hardware

uBeam wireless power’s CEO Meredith Perry steps aside amidst B2B pivot

After repeatedly missing self-imposed deadlines for progress on its wireless charging-at-a-distance phone case, uBeam’s CEO Meredith Perry has decided to shift out of the CEO position and into a board member and senior advisor role. She’d founded the company in 2011 from her dorm room and brought in over $40 million in funding by selling a wide range of elite investors on her vision for a cordless future, including Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, CrunchFund (disclosure: started by TechCrunch’s founder), Marissa Mayer and Mark Cuban. Now rather than trying to build its own consumer products like wireless power transmitters and receivers that could charge your phone from across the room using ultrasound frequencies, uBeam is pivoting to licensing its technology for use in oth...

Echo HomePod? Amazon wants you to build your own

One of the bigger surprises at today’s big Amazon event was something the company didn’t announce. After a couple of years of speculation that the company was working on its own version of the HomePod and Google Max, we still don’t have a truly premium Echo. That’s due, in part, to the fact that Amazon is already leaning fairly heavily on hardware partnerships with companies like Sony to offer people a premium Alexa-enabled smart speaker. But today, we got a better glimpse at how it plans to take on such products. And frankly, it’s a bit of fresh air. Amazon’s already laid the groundwork here. The first step in the plan is seeding the Echo and Alexa into as many rooms in as many homes as possible. Check and double-check, thanks in no small part to the super-low-cost Echo Dot. Today, the co...

Amazon introduces APL, a new design language for building Alexa skills for devices with screens

Along with the launch of the all-new Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device with a screen, Amazon also introduced a new design language for developers who want to build voice skills that include multimedia experiences. Called Alexa Presentation Language, or APL, developers will be able to build voice-based apps that also include things like images, graphics, slideshows and video, and easily customize them for different device types – including not only the Echo Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm clock, the Echo Spot. In addition, third-party devices with screens will be able to take advantage of APL through the Alexa Smart Screen and TV Device SDK, arriving in the months ahead. Sony and Lenovo will be putting this to ...

The long list of new Alexa devices Amazon announced at its hardware event

Everyone’s favorite trillion-dollar retailer hosted a private event today where they continued to exercise their highly-strategic approach to hardware where they just throw everything at the wall and wait to see what sticks. We got some new Amazon Echo devices, sure, but there was also an amp, a camera, a clock and a microwave…? There’s a lot to take a look at, including some product refreshes and entirely new verticals, so let’s get to it. Here are the new devices we heard about today from Amazon. A new, louder Echo Dot For a lot of people, the cheap and tinny Echo Dot was their first interaction with a home assistant. The frequently discounted $50 device is getting an updated look and a 75 percent more powerful speaker so that it can keep the tunes bumping. Read M...

Amazon’s new Echo Dot, up close and hands-on

If the Echo Show was the Amazon device most desperately in need of a makeover (please and thank you), the Dot was certainly a close second. After all, while the cheapest (and best selling) Echo device has already been through a couple of iterations, the hardware wasn’t exactly the sort of thing you’d proudly display on the coffee table. The thing that strikes you immediately upon seeing the redesigned version of what Amazon calls “the best selling speaker,” is how much the new generation of the product is influenced by Google’s Home Mini. In fact, Google’s influence was evident all over the place here. That said, I actually prefer the design on this one. The new Dot has a similar form factor to its predecessor, keeping the rough dimensions and button layouts intact. The biggest difference ...

18 new details about Elon Musk’s redesigned, moon-bound ‘Big F*ing Rocket’

Although the spotlight at this week’s SpaceX event was squarely on Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa — the first paying passenger for the company’s nascent space tourism business — Elon Musk also revealed a wealth of new details about the BFR and just how this enormous rocket and spacecraft will get to the moon and back. In a lengthy (one might even say rambling, in the true Musk style) presentation, we were treated to cinematic and technical views of the planned rocket, which is already under construction and could take flight as early as a couple years from now — and Musk then candidly held forth on numerous topics in a lengthy Q&A period. As a result we learned quite a bit about this newly redesigned craft-in-progress. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Hope you like p...

Review: Apple Watch Series 4

Roughly two-and-half minutes into my run, the watch kicks in. There’s a haptic buzz on my wrist. “It looks like you’re working out,” the watch face reads. That’s followed by a big, yellow button, suggesting I start an indoor run. I tap the neon button and the clock starts, comping me a reasonable approximation of the time it took for the Watch to be sure what sort of activity it was detecting. I wasn’t actually planning to test the feature on this particular run. In all the stretching/music picking/treadmill setting pre-run ritual, I’d just forgotten to set the damn thing. It feels like a small thing, but, then, most of the updates are relatively small in the grand scheme of things. In the case of the Apple Watch, radically departure would almost certainly be a bad thing. You see, there ar...

The Punkt MP02 inches closer to what a minimalist phone ought to be

There’s an empty space in my heart for a minimalist phone with only the most basic functions. Bad for my heart, but good for a handful of companies putting out devices aiming to fill it. Punkt’s latest, the MP02, goes a little ways to making the device I desire, but it isn’t quite there yet. Punkt’s first device included just texting and calling, which would likely have worked as intended if not for the inconvenient choice to have it connect only to 2G networks. These networks are being shut down and replaced all over the world, so you would have ended up with a phone that was even more limited than you expected. The MP02 is the sequel, and it adds a couple useful features. It runs on 4G LTE networks, which should keep it connected for years to come, and it has gain...

Here’s what Google’s $149 Home Hub smart display will reportedly look like

Google is reportedly getting ready to launch some new hardware at its October 9 hardware event and we just learned a lot more about a new product that might be launching. It was rumored that Google was working on its own Smart Display, now we’ve got images of the Google Home Hub and details about its price tag via a report from AndroidAuthority. via Android Authority The device certainly looks like a Google Home product with all the fabric anyone could ask for and then far, far more on top of it. It’s rocking a 7-inch screen and will cost just $149, which is quite a bit cheaper than the 8-inch Lenovo Smart Display which is currently the cheapest option at $199 while its 10-inch varietal ships for $249 as does the stereo-speakered JBL Link View. Having played around with Lenovo&...

Apple Watch and other hardware reportedly spared by new Trump tariffs

The latest round of Trump administration tariffs is set to affect a number of different industries. At least one category previously expected to be impacted, however, is likely to be spared, according to a new report from Bloomberg. According to anonymous sources, the tariffs impacting a slew of consumer electronics, running the gamut from the Apple Watch to Fitbit trackers to Sonos speakers, has not made it into the final language. That means, for this round at least, those products should be spared the tax that would drive up the cost of such imports. Trump administration tariffs have been the centerpiece of a looming trade war between the U.S. and China. Earlier today, China was reportedly set to cancel further trade talks, should the U.S. announce additional tariffs. They’ve been a dom...

A new CSS-based web attack will crash and restart your iPhone

A security researcher has found a new way to crash and restart any iPhone — with just a few lines of code. Sabri Haddouche tweeted a proof-of-concept webpage with just 15 lines of code which, if visited, will crash and restart an iPhone or iPad. Those on macOS may also see Safari freeze when opening the link. The code exploits a weakness in iOS’ web rendering engine WebKit, which Apple mandates all apps and browsers use, Haddouche told TechCrunch. He explained that nesting a ton of elements — such as <div> tags — inside a backdrop filter property in CSS, you can use up all of the device’s resources and cause a kernel panic, which shuts down and restarts the operating system to prevent damage. “Anything that renders HTML on iOS is affected,” he said. That means...

NASA’s climate-monitoring space laser is the last to ride to space on a Delta II rocket

This weekend, NASA is launching a new high-tech satellite to monitor the planet’s glacier and sea ice levels — with space lasers, naturally. ICESat-2 will be a huge boon for climatologists, and it’s also a bittersweet occasion: it will be the final launch aboard the trusty Delta II rocket, which has been putting birds in the air for nearly 30 years. Takeoff is set for 5:46 AM Pacific Time Saturday morning, so you’ll have to get up early if you want to catch it. You can watch the launch live here, with NASA coverage starting about half an hour before. Keeping track of the Earth’s ice levels is more important than ever; with climate change causing widespread havoc, precise monitoring of major features like the Antarctic ice sheet could help climatologists predict and ...