AWT News Update: November 16, 2017

Image via Intel

Image via Intel

5G cell phone modems, keyboard controllers, and questionable "inventions" make it to the Apple World Today News Update podcast:

  • Intel outlines its new modem chip roadmap, including 5G NR modems that could be used in Apple products by 2019-2020
  • IK Multimedia announced two new keyboard controllers for use with iOS, Mac, and Windows
  • We take a jaundiced look at some of the other items on Time's "25 best inventions of 2017" list

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Thursday, November 16th, 2017. 

Today, Intel announced it’s wireless product roadmap, and there’s a good chance that Apple will decide to use the company’s broadband chips in the future due to a long-standing battle with existing chip provider Qualcomm. Intel is really planning for the future, with the Intel XMM 8000 series, which is its first line of 5G new radio (5G NR) multi-mode modems as well as the Intel XMM 7660 — an LTE modem. The company has apparently successfully completed a full end-to-end 5G call based on prototypes, which opens the door for deployment of 5G cell systems in 2019. What’s fascinating is that Intel is expecting “broad deployment” of gigabit-class 5G services in 2020 — that’s a little over two years away, folks. Why is this important to Apple users? Well, unless Qualcomm is taken over by Broadcom or Qualcomm decides to kiss and make up to Apple, chances are good that future iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch modems will be made by Intel.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to play piano, or maybe you’re an accomplished keyboardist who wants to work with Digital Audio Workstations like Logic Pro, Ableton Live or Garage Band. IK Multimedia, which makes a lot of music-related hardware for Apple fans, today announced the new iRig Keys I/O, described as a keyboard controller range that features a built-in audio interface. iRig Keys I/O can be purchased in either 25 or 49 key versions, with a synth-action keybed and a 96kHz/24-bit audio interface with a preamp that lets users record their instruments and mics via a combo 1/4-inch/XLR input. The keyboards have controls such as velocity sensitive multicolored pads, programmable touch-sensitive sliders, buttons and assignable knobs. What’s perfect for Apple  users is that the iRig Keys I/O is Apple certified MFi hardware that will work with all iOS devices with a Lightning port. There’s also a USB cable for connecting to Macs. iRig Keys I/O is available from the IK Multimedia online store and authorized dealers for $199.99 for the 25-key version and $299.99 for the 49-key version.

Hey, personal opinion here. I wouldn’t get too excited about the Time magazine 25 best inventions of 2017 list and the fact that the iPhone X is on the list. There is more than one questionable item on that list. First, they chose a creepy and expensive little robot that can’t get you a beer out of the fridge as the number 1 item, and they refer to Amazon Echo and Google Home as personal robots. Sorry, robots have got to be able to move around… Next, they got excited about Halo Top, an expensive “guilt-free” ice cream that still tops out at about 360 calories per pint. Next, Time lauded the Ember Mug, an $80 — I am not making this up — temperature controlled coffee mug. The Tesla Model 3 is on the list, a car that is so far not making it out of the factory due to production issues that could bury the company. Some of the other items on the list are actually pretty cool, others are outright stupid - we’ll let you make your pick by giving you a link to the article here. But when one of the other items in the 2017 list is a generic “Fidget spinner”, I realized that Time has absolutely no believability as a source of information on “best inventions”.

That’s all for today; I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.