Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Friday, June 19.

1. Ford claims hands-free driving and that definitely won’t fail

One of Ford’s most important upcoming electric vehicles is its Mustang Mach-E, which is an SUV EV that adopts the muscle-car name even though it looks just like a crossover. And, er, quite like the Tesla Model Y and Audi E-Tron.

We’ve now seen more details trickle out since Ford’s announcement back in November of the car and what’s under the hood. The Blue Oval had a big one yesterday, saying it will offer ‘Hands-Free’ Mode in the new Mustang Mach-E by late 2021 (CNET).

  • Check out the Ford engineer there driving with his Mustang thermos or water bottle thing, no hands required:

Motorola Droid 3 users can now update their Gingerbread Firmware to the latest leak firmware of Motorola called 5.7.906 thanks to droidian1441 who leaked it at XDA Developers Forum. There’s no details on what improvements there is to it, also if you flash this firmware it will not let you revert/change back to your stock ROM so think carefully if you want this on your phone.

  • Without wanting to immediately say this is similar to Tesla Autopilot or GM’s Super Cruise, this is similar to those two programs.
  • Indeed, Ford is going a little further than what we see from Autopilot of Super Cruise, saying: “With more than 650,000 miles of testing, our Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology is adding new features like Active Drive Assist, which allows for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in all 50 states and Canada.”
  • Ford says drivers will only be granted hands-free driving “if they continue to pay attention to the road ahead,” with an infrared driver-facing camera checking eye-gaze and head position to make sure.
  • Although it’s not exactly hard to glean who the competition might be, Ford even includes a comparison table with the Tesla Model Y just to make sure we all know who the competition is.
  • But as Erik Shilling at Jalopnik rightly interjects, Ford is copying Tesla, and its mistakes:
  • What’s interesting to me about this is Ford’s confidence that it has figured out “hands-free” driving, when so many other companies, Tesla included, still haven’t, even after years and years of testing and trying. I mean, don’t get me wrong, this tech all sounds great but Ford’s eagerness to proclaim that they’ve finally crossed this hurdle is a bit of a red flag.”
  • … I will be shocked if Ford doesn’t soon hit trouble. Every automaker in history who has come out with a splashy press release about its cool new semi-autonomous tech product certainly has.
  • In any case, remember when Ford said it, and see how long it takes to actually be true…

In other Mach-E developments, there is a less likely-to-be-egg-on-face piece of news:

  • A feature called ‘Intelligent Range’ (Engadget) offers supposedly better range calculations for the vehicle’s battery life, using the cloud and factors like driving behavior, weather forecasts and crowdsourced data from other Mach-E vehicles.
  • Strictly anecdotally, of course, Mustang drivers are likely to be little more throttle friendly than your average Prius driver.
  • So adjusting to your driving habits (or, how flat out you push your Mach-E battery), rather than a set algorithm that can more accurately adjust to each driver, does make sense?

Final Ford news: A redesigned F-150 truck gets a reveal next week, but the EV F-150 is still a 2022 project last I heard.


2. Is this the Apple App Store reckoning?

The latest: Apple rejected Hey’s appeal in a letter that Apple’s Phil Schiller expanded on to Matthew Panzarino. Interestingly, Panzarino, very close to Apple, couldn’t agree with Apple’s stance (TechCrunch).

Then, Microsoft president Bras Smith didn’t name any name in taking a huge swipe at rivals, stating: “I do believe the time has come, whether we’re talking about Washington, D.C., or Brussels, for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and the tolls that are being extracted and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created” and implied everything happening with both Apple and Google with app stores is worse than anything Microsoft did with Windows back in the day (Politico).

Finally, the House antitrust committee chair explosively said: Apple’s App Store fees are ‘highway robbery’ in a fresh podcast (The Verge).

  • Where to from here next, and will the Google Play Store fall into the firing line?

3. We might not see the Motorola Razr 2 in 2020, due to COVID-19 (Android Authority).


4. Fallout from the India-China border skirmishes: here’s all the Chinese apps India wants to ban, TikTok and Xiaomi included (Android Authority).


5. Samsung patents a pretty wild six-camera tilting array for its smartphones (Android Authority).


6. Apple may return iOS to its original ‘iPhone OS’ name at WWDC (Apple Insider). Also, Apple now accepts Mac trade-ins in its US stores. The trade-in offers are not great, but better than Best Buy (The Verge).


7. EA had an event yesterday, and the Star Wars: Squadrons space combat game is the big talking point, coming October 2. The ‘one more thing’ announcement was that it is finally, actually making a new Skate game: Skate 4 (Polygon).


8. Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed again—this time to November: “Trading trust for additional time is one of the hardest decisions a developer can make.” (Ars Technica).


9. Masked arsonist might’ve gotten away with it if she hadn’t left Etsy review. Interesting reading for understanding how you leave traces of your identity everywhere. As one comment said, “That’s some dedicated, if unfortunately selective, pursuit of justice.” (Ars Technica).


10. A robot sloth will (very slowly) survey endangered species. Oh my, the picture is incredible. (Engadget).


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