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Submission + - Apple sold its billionth iPhone last week (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone back in 2007, the Apple co-founder laid out a rather modest goal for the company’s revolutionary smartphone — to sell 1 million units, a figure which at the time represented approximately 1% of the global smartphone market. Not only did Apple reach that goal with ease, it quickly became apparent that the iPhone itself was a juggernaut, a once-in-a-lifetime product that would forever change the way we interact with technology.

With each passing quarter, iPhone sales continued to skyrocket. Indeed, it wasn’t until the company’s March 2016 quarter that iPhone sales would experience their first year-over-year sales decline. That said, Apple last week reached an impressive new milestone — 1 billion iPhones sold.

Submission + - The hysteria over Tesla's Autopilot has been completely blown out of proportion (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: Over the past few weeks, Tesla’s Autopilot software has been unfairly singled out and scrutinized as a piece of technology that Tesla recklessly deployed before being 100% ready for day-to-day use. This hysteria against all things Tesla reached a fever pitch this week when Consumer Reports published a self-righteous piece calling for Tesla to disable Autopilot until they get the technology figured out. And late on Thursday, we learned that even the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation directed a letter to Elon Musk asking him or Tesla representative to answer a few questions.

With all of the commotion, speculation and, at times, wild accusations being thrown in Tesla’s direction, you might be forgiven for assuming that Teslas on Autopilot have been running amok like mindless zombies on The Walking Dead and causing accidents by the hundreds.

It’s time to jump back to reality.

Submission + - UK scientists are trying to grow military drones in a lab with advanced chemistr (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: More often than not, some of the most cutting edge technology comes not from Silicon Valley, but from military companies and various branches of the armed forces. With generous budgets at their disposal, it’s hardly a surprise that grandiose research projects involving items like stealth motorcycles and drones that can both fly and swim are often rooted in military research.

That said, the following research initiative is a bit outlandish even for military standards. Over the past few days, word emerged that two military-backed defense companies based out of Scotland and England are currently working on technology that appears to be a wacky, futuristic and intriguing marriage between advanced chemistry and 3D printing.

Submission + - Original iPhone reviews that got everything completely wrong (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: When the iPhone burst onto the scene in 2007, it was evident that the world of mobile technology would never be the same. While the original iPhone admittedly had its fair share of shortcomings (it lacked 3G, MMS support, copy and paste etc.), its multitouch display and full web browser were immediate game-changers. Without equivocation, the iPhone quickly, if not instantly, became the blueprint upon which all other smartphone manufacturers based their own hardware and software designs.

But as tends to be the case in the tech world, not everyone at the time was able to appreciate the immediate impact that the iPhone was poised to exert over the entire tech industry. Rather predictably, an onslaught of short-sighted and pessimistic reviews tended to hone in on all of the features the iPhone lacked rather than looking at all of the revolutionary new features it introduced into the mainstream. Some reviews, believe it or not, even criticized the iPhone for boasting too many features.

So with the iPhone celebrating its ninth birthday this week, below are a handful of original iPhone reviews and opinion pieces that got it way wrong.

Submission + - New website lets users experience the Amazon Echo first-hand (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: With a rumored 3 million+ units sold, the Amazon Echo has been something of a sleeper hit for the online retail giant. In fact, the surprising success of the Echo has created a whirlwind of competition in the smart-home space: Google recently unveiled Google Home and now there are rumors that Apple is planning to release its own stand-alone Echo competitor.

In an effort to show users what using Echo is like, developer and Echo-enthusiast Sam Machin recently launched a new website at Echosim.io that allows users to take Amazon’s AI software for a test drive. Interested users must first login with an Amazon account and, following that, they can see what all the fuss about Alexa is about.

Submission + - Tim Cook defends Apple, teases exciting new products in the pipeline (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: Apple’s earnings report last week saw the company report a year over year decline in profits for the first time since 2003. The biggest contributing factor to the decline, not surprisingly, is that year over year iPhone sales dropped by 16%. Notably, Apple’s most recent quarter represents the company’s first iPhone sales decline in history.

Consequently, the usual contingent of pundits and analysts have come out of the woodwork, all exclaiming that we’ve reached ‘peak iPhone’ and that Apple at this point has nowhere to go but down. In an effort to inject a bit of good news and all-around optimism to a particularly negative Apple news cycle, Tim Cook earlier today appeared on CNBC with Jim Cramer where the Apple CEO teased that Apple’s still has a lot of innovation left to do and some interesting items in the product pipeline.

“We’ve got great innovation in the pipeline,” Cook said to Cramer. “New iPhones that will incentivize you and other people that have iPhones today to upgrade to new iPhones. We are going to give you things you can’t live without that you just don’t know you need today. That has always been the objective of Apple is to do things that really enrich people’s lives. That you look back on and you wonder, how did I live without this.”

Submission + - Elon Musk confirms Tesla Model 3 will have Ludicrous Mode (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: During Tesla’s Model 3 unveiling this past March, Elon Musk confidently boasted, “At Tesla, we don’t make slow cars.” And true to form, Tesla over the past few years has demonstrated a near obsession with speed. First, Tesla introduced Insane Mode, a feature which lets a dual-motor Model S P85D go from 0-60 in just 3.2 seconds. Pushing the envelope even further, Tesla last year introduced a Ludicrous Mode which lets a Model S go from 0 to 60 in just 2.8 seconds.

Even Tesla’s crossover SUV – the Model X – is no slouch in the speed department as it can go from 0 to 60 in just 3.2 seconds when in Ludicrous Mode.

Now if you’re one of the 400,000 Model 3 subscribers and are wondering if the Model 3 will have an upgrade option for speed enthusiasts, Elon Musk answered your prayers over the weekend. Responding to a question on Twitter, Musk confirmed for the first time that the Model 3 will, in fact, come with a Ludicrous Mode option.

During the Model 3 unveiling, Musk said that the entry level Model 3 will be able to go fro 0-60 in less than seconds. On a tricked out Model 3 with Ludicrous Mode enabled, some rumors have claimed that Tesla’s EV for the masses will be able to go from 0-60 in under 4 seconds.

Submission + - Six years later, the iPad is still not the future of computing (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: When the iPad burst onto the scene in 2010, the tech world had never seen anything like it. Sales immediately exploded as the device became one of the fastest selling consumer electronics products in history.

As a direct result, and in part fueled by bold proclamations from Apple CEO Tim Cook, many people began championing the notion that the post-PC era was upon us. Not to single out Cook, even Steve Jobs believed that tablets were going to one day eclipse PCs as the future of computing. Much like the iPhone transformed the mobile phone landscape, it was widely assumed that the iPad would eventually turn the entire PC industry on its head.

Next week will mark the sixth anniversary of the original iPad and it’s abundantly clear, I think, that the iPad currently does not, and will not ever, represent the future of computing. Sales wise, the iPad has been slumping for years. In fact, the last quarter where Apple enjoyed a year over year increase in iPad sales was during the December quarter of 2013. During Apple’s last quarter alone, iPad sales dropped by 25% while revenue from the iPad dropped by 20%.

And yet, the notion that the iPad and tablets in general represent the future of computing curiously persists.

The reality is that when a truly revolutionary device or service comes along, its impact is felt far more immediately. The iPhone revolution didn’t take a generation to take foot; it so obviously represented the future of mobile computing that it changed the game for everyone, adults and kids alike.

Submission + - iPhone in 2017 may sport curved glass and AMOLED display (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: With calls for Apple’s upcoming iPhone models to be “spectacular”, it appears that pundits and those who have been quick to proclaim that we’ve reached ‘peak iPhone’ have nothing to worry about. While we’ll know what type of wild new features the iPhone 7 will incorporate in just about three months, a new report from reputed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo provides us with some interesting insight as to what Apple has planned for 2017 when it releases what will presumably be called the iPhone 7s.

According to a research note Kuo provided to investors, Apple is busy working on an iPhone model with curved pieces of glass and an AMOLED display. What’s more, the report relays that Apple also has plans to shake up its iPhone lineup with a model sporting a 5.8-inch display. Further, Kuo believes that the bezels on the iPhone 7s will be smaller than they are on Apple’s current iPhone lineup.

Submission + - Netflix explains why it releases episodes of its hit shows all at once (adweek.com)

anderzole writes: In the dark days before Netflix, TV fans had to patiently wait for new episodes of their favorite shows to air on a per week basis. Once Netflix became obsessed with churning out its own original content, it completely turned the traditional notion of TV viewing on its head. Rather than releasing episodes on a weekly basis, Netflix opted to release entire seasons of new shows in one fell swoop, ultimately resulting in the creation of the phrase ‘binge watching.’

Now given that premium channels like HBO and Showtime still release their hit shows on a week to week basis, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why Netflix remains committed to releasing entire seasons of its original productions all at once. Tackling this question head on, Nexflix VP of Product Todd Yellin recently explained why the company believes it’s business model empowers TV viewers and, in turn, delivers a more enjoyable user experience.

"To us, binging is really about consumer control. It’s not about someone telling you that you only get one hour a week, and we’re going to slowly parse out the story you’re enjoying 'Hold on! All scenes from next week. Tune in next Sunday at 8 o’clock!' It’s not about that. It’s about giving the control back to the consumer."

Submission + - Apple blames FBI misstep for inability to access terrorist's iPhone data (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: The back and forth battle between Apple and the government over accessing an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters is becoming more contentious and layered by the day. Shortly after the DOJ filed a motion alleging that a) Apple’s stance on encryption was nothing more than a marketing gimmick and that b) creating the software solution the FBI wants would not be difficult.

Apple, however, quickly struck back in the court of public opinion. During a conference call with reporters, an Apple executive explained that the Apple ID associated with the shooter’s iPhone had been changed less than 24 hours after the shooting. As a result, any automatic iCloud backups were put on hold. For what it’s worth, the FBI maintains that the Apple ID was changed by an individual at the San Bernardino Health Department. That department's Twitter account, however, subsequently claimed that they reset the Apple ID at the FBI's behest.

Had the Apple ID not been changed, Apple later added, all of the information the FBI was seeking might have been present in the iCloud backups Apple already handed over to authorities. As it stands now, the FBI only has iCloud backups up until the week of October 19. All iCloud backups between that date and the December shooting remain unaccessible.

Submission + - Donald Trump calls for boycott of Apple products, sends message from iPhone (networkworld.com)

anderzole writes: Apple's refusal to help the FBI access the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists has people firmly divided into two camps. On one hand, many folks side with Apple, arguing that there are important ramifications pertaining to user privacy, encryption, and government intrusion at stake. On the other, there are also a lot of people who are flabbergasted by Apple's adamant refusal to help the FBI, claiming that this is a special circumstance where lives could potentially be at stake.

Clearly falling into the latter group is Presidential candidate Donald Trump. In the wake of Tim Cook's letter articulating why Apple has issues with the FBI's iPhone hacking request, Donald Trump didn't mince words.

In an interview on Fox and Friends earlier this week, Trump exclaimed: "To think that Apple won't allow us to get into her cellphone? Who do they think they are?"

On Friday, Trump then took to Twitter where he said that people should boycott Apple products.

The first tweet reads: "I use both iPhone & Samsung. If Apple doesn't give info to authorities on the terrorists I'll only be using Samsung until they give info."

Only problem is that Trump (or perhaps one of his aides) sent out the tweet from an iPhone!

Following that up, Trump then sent out the following tweet: "Boycott all Apple products until such time as Apple gives cellphone info to authorities regarding radical Islamic terrorist couple from Cal."

Submission + - Vladimir Putin's Internet advisor wants to tax Apple and ban Microsoft Windows (networkworld.com) 1

anderzole writes: German Klimenko, who was recently appointed to be Vladimir Putin's special advisor on all Internet related matters, already has some big ideas about how Russia should adjust its dealings with companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google.

Seemingly not content to see the smartphone landscape effectively dominated by Apple and Google, Klimenko, during a recent interview, exclaimed that both companies should pay a whole lot more in taxes to the Russian government.

"When you buy an app from Google Play or the App Store anywhere in Europe, VAT is charged at the place of payment, but not here in our banana republic,” Klimenko frustratingly explained in statements originally relayed by Bloomberg.

While government officials seeking to pad tax revenue is hardly earth shattering, Klimenko's opinions on Microsoft are a bit bizarre as he reportedly wants to ban Windows from all government computers because Microsoft "complied with sanctions over Putin’s annexation of Crimea by halting all business with the peninsula..."

Submission + - The 'Netflix for planes' offers unlimited air travel for a monthly fee (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: A new company named OneGo is hoping to do for air travel what Netflix was able to do for movies: Provide an all-encompassing service for a recurring monthly fee. Primarily geared towards business travelers, OneGo offers unlimited travel within the United states via all major U.S. airlines. So in that sense, it’s essentially Netflix for airplanes.

The service truly sounds like great idea, but there are a few wrinkles you should be aware of.

For one, the travel options are broken down across regions, which is to say if you want a national plan that gives you the freedom to travel anywhere within the United States, you’ll need to fork over $2,950 a month. Cheaper plans are available, but you’ll be limited to certain geographic regions. For instance, if you want a monthly pass across the east side of the country, that’ll cost you $2,300. Meanwhile, a pass if you’re keen on traveling out West, you’ll be slapped with a monthly fee of $1,500. And last but not least, traveling up and down the central United States will cost you $1950.

Submission + - Tim Cook explains why iPhone sales will decline for the first time in history (bgr.com)

anderzole writes: Apple next quarter will experience its first year over year iPhone sales decline in history. Hardly the subject of speculation sourced from obscure supply chain reports, word of an impending iPhone sales decline came straight from Tim Cook himself.

Naturally, many are taking news of next quarter’s iPhone sales decline as a sign that iPhone growth has finally hit a wall. For these folks, Apple’s iPhone story is being framed as a harsh reminder that any tech company perched at the top will inevitably take a hard and unforgiving tumble back down to reality.

Tim Cook, however, cautioned against rushing to judgement or drawing out any sweeping conclusions solely based on only one quarter’s worth of iPhone sales. On the horn with analysts yesterday, Cook offered up a reasonable and plausible explanation as to why iPhone sales during the current March quarter will experience an unprecedented decline.

In addition to dire economic conditions across all corners of the globe, Cook made a point of noting that iPhone sales during Apple’s second fiscal quarter last year were uncharacteristically high, thus setting an artificially high sales bar that can’t be matched a year later.

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