Nest has dropped a new baby bird into the air to let it fly. The Nest E is the first really new Nest since 2011. Theverge.com reports a main feature is its plainness…it’s a white ring with a frosted screen. The really big selling point is the price…it’s way down from earlier nests, starting at $169. The traditional nest will still be sold at $249. The rub is, the new E model is compatible with less systems…about 85%, while the old school one will work in 95% of homes. It also lacks ‘farsight,’ which senses if you’re across the room and turns the screen on. Since mine is in a hall, like most people’s, I am never more than 2 feet away from it when I walk past, so this won’t be a feature you will miss. It works with the Nest app like the older Nests, and they claim it will save 12-15% on your heating and cooling bills.
Amazon and Microsoft have made a remarkable announcement: they are working on getting Alexa and Cortana to work together. According to businessinsider.com, the two AI voice assistants will be able to hand off to each other. There are no plans for them to completely merge, as both companies want to hold on to your data. Switching from Alexa to Cortana will help you use voice assist for Office 365, as well as connect with more IoT stuff in your home. Switching back to Alexa will be great for listening to streaming music and of course, buying stuff from Amazon.
There was a hint earlier this year, but now 9to5mac.com says the Korea Herald has added to it….the ‘it’ is a 6.46 inch iPhone for 2018. The new iPhone 8 is due to bow on the 12th of September, and will sport a 5.85 inch screen, but apparently there will be the new bigger Plus model a year from now. Samsung is reputedly building the world’s largest OLED factory in prep for these phones and their own. The bigger 2018 iPhone would have its own production line.
iPhone 8 Gesture Controls; Amazon Echo Goes Muiti-Room; Sonos Making Smart Speaker; Cummins Announces Electric Big RigPosted: August 30, 2017
There’s already been a lot leaked about the iPhone 8, but now, here’s something new from bloomberg.com: in addition to losing the physical home button, Apple has added gesture controls that open the home screen and can actually move the software-based task bar up to mid-screen, open multitasking, and more. The task bar will look like the dock for iPad on iOS 11. In multitasking, instead of the stack overlapping cards to swipe through, it will appear of a series of standalone cards.
Getting the drop on Apple’s HomePod by a few months, Amazon has dropped a new feature letting you play, sync, and control music over multiple Echos using voce commands. 9to5mac.com says they have also rolled out new developer tools.
Meanwhile, Sonos…which has been the big name in home speakers…is working on a new one with integrated voice control functionality. According to bgr.com, the CEO has said he wants it to work with ‘all services that matter.’ While getting into Apple’s closed system and Siri is probably out, expect it to work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The FCC filing says it will work with ‘multiple voice platforms!’ It may be rolled out in October.
Tesla plans to unveil their electric truck next month. Now, diesel engine maker Cummins has announced their own electric big rig. Electrek.co says it’s designed as an ‘urban hauler,’ and has a 100 mile range on batteries. The rig can recharge in an hour, and Cummins says that will be improved before it hits the market. A hybrid version with a small diesel will also be offered, boasting a 300 mile range. The rig will pull a 44,000 lb. load.
YouTube Updates Desktop and Mobile Apps; Google Maps Adds Parking Lots in 25 Cities; Aston Martin Going All-Electric or HybridPosted: August 29, 2017
YouTube is rolling out updates to its desktop and mobile versions. Cnet.com reports that it will have a more consistent look across platforms. They have also added a feature to mobile that the desktop had…speeding up or slowing down playback. The newer apps will also adjust to fit the video format you are watching. If the video is vertical, the player will become vertical. They have also added a Dark Theme for the desktop that lets you make the background go dark.
Google Maps has added a feature called ‘Find Parking,’ 9to5google.com says it will show you parking lots and garages in 25 major cities in the US on the Android app. San Francisco, LA, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, and Boston are included…although parking is obviously not the issue in Houston right now! The feature works in tandem with the Parking Difficulty one Google rolled out in January that indicates how tough parking is based on machine learning and current parking data.
In the future, Bond…James Bond, will be looking for a Supercharger instead of pulling into a gas station. Storied British sports car maker Aston Martin has announced that they will be 100% hybrid by the mid 2020’s, and a quarter of all DB models will be EVs by 2030. Maybe Q can rig one up that uses an electric powered lightening bolt instead of the usual machine guns and rockets 007 has used to make his high speed escapes from SPECTRE. Arstechnica.com says the first all-electric Aston Martin will be the RapidE, a quick 4 seater due on the pavement in 2019.
iPhone Day September 12th; Galaxy Note 8- Record Bright Screen; New From Fitbit; Expedia CEO to Helm UberPosted: August 28, 2017
Multiple sources, notably the Wall St. Journal, say Apple will roll out its updated handsets, included the widely anticipated iPhone 8 on September 12th. A lot of details are already known, including wireless charging. Now, it appears Apple’s iPhone 8 and the upgraded 7’s will only support the slower wireless charging standard from Qi. If rumors are true, pre-orders will start September 15th, and phones will be out the 22nd. Apple will also drop new Apple Watch models and a 4K capable Apple TV.
Some reports in the last week have snorted that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 isn’t much of an improvement over the 7, or the S8 models. After some testing, 9to5google.com reports that the screen brightness is 22% better than on the Galaxy S8. Tests were run by DisplayMate. The phablet is not only that much brighter than the S8, it is nearly TWICE as bright as Apple’s iPhone 7!
Fitbit has released 3 new products. According to businessinsider.com, they are a new smartwatch called the Ionic, the Fitbit Flyer, their first ever wireless headphones, and the Aria 2, a redesigned of their Wi-Fi scale. The ionic smartwatch features 4 day battery life, GPS, water resistance to 50 meters, better heart rate tracking, in-device music storage, and contactless payments. Three colors are available: Silver Gray, Smoke Gray, and Burnt Orange. All are available with interchangeable leather and sport bands. The watches start at $299.95.
The Flyer wireless headphones are of the type with interconnecting wire between, reside in-ear, and are sweat proof. They connect with the Ionic watch, so you can listen to up to 300 songs without having a smartphone along. Fitbit claims 6 hours of play time, and the tariff will be $129.95. Preorders open Monday, they’ll be in stores and online by October. They come in Lunar Gray and Nightfall Blue.
Nope. Not Jeff Immelt. Not Meg Whitman, either. Uber will be helmed by Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Recode.net says the board has voted on what Recode calls the ‘truce’ choice for the board, which has been squabbling about ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and investor Benchmark. Benchmark had backed Meg, while Kalanick pulled for Immelt.
The highly anticipated (and even more highly hyped) iPhone 8 will roll out on September 12th. Techcrunch.com reports that the date was confirmed by rooting around with the telecom companies and finding that Apple plans a press event for that date. If the usual format since 2012 is followed, the phone should be on sale a week later on September 22nd. Multiple sources have cautioned that the iPhone 8 will be in extremely tight supply until close to the holidays.It’s expected that the upgraded Apple Watch 3 will drop with the iPhone, and of course the next version of the OS, iOS 11.
Google will unveil the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL on October 5th, according to android police.com. The next gen phones will be powered by Snapdragon 836 chips. All rumors point to the XL just being a larger version of the 2. Both will have 4 gigs of RAM, dual front facing speakers, an always on display, and as we noted earlier, the feature Mr Whipple of Charmin would love, a squeezable frame to relay commands to the phone.
In a MSNBC interview, Samsung’s mobile division boss confirmed that they are working on a smart speaker…something previously defined. Engadget.com says it will be announced ‘soon,’ but probably not by next week’s IFA show. A smart speaker is a logical next move, since Samsung just expanded their Bixby voice assistant to over 200 countries this week. It’s expected that Bixby will be the ‘star feature’ of the Samsung smart feature.
Google & Walmart Team Up to Take on Amazon’s Voice Based Shopping; Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 Launch Date; Samsung’s Bixby Spreads to 200 CountriesPosted: August 23, 2017
Samsung officially rolled out the Galaxy Note 8 in New York today. The widely anticipated successor to the flameout Note 7 has a 6.3 inch display, dual cams, and 6 gigs of RAM. You get 64 gigs of storage plus what you can add with an SD card. 9to5google.com reports It has a more ‘boxy’ look than the 7, in a callback to previous Notes. The dual 12Mp cameras on the back are different than Apple’s different focal length system. One is a standard cam, and the other shoots black and white. The standard lens takes wide angle shots and the monochrome one shoots telephoto. This should produce a 2X optical zoom and take better low light shots. The phablet should be available September 15th, and will come in silver, orchid gray, gold, and the new ‘deep sea’ blue.
Google and Walmart have announced you will be able to use Walmart’s ‘Easy Reorder’ feature via Google Assistant through a Google Home speaker. Techcrunch.com says Google Express has also ditched membership fees and now promises 1 to 3 day free delivery for minimum orders or more. Amazon with Alexa will still remain the 800 pound gorilla of voice online shopping, but a partnership of Google and Walmart should give them a serious run for their money. It’s a LOT of money, too…RBC Capital figures Alexa could be a $10 billion business by 2020.
Bixby…the intelligent assistant which Samsung dropped very late earlier this summer in the US, for the Galaxy S8 phones, is now live in 200 countries in addition to Korea and the US…including UK, Australia, and Canada. This rollout just a day before today (Wednesday’s) big unveiling of the Galaxy Note 8 in New York City.
A Google Dot and Pixel Chromebook; Facebook Safety Check Gets Button; Apple’s iPhone 8 3D Tech Ahead of Qualcomm by 2 Years; ‘O’ is For OreoPosted: August 22, 2017
Google may put out a smaller version of its home speaker rivaling the Amazon Echo Dot. This would allow you to add voice control to traditional audio system or string together several Home units…Google Assistant everywhere! Also possibly bowing this fall may be a Pixel branded Chromebook. Theverge.com says since the Pixel Chromebook rumor just surfaced, that device may not be introduced in October, but later in a separate rollout.
Facebook is giving more prominence to its Safety Check feature. According to techcrunch.com, a dedicated button is rolling out on both the app and the desktop. In addition to checking to see if family and friends are safe after a crisis, it will indicate places around the world where Safety Check has been recently enabled.
It’s widely reported that the iPhone 8 will have 3D sensing, and now KGI Securities reports that the system is 2 years ahead of Qualcomm’s 3D tech in both hardware and software. This will give Apple a couple years head start over Android devices in 3D sensing abilities. Some tech reporters that have sneered at the cutout in the display atop the iPhone 8 for cameras and sensors may eat their words if the advanced 3D sensing turns out as spectacular as suspected.
Google announced yesterday…in an event during the eclipse…that Android O would be called Oreo. Cnet.com says a major focus on the update is better batter life. Oreo also gets smarter copy and paste. If it detects that what you have started to highlight is an address, it will highlight the entire thing, so you don’t have to. It then may suggest a map in addition to ‘paste.’ The update will be available by the end of the year on Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Essential, Huawei, HTC, LG, and Motorola. It should roll out to Pixel and Nexus phones ‘soon.’
Google Looking to Xiaomi to Produce Next Android One; Bay Area Check-Out Free Startup Takes on Amazon; VW WILL Have Electric Microbus in 2022Posted: August 21, 2017
Xiaomi of China makes an array of gadgets, that are generally high quality and noticeably cheaper than any competition. They have already been producing smartphones, and now may be connecting with Google to make the next Android One. Thenextweb.com reports that they are reworking their 5.5 inch Mi 5X into basically an Android One. It has a dual cam like the iPhone 7 Plus’ Portrait mode, and has good build quality and battery life. If everything pans out, Google could bring an Android One phone to the US by late this year or early next for $200-$300!
We’ve reported on Amazon’s check-out free system they are working on called Amazon Go. Now, Standard Cognition out of Palo Alto is releasing what they call an ‘alternative technology’ to eliminate the checkout process at retailers. According to geekwire.com, the startup is in talks with retailers to set up pilots in stores. Their tech uses machine vision and artificial intelligence to identify each item and detect which ones are picked up, put back, or left elsewhere in the store. They will have two apps…one for shoppers and one for the stores. As a shopper, you just grab your stuff and leave. The bill will be charged to you automatically via the app. ‘Appless’ customers will be directed by store staff to kiosks like self checkouts, where they can pay with cash or credit. Walmart also is testing a similar system they call ‘Scan & Go’
We’ve seen pictures, renders, and teases, now we know that Volkswagen will build the I.D. Buzz electric Microbus by 2022. Mashable.com says it should have a version that can make 300 miles on a charge, and be able to recharge to 80% in 30 minutes with VW’s fast charge system. Since it’s electric, it will have tons of space, and VW plans a commercial version companies can use for deliveries in inner cities that are going to eventually ban gas and diesel vehicles. It will have Level 3 self-driving, so some cruising without full driver participation will be possible. I’m seeing lines of old hippies showing up at VW dealerships looking like Fry from Futurama yelling ‘take my money!’
Apple Watch May Not Make Voice Calls at Launch; PayPal & Apple Pay Cut off White Supremacists; Nokia 8 Boasts Dubious ‘Bothie’ PhotosPosted: August 17, 2017
Despite the very strong rumors that Apple Watch will launch with an LTE capable model, it looks like it won’t initially make voice calls. Appleinsider.com says the LTE capability will initially just work for faster data. Voice calling will likely be activated later in the year. In the meantime, the Watch will support FaceTime, Skype, and other apps that make calls, so it will still be pretty Dick Tracy. KGI Securities says it might even be early 2018 before the Watch will make cell calls over the regular carrier networks.
Apple Pay and PayPal have both cut off websites that sell Nazi apparel and materials. According to buzzfeed.com, white supremacist merch will be banned. Uber, Facebook, Twitter, MailChimp, and WordPress have also taken some live of action against the groups. Earlier, Airbnb had cancelled lodging attempts by white supremicist groups trying to book in Charlottesville.
In a sign that feature creep has gotten to the point of ridiculousness, the new Nokia 8, an otherwise good hero smartphone, has introduced the ‘bothie.’ Mashable.com reports that the phone has a feature called Dual Sight, that lets you view the back and front cams on a split screen, and shoot simultaneous photos with them. The ‘bothie’ feature works on both photos and video, and can be live streamed to social media. It’s $701, and rolls out in September. If you buy one…and it’s a nice phone…PLEASE don’t post ‘bothies!’
Facebook Makes News Feed Changes; Galaxy Note 8 Gets Exclusive Color; iPhone 7 Reigns as World’s Most Popular SmartphonePosted: August 16, 2017
Just as I was about to write these words, my Facebook newsfeed changed! Call it a crazy coincidence or their algorithms are REALLY creepy, but it’s a somewhat different look. 9to5mac.com reports that The comment section now looks more like chat bubbles…and speaking of chat, now, the chat has its own column instead of the pop up from the bottom. Watch for profile pics to go circular, and updated Like, Comment, and Share buttons, among other things. The changes are being rolled out gradually…so you may not see them for a while yet.
As if there wasn’t enough buzz about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8….despite the demise by fire of the popular Note 7 last year, they are adding an exclusive color that won’t be available on the S8. According to bgr.com, it’s ‘Deep Sea Blue.’ The S8 has a Coral Blue in partnership with Best Buy, but the note will be sporting the Deep Sea Blue all by itself. It debuts next week, and should be have a princely price near $1000.
While it is expected to lose sales in the run up to the iPhone 8 rollout next month, and right after due to shortages, iPhone 7 stays on the top of the heap as the world’s most popular smartphone in the June Quarter. Macrumors.com says Apple shipped 16.9 million iPhone 7 handsets and 15.1 million 7 Plus models (for 2nd place) in the quarter. The Galaxy S8 was third at 10.2 million and the S8 Plus was 4th with 9 million even.
Xiaomi was 5th with 5.5 million, then there’s everybody else. Don’t cry too hard for the also rans…they accounted for 303.7 million smartphones!