Apple Could Make More iPhones Outside of China; Intel’s New Sunny Cove Chips & Archetecture; Amazon NYC Warehouse Workers Push for Union; Top 10 2018 Google Searches

With the continued threat of higher tariffs from the Trump Administration, Apple is looking at moving more iPhone production out of China. Techcrunch.com says Apple is looking at more production in India, and in Brazil, where Foxconn has had a factory since 2011. If there ends up being a 10% tariff, Apple (through Foxconn) will probably stay with China. If the tariff hits 25%, Apple will say goodbye to production in China (with the exception of phones built for sale within China proper.)

Starting new year, Intel will release Core and Xeon chips with a new architecture…the add a number of instructions that accelerate frequently used workloads like cryptography and compression. Intel claims a 75% improvement in compression performance. Arstechnica.com reports that Sunny Cove chips will be built using the 10nm process. It is a derivation of Skylake, but can execute more instructions in parallel with lower latency.

In news that will give Jeff Bezos heartburn, Amazon workers in New York City are pushing to unionize. They are working with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, and according to the verge.com want to address safety concerns, long unpaid security checks, what they term unreasonable hourly quotas, and insufficient breaks. A leak recently of an anti-union training video Amazon made has increased interest. Among other things, the video encourages managers to express opinions like ‘Unions are lying, cheating rats.’ Even the raise to $15 per hour doesn’t begin to cover things for workers living in NYC, which is also true of other costly areas like Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Because we love lists, and think it gives us insight into what the collective of humanity is (or was) thinking about, here are the top 10 Google searches of 2018: #10 (imagine some echo on the numbers if you must) Kate Spade; at 9, Stephen Hawking; XXXTentacion was in the 8th slot; #7 Anthony Bourdain (note that all of these people had died); the #6 most searched was Meghan Markle; 5 actually wasn’t a person…it was ‘Black Panther’ the movie; Stan Lee was 4th; #3 was Mac Miller; in 2nd place was Avicii; and the top spot was the World Cup. Don’t you feel so much more informed?

Advertisements

Vivo’s Dual Display NEX Phone; OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition; Amazon Gives Alexa Location Based Reminders & Routines; Daimler Buying $23 Billion Worth of Batteries for EVs

Vivo has come out with what they call an all-screen NEX smartphone. According to engadget.com, there’s NO selfie cam…but you won’t need one, they say. You can flip the phone around and just shoot your selfie with the pop up back cam…the back of the phone has a rear screen so you can set up your shot! The phone is called the NEX Dual Display Edition. The phone is out in China for $725 December 29th.

OnePlus has showed off a fancy new McLaren Edition 6T. The phone comes with 10 Gigs of RAM and 256 Gigs of storage, according to businessinsider.com. Part of the back is carbon fiber, and it has a beautiful but tough carbon fiber case….and of course, a racing stripe and the McLaren logo. Even with the vanity edition tweaked by the performance car maker, the phone is just $700…$300 less than an iPhone Xs…which doesn’t have that kind of memory or storage, and comes with no case at all to protect that glass back!

A major update has hit Alexa devices. Amazon has opened up new features, including location based routines and reminders, timer enhancements, app notifications, email support, and more. 9to5mac.com says the update was announced in September, but has just rolled out. An example given would be ‘Alexa, remind me to feed the dogs when I get home.’ When the Alexa device detects your phone inside the house, it will remind you. You can also program multiple routines with wait times…like turning on lights when you get up, but pausing for 20 minutes or so before switching on music or news.

Mercedes parent Daimler is going all-in on electric vehicles. The German giant is going to buy $23 billion worth of battery cells by 2030 to go into Mercedes-Benz EVs and commercial trucks. The company presently has supplier deals with LG, SK Innovation, and China’s CATL. Daimler plans to launch 130 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2022, and a number of commercial trucks, busses, and vans, too. Battery production for the cars with all those lithium-ion cells will be in 8 factories on 3 continents.


Chinese Court Backs Qualcomm Over Apple; Google Pixel 3 XL Lite; First 350Kw EV Chargers Installed; Flying Car Market Could be $1.5 Trillion

Qualcomm has gotten an injunction against Apple in a Chinese court, banning Apple from importing older iPhones into China. Theverge.com reports that the order would affect the 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Apple says it is still selling phones in China, and notes that iOS 12 (which is supported by all the phones blocked by the injunction) avoids the patent conflict. As new phones sold in China have this software or above, the ruling shouldn’t affect them at all. Qualcomm has been trying to ban Apple iPhones in China for over a year, as well as their attempt to ban the Apple handsets in the US (which has not been upheld by regulators.) The legal battle continues…and Qualcomm has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for abusing its modem monopoly in Taiwan and China. This court injunction gives Qualcomm more ammo in its claim that Apple has used its intellectual property without compensating them.

A new leak of pictures depicts Google’s ‘budget’ Pixel line. The Pixel 3 XL Lite will sport a 6 inch display and NO notch! The XL has a 5.5 inch display. Both handsets are expected to have plastic bodies, according to 9to5google.com, in keeping with the budget category. It appears that they may be powered by either a Snapdragon 670 or 710, and they sport a single rear cam. It’s unclear if they will have Google’s amazing photo software that lets the single cam phones compete with multi lens ones like Apple and Samsung have, but if so, and the price is enough lower, the ‘lite’ line could grab huge sales when it comes out.

Northern California now has some of the fastest electric vehicle chargers on the planet…even if no cars can use them yet! Engadget.com says Electrify America has installed two 350Kw chargers and eight that produce 150Kw at the Livermore Outlets, where there were already 20 Tesla Superchargers. The 350Kw chargers are expected to deliver 200 miles of range on a 10 minute charge. The Porsche Taycan will be able to use the high power stations, and will be on the market by 2020. Electrify America says its just getting ready for the future, with 17 other Simon outlet malls in California getting the high power chargers, and a number of others planned in other states.

We are still a ways away from George Jetson’s flying car that folds into a briefcase, but according to geekwire.com, Morgan Stanley has done a study that shows that autonomous flying cars…either air taxis or private vehicles, could be a $1.5 trillion dollar market by 2040! Both Boeing (through its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences) and Airbus are working on flying cars…with Airbus partnering with Vahana in Silicon Valley, Voom in Mexico and Brazil, and Audi. Lockheed Martin is also investing in eVTOL autonomous aircraft, and it looks like Northrop Grumman is jumping in, too. Raytheon and Harris are working on air traffic control tech. Morgan Stanley sees most of the money coming from transport of people, with only $413 billion from freight transportation.


Lyft Files for IPO; Amazon Crowdsourcing Alexa Answers to Tougher Questions; Apple Watch ECG App is in Latest Software

Lyft has turned a corner, going for and IPO in a confidential SEC filing this morning. According to geekwire.com, the number of shares and price range are to be determined…they weren’t listed in the filing. Uber has been expected to do an IPO in 2019, so Lyft is beating them to the punch here. Still, Lyft…even with the latest investment round where they pulled in another $600 million last June, is valued at a little over $15 billion, while Uber commands a $62 billion valuation. Both companies have expanded from ride hailing into bike sharing recently. While there’s no timing stated in the filing, Lyft is expected to do its IPO in the 1st half of 2019.

Amazon’s Alexa is at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to sticky questions…they don’t have Google’s deep Knowledge Graph. Now, in an effort to up Alexa’s game, Amazon is launching an invite-only program that asks customers to submit answers to Alexa’s more difficult questions. Techcrunch.com reports that Amazon has been testing Alexa Answers internally, and has added 100,000 responses in the last 30 days. With the crowdsourced answers, you will get a disclaimer that the answer is ‘from an Amazon customer.’

A feature that Apple announced earlier is now available on the latest model of Apple Watch….Series 4 With the latest, greatest Watch, and a download of WatchOS 5.1.2, you can now use the ECG app to take and ECG, and get an alert if it detects an irregular heartbeat. Businessinsider.com says the feature is easy to use…fire up the app, hold your finger on the watch crown for 30 seconds, and it displays a heart rhythm reading. It saves the data in a .pdf file you can send to your doctor, too. The app also detects irregular heartbeat- atrial fibrillation (AFib). That feature actually works on earlier models of Apple Watch. Both heart features are ‘cleared’ by the FDA in the US.


Ultrasound Powered Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor; Snapdragon 855; Google & Amazon Making AirPod Alternatives; Apple Adding Health Sensors to AirPods

Adding an extra layer to fingerprint sensor security, Qualcomm is baking in ultrasound to beef up its in-display fingerprint sensor. Engadget.com reports that the ultrasound will allow creation of a 3D mold of your finger, which will be much harder to copy. It will pick up on the ridges and even pores. As a bonus, the sensor should be able to tell it’s you, even though you still have a little of today’s lunch on your finger (wash up, you slob!) They didn’t allow testing at the demo, so we’ll have to wait to see how fast the new tech is.

Speaking of fast, Qualcomm also showed off its Snapdragon 855 at its event in Hawaii. According to 9to5google.com, the chip will power the 2019 flagship phones, including from Samsung. It will support multi-gigabit 5G, which also rolls out next year in a number of markets. Qualcomm says the chip has 3x the AI performance of last year’s chip.

It’s not that there aren’t already cheaper alternatives to Apple’s AirPods on the market, but a couple are coming from some heavyweights…Google and Amazon appear to be preparing to launch competitor products.

9to5mac.com says Apple isn’t exactly waiting around for the increased competition…they are working on more water resistance, support for Hey Siri, and interchangeability…so you could put one in an ear without checking to see if it’s Left or Right, and the AirPod would orient itself and the audio automatically. Apple is also expected to integrate health sensors into the next gen AirPods, and integrate the data with Apple Watch as well as the health app on iPhones. Well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says to look for Cupertino to sell 26-28 million sets this year, 50-55 million in 2019, and over 100 million in 2021.


Google Personalizes Search Even if Logged Out; Tesla Denies Leaked Model Y Schedule; Bose ‘Audio AR’ Sunglasses; Apple 10% Veteran & Military Discount

So…you’re searching incognito or logged out…think it keeps you anonymous, huh? Right. 9to5google.com is reporting that a study (disclosure: done by DuckDuckGo) shows that you can’t get around the so-called ‘filter bubble’ that Google applies to search just by logging out of your account or browsing incognito….in fact, not even by doing BOTH. The likely explanation is that by now, Google has so much data on you, that it can recognize you from a 3 key word search, and personalize the result to you! In the big picture of things, it may not really matter, but basically, you are never getting a 100% ‘neutral’ search result. Google said in a statement that search results can change ‘by the minute and sometimes even by the second,’ but had no comment about the personalization aspect.

Late yesterday, a story came out that Tesla would be building Model Y small SUVs at the Gigafactory in Nevada, and be producing 7,000 a month of them there by the end of 2020. Now, according to engadget.com, Tesla has denied this timeline, saying that the leaked information is outdated. The Model Y will probably be built there, and so will an additional Model 3 production line…that information is based on filings with the Chinese government included when Tesla filed to build a 2nd Gigafactory in Shanghai.

Bose is looking to make ‘AR audio’ sunglasses. No, not AR…audio only! Techcrunch.com says the shades would be intended to provide a more immersive audio experience…no head up display, or any display at all besides that which your eyeballs take in of the real world. The glasses will have a 9 axis head motion sensor and use the GPS of a tethered Android or iOS device, and will adjust the audio you hear based on those inputs. They do use small speaker grilles, not earbuds or bone conduction. Sound won’t be as immersive with the ambient noise around you, but it will be a lot safer crossing streets and such. The glasses/headset will be out in January at $199, with two styles available. Battery life is given at 3.5 hours on a charge with 12 hours standby.

Apple has just rolled out an online store that gives a 10% discount on ‘select products’ for active duty military and vets, along with members of their households. Macrumors.com reports that, for example, the iPhone XS is available at $899 ($100 bucks off), while the XR is priced at $674 (normally $749) at the regular Apple online store. Apple has had discount programs for years for educators, students, and government employees, but these discounts for active duty military and veterans exceeds those via the online educational store.


Samsung Will Have 5G Phone in 2019; Apple-All New AirPods, But No 5G Phone Until 2020; Amazon Testing King Sized Amazon Go Store

Samsung is partnering with Verizon to bring a 5G smartphone to the US in the middle of 2019! Cnet.com reports that they will show off a concept handset this week at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii. 5G is expected to significantly boost the speed, coverage, and responsiveness of wireless networks. Phones will upload and download data at anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than the 4G network we have today! Samsung has not said if the phone will be exclusive to Verizon, and did note that they will continue to work with other wireless partners.

Over at Apple, the word is that it will be at least 2020 before a 5G iPhone will be in peoples’ hands. According to macrumors.com, Apple will hold off a bit instead of being on the leading edge…which they have done before when new generations of wireless capability rolled out. Bloomberg points out that there has often been poor coverage when a new layer of connectivity rolls out, with phones often having to drop back to the old tech, or jumping back and forth between the two systems. Besides Samsung, Huawei and Oppo will also put out 5G smartphones next year…although neither of those two are really factors in the US market like Samsung is. Part of the delay for Apple may be the ongoing litigation with Qualcomm. Apple is partnering with Intel on 5G chips, and those won’t be out in time to get phones to market in 2019.

There will be all-new AirPods in 2020, but prior to that, Apple will release wireless charging AirPods early next year. 9to5mac.com picked up a report from well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that says the wireless model will also include yet to be disclosed upgrades, but that the total revamp will be set for a 2020 release.

Amazon is reported to be testing out a large-sized Amazon-Go type store, sans cashiers, in Seattle. Geekwire.com says it is set up to look more like a traditional grocery store. Now what grocery store could it be designed like…oh, yeah…Whole Foods, which Amazon owns! They are particularly working on seeing if the system that tracks what shoppers grab off the shelves works well with the higher ceilings and bigger spaces with vastly more products. It remains to be seen when or if the tech will reach Whole Foods or other stores. Amazon has said in the past they have no plans to add the tech to Whole Foods stores…but such claims are often made, then things change. We do know Amazon is planning opening up to 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021.