You may have noticed that there was no Last Week in Tech post last week. That’s because we were still basking in the afterglow of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show where thousands of new gadgets made their debut. You can check out all of our CES coverage here, but I recommend hitting up this big list of all the best new doodads from the show, then chasing it with this look at BMW’s motorcycle that doesn’t need a rider. Here’s what you missed last week.
Watch a soldier fly around in this jet suit
The Gravity Jet Suit was on our 2018 Best of What’s New list of important innovations. Now, you can watch a soldier navigate a series of obstacles while wearing it. We want one of these more and more every day.
Now 74 of the top 100 U.S. merchants now accept Apple Pay
Apple’s iPhone-based payment system has been creeping into more and more cash registers, but now Apple Pay has landed a couple of very large retail fish. You will soon be able to use it at Target and Taco Bell stores around the country, so even if you forget your wallet, you won’t ruin your Friday night plans to buy a DVD of The Big Lebowski and watch it while eating a party box of soft tacos (extra Fire sauce). The new additions to Apple Pay’s roster also include Jack in the Box fast food and Speedway grocery stores.
Facebook is adding petitions and an app for teens called LOL
The year 2018 was a rollercoaster for Zuck and crew at Facebook. Now, the company is looking to extend its potential reach with a couple new features. Community Actions is a new feature that essentially allows users to create, sign, and circulate petitions.
The other project rolling out of the big blue social network isn’t official just yet, but TechCrunch has reported a new app called LOL that will take aim at getting some of the teen and tween audience that isn’t all that interested in Facebook in general. The report says it’s mostly a feed of memes and videos, so just imagine your 12 year-old cousin’s Instagram feed in app form.
This animated video of blank VHS tape covers is seriously nostalgic (if you’re old enough)
You won’t really learn anything from watching this video of animated VHS tape boxes, but you might get an old school thrill out of it if you ever spent time making your own movies with a massive video camera, or taped your favorite shows and movies off live TV since DVRs didn’t exist. I remember my old copy of Beetlejuice on one of those Memorex tapes in the grey case. It had a bunch of commercials and part of the end was missing, but I sure did love it.
A hitman went to jail because his Garmin smartwatch ratted him out
Mark “Iceman” Fellows was a hitman who carried out two murders in 2015. He’s in jail now, thanks to location and movement data pulled off of his Garmin Forerunner fitness tracker.
Michigan drivers can now use digital license plates
Eventually, every part of your car may just be a screen. The dashboard is already pretty much there and more family cars have screens embedded into the backs of the seats to keep the little ones busy. Now, cars in Michigan can start using digital license plates that replace the familiar stamped metal with a digital display. The tech comes from a company called Rplate, and the press release has one of the most perfect uses of tech PR jargon I’ve seen in some time. It says that the plate, “…transforms today’s stamped metal license plate into a sleek, digital, high-definition display and offers a platform to simplify daily life with vast potential for future innovation.”
That kinda just sounds like we’re all going to be driving around with ads for Sigi’s yogurt on our bumpers pretty soon.
Apple release battery cases for its iPhone X-series phones
If you’re constantly crushing the battery life on your iPhone XS (or XR, or XS Max), then Apple will happily sell you one of its battery cases to keep it juiced up. Of course, there are other options out there as well.
Sony made a new camera aimed at aspiring YouTubers and photographers
The Sony a6300 is an iconic camera for video bloggers because of its relatively small size and high image quality. Now, Sony has introduced an upgraded version that takes some features from its pro cameras and brings them down to $1,000. Our sister site, PopPhoto, was one of the first to shoot with it.