Weekly Rewind: Amazon's new product lineup, the Levi's smart jacket, the Chrome competitor

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A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top tech stories, from Amazon’s new product lineup to Lyft’s new Ford partnership  — it’s all here.

Amazon Echo Plus, Connect, Spot bring Alexa to every room, Zigbee, 911 calling

Amazon Echo Second Generation

The Amazon Echo universe is expanding again. In the face of the emergence of a veritable panacea of smart home speakers from competitors, Amazon is stepping up to the plate and taking on the challenge. On Wednesday, the company announced a series of new products, including a new Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, a brand new device called the Echo Connect, an alarm clock-like device called as the Echo Spot, and Echo buttons geared towards gamers that will sell for $20 a pair. Amazon also announced a new Fire TV as well as an Alexa integration with BMW vehicles coming in 2018.

Read: Amazon Echo Plus, Connect, Spot bring Alexa to every room, Zigbee, 911 calling

Is face time over? New biometric tech identifies you through your ‘heartprint’

biometric heartprint password feat

With the iPhone X, smartphone market leader Apple may have announced that fingerprint sensors are out and facial recognition is in as the hot new biometric technology — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some intriguing alternatives on the horizon. The latest one? Smart new tech from researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, who have developed a computer security system that uses radar to read your personal heart rate signature.

Read: Is face time over? New biometric tech identifies you through your ‘heartprint’

Park this vintage VW Bus fridge in the kitchen for retro appeal

volkswagen bus refrigerator

Modern style has trended toward a more minimalist style. As appliances become more muted in tone, they tend to fade into the background. As a market response, retro appliances are making a comeback. They have unique shapes, bright colors, and stand out against everything else. And when it comes to retro design, there is arguably nothing more iconic than the 1960s Volkswagen Bus.

In celebration of German engineering and the need to keep food fresh, Gorenje has revealed the Volkswagen Bus refrigerator. Just like the vehicle that inspired it, this special edition fridge features chrome trim, a two-tone paint job, and a big VW emblem on the door. The only things missing are headlights, a windshield, and a bumper.

Read: Park this vintage VW Bus fridge in the kitchen for retro appeal

Faster and even more minimalist, Firefox Quantum makes Chrome look old

Firefox has been playing catch-up ever since Google’s Chrome captured the desktop and mobile markets with its blend of functionality and speed. Now, Mozilla is aiming to leapfrog its competitor with Firefox Quantum, and update the bones of Firefox, focuseing on how browsers will work with future devices. We went hands-on with Quantum to see if Google has reason to worry.

Read: Faster and even more minimalist, Firefox Quantum makes Chrome look old

Instagram #kindcomments is back with new tools for regulating commentary

instagram offline f8 2017
Pixabay/Pexels

Instagram is working to curb those offensive comments — on Tuesday, September 26, Instagram launched a few new tools that the platform says are designed to strengthen its commitment to safety and kindness.

The first change allows users with a public profile to choose who can comment on their posts. With the new tool, Instagrammers can keep comments open to everyone or just to certain groups. For example, public profiles can be adjusted so that only followers can comment. The new Instagram comments options allow users to limit comments to accounts they follow, accounts following them, or both.

Read: Instagram #kindcomments is back with new tools for regulating commentary

Ford, Lyft partnership aims to bring autonomous cars to the masses

Ford Lyft partnership

Ford hopes to harness the newfound power of ridesharing to bring autonomous vehicles to the people. The Blue Oval has announced plans to start a giant pilot program in which Ford vehicles will be integrated into the Lyft application, and dispatched to customers during periods of high demand. The first cars could hit the streets as early as 2021.

The idea isn’t to beat Tesla, Uber, BMW, Volvo, and every tech company in the autonomous arms race. The goal of the Ford, Lyft partnership is to provide answers to some of the questions facing the ridesharing industry today. One of the big question marks is how to create a technology platform capable of connecting seamlessly with another brand’s platform. The partners also want to figure out where to dispatch self-driving vehicles and get an idea of the infrastructure that will be needed to maintain them.

Read: Ford, Lyft partnership aims to bring autonomous cars to the masses

Everything you need to know about the Google Pixel 2

pixel 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

The Google Pixel was the Android smartphone to beat last year, and Google is looking to capitalize on that success. As we get closer to the expected October 4 launch of the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, rumors are ramping up. It’s possible LG is building one of the phones for Google, and HTC may be behind the second, smaller counterpart.

Here is everything we know about the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Read: Everything you need to know about the Google Pixel 2

Would you pay $350 for Levis’ new smart jacket?

poll levis smart jacket jaquard fabric

Well, it’s about time. On Monday, October 2, you’ll be able to order Levi’s touch-sensitive denim smart jacket for $350. That’s quite a bit for a simple jean jacket, but thanks to its integration of Google’s “Jacquard” technology, it’s more than just outerwear — it has a few tricks up its sleeve. Well, on its sleeve, actually.

The Project Jacquard denim jacket features a touch-sensitive sleeve that allows you to control your smartphone with taps, swipes, and brushing motions. According to the Verge, it’s primarily designed with cyclists in mind, so you’ll be able to pause your smartphone’s music playback or skip songs with a simple gestures.

Read: Would you pay $350 for Levis’ new smart jacket?

SoundMolds custom headphone eartips review

soundmold eartips both
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Getting the perfect fit from an in-ear headphone is essential both for sound quality and security, but even though most products come with 16 pairs of tips in different shapes, sizes, and materials, getting the ideal seal is an exercise in frustration at best, and totally impossible at worst.  That seal is crucial for sealing out noise around you, delivering good bass response, and, perhaps most importantly, remaining comfortable so you’ll, you know … want to wear them.  Thankfully, SoundMolds custom eartips successfully solve this conundrum with its custom-molded silicone eartips – and they will work with any in-ear headphone you choose.

Read: SoundMolds custom headphone eartips review

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in February 2019

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. February 2019 brings Deadpool 2 and season 6 of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.
Cars

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.
Home Theater

Dolby’s secret recording studio app may soon exit stealth mode

In secret testing since June, Dolby's stealth recording and social network app may soon be ready to make an appearance. Dolby 234 blends unique noise-canceling tech with Instagram-like audio filters.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.
Social Media

Google will begin shutting down the classic Hangouts app in October

Google confirmed that it will begin retiring the classic Google Hangouts app in October. The company will start by pushing users to move to the new Google Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet.
Smart Home

Starbucks coffee delivery lands in 6 more cities via Uber Eats

Starbucks is in the process of expanding its coffee delivery service far beyond Miami. Available via the Uber Eats app, the service has just launched in San Francisco, with five additional cities joining in the coming weeks.
Mobile

How to make a contact group on an iPhone

There's no obvious way to crate contact groups on your iPhone, but you can do it through iCloud or you can install a third-party app to help. We explain both methods as we explore how to make a contact group on an iPhone.
Mobile

Xiaomi shows how its folding smartphone will look, and you’re going to love it

Xiaomi is the latest manufacturer to show off a folding smartphone prototype. The unnamed phone has a different design than others we've seen, adopting a double fold where the sides of the screen fold over the back of the device.
Mobile

These patent images may show the new Moto Razr folding phone

The Motorola Razr V3 is one of the world's most iconic phones, and it could be making a stylistic return in the form of a foldable Motorola smartphone -- but it may cost around $1,500. Is the nostalgia worth it?
Mobile

HMD Global confirms which Nokia phones will definitely receive Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

AT&T and Rush System are using 5G to create the 'hospital of the future'

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.
Mobile

Here's how (and why) to use safe mode with an Android phone

When you have an issue with your phone, safe mode can help you determine whether a third-party app is to blame. If you’re wondering how to access it, or how to turn the feature off in Android, then you have come to the right place.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.