Pixel Is Fastest Growing Smartphone; WWDC 2019 & Apple’s Head of AR Marketing; Amazon Buys Eero Mesh Router Maker; Mag Safe Kickstarter for USB-C MacBook Pros

While smartphone sales have softened, even for market leaders Apple and Samsung, one brand is showing big growth in the US. 9to5google.com reports that the Google Pixel grew by an astounding 43% year over year, from 4th quarter of 2017 to 4th quarter of 2018! Overall, the US smartphone market was down by 23%, which makes the growth all the more impressive. The Pixel phones have great cameras, which many tests have shown out shoot iPhone and Samsung Galaxy cams. Deals and discounts have also aided the Google phone, but the bottom line is…they’re a great phone.

Rumors are flying that Apple’s WWDC will be June 3-7 in San Jose. Although registration hasn’t opened yet for Apple’s annual developer conference, it’s expected they will show a Dark Mode for iOS 13, as well as new details on macOS 10.15. According to appleinsider.com, Apple has appointed veteran Frank Casanova to the new position of head of AR marketing. Technically, he will have the total of Seiion Director, Worldwide Product Marketing, but Casanova will be “responsible for all aspects of Product Marketing for Apple’s Augmented Reality initiative.” This just adds to the belief that AR will be hugely important to the Future of Apple. Tim Cook has even said it’s a ‘big idea’ on the level of the smartphone.

Amazon is acquiring Eero, a maker of mesh home routers. Theverge.com says Amazon feels that Eero and its technology will help Amazon move the ball forward on making the smart home (to say nothing of Alexa) ubiquitous. The mesh router is a design that helps eliminate the dead spots you can get in a home from normal routers.

USB-C has speed and data advantages, but a lot of people have lamented Apple’s dropping of their great MagSafe tech on the latest MacBook Pros. The MagSafe connector would ‘break away’ if you or someone tripped over the cord, saving the laptop from being pulled onto the floor and breaking a screen or other parts. Now, there’s a Kickstarter campaign to give this capability back to the MacBooks. According to 9to5mac.com, ThunderMag is running a campaign to produce a connector that goes between your USB-C cable and the port with the magnetic break away type design Apple had on their MagSafe. The difference with the ThunderMag is that it allows the connection to carry high speed data…with the MagSafe, the port was strictly for charging. It will support 100w fast charging, 4/5k video and audio, and up to 40G/bps data transfer. The Kickstarter campaign brought in more than 6 times the goal, so expect the ThunderMag to be out in April. It will retail for $79 to the public (or less, depending on store or online discounts.)

Galaxy F Folder May Launch With S10; iPhone to Stick With Lightening Port; Tesla ‘Sentry Mode’ This Week; Aussies-$10 Million-Online Kids Security; Walgreens Creepy Tracking Displays

In what appears to be a pretty big hint that the Galaxy F folding phone will bow with the new Samsung Galaxy S10 at Samsung’s event on February 20th, the company released the above graphic. There was also a Tweet saying ‘The future of mobile will unfold on February 20, 2019. Not exactly subtile. Will it be amazing, or meh? We’ll know in a matter of days!

In what appears to be purely a cost-saving move, Apple won’t be switching to USB-C ports on the next batch of iPhones. Theverge.com says they will stay with the venerable Lightening port. Earlier, it was thought the USB-C ports would show up, since they are on the new iPad Pro, but nope. Not only that, they will still be shipped with Apple’s miserly 5W USB-A charger…so you will have to buy a separate USB-C to Lightening cable and a power brick that supports USB-C power delivery if you want to fast charge your pricey iPhone! More profitable accessory sales for Apple. Formerly, you got a Mag Safe cable, charging brick, AND extension cord for laptops for $80. With the new USB-C MacBook Pro, if you want an extra, you’ll drop $120 for the USB-C cable and separate charging brick…and even more if you want the extension cord that used to be included!

The break-in rate on Tesla cars has been in the top tier of autos affected, and Elon Musk is determined to do something to lessen the problem. Electric.co reports that Tesla is planning to release ‘Sentry Mode’ this week. Tesla has offered access to its dash cam over the air since last year, using the Autopilot cam, but it’s front facing only. Sentry Mode would enable more Autopilot cams and a parking mode. The Sentry Mode would enable the car to detect a robbery, record it, and then…blast Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d-minor loudly! (That’s the scary organ music often used is scary movies.) At the same time, Musk says they will release Tesla ‘Dog Mode,’ which is designed to keep your pups safe and cool inside Tesla vehicles. Dog Mode ads to the Cabin Safety mode (which is intended to keep kids safe) with the car able to tell passers by who show concern that the dog is cool and ok.

The Australian government is making grants of AU$10 million to non-government organizations to deliver online safety education and training programs aimed at children. According to zdnet.com, PM Scott Morrison says the intent is to help kids ‘stay safe’ online. The Aussie government is also reviewing ‘digital licences’ and other tools designed to build and test children’s online safety skills.

Most of us have walked by a row of beverage coolers…maybe stopped to peruse one or two…then moved on. Now, Walgreens is testing cooler doors with displays of the drinks instead of glass. Curbed.com says that’s not all…the doors track customers with cams, eye-tracking and motion sensors, then serve them ads in real time! The tech is from the appropriately named Cooler Screens, which claims the data is ‘anonymized’. Even at that, it allows ads to hit you based on gender, age, emotional response (!), and how long you linger in front of a product. Cooler Screens is also working with Coca-Cola and Nestle, and most of the 20 largest consumer product companies. Welcome to your creepy future!

Facebook Slammed in Germany over Data Share; Facebook Will Show Who Uploaded Your Info for Ads; Apple Killing Safari ‘Do Not Track’ as AI Supersedes; Some iPhone Apps Record Your Screen; Google Partners with GS Warriors on Public Cloud

The US government has balked at regulating social media providers, even though some folks think they and ISPs should be treated as utilities and regulated as such. Now comes the European Union…specifically Germany in this case…clamping down on Facebook’s data collection. A ruling by the German Federal Cartel Office essentially tells Facebook to stop hoarding people’s data. Businessinsider.com reports that this follows a 3 year investigation. The ruling requires Facebook to change its terms and conditions so people can explicitly stop the social network from hoarding data from different sources…including Facebook-owned apps like WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as third-party websites with embedded tools such as the ‘like’ or ‘share’ button. Facebook now has 4 months to draw up proposals to present to the Federal Cartel Office.

Facebook says they have taken steps to keep companies from recklessly using your data from targeted ads. According to engadget.com, Facebook has only been showing which company was using your contact info. After February 28th, you will now also get to see who (if anyone) uploaded your contact info that let to your seeing the sales pitch in the first place. It will let you know if the retailer had your info, or bought it from an outside partner. It’s a baby step, but a start.

Apple is killing Safari’s ‘Do Not Track’ in version 12.1. 9to5mac.com reports that this was published in a blog post from DuckDuckGo. Apple claims that the function has been superseded by their Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature, which relies on AI. The Do Not Track had been largely a failure anyway, as it used a voluntary signal, and numerous websites just chose to ignore it. The Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature has been more successful in iOS 12 and MacOS Mojave, so you should be better off in the long run.

Some iOS apps you use may be recording your screen for analytics purposes. According to macrumors.com, trend capture taps, swipes, and even full screen recording. Some of the apps are: Abercrombie & Fitch, Hotels.com, Air Canada, Hollister, Expedia, and Singapore Airlines. All are using Glassbox, a customer experience analytics firm that lets developers use “session replay” screen recording technology within their apps. Right now, there’ s no way to avoid this intrusion, save for deleting the apps.

Google Cloud is partnering with the Golden State Warriors as the team’s official public cloud provider, in addition to sponsoring the new arena in San Francisco. 9to5google.com says the cloud platform will be used at the new Chase Center to host Warrior and Chase Center mobile apps. Fans will be able to get personalized Maps, and see entertainment options coming to Chase Center. At the team level, the GSW analytics team will get more data analysis. Up to now, they say they have spent 70% of their time collecting and shaping data and only 30% analyzing it.

Tesla Model 3 Price Drop; Gmail Blocking 100 Million Spams Daily; Angela Ahrendts Leaving Apple; E-Ticketing Exposed Some Airline’s Passenger Info; Microsoft Build 2019 Date & Location

You can now be driving a Tesla Model 3 for a base price of $35 grand…after government incentives. Engadget.com reports that Tesla found that by dropping the referral spiff that got owners free use of Superchargers for referring friends who bought, they have been able to chop $1100 across versions. the mid-range battery option Model 3 is now $42,900 before incentives, the long-range version is $49,900, and the performance option version Model 3 is still an eye-watering $60,900. Elon Musk says they are doing everything they can to cut the base price BEFORE incentives down to $35,000…but says in a Tweet “It’s a super hard grind.”

In a big plus for Gmail users, Google has applied its in-house machine learning framework…TensorFlow…to your mail, and it is now blocking an extra 100 million spam emails per day. Theverge.com says that Google had already been blocking 99.99 percent of spam, but the AI framework will give them a better crack at screening out that last stubborn .1 of a percent. Google says TensorFlow also helps users to better personalize their spam filtering.

Another one bites the dust. Yes, another head of retail is leaving Apple…this time, Angela Ahrendts, whom Apple recruited from Burberry. According to arstechinca.com, Ahrendts, who joined Apple in2014, will leave in April “for new personal and professional pursuits.” Apple also announced that Vice President of People Deidre O’Brien will take over Ahrendts’ responsibilities running retail and adopt the title Senior Vice President of Retail + People.

E-Ticketing is great…it makes it so much easier to get through the hassle of making it from the curb at the airport to your plane. Now, a downside…at least for some. Cyberscoop.com reports that some personally identifiable information from fliers may have been hacked when email was sent to the customers. It includes names, boarding passes, passport number and flight numbers. The weak spot is a check-in link, and if affects Southwest, Air France, KLM, Vueling, Jetstar, Thomas Cook, Transavia and Air Europa. Wandera notified all of those lines several weeks ago, and none seem to have acted, so heads-up!

Microsoft segues back to their home area for Build 2019. Zdnet.com says they will be holding the event in Seattle on May 6th through the 8th. It will be at the Washington State Convention Center. The event again overlaps with Google I/O (which runs May 7-9.) Microsoft’s premiere developer event session list probably won’t be revealed until near the date, but the agenda should be posted later this month.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro-Big Competition for iPhone & Samsung; Xbox Live on Android, iOS, & Switch; Unsend (Finally) for Facebook Messenger; Alphabet Q4 Earnings

All the top line smartphones have pretty great cameras. Lately, Samsung and Google have had models that many think can outshoot Apple’s iPhones. Now, there’s a new gunslinger in town that may be able to blow past all of them. Huawei has…for the last couple generations, had great cameras. Now, bgr.com says the Mate 20 Pro has gone up against a dozen smartphones in a blind camera test put up on YouTube. With a million votes, the easy winner was the Mate 20 Pro. The phone has been banned in the US by wireless carriers since the government has blacklisted the company, but you can still pick one up on Amazon for less than the competing iPhone and Galaxy models. You might want to wait, though…pics have leaked about an upcoming P30 Pro model with even better cameras. Huawei has partnered in the past with legendary German camera maker Leica, so stay tuned! The new phone could roll out at Mobile World Congress in the next few weeks.

In a session description for next month’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Microsoft is getting ready to extend Xbox Live compatibility to Android, iOS, and the Nintendo Switch. Geekwire.com reports that Windows Central spotted the blurb, which Microsoft has since deleted. Theoretically, the cross platform availability would extend Xbox Live’s reach from 400 million on the Xbox and Win 10 devices to a couple BILLION devices worldwide!

Finally…finally…Facebook is rolling out undsend for Messenger. You need to be quick on the trigger finger, though. According to mashable.com, jus tap on the message and select remove. The app will ask if you want to delete it for just you or for everyone. The rub is…you only have 10 minutes to kill the regrettable message you posted. Facebook has been working on the feature since last April…hey, Zuck and other FB execs have had it for a long time! Finally, the unwashed masses get the chance to retract something they said in haste…or wasted, LOL! Remember—10 minutes, and it’s committed.

Google parent Alphabet reported 4th Quarter earnings yesterday…48.94 billion in income, and revenue of a whopping $39.27 billion! That’s up 22% year over year! Still….it’s never enough for Wall Street…9to5google.com says the stock was down 3.69% in after hours trading. The market is apparently worried they over-rely on advertising income. Gee, TV, Radio, Newspapers, and Magazines have relied almost entirely on advertising and some of them are still going after over 100 years! I don’t think Alphabet is going to collapse in the next quarter or year, Wall Street.

Galaxy S10s Will Support Next Gen WiFi; iOS 12.2 Beta Update; Tesla Buys Maxwell; Hydrogen Trains May Come to Britain

The imminent Samsung Galaxy S10 phones will support next-generation WiFi. This, according to engadget.com, picked up from FCC filings. The rub? You will have to have WiFi 6 (802.11ax) routers at home or in the office to use the feature. The phones will also support not only wireless charging, but the ability to wirelessly charge accessories. The new Galaxy phones roll out this month.

On the topic of next generation, the hot one will be 5G for cellular systems….which when in place, and the devices that can use it also are out in the world, will give blazingly fast net connections. We’ve covered how AT&T is rebranding their ‘upgraded’ 4G LTE, and now it’s showed up in the iOS 12.2 Beta….the phones display ‘5G E’ when talking to the AT&T network! The fake 5G has already hit Android phones. In something actually useful…ok, fun at least…Apple has rolled out new Animoji in the same Beta. Now, you can rock a giraffe, shark, owl, or boar if you’re into that. If you’re a giant bore in real life, your face can be an animated boar on your phone! There are now 24 Animoji characters available that mimic you’re facial expressions.

Tesla has picked up an ultra capacitor and battery manufacturer, dropping $200 million in the deal. Electrek.co reports that the electric car maker has snapped up Maxwell. Besides its ultra capacitors, Maxwell also has been working with a dry electrode tech for batteries. The dry electrode manufacturing process could result in a 10 to 20% reduction in cost compared to making wet electrodes…and Maxwell claims extending battery life ‘up to a factor of 2.’

In Britain, they had been electrifying trains to cut down on carbon emissions, but ran into a snag…in some places, it was just too expensive to run the third rails and electric service. Now, thenextweb.com says they are turning to hydrogen to extend the routes. Hydrogen train cars with power packs will produce the electricity in locations where they haven’t run electric third rails or overhead wires. Germany has already been replacing diesel train engines with hydrogen electric ones. The hydrogen trains could be on the tracks in Britain by 2022. Hydrogen can carry more energy that the same weight of batteries, and they also take less time to refuel than electric battery packs.