Build a Virtual Store From Your Phone; Comcast $15 Stream Service Cord Cutters Might Actually Want

Consumer non-favorite Comcast has kicked off a $15 a month streaming service with the original name ‘The Stream,’ that includes local networks, HBO, and on-demand movies and TV shows. Thenextweb.com reports it’s just out in Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire so far. It will be in Chicago and Seattle soon, and nationwide early next year. Naturally, there’s a catch…you have to be an Xfinity…or Comcast internet…customer. Even if it doesn’t lure you back to Comcast, it will certainly force other ISPs to look at making similar deals available.

Shopify has dropped a new app called Sello for iOS and Android that lets anyone create an online store from their phone. According to techcrunch.com, you just put up a photo of the item you plan to sell, add a price and description, and off you go! Through the app, you can accept credit card and PayPal payments, and share product listings on social networks. Shopify expects most products will be found on social nets, and not through the app. The Sello app is free, and there are no transaction fees…they make the money on payment processing.


Google Weighs Building Its Own Smartphone From Scratch; Samsung Galaxy S7 Update

Google already has the Nexus, and two models just recently rolled out. Now, according to bgr.com, which spotted something in The Information, Google may not look to HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola, or Huawei for future smartphones, but may roll their own. The Silicon Valley giant is apparently considering developing its own chips for mobile devices…like Apple does. Even though Android dominates the smartphone market, they continue to lose share to Apple. Nothing’s decided yet…including whether or not they would use the Nexus brand.

Earlier, we reported that Apple may be on track to drop the iPhone 7 by June or July, instead of September as with the iPhone 6S and 6 before it. Now, it appears Samsung is at least a month ahead of last year in developing firmware for it’s next iteration of the Galaxy, the S7. 9to5google.com notes that his could allow them to get the drop on Apple with a rollout as early as January or February.


Google Maps Adds OFFLINE Features; Vizio TVs Sleazy ‘Opt Out’ Data Harvesting

Google is rolling out a MAJOR new feature for Google Maps on Android…full offline support. 9to5google.com says you could already see a map area without a net connection, but now you will be able to use features like navigation and business info without being connected. You will need to download sections of the map while you’re online first…once you’ve done that, all of the above is available without using your cellular or wi-fi connection. Keep in mind that some features…like traffic alerts…won’t work if you’re offline. The rollout of the feature is underway to Android users now.

Big Brother may not be watching, but your big screen TV may be. Of course, you knew that some brands have had this dubious feature….it’s been reported about Samsung, LG, & Toshiba…but on those, you have to opt in. It turns out that Vizio smart TVs make you opt out of their spying on you and selling your data. Geek.com reports that they’ve buried the option under the ‘Smart Interactivity’ label, and they even tell you the so-called feature is at ‘no cost to you,’ and warn that you’ll miss out on coupons and special offers if you turn it off. As geek.com pointed out, if you’ve ever wondered how Vizio can sell its TVs so cheaply, with the same features as the big boys, now you know.


iPad Pro On Sale Wednesday; ‘Periscope Glass’ Cracking On New Google Nexus 6P’s

Apple’s huge 12.9 inch iPad Pro goes on sale Wednesday, November 11th. According to thenextweb.com, Apple says it will take a few more days for it to show up in the Apple stores. They claim it will be huge for productivity, with the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, and it will need to be with competition from the hot Microsoft Surface Book. Base price starts at $799 for 32 Gigs wi-fi only, $1079 for 128 Gigs, wi-fi and cellular. Oh…and for all that productivity, plan to hand over another $99 for the pencil and $169 for the Smart Keyboard!

A problem is showing up on the newest Google flagship smartphone, the Nexus 6P. Businessinsider.com, 9to5google.com, and others report that the so-called ‘periscope’ panel of camera glass across the top is spontaneously cracking for some owners…NOT from a drop. Some users have said they’ve heard the glass snap while the phone is laying on a table, leaving a little pile of glass shavings under it. The phone launched in late September, and is made by Huawei. No comment so far from Google.


Toyota Pumping a Billion into AI & Robotics in Silicon Valley; One-Touch Google Play Update

Toyota is dropping an eye-popping billion dollars in a research company it’s establishing in Silicon Valley, focusing on artificial intelligence and robotics. The automotive giant is determined to lead the way with top flight self-driving cars, in addition to applying AI and robotics to other areas of life. The AP reports that the initial facility will be near Stanford, with a second one planned later on to be set up near MIT.

Google has released version 8.3 of Google Play Services, with one tap Google sign in, and better wearable sync, according to 9to5google.com. Now, you can just press ‘Sign in with Google,’ and presto…you’re done. The update also makes signing in across devices easier, with a simpler dialog. The new version is supposed to use smarter syncing for wearables, too, improving battery life.


Local TV News for Cord Cutters; Kickstarter Hits Major Milestone

One downside for some of cutting the cord is you generally lose local TV news…something handy to have access to, since local events may affect you more than national or international ones. According to techrunch.com, that drought ends today. A company called NewsON, which unsurprisingly is backed by TV stations, gets you local news on your iOS and Android devices, as well as Roku. It makes available video content from 118 stations in 90 markets. You choose local news from where you live or where you are with an interactive map, and can even post real time Tweets about news coverage. The interface is a little kludgy, but the app is free now on iTunes, Google Play, and the Roku Channel Store.

Despite the occasional scam or big delays in getting products, Kickstarter’s 9.5 million users have now pledged over 2 billion dollars to projects. So far, there have been 260,000 campaigns since 2009. Engadget.com reports that the crowdfunder is simplifying its rules for submission, too. Gaming projects have raised the most money, $412 million, with tech related ones #2 at $360 million. I’ve backed several, and only been burned once…for less than 50 bucks. Just this week, two new products I backed..including the Sherlybox private cloud and VPN arrived–it worked as pitched. I’m jazzed about it!


Force Touch Keyboard for Apple MacBooks; Fresh 4 Inch iPhone Coming

Apple was granted a patent yesterday for a switch free Force Touch keyboard. Appleinsider.com says that, like the screens on the new iPhone 6+, sensors would measure finger pressure. This could lead to thinner MacBooks, and also allow different levels of pressure to give you different characters without using a function key or key combinations. A patent is no guarantee that we’ll see a Force Touch keyboard, but since Apple has already released the Force Touch Magic Trackpad, it’s a good bet.

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Speaking of Apple and good bets, KGI Securities has a pretty good record of touting upcoming Apple devices, and they forecast that there will be an A9-Based 4-Inch iPhone in Early 2016. It will have a metal case like the 6S and 6S plus. Don’t expect 3D Touch in this smaller, cheaper iPhone, though. Mac rumors.com reports that the iPhone 7 Plus due out next fall will Carry 3 Gigs of RAM! The iPhone 7 will roll with 2 Gigs, like the 6S and 6S Plus.


Twitter Replaces Stars with (Gasp) Hearts; Amazon Opens Physical Bookstore

Twitter has killed the star indicating you’ve favorited something, and replaced it with a heart, denoting a ‘like.’ Thenextweb.com says Vine will also get the heart and lose stars. Twitter has tested hearts, and says the heart has similar meanings across varied cultures and languages, while the star did not. Twitter’s live streaming video Periscope was already using hearts. Look for this on twitter.com, TweetDeck….basically, everywhere but Twitter for Mac, where it will show up later in a refresh. For those who hate change…let the complaint Tweets begin!

After 20 years of systematically killing off physical bookstores, Amazon has now joined them and opened one of their own. It’s in Seattle’s University Village, and resembles a Barnes & Noble, in that it has some other items like Kindles, the Echo, Fire TV and tablets. Theverge.com reports that the books are racked face out, as opposed to spine out like at most stores. In-store prices will match online prices, and each book has its amazon.com rating and an actual customer review. Amazon says this is a permanent location, and others will follow…ironic coming from a company which caused the closure of so many physical bookstores for the last 2 decades.


Too Many iPhones at Facebook; Hillary’s Emoji Problems

We’ve already heard about Facebook instituting ‘2G Tuesdays’, where employees have to suffer along with a slow 2G network for an hour, to help them better tailor the app to run in developing countries where this is reality. Now, 9to5mac.com says the social network is making some staffers switch to Android smartphones for the same reason…making the app work better for Android users. Let the whining commence…

There have been some stories about Hillary Clinton and emoji…intimating that she was confused by them, and needed help. Now, with an email dump, thenextweb.com reports there’s more to the story. Actually, the presidential candidate used emojis all the time. She switched to an older model Blackberry, and found that the emoticon chart with the little faces she loved and used was gone. She had to type them out manually. Nothing like visiting 3rd world countries as Secretary of State, and having such a 1st world problem! No word on why ANYONE would switch to an older smart device, but we hope it was for security reasons!