Oculus Connect 5 Update

Facebook is holding their Oculus Connect 5 event in San Jose. According to techcrunch.com, they will be showing off their stand alone headset, which has been code named ’Santa Cruz.’ What’s unknown now is the pricing. With the Oculus Go selling for $199, some analysts expect the free standing headset to run $349-$399. It will be powered by a Snapdragon 845, while the Go has the older 821 chip set. Also expected tomorrow will be a sneak peak at the next-gen Oculus Rift. The present Rift is 2 years old, and it’s thought the update will utilize the ‘half dome’ manner of lenses focusing on objects…dynamically like your eyeballs instead of fixed focal distance. [UPDATE: The Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset that uses touch controllers, will go on sale next spring for $399. Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the product today at the company’s Oculus Connect developer conference.]

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Oculus Connect 5 Tomorrow; Apple Watch Gets 2nd Manufacturer; Google Chrome Addressing Log in Privacy; ARM Chip Just for Autonomous Cars; Airport Face Scanning #FAIL

Facebook is holding their Oculus Connect 5 event in San Jose. According to techcrunch.com, they will be showing off their stand alone headset, which has been code named ’Santa Cruz.’ What’s unknown now is the pricing. With the Oculus Go selling for $199, some analysts expect the free standing headset to run $349-$399. It will be powered by a Snapdragon 845, while the Go has the older 821 chip set. Also expected tomorrow will be a sneak peak at the next-gen Oculus Rift. The present Rift is 2 years old, and it’s thought the update will utilize the ‘half dome’ manner of lenses focusing on objects…dynamically like your eyeballs instead of fixed focal distance. [UPDATE: The Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset that uses touch controllers, will go on sale next spring for $399. Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the product today at the company’s Oculus Connect developer conference.]

It’s been noted that the Apple Watch 4 is selling much better than Apple had expected. Now, macrumors.com says Apple is adding another manufacturer in Taiwan to help keep up with demand. Compal Electronics will begin mass producing Watch 4 in November, joining Quanta Computer, which is apparently maxed out trying to keep up with Apple Watch 4 sales. Apple Watch is now not only the most popular smartwatch by an number of metrics, but has apparently passed Rolex as the world’s most popular watch of any kind.

We just reported that there was a dubious feature that when you logged into a Google account, you got logged into Chrome too, and your browsing data got sent to Google. Now, thenextweb.com reports Google will address this privacy concern in the next release of Chrome….which will be version 70. With the update, you will be able to toggle an option called Allow Chrome sign-in, so can choose not to if you prefer. Also to be addressed is a nasty little issue…Chrome 69 apparently keeps Google cookies EVEN if you delete them! They have promised that 70 will fix this issue, too.

ARM has added what they call a Split-Lock feature to their 64 bit Cortex A76…which will now be the A76AE….for automotive enhanced. According to the Register, the improved chip is aimed at running code controlling self-driving vehicles. By allowing the split of cores, if there’s a malfunction, the other core should be able to keep running code, which is pretty important when it’s driving your vehicle. ARM hopes the improvement will keep them in the self-driving auto game along with Intel and Nvidia.

The US has been testing face scanning at airports, but with less than stellar results so far. Engadget.com says they are only catching about 85%, and have trouble matching people from specific age groups and countries. The Inspector General’s Office says they may not be ready for deployment in the top 20 airports by 2021 as originally planned.


Pixel 3 Will Support Real Time Google Lens; iPhone Xs Max Outselling Xs; Changed Chrome Login Requirements; LinkedIn Sharing Company & Workforce Data

Lately, the leaks have been coming fast and frequently about the Google Pixel 3 phone, due out next month. 9to5google.com says a new one involves Google Lens. Lens already integrates with the camera app on Pixel phones. A leaked video, since taken down, shows the Pixel 3 supporting real-time results with Google Lens natively inside the Google Camera app. In other words, the Pixel 3 will be able to process results for things Lens recognizes directly within the viewfinder…for example, if you are looking at a business card, it will suggest adding an email address you don’t have…you won’t have to actually take a picture of the card to select dropping the address or other info into your contacts list.

So far, Apple’s biggest and most expensive phone ever is outselling it’s smaller sibling. Theverge.com reports that analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has found that the iPhone Xs Max is selling at 3-4 times the rate the smaller Xs is selling at. Gold and Space Grey are more popular colors, and the 256 gig storage version is most popular so far. There have been rumors out today that Apple is still having manufacturing issues with the cheaper iPhone XR, and the release date for it may be delayed a bit in October…but Kuo says he’s confident the choke points slowing it down will dramatically improve after October.

The latest Chrome update has new login requirements stashed in it, and Google didn’t bother to alert users. According to business insider.com, a cryptography expert and professor at Johns Hopkins named Matthew Green found the change. By being logged in, users unwittingly send their browser data to Google. There is apparently a new ’sync consent’ menu that Google claims allows users to opt out.

LinkedIn will, for the first time, share its data on companies and workers. Geekwire.com says their newest tool, Talent Insights, lets users run detailed reports on individual companies, talent populations, skills, and other categories….for a fee, of course. You can drill down on what areas are hotbeds for specific types of talent, who employs them, what schools they come from, pay range, and more. Around 100 companies have been testing Talent Insights ahead of the official launch. The annual subscription cost varies, depending on the customer.


SiriusXM Buying Pandora; Walmart Using Oculus Go For Employee Training; A Stake in Airbnb for Hosts; Apple Adding Depth Control During Photo Shooting

SiriusXM is to buy Pandora via an all stock deal, with the value set at $3.5 billion. According to cnbc.com, the deal includes a provision where Pandora can potentially enter into a better deal if they can find it. Pandora claims about 6 million premium subscribers. It’s possible another deal could come in for more, but Apple and Spotify have looked at the streamer already, and didn’t bite. Barring an angel stepping in, the deal with SiriusXM will close the first quarter of 2019.

Walmart is putting Oculus Go VR headsets in all its stores nationwide, to be used in employee training programs. Zdnet.com reports that there should be around 17,000 of the virtual reality headsets deployed in Walmarts around the country by the end of the year. Walmart plans to train on new technology, compliance, and ’soft skills’ like empathy and customer service.

Airbnb has reportedly sent a letter to the SEC asking the government agency to allow offering equity in the company to hosts. Engadget.com says basically this would allow shares to go to gig economy workers, not just investors and staff. Uber has asked for this kind of deal more than once, but in Airbnb’s case, they are asking for a rule change to allow it, not just an exception. So far, the SEC has not responded.

The new iPhone Xs and Xs Max have a cool feature for the bokeh portrait effect. When the phones rolled out, Apple announced that users could adjust the depth of field on an image after shooting it. Now, according to 9to5mac.com, Apple may add to this in an upcoming software update. Apparently, they are testing letting users adjust the depth of field while shooting a picture. The feature may come later this year in iOS 12.1 or 12.2, according to reports.


Go Pro Hero 7 Bows; Tesla Model 3-Five Star Safety Rating; 3,000 Amazon Go Stores by 2021; Amazon Hardware Event

After a leak, GoPro went ahead and officially announced the Hero 7 line of cams. They are in White, Silver, and Black versions. According to theverge.com, the new cams will be on sale September 27th, and range from $199 to $399. The pricey Black has 4K video at up to 60 fps, super slow motion, and features including live-streaming, a lapse mode, and ‘dramatically improved digital image stabilization.’ They are all the same form factor as previous models, so all your accessories should work with them.

Tesla’s Model 3 has been awarded a 5 star safety rating by the NHTSA in standard car tests. Reuters.com reports that the crash testing includes rollover safety as well as head on and side crashes. Previously, both the Model S and Model X had gotten 5 star ratings. The news bumped Tesla stock back up to $304 a share in early Thursday trading.

Amazon is ratcheting up its Amazon Go cashier-free stores from concept to more markets. Engadget.com says they are planning to have 3,000 of the grab and go stores open by 2021. There should be 10 by the end of this year, including New York and San Francisco, then 50 locations by 2019. Amazon looks to be focusing on dense metro areas for at least the first round of the stores that spare you standing in check out lines.

*Amazon will hold a surprise event at 11a Eastern today in Seattle to announce new hardware. Last year, they rolled out the smaller Echo Spot and Echo Plus. One strong rumor is an Echo subwoofer and a plug that allows you to add Alexa to any appliance you own.


Samsung Leak-4 Versions of Galaxy S10; iPhone Xs & Xs Max Ram & Battery Info; Fitbit Care Service; Woof! Sony’s Aibo Robot Dog

The Samsung Galaxy S9 hasn’t set any records so far…in fact, it’s the slowest selling Galaxy S phone series since 2012. That may be changing, though. Bgr.com says a new leak points to as any as 4 Galaxy S10 models! All will be powered by 7 nanometer chips like the new iPhones. It appears all will also be ‘full screen’ designs, again like Apple’s phones. On top of that, besting Apple at least this time around, there will be at least one with a triple-lens camera…AND a dual lens front selfie cam, too! The phones should rock an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor…it will live behind the display, so no fooling around to find the sensor on the back. There will be a new Chapter model, with slightly less dramatic specs, plus the main phone…with a 5.8 inch super AMOLED display, a bigger one with a 6.44 inch screen, and the 5 cameras, finally…a 5G model! We may see all of these, plus the long-rumored folding Samsung shoe at CES in Las Vegas this coming January.

Thanks to China’s Ministry of Industry, we now know the memory size of the new iPhones and their battery size. Macrumors.com reports that both the new iPhone Xs and Xs Max have 4 Gigs of RAM…the upcoming XR has 3 Gigs. The Xs Max sports the biggest battery ever in an Apple handset…3174 mAh, while the XR will have 2942 mAh. The Xs loses battery capacity compared to the X, going from 2716 down to 2658 mAh, a drop of 2.2%. Apple touts 90 more minutes of use time from the Xs Max over the old X, but several early testers say they are doing noticeably better than that.

Apple is far from alone when it comes to wearables getting into the health market…Fitbit has launched Fitbit Care, a service that will coat on staying well…whether it comes to slogging through your fitness plan or managing diseases. According to theverge.com, the service is a premium product designed for health care customers or employers and health systems that use Fitbit to keep tabs on employee health (and keep costs down.) There’s a new app (of course) called Fitbit Plus. It processes data from your Fitbit and other medical devices like blood pressure monitors. The app also features a social platform. First users are those with health insurance from Humana, which already provides customers with Fitbits. We will probably see a number of other companies dive in now that both Apple’s Watch and Fitbit devices have embraced health whole hog…or maybe that’s half-hog….or vegan, artificial hog.

Grab your credit card, and swallow hard…Sony’s revamped Aibo robot dog is up for pre-order in the US. Engadget.com says the adorable pup for early adapters, robot fans, and dog lovers that are allergic to actual pets ships mid-December. You’ll get Aibo, an ‘aibone,’ a pink ball, paw pads, and 3 years of AI cloud service…all for the small fee of (gulp) $2900! That’s more than a couple vet visits and a year’s supply of dog food for most! If you have the nearly 3 grand to throw down, hurry…it’s a limited edition!


Twitter-Giving Back Chron Timeline; 8 New Alexa Devices from Amazon; Galaxy Note 9 Blows Up; Mercedes Delivers e-Truck

Twitter is going to start testing a way to switch between what they think are the ‘best’ Tweets for you to pure chronological like they used to have. Engadget.com reports that the testing should start within the next few weeks. Eventually, they will have something similar to Facebook’s news feed switch between ‘Top Stories’ and ‘Most Recent.’ It can’t happen too soon!

Amazon will be dropping at least 8 new Alexa powered devices by the end of the year, according to CNBC. Look for a Microwave oven, an amplifier, a receiver, subwoofer, some sort of in-car gadget, and more. Alexa will be baked in to all. Expect Amazon to unveil at least some of the new gear at an event later this month.

Not a good sign for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9….a woman from New York says one ‘spontaneously combusted’ in her purse, echoing the old Galaxy Note 7. The story picked up by appleinsider.com came from the New York Post. Apparently, a Long Island real estate agent said her phone got ‘extremely hot’ and she dropped it into her bag. The bag smoked, caught fire, and burned up the stuff in her bag. This seems to be the only instance involving a Note 9 so far…stay tuned….

Mercedes has started delivery of the eActros electric trucks. Electrek.co says it ws to Hermes, Germany’s biggest logistics company. They are buying about 1500 all electric vans from Mercedes. The delivery vans have dual electric motors and two battery packs at 240 kWh. Even at that, it is only good for 125 miles of range with a full payload. The trucks can recharge in 3-11 hours depending on charge rate, which can run from as low as 20 kW up to 80 kW. Mercedes says Hermes is one of 20 ‘test customers’ as they work the kinks out of their all electric truck fleet.