Friday Briefing: Game-Changing Alzheimer’s Trial and Bigger iPhone Screens
It’s Friday! Time to skip the longer technology articles and breeze through a short breakdown of some of the week’s hottest tech trends.
Remember to cast your vote in the survey at the end. This lets us know which story has you tuned in the most, so we can get to know what makes you tick. And if one story gets an unusually high amount of votes, I’ll expand it into a full article next week.
Tech Trend #1: The Biggest iPhone Update Yet
It seems like there’s always a rumor circulating about each iPhone model getting a major redesign with a larger screen. Well, it looks like this time around it might be true. Although plans haven’t been made public yet, three Bloomberg sources say that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has “has placed orders from suppliers in Asia for screens that are bigger than the 3.5-inch size now on the smartphone.” No mention of exactly how big the screen will be, but many – including The Wall Street Journal – are speculating that a 4-inch screen is in the works.
If that’s the case, there’s no doubt the device will fly off the shelves, considering Apple’s devoted fans have upgraded to new versions of the company’s mobile devices for weaker updates in the past. Not to mention a larger screen could sway some fence sitters who are torn between the iPhone and larger-screen devices running Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android operating system.
Here’s something else that’s certain to add to the device’s popularity come launch time: Reports indicate that Steve Jobs worked closely with the upcoming redesign while he was on medical leave before his untimely death.
Tech Trend #2: Breaking New Ground in the Fight Against Alzheimer’s
One major problem with current clinical trials for Alzheimer’s treatments is that tests are being conducted on patients who are already experiencing signs of dementia. But a new clinical trial will test a drug’s effectiveness to fend off the disease before it starts.
Ordinarily, it would be difficult to generate concrete results from such a test, considering doctors can’t determine who’s certain to develop the disease in the first place. Until now.
As CBS News puts it, “Scientists can never know which healthy people will develop the disease, but now they’ve found one family in which nearly everyone develops Alzheimer’s.” They were all born with a gene that “makes it certain they will contract Alzheimer’s by the age of 50.” In fact, many members of this extended family in the Antioquia region of Colombia have experienced memory loss as early as their mid-30s.
The patients will receive injections of Genentech’s Crenezumab, which is designed to target the buildup of a toxic protein in the brain. If it works, it should give a major boost to Genentech’s parent company, Roche Holding (PINK: RHHBY).
Tech Trend #3: Google’s Plan to Bypass Carriers
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google plans to completely change its tune when it comes to releasing new versions of Android. Usually, a major update to its operating system would coincide with the release of a new device set for one of the major wireless carriers. Then other networks and device makers would eventually follow along.
For instance, its last Android OS update – Ice Cream Sandwich – was launched in December on Samsung’s (SEO: 005930) Galaxy Nexus through Verizon (NYSE: VZ). Whereas Samsung’s most popular device, the Galaxy S II, is just now receiving the software update (but not yet in the United States).
Google’s new plan, however, would allow multiple hardware makers to get early access to the next software version, so they can build a new device accordingly. This would be great for consumers, since we wouldn’t be limited to a single smartphone during each major Android release. And it would also help developers (who struggle to build applications that support several different Android versions at the same time).
It’s a direct snub to the carriers, too, since the phones would be network agnostic and sold either online or through third-party retailers. Of course, without the carrier subsidy, this also means consumers would need to pay full price for the phones. But considering such a move would force Verizon and other carriers to focus on creating more competitive data packages, it could be worth it in the long run.
Plus, carriers wouldn’t be able to block apps they find threatening, either. Sounds like a win-win to me.
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That’s all for today. Have a great weekend!