From Gizmodo: “Facebook announced Portal, a new voice-activated speaker and video chat gadget, and the company said that it would not use data collected through the device to target ads.” But it could. It probably will at some point. What could go wrong? It’s like Mark Zuckerberg has become the anti-Cook.
Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]
4K/UHD TVs are no longer a rarity and are now emerging as mainstream. According to IHS, of all the TVs sold in 2019, half will be 4K/UHD.
If you’ve been pondering a new 4K/UHD TV for the holidays (and an Apple TV 4K), you’ll want to check out this very easy to read introduction to the High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology used in modern TVs. You’ll learn about the basic tech and the similarities and differences between HDR10, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG and which ones each TV maker offers.
Dr. Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist with the SETI Institute. He’s also Chairman of the Mars Institute, and Director of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project at NASA Ames Research Center. His research includes the history of water on Mars and planning future human exploration of Mars. Pascal has a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Space Sciences from Cornell University. We chatted about how he spent his very early years in Hong Kong, inspired by American and British SciFi TV shows. Later, he migrated to Paris where he continued his education and, inspired by Dr. Carl Sagan, made his way to Cornell in the 1990s. He was Dr. Sagan’s last teaching assistant. Next, we talked about his trips to the remote Canadian island, Devon, to study Mars-like conditions. We wrapped up with an introduction to his thoughts on SETI.
Robot technology often invokes sophisticated mechanisms, in order to perform a task, that mimic those of living creatures. When done right, the visual effect can be startling, even creepy. Mark Serrels writes: “Meet “Salto-1P” a robot being designed by the Biomimetic Millisystems lab at Berkeley, University of California. The work is being supported by an Army Research Office Grant, which makes me wonder if one of these things is gonna kill me one day.” Better check under your bed again, Mark.
Modern technology, like AI, can look dorky and error prone in its early stages. We make fun of it. Then it matures before our eyes. Chatted with a lightbulb lately?
You have to hand it to Google. The company has a certain spirit of AI inventiveness, even if the result isn’t always iron-clad consumer ready. In this case, it’s the recently announced Call Screen service for Pixel phones that puts an AI between the Pixel user and the telemarketers & robocalls. Read about it in the link below. This may not do amazing things for Pixel sales, and it may still have kinks to work out, but it sets a bar and whets our appetite for what Apple could do when it’s in top gear. Alas, Siri, cannot do this. Yet.
The streaming TV business is a hard business to break into. Customers have enormous choice in an overloaded market. Money is tight. Apple knows that.
The days of only writing software that resides on a major platform like PCs and Macs are coming to a close. Now, every major tech company wants to sell you its own brand of hardware.
9to5Mac has posted leaked details of Apple’s new iPad Pros. “Today, sources familiar with the development of the new 2018 iPad Pro have offered additional details about the device, its features, and more.” That includes Face ID, thinner bezels, a USB-C port for external 4K/HDR displays and a new Apple Pencil. Are we excited? Oh, yes.
The iPhone XS Max is off to a great start. So is iOS 12. Concerns of a less than spectacular fall iPhone roll out have evaporated. And the iPhone XR is up to bat next.
Tech Crunch writes: “The HRP-5P is a humanoid robot from Japan’s Advanced Industrial Science and Technology institute that can perform common construction tasks including — install drywall.” I wonder if this opens up a new career field: Robotics repair and servicing. Or, will other robots do that as well? Check out the video.
Dr. Kiki Sanford makes her fifth appearance on Background Mode. Kiki is a neurophysiologist with a Ph.D. from the University of California. She’s a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show. In this episode, we chat about some some recent topics discussed on TWIS that fascinated me. 1) Yale roboticists have developed skins with embedded actuators that can turn just about anything into robots. 2) A 127 million year old fossil was discovered in China that fills in another gap in the story of how dinosaurs became birds. 3) The new NASA exoplanet search mission, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), is operational. We talk about its mission and how it compares to the Kepler spacecraft. This is just a sample; we covered much more cool science stuff.
Jason Snell, at Six Colors, has written up a very nice review of the Apple Watch Series 4. Notable is the assessment of which previous generation owners should upgrade to Series 4. And he doesn’t forget to note: “Apple also won’t let you buy a Stainless Steel model unless you buy the cellular edition. That double penalty means you can’t get a stainless Series 4 for less than $699.” Check it out.
As soon as Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s tough net neutrality bill, the U.S. Justice Department filed suit to stop it, claiming the state doesn’t have the legal authority, but this Verge article points out: “… telecom industry legal experts say that when the FCC dismantled its own authority over broadband ISPs (by rolling back their classification of ISPs as Title II common carriers under the Telecom Act), it ironically killed any authority it might have had to tell states what to do.” Oh, the delicious irony.
John has a new iPhone XS Max. He loves it. It’s not too big. He explains.
At PC Magazine, Sascha Segan has compared LTE speeds of the iPhone X to XS, and the latter is substantially faster. “The new iPhone XS and XS Max use an LTE modem that we’ve never seen used anywhere else: the Intel XMM7560. The 7560 is Intel’s first modem to support all four US wireless carriers, letting Apple drop Qualcomm, the world’s dominant high-end modem supplier.” However, ” … it still doesn’t quite match the Qualcomm X20 modem used in the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.” This is good stuff.
James Dempsey worked at Apple for fifteen years before setting out on his own in August 2011. As a software engineer at Apple, he worked on iOS, Aperture, and macOS releases Leopard through Lion, including half a decade on the Cocoa frameworks team. He’s the founder of Tapas Software, developer of iOS and Mac software. We talked abut his “aha” moments in life starting with his college roommate’s Mac Plus in 1986. His dream to work for Apple was eventually fulfilled in 1996, and James described what it was like to be an Apple evangelist in those days. But James is also an accomplished comedian, vocalist, ukulele player and has a published album. He’s also routinely written special songs for WWDC each year. If you ever wanted to work for Apple, this show is must listening.
It takes a lot of work to photograph or video identical scenes when comparing iPhone cameras, so I appreciated this very nice article comparing iPhone X to XS video. Also, here’s a snippet that has been widely overlooked: “Both the XS and XS Max can now record audio in stereo, which adds another layer of depth to recordings. By contrast, all iPhone models up to 2018, including the iPhone X, recorded sound in mono.” Have a look.
Dictating which news you’re allowed to see stems from Facebook’s corrupted business model. Apple, in contrast, does things in a very subtle, different way. Which company shall endure?