New MacBook Pro Leaks Reveal Tim Cook’s Big Risk And Bigger Reward
Although no big consumer facing changes are expected to Apple’s Mac and MacBook line-up this year beyond keeping pace with Moore’s Law, Apple analysts are expecting the crop of 2018 machines to feature in Apple’s push to become self-reliant with regards the design of its chips
Both the Touch Bar enabled MacBook Pro (with the touch input focused T1 chip) and the iMac Pro (with the power and security focused T2 chip) ship with Apple designed co-processor chips. Further afield the AirPods, along with a handful of Beats headphones) have the W1 wireless peripheral chip, the Apple Watch runs with the W2, and iOS devices have had Axx chips running all the way back to the A4.
But the goal may not be restricted to co-processors. In my opinion, and that of many in the geekerati, the goal will be complete control of the design of all of the silicon in your Apple hardware.
Part of the attractiveness of developing its own silicon for specific functions has been to allow Apple to control its own destiny and not be reliant on the technology and code of third parties. If you are looking for a recent example, look no further than the Intel’s issues with Meltdown and Spectre. Apple would consider these to be the faults of Intel, but faults which it ultimately had to bear responsibility.
The assumption being that if Apple could control the silicon, it can control its destiny.
This makes another assumption… that Apple is able to program a better, more secure, more stable chip than Intel. And if you are looking for a recent example that this is going to be a lot harder than it appears, then look no further than the issues over older iPhone Batteries and the drastic action that iOS is forced to take after around a year of regular use. Throttling back handsets without disclosing the action until forced to by a third-party investigation is not the sort of standard to be aiming for.
The suggestion from Bloomberg is that Apple will be looking to include new custom chips in three macOS machines released in 2018. These will likely be updates to the current line-ups, rather than brand new entries into the portfolio. It’s highly unlikely that Apple will be ready to replace the Intel-designed CPUs at this stage, I would expect Apple to extend the current co-processors to offer new features and appear in new models.
For example the iMac Pro’s T2 chip that helps process audio and video would make for a good addition to the top end MacBook Pro to offer more workstation-like features; an update to the iPad Pro could also benefit from a mobile version of this media processing chip; and a general expansion of graphics capabilities in the MacBook Pro machines though dedicated GPUs and graphical chips would not only be appreciated but allow Apple to sell the 2018 MacBooks as carrying ‘new’ features as it tries to move consumers to a yearly update cycle on its desk-bound hardware.
That would give Apple more experience and data on co-processors, it would allow it to investigate and code in new areas, and it would move it closer to the point where it could take total control of the design of all of its silicon and create an even bigger digital moat around its products.
Mitsubishi’s new Outlander is almost relentlessly sensible
Paul Walker screeching to a halt in a bright-green Eclipse. Short-wheelbase Pajeros thundering across the dunes on their way to Dakar domination. Rally-driving champion Tommi Makinen laying another EVO-powered beatdown on chief rival Subaru. For years, Mitsubishi was all about performance and enthusiasm.
Then, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. The Lancer EVO shuffled off into the ether with barely a whimper. The Eclipse nameplate, once a favourite of the Fast & Furiouscrowd, is now reborn as an economical crossover. And as for Mitsubishi’s halo model, you’re looking at it: a plug-in hybrid crossover. That’s a bit sad, isn’t it?
However, if you are looking for an economical, practical machine with an extremely long warranty, then here you are. The Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) may be based on the face-lifted version of an aging platform, but it’s almost relentlessly sensible.
Goodbye Nomex racing suits, hello everyday khaki trousers.
Aside from the badges, some painted exterior trim pieces, and a unique shifter, the PHEV is essentially the same as the standard Outlander. On the plus side, that means relatively inoffensive styling and a practical layout. Only a two-row layout is available, and the PHEV actually has a little more cargo space than its pure-combustion siblings.
Up front, the Outlander PHEV is perfectly acceptable. It doesn’t reach for upscale, but anyone considering this vehicle from a practical standpoint will note the conventional switchgear, clear graphics on the modestly-sized central touchscreen and dated but easy-to-use heating and air-conditioning controls. The PHEV isn’t trying to be cutting-edge, instead aiming for low-effort.
Under the skin, however, this electrified Outlander is quite clever. There are three propulsion units: one 80-horsepower electric motor out back, another up front and a 2.0-litre internal combustion engine capable of charging the battery or feeding power to the front wheels.
Because it has electric power for both front and rear axles, the Outlander PHEV can operate as a fully electric all-wheel-drive vehicle. There is no connection between the front and rear axles, but Mitsubishi has adapted its proprietary all-wheel-drive system to work as in more conventional applications. S-AWC (super all-wheel control) can trace its roots to those rally championship days, and provides the PHEV with torque-vectoring and surprisingly agile grip.
Electric motors have much better torque response than a combustion engine, and around town, the Outlander PHEV scoots off the line with aplomb. The driver can choose to control how the PHEV apportions the power, or simply leave it to its own devices. In flat-road conditions, at less than 120 kilometres an hour, Mitsubishi says that the plug-in Outlander’s 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack will give it 35 kilometres of pure-EV range.
As tested, the Outlander wanted to run its engine for the first few minutes, even with the electric-only EV Priority mode selected and the battery indicating a full charge. Chalk this up to the temperature and that our test vehicle had been sitting as a display vehicle with an espresso maker hooked up to it.
AARP Releases Consumer Insights Survey on Nutrition and Brain Health
Adults age 40-plus who say they eat healthy foods most of the time are twice as likely to rate their brain health and mental sharpness as “excellent” or “very good” compared to adults who rarely eat a healthy diet (77% vs. 39%), according to a new AARP consumer survey on brain health and nutrition. But only about one-third (35%) of adults surveyed reported eating nutritious and well-balanced meals “most of the time (5-7 days).”
“Maintaining a healthy diet is vital for good brain health and it is unfortunate that not enough people are aware of the risks associated with poor nutrition,” said Sarah Lock, AARP Senior Vice President for Policy, and Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) Executive Director. “The results from this survey, along with the latest GCBH report on “Brain Food,” show how certain dietary changes can provide a good foundation for improving brain health.”
Key findings from AARP’s 2017 Brain Health and Nutrition Survey:
•Significantly more adults who ate the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables reported better brain health than those that did not. Most adults, however, are not getting the daily recommended servings in all five food groups. Moreover, one-third did not consume the recommended amount in any food group.
•Nearly nine in 10 adults said they are likely to eat healthier if they knew it would lower the risks of cognitive decline (87%), heart disease (88%), and diabetes (88%).
•More than 60% of adults age 40 and older said that they would eat more fish, less red meat, and lower their dairy fat intake if they knew it was good for their brain health.
•Adults ages 40-54 were significantly more likely to cite barriers to healthy eating compared to adults ages 65 and older.
“The most common reasons people gave for not eating healthier included that it was too difficult, too expensive, they weren’t a “healthy foods type” of person, or their family wouldn’t like the taste,” said Lock. “Half of adults said they would be more likely to change their diet if their doctor told them to do it but only 37% said their doctor has spoken to them about their diet.”
New Recommendations on Nutrition’s Role in Brain Health
Long-term healthy eating habits promote good brain health, according to new consensus recommendations released separately today by the GCBH. The new report finds that a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with better brain health, and eating fish and other seafood seems to benefit cognitive function. However, excessive alcohol, high levels of saturated fats, and high salt intake are all harmful to brain health. A heart-healthy diet is also a brain-healthy diet because high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes—all common conditions influenced by diet—harm both cardiovascular and cognitive health. And contrary to recent reports, GCBH recommends a healthy portion of skepticism for people who are drinking coffee, tea, and red wine expecting a brain health benefit until more evidence is developed.
The 2017 AARP Brain Health and Nutrition Survey can be found here:
•GCBH Recommendations on Nourishing Your Brain Health:
•AARP Brain Health and Wellness Website: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/
•Additional surveys and reports on brain health: http://www.GlobalCouncilonBrainHealth.org
The 2017 AARP Brain Health and Nutrition survey was fielded October 25-November 8, 2017. Data were collected using GfK’s online probability-based panel. The final, nationally representative sample included 2,033 adults age 40 and older. The final sample was augmented to include a minimum of 350 African Americans, 350 Hispanics/Latinos, and 200 Asians. The margin of error for the general population is ± 2.7 percentage points.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit http://www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
High-pitched, eerie and yet distinct, the sound of a voice calling the name “Amy” is unmistakable. But this isn’t a human cry – it’s the voice of a killer whale called Wikie.
New research reveals that orcas are able to imitate human speech, in some cases at the first attempt, saying words such as “hello”, “one, two” and “bye bye”.
The study also shows that the creatures are able to copy unfamiliar sounds produced by other orcas – including a sound similar to blowing a raspberry.
Scientists say the discovery helps to shed light on how different pods of wild killer whales have ended up with distinct dialects, adding weight to the idea that they are the result of imitation between orcas. The creatures are already known for their ability to copy the movements of other orcas, with some reports suggesting they can also mimic the sounds of bottlenose dolphins and sea lions.
“We wanted to see how flexible a killer whale can be in copying sounds,” said Josep Call, professor in evolutionary origins of mind at the University of St Andrews and a co-author of the study. “We thought what would be really convincing is to present them with something that is not in their repertoire – and in this case ‘hello’ [is] not what a killer whale would say.”
Wikie is not the first animal to have managed the feat of producing human sounds: dolphins, elephants, parrots, orangutans and even beluga whales have all been captured mimicking our utterances, although they use a range of physical mechanisms to us to do so. Noc, the beluga whale, made novel use of his nasal cavities, while Koshik, an Indian elephant jammed his trunk in his mouth, resulting in the pronouncement of Korean words ranging from “hello” to “sit down” and “no”.
But researchers say only a fraction of the animal kingdom can mimic human speech, with brain pathways and vocal apparatus both thought to determine whether it is possible.
“That is what makes it even more impressive – even though the morphology [of orcas] is so different, they can still produce a sound that comes close to what another species, in this case us, can produce,” said Call.
He poured cold water, however, on the idea that orcas might understand the words they mimic. “We have no evidence that they understand what their ‘hello’ stands for,” he said.
Writing in the journal Proceedings ofthe Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, researchers from institutions in Germany, UK, Spain and Chile, describe how they carried out the latest research with Wikie, a 14-year-old female orca living in an aquarium in France. She had previously been trained to copy actions performed by another orca when given a human gesture.
After first brushing up Wikie’s grasp of the “copy” command, she was trained to parrot three familiar orca sounds made by her three-year old calf Moana.
Wikie was then additionally exposed to five orca sounds she had never heard before, including noises resembling a creaking door and the blowing a raspberry.
Finally, Wikie was exposed to a human making three of the orca sounds, as well as six human sounds, including “hello”, “Amy”, “ah ha”, “one, two” and “bye bye”.
“You cannot pick a word that is very complicated because then I think you are asking too much – we wanted things that were short but were also distinctive,” said Call.
Throughout the study, Wikie’s success was first judged by her two trainers and then confirmed from recordings by six independent adjudicators who compared them to the original sound, without knowing which was which.
The team found that Wikie was often quickly able to copy the sounds, whether from an orca or a human, with all of the novel noises mimicked within 17 trials. What’s more, two human utterances and all of the human-produced orca sounds were managed on the first attempt – although only one human sound – “hello” – was correctly produced more than 50% of the time on subsequent trials.
The matching was further backed up through an analysis of various acoustic features from the recordings of Wikie’s sounds.
While the sounds were all made and copied when the animals’ heads were out of the water, Call said the study shed light on orca behaviour.
“I think here we have the first evidence that killer whales may be learning sounds by vocal imitation, and this is something that could be the basis of the dialects we observe in the wild – it is plausible,” said Call, noting that to further test the idea, trials would have to be carried out with wild orcas.
Diana Reiss, an expert in dolphin communication and professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, welcomed the research, noting that it extends our understanding of orcas’ vocal abilities, with Wikie able to apply a “copy” command learned for imitation of actions to imitation of sounds.
Dr Irene Pepperberg, an expert in parrot cognition at Harvard University, also described the study as exciting, but said: “A stronger test would have been whether the various sounds produced could be correctly classified by humans without the models present for comparison.”
Hootsuite users can now schedule and publish Instagram posts
For years, Instagram has prevented account holders from organizing and broadcasting posts ahead of time. Today (January 30), Vancouver social media management company Hootsuite has announced that it will be the first platform to allow users to release content automatically.
“Historically, individuals were only able to publish Instagram posts in ‘realtime’, which did not satisfy the needs of many businesses,” Jeremy Wood, VP of product marketing at Hootsuite, tells the Straight. “With this announcement, our customers are not only able to publish securely but also to schedule their posts to go live at any time. This allows users to schedule posts at times that align to their business objectives, day or night. We’re excited to bring these features to Hootsuite clients.”
The development has been made possible through an update to Instagram’s API. In the past, users had been able to pre-create a post and save it as a draft. Hootsuite could send out a push notification at a specified time, but the content would only be published if an individual entered the Instagram app, and manually triggered its release. Now, users can program posts for Instagram, and Hootsuite will share them at the selected time.
“Scheduling and publishing of Instagram content has been the number one request for our 16 million customers,” says Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, in a statement. “Now, they can manage large volumes of content, multiple team members, and multiple Instagram accounts with ease and security. Hootsuite is excited to launch our new integration with Instagram to help our customers achieve their business goals and succeed with social.”
Companies like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ all have auto-scheduling technology enabled. With its new Instagram integration, Hootsuite has created a dashboard that will allow users to pre-arrange posts across all networks at once.
Hootsuite is the most widely-used social media management tool in the world, and Instagram has proven to be the fastest growing social network on the company’s platform. More than two million photos and videos are shared on the app every month via Hootsuite.
“As Instagram grows it continues to put the highest priority into preserving their consumer experience,” says Wood. “We worked hard with the company to ensure that any direct publishing solution for businesses would yield the best experience possible.”
The new feature is only available for registered Instagram business profiles, but it’s likely to roll out to personal accounts in the future.
Google officially closes HTC deal of $1.1 billion
In September 2017, Google had officially closed a $1.1 billion deal with the Taiwanese OEM HTC Corp. to acquire most of HTC’s smartphone design division.
Back then, Rick Osterloh, Google’s Senior Vice President for Hardware in a blog post had said, “We’ve signed an agreement with HTC, a leader in consumer electronics that will fuel even more product innovation in the years ahead. With this agreement, a team of HTC talent will join Google as part of the hardware organization. These future fellow Googlers are amazing folks we’ve already been working with closely on the Pixel smartphone line, and we’re excited to see what we can do together as one team.”
Fast forward to January 2018, Osterloh has officially confirmed the completion of the $1.1 billion deal with HTC in a blog post. “I’m delighted that we’ve officially closed our deal with HTC, and are welcoming an incredibly talented team to work on even better and more innovative products in the years to come,” he said.
He added, “These new colleagues bring decades of experience achieving a series of “firsts” particularly in the smartphone industry—including bringing to market the first 3G smartphone in 2005, the first touch-centric phone in 2007, and the first all-metal unibody phone in 2013. This is also the same team we’ve been working closely with on the development of the Pixel and Pixel 2.”
The deal involves Google acquiring more than 2,000 HTC engineers who will be joining the company’s Taiwan division, which Osterloh says is the “key innovation and engineering hub for Google.” The search giant has also acquired non-exclusive licenses to HTC’s intellectual property. Also, the expansion will make the Taipei-based unit grow its footprint in the Asia Pacific region.
Further, the deal will help Google stride deeper with its new teammates to improve the experiences for its users around the world by designing its own consumer hardware, artificial intelligence, and software.
Osterloh also hinted that Google will continue to expand its smartphone business following the Pixel series launched last year as ‘made by Google’ phones.
“We’re focused on building our core capabilities, while creating a portfolio of products that offers people a unique yet delightful experience only made possible by bringing together the best of Google software—like the Google Assistant—with thoughtfully designed hardware,” he said.
On the other hand, HTC said that it will continue to produce handsets and concentrate its efforts on its next flagship smartphone. “Today marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter at HTC as we continue to drive innovation in our branded smartphone and VIVE virtual reality businesses,” Cher Wang, chairwoman at HTC said in a statement.