Apple sued over fatal ‘FaceTime crash’

BBC News:

An American couple, whose daughter was killed by a driver allegedly using FaceTime on his iPhone, have launched a lawsuit against Apple.

The lawsuit alleges that the firm should have introduced a feature that disabled use of the video-chat application while driving.

It points to a patent for such a feature for drivers filed by Apple in 2008.


The driver involved in the crash – Garrett Wilhelm – drove his SUV into the back of the Modisette family’s vehicle while travelling at high speeds.

The lawsuit documents state that he told police he was using FaceTime at the time of the crash and that the application was still active when police found his phone at the scene.

Mr Wilhelm is facing a jury trial on manslaughter charges in February.

So a driver was distracted due to using FaceTime while driving his car, which is illegal, and the family is holding Apple responsible? I’ve always said there should be an alert with FaceTime that says “you are going X mph, it is illegal to drive a car and FaceTime, hit OK if you are the driver” and Pokemon GO has actually added an alert like that as well.

But come on, the responsible party is the driver who was dumb enough to actually FaceTime and drive. At the least he could have been using audio mode.

At the same time, this is also tricky legal area, as the patent mentioned may make this case into more than the standard driving when texting accident and may set a precedent that triggers a wave of similar lawsuits? Does owning a patent on something bring with it responsibility to implement?


Alexa: Amazon’s Operating System

Ben Thompson on how Amazon is building an operating system for the home with Alexa:

Amazon seized the opportunity: first, Alexa was remarkably proficient from day one, particularly in terms of speed and accuracy (two factors that are far more important in encouraging regular use than the ability to answer trivia questions). Then, the company moved quickly to build out its ecosystem in two directions:

  • First, the company created a simple “Skills” framework that allowed smart devices to connect to Alexa and be controlled through a relatively strict verbal framework; in a vacuum it was less elegant than, say, Siri’s attempt to interpret natural language, but it was far simpler to implement. The payoff was already obvious at last year’s CES: Alexa support was everywhere.

  • Secondly, “Alexa” and “Echo” are different names because they are different products: Alexa is the voice assistant, and much like AWS and, Echo is Alexa’s first customer, but hardly its only one. This year CES announcements are dominated by products that run Alexa, including direct Echo competitors, lamps, set-top boxes, TVs, and more.

I’ve been using Homekit / Siri myself at home for some tasks as Alexa isn’t widely available here in Canada, but it’s still interesting to see how Alexa is growing as it gets added to more and more systems.


Evolving iPad Desktop Usage

The Brooks Review:

It has been over a year of full time iPad usage for me, and in that year I have had my iPad in a plethora of configurations. From the simple Smart Keyboard Cover to nearly duct taping it to the wall. What I have come to realize over this past year, is how portable and manageable the iPad as a desktop machine is.

It’s always interesting to see how others manage to use their iPad full-time.

I love my iPad, and use it every day. I’ve even used it as my primary workstation. I can almost make it my full-time machine jut not quite there fully yet.


Apple’s 2016 in review

Chuq Von Rospach:

This has been the winter of our discontent. 2016 was the year the tone changed. There’s always been a lot of criticism and griping about anything Apple does (and doesn’t do — it can’t win) but in 2016 I feel like the tone of the chatter about Apple changed and got a lot more negative.

This is worrisome on a number of levels and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m used to watching people kvetch about the company, but this seems — different. One reason: a lot of the criticisms are correct.

Apple, for the first time in over a decade, simply isn’t firing on all cylinders. Please don’t interpret that as “Apple is doomed” because it’s not, but there are things it’s doing a lot less well than it could — and has. Apple’s out of sync with itself.

Here are a few of the things I think indicate Apple has gotten itself out of kilter and is in need of some course correction.


Tim Cook says AirPods are ‘a runaway success’

Jacob Kastrenakes, writing for The Verge:

Tim Cook wandered into the New York Stock Exchange this morning and started taking questions about his holiday plans, product sales, and AirPods. His responses raised some big questions — Why isn’t he at NASDAQ, where AAPL is traded? Does he really think the NYSE will be a fun trip for his nephew? — but the biggest question he left unanswered is around the initial success of AirPods.

In response to a comment about the AirPods selling after their launch this month, Cook said that the product has been “a runaway success” and that Apple is “making them just as fast as we can” in order to meet demand.

By some measures, that appears to be true. Within a day of their December 13th launch, AirPods were shipping on a six-week delay that continues today. In-store pickup for AirPods units isn’t expected to be available again until mid-February.

But that’s all anecdotal, since the product’s availability is limited by how many units Apple was able to get off the assembly line before launch and how quickly it’s now able to make more of them. Cook’s comments don’t do much to elaborate on what we’re already seeing — they’re the kind of generically positive statement you’d expect him to make after any Apple product is released.

The reality is that we have no idea how well the AirPods are doing, and we’re unlikely to get firm info on them out of Apple anytime soon. Apple did not respond to a request for more details on the AirPods’ sales figures, nor on whether it would highlight the AirPods during its coming earnings releases.


Carrie Fisher Dies at 60

Dave Itzkoff,

Carrie Fisher, the actress, author and screenwriter who brought a rare combination of nerve, grit and hopefulness to her most indelible role, as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movie franchise, died on Tuesday morning. She was 60.

A family spokesman, Simon Halls, confirmed the death in a statement, saying Ms. Fisher died at 8:55 a.m. She had had a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Friday and had been hospitalized in Los Angeles.


“Star Wars,” released in 1977, turned her overnight into an international movie star. The film, written and directed by George Lucas, traveled around the world, breaking box-office records. It proved to be the first installment of a blockbuster series whose vivid, even preposterous characters — living “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” as the opening sequence announced — became pop culture legends and the progenitors of a merchandising bonanza.

Ms. Fisher established Princess Leia as a damsel who could very much deal with her own distress, whether facing down the villainy of the dreaded Darth Vader or the romantic interests of the roguish smuggler Han Solo.

Wielding blaster pistols, piloting futuristic vehicles and, to her occasional chagrin, wearing strange hairdos and a revealing metal bikini, she reprised the role in three more films — “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, “Return of the Jedi” in 1983 and, 32 years later, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” by which time Leia had become a hard-bitten general.


Google will launch two flagship smartwatches early next year

Google will be launching two new flagship smartwatches in the first quarter of next year, according to Jeff Chang, product manager of Android Wear at Google. In an exclusive interview with The Verge, Chang said that the new watches will be the flagship Android Wear 2.0 devices and will be the first ones to launch with the new platform.

The new smartwatches had been rumored before, but Google confirmed the upcoming launch today as part of a larger effort to convince consumers that wearables — smartwatches specifically — are still in demand.

The new models will not have Google or Pixel branding, but will be branded by the company that is manufacturing them. Chang says that Google collaborated with the manufacturer — which he wouldn’t name, but said has produced Android Wear devices in the past — on the hardware design and software integration for the watches. He likened the partnership to Google’s Nexus smartphone program in terms of collaboration and goals.

Following the launch of the new devices, existing Android Wear watches will get the update to Android Wear 2.0. The new platform brings a number of new features, including standalone apps that don’t require a phone to work, support for Android Pay, and support for Google’s voice-controlled Assistant, which has already launched on the Pixel smartphones and Home speaker.

Not every existing Android Wear watch will be updated, but Google says most of the recent models will be. Certain features, such as Android Pay, require specific hardware, so not all models will support them. (Chang noted that the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition has NFC support and the new watches coming next year will have it, as well, but it is not a requirement for Android Wear partners at this time.)

Not every existing Android Wear watch will be updated…. that sounds pretty much like every other Android device out there.


Holiday Flight Canceled After Jabroni Names Wi-Fi Network ‘Galaxy Note 7’

This week, one Virgin America flight was delayed and another was reportedly canceled after crew members discovered a wi-fi hotspot named “Samsung Galaxy Note 7” mid-flight. Ultimately, however, no Note 7 was found on the plane, as the network belonged to another device named to resemble the banned smartphone.

According to one passenger, the trouble began when crew members on a flight from San Francisco to Boston tried to recover the smartphone associated with a network named “Samsung Galaxy Note7_1097” and no one came forward.

“This isn’t a joke,” said the captain, according to passenger Lucas Wojciechowski. “We’re going to turn on the lights and search everyone’s bag until we find it”

Eventually, attendants were able to locate the source of the network, but only after the pilot threatened to divert the flight from its original destination in Boston to Wyoming.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we found the device,” said the captain. “Luckily only the name of the device was changed to ‘Galaxy Note 7’. It was not a GN7.”


Do not name your phone’s hotspot after a banned phone while in the air… That’s just common sense isn’t it?