Google Pay Replaces Android Pay; Android P Blocks Unannounced Cam Use; Samsung’s Monster 30TB SSD; Site Tracks Musk’s Space Tesla

Google had previously pulled all its payment tools into the Google Pay tent except for Android Pay. Today, that changes. Techcrunch.com says an update to Android Pay brings it into the fold and adds some new functionality….including displaying stores nearby that accept it. Google Wallet now becomes Google Pay Send for sending and requesting money.

Android P should be unveiled at google I/O in a couple months. Meanwhile, it looks like word of a new security feature has gotten out. According to 9to5google.com, it’s to ease users minds about surreptitious camera use by apps (which has happened.) The new feature will block use of cams by any app not actively in use. If the system detects that the app is idle (running in the background), it is blocked from cam access.

We talk about Samsung smartphones all the time, because they are such a high profile, widely used product, but Samsung the company is into enough different businesses to fill a book. Now, cnet.com reports they have started production of a record breaking solid state drive weighing in at 30 TB…you read right, not 30 gigs, terabytes! While it’s unlikely you will need such storage, it will be great for government, health care, and education users that have massive troves of data. To give you a handle on how much that is, it’s enough room to store 5700 HD movies at 5 gigs each!No price has been disclosed, but you probably can’t afford it or justify it at any rate!

Practically the whole world watched as we saw shots of Elon Musk’s red Tesla roadster in space with the dummy in the spacesuit dubbed ‘Starman’ in the driver’s seat. It had been expected that batteries would allow 12 hours of transmission from space, but they died after only 4 hours. No more pictures, but now, bgr.com says at least you can track the little red car and Starman on their journey. A developer named Ben Pearson has built a site called ‘Where is Starman?’ It updates continuously, so you can check obsessively on where they are.

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WWDC; SpaceX Broadband Sat Launch Delay; More Galaxy S9 Leaks; Starbucks Digital Guru to J. Crew

It looks like some folks have figured out the dates for Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. Apparently, there are events all through June at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center…….EXCEPT for Monday June 4th through Friday, June 8th. Macrumors.com says a reliable source has told them WWDC will again be in San Jose like last year. Previously, it was at Moscone Center in San Francisco from 2003 to 2016. With the exception of last year, Apple has released the date officially in April, so we won’t know until then. Usually, there around 5,000 developers and a thousand engineers for the event. Tickets go via a random lottery, and have been $1599 a pop.

There’s a lot of interest in SpaceX’s internet satellite launch. Now, the launch has been delayed for a few days. According to engadget.com, they want to run further final checkouts on the farings used to protect the Falcon 9’s payload. the Launch had been scheduled for February 17th…… now it will be on the 19th. The rocket will be taking up a Spanish radar imaging satellite, but most of us are interested in the Microsat-2a and 2b internet satellites. They would be the first of a number which would provide gigabit internet speeds around the globe.

Samsung will roll out its latest…the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus… next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Of course, there was a huge leak yesterday, so much of what we had heard about the handset was confirmed, plus more. German site WinFuture says both phones will have variable aperture cameras…which should make them better than ever for low light pictures. The Plus gets a dual lens cam, the S9 a single, but both are 12 megapixel. The selfie cam is 8 megapixel with autofocus. That all-important battery capacity….it will be 3000 mAh on the S9 and 3500 on the Plus. Both phones have iris and face recognition, as well as a fingerprint sensor for biometric unlocking, and the Samsung version of Apple’s Animoji. The screens are the same as on the S8,  all changes are ‘under the hood.’ They will be available in  Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple, and Coral Blue.

The man who headed up Starbucks digital business,  including its Mobile Order and Pay features and in-store Wi-Fi efforts, is leaving the coffee retailer to work his magic in apparel business. Adam Brotman, has jumped to J. Crew to help lead the struggling retailer as president and chief experience officer.  Geekwire.com notes that Starbucks is perceived as one of the most forward-looking companies when it comes to the use of technology in its operations.  J. Crew needs the help… same store sales dropped nine percent during the third quarter of 2017, and its net loss jumped to $17.6 million for that period.  Before Brotman joined them, J. Crew had pitched selling themselves to Amazon.


2 Facebook Smart Speakers Coming; HomePod Makes Apple Less than Google and Amazon; Dyson to Make e-Cars

Facebook appears to be getting into the hardware business, and it will do it with smart speakers. According to mashable.com, they will launch a couple of models of smart speakers in July. The code names for the gadgets are Fiona and Aloha. Facebook will apparently give them 15 inch touchscreens, but one is expected to have higher quality. They will include both facial recognition and voice control tech.

After a few days to tear into Apple’s HomePod, TechInsight has determined that the device costs Apple about $216 to make, giving them 38% profit. For comparison, Google makes 66% on their smart speakers and Amazon 56%. Businessinsider.com says the difference is due to the higher quality components Apple puts in its smart speaker.

After getting into one mature business and disrupting it, now Dyson looks to do the same with cars…specifically, electric cars. According to theverge,com, Dyson is working on solid state batteries, and hopes to have ‘radically different’ cars out sometime after 2021. Dyson will initially produce a higher end, limited production vehicle…much like Tesla, then move into more mass market vehicles. One advantage for Dyson…they have experience getting products manufactured and out to buyers.


Next iPhone-More Details on 3rd Model; Hacking Android Phones for Bitcoin Mining; Magic Leap’s Semi-Reasonable AR Glasses

Frequently reliable Apple analyst KGO Securities estimates that Apple could ship 100 million of the new 6.1 inch screen LCD iPhone. Macrumors.com says KGI has already predicted that Apple will drop the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus in favor of this new, lower priced iPhone. It won’t have the OLED screen, but will be full screen with ‘the notch.’ It also will have an aluminum frame instead of stainless steel, a single lens camera, and no 3D Touch. On the other hand, KGI says it could be priced starting at $699, which will pull in a lot more buyers than the $1000 or $1000 top iPhones for 2018. KGI thinks the lower priced model will account for half of all new iPhones after the new models roll out this fall.

Mining cryptocurrency with ‘unused computer power’ is great…IF you’re doing the mining on your own machines. According to 9to5google.com, MalwareBytes says a substantial number of Android handsets have been hijacked to mine the cryptocurrency Moreno. All the websites that do this use a redirect, so if you get one of those while browsing, you should run tools on your phone (like those from MalwareBytes, of course.)

Magic Leap has been trying to stay under the radar until recently, when they showed a model of what their AR glasses will look like. Now, theverge.com reports that they will produce several versions, including one priced like a ‘higher end mobile phone to higher-end tablet.’ They also plan a high end version for pros and developers, but may end up with as many as 3 models in the beginning. Although dropping around $1000 for a set of AR glasses doesn’t sound cheap, Magic Leap points out that over time, the headsets can replace your phones, televisions, laptops, and tablets….which could save thousands of dollars.


Galaxy S9 Will Clone Apple’s Animojis; Twitch Has Viewer Numbers of Cable News Nets; Amazon Rolling Own AI Chips for Alexa; Facebok Launches Lists

Call it practical or insulting, but Samsung has done best with smartphones when they’ve stolen liberally from Apple. Now, macrumors.com says the Galaxy S9 will copy the iPhone X’s Animojis. Samsung teases that theirs will be 3D and be ‘more advanced’ than Apple’s. They will reveal the name of their clone when the phone rolls out on March 16th. The Samsung version, like Apple’s, will be powered by the Galaxy S9’s facial recognition system. Samsung’s facial recognition isn’t expected to be as secure as Apple’s, but Samsung will also include a rear fingerprint sensor and iris scanner.

Twitch has now become as big as the big cable nets in viewership. According to businessinsider.com, the Amazon-owned streaming service had 962,000 average viewers last month (January 2018). ESPN and Fox News have 1.5 million, MSNBC has 885,000, and CNN 783,000. Twitch channels are not all just gaming…there are also IRL streams (in real life) with massive amounts of content covering all sorts of subjects. Find them on the web at Twitch.tv.

Amazon has started designing its own AI chips to work with Alexa devices. Engadget.com says the custom silicon should enable the virtual assistant to respond more quickly by baking speech recognition into the devices that use it, rather than having to bounce to the cloud then back with a response. Alexa would still need to touch base with the cloud for more complex inquiries, but for simple requests, the chips will make it responses quicker.

Because they can never have enough of our information to sell, Facebook has launched ‘Lists.’ The new feature is rolling out today. Techcrunch.com reports that Facebook sees it as a way to get users to share more personal content. The lists can be To Do lists, Resolutions, eateries to try, bucket list travel destinations, or whatever. To entice usage, Facebook has included choices of colored backgrounds and emoji. It will appear in the ‘What’s on your mind’ status update box along with the other options.

Google sold 3.9 million Pixel phones in 2017. If that doesn’t sound like a record shattering number to you, you’re right. According to theverge.com, that’s about what Apple sells in iPhones in a week. The good news is, with the Pixel 2, the sales pace has doubled. If they can keep doubling periodically, it should be a success.


iOS 12-Better QC & FaceTime Emoji; Apple Watch is So Number 1; Government Sites Mining Cryptocoin; Facebook Patents Social Class Tracking Tech

A relatively long time ago, Apple used to release OS updates that were pretty bulletproof. Of late…not quite so much. Now, according to macrumors.com, Cupertino is going to get back to a less concrete update release schedule and focus on quality more with iOS 12. This probably means more of a 2 year update cycle for iOS and the MacOS, instead of yearly. You can expect deeper Siri integration into iPhone searches, and a better Do Not Disturb feature, as well as Animoji on FaceTime…but all only if the engineers say the OS is ready, NOT because of an ironclad marketing release schedule!

There has been plenty of reporting on what a dud the Apple Watch has been. Well, guess what, kids? It’s all BAD reporting. Businessinsider.com reports that last quarter, Apple sold more watches than Swatch, Rolex, Omega, and all the rest of Swiss watch brands combined! The data came from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and also publicly released shipment stats from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Apple apparently sold 8 million Apple Watches in the final quarter of 2017. Obviously, Rolex isn’t a high sales brand, but Swatch is, and they sell for about $180, comparable with the price of some of the Apple Watch line. As far as other smartwatches from Samsung and Google…they don’t even register!

Lots of people are trying to get into mining cryptocurrency, and they appear to have enlisted some government websites in that endeavor. Thenextweb.com says a security researcher has found that thousands of otherwise legit websites have had crypto mining scripts injected into them, which has let miners use unwitting folks’ computers to mine coin for them. Sites that were infected include those of the state of Indiana and also the US court system! Apparently, someone tainted the BrowseAloud software, which is embedded in those sites to allow accessibility services. The good news is, the hack was discovered within 24 hours, and the makers of BrowseAloud are working to squash the hack.

As if social media didn’t already know enough about all of us, Facebook has patented tech to determine users class without even knowing their income. The software can divide us up into ‘working class,’ ‘middle class,’ or ‘upper class’ using a variety of data sources and qualifiers, according to engadget.com. Facebook says the algorithm is intended for use by “third parties to increase awareness about products or services to online system users.” Examples given include corporations and charities. It remains to be seen how accurate it will be…apparently, their idea of middle class is a home owner in pricey Palo Alto. Own a home in San Jose, CA? Oh…you’re working class. WHAT? Million dollar working class houses? With an algorithm like this, probably 90% of us are ‘the poors,’ by Facebook standards!


HomePod Pre-Orders Sell Out; Apple Patents Stylus for Thin Air; Twitter Makes Money; Amazon Prime Tries Limited Whole Foods Prime Now Delivery

Apple’s HomePod has gotten great reviews all around for sound, but knocked for it’s lack of support of music other than Apple’s and the puny skills of Siri so far. That said, it has sold out in pre-orders a day before it officially launches. TechCrunch.com reports that some retailers do have it in stock, so if you desperately want one now, check around. People that pre-ordered are getting shipping notices for delivery tomorrow.

Also from Apple, Cupertino has apparently patented a stylus you can write in thin air…think air guitar only with drawing and words. The stylus…or ‘pencil’ in Appletalk, can be used on a tablet, any flat surface, or actually in the air, according to the patent. Thenextweb.com says on use of the latter would be to aid in drawing 3 dimensional objects…that is, for those of you who can draw at all. I can’t draw a straight line with help on a page or tablet, so it’s rather academic to me!

Twitter lost monthly users in the US…a million of them…down from 69 to 68 million. They are living steady worldwide at 330 million, though. On the plus side…and it’s a BIG plus…Twitter finally made a quarterly profit! Theverge.com points out it’s the first time they’ve turned a profit in 12 years or existence! Their revenue also grew last quarter, after declining in most of 2017. Twitter says the drop in use in the US is due to a change in Safari’s third party app integration. Interestingly, the expansion to 280 character Tweets seems to have helped pick up use…although most people rarely exceed the old limit.

Amazon is dipping its mighty toe in the water of Prime Now delivery for Whole Foods. They had already rolled out discounts related to Amazon use, and now, 4 markets will get in on Prime Now delivery of Whole Foods items delivered to your door in 2 hours. According to arstechnica.com, the cities are Austin and Dallas, Texas, Virginia Beach, Florida, and Cincinnati, Ohio. If all goes well, Amazon will be expanding Prime Now delivery to other cities, but no time frame has been given. The two hour delivery is free for all Prime members on orders of $35 or more, or customers can pay an extra $7.99 to get one hour delivery.