Weekly News Roundup 12/9/2016

Apple’s next gen Phone and watch, Note 7 global recall continues a look inside the Intellibus.

If you have been living under a rock you might need to be brought up to speed. Apple has announced the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. I will be covering the iPhone 7.

iphone7Pretty similar to the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were trotted out last week with the usual fanfare that we have come to expect from the Cupertino juggernaut with a few differences.

The internals of the iPhone 7 got the usual bumps in performance but started ticking boxes that appeal to me personally. Water resistance is one of them. No longer do we have to nervously watch ourselves around liquids. Scared that the next splash will render our top of the line Precious into a shiny paperweight we have been tip-toeing around bodies of water great and small. Now we can breathe easy when walking in the rain, by the pool or leaning over the toilet with the phone in our top pocket. Late to the game, yes but at least Apple people can un-clench at the next pool party with the easygoing Samsung crowd.

Better speakers (stereo if you don’t mind) and display as well as a pretty cool camera that incorporates a better flash and image stabilisation along with all the other very cool iOS bells and whistles wrapped up in a proper black and the ultra-shiny jet black (which I love)

Then Apple drops the bomb that some of us have been expecting.

The 3.5mm audio jack is gone.

To make way for a better Taptic engine, bigger battery and better waterproofing the good old phono jack has finally been killed off after living on our tech for decades. In it’s place, Apple has supplied a lightning to phono adapter and announced the Ear Pods a pair of pretty high end wireless headphones designed to work effortlessly with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. If you have bluetooth headsets and audio devices they will work just fine too.

The 7 Plus got a couple of extras besides the bigger display. A second lens set at a “telephoto” level of zoom gives and optical zoom (56mm or 2x). Using clever software, the dual cameras can also play with the big cameras by providing depth of field allowing the background to blur while the subject and foreground are in sharp focus.

The battery life got better in this generation too. The 7 gets up to 2 extra hours while the 7 plus gets 1 extra hour. The screens are 1334×750 and 1920×1080 respectively which should be really all you need on a mobile screen.

Analysts seemed to think that the upgrades were just enough to be worthy of the iPhone 7 name but only just so it begs the question. Have we gone as far as we can with the high end of smartphones?

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are expected to be released September 16, 2016

Note 7 continues to blow up in the news.

More details on the spectacular failures of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 continue to roll in as the manufacturer recall rolls on into its second week.

The JerryRigEverything Youtube channel managed to even catch the thermal failure while disassembling the battery to show the safety features that could not stop the current spate of fires and explosions due to faulty battery chemistry.

The phone has been banned on most aircraft and Samsung has issued and advisory to not charge and not use the affected phones. Basically, don’t even look at these phones funny and return them ASAP to your nearest Samsung representative.

RACWA Intellibus – my first ride.

Well just last Friday I was fortunate enough to catch a ride on the brand new RAC Intellibus with my dad who like me is a massive fan of technology and in particular electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles.

Proof that we made it out alive.
Proof that we made it out alive.

The RAC Intellibus is a project undertaken by the RAC to give the regulators and look at what is possible and help work out what our self driving future could be. With this information, it is possible for the policy makers to better anticipate and plan for the technology that is expected to become mainstream according to motoring giants like Ford and Volvo.

To an extent we already have a level of autonomy in our cars of today ranging from cruise control, adaptive breaking to collision avoidance and even Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

The Intellibus takes it to the fully autonomous level can drive either way as it does not have a driver’s position. The bus is rigged with a range of cameras and sensors at both ends that provide centimeter-perfect navigation and a sensor range of over 150m. The rules at this time are written to drive very conservatively and the little bus gives everyone on the road plenty of room (and time).

The ride was quiet and smooth with the only bump coming from the bus breaking to give a large oncoming truck enough room to squeeze past us on the narrow South Perth Esplanade. As the software is upgraded (a couple of times a week at the moment) and the rules are tweaked the whole experience is expected to get even better.

The best part in my mind is that a company better known for insuring vehicles is working to accelerate the adoption of technology that could actually mean less private cars on the road. It seems to me that some smart people at the RAC can see where their future business lies and this gives me great confidence that the question of insuring autonomous vehicles has been answered with this exercise.

Very exciting indeed.

Have a look at a short video as we take our ride.