An iPhone with no home button?

Could we be seeing a new iPhone one day that has no Home button?iphone 6 and 6 plus, alldaytech.comAccording to a report today from DigiTimes, Apple is working on some technology that would allow users to do everything they do now on via the Home button on the touchscreen, including using Touch ID.

Theoretically, this could allow Apple to narrow or eliminate the bezels at the top and bottom of the phone and drastically reduce the size of iPhones and iPhone Pluses while keeping screen sizes as they are today — or even increase screen size a bit.

Under such a scenario, users would use gestures to replicate functions now that are handled by the Home button, and our guess is the volume buttons might replace the reset function that the Home button currently plays a part in.

Be interesting, but don’t expect it before iPhone 7 in September 2016.

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Janet Jackson’s new music, new tour and new direction

It’s been five years since we’ve heard any new music from Janet Jackson and seven years since she’s released a new album.

That all changed in the past few weeks, as Janet has been cryptically hinting on Twitter that when she’s ready to drop new material to not believe any rumors and that you would hear it from her lips.

Meanwhile, her fans have been urging her to return. Jackson has married a billionaire and been living overseas, but that hasn’t stopped loyal fans from literally begging her to return.

Monday morning at 9 a.m., Jackson delivered a new single, “No Sleep,” that has got the type of slinky beat and catchy hooks that have been components of some of her biggest hits. Back with her are hit making producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were largely absent from her recent work. “No Sleep,” given the radio support that Jackson has largely lacked since the infamous Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction fallout, should be a huge hit this summer.

Jackson is backing up the new single, with an album, expected to be called “Unbreakable” that is due late summer and a world tour that kicks off Aug. 31 in Vancouver, Canada.

Jackson is also expected to perform at the BET Awards Sunday after receiving an honor.

All signs point to a successful return of one of pop music’s biggest superstars. The new song rocks and judging by social media and the Internet, the music world at large seems to be thirsty again for Janet. Could be a big summer and fall for Miss Jackson.

Here is the new single, “No Sleep:”

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Ford’s Expedition still good option for SUV buyers

Shopping for an SUV can be a problem. Do you get a crossover that will give you car-like ride and handling or do you get a real truck that can haul a lot of people and a bunch of stuff?2015_ford_expedition_4dr-suv_el-xlt_dps_evox_1_300
That depends on the amount of people and the amount of stuff. It also depends on what you want to pay, fuel economy, yada yada yada. I said it could be a problem.
Remember the Ford Expedition? Yeah, I know, a big blast from the past. It’s actually still around and has been upgraded for 2015. It’s a true truck that can haul a lot of people and a lot of stuff.
The Expedition is a traditional body on frame truck that comes in two flavors, standard and extended EL. The EL is 15 inches longer than the regular vehicle. Considering the standard wheelbase is a beast, the EL is an absolute monster that can be configured to hold nine people. That means you lose the captain’s chairs and even get a bench seat up front. Otherwise, go for the captains chairs and easy fold third row seats.
Need storage? There’s 18 cubic feet with the seats up. Lower the middle and rear seats and you have 108.3 cubic feet of space.
The 2015 upgrades include a much nicer interior and a nip and tuck done to the exterior. Some may find the greatest change the most troubling. Ford has dropped the V8 engine and replaced it with a turbo charged V6.
There is no need to worry, however. The V6 makes 365 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque. Those are better numbers than the outgoing V8. It can achieve 22 miles per gallon on the highway and 16 mpg in the city. There are smaller V8 vehicles that can’t do that.
Here’s a fun fact: the Ford Expedition with a turbo V6 can sprint to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds making it one of the quickest big trucks on he market. That’s outstanding for a vehicle that can tow 9,200 pounds. The transmission is a slick, six-speed automatic that works very well.
Nearly as outstanding is this big beast’s ride quality. You would expect a couple of tons vehicle to be smooth and comfortable. The Expedition lives up to those expectations. This Platinum model was equipped with an adjustable suspension that had comfort, normal and sport modes. The four-wheel independent suspension makes great use of those modes.
Does this truck have a downside? Yep, its sheer size. Yes, its agile for its size, but its size is pushing the limits. This is a very large vehicle that has a lot of blind spots. Thankfully, the Platinum edition is equipped with blindspot detection and a backup camera. Once you get adjusted to the size, you should be fine.
The Platinum designation means this thing is loaded to the gills. Let me say what it didn’t have, first: a kitchen sink, fridge and a microwave. At the moment none of those items are options. Not yet, anyway.
You do get Ford’s improved Sync system that allows you to do nearly everything by voice command. I favorite is being able to ask for a specific song or artist on my iPhone and it starts to play. Sometimes the simplest things are your greatest pleasures. You also get automatic climate control, power seats, massive sunroof, three rows of seats, lane departure warning, abs, traction and stability control, enhanced towing, satellite radio, leather seats and keyless entry.
Throw in delivery charges and the as-tested price was well north of $68,000. Some of you are thinking luxury brands but most would be smaller. There are Yukons, Escalades and even Land Cruisers to be considered but think higher price. The Expedition is still a viable option.

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Audi offers smaller Q3 with full size luxury benefits

2015 Q3 interior
2015 Q3 interior

Audi has been at the top of its game for the past decade, offering some of the finest automobiles on the planet. The company’s interiors are nearly unmatched and the exterior styling always turns heads.
Audi’s dip into the crossover and SUV pool has been as spectacular, so much so it’s now offering a smaller version of the successful Q5, the Q3. It is certainly handsome and well crafted but some may find it a bit pricey and lacking in amenities.
If you compare this to the Q5, it’s a bargain coming in at thousands less. It’s also a lot smaller. It’s three inches shorter in height and 10 inches shorter in length. It comes with a long list of standard equipment that includes a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, xeon headlights, roof rails, 60/40 split rear bench, leather seats, dual climate zones, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. Optionally you can get the MMI Navigation system and a sports package.
Moving up the Prestige Package gives you a lot more standard stuff and enhanced equipment.
My vehicle was a premium with the navi package. What you don’t get are glaring omissions to some, such as touch screen. You get the screen, just not touch enhanced. There is also no home link, which allows you to tie in to your remote garage door system or automated security lights if you have them. I saw some complaints on the web about this but I have neither so no home link isn’t a deal breaker.
What could be an obstacle is the Q3’s compact size. It’s about the same size as a Volkswagen Tiguan (which I think this is based on0. Lexus has the bigger NX200 and there are some other offerings from Mercedes, Infiniti and BMW that fall into this category. Some cost more or about the same for this size.
That’s not to say the Q3 does not offer a great deal. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine gives it enough pep for everyday use. It’s not particularly quick, but the engine delivers its power smoothly and effortlessly. There were times when I thought it sounded a bit strained under hard acceleration, but for the most part the noise level is very low, from tires, engine or wind.
It’s handling is good, not great. The ride is certainly comfortable. After spending a week in Charlotte traffic, hitting ever pothole on I-77 this works very well in urban settings.
Like all Audi’s, the Q3 can be had in quattro guise, giving it the ultimate in traction during foul weather.
The most impressive points about this vehicle is the build quality. Few companies are designing and building stuff that looks this good or works this well. The interior is classic Audi. It’s only flaw is the MMI control isn’t in the center console. Its mounted in the center stack. Once you get used to this it’s OK, but why make it different from the other vehicles? There’s wood, metal and leather, the same you would find in the bigger Q5 – albeit in smaller amounts. As usual, Audi has done a great job.
The Q3 can range in price from $35,875 to nearly $50,000 depending on how equipped. My front wheel drive Premium was in the low $40,000s. There is a lot to pick from in that price range from a lot of manufacturers. I think the Q3 is certainly to be considered, especially if you are a fan of Audi.

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Toyota Yaris does duty as really reliable small car

Toyota has made some of the finest small cars in automotive history. People bought them in huge numbers because these cars were dependable, well built and would last for decades if need be.
The Japanese giant still makes great cars but has been under massive pressure lately because of recalls, missteps and increasing competition from Kia and Hyundai. Even Chevy and Ford have stepped up their compact game.

Sparse, yet appealing interior.
Sparse, yet appealing interior.

For 2015, Toyota’s compact entry is the Yaris, an interesting little hatch that has a lot to offer but also has a great deal of competition to fend off.
The Yaris can be had in either three or five door hatchback configuration. My bright red SE was a five door with distinctive styling. It has a variation of Toyota’s corporate face that’s pleasing to the eye. I’m not a fan of red but at least I never lost it in the parking lot.
The interior is nicely done with the ubiquitous touch screen as the center of the dash. It controls the entertainment system that includes HD radio, CD player and Toyota Entune apps that work with your smartphone. There was no navigation (it is optional) or SirirusXM (optional as well).
The Yaris SE also comes with ABS, air conditioning, power door locks, cruise control, body colored power mirrors, 16-inch machine tooled wheels and LED running lights.
The interior materials felt good to the touch. The shift knob is leather wrapped but the steering wheel did not tilt. The seats are comfortable and despite the car’s small footprint there is a generous amount of room for four adults. You can push it to five but that guy in the middle is not going to want to be that guy.
The Yaris is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 105 horsepower with 103 pounds-feet of torque. Doesn’t sound like much on paper but I found it to be adequate in the real world. Passing attempts must be planned well in advanced. It takes this car a little over 10 seconds to get to 60 miles per hour from a standstill. Even while moving the car can be a bit lethargic. The culprit is the old school four-speed automatic. Toyota can do better and has better but to keep cost down this is what you have to deal with if you go for the five-door SE hatch. There is a five-speed manual standard on the three-door.
Gas milage for the four-speed is good at 32 miles per gallon overall. City milage is 30 while highway is 36. Gives this thing a five speed automatic and I’m sure those figures would improve greatly.
By checking the SE box on your wish list you get a sports tuned independent front suspension as well as sports tuned electronic steering, both of which work very well. Put the little Yaris in a corner and you will not be screaming for help. It sticks there and feels stable coming out and on its way down the road. Sporty might be a stretch but I’d say the Yaris has solid handling. The ride comfort was surprising as well.
Does the Yaris have any other draw backs? Yes. The level of competition is high and the field is crowded with good, tiny cars. Ford’s Fiesta is a blast to drive and comes in some tasty trim levels. The Kia Rio looks a lot like this car but I think it’s less expensive with more equipment. The Nissan Versa is, well, the cheapest new car you can buy. The Hyundai Accent comes in both hatch and sedan.
There may be a few others but you get the idea. None of that is a deal breaker, however. Toyota still has a great track record for little cars. The Yaris is one of those cars. At $18,445 some might find it expensive but I found it to be moderately priced. I’ve seen many of these on the road so Toyota is doing something right.

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Blu Vivo Air apes Apple style, offers Android performance

IMG_0049Apple, Samsung and a few other manufacturers seem to have the cell phone game locked down. Yet, there are a handful of companies that have challenged all of the high-priced, must-have phones with low-cost phones which do the same for less.
Ok, maybe not exactly the same, but close. Isn’t the main function of a phone to make a call? Yes, but more people are relying on their phones to replace laptops and tablets. Some are as large as tablets.
If you don’t care about the best specs or being tied to a specific network. There are some options. There are bunches of unlocked phones to be had with good to excellent performance and darn near cut rate prices.
One option is Blu, a Miami-based company that started in 2009. That year, the company sold some 70,000 units. Four years later it was up to 4.1 million in 2012. The company’s sales have continued to rise offering Android phones for nearly half what the big guns sell phone. Now it’s gotten into Windows, seemingly dying platform but Microsoft is selling Blu Phones in its stores.
Blu doesn’t do Apple’s operating system, but it sure can copy an iPhone. It’s new Vivo Air is a could pass for an iPhone 6, better so than the Samsung Galaxy S6 clone.
Blu bests both the S6 and iPhone 6 by making it thinner. Yep, the Vivo Air is 5mm thick, making it the thinnest phone currently sold in the US (according to Blu). Will it bend? Sure, if you put it in a machine to do so or carry it without a case.
I’m not so sure I’m with this “i’m thinner than you” war, however. These are phones, not supermodels.
Anyway, the Air has a 4.8 Super HD ambled screen. It has an eight core, 1.7 GHz processor as well.
The phone will run on 4G HSPA+ networks. It has 1 gig of Ram and uses the 4.4 Kit Kat operating system.
The camera is 8.0 megapixels on the back and 5.0 mp up front. Lots of selfies to be had. You can also record video in 1080p @ 30 frames per second.
The phone comes boxed with a wall charger, usb cable ,earphones, screen protector, gel case and another cable (don’t know what it’s for nor could I find it in the manual).
I didn’t spend a lot of time with the Blu Air but the time I did was well spent. The phone feels good to the touch, forged from a single piece of aluminum. The white and gold color scheme used is very Apple’ish. So is the fact the phone is sealed, so no SD card use. Currently, the phone is only available with16 gigs of memory.
I made a few phone calls, hooked up to Wi-fi and snapped a couple of pictures. Everything was great. Pictures looked as good as my iPhone 5. The screen was much better. I watched the Arrow/Flash Fight Club video on YouTube and that 4.8-inch screen came to life. The depth and width of the colors was wonderful. Didn’t notice any lag, either.
I’m still gunning for an iPhone 6 or 6 plus (yes, I’ve succumbed to the large phone thing), but my carrier wants everyone to pay full price for phones these days. The Vivo Air almost convinced me to go Android, if for nothing more than its excellent price of $299. You can find even cheaper on line.
Notice I said almost. I’m still an Apple head but I can give credit. The Android system has become more uniform on each phone – you get the same experience regardless of phone used. That wasn’t a few years back. If I buy my phone on price next time and I can’t get my Apple, I’d consider Blu.

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