Samsung rolled out its latest Galaxy phones, the S8 models, without the virtual assistant Bixby in the US. It was due by now, but has been delayed a month. The Wall St. Journal reports that they are having trouble getting it to understand English syntax and grammar. Virtual assistants haven’t been the ‘killer app’ on smartphones anyway…only about 9% of users use the AI feature on a regular basis, according to research firm Ovum. Half of smartphone owners either had no interest in the feature or didn’t even know about it. It has been a different story with talking speakers, which the public seems to be accepting more quickly….with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant in the lead.
There are armies of people digging through regulatory filings around the world to bring you tidbits like this: a Russian filing points to 5 new Macs and 4 new iOS devices on the way from Apple. According to apple insider.com, we could see some rolled out at WWDC. There has already been speculation that Apple would show a new mid-sized iPad Pro at WWDC, fitting in between the 9.7 inch and 12 inch iPad Pros. A recent shortage of MacBooks seems to point to a refresh of MacBook Pros and Airs as well.
The Essential Phone, that handset from the father of Android, Andy Rubin, has been revealed, and doesn’t disappoint. 9to5google.com reports that the front screen barely has a bezel at the bottom, and goes clear to the top, except for a little tab in the middle for the selfie cam. The phone runs on a Qualcomm 835, has 4 gigs of RAM and 128 gigs of storage. It will run on all carriers. It sports a 13 MP dual cam in back, and 8 MP selfie cam, and get this…is made from a combination of titanium and ceramic, which should weather drops considerably better than the aluminum on Samsung and Apple phones. Besides USB-C, it has wireless data transfer, and a clever magnetic connector for accessories…including a 360 degree cam that clicks into the port at the top of the phone. It sells for $699.
Google has added a personal tab as a search option. Bgr.com says you have to be signed in to use it, and for the paranoid, it can be disabled…although Google will continue to Hoover up your data and package and sell it anyway, like everyone’s. What it does do is take your previous search data, and offer results that are refined based on your prior searches. (Again, if it freaks you out, go to Search Settings in your Google account and check the Do Not Use Private Results.)
Intel has unveiled its new Extreme Core i9 processor at Computex. According to tech crunch.com, it’s got 18 cores and 36 threads! How much for that crazy amount of processing power? A cool $1999! Other siblings in the Core i9 family include one with 10 cores for $999 and a 16 core model for $1699. All of them have a base clock speed of 3.3 GHz with a turbo boost up to 4.5. No shipping date was announced, so you have time to save your pennies for that eye-popping $2000 job in a shiny new rig.
Besides working on AR…augmented reality…most of the big tech companies: Google, Facebook, Apple, & Microsoft, are working on beefing up AI as well….artificial intelligence. While they all offer some form of AI assistant, apparently Apple is working on a dedicated processor being called the ‘Apple Neural Engine’. 9to5mac.com says the chip will produce much improved face and speech recognition apps and help extend battery life. It is expected to be small and thrifty enough to fit into iPhones and iPads. Here comes facial recognition, iris recognition, and 3D selfies! Apple has already tested prototypes, but it’s not known if it will make it into the iPhone 8 this fall. 3D selfies….now you’re REALLY going to worry about it being your good side!
It’s not quite like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, but LG’s V10 and V20 had secondary screens on top of the main one. Now, Mashable.com says they may go all out with the upcoming V30, with a secondary screen that slides out from under the main screen. The secondary screen can display shortcuts of most used apps, keyboard, audio controls, and more. Part of the screen is visible when the phone is ‘closed,’ so it can function in always on mode, displaying the time and weather.
Microsoft’s Beam Becomes Mixer; T-Mobile Digits Service Now Free For All; Apple Watch Hack Produces Stroke DetectorPosted: May 25, 2017
Earlier this week, Microsoft was trying to convince the world to call AR..augmented reality mixed reality. Now, we know why…marketing! Techcrunch.com reports that Microsoft has re-branded its game streaming service Beam as Mixer. They have also upped the service’s game with co-streaming, a guide, and mobile broadcasting on iOS and Android. Up to 4 streamers can now combine their streams into a single page, where they’re displayed split screen style.
T-Mobile has just made a cool new service called Digits free for all T-Mobile users. Bgr.com says that Digits combines some of the best features of Google Voice and AT&T NumberSync. You can use one number on multiple devices, but also have multiple numbers on one device…so you could carry one phone and have a business number and home number on it….or a burner number that you’ve given out on dating sites. As of May 31st, every T-Mobile number becomes a Digits number. It’s free, but you will have to call them in order to activate a second number. The freebie will expire soon, then it goes to $10 bucks more a month for a second number.
The Apple Watch is the best heart monitor of any wearable, but not close to what your doctor or hospital uses…until now. According to cnet.com, some researchers at UCSF used an app called Cardiogram with some machine learning, and hacked the Watch to be a 97% accurate detector of one of the leading causes of stroke! This may open the door to considerably more preventative health care, which is far cheaper than reacting and treating problems after the fact.
Microsoft has rolled out an $800 MacBook Air competitor. According to business insider. com, it will have 13.5 hours of battery life. Redmond has ditched numbers, the device will just be called Surface Pro, and it is up for preorder today, with the release set for June 15th. It will run 7th generation Intel processors. Keep in mind you will need the added keyboard, which Microsoft says is improved…that will set you back another $130. For another additional charge, they’ve added LTE connectivity. Microsoft isn’t even calling it a tablet anymore in their marketing…they are pitching it as a laptop.
Tesla has their Gigafactory, but that doesn’t mean other car makers are sitting on their hands. In Germany, Daimler has started construction on a half billion dollar lithium ion battery factory. Arstechnica.com says the Mercedes-Benz maker will end up with a plant 4 times as large as their current battery factory, run by their Accumotive division. It will be in production by mid 2018, and they plan to produce batteries that can take a car a whopping 621 miles between charges!
Yeah, the iPhone 8 won’t even be out until fall, but here’s a rumor from macrumors.com about the iPhone 9! Apparently, it will launch with 5.28 inch and 6.46 inch OLED screens. This is up from the expected 5.8 inch screen on the iPhone 8, and 4.7 and 5.5 inch displays on the 7 and 7 Plus (and expected on the S models.) It looks like the iPhone 9 models will be about the physical size of the present ones, only with ‘wall to wall’ screens, and nearly no bezel.
In a report picked up by 9to5mac.com an analyst from UBS says the iPhone 8 won’t start at a grand, as has been speculated. He claims the new Apple hero phone will debut this fall for $870, and go up to $1070. The thought is, Cupertino won’t want to break that important thousand dollar psychological barrier with the base model of their new hero phone. He also predicts it will take up 45% of iPhone sales next year.
Alphabet owned Nest is working on a 4K indoor security camera. According to Android Police, it’s not that anyone needs 4K for that, it’s for a smart zoom feature. If you zoom in on an area with this cam, it won’t become all distorted, but give you a nice 1080p section of the view…like we’ve seen in movies for years! The new Nest Cam may be out shortly, and will reportedly cost over $300…yes, for ONE camera!
Twitter, the social network so many love and rely on, but which can’t seem to find a way to make any real money, is considering offering a premium subscription service. Recode.net reports that the short form firehose of information hasn’t decided to do it for sure, but if they do, it would include access to special features and services. CEO Jack Dorsey did stress that it was very important to them that Twitter be free and open to everyone around the world, however.
iPhone 8 May Be Slightly Taller Than 7s; ARM Chips For Brain Injury Implants; Emojis Prove Intent in CourtPosted: May 22, 2017
Molds for new iPhones (the design of which is probably finalized by now) have been spotted that show the iPhone 8 as slightly taller than the 7S, but not as tall as the 7S Plus. Bgr.com says the mold pics were originally shown by Weibo, and they also show the vertical rear camera that has been widely reported for the 8…and no cutout or knockout for a rear fingerprint reader…so Apple must have gotten the under screen one to work. They are expected to be rolled out in September.
ARM is working with researchers to develop tiny, very low power processors that can be implanted in the brain. According to bbc.com, they would be made to help people with brain and spinal injuries, and would be placed inside the skull. The goal is to let people with such injuries carry out tasks and receive sensory feedback. They might be available within 10 years.
It hasn’t happened in the US yet, but in Israel, a court has ruled that emoji can be evidence of intent. Mashable.com reports that it was in a landlord/tenant dispute. The parties had exchanged texts for days, The court found that a sting of positive emojis from the prospective renter, while not enough to consist of a binding contract, did convey their desire to rent the place. The landlord relied on the text, and took down the ‘for rent sign.’ He was awarded $2200.
In more of a broadside than a shot across the bow to Tesla, Mercedes-Benz Energy has partnered with Vivint Solar to sell home storage batteries in the US. Techcrunch.com says homeowners who hire Vivint Solar to install an array on their roof can add up to 8 2.5 kWh Mercedes batteries for a whopping 20 kWh of storage! This is a major direct competitor to Tesla with their Solar City, solar shingles, and PowerWall. As the move to greener and more self-sustaining power systems picks up speed, expect more big players in this area.
Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft all have them, and are aggressively pushing them into our lives….digital assistants, that is. According to research by Ovum picked up by cnet.com, the number of devices with digital assistants will be over 7.5 billion by 2021, which will then exceed the population of the world! By the way, there are already 3.5 billion of the sometimes helpful little devils active in the world right now! Ovum projects that Google Assistant will command the market, followed by Chinese assistants, Siri and then Bixby form Samsung…mainly due to the count of cell phones and tablets. Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are primarily in devices other than smartphones.
Google Stand Alone VR Headsets; Google Indoor Location VPS; Google Home gets Hands Free Calling, More; Galaxy Note 8 Will Sport Dual CamsPosted: May 17, 2017
Google is working on a standalone VR headset with HTC and Lenovo. 9to5google.com says the new system will be much easier to use, and will heighten the feeling of presence. Headsets should be out in the world and available later this year.
At I/O, Google has also revealed it is working on detailed indoor location positioning using its Tango 3D sensing computer vision tech. According to techcrunch.com, they call this Visual Positioning Service, or VPS. As an example, it could lead you directly to a certain item in a big box home improvement store. No word on when the system will be rolled out, but it will be a cool addition to the AR and VR systems Google and others are working on.
Speaking of indoors, Google Home is getting hands-free calling, proactive assistance, and Bluetooth streaming. Proactive assistance will be timely info like traffic alerts. The hands free calling can call any land line or mobile in the US or Canada with just a ‘Hey, Google call X. No setup is required, and it will default to private number, unless you want to have your number display. You can stream music from your Android of iPhone over Bluetooth, or use SoundCloud.
The Galaxy S8 and Plus didn’t get it, but it looks like the Note 8 will have dual rear cams. Bgr.com reports that there will be a 12Mp wide angle lens and a 13 Mp telephoto with a 3x optical zoom, leapfrogging Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus with the 2x optical zoom.
Apple Watch Rumor-Glucose Monitoring; Amazon-4K Alexa TV and Now = Walmart X2; BMW, Intel, & Mobileye Add Delphi to Self-DrivingPosted: May 16, 2017
It’s been no secret that Apple has wanted to get deep into the weeds regarding heath monitoring for the Apple Watch. The do have north of 200 folks with PhDs working on various projects. Now, macrumors.com reports that they may be close to rolling out non-invasive sensors to monitor blood glucose. This would be something of a Holy Grail for diabetics, meaning no finger sticks all day. Apparently, the sensors would be built into interchangeable smart watch bands, along with other functionality. This way, people who buy Apple Watch that don’t need those functions wouldn’t have to pay extra for them. The sensors are due in ‘an upcoming Apple Watch,’ but it’s unclear if they will make the third generation one out this fall.
Amazon has announced 4K TVs running Alexa. They will be sold under the Westinghouse brand, according to theverge.com. Preorders are open now, with prices ranging from $449 for a 43 inches to $899 for a 65 inch display. They are expected in stores next month. A lot has been made over Apple and Google valuation…Apple at 800+ billion and all…but ponder this….Amazon now has a market cap of $459 billion…that’s just about TWO Walmarts! Amazon has just been a public company for 18 years!
BMW, Intel, & Mobileye have now been joined by Delphi in their self-driving platform development. Techcrunch.com says Delphi will supply key computing components to the system. Intel and Delphi had previously worked together on autonomous tech. They are shooting for 2021 to bring their platform into production…not just for BMW vehicles but for other auto makers and system developers.