The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be

There’s an empty space in my heart for a minimalist phone with only the most basic functions. Bad for my heart, but good for a handful of companies putting out devices aiming to fill it. Punkt’s latest, the MP02, goes a little ways to making the device I desire, but it isn’t quite there yet. Punkt’s first device included just texting and calling, which would likely have worked as intended if not for the inconvenient choice to have it connect only to 2G networks. These networks are being shut down and replaced all over the world, so you would have ended up with a phone that was even more limited than you expected. The MP02 is the sequel, and it adds a couple useful features. It runs on 4G LTE networks, which should keep it connected for years to come, and it has gained both threaded texting (rather than
Continue reading "The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be"

Here’s what Google’s $149 Home Hub smart display will reportedly look like

Google is reportedly getting ready to launch some new hardware at its October 9 hardware event and we just learned a lot more about a new product that might be launching. It was rumored that Google was working on its own Smart Display, now we’ve got images of the Google Home Hub and details about its price tag via a report from AndroidAuthority.

via Android Authority

The device certainly looks like a Google Home product with all the fabric anyone could ask for and then far, far more on top of it. It’s rocking a 7-inch screen and will cost just $149, which is quite a bit cheaper than the 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display which is currently the cheapest option at $199 while its 10-inch varietal ships for $249 as does the stereo-speakered JBL Link View. Having played around with Lenovo’s product, Google has some very pretty software for their
Continue reading "Here’s what Google’s $149 Home Hub smart display will reportedly look like"

iRobot i7+ initial impressions

After its go around my apartment, the i7+ is “still learning.” It’s fitting sentiment for the new Roomba, which iRobot is positioning as much as a platform as a robotic vacuum. Like a smartphone, it’s designed to learn new tricks over the life of the product, through over the air updates.

In this particular case, however, it’s learning the layout of my place. The i7+ builds on the moderately useful dirt mapping rolled out on the 900 series early last year. With a couple of cleans, the new Roomba gets to know the layout of your apartment, building a “Smart Map” in the process.

iRobot claims such features will have added usefulness as time goes by, including the long-promised ability to serve as a sort of connective tissue for a user’s smart home. For now, however, they serve one key role: teaching the robot to distinguish one room from

Continue reading "iRobot i7+ initial impressions"

Spire Health Tags are now on Apple’s shelves

Spire’s Health Tags, the dark and tiny devices you stick on your clothes to gather all sorts of health data from your steps, heartbeat and stress levels is now available at your local Apple Store. The company started out with a breath tracking device to detect when you are feeling tense and help calm you down. But four years in and its now all about the wearable “tags” you stick on items of clothing like your pants or sports bra. Yes, yes, there are lots of gadgets out there to gather similar information — the Apple Watch will now even detect if you have a fall or something is wrong with your heart — but the Spire health tag is nothing like a Fitbit or Apple Watch, according to the company. For one, there’s zero need to charge the device. One tag’s battery will last a year and a half
Continue reading "Spire Health Tags are now on Apple’s shelves"

Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch

Any time a smaller company is gobbled up by a larger one, you assume the worse. In the case of Nokia buying Withings, that’s more or less what happened. First Nokia launched a handful of products under its own name and ultimately dropped the French health hardware company altogether.

Four months ago, one of Withings’ co-founders bought the brand back from Nokia. And today, the innovative French hardware company returns with a new take on an old product. The Steel HR Sport. It’s a welcome return for what had become one of my favorite fitness trackers, prior to the brand’s untimely demise, back in May.

The Steel line’s simplicity has always been among its most appealing features. The original, launched in 2014, was one of the early hybrid smartwatches — a fairly standard analog timepiece that hides some smart features below the surface. The devices feature a small monochrome display

Continue reading "Withings returns from the dead with Steel HR Sport watch"

Amazon reportedly has an Alexa microwave and more on the way

Roughly this time last year, Amazon unleashed a ton of Alexa devices on the world, including the Spot and new Echos. It follows, then, that the company’s got something up its sleeve for this year, just in time to prime the pump ahead of the holidays.

According to a report from CNBC, the retail giant is planning to release “at least” eight Alexa hardware devices at an event later this month. The list is certainly diverse, including an automotive gadget, amplifier, a receiver and a subwoofer. Those last three likely work in tandem and would put the company in direct competition with the likes of Sonos.

Ditto for the automotive. Companies like Garmin already offer in-car Alexa products, while carmakers have begun incorporating the assistant into their infotainment systems. It’s an interesting tact, given that the company has appeared more inclined to let third parties do much of the

Continue reading "Amazon reportedly has an Alexa microwave and more on the way"

Apple Watch and other hardware reportedly spared by new Trump tariffs

The latest round of Trump administration tariffs is set to affect a number of different industries. At least one category previously expected to be impacted, however, is likely to be spared, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

According to anonymous sources, the tariffs impacting a slew of consumer electronics, running the gamut from the Apple Watch to Fitbit trackers to Sonos speakers, has not made it into the final language. That means, for this round at least, those products should be spared the tax that would drive up the cost of such imports.

Trump administration tariffs have been the centerpiece of a looming trade war between the U.S. and China. Earlier today, China was reportedly set to cancel further trade talks, should the U.S. announce additional tariffs. They’ve been a domestic issue as well, as companies like Harley-Davidson have announced plans to move some production overseas to

Continue reading "Apple Watch and other hardware reportedly spared by new Trump tariffs"

OnePlus is developing its own smart TV

Smartphone upstart OnePlus’s upcoming 6T flagship promises to bring changes — it’ll see it ditch the headphone jack and sport an in-screen fingerprint reader — but first there’s something else. OnePlus is developing its first smart TV. CEO Pete Lau revealed the details today, explaining that the device will mark the five-year-old company’s next step to “building a connected human experience.” “For most of us, there are four major environments we experience each day: the home, the workplace, the commute, and being on-the-move. The home – perhaps the most important environment experience – is just starting to enjoy the benefits of intelligent connectivity,” he wrote on the company’s website. “We want to bring the home environment to the next level of intelligent connectivity. To do this, we are building a new product of OnePlus’ premium flagship design, image quality and audio experience to more seamlessly connect the home,”
✍
Continue reading "OnePlus is developing its own smart TV"

Amazon taps Getty to provide images for visual searches on the Echo Show and Echo Spot

On the heels of the Getty family regaining control of Getty Images, reportedly for about $3 billion, the company is announcing a move to expand use of its images to a wider set of eyeballs. It will now work with Amazon to provide images from its catalog of 200 million digital images to populate searches on its screen-based Echo Show and Echo Spot devices. The deal also comes amid rumors of a supposed launch of a screen-based Google Home device (made by the king of search, Google) to compete with the Echo Show, ahead of the holiday season. It’s not clear if the Getty deal will mean that those building skills for the Echo devices will also be able to tap the Getty catalog, or if this is just for Amazon’s basic search feature — or something in between. We have contacted Amazon and Getty to ask and will update
Continue reading "Amazon taps Getty to provide images for visual searches on the Echo Show and Echo Spot"

A new CSS-based web attack will crash and restart your iPhone

A security researcher has found a new way to crash and restart any iPhone — with just a few lines of code. Sabri Haddouche tweeted a proof-of-concept webpage with just 15 lines of code which, if visited, will crash and restart an iPhone or iPad. Those on macOS may also see Safari freeze when opening the link. The code exploits a weakness in iOS’ web rendering engine WebKit, which Apple mandates all apps and browsers use, Haddouche told TechCrunch. He explained that nesting a ton of elements — such as <div> tags — inside a backdrop filter property in CSS, you can use up all of the device’s resources and cause a kernel panic, which shuts down and restarts the operating system to prevent damage. “Anything that renders HTML on iOS is affected,” he said. That means anyone sending you a link on Facebook or Twitter, or if any webpage you
💣
Continue reading "A new CSS-based web attack will crash and restart your iPhone"

NASA’s climate-monitoring space laser is the last to ride to space on a Delta II rocket

This weekend, NASA is launching a new high-tech satellite to monitor the planet’s glacier and sea ice levels — with space lasers, naturally. ICESat-2 will be a huge boon for climatologists, and it’s also a bittersweet occasion: it will be the final launch aboard the trusty Delta II rocket, which has been putting birds in the air for nearly 30 years. Takeoff is set for 5:46 AM Pacific Time Saturday morning, so you’ll have to get up early if you want to catch it. You can watch the launch live here, with NASA coverage starting about half an hour before. Keeping track of the Earth’s ice levels is more important than ever; with climate change causing widespread havoc, precise monitoring of major features like the Antarctic ice sheet could help climatologists predict and understand global weather patterns. Like Aeolus, which launched in July, ICESat-2 is a spacecraft with a
Continue reading "NASA’s climate-monitoring space laser is the last to ride to space on a Delta II rocket"

California is ‘launching our own damn satellite’ to track pollution, with help from Planet

California plans to launch a satellite to monitor pollution in the state and contribute to climate science, Governor Jerry Brown announced today. The state is partnering with satellite imagery purveyor Planet to create a custom craft to “pinpoint – and stop – destructive emissions with unprecedented precision, on a scale that’s never been done before.” Governor Brown made the announcement in the closing remarks of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, echoing a pledge made two years ago to scientists at the American Geophysical Union’s 2016 meeting. “With science still under attack and the climate threat growing, we’re launching our own damn satellite,” Brown said today. Planet, which has launched hundreds of satellites in the last few years in order to provide near-real-time imagery of practically anywhere on Earth, will develop and operate the satellite. The plan is to equip it with sensors that can detect pollutants
Continue reading "California is ‘launching our own damn satellite’ to track pollution, with help from Planet"

The new iPhone’s here, so Google wants to talk Pixel 3

In the off-chance you haven’t already had your fill of phone news for the week, Google just offered up a few friendly reminders that it’s got its own handset coming out in the not so distant future.

The company’s event isn’t happening until early next month, but Google’s started with the teasers. Here’s a site with a big number 3, while over here a “coming soon” placeholder shows off the rough outline of what one assumes is the new phone.

It’s pretty bare bones at the moment, but a click of the “G” logo unleashes a slow, steady stream of confetti. As Android Police handily notes, the phone’s silhouette is shown in three colors — black, white and a kind of mint green.

The former have already been leaked like crazy all over the internet. The pale green, on the other hand, could be a surprise — well,

Continue reading "The new iPhone’s here, so Google wants to talk Pixel 3"

The iPhone SE was the best phone Apple ever made, and now it’s dead

I only wanted one thing out of 2018’s iPhone event: a new iPhone SE. In failing to provide it Apple seems to have quietly put the model out to pasture — and for this I curse them eternally. Because it was the best phone the company ever made. If you were one of the many who passed over the SE back in 2015, when it made its debut, that’s understandable. The iPhone 6S was the latest and greatest, and of course fixed a few of the problems Apple had kindly introduced with the entirely new design of the 6. But for me the SE was a perfect match. See, I’ve always loved the iPhone design that began with the 4. That storied phone is perhaps best remembered for being left in a bar ahead of release and leaked by Gizmodo — which is too bad, because for once the product
Continue reading "The iPhone SE was the best phone Apple ever made, and now it’s dead"

Drone startup Airware crashes, will shut down after burning $118M

Drone operating system startup Airware today suddenly informed employees it will cease operations immediately despite having raised $118 million from top investors like Andreessen Horowitz, Google’s GV, and Kleiner Perkins. The startup ran out of money after trying to manufacture its own hardware that couldn’t compete with drone giants like China’s DJI. The company at one point had as many as 140 employees, all of which are now out of a job. A source sent TechCrunch screenshots from the Airware alumni Slack channel detailing how the staff was told this morning that Airware would shut down. Airware makes a cloud sofware system that helps enterprise customers like construction companies, mining operations, and insurance companies reviewing equipment for damages to use drones to collect and analyze aerial data. That allowed companies to avoid using expensive helicopters or dangerous rigs with humans on harnesses to make inspections and gauge work progress. One
😅
Continue reading "Drone startup Airware crashes, will shut down after burning $118M"

SpaceX announces plan to announce plan to send someone around the moon in planned spaceship

It’s been too long without any kind of outlandish news from any of Elon Musk’s companies, but SpaceX has filled the void with the announcement of a newly redesigned BFR spacecraft and the news that it will fly around the moon with a soon-to-be-named first passenger. Whenever they get around to actually engineering and building the thing, anyway. In a tweet Thursday evening, SpaceX (though it was clearly Musk) announced that it has “signed the world’s first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle.” Attached to the tweet was an image of the BFR itself (above), much changed from its last appearance. It used to look like this: And now it looks like this: The old version was also two-toned, as you can see if you look closely at the ISS render, with the darker part likely corresponding to a heat-resistant surface.
Continue reading "SpaceX announces plan to announce plan to send someone around the moon in planned spaceship"

Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump

Elvie, a Berlin-based startup known best for its connected Kegel trainer is jumping into the breast pump business with a new $480 hands-free system you can slip into your bra. Even with all the innovation in baby gear, breast pumps have mostly sucked (pun intended) for new moms for the past half a century. My first experience with a pump required me to stay near a wall socket and hunch over for a good twenty to thirty minutes for fear the milk collected might spill all over the place (which it did anyway, frequently). It was awful! Next I tried the Willow Pump, an egg-shaped, connected pump meant to liberate women everywhere with its small and mobile design. It received glowing reviews, though my experience with it was less than stellar. The proprietary bags were hard to fit in the device, filled up with air, cost 50 cents
Continue reading "Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump"

Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers

The news that Nintendo would be adding NES games to the Switch as part of its paid online service had a mixed reception, but the company has made up for this controversial decision by releasing wireless NES controllers to play those games with. At $60 they’re a bit steep, but come on. You know you’re going to buy them eventually. Probably next week. The controllers were revealed during the latest Nintendo Direct video news dump, alongside a host of other nostalgia bombs, like a new Animal Crossing and about a million Final Fantasy ports. But first the details of those sweet, sweet controllers. They’re definitely NES-style down to the buttons, meaning they aren’t going to replace your existing Switch Joy-Cons. There’s no force feedback, no shoulder buttons, no gyros. So why do they cost so much? Because Nintendo. At least they’re wireless and they charge up by slotting onto the
Continue reading "Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers"

The iPhone XR is the one to get

The iPhone XR arrived like an afterthought. No surprise, really. Apple’s always been one to lead with its best foot forward — the latest, greatest and, quite literally, the largest. Projecting the life on the bleeding edge is a cornerstone of the company’s image, market share and stock price.

The iPhone XR isn’t that. In the context of yesterday’s event, the handset is an also ran. It’s lower-powered, with a single camera and lower-resolution screen that stirred up criticism amongst display enthusiasts online. It’s also precisely the phone the company needed to make — and Apple’s going to sell a crapload of them as a result. In fact, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see this entry-level device outsell both of its premium brethren.

Over the last 24 hours, a number of folks have asked me which phone they should buy. The answer varies from person to person, of

more iPhone Event 2018 coverage
Continue reading "The iPhone XR is the one to get"

Facebook’s new ‘SapFix’ AI automatically debugs your code

Facebook has quietly built and deployed an artificial intelligence programming tool called SapFix that scans code, automatically identifies bugs, tests different patches and suggests the best ones that engineers can choose to implement. Revealed today at Facebook’s @Scale engineering conference, SapFix is already running on Facebook’s massive code base and the company plans to eventually share it with the developer community. “To our knowledge, this marks the first time that a machine-generated fix — with automated end-to-end testing and repair — has been deployed into a codebase of Facebook’s scale,” writes Facebook’s developer tool team. “It’s an important milestone for AI hybrids and offers further evidence that search-based software engineering can reduce friction in software development.” SapFix can run with or without Sapienz, Facebook’s previous automated bug spotter. It uses it in conjunction with SapFix, suggesting solutions to problems Sapienz discovers. These types of tools could allow smaller teams
Continue reading "Facebook’s new ‘SapFix’ AI automatically debugs your code"