DT Daily: Next-gen version of Android OS a hot topic at Google I/O

Is there an Android rest stop up ahead?

Microsoft’s big “Build” event continues today, but Google is also kicking off their own tech event, known as I-O, and the next version of Android may be at the center of the show. The next version of the Android OS is “Android P” if they stick to the alphabet theme (which is likely), so let’s get those Android-needs-a-diaper jokes out of the way now and take a closer look at the changes on the way for the popular mobile operating system.

According to the folks at Android Police, someone out there – apparently a someone in the Philippines – was somehow able to download a developer’s version of the upcoming Android update ahead of its release and posted some screen shots. We can’t say they are the real deal with 100 percent certainty, but the posts are quite convincing. Android P (leave us your best guess as to what “P” will stand for in our YouTube comments section) includes new navigation gestures, a morphing home button that turns into a scrolling bar of sorts, adaptive battery options, and much more.

Ten to the Third

Meanwhile over in iOS land, rumors are beginning to surface about the successor – and maybe successors – to the Apple iPhone X. It’s pretty much a given that Tim Cook and his team will introduce an iPhone X update – probably this fall – called the iPhone X Plus, but exact specifications have been in short supply. We may now have a better idea.

Japanese site Mac Otakara says three versions of the X-phone will drop this fall, including the big 6.5-inch “Plus,” but there will also be an “updated” original OLED model and a 6.1-inch lower-cost version with an LCD screen. The site also indicated that FaceID tech will be included on each model, and that the system will work horizontally as well as vertically. And while there were no specifics on any other changes, it looks like some or all of the new models may actually be a bit thicker than the original in order to accommodate a new – and apparently larger – camera module on the back of the phone. Maybe they can put in a bigger battery as well.

Convoy!

We’ve gotten used to hearing about all the advances – and problems – associated with “driverless” cars and its many associated technologies, but self-driving vehicle insiders are slowly beginning to agree on one thing: The first big wave of self-driving vehicles won’t be cars. More than likely, they’re going to be semi-trucks. But a big problem with creating a reliable, safe self-piloting semi at this point in time… is the cost of the gear needed to make it safely drive itself.

One of those big-ticket costs is the LIDAR system, which identifies objects and areas around the truck to the computer driving it. Right now, that can cost $100,000, which is almost as much as the whole truck itself. A company call Tu Simple thinks that cameras might be a better (and far more affordable) solution, and they are testing their tech in a working – but not public – environment: shipping terminals.

In Tu Simple’s video, the trucks drive around the shipyard by themselves with a human minder in a passenger seat decked out with computer controls, just in case. They pick up cargo and move it out to be picked up by trucks heading for public roads – where Tu Simple is also testing some public-road oriented self-driving tech. How long until self-driving trucks are rolling down a highway near you? Likely sooner than you think.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.