Samsung Working On Premium iPhone Competitor

Samsung may announce one of it’s most promising phones soon. Bgr.com says it’s the Galaxy A7. It has a 5.2 inch screen and better specs than the S5, but has a metal case for a more ‘premium’ look and feel.

Some scientists may have come up with a way to get more than 10-15% efficiency out of solar panels. Geek.com says hey imprint them with little bumps and pits like a Blu Ray Disk for a 22% boost in efficiency.

Stanford engineers have cooked up a nano-coating that reflects heat away AND directs internal heat away. Slashdot.org reports it can cool a building an extra 9 degrees.


Fire Sale on Amazon Fire Phones

Yep, there’s a fire sale on Amazon Fire phones. Already 99 cents with a 2 year AT&T contract, geekwire.com says now you can buy an unlocked one for $199, down from $649 when it came out. How long before they have to promise that Bezos will deliver yours in person?

Sony may roll out an e-paper smart watch next year. Gigaom.com reports that in addition to the face, the entire band will be an e-paper display. Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, Sony will try for style.

Microsoft has just launched Clearflow for its Bing Maps. Engadget.com says they use Nokia’s Navteq system, but use live data from main roads to essentially guess traffic on unreported routes. Good luck!


Will Apple Replace Google for Search On iPhones Next Year?

A big fight behind the scenes over your iPhone. Theinformation.com says Apple’s deal with Google is up next year, and Yahoo and Microsoft are scrapping to become the default search engine. Siri already relies on Bing for its (or her) search results!

Would you like to get $550 trade-in for your iPhone? Blackberry is offering up to that amount to switch to a Blackberry Passport. Thenextweb.com reports it varies by model, and $150 of it is on a Visa prepaid card, from December through next February.

The Gear VR virtual reality visor is just a start, and more joint Oculus and Samsung products are coming. Cnet.com says that’s according to Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe.He declined to be specific, except to hint about ‘storytelling.’


Google Shopping Gets Cool New Features

Just in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Google has improved Google Shopping. 9to5google.com says there’s more detailed information, many items have 360 degree views, there are customer reviews and where something’s in stock.

Scientists at Georgia Tech have developed micro needle patches designed to replace shots. They’re testing in mice right now. Gigaom.com reports you put it on…it’s painless, and take it off in 30 seconds to 5 minutes, and you’re innoculated.

No joy at Samsung…theverge.com reports that Samsung has sold 40% less Galaxy S5 handsets than predicted, down 50% in China, but sales were up in their biggest market, the US.


Amazon’s Warehouse Robots

Amazon has tripled warehouse picker productivity with an army of orange robots, Geek.com says. The robots bring moveable shelves to the pickers, who grab your item and get it on its way to you. The Tracy warehouse is one of 3 equipped with them.

A biotech startup called Suneris has created a plant based polymer gel that can stop a wound’s bleeding in just 20 seconds. Cnet.com reports VetiGel is being FDA tested…it’s already coming out for vets to use on animals.

A free iPhone app claims to use your personal taste to predict whether or not you’ll like a wine you look at at a store. 9to5mac.com says NextGlass takes your input, reads the label, and gives you the verdict.


MS Office Mobile Gets Dropbox

Microsoft just announced partnering with Dropbox 2 weeks ago, and an update out today of Office Mobile on Android incorporates Dropbox as a storage option. Thenextweb.com says you can also create links to share OneDrive documents within the app.

Sapphire screens on iPhones aren’t here, but Corning has just rolled out Gorilla Glass 4. Theverge.com reports that this newest version survives drops of 3 feet 80 % of the time. Clarity is the same as on Version 3.

If you’re particularly concerned about governments spying on you, check out Detekt. [That’s D-e-t-e-k-t.]Cnet.com says the free open source software launched by Amnesty scans your computers for surveillance software.


A Hardware Hit for Amazon- Fire TV Stick

In need of a hardware hit after the Fire phone, Amazon is getting it. Techcrunch.com says the Fire TV Stick is their fastest selling hardware ever. The Chromecast competitor is $39, after an advance bargain deal of $19.

Bgr.com reports that next year’s iPhone 7 may have a digital SLR quality camera. It may use a two-lens system to pull that off. What’s not clear is if it will use the just announced Sony 21 megapixel camera sensor.

Code.org has teamed up with Disney to create a coding tutorial starring Anna and Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen.” There are also short videos from women in tech, encouraging young girls to learn programming and go into tech.


Wireless Broadband For Rural Areas and Some Cities

Carriers are testing a combination of laser and radio to get broadband to rural areas where it’s not practical to run fiber optic lines. Engadget.com says it will help in cities with a lot of municipal red tape like San Francisco, too.

Don’t look now, but lawyers are gearing up to use Fitbit data in court in personal injury cases. Forbes.com reports a Canadian firm is doing so right now, to show accident effects on their client.

According to zdnet.com, Samsung display will launch a flexible smartphone display that can be folded in half. Parent Samsung plans to roll out 30% less different smartphone models next year, trying to compete better with Apple.


Interactive Shopping Maps From Target

Target has added an enticement for holiday shoppers. Geekwire.com reports they’ve added interactive maps of all their stores to their iPhone app. They’ve also added free shipping for target.com buys to battle Amazon.

The European ‘right to be forgotten’ by Google may be extended worldwide. A French court has ruled that way, according to 9to5google.com. Google is reviewing the ruling and considering its options.

There’s a way coming to connect to your dumb smoke alarm. It’s a Kickstarter called Roost…a 5 year battery in a 9 volt size that also connects to your smartphone with an app. $55 buys you two, and it’s out late Spring.


More Picture Space For Your Smartphone

If you take a lot of selfies, and are always running out of space, there’s a new app called PhotoShrinker. Techcrunch.com says it’s out for iOS and Android, and will compress your photos to a tenth their original size, making room for more. The shrunken pix look fine online, etc. but save a normal copy for any you intend to make large, actual prints from.

Appleinsider.com reports that the iPhone 6 is outselling the larger 6 Plus by a 3 to one margin in the US. The study comes from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The average storage size is now 48 gigs, which shows that more people are buying the 64 gig and 128 gig models…which means more profit for Apple.

A nice feature in the latest Kindle software just being pushed out…gigaom.com says Family Library lets people with Amazon accounts linked to family members share ebooks others have downloaded.