Apple’s new products: what, when, and which one should you get?
Unless you were living under a rock this week or on vacation somewhere without Internet service, you know about Apple’s new goodies. Just in case you missed something, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell:
The Apple Watch (not “iWatch”: it should be released in early 2015 (so perhaps Apple just released the promise of a watch?). It’s rectangular, has lots of band choices, offers many health tracking features, and it’s expected to retail around $350. Note: you must own an iPhone to run an Apple Watch.
Apple rolled out two new iPhones: a 4.7” iPhone 6 and a phablet-sized 5.5” iPhone 6 Plus (both as prognosticated by the press weeks in advance). You can preorder the phone starting today through Apple and other first wave carriers such as U.S. Cellular, or you can wait until September 19 to hold one in your own hand before you decide (note: second wave carriers will not get the iPhone 6 until September 26th). The iPhone 6 starts at $199 for a 16GB version, and the 6 Plus starts at $299 for 16GB. If you’re having trouble envisioning how big the new phones are, there are to-scale cutouts you can print off (tip: make sure your printer is set to “full size” and not “scale to fit”). You could also check out this piece which offers up an opinion on what to buy.
Apple also announced a new “wave and go” payment system called Apple Pay: using Apple’s Passbook, you put your credit card info into your phone and can wave it at any Near Field Communication payment reader to make a payment. To make it secure, the phone never actually uses the actual credit card number in the process. Instead, a unique device number is assigned and stored on the phone itself, not with Apple at all, and each transaction also has a unique dynamic security code attached. If you lose your phone, you can use Find My iPhone’s “lost mode” or wipe your phone completely. Could be awesome and honestly I think it’s probably the most innovative thing Apple introduced on Tuesday (the watch was expected, the phones are mostly catch up IMHO). The problem is that not everyone thinks it’ll be adopted easily, but others are more optimistic.
Still have questions? The New York Times has answers to questions about Apple’s announcements.
Science news: Higgs boson could kill us all…under exceedingly unlikely conditions
In 2012 scientists revealed they’d found evidence of Higgs boson particles—it’s the particle that was postulated to be responsible for all the mass in the universe. Stephen Hawking now says this particle could destroy the entire universe…if there was enough energy to make a Higgs field change into a different state. The amount of energy it would take is approximately 100 billion gigaeletronvolts. If this happened (which would take a CERN-like accelerator the size of the earth), the quantum fluctuation would create a vacuum bubble that would expand and destroy the known universe. Another theoretical physicist is quoted as saying, “Most likely it will take 10 to the 100 years [a 1 followed by 100 zeroes] for this to happen, so probably you shouldn’t sell your house and you should continue to pay your taxes…” Shucks 😉
You might want to cross the Galaxy Note 4 Nook off your shopping list
Probably, anyway. Now that it’s been out for a bit, the reviews for the newest Nook (and the first with Samsung) are coming in…and they’re not very favorable. Gizmodo asks, “What’s the point?” of the entire device. They felt the processor was too slow to shop for new books without lag time and that “navigating the device so lethargically” became frustrating. Engadget, while a bit more polite, also is not raving about it for similar reasons. It’s fine for reading if you’re a Barnes & Nobel customer, but not a great budget tablet.
The sound of a single atom moving recorded for the first time
Sure, it sounds a bit like “if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” but it’s actually a long-standing science question—what does a single atom moving sound like? No one has known because the sound waves emanating from an atom were too small and weak to actually record…until now. Researchers created a computer chip that changes an atom’s itty-bitty acoustic waves into microwaves which are big enough to actually record. The scientists claim the sound is the softest sound that is physically possible. Gizmodo has a bit more on the story and the research was published in Science.
Printable solar panels, coming soon
A team of scientists from Australia’s national science agency have developed printable solar panel technology to a point it could be commercialized soon. The process uses solar ink on a printable roll of plastic. They’re thin, light, flexible, and cheap to produce. This could mean iPad covers, laptop bags, phone skins – all made from solar panels that could help maintain the charge of the device. The team hopes to increase the efficiency of their solar ink panels moving forward, but how cool would it be to coat a building with ink that will help power it?
Library of Congress photos + artist = amazing and weird GIFs
A gentleman named Kevin Weir, an art director and designer, has taken historical photos and created some interesting…and often creepy…animated GIFs. In a recent story he said he is drawn to “unknowable places and persons” and he uses them as the backdrop for his creations. Here are a few, and be sure to check out his blog Flux Machine for more.