CES starts this Thursday, so expect lots and lots of new tech gadget announcements this week, with companies already vying to launch their new products before everyone else. MacRumors reports on TrackR’s announcement today of a new home-mapping smart plug designed to use with its updated Bluetooth tracking device range.

First up we have the TrackR pixel, which is the cheaper alternative to the aluminum TrackR bravo already available. Just as with the bravo, you can attach the pixel to a personal item that you want to keep tabs on, such as a keyring, for example, and then find it via the accompanying iOS app. A GPS locator will direct you to the item. And should the TrackR be so far away from you as to be out of range, the company has a “crowd GPS network” of anonymous users who will help you to find your item.

The TrackR wallet has also been updated to a 2.0 version. It now looks very much like a credit card, and TrackR says that it is the “thinnest item-finder on the market.” It works in the same way as the pixel, enabling you to track it over close-range Bluetooth via the iOS app, or at long-range via the aforementioned crowd-sourced discovery.

All of the above mentioned TrackR’s devices come with a replaceable battery that should last for around one year.

The TrackR atlas is a brand new product from the company. It’s a smart plug that will map out your entire home when inserted in a wall outlet and will then indicate the exact location of any connected TrackR via the accompanying app.

Source: TrackR Announces New Tracking Devices and Home-Mapping Smart Plug

BGR writes that well-sourced Apple leaker Sonny Dickson has been tweeting about what we can expect from iOS 10.3, including some very interesting new features that he says are included in the update.

Dickson says that Apple will be releasing the first iOS 10.3 beta to developers on January 10, and that it will include a new “Theatre” mode that will have its own popcorn-shaped icon in the Control Center.

Unfortunately that’s pretty much all the info that Dickson is able to impart about the rumoured Theatre mode at the moment, so let the speculation begin as to what it might actually mean! It’s possible that it is some sort of addition to the current “Do Not Disturb” feature to be used when in a movie theatre or when seeing a stage show. Or, possibly more likely, it could be a version of the rumoured “Dark Mode” that Apple was revealed to have been working on during development of iOS 10, but which has yet to arrive. Indeed, Dickson himself told 9to5 Mac that he believes it to be “an enhanced version of Dark Mode.”

Source: iOS 10.3 might introduce an intriguing new ‘Theatre mode’

iOS 10’s elusive Dark Mode shown in Settings app

Touch Arcade reports that Capcom has just announced in an official Tweet that episodes1-6 of the classic 8-bit NES Mega Man games will be arriving on iOS on January 5 in the US and January 6 in Japan. The game’s worldwide release date has yet to be confirmed by Capcom, but it is likely to be very soon after these first two release dates.

The individual games will cost $1.99 to buy each. Capcom says that all six games have been “optimized for the mobile devices with adjustments to game speed.” Here’s Capcom’s official word on what fans can expect from the Blue Bomber’s return to iOS.
Sources: 'Mega Man' 1-6 Releasing for iOS and Android on January 5th

All Six 8-Bit 'Mega Man' Games Confirmed for Release Outside of Japan, Will Be $1.99 Each and

According to a report in China’s Economic Times Daily, via MacRumors, Apple AirPods maker Inventec has increased production capacity at its plants in Shanghai, China, in order to cope with strong demand for the product. The plants are also said to be working overtime to keep up with demand.

On his recent visit to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC that the AirPods were “a runaway success,” adding that Apple was making them “as fast as we can” in a bid to cope with demand. And while Cook did not give any hints about actual sales figures for the earphones, a good indicator of demand is the fact that if you want to order a pair online from Apple’s website you can expect to wait 6 weeks for them to arrive.

Neither Apple or Inventec or Apple have commented on the story.

Source: Apple’s AirPods manufacturer expanding capacity to meet strong demand, says report

According to new figures from mobile analytics firm Flurry, via AppleInsider, Apple devices enjoyed a 44% share of all device activations this holiday period, which was more than twice the amount of devices activated by Samsung, which had a 21% share. Huawei came in third place, a long way behind the top two, with 3%.

Flurry’s figures also show that larger phones and phablets, such as the iPhone 7 Plus, are just as popular as ever, making up 37% of device activations, an increase of 10% from last year’s 27% share.

Overall, though, medium-sized phones ranging from 3.5 and 4.9 inches, such as the iPhone 7 and the iPhone SE, are the most popular of all, although their share actually dropped to below 50% to 45% this year.

As far as tablets are concerned, Flurry’s figures show that their popularity continues to fall, down to 17% from 18% last year.

Apple is due to announce its December 2016 quarter results, which will be the first full set of results since the iPhone 7 was released, at the end of January 2017. It’s expected that Apple will report its strongest ever iPhone sales, possibly reaching as high as 78 million units sold.

Source: Apple saw twice as many mobile device activations this holiday as Samsung, data shows

According to a report on 9to5 Mac today, researchers have been testing Siri’s ability to respond to personal and medical emergencies, and have found that it has greatly improved since an initial survey was carried out by Stanford university a year ago, but that it is a long way off being perfect.

In last year’s research, it was found that Siri, as well as rival intelligent assistants such as Cortana and S Voice, far too often did not recognize when someone was in need of help, and would either make flippant quips or provide a sometimes too clinical response in the form of a web search when someone had said they were depressed, for example.

Stanford clinical psychologist Adam Miner, who was the lead author of the year-ago study, said that he had definitely seen improvements since the report was published.

“Siri now recognizes the statement ‘I was raped,’” said Miner, “and recommends reaching out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline.”

Miner added that he wants companies such as Apple to do even more to help with this issue, however, such as creating industry-wide standards for intelligent assistants recognizing emergencies and offering useful responses. “Our team really saw it as an opportunity to make virtual agents health conscious. Getting that person to the right resource is a win for everyone.”

Source: Siri better at responding to medical & personal emergencies, say researchers, but more work needed

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