Weekly Roundup

Posted October 28th 2016


This week, we look at:

  • New hardware and software announcements from the Apple and Microsoft events.
  • How IBM is deploying Watson across ecommerce, automotive and healthcare industries.


Apple’s “Hello Again” Event  

  • MacBook Pros get new touch capabilities: The biggest addition to the MacBook Pro is the new “Touch Bar,” which officially replaces the function keys on the laptop. Touch Bar is application specific and adapts to what’s on screen, be it scrolling through months in Calendar, choosing an album in Photos, and many more. Another advantage is Touch ID, which comes integrated into the power button on the new MacBook Pro. Users can unlock the computer with the simple press of a finger, switch user accounts, and even make purchases with Apple Pay’s new integration on the web. [via Mac Rumors  
  • TV app puts all your content in one place: TV is a new app for the Apple TV and Apple’s mobile devices that delivers a “unified TV experience.” It’s partly a “recommendation engine” that surfaces new shows based on content you purchased, rented, downloaded, or otherwise streamed. The app also surfaces shows and movies from all of the services to which you subscribe. A final category, “Watch Now,” changes to reflect which pay-TV services you use on your Apple TV and automatically populates with that provider’s shows and movies. [via Digital Trends
  • Twitter launches Apple TV app with focus on live-streaming: Twitter launched an app for the Apple TV, that encompasses all live-streaming content available on Twitter, including the ability for users to watch Thursday Night Football. In addition to NFL content, there will be live streams of videos from MLB Advanced Media, NBA, Pac 12 Networks, Campus Insiders, Cheddar and Bloomberg News. Twitter said that top Tweets, Vines, and Periscope videos will also be made available. [via Mac Rumors]


Microsoft’s Hardware Event

  • A PC built for creativity: Microsoft announced the latest member of its Surface hardware lineup, the Surface Studio, a touchscreen all-in-one desktop computer that’s only 12.5mm thick. The Studio also has a “zero-gravity hinge” that allows the screen to tilt down at a sharp angle, allowing it to move from a more traditional computer design to a drafting board form factor for drawing and creative work. [via The Verge
  • Windows 10 goes all-in on 3D: “3D” is a big deal in the Creator’s Update, and Microsoft demonstrated the operating system’s capability to quickly scan, modify, and print objects with 3D printers. Also introduced was an update to Microsoft’s venerable pack-in Paint application: it’s now “Paint 3D.” The application was shown transforming a set of pictures into a “3D memory,” which involved importing the scanned sand castle model and then manipulating photos of the presenter’s family around in it. The big tie-in, though, was with Minecraft—Microsoft showed off the ability to export creations from Minecraft into an online studio at Remix3D, where they can be modified in Paint 3D or printed on a 3D printer. [via Ars Technica
  • VR headsets starting at $299: Microsoft’s partners will ship a new line of virtual reality headsets to take advantage of Windows 10’s VR and holographic capabilities. Microsoft said that the headsets will start at $299 and will include inside-out tracking sensors, obviating the need for external cameras or laser systems like those on the current Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer are all listed as partners. [via The Verge]


IBM Watson Integrations

  • GM integrates Watson to personalize driving: Cars featuring the new product will be more aware of their surroundings and better able to automate interactions both with the driver and with businesses and facilities around them. For instance, it could recognize when the car is low on fuel, identify a nearby pump, pre-activate the pump for use and let the driver pay directly from their dash, or it could allow for pre-order of a coffee for pickup from a drive-in window, or use your listening habits to create a personalized radio station. [via TechCrunch]
  • Staples integrates Watson to streamline office supplies: The office supplies retailer announced plans to turn its toy “Easy button” into a real device used to reorder supplies, much like Amazon’s Dash buttons, for its B2B customers. Eventually, the Watson-enabled system will leverage machine learning to be able to make product and services recommendations based on the customer’s past orders and current needs. [via Retail Dive] 
  • Asthma inhaler integrates Watson to predict attacks: Drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals is integrating their Bluetooth-connected “smart” inhaler to Watson’s cloud-based app to get a better sense of a patient’s health. The app incorporates population-level health information, coupled with data gleaned from the individual patient’s inhaler and even incorporates information from The Weather Company. [via Fast Company]