iPhone 8 Rumor Roundup

We are lucky to live in the era of the smartphone. These tiny, personal devices have become such a large part of our lives that it is hard to imagine a time without them. And we have one phone to thank the smartphone craze for: the iPhone. And every year, since its initial release in 2007, we are graced with another iteration that is, in someway, bigger and better than last year’s. This year is no exception. And with this year’s iPhone launch celebrating its 10th anniversary, Apple fanboys are foaming at the mouth for what the geniuses at Cupertino have in store.

As with every iPhone release, there are what seems to be hundreds of rumors floating around the Internet about what to expect from Apple’s latest handheld, and this year is ripe with news. So, here are some of the most interesting features that this year’s iPhone is rumored to sport.

The Name
What’s in a name? Well apparently a lot. When the initial round of rumors on the newest iPhone surfaced, it was almost unanimously agreed upon that the name for the new phone would be the iPhone 8, skipping the iPhone 7S and 7S Plus naming tradition that Apple has been using since the 3GS. However, recent reports indicate that this will not be the case. According to the latest information, Apple is taking a page out of its Apple Watch naming system and applying it to the iPhone, naming the newest phone the iPhone Edition. They will also offer an iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, sticking to the aforementioned tradition after all. While the 7S and 7S Plus variants will include under the hood improvements, the iPhone Edition will include a complete redesign. But it will also be the most expensive iPhone ever.

No Curved Edges…
It would appear as though the curved edge fad made popular by Samsung’s Galaxy S series of phones has not impressed Apple. Although initial reports did claim that the iPhone 8 would indeed ship with a curved screen, the latest batch of claims now believes it will stick with the tried and true flat screen, which could disappoint several fans.

…But Still Pretty To Look At
Although it may not be curved, the iPhone 8’s screen will still be hard to look away from. According to reports from GSMArena, Apple has struck a $4 billion deal with Samsung for roughly 60 million OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) panels. It is widely believed that Apple will finally be implementing those panels into the flagship iPhone this year, giving its handheld crisper colors and deeper, richer blacks—a much desired feature.

No Bezels, No Home Button, No Problem
Many lamented the iPhone 7’s lack of any radical design changes from its predecessors, and Apple has listened. Probably the second largest rumor—behind the OLED screen—regarding the iPhone 8 has to be its lack of a bezel and home button. Basically the phone will feature an edge to edge OLED screen, and will not include the home button that we have all come to know and love. Instead, reports from Business Insider claim that the iPhone 8 will use optical sensors that can read fingerprints through the thicker OLED panel, allowing the phone to remove a physical home button.

I’ve Got No Strings On Me
The latest round of advertisements for Beats By Dre feature the company’s wireless line of headphones, with celebrities dancing to the popular song from Pinocchio, “I’ve Got No Strings.” Apparently Apple, who own Beats By Dre, are now using that same philosophy for the iPhone with wireless charging. This is another highly sought after feature from iPhone fanboys for years, considering that most of Apple’s competition has had this technology for quite some time. The ability to charge your phone without having to plug it in is an incredibly enticing feature.

While there are still 6 months until we will find out for sure whether oar not these features will make their way into the newest iPhone, we can still dream and speculate. Hopefully Apple not only delivers on these expectations, but exceeds them with some unexpected secrets. We’ll just have to wait and see.

5G: More Than Just Speed

It all started with 2G, which allowed for mobile devices to connect to the Internet. Then came 3G, which allowed for faster data transfer and opened up the floodgates for many things we take for granted today, such as video streaming and video calling. And, expectedly, 4G increased data speeds, allowing for HD video streaming and game downloading, with some people even using it over their current Wi-Fi connection. And now, the mobile connection market is ready for a new and exciting generation. That’s where 5G comes in. But, it is more than just speed. Obviously, as has happened with all generational updates in mobile network connectivity, 5G will bring dramatically faster speeds, however, it will open up many more possibilities.

According to an article from Cnet, 5G was the talk of the town at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which ran from February 27th to March 2nd. People couldn’t get enough of it, and there’s quite a bit of hype around it. And for good reason. It has the potential to do far more than just make your YouTube video load faster. The technology can be utilized in everything from drone technology to self-driving cars, which is amazing timing considering these are also tech topics that are incredibly hot right now.

In one of the most astounding demonstrations of 5G’s possibilities, Ericcson, NeuroDigital Technologies and medical doctors from King’s College London teamed up to perform a remote surgery on a test dummy using 5G data connections. The doctors used a robotic arm, haptic feedback gloves and a VR headset in order to simulate an actual surgery. The surgery was possible through 5G’s lack of latency. Without any kind of delay, future medical professionals could provide life saving surgeries from across the globe in real time!

Self-driving cars can also benefit from 5G’s speed and lack of latency. The article mentions how, without a signal delay getting in the way, self-driving cars can speak to other cars on the roads in order to provide the safest possible driving experience. 5G can also allow for more precise control of drones while providing higher definition video feedback, and virtual reality can allow for VR users to speak in real time to each other. 5G’s speed transfer is so impressive that it could even totally replace home Wi-Fi connectivity.

As our world becomes increasingly more connected, we will need a data network that can handle and provide faster, more responsive connectivity. And it appears as if 5G will be that network. That is, of course, until 6G comes along.

Lost Something? Pixie Will Find It

We’ve all been there: We’re just about to head out to work or dinner or a social gathering of some sort only to realize that we’ve lost our keys. Then we waste a good four or five minutes trying to find them. It’s an infuriating process that nobody wants any part of. And technology, as it usually does, has come to the rescue. Pixie is an application that uses your smartphone’s geolocation and bluetooth features to locate virtually anything you frequently lose. And while there are several “finder” applications out on the market today, Pixie is a bit different from the rest.

Similar to the incredibly popular Pokemon Go mobile game, Pixie uses Augmented Reality to direct you to your lost item. Augmented Reality (AR), which has become rather popular as of late, essentially superimposes a computer generated image over the user’s view of any real world object or landscape. For example, Pokemon Go uses AR to simulate the appearance of actual Pokemon in the real world by superimposing their character models on any landscape using the user’s smartphone camera.

Pixie uses AR by providing visual cues and clues as to the location of your lost item. The purpose of this is to make the searching process easier and more bearable. Pixie works by creating a micro-mesh of networks that all connected points use to constantly signal and communicate their proximity to make a map. Simply tack on one of the “Pixie Points” (the geotags used to send out signals) to your prized possessions, download the iOS app, create and account and sync your tags with your phone. It’s an incredibly easy process.

The application turns the frustrating search for your items into a scavenger hunt. Your phone’s camera scans the area in order to get its bearings, and once your phone locates the lost item, the app gives you turn by turn instructions on how to get to the item. It even uses the phone’s speakers to provide audio cues.

Currently the application only supports iOS. However an Android version is in the works, slated to release later this year. The Pixie Points will run you $50 for a 2-pack or $99 for a 4-pack. Whether or not the application will catch on remains to be seen.

Up In the Air: Amazon Plans for Distribution Centers In the Sky

It seems as if the Helicarrier from the popular Marvel’s Avengers comic books and movies will become something of a reality. Amazon, the giant e-commerce store that has been used by hundreds of millions of users around the planet, has recently won a patent for a flying warehouse.

According to a report from NBC News, Amazon filed a patent for an “airborne fulfillment center” which will act as a home base for the company’s drones in order to refuel and refill on goods. These large centers will constantly remain in the air, at approximately 45,000 feet. Amazon believes the process will prove very simple, with customers ordering an item, and having a nearby drone drop down from a delivery center and deliver said item.

The patent also describes that the process will require little power on the drone’s part, stating “when the UAV departs the AFC, it may descend from the high altitude of the AFC using little or no power other than to guide the UAV towards its delivery destination and/or to stabilize the UAV as it descends.”

The patent also describes other potential, practical uses for the AFC. Primarily, Amazon plans for the distribution centers to be used at sporting events, where viewers might want food or merchandise. They can place orders for an item, and have a nearby drone deliver it quickly. The AFCs could also be used as enormous billboards for merchandise. The patent also describes how the drones and fulfillment centers would use mesh networks to communicate with one another.

This is not Amazon’s first foray into the drone delivery market. Just this month, the company’s first ever drone delivery was successfully completed in the U.K., proving that the much talked about process is possible.

Although Amazon has won the patent and has intricate details describing the process and intentions of the AFCs, this does not necessarily mean that they will even see the light of day. It does, however, mean that the possibility of these AFCs filling up the airways is one step closer to becoming real. And it begs the question: is this a good idea? Should we have these large, helicarrier-esque distribution centers hovering above our heads at all times? What would happen if one of those giant centers were to lose power and drop to the ground, potentially killing millions of people? How would these centers be powered, and, depending on the type of fuel, what effects would they have on the environment? And, again, even though Amazon may never actually create the distribution centers, these are very real questions that need to be asked if they plan on moving forward.

PS4 Reclaims Top Spot on Sales Charts for November

It’s holiday season again. Houses are decorated with glowing lights, temperatures are dropping rapidly and shoppers are storming the department stores looking for their next huge deal. The epitome of the holiday shopping season is Black Friday. On this day, retail stores slash prices on their products and open their doors in the wee hours of the morning, and close them well into the night. It is a great time for both retailers and consumer product companies in general.

One of the most popular items on most shoppers’ lists are video game consoles. And every year, the video game industry continues to grow, with last year seeing a huge spike in sales numbers, reaching a staggering $23 billion (a 5% jump from 2014).

Three of the largest video game companies that rely heavily on the holiday shopping season, particularly Black Friday, are Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Each company both manufactures hardware (Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U, respectively), and develops software for their gaming consoles, and every year, these big three duke it out over whose console sells the best. After both Microsoft and Sony released their newest platforms in 2013, Sony instantly took advantage of the sales charts, selling over 4 million units, compared to Microsoft’s 3 million. And from then the gap only grew bigger. Last November, lifetime PS4 sales numbers had reached 27 million units, whereas the Xbox One had only reached 15 million. This is largely due to the initial lack of exclusives and anti-gamer mindset that Microsoft had at the console’s release, making many gamers choose the Playstation 4 as their console of choice.

Recently, however, Microsoft has been gaining some traction for the past few months, with Xbox One sales surpassing the PS4’s since July. This is because of the Xbox One S, which launched in August, offering a slightly more powerful console, with a much smaller footprint. This, mixed in with Microsoft’s increasingly pro-gamer strategy, drew in consumers who had yet to purchase a console.

However, this past month seemed to favor Sony, yet again, putting them back in the driver’s seat of the sales numbers. Boasting an astounding 50 plus million units sold, the Playstation 4 is firmly back on top, beating out the Xbox One for the month of November. Sony stated that this past Black Friday was the, “best ever Black Friday week in the history of Playstation.”

Analysts suggest that the Xbox One’s total life sales are likely about 30 million units, which is quite small compared to the PS4’s massive achievement.

While those sales numbers are impressive, do not forget that the Playstation 4’s 50 million units are nothing compared to the 157 million units sold by the PS4’s predecessor: the Playstation 2. Following the PS2 is the Nintendo DS (Nintendo’s touch-based handheld console) with a total of 154 million units sold.

Can Sony continue its massive success with the PS4 throughout the console’s lifetime? With sales numbers like these, it is very possible. However, the console does face some heavy competition in the form of Nintendo’s newest console, The Switch, releasing in March of next year, and Microsoft’s “Project Scorpio” (a far more powerful Xbox One) slated for a release sometime next holiday. Until then, Sony is sitting high for the holidays.

Productivity Hack: Sometimes You Don’t Need to Do Your Best

A lot of people will tell you how important it is to “always do your best”. This is fine advice in some situations, but if you’re working in a fast-paced environment then you need to be cognizant of your productivity levels too. It’s counter intuitive, but according to this article by Kat Boogaard, sometimes your “best’ isn’t necessarily needed. Here are a few scenarios when you might find that’s the case.

When you can’t make up your mind

Classic indecision. Whether you’re preparing a pitch or editing an article, sometimes you’ll find yourself with two great ideas when only one can be present. It could be aesthetic (what accent color on this presentation should I use?) or stylistic (which of these closing paragraphs is the most sentiments?). Whatever the situation may be, getting tripped up on your choices takes you on the road to nowhere. Boogaard suggests arbitrarily picking one and sticking with it, because in all likelihood it’s perfectly fine. This makes sense because it is your regular work, projects can relay the same message with different underlying parts, and your experience is such that all your minor variations are created equal. It doesn’t matter if you pick one sentence over the other— what matters is that you knew to put that final touch in your letter to investors.

When You’re Operating On a Tight Deadline

This is purely conditional— anyone would advise against submitting a final project that represents subpar work. But scheduling conflicts, lapses in memory, and sudden requests with short turnaround do happen. In these instances, it’s not worth it to sweat the small stuff. You just need to make sure it gets done. Boogaard’s example? Heading into a meeting and quickly putting together talking points for later. It’s important have questions after a presentation or announcement, and if you are short on time it’s better to have a lot of something that one or two detailed questions. And if someone on the team has a small favor that you’d agree would be done this afternoon? With such a tight window, chances are it can’t be that labor intensive, so make it a priority to just get it to her desk rather than hold her up with the unimportant details.

When Everyone Else Likes It

You know the feeling. You finish a presentation and send it off to a teammate so they can put a second set of eyes on it. “It looks great,” they say. But you aren’t so sure. Is it fine, really? You ask someone else, and before you know it you’ve made your rounds through the department. Everyone said the finished version is great, but you’re compelled to take it back to the drawing board and make a few more changes. These alterations are wholly unnecessary, because there’s a good chance that if the team says your work is fine, then it is fact fine. Trust that your teammates will give constructive criticism where it is due, or reaffirm the quality if there is none to be had. Don’t waste time trying to find something wrong with the project— you could end up with a version that is worse than you started with.

When it’s Not Perfect but Still Gets the Job Done

You know what some of your best work is, and you love striving to replicate it. But the hard fact is that you can’t. If you were able to, then your “best” work would become your “average” work. If you’re a perfectionist, it can be difficult to just let go sometimes. But in a world that’s constantly moving, everyone can’t wait on a spark of genius that takes your work to that next level. If it is complete, of respectable quality, and gets the job done, then sometimes that is all you need.

The (New) New Macbook Pro

It wouldn’t be a successful Fall season if Apple hadn’t released its latest product: the new Macbook Pro. Although they get better each year, this one is a must see (or touch). Apple unveiled the new Macbook Pros on October 27 at an event in San Francisco.

Although the Macbook Pros are still aluminum all the way around, they take up a lot less space and volume. Both models (13-inch and 15-inch), are about half a pound lighter than the previous models, while including a faster Intel Core processor. The new Macbook Pro also includes a huge trackpad for the mouse. The trackpad continues to use force touch, but allows users the convenience of more space to interact on the pad. Apple calls it “the lightest Macbook Pro ever with a more responsive keyboard.” The Macbook also includes an improved Retina display that is 67% brighter than the last Macbook Pro. It allows for saving power with improved LED lights. Apple says it “consumes 30% less energy than before.” The speakers have also been improved have “more true to life sound” and be louder than ever.

apple logoOne of the most intensive changes that were made to the new Macbook pro is implementing iPhone and iPad elements into the notebook. In other words, there are no more function keys at the top of the keyboard. The new multi-touch bar allows you to take control of your notebook and work at ease without the inconvenience of having your cellphone with you at all times. All functions can be used through the OLED strip and are customizable to your preferences. You can also customize it include emojis, answer/ decline phone calls, include autocorrect, and most importantly, uses the Touch ID sensor. You can use it to securely log into your computer and/or applications with the touch of your finger. The custom feature allows you to add your most used apps for easier access on the computer and you can also use it to scroll through multiple apps, photos, or websites faster. This also allows you to become more interactive with your work.  In other words, the new touch bar allows you to customize your shortcuts and function buttons for better convenience.

Although this may be a notebook like never before, the entry prices are like never before either. Apple is selling the new Macbook pro with no touchscreen beginning at $1499. But who want’s a laptop with no touchscreen? The second version of the laptop with the touchID strip starts at $1799 (for the 13-inch) or $2399 (for the 15-inch). No wonder it took them so long to upgrade. The new Macbook Pro is a game changer.

RIP Vine

That’s right, if you haven’t already noticed, Vine is officially dead and the internet is going crazy. Yesterday, Twitter announced it will be shutting down Vine in the next coming months. Unfortunately, the company was not able keep up with its competitors as users had left the app for Snapchat and Instagram. On the same day, twitter also announced that it will be laying off 9% of their employees.

What’s Vine?

In 2013, a new social networking app called Vine launched to the public. The app worked by allowing users to upload short video clips to create a six-second video loop. Vine is responsible for some of the world’s top social media stars (like Andrew Bachelor, Jessi Smiles, and Shawn Mendez) and gave birth to the latest internet trends (“Damn Daniel”, “on Fleek”, and “What are thooose”.) The app could be linked with users’ Twitter accounts.

What Happened?

Although Twitter didn’t give us an exact answer as to why it killed Vine, there are a few theories we can come up with. Yes, money is the biggest factor, but who lies behind money? Social media users. Many people became popular with vine logotheir video postings, but were quick to move their postings to other social platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, which all allowed for more than 6 seconds of video viewing. Vine tried hard to outwin Instagram and Snapchat, but slowly fell behind. When it comes to social media, users want higher views with ease of use. Another factor to consider is that Vine couldn’t access your Facebook friends, camera roll, or social sharing options. This means that you have to make your own vine and hope to get views on it, rather than uploading videos and pictures from your camera roll. Most of the popular social media sites today give you the option to connect to your Facebook or post pictures from your phone. It makes it a lot easier and quicker to share with the internet. Vine didn’t allow for these options and quickly started to see a decline in users. In other words, in the evolution of social media and technology, Vine officially hit the bottom of the food chain and will now be extinct.

Now What?

All good things must come to an end, right? Sort of. While Twitter announced it’s plans for shutting down the app, they also mentioned that nothing will happen to the accounts for a few months. This means people are still able to access and download their vines, and watch others. The internet is not happy to see Vine go, so maybe there’s a small chance to make a comeback through views and shares. Twitter also announced the termination of over 300 employees. The stock price has also declined massively over it’s lifetime. The problem is that Twitter is having a hard time making a profit. There have been talks of selling Twitter to companies like Google and Facebook, but both walked away from the deal. Unless Twitter can come up with a new business plan (like hiring a new CEO), the company will continue tweeting its way down into irrelevancy over the next few years.

Goodbye, Note7. We Hardly Knew Ya.

The Samsung Galaxy Note7 fiasco has seemingly come to a head, with the Korean electronics company temporarily ceasing production of the phone. Since it’s release in August, there have been numerous reported incidents of the mobile device catching fire. It’s literally an explosive issue.

Black mobile phone

Courtesy of Gadget 360

The Note7 problem came hard and fast. In September, millions of devices were recalled after Samsung announced they had identified the issue causing the potentially dangerous battery fires. Customers were encouraged to trade in their old phones for a new, safer version. But with this latest announcement— coming just a few weeks later— customers were urged to power down their devices immediately… and not turn them back on.

Luckily, Samsung has announced some good news for customers who bought their ill-fated phone. Customers who now turn in the phone will receive a $100 credit to put towards a new device. As CNET points out, the gesture “softens the blow”, encourages customers who haven’t given up the phone to do so immediately, and attempts to keep loyal customers using a Samsung device.

A product disaster like this couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Note7 is Samsung’s premier phone. It’s meant to compete with the ever-present iPhone, and the fact that Apple’s latest mobile product launched a little more than a month ago means that it’s a pretty attractive alternative. And then there’s the holiday question. How will Samsung perform during gift giving season? While Apple has long held smartphone sales titles, their lead has begun to shrink in part due to feisty competitors like Samsung. But with their most valuable phone out of the question, and their reputation shot (some estimates have the firm losing $10 billion in revenue), we have yet to see how it will all shake out.

If you have a Note7, just turn it in. You don’t want your carelessness to be the cause of a grounded flight.

Facebook’s Oculus Is Making Virtual Reality More Social

Before Oculus released virtual reality goggles, there was a lot of buzz about virtual reality  in the tech world. Everyone wanted to the know how virtual reality would revolutionize the industry. Unfortunately, Oculus’ virtual reality Rift goggles did not go over quite as well as they’d hoped.

Sure, virtual reality was talked about and people thought it was “cool”, but it just never broke through into the mainstream market. After Oculus released the Rift goggles, it had to deal with competition from Sony Corp and HTC corp, in addition to a string of gaffes that took away from their business. More recently, founder Palmer Luckey received negative backlash due to his political views from the developers that Oculus depends on.

Oculus is trying to come back strong, recently announcing that it is producing a new lower-end headset. This headset would not need to be tethered to a personal computer or a mobile phone. Oculus also unveiled Touch hand controllers for grabbing and moving virtual objects. These controllers will sell for $199.doug-macfaddin-03_Oculus-Full-Lockup-Horizontal-Black

But the change to virtual reality that truly has the potential to change the landscape of virtual reality is an initiative by Facebook to make virtual reality social. At an annual developer conference called Oculus Connect, Facebook demoed complex avatars that users can customize to look like themselves. These avatars are able to express emotions such as anger and shock, in addition to smiling and laughing.

Zuckerberg has been emphasizing for while now his desire to change his social network to a place where people can feel they are conversing face to face. A few months ago, he further elaborated upon this dream at F8, so we are not surprised to see that he has come up with something new and exciting to change the Facebook.

In addition to being able to create custom avatars and choose emotions, you can choose the background to a life location. The demo showed Zuckerberg’s avatar entering his home, where he could check on his dog.

The platform also allows users to get creative, by letting people draw and play with their creations. Through the Oculus Avatar feature, people are allowed to interact with people all throughout the world using their avatars.

It seems that maybe virtual reality will finally appeal to the mainstream user given these new changes. It’s anyone’s guess whether Oculus will experience the surge in success they’ve been hoping for.