Month: June, 2018

What To Expect From Apple’s WWDC 2018 Keynote — And What Not To

 

Apple’s WWDC hasn’t historically been a venue associated with a flurry of hardware releases, the 2017 one notwithstanding.

Given Apple’s recent focus on software technologies in health, augmented reality, and virtual reality, there is a decent likelihood that we’ll see very little in the way of new Iron.

Here’s a look at Apple’s current product lineup minus the iPhone and Apple Watch which will probably be updated in September, and what we’re expecting to see from each.

MacOS 10.14, iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 are coming

What says yes: Everything. Apple takes the opportunity it gets at WWDC to show developers, and the world, what’s coming in the next versions of the operating system. There is absolutely nothing suggesting otherwise this year.

It’s not clear how revelatory the new versions will be. Previous rumors suggested that these updates will be about refining the existing versions rolled out last year.




But, given that High Sierra was supposed to do that to Sierra, there’s some room for discussion.

Be careful about your old apps, though. At best, 32-bit apps will have “compromises” according to Apple, and at worst they may not run at all. It might be time to check which apps you rely on are, and aren’t 64-bit.

What says no: Nothing at all. It’s basically a guarantee that the revisions are going to be presented. Like we said, they’re likely to expand on Apple’s burgeoning ambitions in user’s health, and further expand Apple’s ARKit.

MacBook Pro

What says yes: After of over a following the 2015 MacBook Pro, Apple rolled out the 2016 MacBook Pro at the tail end of the year.

It refreshed the line in an uncharacteristic hardware bonanza at the 2017 WWDC, after less than a year in service. And, it’s been a year, so it might be time again.

The updates were relatively modest, with a slightly better CPU and GPU. It seems possible that Apple will do the same at the 2018 WWDC to hit the “back to school” period.

What says no: There isn’t a compelling engineering reason for Apple to do so today.

Instead, it could wait until later in the year or January 2019 for Intel’s chipset that will allow 32GB of LPDDR4 RAM —as the existing ones can’t have more than 16GB of RAM without switching to a more power-hungry chipset.

But then again, this chipset from Intel is two years late already. Apple may not want to wait.

iPad Pro

What says yes: A slew of filings from overseas regulatory agencies suggest that there are iOS devices imminent. Couple this with the last update to the product being a year ago, and the iPad Pro line seems ripe for a refresh.

Time marches on. The 2018 sixth generation iPad is very close to the 2017 iPad Pro lineup in speed, minus some hardware niceties. It might be time to open that lead with a new A11-based processor in the iPad Pro.

What says no: Generally, we’ve seen suggestions from the supply chain and rumors popping out beyond regulatory agency filings that a new model is coming.

This year, there’s been none of that, and a recent report seems to suggest the same.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Your Old Cell Phone Can Help Save The Rain Forest

illegal logging

Topher White spends a lot of time walking in and thinking about the forest, and how quickly we’re losing it. So much so that he’s gotten a black eye from being smacked by flying tree branches.

But that’s just a small example of what the engineer is willing to endure to stop global deforestation. Founder of the San Francisco-based nonprofit Rainforest Connection, White has developed a simple but ingenious strategy: using old cell phones to listen for the sound of destruction.

Forests are disappearing worldwide, and fast: Swaths half the size of England are lost each year. The Amazon has lost close to one-fifth of its rain forest cover in the last four decades.




“I didn’t know any of this stuff when I started,” says White, who began his journey in 2011, when he traveled to Indonesian Borneo to help dwindling gibbons.

“I just kind of thought it was about protecting the small areas and animals,” “But no, [deforestation is] actually one of the biggest contributors to climate change.”

Topher White

So he has developed a system in which he rigs a cell phone to stay charged by solar cells, attaches an extra microphone, and listens. From there, the device can detect the sounds of chainsaws nearly a mile away.

And believe it or not, cell phone reception often isn’t bad in the rain forest. When you’re up in the canopy, “you can actually pick up a signal from pretty far away,” says White.

It’s not just about listening for logging. The same technology that can pick out the buzz of a chainsaw can pick out the sounds of specific birds, which is why White sees the forest recordings as a potential science tool.He is urging biologists and ecologists to use his monitoring system anywhere, whether it’s a remote forest or a park in London.

He is urging biologists and ecologists to use his monitoring system anywhere, whether it’s a remote forest or a park in London.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Scientists Are Using This Technique To Catch A Whiskey Counterfeiter

Some connoisseurs have no qualms dropping hundreds (if not thousands) on a bottle of good whiskey (or whisky).

But expensive bottles are not always full of expensive liquor. The spirits inside may not have spent the right time in the right barrel in the right place to earn their labeled age or composition, or the name bourbon or Scotch.

Counterfeit whiskies may not fool experts, but most drinkers wouldn’t be able to taste the problem. Fortunately, researchers from Germany and the Netherlands have come up with a new way to weed out these weaselly whiskies.




The technique, published this week in the journal Chem, relies on fluorescent polymer dyes that react to different compounds in whiskies.

The polymers glow when exposed to fluorescent light, and the intensity depends on factors such as whether the Scotch is double or single malt, or whether the whiskey was distilled in Ireland or the United States.

whisky

“Each single polymer’s response to the whisky would not be very useful, but if you combine them, they form a really unique pattern,” said Uwe Bunz, a coauthor of the report, in a press release.

The team tested the method on 33 Irish, Scottish, and American whiskies, and each sample produced a distinctive combination of glowing polymers—a unique chemical fingerprint.

The technique can’t be used to identify an unknown spirit, but it can compare a sample to a known brand—perfect for catching counterfeiters.

The technique might someday be applied to other beverages or even in other scientific fields, but for now, it’s a helpful way to make sure a bottle of brown liquor is worth an outrageous price tag.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

The First Living Giant Ship Worm Found In The Philippines

ship worm

Mud-dwelling organism that lives head down in a tusk-like tube found alive for first time, although its existence had been known of for centuries.

About three feet long and glistening black with a pink, fleshy appendage, it looks like the entrails of an alien from a bad horror film. In fact, it is a giant ship worm.




Discovered in the mud of a shallow lagoon in the Philippines, a living creature of the species has never been described before.

Even though its existence has been known for more than 200 years thanks to fossils of the baseball bat-sized tubes that encase the creature.


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Pass it on: Popular Science

Have You Ever Wonder How Does A Mosquito Fly?

Mosquitoes are strange fliers. Compared with other insects, birds, and bats, their shorter wing strokes and oddly long—and skinny—wings have made scientists wonder how they can get off the ground at all.

Now, a new study shows how these animals get their lift: with help from a clever rotation of their wings.




Most animals generate lift, the force that keeps them aloft, during the downstroke of each wing beat.

This creates a vortex of swirling air over the wing’s leading edge, which lowers the pressure above the wing and pushes the animal up.


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Pass it on: Popular Science

An Artificial Iris Could Let Cameras React To Light Like Our Eyes do

While the pupil may be the opening in the eye that lets light through to the retina, the iris is the tissue that opens and closes to determine the size of the pupil.

Although mechanical irises are already a standard feature in cameras, scientists from Finland and Poland have recently created an autonomous artificial iris that’s much more similar to those found in the eye. It may even eventually be able to replace damaged or defective ones.

he contact lens-like device was created by researchers from Finland’s Tampere University of Technology, along with Poland’s University of Warsaw and Wrocław Medical University.




It’s made from a polymer (a liquid crystal elastomer) that expands when exposed to light, then shrinks back when the light is lessened. This causes an opening in the middle to get smaller or larger, depending on the light levels.

In this way, it works very much like a natural iris. Unlike automatic irises in cameras, it requires no power source or external light detection system.

iris

 

With an “eye” towards one being able to use it as an optical implant, the scientists are now adapting it to work in an aqueous environment. They’re also working at increasing its sensitivity, so that its opening and closing are triggered by smaller changes in the amount of incoming light.

The research is being led by Tampere’s Prof. Arri Priimägi, and was recently described in a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials.

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Pass it on: New Scientist