Weekend Roundup: Speedy New Apple iPhone; AR for Dogs?

Welcome to the weekend! Before you shut down your work apps and take a break (seriously, take a break!), let’s check out some of the biggest and most unusual tech stories from the week, including the new Apple iPhone and a very unusual invention for our canine friends…

iPhone 12 is Speedy and Clingy

As expected, Apple rolled out the iPhone 12 this week. Design-wise, the device looks very much like a supersized iPhone 4, with a blocky steel rim (which also doubles as the antenna). In terms of hardware, it comes with everything you’d expect, including an upgraded processor, sensors, and camera. 

Apple devoted much of its virtual presentation to the iPhone 12’s 5G capability, which should translate into speedier uploads and downloads… provided you’re in an area with coverage. Executives also talked up “MagSafe,” a circular magnet embedded into the back of the phone’s case, which will allow users to easily clip everything from pockets to cases to the device.

It’s a virtual certainty that the iPhone 12 (which will come in mini and pro versions, as well) will become a bestseller, especially if 5G proves the attractor that the tech industry assumes. For third-party developers, the race is now on to develop cool apps and services that take advantage of the phone’s new features.

Augmented Reality: Not Just for Humans Anymore!

Over the past several years, tech firms have invested millions in augmented reality (AR) hardware and software. Now the U.S. Army is giving it a try—with a new AR project aimed at dogs, not humans.

The project, funded by the Small Business Innovation Research program and developed by Command Sight, will equip military dogs with AR goggles. In theory, the technology will allow handlers to command dogs even when the latter is out of sight. “The augmented reality goggles are specially designed to fit each dog with a visual indictor that allows the dog to be directed to a specific spot and react to the visual cue in the goggles,” is how the Army’s official blog posting describes it. “The handler can see everything the dog sees to provide it commands through the glasses.”

The AR goggles are based on eyewear that military working dogs already wear for environmental protection. However, it could take a few years for the hardware to reach production; right now, researchers are figuring out how to make it wireless. 

Your Fridge is ‘Doom’ed

Ever looked at your fridge and thought: “Gee, this device is great—it keeps my food cold—but why can’t I play video games on it?”

Well, mission accomplished: According to The Verge, Richard Mallard figured out how to sideload the Android version of the Xbox Game Pass onto his Samsung smart fridge (and posted the evidence on Instagram). Yes, you can take a mini-break to play “Doom Eternal” on your household appliance. 

Whether or not you’re a gamer, this development is fascinating for a few reasons. First, it shows that connected devices are becoming powerful enough to run some pretty high-end applications. Second, browser-based and streaming gaming is clearly entering a new era if you can play a massive game like “Doom” on devices other than PCs and even phones. What’s next, playing “Halo” on your web-enabled toaster?

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay safe!