YouTube-Pay For 4K; Dish & Sling Drop Disney Channels; Stadia-RIP; TikTok Live Shopping

How about another fee to pay? Now, YouTube is asking users to subscribe to Premium to watch 4K videos. Engadget.com reports that Premium does eliminate ads, and gets you background playback and new features, but some users on Reddit and Twitter have posted that they are being dinged to watch in 4K now. It’s not clear if this is a test, or a full rollout, but it will set you back $12 a month for YouTube Premium if you want to watch in 4K.

Dish and Sling TV have dropped channels after failing to get a deal made before a contract expired. According to theverge.com, Disney Channel, ESPN, FX, Freeform, National Geographic, and some local ABC networks are no longer available. Dish is claiming that Disney had demanded a $1 billion fee increase and ‘walked away from the negotiation table.’ For its part, Disney says Dish “declined to reach a fair, market-based agreement.” 

Google has struggled to get any kind of real traction for its Stadia gaming system. Now, it looks like they are finally throwing in the towel. 9to5google.com says they have released a final 6 games for the Stadia Pro subscribers before closing the Stadia Store to the public. The plug-pulling caught not only subscribers by surprise…some game publishers said they had no idea, and even some of Google’s own Stadia employees didn’t know about the closure until about 30 minutes before the public announcement. 

TikTok is launching live shopping in the US, in partnership with TalkShopLive. Financial Times reports that TalkShop will provide the tech and support for live streams hosted by influencers, brands, and retailers that want to sell their products on the app. TikTok Shop launched in Britain last year, and has been available in more than a half dozen Asian countries. 


Russia’s Meta Campaign Against Ukraine; Fast Company Hack; Tesla-Fleet Deliveries; Samsung Galaxy S23 Leak

Meta caught and disrupted a highly sophisticated Russian influence operation that had been launched on its Facebook and Instagram platforms…as well as on Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and LiveJournal. Theverge.com reports that the propaganda was being spread by a network of over 60 fake websites. A number of the sites impersonated actual mainstream European news sources like Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and Bild. The propaganda criticized Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, and railed against sanctions on Russia. Meta said “This is the largest and most complex Russian-origin operation that we’ve disrupted since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.” The Russians apparently spent around $105,000 on promoting the articles and memes via Facebook and instagram ads. 

Biz-tech magazine Fast Company reported this week that its Apple News account was hacked, and the hacker then proceeded to bomb subscribers with racist content. According to gizmodo.com, the magazine made the announcement on Twitter, saying that “Two obscene and racist push notifications were sent about a minute apart. The messages are vile and not in line with the content and ethos of Fast Company,”  Apple News disabled the channel until they are able to resolve the situation. 

Tesla is shooting for a new all-time delivery record this quarter, and hypoing sales by pumping out a large volume of fleet deliveries. Electrek.co notes that Tesla is trying to fill a Hertz order for 100,000 vehicles by year’s end, and is also selling to other car rental companies such as Avis and Enterprise. EV subscription service Autonomy is expecting to take delivery of about 500 vehicles by the end of the week. Autonomy has 23,000 EVs on order…most of them Teslas. Unlike legacy car makers, Tesla doesn’t give a discount to car rental companies. 

There are always more and earlier leaks about Samsung’s smartphones compared to notoriously secretive Apple. Now, cnet.com says photos have leaked online of the upcoming Galaxy S23 that’s due out early next year. The pics don’t really show much of a change, save for a slight update to the rear camera. Again, the lenses aren’t on a ‘bump,’ but just protrude individually. the phone also appears to be just about 6.1 inches…like the S22. (It is actually a couple tenths of an inch bigger.) Word is that inside, the next Samsung will be powered by a new Exynos processor, and may get a 200Mp sensor on the Ultra model. 


WhatsApp Squashes Critical Bug; Amazon ‘Prime Early Access’ Sale; Ad Fraud Apps Removed from Google & Apple Stores; New Deepfake Threat

WhatsApp haș  crushed a ‘critical’ security vulnerability that affects its Android app. The bug allowed attackers to remotely plant malware on a victim’s smartphone during a video call. Techcrunch.com reports that the bug had a severity rating of 9.8 out of 10! Malwarebytes said it was an app component called ‘Video Call Handler,’ which when triggered allowed an attacker to take complete control over a victim’s app. The bug was discovered in house and, and WhatsApp says they have seen ‘no evidence of exploitation.’ The patch is in the latest version of WhatsApp. Install it now!

Amazon has slated its two-day ‘Prime Early Access Sale’ for October 11th and 12th. According to geekwire.com, the online giant hopes to boost sales similarly to the bump they get from Prime Day during the summer. They will release a Top 100 list of products in conjunction with the sale. Amazon says no decision has been made on this becoming an annual event. HINT: If it is successful, you can count on it!

Security researchers from HUMAN’s Satori Threat Intelligence Team spotted 75 apps on the Google Play Store and 10 on Apple’s App Store that engaged in fraud. All together, they had been downloaded 13 million times. Bleepingcomputer.com says that besides flooding mobile users with ads…both visible and hidden, the apps generated revenue by impersonating legitimate apps. Both Google and Apple have removed them all after being notified. 

Deepfakes are unfortunately getting better. In a research paper by Microsoft’s Chief Science Officer Eric Horovitz, he warns of ‘interactive’ and ‘compositional’ deepfakes on the horizon. Venturebeat.com reports that interactive deepfakes as “the illusion of talking to a real person. Imagine a scammer calling your grandmom who looks and sounds exactly like you.” Compositional deepfakes, he continued, go further with a bad actor creating many deepfakes to compile a “synthetic history.” Thankfully, in the paper, Horvitz cites a variety of ways governments, organizations, researchers and enterprises can prepare for and defend against the expected rise of interactive and compositional deepfakes…including more use of multi factor identification, new watermarking, and more fingerprint ID. Let’s hope they get busy!


Apple-Maybe No Oct. Event; Starlink Speeds Slowing Down; Microsoft-Results Not Micromanaging; Mercedes EV G-Wagen in 2024

Apple watching analyst Mark Gurman of Bloomberg is now saying there may not be a physical or online event in October to roll out more Apple products. He is saying that the updated iPad Pro, Mac Mini, and the M-2 chipped 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pros may just be announced by a press release on the Apple website instead. Apple had originally planned an October product event. Another nugget from Gurman’s PowerOn newsletter…Apple may ditch the ‘Pro Max’ name for its top of the line iPhone 15 next September. Apple may decide to go with “Ultra,” instead. That’s what Cupertino is calling the new top Apple Watch.

Starlink median download speeds have dropped rather dramatically this year. Arstechnica.com reports that Ookla speed tests show they are down from 90.6 Mbps to 62.6 Mbps. Upload speeds are also way down…as low as 2 Mbps…Starlink has been telling users to expect 10 to 20 Mbps for those. One bright spot…latency is still relatively flat, but still higher than fixed broadband service in most countries. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says remote work has spurred “productivity paranoia” among managers, leading to efforts to spy on employees. Businessinsider.com says that Microsoft held a corporate survey that polled 20,000 people across 11 countries on productivity during the era of remote and hybrid work. The survey found that 85% of managers are concerned that workers aren’t being productive and 87% of employees say they are working effectively — a disconnect between workers and managers that Microsoft aims to fix. Microsoft VP Jared Spatero added “We don’t think that employers should be surveilling and taking note of the activity of keystrokes and mouse clicks and those types of things because, in so many ways, we feel like that’s measuring heat rather than outcome.”

Mercedes-Benz electric G-Wagon will be hitting the streets in the middle of 2024, according to theverge.com. The word came from a roundtable the Mercedes chairman held for reporters this week. He didn’t reveal any information about range, battery size, or power output…or of course, the price.  It will have all-wheel drive, though. Mercedes plans to go all-electric by 2030. 


Spotify Sells Audiobooks; Morgan Stanley Fined-Security Lapses; Google’s ‘Results About You’; Nvidia Bows Next High End GPU

Spotify moves into another area to feed more to your ears. Mashable.com reports that they picked up audio book platform Findaway in 2021, and now are launching Spotify Audiobooks in the US. One big difference between the books and the music streams and podcasts on the platform—the books aren’t free. You will have to pay like with Spotify Premium…and by the way, there’s no discount for Premium users on books. Spotify says they have over 300,000 titles to choose from. 

Morgan Stanley has been fined for playing fast and loose with customer data. According to arstechnica.com, for 5 years they sold unencrypted, unwired hard drives at auction! The Security and Exchange Commission has nicked them for $35 million. The SEC says data for more than 15 million customers was exposed. Of course, besides the fine, there are no consequences to the bank. They paid the fine with the usual ‘we neither admit nor deny’. 

In May, at their I/O event, Google announced a new tool to streamline the process of removing Search results that contain your contact and other personal identifiable information (PII), and it’s now starting to go live. 9to5google.com says you can open the Google app on Android and when you tap the profile avatar in the top right corner, you’ll see a new ‘Results about you” menu item. From there, you can hit a page that tells how to ask Google to remove Search results that contain your phone number, home address, email, etc. There is an ‘In Progress’ and an ‘Approved’ feed where you can check back and see what they have removed.

The last several years, graphics processors have been hard to get and crazy expensive, driven by crypto miners who have been scooping them up to make money in the crypto field. Now, Nvidia has debuted a new high end RTX 4090 GPU…for $1599. Techcrunch.com notes that the new 4-series cards have a new architecture that improves image quality…and of course are faster than ever. The cards will be available in November, so long as you have the ‘coin.’


Gmail & Political Mail; VW ID Buzz Production Bump; Amazon Product Event; Pixel 7 May Be Slightly Late

In a move to appease politicians…and one none of the rest of us will like, Google will apparently launch a pilot program to exempt political campaign email from the spam filter. 9to5google.com reports that this is to stay in the good graces of the Federal Election Commission. In a concession to non-politicians who hate the begging spam, there will be a ‘prominent notification’ asking ‘whether the user wishes to continue receiving messages from the sender.’ Now you will have to click on that email from the politician’s so-called ‘personal account!’

Volkswagen is apparently getting much stronger interest than expected in their ID Buzz…the electric revival of the legendary micro bus. Although production is still 2 years from hitting the pavement, VW has started taking orders in Europe, and according to arstechnica.com, the demand has been so strong, they are bumping production up to 130,000 units a year. The Buzz is built on VW’s modular EV platform. The initial ones will be a smaller, two row passenger version and a commercial version that ls all cargo space. They plan to start building US ones for sale here in 2024 in their Chattanooga, TN plant.

Amazon’s annual product launch event kicks off virtually next week, on September 28th. Theverge.com says it will begin at 9am Pacific. The online giant is expected to roll out new Echo devices, new Ring products, new services, and more. Interestingly, there haven’t been many leaks about what’s coming. Don’t expect much regarding Roomba…which amazon bought…the acquisition of Roomba maker iRobot hasn’t closed yet. 

Google’s launch event is coming up on October 6th, and new Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel Watch, and Nest products are expected. Androidpolice.com note that a usually reliably leaker—Caschys Blog—says that although the devices will be shown that day, the Pixel 7 won’t really be available for sale October 13th, as expected. You will be able to preorder after the 6th, but the Pixel 7’s won’t be available until October 18th. As for the Pixel Watch, it won’t be arriving until November 4th. 


Teams Flaw; Dynamic Island in iPhone 15’s; Veeve Smart Cart Conversion; TikTok-20% Misinformation 

Cybersecurity research firm Vectra has spotted a potentially serious flaw in the desktop version of the Microsoft Teams. The authentication tokens are stored in plain text, making them vulnerable to a third-party attack. According to androidpolice.com, a hacker with the requisite access could steal data from an online Teams user and potentially mimic them when they’re offline. This identity could then be used across apps like Outlook or Skype by circumventing the multifactor authentication (MFA) requirements. Microsoft has been made aware of the flaw. 

After just introducing the iPhone 14, with the pill shaped ‘notch’ in the Pro models at the top that changes size and shape depending on what you do…which Apple has dubbed the ‘Dynamic Island,’ it has leaked out that Apple will expand the feature to all iPhone 15 models. Macrumors.com reports that gaining this cool feature won’t mean the cheaper phones will get the always-on display. 

Smart shopping cart maker Veeve has a new product that converts regular shopping carts into smart carts. Geekwire.com notes that Veeve was started 4 years ago by a couple of former Amazon Managers. The device attaches to regular shopping carts just in front of the handle, and has a good sized display that keeps a running tally of what you scan and put in the cart. It is designed to fit almost any shopping cart. The display-sensor device mates with a separate app and between them, any store can offer checkout-free shopping…’just walk out.’ Veeve will continue to sell its full smart cart line.

More young people are scanning TikTok instead of checking a search engine when trying to get information. Research from NewsGuard shows that they really need to hit a search engine to double check the facts. According to mashable.com, NewsGuard found 20% of the videos that come up in TikTok’s search engine had ‘false or misleading claims.’ A glaring example: Typing in ‘climate change’ returned a suggestion for ‘climate change does not exist’ or ‘climate change is a myth.’ Don’t skip the search engines, kids!


Possible Small Screen Pixel; GM Looks to Own Chips; Emoji Trend Report

Google may or may not be working on a smaller screen Pixel. Some users are put off by the size of the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro (and the 7 models will be just as large), so in that sense, a small screen phone may seem to be a good move. according to 9to5google.com, the rumored phone, code named ‘neila’, has a name that doesn’t follow their usual code name conventions. It’s also worth noting that Apple’s smaller phones haven’t really sold like hotcakes. People gripe about the size, but buy them anyway. The same is true for Samsung handsets. Still, for folks with smaller hands, or children, a smaller handset makes sense. Stay tuned. 

GM’s Cruise division has developed its own chips for self-driving cars, which will be deployed starting in 2025. Reuters reports that GM got into the chip making biz due to the high prices of chips and difficulty getting enough supply. Previously, they had bought Nvidia Chips. Now, GM has developed their own ARM chips, which are being made by an unidentified foundry overseas. For the next iteration, they may move to RISC-V, since its open source. The chips will power its Origin self-driving vehicle. With a nod to Sci-fi, the main CPU is called the Horta, and the sensor data chip is called Dune. 

You know you care, even if you pretend not to. Adobe is out with their Emoji Trend Report. The company surveyed 5,000 US emoji users, and here are the headlines. 73 percent of those surveyed believe that adding emoji to your messages makes you cooler, friendlier, and funnier. 91 percent of those surveyed use emoji to bring levity to conversations. On the down side, 32% of Gen Z have ended a relationship with someone by using an emoji! 68 percent of those surveyed say they like it when people use emoji at work, but they also stated that it positively impacts likability (69 percent) and credibility (59 percent). There may have been a time when emoji were considered unprofessional, but that sure isn’t the case now. 


Google Drops Pixelbook; IG Reels Non-Engagement; Twitter Bows Podcasts; iOS 16 ‘Clean Energy Charging’

Google has killed its Pixelbook laptop, and broken up the team that was designing it. Theverge.com reports that the move was a cost-cutting one. Just earlier this year, Google had said they were proceeding to do more Pixelbooks ‘in the future.’ Google has had a hardware strategy to make good products and to try and show other manufacturers how to do the same. While that is working with their smartwatches and may with an Android tablet (due out next year), there are already plenty of good Android phones and Chromebook laptops. 

An internal memo leaked last month indicates that most Instagram Reels aren’t really setting things on fire. In fact, gizmodo.com notes that  “most Reels users have no engagement whatsoever.” Compared to rival TikTok, users in IG spend 17.6 million hours a day all together, while TikTok users rack up 197.8 million hours on short form videos. In the memo, Meta blames its lack of content creators and influencers. Also…over a third of Reels are apparently created on other apps, and ported over. 

If you are a Twitter Blue subscriber, and can’t get enough podcasts elsewhere, you’re in luck…in their redesigned Spaces tab, Twitter Blue members on iOS can now check out popular podcasts. Engadget.com says the feature isn’t intended to replace dedicated apps like Pocket Casts. Twitter just intends it to be a way for users to discover something new to listen to. The Spaces tab also includes themed audio stations. 

iOS 16 is out with its customizable lock screen…a feature Android has had for years, plus some other cool stuff like the ability to select a person or object and pull it right out of a picture to paste into a document or note, or a new picture. According to 9to5mac.com, another feature is coming later this year…it’s what Apple calls ‘Clean Energy Charging.’ Apparently, “Clean Energy Charging aims to decrease the carbon footprint of the iPhone by optimizing charging times for when the grid is using cleaner energy sources.” Apple will also add a dedicated iCloud Shared Photo Library later on. 


Apple October Event; Quest Pro Leak; Zoom Teams; Starbucks Adding NFTs

Apple is planning an October event…wait, didn’t they just reveal new iPhones and Watches last week? Yes, so it’s on to other gear. No date announced yet, but Cupertino plans to announce a new iPad Pro, iPad 10, and M2 chip powered Macs. According to 9to5mac.com, this will be the biggest update in 10 years to the iPad. iPads will get USB-C connectors and better battery life. The 12.9 inch iPad Pro will have a mini-LED screen, and MagSafe connector in addition to USB-C. 

Someone apparently left a prototype “Meta Quest Pro” virtual reality headset in a hotel room, and of course pictures were taken and posted before the employee returned for the headset. Theverge.com reports it looks more like oversized glasses…no strap as on a scuba diving mask. The packaging says “Meta Quest Pro,” but in Meta’s code, the headset is called “Oculus Pro,” so this may be a prototype. Meta is expected to hold their Connect event on October 11th, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed they will show their next VR headset at the event.

When something isn’t quite working out of a company, just rebrand! Zoom, which became so big during the pandemic that its name became synonymous with video meetings, has decided to rebrand its Chat feature a bit. Fastcompany.com says it will now be called Zoom Team Chat. Zoom is trying to remind businesses that its chat feature can be used by companies outside of video meetings. To go along with this, they have introduced a new logo with 6 ‘O’s in Zoom…it’s now ZOOOOOOM. Each of the O’s has an icon in it, and under them are: Team Chat, Phone, Meetings, Rooms, Events, and Contact Center. Zoom wants to get users into a broader selection of their services…acknowledging ‘Zoom Fatigue.’ The hope is that by moving more users to Zoom Team Chat, it will lessen the Zoom Fatigue of everything being a video meeting. 

Besides coffee and foods such as a croissant, Starbucks has offered  lots of other things for years. Coffee cups, music CDs (remember CD players in cars?), so naturally they are diving into using the so-called web3 tech to acquire NFTs. According to techcrunch.com, Starbucks Odyssey is coming later this year. You will be able to earn stars towards collecting NFTs. Also as part of the Odyssey platform, users will have activities called ‘journeys,’ which are like interactive games…and through successes in the journeys, earn…yep…NFTs…those ephemeral allegedly unique strings of 1’s and 0’s that many are trying to make into the latest rage. BTW, the ‘journeys’ to be offered so far test your knowledge of Starbucks…in a bit of brand reinforcement!