Dish Wraps Boost Buy; Apple Card Site; Prime Day Further Delayed; Google-Fitbit Deal Scrutinized

Dish Network has completed a $1.4 billion acquisition of Boost Mobile, a former Sprint subsidiary that resells prepaid mobile service. After years of buying up spectrum but never delivering service, Dish is finally a mobile provider—albeit as a reseller that doesn’t yet operate its own network. According to arstechnica.com, Dish was able to buy Boost as part of the merger agreement in which the Department of Justice allowed T-Mobile to buy Sprint. The DOJ required T-Mobile and Sprint to sell Dish the prepaid business as well as spectrum licenses and wholesale access to the combined T-Mobile/Sprint network. The prepaid sale and wholesale access are intended to let Dish operate a wireless business as a network reseller while it builds its own 5G network that could eventually make it the fourth major wireless provider.

Apple has introduced a new web portal for managing its Apple Card credit card (including paying bills, viewing the current balance, and seeing past bill statements), which makes the experience as a whole less reliant on an iPhone or iPad. AppleInsider reports that
up to now, you had to use the Wallet app, which made it far less easy to access than a traditional credit card. The new web portal (located, naturally, at card.apple.com) doesn’t completely eliminate the need for an iPhone or iPad, however: you’ll still need to own one of Apple’s devices to actually apply for the Apple Card, which means, despite the web portal, it’s still effectively locked to Apple customers only.

Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale is being delayed to October amid concerns over how coronavirus spikes may impact the supply chain, according to a report Thursday from Business Insider. Prime Day is typically held in July, but a later date this year was expected due to the the coronavirus pandemic. In May, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was looking to hold the sales event in September. Now it appears Prime Day may get pushed back even further. A spokesperson for Amazon said the company hasn’t yet made any announcements regarding Prime Day.

Back in November, Google announced that it was acquiring Fitbit and that the deal would close sometime in 2020. The purchase was immediately scrutinized amid mounting criticism of Big Tech, and the European Union could now be “gearing up for an extended investigation and may block the transaction.” The Financial Times reports that Europe’s regulators are primarily concerned with Fitbit — and its data — advancing Google’s search and advertising dominance. Meanwhile, US officials have yet to signal whether or not they will approve the deal.


Tesla Tops US Car Maker Valuation; iPhone 12-2 Months Late?; Big Tech Anti-Trust Hearing; TuSimple Aims for Autonomous Freight Net

It’s mainly bragging rights, but In 10 years, Tesla has gone from public market newbie to the most valuable automaker in the world by market value. Techcrunch.com reports that in January, Tesla became the most valuable U.S. automaker ever when its market cap hit $81.39 billion. The company’s market capitalization now stands at nearly $208 billion, surpassing Toyota to become the world most valuable automaker by market value. Toyota’s market cap is $203.21 billion.

A new report today suggests that iPhone 12 production is now 1-2 months behind schedule due to impact of the coronavirus crisis. According to 9to5mac.com, It says that the current position is ‘months of delay’ to mass production, but that Apple and its suppliers are working flat out to make up for lost time …Nikkei’s report says Apple is facing delays of between four weeks and two months for mass production of the four models in its 5G lineup after postponements caused by factory lockdowns and workplace absences during the pandemic But sources said Apple has aggressively tried to cut delays and was now less likely to face a worst-case scenario of postponing the launch until 2021. Another recent supply chain report indicated that iPhone 12 production was on track for a September launch. I’

The CEOs of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are slated to appear at an antitrust hearing late this month according to a report Wednesday. Recode says the news came from Rep. David Cicilline (Sis-sa-lean’-ee) and will see Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos testify for the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. The report follows Cicilline saying in May he would subpoena Bezos to appear at the antitrust hearing after sending an open letter to Bezos calling for his testimony. Bezos agreed to appear in June.

Ahead of the commercial rollout of its driverless trucks by 2024, TuSimple has outlined the launch of what it’s calling the world’s first autonomous freight network. In partnership with UPS, Penske, U.S. Xpress, and McLane Company, TuSimple plans to establish an “ecosystem” of autonomous trucks, complemented by digitally mapped routes, strategically placed terminals, and a monitoring system dubbed TuSimple Connect. Venturebeat.com reports that the company believes the autonomous freight network is the “safest” and “most efficient” way to bring self-driving trucks to market.


Nests Get Tweak; Mustang Mach-E; Facebook Deletes Boogaloo Accounts; Waymo Hits Interstates

Google is now bringing Seasonal Savings to all Nest Thermostat owners this summer in the US and Canada. 9to5google.com says the feature makes small schedule tweaks to conserve energy and ultimately lower your bill. It was previously only available to utility customers that were Nest energy partners. By adjusting your schedule just a fraction of a degree each day, users save energy while staying comfortable. These little changes can really add up—the average customer sees 3 to 5 percent in energy savings on their home’s heating and cooling systems. The goal is to not “compromise your comfort.”

Ford’s upcoming 2021 Mustang Mach-E is one step closer to making its way to consumers. On Tuesday, the automaker said anyone who has already reserved the EV in the US can convert their reservation into an order starting today. According to engadget.com, Ford also confirmed the leaked specs that came out in April. All four versions of the EV will feature more power and torque than initially expected. The standard range RWD model will output the equivalent of 266 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque. Pricing for the Mach-E starts at $43,895.

Under mounting pressure and an ad boycott to clean up its act, Facebook has removed a network of anti-government accounts associated with the fringe “boogaloo” movement after designating the group as a dangerous organization, the company said. Theverge.com says the company removed: 220 Facebook accounts, 95 Instagram accounts, 28 Facebook pages, and 106 Facebook groups. In addition, Facebook removed more than 400 other groups and 100 other pages that were “hosting similar content as the violent network but were maintained by accounts outside of it.”

Waymo says it will soon expand testing of its self-driving vehicles including big rigs on roads in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas along the I-10 corridor between Phoenix and Tuscon. Venturebeat.com reports that this year Waymo mapped routes between Phoenix, El Paso, Dallas, and Houston and ramped up testing in Mountain View, but the focus in 2020 will be on the American Southwest. Tests will be primarily along Interstates 10, 20, and 45 and through metropolitan areas like El Paso, Dallas, and Houston.


Lululemon Looks to Ride Mirror; Uber Makes Play for Postmates; Amazon Bonuses; Spotify Real Time Lyrics

Yahoo notes that shares of Lululemon rose in early trading after announcing it would be acquiring the home fitness startup Mirror for $500 million, putting it in competition with indoor cycling company Peloton. Shares of Peloton fell, though the stock had more than doubled for the year to date through Monday’s close as Wall Street bet on the resilience of the workout-from-home phenomenon in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Lululemon is shooting to close the deal by the end of its 2nd fiscal quarter this year.

Uber has made a takeover offer to buy Postmates, the upstart delivery service, according to three people familiar with the matter, as the on-demand food delivery market consolidates and Uber looks for new ways to make money. New York Times reports that a tie-up could bolster Uber’s delivery business, Uber Eats, and help it compensate for the cratering of its core ride-hailing business, which has collapsed in many cities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Food delivery is not profitable, but demand has soared while restaurants are closed and people are staying at home.

Amazon will pay $500 million in bonuses to frontline workers and delivery partners confronting risks and high demand during the pandemic. According to geekwire.com, The payout comes amid intense pressure on Amazon to mitigate risks its warehouse employees and other frontline workers are facing due to the coronavirus. The payments range from $150 to $3000, and will go to members of Amazon’s logistics network who worked with the company during the month of June. The bonuses come after Amazon ended hazard pay for warehouse and delivery workers confronting the coronavirus crisis in June.

Last November, Spotify confirmed it was testing real-time lyrics synced to music in select markets. Now, the company is announcing the launch of its new lyrics feature in 26 worldwide markets across Southeast Asia, India and Latin America. Techcrunch.com says the launch is being made possible by a new agreement with lyrics provider Musixmatch, which was also the source for the tests seen last year. The streamer had worked with Musixmatch in the past, but cut ties with the provider in 2016 before teaming up with lyrics provider Genius for its “Behind the Lyrics” feature.


Starbucks Pauses Social Media Ads; iPhone 12 Packaging; California e-Trucks; Google Upgrades Meet

Starbucks is the latest company to say it will pause advertising on “all social media platforms” and promises to have discussions internally and with media partners and civil rights organizations to stop the spread of hate speech. The company will continue to post on social media without paid promotion, it announced Sunday. CNBC notes the boycott that began with Facebook is now hitting other social media platforms. Coca Cola on Friday also said it would pause advertising on all social media platforms globally, while Unilever is halting advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. through Dec. 31. Last year, Facebook brought in $69.7 billion in ad revenue globally through its millions of advertisers.

Apple is set to be significantly slimming its packaging for its upcoming iPhone line. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously said that Apple will no longer include wired earbuds with the iPhone 12, and today reports that he also expects the power adapter to now be sold separately too. Kuo says that Apple wants to keep selling the iPhone 12 at a similar price to the iPhone 11 and removing in-box accessories will offset the cost of the 5G networking components. This will presumably reduce the size of the iPhone packaging considerably, helping lower Apple’s freight costs and be better for the environment. It’s not clear if the Lightning cable is still included.

The California Air Resources Board adopted a new electric standard for cargo truck manufacturing at the end of June. Mashable.com says by 2035, the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) Rule will require zero-emissions trucks, meaning large pickups, delivery, and semi trucks, make up a majority of big-rig truck sales. Starting in 2024, truck makers have to start producing electric or other no-emission trucks in some capacity. This should boost interest in electric trucks and vans. There are over 70 in the works, from Tesla and Nikola and other makers.

Google Meet is working on several new features that will match its competitors, including allowing users to add images or a blur effect to backgrounds on video calls, 9to5 Google reported. Now, Meet features will match rival videoconferencing platforms Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and users will be able to either choose their own image or pick from several default options. Google confirmed that in addition to background blur and background replacement images, real-time captioning, low-light mode, hand-raising, and a tile view of up to 49 meeting participants will be rolled out to the consumer version of Meet.


iPhone 12 In Box Rumors; Google Will Pay SOME for News Content; AWS Launches Amazon Honeycode; Lyft Settles with DOJ over Accessibility

A new rumor from British bank Barclays picked up by macrumors.com has no EarPods in the box, and possibly no power adapter….only a USB to Lightening cable. The basic 5W Apple power adapter is $19, and while there will be some whining, most people probably have a drawer full of these by now who have prior iPhones. Also, there are multi-cord chargers such as those from Anker that charge much faster…in fact, faster than the 18W adapter that has shipped with the iPhone 11 Pro models (which run $29.) The Barclays report also says production is about 4 weeks behind, and they confirmed earlier rumors of a triple lens cam system AND a LiDAR Scanner on the Pro models, as the latest iPad Pro got. That would allow for AR on the iPhone Pro models.

Ever since news started popping up on web platforms like Google and Yahoo, most, or all of it was stolen from news sources that employ actual reporters, writers, and editors. Now, according to cnet.com, Google is starting a licensing program to pay publishers for some content. The search platform says it will pay publishers for ‘high quality content’ for a news eater it will launch later this year. The licensing program will also pay for free access to some paywalled articles on a punisher’s site. Google claims that will give publishers an opportunity to grow their audience. Publishers have railed against Google and Facebook and others for years, claiming the giant tech platforms have distributed their content, but undermined their advertising business model.

Amazon has rolled out the beta of Amazon Honeycode, a new, fully managed low-code/no code development tool that attempts to make it easy for anyone in a company to build their own apps. Techcrunch.com reports that Developers can build apps for up to 20 users for free. After that they pay per user and for the storage their apps take up. The system comes with a set of templates for common uses like to-do list applications, customer trackers, surveys, schedules and inventory management. Using Honeycode will eliminate the need to create these and share them via spreadsheets. Honeycode databases can easily scale up to 100,000 rows per workbook, so businesses can just produce them and go, without having to worry about scale.

Lyft has settled with the US Department of Justice over allegations that the ride sharing program discriminated against people who use foldable walkers and wheelchairs…a blatant violation of the ADA. According to theverge.com, as part of the settlement, Lyft will be required to update its policy to make it clear that drivers have to assist people with wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters and to include details about its accessibility policies as part of its onboarding for new drivers. Drivers who fail to comply with the policy could face possible termination from the platform.


Salesforce Teams With Siemens on Workplace Environment; Facebook Grabs Ready at Dawn Studios; NVIDIA Partners with Mercedes on Next Gen Car Computer; Tesla Roadster Concept-Beyond Ludicrous Speed

Salesforce and Siemens are partnering on a new workplace tech suite to facilitate a more touch-less office environment, for when more workers return to offices…at least those who don’t just say “I’ll work from home from now on and will quit otherwise!” Zdnet.com reports that they will combine Salesforce’s Work.com products with Siemens’ smart infrastructure services, including its Comfy and Enlightened IoT apps. Key products will include mobile boarding passes for employee to access office buildings and elevators, and an occupancy management system that allows employees to reserve conference rooms and desks through the Comfy app. Also- occupancy and location data provided by Enlightened and aggregated in Comfy will allow for opt in contact tracing.

Facebook has snapped up a VR studio behind ‘Lone Echo.’ According to techcrunch.com, the social media platform has acquired Ready at Dawn Studios. The Lone Echo games have been one of the most successful series one Facebook’s Oculus VR headsets. Facebook says they will bring the entire team from Ready at Dawn on board. They will continue to work independently from their Irvine office in Southern California and in Portland, Oregon.

Just this week, Mercedes and BMW dissolved their partnership on self-driving tech…which both seem to think will take longer than originally planned. Yesterday, Mercedes and NVIDIA announced that they are partnering on cooking up a “revolutionary in-vehicle computing system” for the automakers next generation of luxury automobiles in 2024. Engadget.com says the brain is touted in and NVIDIA press blurb as “the most sophisticated and advanced computing architecture ever deployed in an automobile.” It will allow for Level 2 and 3 driving autonomy…which exceeds Tesla’s current Autopilot. It will also allow Level 4 parking autonomy. This will allow the car to pretty well park itself in a stall without any help from the driver. Another plus: the platform will automate driving of regular routes from address to address. For the Apple-esque one more thing— it will be upgradable continuously via over the air updates!

Way back in 2017, Elon Musk revealed the still to be released Tesla Roadster, and claimed that it would do 0-60 in 1.9 seconds, and have a 620 mile range. Now, electrek.co reports that a CGI artist named Steve Popovsky has built a render showing what the roadster would look like with the Space X cold thrusters…making 0-60 in 1.1 seconds. It almost makes ‘ludicrous speed’ look like you’re tromping the brake! Hit this link for the video and check it out! https://electrek.co/2020/06/23/tesla-roadster-concept-video-acceleration-spacex-thruster/


New Form Factor iMac in 4th Quarter; Amazon’s $2 Billion Green Energy Fund; Hyundai Kona EV; Rad Power Cheaper e-Bike

Apple will roll out a 24 inch iMac in the 4th quarter, with the rumored new form factor. In addition to that, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it will be one of the first 2 Macs to sport the new Apple ARM processor touted at WWDC yesterday. According to macrumors.com, the other machine that will rock the new ARM processor will be a 13 inch MacBook Pro. As we noted yesterday, Apple has said it will take 2 years to switch over completely to the ARM silicon from Intel. Apple has promised to provide full backward compatibility for the Intel-based Macs for years to come.

Amazon is creating a $2 billion dollar venture capital fund intended to invest in companies working to build a carbon-free future. Businessinsider.com reports that the online giant is also accelerating its timeline for its operations to be fully carbon neutral by 2025. Amazon has already invested in almost 100 clean energy products so far, including solar power on its huge warehouses, and the Rivian electric delivery vehicles Rivian is preparing to produce. Research at NYU has shown more consumer interest in sustainably marketed products. Sales of them are up from 14.3% in 2013 to 16.6% of sales in 2018.

Having just seen one of these in the wild (specifically on West 80 then Eastbound 780 in Vallejo and Benicia, CA), I was curious about this new EV. A piece on thenextweb.com says the 2020 Hyundai Kona has a very competitive range of 250+ miles, more than I would have guessed. It is a crossover SUV, only comes as front whee drive for now…no all-wheel drive, and has 201 horsepower. The EV hits 60 from zero in 6.5 seconds, a very respectable time that will get you up a freeway ramp and onto the road easily. The battery pack is liquid cooled, and does have regenerative charging. As far as Charging, there are three plug-in charge levels that can be controlled manually, or by the Blue Link connected car system, to set the day and time of recharging. From near empty to a full charge, times are:
• 120V (Level 1) – 17 hours (using the 7.2 kW onboard charger)
• 240V (Level 2) – 9.5 hours (using the 7.2 kW onboard charger)
• 480V DC 50 kW Quick Charging – 75 minutes
• 480V DC 100 kW Quick Charging – 54 minutes

One thing it doesn’t have….a significantly cheaper price as we have come to love with Hyundai. The Kona EV has 3 trim levels:

SEL $36,990
Limited $41,600
Ultimate $45,200

At least in some states like California, there is still some tax credit to be had, but it would really be great if the federal one was put back into place!

There are a number of cool e-bikes out now. If you have lusted for one, but hit the brakes when you saw the price, here’s some good news. Rad Power has announced a lighter weight e-bike for $999. Most entry level e-bikes start at about twice that amount. According to engadget.com, it lacks some whistles and bells, but the battery back keeps the power of pricier models, but is smaller and lighter. In addition, it has a 500W geared hub motor, and a top speed of 20 mph. It tips the scale at just under 50 lbs…not near as light as my Dahon folding bike which is in the upper 20’s, but 15 lbs less than the more tricked out and expensive Rad Power Bike. Rad is hoping this lower price point will be a real game changer in getting people into e-bikes, and they may well be right!


Some WWDC Highlights; Google-Suit Over Pixel 3 Issues; Tesla Autopilot Price Changes & Battery Day Delay

Among many software announcements today at Apple’s WWDC, an overshadowing announcement was the rumored one about hardware…Apple will be transitioning to its own silicon and away from Intel chips. According to theverge.com, the Apple system on a chip Macs should be out by the end of the year. Developers got access to the upcoming Mac OS- Big Sur- and can apply to get a Mac Mini with the new system in it to develop apps and software. This will be version 11.0, marking the end of OS 10 (or X). Apple claims blinding speed improvements (of course) and other advances, but a couple noted items are that present apps for Intel Macs will be automatically converted to run on the new Macs, and the new system will run iOS apps natively…as well as allow running of Linux in a window on the Macs. the new MacOS will have a freshened look, a new control center, and a number of other changes. Siri now appears at the bottom of the screen, instead of taking over the whole damned thing. Apple also touted their coming version of Google’s Transate, with 11 languages to start off.

iOS 14 was also shown off, and gets a new home screen with widgets, an ‘App Library’ that organizes your apps into groups and lists…kind of like the present folders, but automatic and much more elegant. You can also hide apps on the main screen. iOs 14 will run on all iPhones from 6s and 6s Plus forward. A bonus: phone calls will no longer hog your entire screen! Bonus #2: you will FINALLY be able to set 3rd party browsers and mail apps as your default!

WatchOS 7 gets sleep tracking, and adds a ‘wind down’ feature that minimizes features for an evening winding down routine.

Apple also spent a significant amount of time during the keynote touting improvements across their software and hardware to strengthen privacy for users.

A class action suit is looming against Google over Pixel 3 issues that some have had since 2018. 9to5google.com reports that a law firm, Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP is looking into alleged defects like one which causes the phone to quickly and unexpectedly drain battery power and then immediately shut down. There have also been reports that the phone’s camera app shakes and vibrates, resulting in poor quality videos and photos. Other consumers report that the camera app will crash altogether. If it determines that the issues are hardware related, the class action may be filed. If you have had any such issues, you can fill out a form at their website: https://chimicles.com/google-pixel-3-class-action-investigation/

Elon Musk Tweeted yesterday about some pricing changes for Autopilot, and also confirmed a rumor that the feature may one day be subscription based. CNET.com says Tesla owners that don’t have Autopilot can add it for the discounted price of $2000 until July 1st. The Full Self-Driving option can be obtained at a discount until July 1st also. It has been $7000, and will bet a bump to $8000 after July. Musk did confirm that Autopilot will eventually be offered as a subscription, but said ‘it will be economically better to have bought FSD.’ Musk also said Battery Day and the shareholders meeting scheduled for July 7th has been pushed back until maybe a month later….depending on if large gatherings are to be allowed by then or not. Musk plans to hold it in Fremont whenever it finally happens.


Zoom- Encryption for All; Lyft-100% EVs by 2030; UK Switches to Google/Apple Contact Tracing App; Stanford Wizards Re-Engineer Facemasks for COVID-19

Zoom has backpedaled, and will now bring end to end encryption to all users. 9to5mac.com notes that previously, they had said it wouldn’t be offered to free users. At that time the platform claimed they wanted to prevent ‘illegal use.’ Free users will get the E2EE in a beaty release coming in July, along with paid accounts. Zoom will use AES 256 GCM transport encryption as the default…one of the strongest encryption standards in use right now.

Lyft has announced that every vehicle on its ride-hailing and rental car platform will be and EV by 2030….but unbelievably, they won’t be providing direct financial support to drivers to switch from gas to electric. Reuters.com reports that the company will push competitors, lawmakers, and automakers to make it easier for drivers to switch to EVs by creating financial incentives. Right now, the Lyft fleet is less than 1% electric cars. Lyft claims that if policy makers ‘do their part,’ over the next few years, EVs should reach parity with gas vehicles by mid-decade.

The UK has had a change of heart on contact tracing for the coronavirus, and will now use the Apple and Google API. According to engadget.com, the Brits had planned to use a centralized model so that researchers could get more data, that could be better used to fight the virus. the decentralized method used in the Google/Apple API protects the users’ identities. No word yet on when the updated app will be released in Britain. So far, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales have not signed on to the initiative.

A couple of bright minds at Stanford have come up with an advancement that will make wearing N95 masks over long hours, as many pros have been doing, safer and healthier. Research Scientist John Xu has teamed with mechanical engineer Friedrich Prinz on a mask that is fed through a tube with oxygen gleaned in a waist mounted device. the N95 masks filter out 95% or more of small particulate matter, including the COVID-19 virus…but it’s a trade off. In a piece from stanford.edu,

it is pointed out that in filtering those particles, the mask also makes it harder to breathe. N95 masks are estimated to reduce oxygen intake by anywhere from 5 to 20 percent. That’s significant, even for a healthy person. It can cause dizziness and lightheadedness. If you wear a mask long enough, it can damage the lungs. For a patient in respiratory distress, it can even be life threatening. The device generates clean, pure oxygen via an electrochemical process to supplement loss of oxygen caused by wearing the mask over long hours. They hope to get the mask and generator into the hands of first responders doctors, nurses, and the like as soon as possible.