The Tech News Blog

February 20, 2014

Elon Musk Confirms Apple, Tesla Talks

Elon Musk

Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk this week confirmed that his company has had talks with Apple, but declined to offer any details.

"We had conversations with Apple," Musk told Bloomberg Television this week. "I can't comment on whether those revolved around any kind of acquisition."

When asked whether Tesla is for sale—for the right price—Musk dismissed the idea, saying "we need to stay super focused on … creating a compelling mass market electric car."

An acquisition scenario, he said, would likely distract the company from "the task which has always been … the driving goal of Tesla."

Rumors about a Tesla-Apple matchup started with a Sunday report from the San Francisco Chronicle, which said Musk met with Apple dealmaker Adrian Perica. That prompted speculation about a possible iCar—or at least a Tesla with some Cupertino customizations.

To that, Musk said Tesla considered integrating Android into its cars, but scrapped the idea as it was "too early in the life of Android." But a future partnership isn't out of the question.

February 18, 2014

Galaxy S5 Rumors Tip 5.2-Inch Screen, Fingerprint Sensor

Samsung Unpacked 5

There are just a few days left until Samsung's Unpacked event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but rumors about the Galaxy S5 are showing no signs of slowing down.

Samsung fan site SamMobile on Monday reported that Samsung's next flagship smartphone will include a fingerprint sensor. Pocket-lint, meanwhile, citing Holland-based e-retailer Typhone, said the Galaxy S5 will sport a 5.2-inch full HD screen, as well as a 16-megapixel camera.

Samsung already revealed plans to shake things up with its next smartphone launch, announcing in January that "the display and the feel of the cover" will be different from its predecessors. Those changes were put on display last month when leaked photos of the allegedly re-designed home screen hit the Web.

Posted by tipster @evleaks, the images showcased a new home screen reminiscent of Microsoft's Windows Phone and Google Now cards, but equally sized and stacked atop one another.

But it appears Samsung may have taken a cue from another competitor, as well: SamMobile "confirmed" that the GS5 will come with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button, much like Apple's iPhone 5s.

February 13, 2014

Report: Comcast, TWC Poised to Announce Blockbuster Merger

Comcast Time Warner Cable

Comcast and Time Warner Cable (TWC) will reportedly announce on Thursday that they are merging in a deal that would see Comcast spend about $159 per share to acquire TWC via a stock purchase.

The deal would combine the two largest cable and home Internet service companies operating in the United States, Bloomberg reported late Wednesday, citing unnamed sources. The purported merger would be an all-stock deal and is set to be officially announced tomorrow morning, the news agency said.

Bloomberg also reported that Charter Communications, the No. 4 cable provider in the country, had earlier offered TWC management around $132.50 per share in a similar merger proposal. TWC rejected that offer and had countered with $160 before the negotiations fell apart, according to the report.

February 12, 2014

Report Tips New Apple TV, Time Warner Cable Deal

Apple TV Rumors

A new Apple TV set-top box is on its way, and it could be a lot more feature-rich than existing models, according to a new report.

Bloomberg, citing unnamed people with knowledge of the matter, on Wednesday reported that Apple is currently in talks with Time Warner Cable and other firms to add video content to the next version of the device. The Cupertino tech giant is planning to introduce the next-gen gadget as early as April and hopes to have it on store shelves in time for the Christmas holidays.

The report notes that the release date could be pushed back as Apple is still "securing new agreements with programming and distribution partners." The upgraded Apple TV will boast a faster processor as well as an updated interface that makes it easier to navigate between shows and other types of content.

If the Time Warner deal goes through, it would be the first of its kind between Apple and a pay-TV provider. Up until now, all Apple TV content is app and Internet-based.

February 9, 2014

Rumor: iOS 7.1 to Hit in Early March

iOS 7.1

So churneth the rumor mill. According to the latest batch of unnamed sources speaking to 9to5Mac, Apple's first major update to iOS 7 is expected to hit in "early March." That's a wee bit later than some of the other rumors that pegged Apple's update arriving in the next few weeks or so. Suffice to say, it appears as if iOS 7 will be arriving imminently, if nothing else.

If you're one of the lucky few who can get your hands on beta releases for versions of Apple's iOS, said mystery source also comments that the current beta version – number five – will be the last prior to the final release of iOS 7.1.

So, what's changing?

A few new tweaks include the ability to disable Apple's parallax effect for one's wallpapers via a new setting called "perspective zoom," which you can allegedly set immediately after picking the wallpaper of your choosing. There are some brand-new UI tweaks to the screens for making and answering phone calls, mainly the addition of circular icons into the mix. The shift and backspace keys are now highlighted on the iOS keyboard, and the letters themselves are a bit bolder than how they were displayed in prior iOS iterations.

Both the "slide to unlock" and "slide to power off" buttons have a tweaked animation and, as MacRumors reports, scrolling through Messages has "slightly more bounce" to it than before. The process of creating contacts from phone numbers you're tapping into your phone is a wee different as well; gone is the "+ Add to Contacts" link that would appear beneath numbers, replaced instead by a more pleasant plus-inside-a-circle icon that sits to the left of the number itself.

February 3, 2014

Report: Apple Eyeing Solar Charging for iWatch

Apple iWatch

Rumors about an Apple iWatch have been making the rounds for about two years, but it has not yet made an appearance at any of Cupertino's high-profile press events.

According to a new report from the New York Times, an iWatch is indeed in the works, but we might not see it anytime soon. The story, which focused on battery technology, said that Cupertino has been experimenting with new ways to charge its smartwatch - including wireless technology like that seen on Nokia devices.

"Apple has also experimented with new power-charging methods for a potential smartwatch, people close to the efforts said, though such experiments are years from becoming a reality," the paper said.

As 9to5Mac noted in September, Apple was on the hunt for an engineer with experience with solar technology.

But as PCMag's Sascha Segan pointed out last year amidst reports of a larger-screen iPhone, Apple (and its rivals) likely experiments with a number of technologies. But just because it has a smartwatch or a phablet or a unicorn in its labs doesn't mean those devices will ever end up on an Apple Store shelf.

January 28, 2014

Apple Patents Tip Solar-Charging MacBooks, iOS Camera Lens

Apple iPhone 5s or Nokia Lumia 1020: Which Camera is Better?

It's a patent party for Apple this week. The Patent and Trademark Office awarded Cupertino 31 new patents, which cover everything from solar-powered Macs to add-on camera lenses.

As noted by Patently Apple, the camera patent covers a magnetic lens that could slip over the camera on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

Despite the fact that phone makers are experimenting with more powerful cameras - from the 41-megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020 to the 20.7-megapixel Sony Xperia Z1s - there is still a limit to how much camera tech a manufacturer can shove into a mobile device.

"Existing compact devices that use compact camera modules generally do not provide the types of lens mounting structures found in conventional cameras due to space constraints," Patently Apple said. "This makes it difficult to retain an additional lens and align it correctly with a compact camera module on a compact device."

January 22, 2014

Report: Amazon Denies Plans for Live TV Streaming

Amazon Headquarters

Amazon this week denied that it is prepping live TV programming for its online streaming service.

"We continue to build selection for Prime Instant Video and create original shows at Amazon Studios, but we are not planning to license television channels or offer a pay-TV service," the company said in a statement provided to Engadget.

The denial comes after The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had met with three unnamed major media groups about distributing their television channels.

Recently, there were also reports that Amazon was developing a television set-top box to stream video via the Internet. Like the Roku, Apple TV, or the dongle-sized Google Chromecast, an Amazon product would allow consumers another option to stream content—like its own Amazon Video on Demand and Instant Prime Video.

Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.

January 20, 2014

Leak Shows Off Revamped Samsung Galaxy S5 Home Screen


Samsung has already promised that its next-gen Galaxy smartphone will be a departure from the S4, and newly released photos show off the allegedly re-designed home screen for the new device.

Internet tipster @evleaks, who has had a rather good track record of late, posted images last night of what he said are Samsung's new home screen. It's reminiscent of Microsoft's Windows Phone home screen and Google Now cards, but the tiles are equally sized and stacked on top of one another.

About two weeks ago, @evleaks posted another photo of a Samsung home screen with a note that said the company was "exploring [a] new smartphone UI." That image also featured the tile-like home screen, as well as the more traditional Android screen.

Shortly after that post, Lee Young Hee, Samsung's mobile executive vice president, spoke with Bloomberg at CES, where he said that the company is on track to release its Galaxy S5 in March or April, but that it will be a departure from the Galaxy S4.

January 16, 2014

Report: Microsoft Considering Ericsson Chief for CEO Post

Hans Vestberg

With Ford chief Alan Mullaly reportedly out of the running for the Microsoft CEO post, attention has turned to Ericsson chief Hans Vestberg.

According to Reuters, Microsoft is "considering" Vestberg to replace outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer. He's been at Ericsson since 1998, working in China, Brazil, Mexico, and the U.S. during his tenure. Vestberg served as the firm's chief financial officer from 2007 to 2009 before becoming CEO.

It's not exactly a done deal, Reuters said. Ericsson has struggled against Chinese phone makers like Huawei, and Microsoft might prefer someone with more experience in the consumer sector as it battles against Apple and Samsung with Windows Phone and its Surface lineup of tablets.

Last month, the Microsoft board said that it expects to select a Ballmer successor in early 2014. At the time, board member John W. Thompson said that Microsoft initially identified more than 100 qualified CEO candidates, and spoke to several dozen. That list was whittled down to about 20 people, and has been reduced since.

Reuters said today that a decision probably won't happen until the last week of January at the earliest.