More on Next iPhones & iPads; EVs Will Match Gas & Diesel Cars in Ownership Costs by 2022; Uber Adds Public Transit to App; 25% of Our Lives Online

Bloomberg.com is confirming some details we already had, plus revealing some new ones regarding the upcoming iPhones and iPads and iOS 13. As others have reported, they see the hero iPhones getting 3 rear cams, but a new rub…by 2020, it will include a 3D laser cam system that will ‘scan the environment to create three-dimensional reconstructions of the real world. It will work up to about 15 feet from the device.’ This system is different from the Face ID one, which doesn’t use lasers to scan your face. The rear system will enhance augmented reality on the phone, and capture depth better. In addition, the upcoming iPhones should have better zoom and a larger field of view, plus higher resolution.

The iPad Pro will get the same 3D cam system by 2020, too. Refreshed iPads are expected this Spring, and those will include a 10 inch screen replacing the 9.7 inch original size screen. Aside from confirming that Apple is updating the iPad Mini (finally), no additional details on that model.

iOS 13 will get an expanded Dark Mode and the first real revamp to the home screen since the iPhone came out in 2007. One change will be “the ability to tab through multiple versions of a single app like pages in a Web browser” and file-management improvements.

A new report indicates a ‘tipping point’ by 2022, where the cost of owning an EV should equal that of owning a gas or diesel vehicle. Electrek.co says the report is focused on Britain, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t translate over to the US as well. The Deloitte analysis also sees EVs grabbing 10% of the total market by 2024. The voluminous report points out that 20 major cities have already announced plans to ban gas and or diesel cars by 2030.

Uber has just added public transit to its app. According to theverge.com, it’s only in Denver initially, but people there loading the app today will see a tiny train car with the word ‘transit’ next to it. Tapping it opens a list of bus or train routes as well as expected fare prices and end-to-end directions. Much of the transit data comes from the data firm Moovit. Uber says in a few weeks, users will also be able to buy train tickets within the Uber app, via a partnership with mobile ticketing company Masabi. In addition to adding more cities if this goes well, Uber wants to offer ‘multimodal’ options…where you could hail an Uber to take you to a train station, then board the train with the ticket you bought via the app.

We are spending more and more time online…in fact, up to 6 hours and 42 minutes a day now, according to the Digital 2019 report. The report, covered by 9to5mac.com, indicates that the US number is slightly under that worldwide one, at 6 hours and 31 minutes. It’s such a relief to know we’re disconnecting for that big 11 minutes a day! The biggest net addicts, according to the report? That would be the folks in the Philippines, where people spend an average of 10 hours and 2 minutes a day! The least sucked in by the net? Japan…at 3 hours and 45 minutes. All the numbers are down slightly from a year ago, so maybe there’s hope for humanity keeping a foot ‘in real life!’

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Apple’s Down Quarter, Facebook Paying Teens for Info; Samsung Bows 1 TB Storage Chip for Phones

Apple announced earnings yesterday. According to cnet.com, they were down less than 1% at $19.9 billion for the quarter…$418 per share, beating the Street by a penny. The interesting item is that iPhone sales by revenue were down 15%. The iPhone still accounts for 60% of Apple sales. Some have attributed this to the higher pricing. Interestingly, sales were off in Europe, greater China, and Japan, but ‘the rest of Asia Pacific (like Australia) and the Americas had increased sales. Apple warned that the next quarter will be soft. As we noted earlier, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts the 2nd half of the year will be at least flat…which compared to other smartphone sellers’ dropping sales and revenue will look good.

Just when you think all the creepy, intrusive stuff about the net is out there, something else bubbles up. Engadget.com reports that Facebook has been secretly paying teenagers about $20 a month to use a VPN app called ‘Facebook Research’, that lets the company have full access to all of their phone and web activity! This app appears to have the same features as Onavo Protect, an app that Facebook had which was pulled from Apple’s App Store last year for violation of privacy policies. This App is downloaded from a separate Facebook URL in order to skirt Apple’s iron hand….although it is running as something under Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program, which is really for internal developer use. Apple has now killed Facebook’s ability to distribute internal iOS apps…so Cupertino ‘is not amused.’ They say Facebook is in clear breach of their agreement. Stay tuned for more fur to fly!

In the ongoing race to get more storage, Samsung has bowed a 1 TB storage chip for smartphones. 9to5google.com says it’s a good bet the roomy chip will be introduced in the Galaxy S10. It is the same size as Samsung’s other storage chips, too! It’s likely that the phone with this monster chip will have a crazy high price, but Samsung notes that for those shooting a lot of video and other RAM-hungry applications, it will be a great addition. The Galaxy S10 will debut February 20th.


Apple Claims Huge FaceTime Security Bug Fixed; Echodyne Wants To Test Drone Detecting Radar at Super Bowl; Electrify America Chargers Back Online; Huawei Offered Bonuses for Industrial Espionage; ED Company Hims Soon to Hit Billion Valuation

There was a report that spread like wildfire yesterday that Apple’s FaceTime had a bug which allowed anyone to call your phone or Mac and listen in before you picked up. Theverge.com reports that Apple has temporarily disabled its Group FaceTime feature and they say the bug is squashed. It worked by a person adding themselves to a FaceTime call, and the program thought it was an additional caller joining in on an active Group FaceTime conversation. The group service was disabled at the server side, and Apple says they will fix it on the client side (i.e. your phone and Mac) with a patch later this week. Meanwhile, you may want to disable FaceTime in your iOS settings…or on a Mac by opening FaceTime, going to Preferences, and unchecking ‘Enable this account.’

There have been some scary moments with drones around airports lately. Other venues such as the Super Bowl and major crowd events have been designated ‘no drone zones.’ Now, Echodyne, a startup backed by Bill Gates, has asked for expedited FCC approval to test their drone radar. According to geekwire.com, the inexpensive little radar detectors are the size of a paperback book, but can track a drone at a distance 10 times the length of a football field. The have already tested it in Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia. The tests would be run under the guidance and direction of the FBI. Here in the US, as other countries, drones are banned near airports. Air traffic had to be held lately twice near British airports, and also over the weekend a Russian tourist was arrested for flying one near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in Israel.

Late last week, VW backed Electrify America shut down all its car chargers nationwide. Now, cnet.com says they are back online. A cable supplier had reported a possible defect in the liquid-cooled charging cables. After extensive testing, they got the go-ahead, and the chargers are back online.

In an indictment dropped Monday, Chinese electronics giant Huawei was accused of offering bonuses to employees for stealing…in other words, industrial espionage, against US companies. Businessinsider.com reports that the document specifically noted robotic technologies used for testing smartphones by T-Mobile. The theft described in the indictment goes back to 2012.

Hims is barely over a year old, and will soon be worth a billion bucks, according to recode.net. Hims sells millennials hair loss products and erectile disfunction medication. Having had a roommate in college who was needing a hairpiece by 25, I get the former but ED meds for millennials? Wait, what? For use as party drugs? Hims sells through the internet, and claims to remove the stigma of men’s health issues by eliminating ‘middlemen’ like pharmacists and doctors. Hims just got another round of $100 million, as they jockey for position with Roman, another consumer men’s health brand…to say nothing of traditional legacy sellers of Viagra and Rogaine.


iPhone Sales Flat 2nd Half of year; Apple’s Car Project-Huge; Facebook Plan to Meld Messenger, WhatsApp, & Instagram; Dropbox Buying HelloSign; Amazon Prime-5X Movies As Netflix

Well-known and generally accurate analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says don’t write off iPhones yet. 9to5ma.com says Kuo sees sales growth to be mostly flat in the back half of 2019, instead of tanking as some in the market have worried. Kuo correctly predicted the weakness in the holiday quarter, but now says the ‘worst is soon over.’ The analyst predicts that iPhone shipments after March will be higher than the market expects, maybe reaching 180 million units by the end of the year.

It’s been thought that Apple had around 1,000 engineers working at their Project Titan…variously talked about as working on software and hardware for self-driving cars or even about building the mythic Apple self-driving car. According to businessinsider.com, Apple laid off or reassigned 200 employees from the division this past week. Now, thanks to a legal case, we know that this is a tiny number, and that Project Titan is…well, more titanic…than generally thought. In the case of an employee arrested by the FBI, it turns out that 2,700 people had access to Project Titan databases, and that 5,000 were ‘disclosed’ on the project…meaning they had official Apple permission to know about it. Most of the workers, btw, were reassigned and not laid off…which sounds like they had just completed the part of the task they were needed for with the self-driving project.

Facebook is apparently planning to meld the back ends of Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram…allowing users of the 3 services to message each other. Theverge.com reports that Facebook is already at work tying the back ends of the services together…and adding end-to-end encryption to all. The rub is, for Facebook, you are required to give actual contact info when you join. WhatsApp, for example, has just required a phone number or email. It may be a boon for Facebook and advertisers, and make things easy to message across platform, but you can expect anonymous users of WhatsApp to bail for other platforms.

Dropbox is picking up HelloSign for $230 million, getting set to take on the likes of DocuSign and Adobe. According to geekwire.com, Dropbox says since the workforce is becoming more decentralized, the ability to collaborate and share documents over distance will make the service a plus for the primarily file storage and sharing company. HelloSign claims over 80,000 customers. It is expected that HelloSign will cut it’s partnerships with DocuSign and Adobe when the deal is closed.

If it’s quantity you prefer over quality…don’t ignore Amazon Prime Video. Bgr.com says Prime has a library of 17,461 movies. Netflix, on the other hand has a movie library of 3839, with Hulu featuring only 2336. If it’s new or well-reviewed movies though, Netflix buries the competition. Netflix has 592 Certified Fresh movies (according to Rotten Tomatoes), while Prime Video has just 232…9 more than Hulu. This could all change in a couple years, with so many studios getting ready to launch their own streaming services, but for now…if its quantity…hit Amazon. For quality, stick with Netflix.


Waymo to Build Self-Driving Cars in Michigan; Apple Will Ditch LCD Screens by 2020; Hulu Drops Lower Tier Price; Boeing Tests Autonomous Passenger Aircraft

Waymo has received approval for a factory in Michigan to build driverless cars. Engadget.com says the Alphabet-owned company will produce nothing but level 4 autonomous vehicles in the factory. The location hasn’t been announced any further than ’Southeastern Michigan.’ Waymo may start off by building autonomous packages for other manufacturers’ vehicles…as they have furnished to Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar. They haven’t given any timeline yet for when the first fully autonomous car will roll off the line.

Apple will drop LCD displays all together in 2020. Businessinsider.com reports that the displays, which are used on lower priced iPhones at this point, will all be replaced by OLED screens like the iPhone XS and XS Max. It’s not clear what this will mean for the pricing on the less expensive XR, which has had an LCD screen, but that phone would have probably gotten a price bump anyway next fall…it’s due to get a second rear cam. Apple has been a major customer of Japan Display for the LCD screens. Now, that company is considering selling itself to Chinese and Taiwanese investors. Japan Display has been partly owned and mostly funded by the Japanese government.

In the wake of Netflix raising prices, Hulu has dropped its base, ad-supported subscription plan to $5.99 a month. According to theverge.com, the drop form $7.99 will be effective February 26th. Hulu has done $5.99 before, but only as a temporary promotion. They say there will be no increase in ad volume. The $11.99 a month commercial free plan will stay as-is, and the $12.99 Hulu/Spotify combo will as well…that one is billed by Spotify. Hulu IS raising prices for its LIVE TV service…that will go groom $39.99 to $44.99. As for what happens when Disney takes majority ownership of Hulu…anyone’s guess, but Disney isn’t exactly famous for lowering prices!

Boeing has successfully test flown the prototype for their autonomous passenger aircraft. Geekwire.com says they could start carrying riders as soon as next year. It’s an electric powered, vertical take off and landing vehicle. The initial flight was just a take off, hover, and landing. Next, they will test winged, forward flight. Switching from VTOL to forward flight mode is considered the most tricky part for high speed VTOL aircraft. The initial craft is 30 feet long and 28 feet wide, and has 8 rotors for vertical lift and a tail rotor to help with forward flight. It is designed to fly fully automatically with a maximum range of 50 miles right now. Boeing says they are testing both two and four passenger models.


3 Samsung Galaxy S10’s; Google Fined $57 Million by France; Tesla To Start Model 3 Euro Deliveries; Facebook-Petition Feature; Google Maps-Beating Speedtraps

Leaked pictures over the weekend show 3 Samsung Galaxy S10 models. According to macrumors.com, all feature and edge-to-edge display, with a small cutout air the upper right for the camera. The midrange version will have a 6.1 inch display and 3 rear cams, the ‘cheapie’ will sport a 5.8 inch screen with 2 rear cams, and the hero model will have a 6.4 inch display, and 2 front cams in addition to the 3 rear ones. All are expected to have an in-display fingerprint scanner. All the new phones will be rolled out at the Unpacked Galaxy S10 event on February 20th at 11am Pacific at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Google has been nicked for $57 million in fines by the French data privacy body, CNIL, for failing to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. Venturebeat.com reports that the CNIL fined Google for ‘lack of transparency, inadequate information, and lack of valid consent regarding the ads personalization.’ Google hasn’t confirmed, but it is widely thought that they will appeal the fine.

On the topic of the EU, Tesla has received clearance to start delivering Model 3 in Europe. Engadget.com says they will start with the long range battery version in February. The long range battery version is a pricey Model 3, and may cushion Tesla’s starting to sell the lower cost model of the car in the US, which Elon Musk has said is crucial to the company’s long term viability. Selling the costlier model in the EU should help the company make a profit in the next quarter, while selling the cheaper models.

Facebook is launching Community Actions, a new newsfeed feature. According to techcrunch.com, the feature will allow for petitions to unite neighbors to request change from their local and national elected officials and government agencies. Anyone think this feature will be a ripe hunting grounds for trolls and troll farms? The idea of the petition feature is to get people to click the ‘Support’ button and get it to go viral. With today’s sophisticated trolls, ‘viral’ may be a good term to use for this feature. Be careful, and stay tuned!

Google has added new features to its Google Maps app. Mashable.com says they are rolling out speed limit and speed trap features. The speed limit sign will show up as a little sign icon in the left lower corner. Speed cameras will show up as red icons, and there will even be an audible warning. Police agencies will love this! Ironically, the feature was first reported by AndroidPolice.com!


Netflix Bumping Up Prices; NBCUniversal to Stream; Tesla Portable EV Charger; FAA to Allow Drones at Night and Over Crowds

Brace for the howls of anger and anguish…Netflix is raising fees. According to marketwatch.com, even the entry level plan, which Netflix held at $8 a month last time around, will get a bump of a buck to $9. The most popular plan…that gives you high def streams on up to two internet connected devices simultaneously, will jump from $11 to $13 per month. The premium ultra high def plan will increase from $14 to $16 a month. Last time Netflix raised fees, they lost 600,000 subscribers. It’s worth noting that they now have 58 million subscribers in the US and another 79 million outside the US, so they probably figure they can afford to lose a half million or million disgruntled customers. Grrr. (Yeah, I’ll grouse and pay the difference.)

NBC Universal will launch a streaming service in 2020. Unlike a lot of streamers, variety.com reports that this one will be primarily ad supported…although they plan to offer it for a fee to non-subscribers. It will be free to NBCU pay-cable subscribers in the US, like Comcast. It will also be available to Sky subscribers in the EU…together that’s about 52 million subscribers. It’s expected to feature original content and of course their own programming, as well as that of outside partners. NBCU has said it’s pulling its offerings from Netflix in 2021…this is a big reason why. NBCU feels that by offering it as a free add on to their cable and sat customers, it will give them a fighting chance against the likes of Netflix, which has a giant head start on NBC as well as Amazon, Hulu, Fox Nation and the upcoming Apple and Disney services.

Tesla has rolled out their first non-hardwired wall connector with a NEMA 14-50 plug to charge your EV (presumably a Tesla.) In English, a NEMA 14-50 plug is one that will plug into a 240 volt outlet like for your stove or electric dryer. The big feature of this one is that it can be taken with you if you move. It can charge the cars 25% faster than the Tesla Gen 2 Mobile connector (which comes standard with Model S, Model X, and Model 3 cars.) Engadget.com says it runs $500, but since you don’t need an electrician to install it, it is a cheaper alternative to the hardwired home charger….and you can easily take it if you move.

OK, what could possibly go wrong? The FAA has proposed relaxing drone rules, and allowing those under 55 lbs to fly at night and over crowds of people. Up to now, night flights have only been allowed on a case-by-case basis. Arstechnica.com reports that the drone makers will have to certify that if the vehicles fall, it will be with a Federal Aviation Agency maximum amount of kinetic energy of either 11 or 25 foot-pounds, depending on the situation. Oh, I’m so relieved to hear that! A final rule could be in place in 12-18 months.