SiriusXM Buying Pandora; Walmart Using Oculus Go For Employee Training; A Stake in Airbnb for Hosts; Apple Adding Depth Control During Photo ShootingPosted: September 24, 2018
SiriusXM is to buy Pandora via an all stock deal, with the value set at $3.5 billion. According to cnbc.com, the deal includes a provision where Pandora can potentially enter into a better deal if they can find it. Pandora claims about 6 million premium subscribers. It’s possible another deal could come in for more, but Apple and Spotify have looked at the streamer already, and didn’t bite. Barring an angel stepping in, the deal with SiriusXM will close the first quarter of 2019.
Walmart is putting Oculus Go VR headsets in all its stores nationwide, to be used in employee training programs. Zdnet.com reports that there should be around 17,000 of the virtual reality headsets deployed in Walmarts around the country by the end of the year. Walmart plans to train on new technology, compliance, and ’soft skills’ like empathy and customer service.
Airbnb has reportedly sent a letter to the SEC asking the government agency to allow offering equity in the company to hosts. Engadget.com says basically this would allow shares to go to gig economy workers, not just investors and staff. Uber has asked for this kind of deal more than once, but in Airbnb’s case, they are asking for a rule change to allow it, not just an exception. So far, the SEC has not responded.
The new iPhone Xs and Xs Max have a cool feature for the bokeh portrait effect. When the phones rolled out, Apple announced that users could adjust the depth of field on an image after shooting it. Now, according to 9to5mac.com, Apple may add to this in an upcoming software update. Apparently, they are testing letting users adjust the depth of field while shooting a picture. The feature may come later this year in iOS 12.1 or 12.2, according to reports.
Samsung Leak-4 Versions of Galaxy S10; iPhone Xs & Xs Max Ram & Battery Info; Fitbit Care Service; Woof! Sony’s Aibo Robot DogPosted: September 19, 2018
The Samsung Galaxy S9 hasn’t set any records so far…in fact, it’s the slowest selling Galaxy S phone series since 2012. That may be changing, though. Bgr.com says a new leak points to as any as 4 Galaxy S10 models! All will be powered by 7 nanometer chips like the new iPhones. It appears all will also be ‘full screen’ designs, again like Apple’s phones. On top of that, besting Apple at least this time around, there will be at least one with a triple-lens camera…AND a dual lens front selfie cam, too! The phones should rock an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor…it will live behind the display, so no fooling around to find the sensor on the back. There will be a new Chapter model, with slightly less dramatic specs, plus the main phone…with a 5.8 inch super AMOLED display, a bigger one with a 6.44 inch screen, and the 5 cameras, finally…a 5G model! We may see all of these, plus the long-rumored folding Samsung shoe at CES in Las Vegas this coming January.
Thanks to China’s Ministry of Industry, we now know the memory size of the new iPhones and their battery size. Macrumors.com reports that both the new iPhone Xs and Xs Max have 4 Gigs of RAM…the upcoming XR has 3 Gigs. The Xs Max sports the biggest battery ever in an Apple handset…3174 mAh, while the XR will have 2942 mAh. The Xs loses battery capacity compared to the X, going from 2716 down to 2658 mAh, a drop of 2.2%. Apple touts 90 more minutes of use time from the Xs Max over the old X, but several early testers say they are doing noticeably better than that.
Apple is far from alone when it comes to wearables getting into the health market…Fitbit has launched Fitbit Care, a service that will coat on staying well…whether it comes to slogging through your fitness plan or managing diseases. According to theverge.com, the service is a premium product designed for health care customers or employers and health systems that use Fitbit to keep tabs on employee health (and keep costs down.) There’s a new app (of course) called Fitbit Plus. It processes data from your Fitbit and other medical devices like blood pressure monitors. The app also features a social platform. First users are those with health insurance from Humana, which already provides customers with Fitbits. We will probably see a number of other companies dive in now that both Apple’s Watch and Fitbit devices have embraced health whole hog…or maybe that’s half-hog….or vegan, artificial hog.
Grab your credit card, and swallow hard…Sony’s revamped Aibo robot dog is up for pre-order in the US. Engadget.com says the adorable pup for early adapters, robot fans, and dog lovers that are allergic to actual pets ships mid-December. You’ll get Aibo, an ‘aibone,’ a pink ball, paw pads, and 3 years of AI cloud service…all for the small fee of (gulp) $2900! That’s more than a couple vet visits and a year’s supply of dog food for most! If you have the nearly 3 grand to throw down, hurry…it’s a limited edition!
Twitter-Giving Back Chron Timeline; 8 New Alexa Devices from Amazon; Galaxy Note 9 Blows Up; Mercedes Delivers e-TruckPosted: September 18, 2018
Twitter is going to start testing a way to switch between what they think are the ‘best’ Tweets for you to pure chronological like they used to have. Engadget.com reports that the testing should start within the next few weeks. Eventually, they will have something similar to Facebook’s news feed switch between ‘Top Stories’ and ‘Most Recent.’ It can’t happen too soon!
Amazon will be dropping at least 8 new Alexa powered devices by the end of the year, according to CNBC. Look for a Microwave oven, an amplifier, a receiver, subwoofer, some sort of in-car gadget, and more. Alexa will be baked in to all. Expect Amazon to unveil at least some of the new gear at an event later this month.
Not a good sign for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9….a woman from New York says one ‘spontaneously combusted’ in her purse, echoing the old Galaxy Note 7. The story picked up by appleinsider.com came from the New York Post. Apparently, a Long Island real estate agent said her phone got ‘extremely hot’ and she dropped it into her bag. The bag smoked, caught fire, and burned up the stuff in her bag. This seems to be the only instance involving a Note 9 so far…stay tuned….
Mercedes has started delivery of the eActros electric trucks. Electrek.co says it ws to Hermes, Germany’s biggest logistics company. They are buying about 1500 all electric vans from Mercedes. The delivery vans have dual electric motors and two battery packs at 240 kWh. Even at that, it is only good for 125 miles of range with a full payload. The trucks can recharge in 3-11 hours depending on charge rate, which can run from as low as 20 kW up to 80 kW. Mercedes says Hermes is one of 20 ‘test customers’ as they work the kinks out of their all electric truck fleet.
Amazon Employees Deleting Bad Reviews; Microsoft May Field Black Surface 2; Fire at Tesla Gigafactory; US Leading in 5GPosted: September 17, 2018
Amazon is investigating claims that some employees are deleting bad reviews for cash…from $80 up to $2000. According to arstechnica.com, it’s happening in the US but is ‘rampant’ in China.
Employees are allegedly also selling out info involving keywords used in searches for products and buyer habits. Most of the activity is facilitated by middlemen via WeChat. No comment from Amazon beyond that they are investigating.
Microsoft may have decided that black is the new black. Theverge.com reports that there may be a Black Surface Laptop 2 unveiled at the Surface event October 2nd. The original Surface RT came in a black magnesium alloy, but Redmond rapidly switched to a silver color for the Surface 2. Besides the Surface Laptop 2, Microsoft is expected to show ra refresh of the Surface Pro at their upcoming event in New York City.
There was apparently a fire at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada late Saturday. Engadget.com sys it was in the cooling tube coating oven area. The factory was evacuated and shut down, but the fire was quickly dispatched. Production resumed early Sunday. It appears that the factory was only down a brief time, and that it shouldn’t seriously impact vehicle production at the plant in Fremont.
For years, the US has lagged in internet speeds while paying more. Now, the US may be leading Europe and Asia in one area of tech infrastructure…we may be getting 5G coverage faster. According to Ericsson’s VP of 5G Commercialization Thomas Noren, via ZDnet.com, the US has been able to iron out tech challenges and is ahead of the pack. South Korea is also further along than most other countries. You still shouldn’t expect 5G coverage to be very widespread much before 2020 in the US.
iPhone XR Could Be Half New iPhone Sales; Zuck Says FB Needs Help On Election Prep; Mapillary Partners With Amazon- Parking Spot TechPosted: September 13, 2018
DigiTimes is prediction that Apple’s new lineup of iPhones should end up with sales of over 85 million units the second half of this year. Macrumors.com reports that DigiTimes also predicts that the new, less expensive iPhone XR could account for over half of new iPhone sales. The estimates are based on supply chain information and Apple’s previous year sales. The XR goes on preorder next month, while the two more expensive models, Xs and Xs Max can be preordered tomorrow.
With less than 60 days to the US midterm elections, Mark Zuckerberg is warning that Facebook can’t fight election interference alone. According to businessinsider.com, Zuck dropped a 3,000 word essay titled “Preparing for Elections.” He says Facebook has started proactively cooperating with state officials to solve the problem of election interference. Although not apologizing for Facebook’s role in the last elections re fake news, Zuckerberg has admitted he should have taken the problem more seriously, and the essay crystalizes his (and Facebook’s) thinking on how they can do better moving forward…but that they need the help of governments, other tech companies, and journalists.
Mapillary has partnered with Amazon Rekognition for visual data analysis to try to make it easier for people to find parking in congested urban areas. Venturebeat.com says the Swedish startup is developing a street level imagery platform that used computer vision tech to enhance digital maps. They will use Amazon’s text-in-image feature to scan parking sign data on a massive scale. The startup already has 350 million images, but will need the Amazon system to read the text on signs that tell how many spaces are available, etc. In initial tests of 40,000 signs, they are correct 95% of the time. Any app that makes it less of a hassle to find parking will be welcomed everywhere.