Rolls-Royce has only ever released seven generations of its flagship Phantom. Ahead of the eighth generation’s reveal in late July, Rolls-Royce released a teaser, and Phantom VIII is lookin’ good.
The teaser gives us a little bit to work with, but not much. Sure, the Spirit of Ecstasy remains front and center on the hood, but that was expected. The headlight appears slightly different, perhaps a bit thinner, with a seriously bright running light along its border. The front end’s edges look a bit smoother than on Phantom VII, too.
That’s about all we can see, really. Aside from a hint of its grille in an official video, which we pointed out yesterday, Phantom VIII remains shrouded in mystery. We believe that it should ride on an aluminum-intensive platform, similar to the forthcoming Project Cullinan SUV. It should look, drive and feel like nothing else in the industry, which you should expect from a car costing north of $400,000.
All will be revealed soon enough. Rolls-Royce will lift the veil on Phantom VIII on July 27 at 4 p.m. Eastern, and we’ll have photos and video for you to peruse at that time. Until then, start saving those pennies — you’ll need a whole lot of ’em.
Update the Google app on Android and iOS to see the feed, a personalized stream of information relevant to you.
by Lexy Savvides
Facebook already tailors its feed of news, sports scores and viral videos to show you what you want. Now Google is going to do it too.
In a classic case of Silicon Valley “Anything you can do I can do better,” the search giant on Wednesday updated its free Google app for iPhones and Android phones with a feed that uses artificial intelligence to show you things like news stories or movie trailers.
The feed itself isn’t new — Google introduced a basic version of it in December that shows you content you might be interested in, based on your Google searches. But on Wednesday, Google expanded the feed to include “follow” buttons so you can keep tabs on different public figures, like President Donald Trump, artists like Kendrick Lamar, or TV shows like “Game of Thrones.”
For news stories, Google will now also show you articles from several different outlets — along with fact-check stories — to give you different perspectives. (Facebook does that too.)
Google’s app update comes at a time when the web’s top sites have been more under fire than ever. Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2 billion people using it each month, has been particularly accused of fostering fake news and “filter bubbles” — the idea that Facebook warps your view of the world because your news feed shows you things you tend to already agree with. Even Google’s YouTube as well has been criticized for allowing racist and hateful messages to spread unchecked on its service.
That’s probably why Google’s positioning this initiative as an extension of search, instead of its high-profile Google Plus social network, which ultimately didn’t catch on.
“Learning about a topic doesn’t happen with a single query,” Ben Gomes, vice president of engineering for Google search, said during a press event in San Francisco on Tuesday. “Learning about a topic is a process that happens over time.”
Because it’s a part of search, the way Google’s feed works is different from how Facebook works, too. Facebook shows you a mix of things shared by your friends and pages you “Like.” Google’s feed depends on its almighty search algorithms, as well as info from other Google services, like Google Maps data, Gmail, or YouTube searches.
Google thinks that can produce insights that might otherwise be overlooked. For example, if you went to a classical music concert on a whim last year, Google’s feed might show you a story on on an up-and-coming cellist that might pique your interest again. Or, if you’re planning a trip to Japan, Google’s feed could show you an article from 10 months ago about good spots to take photo in Tokyo.
“The key issue here is this feed is really about your interests,” Gomes said. “It’s not really about what your friends are interested in, which is what other feeds might be.”
You might wonder if because your Google search history is in the driver seat, some sensitive stuff might pop up. Google said the feed won’t pick up certain topics, like porn or hate speech, and it won’t infer anything about your religion or sexual orientation.
For now, Google’s feed is rolling out only in the United States, but internationally in the next few weeks.
Road Trip 2016: Reporters’ dispatches from the field on tech’s role in the global refugee crisis.
Road Trip 2015: CNET hunts for innovation outside the Silicon Valley bubble.
Wonder what happened to the millions of recalled Galaxy Note 7 devices that were maybe/maybe not on the verge of exploding?
They didn’t just disappear off the face of the earth after Samsung recalled the device — twice — in the wake of battery defects that caused Note 7s to burst into flames. (In fact, the same battery issues caused Samsung’s own factory to catch fire back in February. Ouch.)
Samsung recently revealed its plans (Korean) to break down the recalled phones into component parts — like camera modules, chips, and displays — that can be reused or sold.
The electronics giant further expects to recover 157 metric tons worth of rare metals, the company said in a statement. That’s a whopping 346,126 pounds of cobalt, copper, silver and gold that Samsung can extract from components that it can’t otherwise reuse.
Samsung’s announcement will help it lay the Note 7 debacle to rest as the company prepares for its upcoming Galaxy Note 8 launch in late August. Samsung itself had come under fire in the months since the Note 7’s recall, for keeping quiet on what it planned to do with the millions of recalled phones. In February, protestors from Greenpeace disrupted a major Samsung event and demanded that the Note 7 phones get recycled or reused, rather than turned into harmful electronic waste.
Samsung also decided to refurbish some of the recalled Note 7 phones, and sell a safe version in some markets. Earlier this month the refurbished Galaxy Note 7 FE went on sale in South Korea. This phone is said to have gone under Samsung’s eight-point battery check to ensure its safety, but there’s no official word on when or if it’ll come to other countries.
We’ll soon find out if the Note 8 can redeem the Galaxy Note’s scorched reputation.
Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.
Galaxy Note 8 coming in late August, says Samsung exec
Without nailing down a specific date, Samsung’s mobile chief teases the hotly anticipated phone.
I wonder this as I stick my nose into a glass of 2016 cabernet sauvignon and feel the burn more strongly down one side than the other.
Florencia Palmaz, co-founder and partner at Palmaz Vineyards, tells me this happens to most people.
I’m sitting with four others at a long, honey-colored wood table in her office in Napa, California. Swap out the furniture, and you’d have a hell of an Airbnb with its views of vineyards and a ceiling-high, arched glass doorway. We each have eight glasses lined up in front of us, along with palate-cleansing bread sticks, glasses of water and what look like glass soda bottles filled with wine.
There are periods of near silence as we begin the serious business of tasting. Swirl, sniff, taste, spit. Repeat. After all, it might be Napa — where millions of tourists come to enjoy the iconic scenery, fancy restaurants and, obviously, wine — but everyone in this room is on the job. It’s why this tasting also includes a laptop and tablet on the table and a large TV screen on the office wall.
We’re looking at graphs.
The young red wines in the glasses in front of me all have histories documented in data. That ranges from the time their grapes first peeped out on the vines, to how their particular plots of land affected their growth, to when they were harvested and placed in fermentation tanks, turning into alcohol.
As I swirl the liquid in one glass, Florencia tells me the same kinds of grapes used to make that wine were used in the glass beside it. The only difference is they come from two different parcels of land.
That one element means the wines taste different and smell different — although the complexities are lost on someone whose mouth has never been the same after an unfortunate incident in 1998 with scalding hot chocolate.
The 9,000-year old tradition of making wine might not conjure visions of the future, but when I ask a wine industry expert about the most cutting-edge wineries, he spells out “P-A-L-M-A-Z.” The Palmaz family is betting that technology and winemaking are a great pairing.
“[Winemakers] are spending less time worrying about mundane details and more time being creative,” says Christian Palmaz, president of Palmaz Vineyards and Florencia’s younger brother. “My job is to make sure they get all the elements they need to the finish line, so that when they sit down and actually blend the wine, create the wine — paint the painting — those elements are there for them.”
Palmaz Vineyards, two hours north of Silicon Valley, relies on an arsenal of tech goodies to get the best possible vintages.
by Erin Carson
The inside is cool and dry and smells faintly of alcohol. The walls are rough to the touch, textured with gunite, which you’ve likely run into inside a swimming pool. The whole place feels like a supervillain’s high-end lair, as if Frasier Crane broke bad. It’s 100,000 square feet, with tunnels jutting out like spokes from the center of two wheels that are connected to each other.
In the middle of one of those wheels sits a multilevel fermentation room, topped with a dome. Walk to the center, and you’re surrounded above by 24 large metal fermentation tanks resting on a carousel that can rotate. It rotates because there’s a sorting table on the next level up. This way, the grapes can drop directly into the tanks from the table — it’s a little like a circular assembly line.
This is where the wine gets made.
All the tanks are equipped with sensors that feed data on variables like temperature and sugar level back to Palmaz’s supercomputer, called Fermentation Intelligent Logic Control System (FILCS, pronounced Felix). FILCS, which has been in place since 2015, can crank out data in real time about what’s happening in those tanks. All that data, in turn, gets spit out as graphs in blues, greens and pinks, and projected onto the room’s 54-foot-high dome ceiling, nearly covering it.
In earlier years, Christian had those charts sent to iPads that Palmaz’s three winemakers carried around from tank to tank during fermentation. Those iPads kept getting left behind.
“Flashing it on the ceiling was my brother’s solution to us ignoring his data,” says Florencia.
But why do they need all that data, when people have been making wine for about 9,000 years?
Two words: quality assurance. A lot can go sideways in the winemaking process. There’s the unpredictability of the weather, for instance, and unwanted bacteria that can foul up the batch. If you let the heat in the tank increase too much, you kill the yeast that’s turning your grape juice into wine.
“It used to be that the winemakers would have to literally sleep at the wineries during that fermentation process,” says Rob McMillan, executive vice president of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division and author of the Annual State of the Wine Industry Report.
So say one of your tanks starts tasting funky. “You would immediately start getting anxious,” Florencia says. “Without information, you start freaking out and making rash decisions.”
Someone left the door open
You can’t make sweeping statements about the way the wine industry feels about tech, mostly because there’s more than one wine industry. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates about 36 billion bottles of wine are produced every year worldwide. Most countries make wine, even if you’re accustomed to thinking of spots like France and Spain.
I’m sitting in Roger Boulton’s cool, dark office at the Robert Mondavi Institute (RMI) at University of California at Davis, a school known for its viticulture and enology department. Boulton holds the Stephen Sinclair Scott Endowed Chair in Enology. Jim Lapsley, researcher for University of California’s Agricultural Issues Center, is there, too. Boulton and Lapsley tell me this is probably one of the few industries in which the product costs anywhere from a few bucks to almost $1,000, from boxed wine to those that are too pricey to drink.
Boulton explains how factors like “where [the wine] comes from, its vintage or cultivar” affect the different parts of the industry. “If that’s not important to the product you’re trying to sell, then [technologies] that enhance or capture or collect that for you don’t help,” he says.
That’s where Boulton’s life has gotten interesting over the years. It’s his task to get winemakers singing from the same hymn sheet in order to get research funding. He’s been trying to nudge winemakers toward technologies other industries use. One example: a sanitation process called cross-flow filtration, which the dairy industry adopted years ago.
“There have been a number of examples of technology that [Boulton] has espoused that have been very slow on the uptick within the industry,” Lapsley told me a few weeks earlier by phone.
There’s no shortage of smart stuff on the UC Davis campus, though.
Boulton was instrumental in the construction of a $15 million teaching and research winery completed seven years ago. The self-cleaning tanks are equipped with sensors that control temperature and collect data on sugar levels. The smaller research fermenters use pulse cooling, replacing the water in the cooling jackets around the fermenters only when it gets warm, instead of constantly pumping in cool water. The sensors measure liquid density and, yes, wirelessly report the data.
Boulton is big on food storage sensors, too. He shows me a large touchscreen that pulls up data on two wineries and a dairy that are using his sensors. I see gray graphs with thin yellow, green and blue lines. It looks like a jumble, but Boulton knows those lines represent things like humidity, temperature, carbon dioxide and even particles in the air.
“Somebody left a door open,” he says, pointing to one of the lines, noting that any changes in the room show up in the data.
The sense of it?
When I pull up to the gate at the Grace Benoist Ranch Vineyard, in Sonoma, I find Will Drayton waiting for me to follow his silver Ford F-150 onto the grounds. Grace Benoist is one of many vineyards producing grapes for Treasury Wine Estates, the Australia-based wine company that owns more than 45 brands from Australia, California, Tasmania, New Zealand and Italy. This is one of a few sites where Treasury is trying out tech.
For almost a half mile, I follow behind Drayton, Treasury’s director of technical viticulture and winemaking, along a narrow road between rows of vines. I hop into his truck and set off on a search for sensors scattered among the 200 acres of pinot noir vines.
As we approach a small bridge, I spot a Pellenc Grape Harvester, which is a yellow-and-black wheeled machine with a slot cut through the middle so it can drive over the vines.
I can’t quite decide what sci-fi vehicle to compare it to — maybe a Recognizer from “Tron: Legacy”?
Drayton says it’s like the “Transformers of the tractor world,” a multifunction machine that cultivates, harvests, destems, pulls and mows — and can reach across three rows of vines when fully extended.
Treasury Wine Estates is testing a few kinds of sensors. There’s a flow meter attached to the drip irrigation line that helps the company learn exactly how much water the plants need. Elsewhere, a solar-powered sensor checks ambient air temperature as compared to the temperature of the leaves. It can also count the raindrops that hit it, turning it into a rain gauge.
Meanwhile, drones take multispectral images of the vines, which could help the team quickly spot plant disease.
And then there are the apps, which do everything from tracking bins of grapes during harvest, to monitoring pests, disease, irrigation, weather forecasts, soil status and growth stage — there’s even a field grading list in one so winemakers can note attributes about the grapes like color and flavor.
If these tools prove successful in the long run, they’ll get adopted on a wider scale.
So, no — you won’t find Lucille Ball stomping around a tub of grapes in these parts.
Tech and time
Palmaz uses tech in its vineyards too, including spectral imaging to make sure vines are maturing evenly. It also partnered with a local flight school and, on Mondays and Thursdays, it gets overhead infrared images that reveal factors that could affect the vines, like soil nitrates and moisture levels. That eventually gives Palmaz a zoning image that, long story short, helps it decide things like how much to water each row.
Based on Monday’s picture, the winemakers can adjust and see the results on Thursday. The system is called Vineyard Infrared Growth Optical Recognition, or VIGOR.
Every parcel of land has its own variables — elevation, soil differences, exposure to the sun — which means the grapes ripen at different speeds. Without a system like VIGOR, winemakers have to make the rounds and decide how the grapes are doing, which Florencia describes as a situation “ripe for chaos” when certain grapes haven’t matured to the same point as others. The trouble is, you’ve already picked them.
“[VIGOR] doesn’t tell us that the grapes are delicious,” Florencia says, “It doesn’t tell us even that it’ll make good wine. What it’s telling us is, is it even.”
Because Palmaz only started testing VIGOR in 2016, a year after FILCS, it’s hard to say just yet how this affects the vintages. The wine that holds those answers will sit in barrels in the cave until 2018.
“In the winemaking world we get one chance a year, and it takes us three years to find out if the choice is good,” she says.
Story in a bottle
Unless you’re a fan of really cheap-ass wine (“two-buck Chuck,” anyone?), there’s a good chance you’re picking labels that speak to you in some indefinable way, UC researcher Lapsley tells me.
“When consumers are buying wine and especially when they’re buying upper-end wine, they’re buying something more than simply the liquid in the bottle,” he says. “They’re buying place, they’re buying story.”
Story is a powerful thing, and both Palmaz and Treasury Wine Estates are making sure that tech doesn’t overshadow their narrative. Palmaz, for example, takes the view that the traditional process of making wine is essentially intact. They’re just watching it with digital eyes.
And at Treasury: “Nothing has replaced the winemaker and the taste bud [as] the ultimate tool. Nothing we’ve ever done has made wine less interesting.” says Drayton.
Florencia’s not the first person to tell me that, in a sense, it’s the land and the yeast and the weather and everything else that create the result — control over the process is relative.
“Every single winemaker will agree,” she says. “We don’t make the wine. We just don’t fuck it up.”
Road Trip 2016: Reporters’ dispatches from the field on tech’s role in the global refugee crisis.
Road Trip 2015: CNET hunts for innovation outside the Silicon Valley bubble.
Qualcomm’s and Apple’s legal spat could be coming to a close.
At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference yesterday, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said he didn’t see a reason why the company’s ongoing dispute with Apple couldn’t be settled outside court like similar cases previously, because there’s “not really anything new,” Fortune reported on Monday.
The battle began in January with Apple taking Qualcomm to court over allegations of unfair licensing terms. The argument escalated over the past six months, with both companies firing accusations back and forth. Most recently, Qualcomm sought a ban on Apple devices that run without Qualcomm chips, saying Apple uses its technology without paying for it.
No announcement on a resolution has come yet, said Mollenkopf, declining questions on the matter.
Qualcomm has more than enough on its plate to worry about even without its fight with Apple. The company just lost its appeal against a $660,000 daily penalty that the EU could impose on it for not submitting documents requested by the European Commission, documents that charged the company with beating out its rival, Icera, using anti-competitive measures. In the US, it’s also battling the FTC’s antitrust suit, which accuses the company of charging excessive royalties and weakening rivals with its market dominance.
CNET has reached out to Qualcomm and Apple for comments.