Tipoff That iPhone 8 Has ‘Face ID;’ Web Viewing Means Less TV Sets; Android Getting Bluetooth Battery Indictors

Some code spotted in the firmware for the Apple HomePod seems to confirm that the new iPhone 8 will unlock with your face…which Apple may call ‘Face ID,’ considering they have already used Touch ID. The firmware also points to the cutout in the front that will eat into the top of the screen, but house the front cameras and infrared sensors making Face ID possible. 9to5mac.com reports that while Samsung will be the sole supplier of OLED displays, Apple is well along in setting things up with LG to also produce OLED screens, and they could show up as an additional supplier in 2018. The OLED screen has been the biggest challenge for Apple, along with incorporating Touch ID under the screen. When LG production comes online, it could also mean all iPhones will get OLED screens, probably starting in the fall of 2018.

Before you lament the demise of the TV industry, the numbers aren’t collapsing, but due to more people watching video over the web….and on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even desktop computers, the number of TVs per household is dropping. According to recode.net, they have gone from 2.6 TVs per household in 2009 to 2.3 in 2015, the last year we have data for. With other things to look at besides live TV and DVR, the viewing of those has dropped, too….but only from about 60 hours a week to 57!

As more phones drop the venerable phone jack and go to wireless headphones and earbuds, something that is often on your mind is ‘How much longer have I got before the phones die?’ Apple has had an indicator for years showing approximate battery level, and later a percentage of battery level for Bluetooth phones, just like for the handset. Samsung and LG also make use of the feature. Now, 9to5google.com says the feature may be coming to Android, so all Android phones will give you a heads up on when your Bluetooth device may poop out, so you can recharge it! Like with later Apple phones, Android will show you the %-age of battery left. This is probably not going to drop until Android 8.1 or 9.

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Google Pixel 2 May Ditch Phone Jack; iPhone 8 May Ship Late October-November; Carmakers Collaborate to Take On Waze & Google Maps

The march towards Bluetooth only seems relentless on smartphones now. According to businessinsider.com, the latest to ditch the venerable headphone jack will be the Google Pixel 2. The latest leaks show that the Pixel 2 XL will have a more premium design, with thinner borders…and both Pixel models will sport a more refined glass back plate.

Apple’s iPhone 8 will be delayed past the September rollout, and now it appears it may be late October to early November before significant numbers are in users’ hands. Macrumors.com reports that a rumor about the side button is probably off base, after picking up on info from Mac Otakara. The handset appears to have an elongated side button that will have Touch ID, since the home button is going away. Mac Otakara says it’s much more likely that the Touch ID will be under the screen, or left out entirely, rather than put into a longer button on the phone’s side.

German carmakers bought a traffic company called HERE from Nokia a couple years ago. Now, mashable.com says they plan to pool traffic data collected by their cars’ sensors for real time traffic conditions in their own map that they claim will have ‘significantly higher accuracy and more precise information about traffic conditions.’ Taken together, they already have a fleet of millions of cars in 60 countries, and the numbers will increase dramatically as more cars with sensor systems hit the roads the next few years. Besides highly accurate info for drivers, it will build data for more reliable self driving systems.


Galaxy Note 8 To One Up iPhone 7 Plus Cams; Flash will (Finally) Go Bye-Bye; Roku Bests Chromecast in Users

The Galaxy Note 8 may be about to better the flagship feature on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus…the dual lens camera. Bgr.com reports that Samsung wanted to put the feature on the Galaxy S8, but instead opted for the Note. Like with Apple, the Note will have a regular and telephoto lens. Samsung will have a 3x optical zoom on the Note, where Apple only has 2x, and will include optical image stabilization on the telephoto as well as main lens, which Apple doesn’t. They also are making the wide angle lens 13 megapixel, while Apple shoots with 12 megapixels on both lenses…a negligible difference, but enough to tout as a feature.

It’s been a long, slow death, but Adobe is finally pulling the plug on Flash, probably the most frequently compromised software on anyone’s computer. Mashable.com says it won’t happen until 2020, but at least there is an end date to the problematic software that Steve Jobs panned back in 2009! Most all major browsers support HTML5, and many disable Flash Player by default already. Bye, Flash…we won’t miss you.

According to info from eMarketer picked up by recode.net, Roku pulls in around 40 million people in the US per month. This gives them 23% of connected TV users, easing past Google’s Chromecast with 22% and Amazon Fire TV with 21. Apple TV is an anemic 7%. The big number is 37%….that’s how many just watch via smart TVs. Mine isn’t even all that new, but has dedicated Netflix and Amazon buttons on the remote, and was dead simple to set up.


Facebook Working on Smart Speaker & Picks up Content Creator Pay Startup; Google Adds Real-Time SOS for Search and Maps; 11 More Smartphones Will be Daydream VR Compatible; Prescription Video Games Coming

Last week, we heard that Samsung was abandoning plans to make a smart speaker…a market dominated by Amazon and with Google in it and Apple planning a Christmas release of the HomePod. Now, businessinsider.com says Facebook is working on a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s that will bow in 2018. It will feature a 15 inch touchscreen, is being designed by Facebook, and will be built for them by Pegatron.

The social giant has picked up a startup which will help it crack down on users that share pirated videos and other content without permission. According to recode.net, it’s Source3. Facebook already has had Rights Manager for a couple years. It’s similar to YouTube’s Content ID. Facebook has wanted to host lots more professional video, but publishers are reluctant to provide them when they think they won’t be paid.

Google is launching a new feature called SOS Alerts, that will work with Search and Maps. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s designed to keep users safe, and will feature emergency hotlines and websites, and even translations of useful phrases. They are partnering with Red Cross and FEMA to help with keeping users abreast of emergency situations and providing safety info to them.

Of course, you may be a bit dialed out of the reality of an emergency if you are wearing a VR headset, but that’s the wave of the future. Google says it’s adding 11 more Daydream VR compatible phones by the end of this year. Pixel, Moto Z, and others are already compatible, according to 9to5google.com, but Huawei and Samsung will join the party, as well as HTC.

Hey, Doc, I need to play more video games…will you write me a prescription? Actually, so-called ‘brain training’ games have been out there, but not without controversy. Some say they really don’t work or work much. Now, theverge.com says a company called Akili is partnering with UCSF’s Neuroscape lab to develop a mobile game called Project:EVO. They aim to get it up to speed for FDA approval to be used to treat kids with ADHD! Clinical trials have already started. It’s not a sure thing, but prescription video games could actually be coming!


Next Gen HoloLens will Use Custom AI Silicon; Apple Working to Roll Their Own OLED Tech

Microsoft is working on their own AI coprocessor for the next iteration of the HoloLens. Engadget.com says it will give the headset object and voice recognition ability in real time, without any cloud connection. They intend to bake in assistance to blind folks by recognizing objects and describing them. This will also work without a data connection. There isn’t a HoloLens 2, but we will see a HoloLens 3 in late 2018 or early 2019.

Here’s a number that will bring indigestion to cable and satellite providers…Netflix was the top grossing app in the 2nd quarter of this year, with mobile revenue up 233% year over year! According to techcrunch.com, Netflix hauled in $153 million, compared with $46 million a year ago. Average app revenue growth on both the Apple App Store and Google Play is 56%! In the same period, Hulu grew by just 22%.

The new iPhone 8 will feature OLED screens made by Samsung. Apple, like other major manufacturers, is not keen on having a single supplier, and has reportedly bought CVD machines and has set up an R&D line in Taiwan to make OLED screens. 9to5mac.com notes that Apple almost never does actual manufacturing, but has developed the processes and bought the equipment for suppliers in the past. Besides having multiple manufacturers for their own security, Apple may need the production ability….they are planning to make 3 OLED iPhone models next year, and that would require better yields than Samsung has been getting from its process.


Samsung Backs Away From Smart Speakers; Microsoft Reveals Cortana Controlled Thermostat; Sears Rolls Out Alexa Powered Appliances on Amazon

We had reported, along with numerous others, that Samsung was working on a Bixby powered smart speaker to compete with Amazon’s, Google’s, and the upcoming Apple one. Now, thenextweb.com reports that Samsung has suddenly decided they are not marketable, with the dominance of Amazon, and Apple waiting in the Wings. Meanwhile, Global Market Insights predicts that the smart speaker market will grow to $13 billion by 2024. Almost half of smart speaker owners buy an additional one for their homes.

Microsoft has rolled out a great looking IOT thermostat today called GLAS. It’s made for them by Johnson Controls. According to theverge.com, it runs Windows 10 IoT Core, and has Cortana built in. Microsoft says it will detect if you are in the room or not, and also continuously monitor air quality inside and outside. Microsoft plans to add other appliances that will run their system and use Cortana.

Meanwhile, struggling retail giant Sears, which for decades had huge market share in appliances with its Kenmore brand, has started selling Alexa powered appliances via Amazon. Techcrunch.com says the retailer will bake in Alexa to air conditioners in addition to the expected refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers. You will e able to yell at Alexa to turn the AC up or down from your couch!


Analyst-No, iPhone 8 Won’t Be $1200; Bixby is Launched in US; Facebook to Let Publishers Charge Readers to View Stories

There have been several rumors that Apple’s iPhone 8 will start at over $1000, and go as high as $1200, to set it up as a ‘niche’ product. In a report picked up by apple insider.com, an analyst from UBS says they see the iPhone 8 shipping in November, and starting at $900 for the 64 gig model, and a $256 gig model for $1000. UBS thinks iPhone sales will be up 15% in Apple’s 2018 year. [Update: Analysts at JC Morgan believe it will ship in September, but with very tight availability.]

It wasn’t ready for the launch of the Galaxy S8 this spring, and Samsung promised voice assistant Bixby by the end of May in the US. Well, that didn’t happen either, but according to engadget.com, it’s out now. Bixby’s draw, according to Samsung, is that it understands natural language expressions better than other voice assistants. So far, the English release works in the US and South Korea. No word on if it is out in other English speaking countries yet. As we’ve reported, Samsung is working on a voice activated speaker like Amazon and Google have, and Apple is rolling out in December.

Facebook is preparing to let media outlets charge readers for access to their stories, starting in October. Businessinsider.com says they will be able to show 10 free articles per month before a paywall kicks in. No info on how much Facebook will skim from publishers on this, or if anyone there has calculated what percentage of people will simply click away, rather than pay…I predict that will be a huge majority of Facebook users. It’s tough to find people who don’t despise paywalls.