Alexa might get touchy
Amazon’s Echo smarty homebot device is just over two years old, so with preschool approaching for digital assistant Alexa, it looks like daddy Jeff Bezos may be giving his digital kid a new toy: a touch screen. According to multiple sources including Bloomberg, a new premium version of the Echo is likely to include a touchscreen that will show news, weather, calendars and, of course, shopping information.
The Echo has been a bit of a surprise hit for Amazon, and competition, most notably from Amazon with their Home device, has quickly sprung up, with more on the way, likely from Apple, Microsoft and other tech big hitters. Bloomberg said the new device will be larger than the current Echo and the screen will be optimized for operation while a user is standing. The as-yet unnamed device will likely debut in the next few months at the top of the range.
Just imagine the lines
The interwebs are swimming in iPhone 8 concept images these days, and the rumor mill is fairly choking on possible features: a top-to-bottom OLED display, a possible curved design, new long-range wireless charging, better dual cameras, new faster chips and so on. But what all the hype may really signify is that demand for the iPhone 8 – if it even comes close to living up to all the hype – will be positively gigantic when it finally arrives.
Ming Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a strong record of correct iPhone prognostications, says upstream parts suppliers are already preparing to supply bits for between 120 and 150 million iPhone 8s. That’s a tidal wave of iPhones to be sure, and best of all, the rumors are pushing other phone makers, especially Samsung, to up their game as well. Ten years after the first iPhone redefined what a smartphone could be, it looks like the iPhone 8 could do it again.
The politics of bits, bytes and dollars
AT&T is shaking up the telecom industry with its DirecTV Now streaming service, which offers a lot of TV for just $35 a month and even more if you double up to $70. But the real news here is how DirecTV Now could be the tip of the spear that pierces the net neutrality shield the FCC put in place last year. AT&T says their new service will not count against data caps for existing customers, but if you’re NOT an AT&T data systems customer, it most definitely will.
That’s called “zero rating,” and it’s a little-known codicil in the FCC’s net neutrality rules that agency head Tom Wheeler said the agency would look at “case by case.” Problem is, Hillary Clinton lost the election, and President-Elect Trump’s new FCC overseers, one of whom will very likely eventually head up the FCC, are positively anti-net neutrality, and those “case-by-case” reviews of zero ratings are likely about to become a very distant memory.
Bottom line: AT&T will be able to favor, or zero-rate, its own service, of course, while possibly throttling and charging non-AT&T data customers for every bit and byte of video they download. The Trump administration sees this as healthy competition. Others see it as a vertical monopoly by AT&T, which, in case you forgot, is about to also swallow up Time-Warner. Yes, it’s complicated, so check out this in-depth article from our friends at The Verge on this important topic.