Last week in tech: New iPhones inbound, Twitter went to Congress, and Google turned 20
This week's round-up of technology news is pumpkin spice flavor
Apple is announcing new products at an event smack in the middle of this week, which means news about new iPhones will pretty much dominate the tech space until all the hot takes have cooled down. But, don’t let the hype for Tim Cook and company’s new devices overshadow all the tech news from last week. Here’s a rundown of the top stories.
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Executives from Twitter and Facebook sat in front of some very grumpy Congressional committees last week to talk about pesky problems like harassment, censorship, and international espionage. We watched the whole thing to pull out the interesting bits. At the same time, Google celebrated its 20th birthday (and Chrome turned 10!), so we talk about some of its most important moments (and biggest flops). Plus, we sat down with Brian Merchant, author of The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, to talk about the past, present, and future of Apple’s flagship gadget.
New iPhones are coming
Every year, around this time, tech journalists convene in Cupertino to observe as Apple executives perform the traditional ritual which causes new iPhone models to arise from a ceremonial pool. This year, rumors have it, that we’ll get several new iPhone models of various sizes and inscrutable naming conventions, possibly an iPhone CX, iPhone XS MAX, and the Double iPhone X+ With Cheese (that last one is a joke). Hang with us on Wednesday for live coverage of the conjuring.
Elon Musk smoked pot on a podcast
It happened. It became a meme. It had a distinctly negative effect on the companies with which he’s associated. It was the worst.
Apple said tariffs will make its products pricier
This likely won’t be a talking point at this week’s iPhone festivities, but Apple released a public letter announcing that recent tariffs will make products like AirPods, Apple Watches, computing components, and even adapters and dongles cost more.
HP introduced a device to 3D print metal components
HP Metal Jet 3D Printer
3D printing with metal isn’t a totally new concept, but HP has a new solution that it’s rolling out to companies like Volkswagen to enable quick production of metallic pieces. The HP Metal Jet will make parts for specialty cars that need manufacturing volume in the thousands rather than the millions. We would use it to print an awesome Highlander sword, but car parts are cool, too.
The Mercedes concept delivery vehicle is like a self-driving hermit crab
Concept cars often languish in fantasy land, but Mercedes Vision Urbanetic van is cool nonetheless. It’s designed with an adaptable frame and interchangeable bodies so it can alternate between carrying up to 12 people or 10 pallets of cargo. Presumably the party bus attachment will come later.
Sphero made a robotic ball—this one has a screen!
The company that made the adorable BB-8 toy robot and various other coding toys just released a new spherical, code-friendly bot with a programmable display inside. The Sphero Bolt’s 8×8 pixel LED can relay a variety of information from simple directional indicators to more complicated graphics like an animated Pac-Man for playing games.
Instagram added quick-access emojis to its comment keyboard
Have the comments on your Instagram photos seemed too thoughtful and genuine lately? Well, the latest Instagram update has a fix for that! There’s now a line up pre-selected emojis along the bottom of the comment screen so you can dish out the surprised “Home Alone face” emoji with the speed and efficiency of a pre-teen. Oo:
Canon introduced its new full-frame mirrorless camera
Right now, digital cameras are as exciting as they have been in years. First, Nikon introduced its own full-frame mirrorless camera to compete with high-end DSLRs, and now Canon has unleashed its own pro-grade shooter along with a heap of really impressive-looking lenses. Here’s a hands-on post with some sample images shot in Hawaii, which will either fix or reinforce your Monday morning blues.
Your fitness tracker may not be helping you get fit
If you’re hoping a magical device around your wrist is the key to finally shedding that winter weight you gained back in 2009, you may find yourself disappointed. Google has a new Heart Points initiative to help the process, but only time will tell if its begging for you to get off the couch will actually work.
Mirror is a $1,500 smart screen that watches you work out
The market for super-high-end home fitness equipment is picking up. The latest guided workout gadget is called Mirror and it sends customized workouts to a 52 x 22 inch mirrored screen in front of which you work out. You can put it right next to your $2,000 Peloton exercise bike.