Samsung Offers $$ To Keep Note 7 Owners in the Fam; Chipmaker Revenue Shows iPhone 7’s Selling Well; Google Pixel Phones on Verizon Get Android Updates With Unlocked PhonesPosted: October 13, 2016
Samsung is making the extra effort to hold on to customers burned (some literally) but the burning and exploding Galaxy Note 7. They will give $100 credit to exchange one for a Galaxy S7 Edge or other Samsung device. Engadget.com says this comes on the official Consumer Product Safety Commission recall of all Note 7’s. There have been 96 battery issues in the US alone since mid-August when the Note rolled out.
Chipmaker TSMC is reporting record profit and sales in Q3, and has raised its forecast for 2016 revenue. Yeah, so? This points to strong iPhone 7 sales, according to 9to5mac.com. After crunching the known numbers, like what percentage of TSMC business comes from the A10 chip in the new iPhones, it looks like Apple shipments of iPhone 7 models will be around 82 million…notably higher than earlier estimates. In other words, it’s not the boring dog of an iPhone a lot of the tech press predicted!
Contrary to earlier reports, Google says Pixel phones on the Verizon system will get Android updates simultaneously with unlocked phones. 9to5google.com reports that this indicates Google will be pushing out the updates like Apple does on iOS, not delivering them to Verizon, who many feared would sit on them.
Amazon has kicked off its new Music Unlimited service. Geekwire.com says it starts at $4 a month to use on a single Echo smart speaker, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap. The Echo works well, and getting millions of songs for half the price of Apple Music or Spotify Premium should be a heck of a draw. To use it on unlimited devices, it’s $7.99 a month for Prime members, $9.99 otherwise. Prime members already have access to a couple million songs with their membership.
There’s been plenty of reporting about Apple adding a smart touchscreen strip above the keyboard on the upcoming MacBooks to replace the function keys. Apparently, morphing function keys isn’t the only thing like that they are working on. A leak out of China picked up by bgr.com says Apple is working on an even more magical Magic Keyboard…one with a changing, color E ink display on the keys that can change up depending on the user’s needs or application in use. Apple is apparently working with a startup called Sonder on this, and is working to buy Sonder. The Really Magic Keyboard could be out in 2018.
Samsung Kills Note 7; Amazon Considers Convenience Stores; Apple Patents Super Resolution Multi-Sensor Cam; Ridiculous Rich Kids AppPosted: October 11, 2016
After suspending production and halting sales, Samsung has killed production of the Galaxy Note 7. 9to5google.com notes that since a number of the allegedly ‘safe’ Notes also caught fire, and US carriers stopped selling it, there was really no way to save the handset. Samsung shares dropped 8% on the news, and as of this writing are down another 9.5%. The Galaxy Note 8 is due out in just a few months, and it remains to be seen if that can save face for Samsung.
Amazon, which has already caused great disruption to retail, is now thinking of adding brick and mortar convenience stores in addition to drive up grocery sites. Geekwire.com reports that they are scouting for locations. The outlets would carry perishables like milk, meat, and produce, and you could order other less perishable items for same day delivery with your phone or touch screens in the store. The stores would be open only to AmazonFresh customers.
On the heels of the new iPhone 7 Plus with the dual cameras and all, Apple has updated a patent from last year for ‘super resolution’ multi-sensor cameras with cube prisms. Yes, I know that sounds like I just rattled off some futuristic gadget from Star Trek. According to appleinsider.com, instead of filters, the system would split light into red, blue, and green that would be directed to different sensors. Smartphone cameras right now only use a single sensor. The prisms help jam the works into an iPhone….the whole rig would resemble a tiny periscope. No word when this super resolution cam might actually make it into an iPhone.
The running joke ‘there’s an app for that’ has maybe jumped the shark. Thenextweb.com says something of an ‘anti-Facebook’ app has launched. Instead of lots of friends, it’s the world’s most exclusive social network…Rich Kids. It costs $1000 a month to belong. An unintended punchline: you can sign up with your Facebook account! Apparently, regular folks can view the app, but just can’t post or share photos on it. Wanna check it out? Go ahead…I’m going to pass on this one.
Galaxy Note Nightmare Continues; Two Tesla Launch Events This Month; German Bundesrat Votes to Ban Internal Combustion EnginePosted: October 10, 2016
After a 4th of the new, supposedly safe replacement Galaxy Note 7’s caught fire, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have stopped selling the phablet, and now Samsung is ‘temporarily’ suspending production of the device. 9to5google.com says Samsung has yet to comment on the suspension of production, which includes a plant in Vietnam that is responsible for global shipments of the Note, aside from saying they are ‘adjusting’ production.
Doing his best Apple impression, Elon Musk has tweeted that the company is planning two product launches in October. According to thenextweb.com, the first will be October 17th, and Musk claims it will be unexpected by most. The second is a joint Tesla/Solar City event scheduled 10 days later for October 28th. There’s some speculation that the first one will be for the Model 3. Musk has already indicated that there would be a joint unveiling of an integrated Powerwall 2.0 and Tesla charging unit. Tesla has recently added land that would allow them to double the size of the Fremont, CA factory.
In something of a shockwave, the German Bundesrat has voted to ban internal combustion engines by 2030. Arstechnica.com reports that it’s a non-binding resolution, but still a hell of a shot over the bow coming from the country where the internal combustion engine was invented, and where Karl Benz built the first ‘patent motorcar.’ Germany produces more cars than any country in Europe and the third most in the world. The Bundesrat is the federal council of all 16 German states.
Mark Zuckerberg was front and center yesterday for Oculus Connect 3. The VR company is working on a standalone headset that will tuck into the lineup between the expensive, PC tethered Oculus Rift and a Gear VR. It will have position tracking.
There’s a drop date for the very late Oculus Touch motion controllers…they’ll be out December 6th, and run $199. They do include an extra camera sensor for tracking. You can also add a 3rd sensor for an additional $79 for room scale VR, according to theverge.com.
Another December present….$49 in-ear Rift headphones to complement the on ear models the Rift comes with.
More games are on the way, and they have partnered with Disney on some original short films based on classic characters.
If you are lusting for a new Pixel phone from Google, here’s a tip…don’t buy it through Verizon, unless you want to wait and wait for software updates. According to arstechnica.com, Verizon will control when updates get pushed out, not Google, on the phones they sell. Although they are the ‘exclusive’ provider, you can buy the phones unlocked from the Google Store, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. The phone will work with any carrier. If you want to ensure that your software gets updated in a timely way, don’t buy it through Verizon.
Google rolled out several new gadgets yesterday, but an understated star of the show was the Assistant. Assistant is now positioned as an ‘individual Google’ for each user sporting image recognition, language translation, and text-to-speech. As for the hardware, let’s start with the smartphones:
Nexus is gone, long live Pixel and Pixel XL. Both phones closely follow rumors ahead of the event touting a Snapdragon 821 quad-core 2.15GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and storage options starting at 32GB or 128GB. The 5-inch Pixel is powered by a 2,770mAh battery, while the larger 5.5-inch XL model features a 3,450mAh battery. They also feature 15 minute fast charging to get up to 7 hours of use.
According to DxOMark it’s the best camera ever made, with an 89 rating — superior even to Apple’s highly touted iPhone 7 Plus. Both Pixel devices feature a 12-megapixel shooter in the rear and with an f/2.0 aperture and a large 1.55 micron pixel sensor. Google is offering free unlimited storage on Google Photos, in original quality. The front-facing shooter gets an upgrade as well, with an 8-megapixel camera. Both are loaded with Android Nougat 7.1 and are available in ‘quite’ black, ‘really’ blue, or ‘very’ silver. OK, really stupid names, Google! The smaller Pixel starts at $649 or $27 a month and pre-orders started October 4th in the US. The only real knock is they aren’t water resistant? What? At this price?
Daydream ‘View,’ is Google’s ‘soft and cozy’ fabric-lined VR viewer that’s ’30 percent lighter’ than typical headsets and available in three colors: snow, slate, and crimson. Yes, more dumb names. Bonus: It fits over eyeglasses. Unlike Cardboard, the new headset comes paired with a handheld controller that should alleviate the problem of attempting to navigate the VR world through the use of wonky smartphone or head tracking controls. The simplistic remote has full-on motion tracking that’s precise enough for handwriting, and features a two-button control system. It also slides neatly into the headset when you’re done. Pixel is the first Daydream-ready phone, but it won’t be the only one. Google is partnering with the likes of Samsung, HTC, ZTE, Huawei, Xiaomi, Alcatel, Asus and LG to provide a stellar mobile VR experience no matter which device you choose.
Aside from some amazing games, over 50 experiential partners are coming on board. Google will have its own products — Photos, Play Movies, YouTube, and Street View — as well as content from partners like Netflix, HBO, The New York Times and Hulu.
Daydream view and the controller are coming in November for $79.
Google’s new Chromecast Ultra is 4K-capable, and delivers high dynamic range (HDR) and Dolby Vision output. The hockey-puck-shaped device does away with the Chrome branding and adds an ethernet port integrated into the adapter for additional connectivity options. Google says it’s 1.8x faster than previous versions as well as offering improved WiFi performance. The 4K-capable Chromecast Ultra doubles the price of the existing Chromecast 2, at $79. You can get yours in November.
Back in May, Google gave us our first look of its Amazon Echo-like smart hub ‘Home.’ Like the Echo, Home is essentially a small speaker that that’s activated with a simple command.
It’s powered by Google’s much improved Assistant that can handle all the basics like answering simple queries, controlling music or adjusting connected devices. Aside from that, it supports a plethora of Google-specific options, such as Cast for video viewing, Chromecast Audio, and any other cast-enabled device in your home.
Google Home is also contextually-aware. Rather than telling the device you want listen to music on Spotify, if it’s your most-chosen streaming service, Google Home learns where you typically listen.
The hub allows for connection across a variety of connected devices from Nest, Samsung Smart Things, Phillips and IFTTT. More device partnerships are planned.
Voice control is a central idea of Google Home, but you can also operate the device with a smartphone or tablet. Netflix is on board to support ‘voice casting’ and will soon allow you to completely control playback with nothing more than your voice.
Adding multiple Google Home devices in the house allows for whole-house audio, or the ability to pick and choose certain rooms. With a $35 Chromecast, you’ll also be able to extend the voice control to higher end speakers and home entertainment systems.
Google Home comes in several colors: mango marine, violet, carbon, snow, and copper.
Home is $129 and it’s available for pre-order. It’ll ship November 4.
‘WiFi’ is about the size of an Amazon Echo Dot, and packed with smart functionality that allows users to extend its range over an entire house.
As the first Google router to make use of mesh networking, Wifi allows users to connect multiple access points as a single, large network. For the user, this means an end to Wi-Fi dead zones throughout the house as well as a strong and consistent signal anywhere with in it.
It’s $129, or a three pack for $299. They’ll be available in November.