This week, Elon Musk’s Hyperloop got one step closer to becoming a reality, Amazon’s Dash-powered devices went live, Snoop Dogg announced an investment in a gaming conversation app and astronomers found evidence of a ninth planet in our solar system. Some of our TechCrunch team is reporting from the World Economic Forum in Davos, where we’ve hosted Kevin Spacey, the COO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Arianna Huffington, and others on our stage. These are our biggest stories of the week.
1. Elon Musk first proposed the Hyperloop, a vacuum tube intended to shoot passengers at 800 mph from city to city, in 2013. Now, plans to construct the beginnings of the Hyperloop are now underway. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced plans for a 5-mile test track late last year and is about to break ground on an initial framework for what the organization hopes will become the transportation infrastructure of the future.
2. We will get new Apple Watch hardware at some point. The possibilities are many, and Apple will surely capitalize on longer battery life and lighter casings. But when? We heard a bit more that suggests that Apple might ship a minor revision of the Apple Watch that includes a FaceTime camera and not much else — but still that it would not be a full “Watch 2.0.”
3. SpaceX was hoping to achieve the first-ever rocket recovery on a drone ship in the ocean. While the company successfully completed its primary mission of bringing the Jason-3 satellite into orbit, it was unable to safely recover the first stage of the rocket due to an issue with one of the landing legs which caused the rocket to tip over after landing.
4. Apple released two minor software updates for Mac, iPhone and iPad focusing mostly and bug fixes, security fixes and performance improvements.
5. Facebook-owned WhatsApp made a couple of big announcements about how the messaging app plans to evolve to its next phase as it approaches 1 billion users: the company plans to drop its $0.99 annual subscription fee, and will start to test out more commercial services.
6. Sarah Buhr recounted a concerning cab ride in Vegas during CES. She writes that with the rise of ridesharing services, people are turning to Lyft and Uber instead of taxis not only for convenience, but for their safety. She urges regulators to favor Lyft and Uber over taxis for safety reasons.
7. In efforts to lure sports fans who crave real-time updates away from Twitter, Facebook built its newest feature, Facebook Stadium. It’s a part of its main app for following sports games where you can watch play-by-play news, read commentary from athletes and critics, and cheer with friends.
8. Lucas Matney checked out Apple’s new GarageBand for iOS, dubbing it an electronic musician’s dream. He points out new features like Live Loops, a new way of producing tracks that’s more conducive to building electronic jams.
9. Since Jack Dorsey took over as CEO of Twitter, the company’s shares have fallen more than 40 percent and Square’s stock has briefly dipped below its IPO price. Matthew Lynley writes that the double-CEO has a lot of work to do.
10. Amazon’s first Dash-powered devices (the ones that automatically re-order supplies like laundry detergent or printer ink for you) went live.
11. Astronomers at Caltech found evidence that indicates the presence of a ninth planet in our solar system. If confirmed, it would transform the model of our solar system as we know it.
12. Josh Constine reported that ISIS has its own encrypted chat app called “Alrawi.” The terrorist group’s use of the app raises the question of how far mobile platforms are willing to go to fight terrorism.
13. Guest contributor Anshu Sharma wrote about stack fallacy, or “the mistaken belief that it is trivial to build the layer above yours,” and why big companies keep falling for this illusion. He writes, “Stack fallacy has caused many companies to attempt to capture new markets and fail spectacularly. When you see a database company thinking apps are easy – they are suffering from stack fallacy.”