Apple Ditching Qualcomm Modems; Unbreakable Phone Screens in Works; Surface Pro with LTE Advanced Next Month

Apple has been squabbling in court with Qualcomm for some time, and Qualcomm has withheld software used to test its communications components. Now, according to appleinsider.com, Apple is designing phones and iPads to run on Intel and MediaTek modems. Apple has used multiple suppliers for years in iPhones, but often the Qualcomm modems have been the ones that could work on bands used by more carriers.

Who hasn’t dropped their phone and sweated it cracking or breaking…or worse, picked it up to see a shattered screen? Now, thenextweb.com reports that scientists at the University of Sussex may have a solution…screens made of silver nanowire and graphene. Present screens that use indium tin oxide are not only fragile…indium is scarce and expensive, and an environmental disaster to extract. Of course, the world isn’t exactly flooded with silver, either…that’s where the silver nanoparticles come in. Combining them with graphene…made from plentiful graphite…you get a less expensive and stronger alternative. With any luck, this development…which the scientists say is easily scalable to mass production…will be in phones soon, and broken screens will be pretty much a thing of the past!

Microsoft is planning to ship a new version of Surface Pro tablets that have LTE Advanced mobile connectivity by early december. Geekwire.com says the successor to the Surface Pro 4 will start at $1149 with 4 gigs of RAM and 128 gigs storage. An 8 gig of RAM and 256 gigs storage model will set you back $1449. Both run an Intel Core i5 processor.


iPhone X Production Now Stabilizing; Nintendo Switch Chasing All-Time Sales Record

Supply constraints on the iPhone X and it’s complex TrueDepth camera system are opening up. Macrumors.com has picked up a report by KGI securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In addition to iPhone X production ramping up, Kuo says he expects all iPhones next year to have Face ID like the iPhone X, with Apple dropping Touch ID.

After the flop of the Wii U, Nintendo needed a hit, and it’s got a big one. According to businessinsider.com, the Switch is poised to sell some 14 million systems this year. That compares to just over 13 million EVER for the Wii U, which was on the market for 5 years! Next year should look good for the Switch too, with new games from the Pokemon, Yoshi, and Kirby franchises on the way. Nintendo is promising better Switch availability for the holiday season too.


iPhone 8 Sales Sluggish; Google Addressing Pixel 2 Screen Issues; India Passes Up US

It appears LOTS of people have been holding out for this morning’s preorder of iPhone X. 9to5mac.com reports that purchase data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows the iPhone 8 is selling less than an S model has in the past. iPhone 8 and Plus models were only 16% of all iPhone sales last quarter, compared with 24% for the 6S and 6S Plus models. We won’t know for a while how iPhone X is selling or will sell, but it basically sold out immediately earlier this morning, with shipping estimates not at 5 to 6 weeks wait time. There will be a very limited number in stores next Friday, November 3, if you love standing in line and taking your chances. **Update: iPhone X reportedly sold out in 38 minutes early this morning.

Complaints have been flying about screens on the new Google Pixel 2 models…colors faded, screen burn of previous images, strange shades of blue at off-axis viewing angles, and on top of those, a high pitched ‘clicking’ during calls. Google says, they are investigating all, and a Google forum post says they are addressing them in an Android update. For the colors, they are adding a ‘saturated’ mode to the ‘vivid’ mode already included. To eliminate the burn effect, they are dropping the screen brightness by 50 nits…an amount that is nearly undetectable to the naked eye. A software fix is coming for the clicking, but you can turn off NFC to fix in the meantime. To ease fears of the bugs, Google has extended the warranty of all Pixel 2 and 2 XL models to two years.

‘We’re number…three?’ Yep, India has passed the US, and is now the world’s #2 smartphone market, behind China. According to techcrunch.com, India exceeded 40 million phones in the 3rd quarter. Looking at India’s 1.3 billion population compared to the US with 320 million, it seems unlikely that the US will regain the slot. China remains far and away the leader with 110 million shipped per quarter.


iPhone X Preorders Start at midnight Friday; Waymo to Test Self-Driving on Snow & Ice in Michigan; Daimler Shows Electric Truck

Preorders go live tonight at the stroke of a little after midnight for the iPhone X (because Apple is NEVER ready right at midnight!) According to bgr.com and me, your best chance of getting one of the pricey new hero phones is to use the iOS app and buy from Apple…since you know they are holding the lion’s share of phones for their own sales channel. I have found in the past that it pays to keep the app open in both your iPhone and an iPad, and alternate trying to complete the buy until one goes through. It may take you 15-30 minutes, but you are likely to score a phone…and Apple is guaranteed to score a mountain of cash!

Waymo is hauling some of it’s Chrysler Pacifica minivans to Michigan to test their self-driving system out in ice and snow. Arstechnica.com reports that most testing up to now has been in Mountain View, CA, Phoenix, AZ, and Austin, TX…all places that rarely if ever get snow. Besides ice and snow, Michigan already has a Waymo facility they use to collaborate with car makers headquartered in Detroit. Meanwhile, as they test out cold weather conditions, Waymo is making plans to expand their self driving taxi service from Phoenix to other warm weather locations like San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

Tesla may have postponed the rollout of their electric truck, but original car maker Daimler has rolled right ahead, and showed their E-Fuso Vision One at the Tokyo Motor Show this week. Theverge.com says the truck can haul 11 tons, and make it 217 miles on a charge. Daimler didn’t indicate how quickly the truck can be recharged, but did say they would be aiming for mature markets with more charging stations like Japan and Europe before looking to the US.


Apple Reducing Face ID Accuracy to Speed iPhone X Production; Amazon Rolls Out Amazon Key for Home Security/Delivery

Apple has eased the required accuracy of the 3D sensing modules for their Face ID going into the new iPhone X, in order to catch up lagging production. According to macrumors.com, suppliers were only able to get 20% of the dot projectors used for face ID to work properly. By easing requirements slightly, they are now getting 50% or better to work, which is apparently an acceptable yield. Even with the reduced standard, Face ID is expected to be an order of magnitude better than Touch ID, which would allow a one in 50,000 chance that someone other than the owner could open the phone. Apple still expects preorders to start this Friday, and claims there will be phones available in retail stores for walk in customers November 3rd (we’re betting no more than 2 or 3 per store, though!)
**Since this story came out from Bloomberg and others, Apple has issued an official denial.

Amazon is diving into home security, with an Amazonian twist. Geekwire.com reports that they have rolled out a security camera called Cloud Cam, and a companion Amazon Key app. The security cam, which sells for $119.99 can pair with smart locks to give Prime members the ability to let in house cleaners, dog walkers, and of course package delivery services (like Amazon). Cloud Cam drops November 8th in selected markets, and the companion subscription service runs $6.99 to $19.99 per month, depending on features like person detection, extended cloud storage, and ability to daisy chain up to 10 cameras. A free tier allows for 24 hours of video clips and can handle up to 3 cams.


Apple Working With LG on Foldable iPhone; Echo Dot Loses Its Touch; Toyota Hydrogen Trucks Go To Work in LA

We have heard rumors for a year that Samsung is working on a foldable phone. Now, it turns out Apple is, as well. Apple’s has some ‘one more thing’ type big trick, apparently…they are working with LG’s display unit on the OLED screens, for fear Samsung will steal their idea…which has happened wholesale in the past. According to 9to5mac.com, LG Innotek is also working on the rigid flexible circuit board that would power the phone. It’s expected in 2020. Samsung may have one out by next year.

Yesterday, we reported that Amazon’s preproduction Echo Dots were staying on all the time and eavesdropping on tech reporters that were supposed to be reviewing them. Google sent a patch, and said they were working on a more permanent fix. Now, 9to5google says it apparently wasn’t feasible…Google has killed the tap to wake feature…which was apparently causing the problem. Sorry, you’ll have to go to all the trouble of saying ‘OK, Google’ to wake your Echo Dot…but that beats the hell out of it recording everything in your bedroom 24/7!

All the attention is on electric cars, and even on a couple electric semi-trucks, with Tesla teasing showing their version soon. Another alternative fuel is hydrogen. While Mercedes and a couple of Japanese makers have done quite a bit with hydrogen fuel cell cars, not much has happened on the truck front…until now. According to techcrunch.com, Toyota is starting a pilot with fuel cell big rigs at the Port of LA. The rigs have 670 horsepower, and dan haul and 80,000 lb. load. They can run about 200 miles a day. If the fuel cells stand up to the frequent refueling, Toyota plans to test longer haul semi trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells.


Amazon Doorbell To Let Delivery People in Once; Amazon Prime ‘Really Valuable’ to Whole Foods Shoppers; Google Mini Bug Left Mics On; Movie Studios Band Together For Easier Film Downloads

The battle of grocery home delivery has heated up, with Amazon matching Walmart with in home, right to the fridge deliveries. Amazon, however, may have an ace up its sleeve…theverge.com says they are working on a smart doorbell device that could allow delivery drivers one-time access to enter a home and drop off a package or groceries to the fridge! Amazon has been talking to Phrame, which makes smart license plate frames that secure an emergency key.

If, like a lot of people, grocery shopping means running to the store, Amazon is also touting Prime membership further…according to geekwire.com, Amazon is promising to make Prime membership ‘really valuable’ to Whole Foods shoppers, essentially making Amazon Prime the customer rewards program at Whole Foods. Amazon says that so far, the merger is going well enough they are thinking about shutting down their own grocery services and doing everything through the Whole Foods subsidiary.

Google is working on a fix for the Google Home Mini. Some of the pre-production ones don’t wait for you to address them….they have been listening and recording every word. 9to5google.com says it’s because the devices think they are getting a touch to activate. They have put out a patch to make them respond only to the verbal ‘OK Google’ command, and are working on a fix for the hardware gesture.

In a move that’s amazing for Hollywood, Disney, Fox, Warner, & Universal may team up on downloadable movies. Engadget.com reports that they have signed up to make flicks available through Disney’s new film service. The studios hope people will just buy more movies directly through the service instead of going through iTunes, Amazon, etc. to get links to download. It isn’t known if the studios will continue to support Ultraviolet to provide cross platform links.


2018 iPad Pro May Get Face ID; Apple’s Amazing Market Penetration; Galaxy S9 Will Rock Advantage Over All Other Androids; Waymo’s Self-Driving Education Campaign

It’s looking like Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro models will have a True Depth cam and support Face ID. Macrumors.com reports that KGI Securities sees the features migrating over from the iPhone X. The system will only be on the Pro models, not the other iPads.

A lot of us can remember when Apple’s Mac had 3% or 5% of the PC market. According to a new survey picked up by appleinsider.com, that puny penetration is not Apple’s problem in the US anymore. The CNBC All-American Economic Survey finds that 64% of all Americans own an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or iPod product! Not only that, the number of Apple products in active use has gone from 1.6 to 2.6 products per household. If you think Apple stuff is a little rich…you’re right…87% of households claiming an income over $100,000 have at least one Apple product.

Samsung strikes again….strikes a deal on processors, that is. Bgr.com says they have inked a deal with Qualcomm to have an exclusive on the upcoming Snapdragon 845 chip for the Galaxy S9 and S9+. In addition to getting the jump on other Android makers with faster silicon, Samsung will allegedly roll out the new handsets a month earlier…probably in February 2018, but some rumors say they will drop even before Mobile World Congress…maybe in January.

Some people are super excited about self-driving cars, and others are honestly a little put off if not scared by the proposition. Now, Google division Waymo is launching a campaign to teach people about self-driving cars. Mashable.com reports that Way is partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Foundation for Blind Children, the National Safety Council, and Foundation for Senior Living in developing a website and ad and promotion materials extolling the virtues of self-driving cars. Ads will run on the internet and digital and radio outlets as well. The campaign is called ‘Let’s Talk Self Driving.’


Galaxy Note 9 May Get Under Display Print Reader; Other Android Makers Looking To Face ID Clones; GM Buys Lidar Maker For Self-Driving; Food Delivered to Your Mouth-We Will Become Like In Wall-E

Apple had to ditch the effort for the iPhone X, but Samsung is working on putting under screen fingerprint sensors in the Galaxy Note 9 for next year. Businessinsider.com reports that they are planning to let you unlock your screen simply by touching a finger on part of it.

Meanwhile, other Android makers are turning to developing 3D sensing for Face ID clones like Apple has in the soon to be released iPhone X. Appleinsider.com says the number of makers looking at 3D sensing has tripled since Apple showed off the tech in September. It’s not all about unlocking phones…the 3D tech also opens the door to AR…augmented reality.

General Motors has bought Strobe, a 3 year old startup that makes lidar tech for self driving vehicles. According to the New York Times, the company will be folded into Cruise Automation, the GM self-driving subsidiary. The General says it will help accelerate its efforts to develop and build electric cars with self-driving capabilities. They are saying the tech will help bring such cars to the market sooner than you think!

Researchers at University of Sussex have developed TastyFloats…a food delivery system that levitates food morsels right into your mouth…no hands or utensils! Thenextweb.com says it’s not really ro make us like the denizens of Wall-E, but to test if food tastes differently without touch or manipulation. It uses two phased arrays of ultrasonic transducers to transport the morsels of food. OTOH, someone may ‘monitize’ the idea, and then we really could all become porky couch potatoes.


Pixel 2 Takes Top Cam Spot from iPhone 8 and Galaxy Note 8; Netflix is Upping Prices; Zunum Rolls Out Electric Plane

For now, at least, the new Google Pixel 2 reigns supreme in smartphone cameras…scoring a 98 in DxO Labs’ test. The iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 tied at 94. Macrumors.com notes that the Google phone may not have the top spot for long…Apple’s iPhone X will be out in late November. The lab tests found the cam was nearly flawless except in very low light images, but had ‘amazing’ ability to render detail in both the bright and dark areas of difficult scenes. If you didn’t preorder one yesterday, prepare to wait…a lot of models are sold out!

Just in time for me to grumble about it when the new season of ‘Stranger Things’ debuts later this month, Netflix has raised prices. According to businessinsider.com, the cheapie plan stays at $7.99…but the most popular ‘standard plan,’ which scores you HD and 2 simultaneous streams, jumps from $9.99 to $10.99 a month. The Cadillac plan that has 4K video and 4 simultaneous streams goes form $11.99 to $13.99. Netflix says they know people don’t like price increases, but will be spending almost $7 billion on content next year, including their own productions.

Seattle area based Zunum has unveiled its electric powered airplane, slated for first deliveries in 2022. Geekwire.com says the company has added a second development center in Chicago, in addition to what they have in Kirkland, WA. They are shooting for flight testing to start in 2019 and deliveries in 2022. Eventually, they hope to crank out a couple hundred of the thousand mile range electric planes per year. They expect most to to to regional air carriers…noting that with today’s hub and spoke system, there are some 5,000 underserved airports in the US. The plane can carry 12 passengers in economy type configuration, or 6 in executive travel mode.