Jun 15, 2012Science and Technology
Patexia Weekly: 06/08-06/15

What happens in Cupertino...

Spending most of today's article on consumer tech simply can't be avoided: as expected, Apple's famed WWDC can't help but draw attention. If there is a consensus in the tech community, it centers around the fact that not all that much interesting or new happened -- but everyone's still talking about it. The biggest news was Apple's release of their own mapping software. Now Google maps has a significant competitor that, though starting from behind, may very well do some damage. Siri also got some updates, but nothing to assuage any of the concerns raised by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in Look, don't touch: the new Macbook Pro sits tantalizingly within reach at the Apple WWDC.this report by the LA Times. The only other real news, as I see it, was the updates to the Macbook Pro -- getting an impressive new Retina display. Rumor has it that repair costs are going to soar on their latest notebook offering, further increasing the overall expense of being an Apple user. Conspicuously absent was any mention of the iPhone 5 which, most analysts speculate, should find it's way out of Cupertino in October.

Samsung still slips to mind whenever the iPhone's delayed release comes up, as its Galaxy S III continues to get great reviews and sell to beat the band worldwide. One week out from the anticipated US release, without any further concerns of injunctions holding it back, Samsung certainly isn't resting on its laurels. Unexpectedly (at least to this tech writer), Samsung revealed its vision for near-field communication technology (NFC): putting RFID tags in the hands of the consumers, and opening up a world of possible uses, if you have an enabled phone. From James Lee Philips' review of NFC in the wake of Samsung's release:

Samsung's TecTiles take advantage of this passive NFC potential, essentially acting as stickers made of dumb NFC devices. Users can program these stickers to do a number of things, from uploading data to launching apps. While Samsung obviously wants to further their own brand, the TecTile app is readily available on the Android Market (whoops, I keep forgetting that it's now Google Play).The new Sony Xperia family of handsets.

Sony reminded us that Samsung and Apple aren't the only players in the game, though, with an impressive Xperia release that already has people talking. Sony's first try at the smartphone market looks pretty impressive, especially some of the durability characteristics Sony is claiming, but we'll see how it all looks once users actually start putting their hands on phones. With a dramatic shift in market focus, the Japanese consumer tech giant hopes that things will start looking up.

It's all about having the right altitude...China's first female astronaut Liu Yang salutes during a news conference at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Moving up and away from the consumer tech space, three of this week's most intersting and popular stories involve taking to the skies, in one form or another. The most ambitious, and perhaps most socially relevant, is the Shenzhou-9 rocket, poised for liftoff tomorrow, June 15th (10:37 GMT). The launch is historic for two reasons: it will be the first CNSA manned space station docking mission, and the rocket will carry the first female Chinese astronaut, Liu Yang, into space.

In less serious, more down-to-earth elevation news, I close my post today with two popular videos this week: one of a flying robot that moves through space unhindered by crashes, and one of U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Competition winners -- using vacuums to climb walls.

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