The Apple Pips

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Author: arstechnica (Page 2 of 1683)

Alphabet leads $1 billion investment in Lyft, but is GM on the way out?

Enlarge / A Lyft-branded car picks up a passenger in San Francisco on June 20, 2015. (credit: Ramin Talaie | Getty Images)

In September, we found out that Alphabet was possibly about to invest in the ride-hailing company Lyft. On Wednesday, Recode reported that the speculation was correct, and Google's parent company is leading a $1 billion round of investment that raises Lyft's valuation to $11 billion. Another Alphabet company, Waymo, is developing self-driving cars and partnered with Lyft earlier this year, presumably for the infrastructure that will allow it to find customers for the service that looks set to launch in Phoenix, Arizona.

As we explained recently, Lyft has been putting together a host of partnerships of late, an Android-like strategy that is positioning the company well for the coming years. Lyft has become a recognized and trusted brand, which is critically important when trying to get customers to choose you over a rival like Uber. Lyft has also inked deals with Jaguar Land Rover and Ford, and General Motors invested $500 million in the company last year.

GM and Lyft were believed to be planning on filling the streets of San Francisco with driverless Bolt electric vehicles in 2018. But according to The Information, that may not be the case. The outlet reported that Cruise—which GM bought for $1 billion in 2016 to develop autonomous vehicles—may work with beleaguered Uber instead as its ride-hailing partner. However, according to Forbes, the automaker says that "nothing has changed in the relationship between GM and Lyft."

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Running chemical reactions in liquid metal makes atomically thin materials

Enlarge / Droplets of a gallium/indium alloy. (credit: Collin Ladd, NC State University)

The discovery of graphene—a one-atom-thick sheet of covalently bonded carbon atoms—inspired the research community to generate a variety of 2D materials. Graphene, its silicon equivalent, MoS2, and more all have distinct properties based on the chemical bonding among their component atoms. And it's possible to leverage these properties to create commonplace devices on an unprecedentedly small scale, like a three-atom-thick LED.

Obviously, the more materials we have to work with, the better we can fine-tune one of these devices to our needs. But producing 2D materials is a challenge, as there are a limited number of substances that lend themselves to the chemically bonded layers we know how to work with. Now, an Australian-US team (writing in Science) has devised a way to make a broad class of atomically thin metal oxides, including 2D versions of materials already in use by the electronics industry. Their secret? A room temperature liquid metal.

Selective

This is one of those cases where a series of simple observations led to a major development. In many cases, pure metals will react with oxygen in the air to form a thin oxide layer on their surface. This, it turns out, is true for one of the metals that is liquid near room temperature: gallium, which melts at 30 degrees Celsius. Leave some liquid gallium exposed to the air, and it'll form a thin film of gallium oxide on its surface.

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The Mac mini isn’t dead yet, says Tim Cook

The 2014 Mac Mini. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

More than 1,000 days have passed since Apple updated its Mac mini hardware. Since then, Apple has launched the Apple Watch, AirPods, the retina MacBook, and the Touch Bar MacBook Pro. Meanwhile, the Mac mini has existed in a state of arrested development. You'd be forgiven for considering the possibility that the product has been living its last days. But in an e-mail to an Apple customer today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the Mac mini isn't going anywhere.

The customer, who goes by the name Krar, e-mailed Cook to note that the Mac mini hasn't seen an update in three years. Krar wanted to know, "Are we are going to see anything in the pipeline any time soon?" Cook's response, which was shared on MacRumors, said:

I'm glad you love the Mac mini. We love it too. Our customers have found so many creative and interesting uses for the Mac mini. While it is not time to share any details, we do plan for Mac mini to be an important part of our product line going forward.

He's not saying much, but even confirmation that this product has a future is in some ways surprising. The entry-level Mac mini still runs on Haswell processors and Intel HD 5000 integrated graphics. It comes with only 4GB of RAM. It starts at $499, but other compact desktops offer much more current specs at that price point. The mini is clearly long overdue for an update, but because it's unclear which direction Apple might take the device with future iterations, it seemed like a safe bet that its time on the market was drawing to a close.

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Couple sues PG&E for negligence, says power lines caused wildfire

Enlarge / SANTA ROSA, CA -OCTOBER 14: The ruins of houses destroyed by the Tubbs Fire are seen near Fountaingrove Parkway on October 14, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. At least 40 people are confirmed dead with hundreds still missing. Officials expect the death toll to rise and now estimate that 5,700 structures have been destroyed. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

A couple who lost its Santa Rosa home in the devastating October Tubbs Fire has sued the local utility for negligence, saying that untrimmed tree branches caught fire when they came into contact with power lines and other equipment.

The California Department of Forestry hasn’t officially ruled on what caused the October fires that consumed hundreds of thousands of acres in northern California and killed dozens of people, but officials have asked Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to preserve records for subsequent investigations into the causes of the fires.

Last week, the Bay Area paper Mercury News reported that the night the fires started, “emergency dispatchers in Sonoma County received multiple calls of power lines falling down and electrical transformers exploding.” The night had been a particularly windy one, and PG&E spokesperson Matt Nauman told the paper that “The historic wind event that swept across PG&E service area late Sunday and early Monday packed hurricane-strength winds in excess of 75mph in some cases.”

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Dealmaster: Get a Dell XPS Tower desktop with 16GB of RAM for $620

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list includes the usual slew of PC and laptop discounts, including savings on a Dell XPS Tower desktop, several Dell laptops, and even a Star Wars-themed Lenovo notebook, because shameless corporate branding is okay when it's for a franchise that you're protective of.

The rest of the roundup includes deals on wireless home cameras, 4K TVs, and networking equipment, among other things. You can take a peek below.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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