Degrees from Facebook or Google University? Amazon Expanding Private Label Offerings for Prime Members

Britain is looking at changes to their university system that would allow companies like Google and Facebook to set up their own academic institutions in the country that could award degrees. Thenextweb.com reports that neither of those companies has indicated that they would be interested in doing so, but government ministers in the UK think ‘challenger institutions’ set up by companies including Facebook, Google and others would ensure that they have ‘suitably skilled workers’ moving into the future.

Amazon will soon expand its lineup of private-label goods to include perishable food items — offering nuts, spices, vitamins, tea, coffee, baby food and other products under new Amazon brands such as Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime and Mama Bear, according to geekwire.com. The products will only be available for purchase by Amazon Prime members. It’s another perk for prime members, and another profit center for Amazon…private label brands frequently bring in higher profits to companies than name brands.

Advertisement

BMW Shooting for 2021 For Self-Driving Car; ISPs Remove Data Caps if You Pay For TV

At the annual shareholder meeting in Munich this week, BMW’s CEO Harald Krueger revealed that the i8 will be followed by a car they’re calling the iNext, which will feature quote: ’autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior and ultimately bringing the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.’ TechCrunch.com reports that BMW claims to already have the technology in place, but is waiting on the legal framework for customers and manufacturers to be decided, not to mention how the vehicles will be treated for insurance purposes when accidents occur.

Some ISPs have come up with a new scheme to keep customers from becoming cord cutters…they drop data caps if you bundle TV and a home phone. BGr.com says both AT&T and Bend are doing this, and it will be no surprise if others follow suit. As has been pointed out previously, broadband data caps are unnecessary. They don’t reduce congestion…carriers have claimed they are about ‘fairness.’ In reality, people streaming Netflix won’t slow down your network. It may sound like a deal, but it’s just a way to squeeze more money out of consumers.


Standalone Android VR Headset Coming; iPhone 7 Plus Will Have 2 Rear Cams; iTunes NOT Stopping Selling Downloads

Google will reportedly announce a standalone Android VR headset at I/O next week. Techcrunch.com says the untethered headset will be less powerful than the Vive or Rift, and it’s expected to come in at well under the $300 price point. Needless to say, it will cost more than the 15 bucks for a cardboard headset, but you need an Android phone to use that anyway.

Early rumors had a premium version of Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus getting the dual rear camera setup, but according to Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities, all the Plus phones will come with the high end camera. According to theverge.com, the bigger handset will also have 3 gigs of ram in order to handle the image processing for the new cam. There’s still conflicting information as to if the Plus, or all iPhone 7’s or none will have the Smart Connector like the iPad Pro.

Apple put out a rare statement late yesterday dispelling a rumor that they planned to stop selling downloads over iTunes. Appleinsider.com says one rumor had Apple dropping downloads in 2 years, and another in 3-4. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said ‘not true.’


Moto’s Modular Capable Flagships Coming; Foxconn to Build Big iPhone Plant in India

Pictures leaked out a while back of Motorola’s 2 Moto X flagships with what looked like fairly large speaker holes on the metal back, and a protruding camera lens. According to venturebeat.com, there’s more to it than that. The Vertex and Vector Thin will accommodate modular backplates you can swap out that add functionality. There will be at least 6 at launch counting the plain cover. The others have: stereo speakers; a battery pack; a camera grip with flash and optical zoom; a pico projector; and a rugged cover with wide angle lens attachment. The camera lens will sit flush with the backplates…which Motorola calls Amps….attached. So far, no pricing on either the phones or the Amps.

The Economic Times of India says Foxconn is close to a deal to build a 10 billion dollar iPhone manufacturing plant there. 9to5mac.com reports it will sit on 1200 acres, and be up and running in about 18 months. This is only one of 10-12 manufacturing plants Foxconn hopes to open in India by 2020. Apple sales were up 56% year over year in India.


More iPhone 7 Rumors; Twitter Limits US Spy Agencies Access to Alert Tool

With the iPhone 7 models due out in around 4 months, the rumors are breaking more frequently now…and contradicting each other. Bgr.com says a design leak obtained by French site NowhereElse shows the iPhone 7 as having identical height and width as the 6 and 6S. It doesn’t disclose whether or not the next model will be thinner, however, or if the headphone jack on the bottom stays or goes. There is no opening at the bottom for a Smart Connector like on the iPad Pro, which had been rumored, but the camera opening is larger…it may not be large enough for the dual lens camera…which is supposed to bow on the larger iPhone 7 Plus anyway, but perhaps to allow for a larger sensor. The cam opening is closer to the edge, too.

Twitter has blocked US law enforcement and spy agencies from using a data analytics service that processes tweets and messages in real time. According to cnet.com, the tools are from the private company Dataminr. Twitter hasn’t publicly confirmed or denied the change. Apparently the analytics gave authorities a 10 minutes lead over mainstream media outlets in covering and responding to the Brussels attacks. Spies being spies, it’s probably only a matter of time…and not much time….before they are able to restore their access to this type of info from Twitter, even without Twitter’s blessing or knowledge.


GM & Lift Within a Year of Testing Self-Driving Taxis; iPhone 7 Generating More Buzz Than the 6S Did

General Motors and Lyft’s on-demand, self-driving taxis will begin testing in an undisclosed city sometime in the next year, according to the Wall Street Journal and engadget.com. Earlier this year, the General invested $500 million in the ride-sharing service, and last month, GM also picked up San Francisco-based Cruise Automation. Cruise has been making aftermarket self-driving kits that could be added to several Audi vehicles for around $10,000. The self-driving cabs will be based on electric Chevy Bolts powered by Cruise’s self-driving technology.

After the 1st quarterly dip in iPhone sales since the first Apple smartphone rolled out, it looks like the slump may be over. Bgr.com says a UBS report shows that almost half of those surveyed said they ‘are holding off buying a new iPhone until the next model is available.’ They break it down to about 40% in the US…virtually the same as with the iPhone 6, and 50% of prospective iPhone 7 buyers in China.


Netflix Offers Selectable Stream Quality on Cells; Periscope Tests Save Feature

Last month, it was revealed that Netflix was quietly throttling video quality over Verizon and AT&T cellular systems. Since the word got out, theverge.com says Netflix has responded by offering users the choice of upping the quality and gobbling up more data…and the inevitable hit to your cell bill…or staying with a lower quality and saving a few bucks on your cell bill. You have to dig through the settings to find it, and the default is set to automatic. The app jumps back to higher quality automatically whenever you’re on Wi-Fi. It’s activated as of now.

Periscope is beta testing a feature to save your live streams. Up to now, they only save for 24 hours, but in the beta, you can save them indefinitely by putting hashtag save (#save) in the title. Up to now, you had to save the video to your camera roll, then upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. Thenextweb.com reports that the feature is partly because Facebook live saves closed streams on your timeline unless you delete them.


Apple Music Getting Much-Needed Makeover; Flexible Brighter e-Paper May Be Coming

Apple will show a revamp of it’s Apple Music streaming service at WWDC in June, according to a Bloomberg report picked up by macrumors.com. The interface will allegedly be more intuitive and easier to use. The service has grown to more than 13 million subscribers in the past year, but has also taken considerable criticism on it’s clunkiness and artists have griped that the social aspect….Connect….has failed miserably.

A Chinese company has figured out a way to use graphene to make e-paper that’s brighter and more flexible that the present screen material. Geek.com reports that the company- Guangzhou OED Technologies- already markets e-paper displays under the O-paper brand. They are promising that production will start yet this year, so the next generation Kindles from Amazon in 2017 may be not only much more readable, but ‘bendy,’ or there could even possibly be a roll up e-paper device.


Google Self-Driving Tech in Chrysler Minivans Next Year; New iPhones We Can’t Live Without

Tech companies and car makers are moving at warp speed towards self-driving vehicles. Now, 9to5google.com has picked up a Bloomberg report that Google self-driving tech will be featured in 2017 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. The non-exclusive deal may be in place this week. The vans will have a 30 mile electric only range, have a gas V-6 that kicks in after that, and the battery can be recharged in 2 hours when plugged into 240 volts.

In an interview Monday, Apple’s Tim Cook teased that the next generation of iPhones will have features you ‘can’t live without, that you don’t even know you need today…’ So far, Wall Street is not impressed, and the stock is still down, but it does make one wonder if there’s One More Thing or maybe Two that Apple has kept under wraps so that KGI Securities and other usually reliable sources haven’t been able to get wind of. We’ll know in September whether it’s just Tim Cook channeling Steve Jobs’ legendary reality distortion field, or if Apple is really going to knock our socks off with some killer feature or features.


Hulu Working on $40 Skinny Bundle Cable Competitor; LG In-Screen Fingerprint Reader

Just as traditional cable companies are trying to win back cord cutters with so-called ‘skinny bundles’ that feature less content and a lower price, Hulu is building a cable-like TV package that will go for around $40 a month. According to businessinsider.com, it would give viewers live channels, and Hulu hopes to have it out first quarter of next year. So far, it would have Disney Channel, ABC, ESPN, Fox Broadcast, News, FX, and the Fox national and regional sports channels. Comcast hasn’t agreed to license NBCUniversal or it’s other channels so far, as they likely view the new Hulu service as a direct competitor.

A division of LG-LG Innotek, has revealed a fingerprint sensor module that lives under the glass cover or screen of your smart phone. 9to5google.com says this would allow for more waterproof models and a sleeker design….without the physical button below the screen. It reportedly has an accuracy of .002%! LG thinks they can have it out in a phone by next year.