Los Angeles Times


Apple won't launch its HomePod smart speaker in time for the holidays

Los Angeles Times

Apple Inc. said Friday that it's pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year. The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart speaker will be able to control home appliances and take basic orders. In June, some analysts questioned whether a December launch would be too late for Apple to compete with Amazon.com But Apple promised that the speaker would have all of Siri's smarts and stand out from the pack by offering superior sound quality.


New robot at Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas offers directions, and can hum a little too

Los Angeles Times

Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas guests may find themselves greeted by the hotel's newest staff member: a robot named Pepper. "She" arrived at the hotel's 24th floor Sky Lobby earlier this month with the title of technical ambassador. Pepper can answer questions about the hotel and give directions, as well as entertain visitors by dancing or telling a story. The 4-foot-tall robot with oversize eyes is located near the concierge desk. Her job is to engage with guests.


Rebecca Minkoff releases line of 'smart' bags

Los Angeles Times

A new line of Rebecca Minkoff handbags recently hit stores, and the bags aren't just pretty -- they're smart too. Joining the growing Internet of Things (IoT) movement in retail, the brand's #alwayson bags have a code which, when scanned via smartphone, will let the bag owners receive product recommendations, exclusive offers, and video content from Rebecca Minkoff. A spokesperson for Rebecca Minkoff said that, through the #alwayson bags, the brand will be able to create new and direct customer relationships, as well as insights. The technology will inform business and marketing decisions, the spokesperson continued, and encourage consumer engagement. And one new report -- led by a researcher at the University of Sheffield and a chartered psychologist from the British Psychological Society -- confirmed these newly enabled "conversations" between brand and consumer will pay off.


California clears the way for testing of fully driverless cars. Local, federal interests have concerns.

Los Angeles Times

At the beginning of the year, efforts to put driverless cars on California's streets looked like they were careening. Uber had defied state officials by failing to get permits to test its technology and then the company shipped its cars to Arizona to test them there. After four years of trying, regulators were still trying to write rules for testing cars without anyone in the driver's seat. Lawmakers and tech industry representatives worried that California was losing its grip on innovation in a sector primed for growth. Now, after this year's release of guidelines from the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the mood has changed.


California Inc.: L.A. event puts urban transportation in spotlight

Los Angeles Times

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section. I'm Business columnist David Lazarus, and here's a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week. One story stood out for me: Uber says it will introduce flying taxis in Los Angeles by 2020. "We're trying to work with cities in the early days who are interested in partnering to make it happen, while knowing that there will be pitfalls along the way," says Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer. Solar panels: President Trump will be presented with a plan Monday to impose restrictions and tariffs on imports of the most popular photovoltaic generating panels used in the booming U.S. residential and utility-scale solar markets.


U.S. drone strike in Somalia against Shabab kills 'several'

Los Angeles Times

The United States military said Saturday it has carried out a new drone strike against the Shabab extremist group in Somalia, killing "several" militants. A statement by the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out Friday night in Lower Shabelle region, about 20 miles north of the capital, Mogadishu. It came a day after another strike in the Bay Region, about 100 miles west of Mogadishu. Friday's airstrike was the 23rd the U.S. military has carried out this year against the Al Qaeda-linked Shabab and the far smaller Islamic State group in Somalia. The Trump administration earlier this year approved expanded military operations against extremists in the Horn of Africa nation.


10 most overlooked toys that belong in the toy hall of fame

Los Angeles Times

The National Toy Hall of Fame left a pantheon of classic playthings out of history's toy box this week when the latest inductees were announced in upstate New York. The Clue board game and the Wiffle Ball, both five-time finalists, were inducted into the hall of fame on Thursday at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester along with a shocker: The simple paper airplane. That brings the hall's total to 65 toys, including classics such as the Rubik's Cube, Easy-Bake Oven and Silly Putty as well as stranger picks like the stick, cardboard box and blanket. A few favorites like Rock'Em Sock'Em Robots, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have come close but failed to make the cut. Others like Trivial Pursuit, Tickle Me Elmo and backgammon have never even been finalists.


Wednesday's TV highlights: 'Mr. Robot' on USA

Los Angeles Times

Riverdale When an article written by Alice (Madchen Amick) sparks tensions, Jughead (Cole Sprouse) steps into the role of peacekeeper. Also, Betty (Lili Reinhart) turns to Archie (KJ Apa) for support when she gets a threatening ultimatum. Empire Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) and others try to cover for Lucious' (Terrence Howard) memory problem. Nature A cheetah mother raises five newborns, teaching them how to hunt on the African plains. Dynasty The growing rivalry between Fallon and Cristal (Elizabeth Gillies, Nathalie Kelley) intensifies when they compete to be on the cover of a magazine, while Steven's (James Mackay) former boyfriend suddenly shows up.


Waymo will now put self-driving vans on public roads with nobody at the wheel

Los Angeles Times

Waymo, the self-driving car company created by Google, is pulling the human backup driver from behind the steering wheel and will test vehicles on public roads with only an employee in the back seat. The company's move -- which started Oct. 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Ariz. Waymo -- owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc. -- is in a race with other companies such as Delphi, General Motors, Intel, Uber, Apple and Lyft to bring autonomous vehicles to the public. The companies say the robot cars are safer than human drivers because they don't get drowsy, distracted or drunk. Waymo has long stated its intent to skip driver-assist systems and go directly to fully autonomous driving.


The wealthy get the biggest benefit from House Republican tax plan, analysis finds

Los Angeles Times

Trump opens Asia trip with Japan's Abe against backdrop of tensions with North Korea Just one in three Americans trust Trump to handle North Korean tensions well Japan's Abe treats Trump to a day of personal diplomacy, including golf and trucker hats Brazile says Democratic primaries weren't'rigged' though some see evidence in her new book Trump is silent on Saudi king's purge though he and Salman spoke by phone Japan's Abe treats Trump to a day of personal diplomacy, including golf and trucker hats Brazile says Democratic primaries weren't'rigged' though some see evidence in her new book Trump is silent on Saudi king's purge though he and Salman spoke by phone The greatest benefit from the House Republican tax bill would go to upper-income households, according to an analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Middle-income taxpayers -- those earning between $48,600 and $86,100 annually -- would receive an average tax cut of $700 next year, or about 1% of their after-tax income, the analysis said. The top 20% of the nation's earners -- those making more than $149,400 a year -- would receive an average tax cut of $4,850, or about 1.4% of after-tax income. Those top earners would also receive 60% of the total tax benefits under the plan. Of that, the top 1% of earners, defined as those making more than $730,000 a year, receive about 22% of the total amount of tax cuts in 2018, the Tax Policy Center said.