California traffic can be a bear, and this week Elon Musk showed off the design for his “Hyperloop” transport system, a futuristic solar-powered network of crash-proof capsules that would zip people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour. Mr. Musk outlined the Hyperloop vision in a blog post and has described the system as a cross between the Concorde supersonic turbojet, rail gun and air-hockey table. Critics have said the price tag is underestimated, the Hyperloop would face serious regularity measures and also be vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attacks. Then again, it’s just an idea — but one that has a lot of people chittering about this new sort of tube travel.
Facebook, which upgraded its mobile app this week, has added restaurant reservations through Open Table and listings for movies and television show pages. The Social Network also just bought Mobile Technologies, a speech interpretation and translation company.
NBC News also went shopping this week and came home with Stringwire. Instead of buying new technology or acquiring another company, though, BlackBerry maker is looking to get bought, or perhaps find a business partner.
Dick Cheney did not want Google Maps to show satellite images of the vice presidential residence when he was living there and now the government of Norway is telling Apple to step off. The Norwegian government recently denied a request from Apple to do a 3D mapping of the capital city of Oslo.
Windows 8.1 is said to be arriving in just a few months. The almost-final beta version of 8.1 includes smaller Live Tiles, built-in tutorials to help confused users, and an integrated Bing-powered search engine. Could be a good time to upgrade — Microsoft will stop patching Windows XP then and security experts are saying it will be hacker heaven next April. (In other Microsoft news, the list of requirements for using the upcoming Xbox One console seems to be getting more reasonable. (If you want people to be watching you, though, Microsoft did release a new version of Skype for the latest iPhone and iPad models that now includes HD video.)
Well, a PR stunt in Seoul, Korea, didn’t turn out as planned for LG Electronics. What LG didn’t count on was hopeful contenders showing up with BB guns, knives and pointed sticks. (But really, who plans for pointed sticks except for Monty Python and Games of Thrones fans?) On a much calmer note, camera sites are leaking that Sony Electronics is working on a Lens Camera attachment for smartphones.
If you like smart tech podcasts, check out “The Digital Human,” a BBC Radio 4 series. The show is hosted by a Jammer friend and Guardian/BBC writer, Aleks Krotoski, and all 20 episodes are now available for your listening pleasure.
Bitcoin developers are warning of an security flaw with the Android wallet feature that could lead to theft of your digital currency. An upgrade to patch the hole is on the way. And if you liked the idea of the Google Chromecast but can’t get one yet, consider the Cheapcast. Although it’s still in beta, the free Cheapcast app promises to turn your Android phone or tablet into a target screen for streaming.
It must be August because the Apple rumors have started to include mention of a date for the company’s big annual fall announcement. Just a few years ago, the fall date referred to iPods, but with media players pretty much taking a backseat to everything else in the company’s product line these days, it sounds like the iPhone will be the star of this year’s show, which is now rumored for September 10th. Other sources like Bloomberg News are reporting that the next iPad will sport a thinner design, the Mini will get that spiffy Retina display and none of them will be released until the final three months of the year.
And finally, if you’ve been listening to that little tri-tone sound that Apple devices make by default when you get a text message, check out the essay by the creator of that distinctive composition. Former Apple software engineer Kelly Jacklin tells the tale in his essay, “The History of the Boo-Dah-Ling Sound.” If you drive in California and have an iPhone, you’ve probably heard enough of that Boo-Dah-Ling sound — but its story is quite fascinating.