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Weekly Rewind: NASA's human tissue bounty, the iPhone's true cost, and more

top tech stories 06 19 2016 nasawr head
In the tech world, a lot happens in a week. So much news goes on that it’s almost impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of the top 10 tech stories from this week. Everything from the action at WWDC and E3 to the possibility of alien life, it’s all here.

Everything Apple announced at WWDC 2016: iOS 10, WatchOS 3, MacOS, Siri, and more

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Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) marked a big milestone for the company, as iOS reached its 10th iteration. Although iOS 10 and Siri were the stars of the show, WatchOS 3, tvOS, and MacOS had some pretty big updates, too. Although Apple didn’t show off new devices at WWDC, that doesn’t make it any less exciting. The developer conference revealed some key hints about the future of Apple products and presented the company’s vision for its future.

Read the full story here.

Everything Microsoft announced at E3 2016: Xbox One S, software updates, games

Dead Rising 4 EXO Suit Power Up
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E3 2016 kicked off this week, and Microsoft delivered one of the most exciting, feature-laden showcases in recent memory. Microsoft’s dedication to cross-platform play via the new Xbox Play Anywhere initiative stood out among a veritable smorgasbord of trailers and gameplay demos, and the announcement of two powerful new Xbox One console versions reinforced the company’s support for the game development community.

Read the full story here.

NASA offers $500K to anyone who can grow lifelike human tissue for space experiments

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NASA is offering $500,000 to split between the first three teams that can successfully grow human organ tissue in a laboratory. The agency then hopes to study this tissue in an effort to make deep space travel less harmful to the body and save astronauts from extreme experimentation. It’s a NASA priority to understand astronauts’ physical and mental health while in space – but this can prove difficult as any experimentation puts the subject at risk.

Read the full story here.

How much would it cost to build the iPhone in the US? MIT crunched the numbers

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MIT recently did a study to determine just how much it would cost Apple to build the iPhone in the U.S. rather than in China. In fact, the researchers did two studies — one looking at how much it would cost to only assemble the iPhone in the U.S., and the other looking at how much it would cost to manufacture components and assemble the device in the U.S.

Read the full story here.

Green is gorgeous in Hazang’s handmade bamboo speakers

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Bluetooth speakers have come a long way in a fairly short time, not just technologically speaking but in terms of design as well. You’ll still find plenty of the utilitarian black or gray boxes that abounded during the early days, but more companies are pushing the boundaries, whether it’s the gravity-defying Meizu Gravity or a wooden enclosure instead of the standard plastic.

Read the full story here.

Starting in 2030, all new cars registered in Germany must have zero emissions

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Hammer, dropped. Dismayed that CO2 emissions from motor transport have not dropped in the country since 1990, Germany is taking what some will consider an extreme measure. Others will think it’s about time. As of 2030, all new cars registered in Germany must be emissions free, according to The Globe and Mail. Just to be sure that’s clear, zero emissions will be the rule for all new cars allowed on German roads starting in 2030.

Read the full story here.

Aliens have probably once existed, according to leading astrophysicists

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Some 3,000 planets have been identified outside of our solar system. A whopping 1,284 of those were announced just last month by the team behind the Kepler space telescope. What was once a difficult and uncommon discovery has become something of the norm – new planets seem to pop up regularly. “Improvements in astronomical observation technology have moved us from retail to wholesale planet discovery,” writes University of Rochester professor of astrophysics Adam Frank.

Read the full story here.

Snap a photo of your meal and this AI-powered startup will tell you how many calories it contains

friends using smartphones to take photos of sausage and pork chop and beer.
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It’s the dream of any foodie who watches what they eat to be able to snap a photo of their meals and have their phone instantly tell them how many calories they’re about to consume. That’s the mission statement of a new startup called AVA, which promises to do away with the dreary manual logging process of rival healthy-eating apps in favor of an altogether more streamlined process. Using AVA’s “intelligent eating” service, users will simply take a photo of their food, text it to AVA, and then receive health and caloric information in return.

Read the full story here.

Amazon readying for music streaming battle with new stand-alone service

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It’s better late than never for Amazon, which is preparing a new music streaming service to directly compete with products from Apple, Spotify, and Google. Although the online shopping giant currently features a similar offering through Prime Music, Reuters cites information from two inside sources that the new service will have a more “competitive catalog of songs.” The service will have a basic $10 per month tier, matching competitors. Amazon is currently working through deals with labels for the service, which is expected for a late summer or early fall launch.

Read the full story here.

Boeing’s solar-powered airplane looks ridiculous, but it might just be crazy enough to work

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The first solar-powered airplane completed an intercontinental flight four years ago last week. NASA’s Pathfinder made headlines with its pilotless, sustained flights in 2014. Just two months ago, a solar plane made history after it traversed the Pacific Ocean. It may be a slow and steady progression, but the solar-powered airplane race is heating up.

Read the full story here.

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Apple plans to put more ads on your iPhone, report claims
iOS's App Library page shown on an iPhone 13 Pro.

Apple is planning to put ads in more of the apps that come pre-installed on the iPhone, a new report has claimed.

While the tech giant already includes ads in its News, App Store, and Stocks apps, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reported on Sunday that it recently internally tested ads in Apple Maps and could incorporate them into other software such as Podcasts and Books, too.

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The EU will reportedly vote for USB-C iPhones next week
A blue iPhone 12 sits next to a lightning charger.

The EU is reportedly planning to vote in favor of a landmark regulation that will mandate the adoption of USB-C for smartphones and tablets, forcing Apple to drop the Lightning port on iPhones. According to a Reuters report, EU lawmakers and delegates are set to meet at an event on June 7. During that meeting, the proposal for universally adopting the USB-C port will be agreed upon as the unified standard for all phones and tablets sold in the region.

"The trilogue next Tuesday will be the second and likely the final one between EU countries and EU lawmakers on the topic," says the report, hinting that the remarkable manifesto will finally get the approval and get enacted as law. The debate around a universal charging standard was broached nearly a decade ago, but in the years that followed, Android makers have moved to the USB-C ports to a large extent. Apple, meanwhile, has remained loyal to the cause of its proprietary port on iPhones.

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Apple to use zero-emission recycled aluminum in iPhone SE
Woman mixing smelting aluminum.

Apple has announced that its iPhone SE will use aluminum that has been smelted with zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Canadian manufacturing partner Elysis has been able to crank out aluminum ingots at a commercial scale and purity while only producing oxygen emissions. Since Quebec is flush with hydroelectric power, the energy used in the process is renewable too. Apple first used this aluminum with its 16-inch 2019 MacBook Pro. Research into the smelting technology was made possible by Apple's Green Bonds. These bonds have been able to funnel investment into eco-friendly projects since 2016.

The fund is a whopping $4.7 billion, so lots of other projects are on the way. The 50 currently on the books from the 2019 fund are expected to offset 2.9 million tons of CO2.  One of these projects will be building wind turbines in Denmark. These will in turn power a local Apple data center. Apple boasts that with the help of its Green Bonds, more than 175 manufacturing partners across 24 countries have pledged to only use renewable energy when making Apple products. With any luck, this will help it claim carbon neutrality along its entire production line by 2030.  
Apple has been using recycled aluminum in its products since at least 2015, and claims that since then it has reduced its carbon emissions from aluminum production by almost 70%. That's great, but recycling aluminum is low-hanging fruit. Much of commercial aluminum is already recycled since mining bauxite ore is expensive and our recycling infrastructure for aluminum is well-established. 
E-waste is a much tougher problem to solve. To that end, we're eager to see how Apple's upcoming self-repair program pans out and expands. The longer we can keep using our devices, the longer we can keep them out of landfills. 

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