just NASA. India’s first Mars orbiter is on its way to the Red Planet and private companies are also proposing adventures there.

Probes have been sent on a grand tour of the solar system since the Apollo program — Voyager 1 launched in 1977 is now in interstellar space — and other spacecraft have studied Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Titan.

We may not have a moon base yet but nations have come together since Apollo to build the International Space Station. Covering an area the size of a football field, it has been in continuous occupation since 2000 and carries cameras that give high definition video pictures of our home planet.

Our view of the universe has also changed considerably since 1969, partly due to the wealth of images captured by the Hubble space telescope that was launched in 1990. Last year it was announced that Hubble had discovered an exoplanet with a deep blue color and where it possibly rains liquid glass.

The European Space Agency (ESA) this year launched the billion pixel Gaia space telescope with the task of building a 3D map of the Milky Way. A successor to Hubble — the James Webb Space Telescope — is currently being built and scheduled for launch in 2018.

Exciting missions are also under way. The Rosetta spacecraft is due to orbit a comet beginning in August 2014 and then land a probe on its surface as it races around the Sun.

Other nations are planning to reach out to the moon, Mars and Jupiter while entrepreneurs are aiming to launch commercial space flights. Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX are all competing to enable access to space.

Where next?

So is it all over for moon exploration? NASA says not though its focus is on sending astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.

“As international partners and the growing U.S. commercial space industry venture beyond low-Earth orbit as well, there may be some opportunities to return humans and robots to the lunar surface. Our roadmap for exploration includes the possibility of assisting partners with that kind of exploration, but our investments in human spaceflight are focused on enabling the path to Mars,” a NASA spokesman told CNN.

“We’ll soon return humans to the vicinity of the moon … [a] proving ground we need to test these key capabilities and help us advance on the human path to Mars,” he said.