Microsoft’s new fitness wearable: The Band
The new device sprung on to the wearable scene last Friday when I was on vacation. Now that the bracelet, with its full-color screen, has gotten into the hands (well, wrists) of reviewers, we’re starting to see what people think of it. PCWorld says it’s uncomfortable (“omnipresent in the worst possible way,” was what they said) and inaccurate, although full of nice features such as GPS, a nice interface and screen. ZDnet also had a piece with a list of gripes from Band owners who are already giving it a try. Top complaints are that it’s uncomfortable, not waterproof, ard to set up, and the screen scratches easily.The New York Times is more favorable about the Band, calling it “pretty good” and possibly “the most flexible wearable device on the market.” When Fitbit’s Surge (and Apple’s Apple Watch) hits the stores, it’ll be interesting to see how they match up.
Amazon gives Prime customers get unlimited cloud photo storage
On Tuesday, Amazon announced it’s giving all Prime subscribers an unexpected bonus called Prime Photos—unlimited cloud storage for photos. The new storage is available immediately, and members can upload new photos and, “access them anytime, anywhere, at no cost.” Subscribers can store photos from their Android and iOS devices (and Fire tablets, of course) and from both Apple and Windows computers. Photos can be viewed on “nearly any device” and it’ll support files up to 2GB, so customers can store photos in their original sizes. I’m a Prime customer and I’ve gotta say, this sounds pretty darn nice. To get started, you can visit the Prime Photo site.
Jawbone introduces two new wearables
One is small, only $50 and can be clipped or popped into a bracelet ($15 extra for that). That one is the Jawbone Up Move. The other is called the Up3, costs $180 and is an always-wrist-worn device and offers a few more features (such as heart-rate monitoring). Seriously, there are getting to be so many wearables on the market it’s hard to keep up! If you’re interested in more details, check out re/code’s piece.
The Apple Watch may start at $500…and go up to $5,000
This pricing is only rumor, at this point, but a French Apple website (iGen.fr) says the steel model Apple Watch may start at $500 and the gold model will run you between $4,000-5,000 (as reported on macrumors.com). They’ve been right in the past, so time will tell (get it?) if they’ve done it again. It’s looking like I’ll need to win the lottery to afford one though :-).
Nerd news: designs unveiled for George Lucas’ Chicago museum
Either you’re going to love it, or you’re going to hate it. It’s a very…spacey. The designs are only proposals right now, so perhaps the design will be tweaked a bit before it’s actually built (it’s scheduled to open in 2018). The Verge has more concept drawings.
Microsoft Office now free to mobile users
When Microsoft released Office for iPhone and Android, you still needed a subscription to Office 365 to use the app. That’s no longer the case—all iOS and Android users can use the Office app without owning the software on an existing computer. This is a keep up with the Joneses move since Google has offered it’s Drive apps available for free, and iWork from Apple has been free to iOS customers as well. By giving the software for free Microsoft should also, as CNN Money says, “maintain a strong base of Office users for PCs as well.”
Fliers on Southwest to get free Beats Music streaming
In an innovative move, Apple is teaming with Southwest to offer Beats Music streaming service free to customers on Wi-Fi equipped planes (talk about a captive audience!). Travelers got the service starting on Monday as long as they had a device with the Beats app. One Southwest jet got a custom Beats paint job, so keep an eye out for it if you’re traveling.
Science in action (and just plain cool)
You learn at some point in your science classes that in a vacuum, everything falls at the same speeds. You memorize this fact, but if you’re like me, there’s something non-intuitive about it—I mean really, can a bowling ball and a feather REALLY drop at the same speed? Here’s video proof:
I mean, how cool is that????
This comes from a video of Brian Cox visiting NASA’s Space Power Facility in Ohio and giving their world’s largest vacuum chamber a spin.
Who DOESN’T want a Star Trek communicator?
Well, I’m sure there are some of you out there, but I think the Onyx sounds pretty cool. It was, for real, inspired by Star Trek. It’s small, round, and black with a button in the middle. You press it, wait for the beep, and start talking. You can connect up to 15 people on their own Onyx using an app, and you can make groups too.It is, admittedly, not quite a small as a Star Trek communicator, but the creator said that if it was smaller, it would have sacrificed sound quality. For $99 each it’s kind of tempting, but I sure wish the “beep” was more Treky sounding.
Amazon unveils Echo, a speaker that listens to you
I swear that EVERY tech website had a story about the Echo yesterday. The Echo is a 360 degree speaker that plays music…and also a virtual personal assistant. Like Apple has Siri, Amazon’s Echo has Alexa who you can talk to even from across the room. This means you can not only ask for music, you can also ask for weather, news, how to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and have her help with your shopping list. As Amazon says, “Echo’s brain is in the cloud” so it will learn and add more functionality over time. Also, since it is in the cloud, there’s an Echo app so you can manage things when you’re away from home. It’s got Bluetooth so you can also stream music from your favorite music service. It’ll be available in the next few weeks (just in time for the holidays – no coincidence, I’m sure) for $199 to regular folks and for $99 for Prime members.
Nest pushes out new update to all thermostats
Your Nest got an IQ upgrade this week. I’ll let Gizmodo tell you about it, but basically there’s a new algorithm that’ll make it more efficient.
Med tech: infrared light finds veins with fewer needle pokes
The Australian Red Cross Blood Service is using a new device that uses near infrared light to find veins—a boon to anyone with hard-to-find ones (me!!). The device works because the light is absorbed by the deoxygenated hemoglobin in your blood, lighting up veins brightly. They’re just trialing the device now, but if it improves the experience of donating blood, the hope is that it’ll reduce people’s fear about giving blood. Here’s a video if you’d like to see it in action: