Apple set to refresh Macs, but key feature may not arrive until 2018

Bill Roberson
Apple set to refresh Macs, but key feature may not arrive until 2018
Also: Reports of less-than-honorable attempts by Samsung to silence some Note 7 users, T•Mobile pays up after for throttling heavy data users.

Apple laptop keyboards to undergo radical shift in 2018?

The countdown is on to Apple’s next big event, slated for the 27th of this month. Apple has been under fire for letting their Mac lineup of desktop and laptops languish while other brands have caught up with sleeker and sometimes even thinner Windows machines. But that could all change when Tim Cook and crew take the stage, and now the Wall Street Journal is reporting future models may have a unique new feature.

While rumors of a configurable OLED strip above the keyboard where the function keys usually reside on the expected new MacBooks have been around for a while, the Journal is reporting that in the near future, such as 2018, the whole keyboard may have e-ink keys that can be customized according to user preferences, languages or keyboard shortcuts for whatever software is being used.

CEO Tim Cook reportedly met with reps from aftermarket keyboard maker Sonder and Apple’s go-to maker partner Foxconn about just such a new keyboard, although all involved are saying “no comment.” However, Sonder is already taking preorders for their newest Mac-compatible keyboard that has – surprise – customizable e-ink keys. And it’s only $200, so you know implementation into a laptop would not be some huge expense.

Configurable keyboards are not new: DT tested a model with AMOLED keys way back in 2008, and while innovative at the time, it was so enormous it was barely usable. We’re looking forward to seeing how someone – perhaps Apple – finally brings this kind of highly flexible tech to a laptop.

CYA gone terribly wrong

Looks like Samsung hasn’t been exactly helpful in helping some customers who had Note 7 smartphones go boom and cause damage.

According to reports in the New York Times and on the BGR website, Samsung reportedly tried to hush up some early incidents, including this one captured on video in China. Samsung reportedly offered the owner of this phone $900 in compensation and a new Note 7 if he would agree NOT to post a video of the phone in full-on immolation mode. The man clearly didn’t take the bait, and the story has stirred up resentment against Samsung in China.

Additionally, a Note 7 owner in Britain said he’s been getting the runaround from Samsung after he says his phone lit his home on fire on September 8th, causing $9,000 in damage. He claims Samsung has been slow to respond, has yet to cover the cost of repairs, and seemed primarily concerned with recovering the exploded phone. He says he hasn’t seen any payments from Samsung’s insurance company, called Samsung Fire and Marine.

Just in case you need a refresher, Samsung has recalled all of the Note 7 phones it produced, including the so-called “safe replacement” phones, which apparently can light up as easily as the defective originals. Still have yours? Get rid of it.

Please uncarry a truckload of money to the FCC

It looks like the Uncarrier was up to some standard carrier shenanigans – and now it’s going to cost them. According to the FCC, T-Mobile was less than forthcoming about some key details of its “unlimited” data plan and was throttling the top three percent of data users. Now, T-Mobile has agreed to pay a $48 million fine for choking off the “unlimited” stream of bits to those users.

T-Mobile and Metro PCS users will get an additional 4 gigs added to their data caps for certain plans and discounts on phone accessories – but not apparently on phones. U.S. schools will get $5 million in gear and the U.S. Treasury will get a check for $7 million. So, the next time a data provider says their plan is “unlimited,” you’d better read the fine print.