Amazon Partners for ‘Counter’ Package Pickup; Zuck Says Facebook ‘Evaluating’ Deepfake Policy; Boeing Teams with Kitty Hawk on Flying Taxis; Apple Picks Up Key ARM Chip DesignerPosted: June 27, 2019
Amazon has announced partnerships with retailers for their new Counter package pickup service. According to geekwire.com, the online giant will team with Rite Aid…allowing users to pick up their package at a nearby Rite Aid store at no extra charge. Rite Aid already has hosted Amazon lockers. For their part, they should see increased foot traffic and may snag additional impulse sales. Amazon had previously been fingered as a possible purchaser of Rite Aid. Amazon already has a partnership with Kohl’s for package returns.
According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook may institute new rules about ‘deepfakes.’ Apparently, the Speaker Pelosi one didn’t bother them much, but perhaps the one of Zuck himself got to him more than he initially let on. Mashable.com reports that while speaking at the Aspen Ideas festival, Zuck called FB’s handling of the Pelosi video a ‘mistake in execution.’ He didn’t go into detail or give a possible timeline for when new rules might be coming, but it appears they are looking ahead to fend off foreign meddling of the 2020 election using their platform.
Boeing is partnering with flying taxi startup Kitty Hawk (backed by Google’s Larry Page), looking to ready for ‘safe urban air mobility.’ Engadget.com says Boeing could help Kitty Hawk have a competitive edge against the likes of Airbus. Kitty Hawk does already have an autonomous electric taxi prototype.
In their march towards breaking up with Intel, Apple has hired a key ARM chip designer. According to 9to5mac.com, Cupertino hired Mike Filippo in May. He will join their chip architecture team in Texas. ARM also confirmed his departure. Filippo has been Lead CPU Architect and Lead System Architect for ARM. This may accelerate Apple’s plan to move Macs from Intel to ARM processors. They have had good luck with very powerful ARM processors in their iPhones and iPads. The ARM chip may be a natural for the likes of the 12 inch MacBook, but whether it would be enough to power the likes of the Mac Pro is unclear at this point.
Apple’s Absorbing of Drive.ai Confirmed, Big Investors Demand Climate Action; New Tech to Double Phone Battery Life; US Tech Companies Find Ways to Sell to HuaweiPosted: June 26, 2019
Recently, we had reported that Apple was picking up self-driving car startup Drive.ai. This was disputed by some sources as the firm closed up shop. Now, Apple has confirmed to Axios that it did, in fact, buy and close the company. Apple absorbed dozens of engineers. This is a pretty serious indication that the Apple Car project, Project Titan, is still alive and well. It’s still unclear whether Apple will ultimately build a self-driving car or sell self-driving tech to vehicle makers.
Investors that manage over $34 TRILLION in assets, which amounts to almost half the world’s invested capital, are demanding ‘urgent action’ from governments on climate change. Reuters.com reports that an open letter has been released to the ‘governments of the world’ representing 477 investors. It stressed ‘the urgency of decisive action’ on climate change in order to meet the Paris Agreement target. The investors underscored the importance of dealing with climate change so that they can make long term planning and asset allocation decisions. In a report tracking the implementation of the climate agreement, researchers have found that only 5 of the 32 nations are currently in line with the 2 degrees Celsius limit. A UN backed panel of scientists has said limiting global warming to 1.5C would cost at least $830 billion per year, but the cost of inaction would vastly exceed that amount.
By 2020, more phones will have blazingly fast 5G service. This is great, but expect it to drain the battery on your phone all the quicker. Apple is already going to bigger batteries for 2019 in anticipation of this. According to cnet.com, 5G will be a bit of a power hog. Now, Nokia Bell Labs and Advanced materials and BioEngineering Research have developed a new battery tech that could double the life of your phone’s battery without making it heavier. They have filed a patent to protect the design, and are expecting to begin commercialization soon. In plain language….that means the tech won’t be out in time for any 2019 or 2020 smartphones, but within several years. The batteries use carbon nanotubes, and a network of those enables stronger electrodes in the battery that conducts more electricity with lower resistance.
FedEx has sued the government, complaining that they are a transportation agency, not law enforcement, and that the government has placed an ‘unfair’ and ‘impossible’ burden on them with regards to not shipping phones or parts related to Huawei. President Trump had slapped export controls on Huawei related commerce. The government, of course, disputes the difficulty of complying. Meanwhile, the New York Times says that other firms…notably Intel and Micron, are still selling chips and parts too Huawei. Some are calling it a loophole, but goods produced by American companies overseas are not always considered American-made…and the chip makers are taking advantage of this. Huawei claims it buys around $11 billion a year in tech from US companies. Both Intel and Micron compete with South Korean companies like Samsung to supply memory chips for Huawei smartphones, and are loathe to give up that large market.
More on Upcoming iPhone XR; T-Mobile Has Galaxy S10 5G starting June 28th; LightYear One-Solar Car Prototype; AI Makes Fake News & Spots Fake NewsPosted: June 25, 2019
A number of rumors have confirmed a lot of the features of the upcoming iPhone XR refresh coming this September. Businessinsider.com reports there will probably be some new colors…lavender and green for two. All the colors will become more softer and pastel, as opposed to the really bright colors of the present model. Also, the some $750 smartphone (which only SEEMS cheap due to the $1000 iPhone XS) will get a promotion, and pick up a second camera like its more expensive siblings. This will give it better zoom and portrait mode. It looks like the XR will keep the LCD screen. Earlier, reports had it getting OLED like the two pricier iPhones, but that will apparently happen next year. The screen will stay at 6.1 inches. The XR will get a bit larger battery, along with the ability to charge other devices…such as AirPods. While the higher line iPhones will get a substantial battery boost…the XR only gets a 5% increase in size.
If you live in Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, LA, or New York, and are on T-Mobile…you may be excited to pick up one of the new 5G Samsung Galaxy S10 phones. According to engadget.com, it will be available this Friday at T-Mobile. 5G coverage is available in limited parts of the aforementioned cities. If there’s no 5G service, the handset automatically switches to LTE. Unlike some other carriers, T-Mobile says they aren’t charging extra for 5G service. They also are offering maps of the areas that have the coverage so you can see if it’s worth it. T-Mobile claims they won’t raise prices on plans for at least 3 years…by which time the 5G networks should be pretty well built out in most of the country.
Lightyear has just taken the wraps off its first prototype…the Lightyear One, an EV they say they will deliver in 2021. The car is covered in solar panels, and they are claiming a 450 mile range! Theverge.com says those panels can pick up around 7.4 miles of range per hour. The panels are said to be 20% more efficient than usual solar panels, and they are enclosed in safety glass to protect from damage. Since Lightyear was founded in 2016 by Solar Team Eindhoven, which won the World Solar Challenge race in 2013, 2015, and 2017, this may not be all fluff! Obviously, the solar panels can’t do all the charging…it would take too long, so the car will support up to 60Kw of fast charging from a charging station. That gives it a 315 mile range. Lightyear is taking preorders at $135,000 or 119,000 Euros. When released, look for that figure to be around $170,000, or 149,000 Euros!
In a story that is both creepy and encouraging, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence has developed Grover, a neural network that can generate fake news articles in the style of actual human journalists. As frightening as this may sound, thenextweb.com reports that there’s a method to this madness. As Grover becomes better and better at generating the fakes, it also becomes more proficient in detecting them. That is whole idea behind the project. Right now, Grover can detect if an article was written by AI (including itself) with 92% accuracy. If you want to try using Grover yourself, hit this link: https://grover.allenai.org.
New 16 Inch MacBook Pro-Sept; Samsung’s SmartThings Cam; Congress Looks at Making Tech Companies Reveal Your Data Value, Microsoft 2-Screen Tablet May Run Android AppsPosted: June 24, 2019
Apple will unveil a 16 inch MacBook Pro in September, with an LCD screen made by LG. Macrumors.com reports that Jeff Lin, an analyst at IHS Markit broke the story. The screen resolution would be 3,072×1,920 pixels. That’s a bump up from the current 15 incher, which has a screen res of 2,880×1,800. Earlier reports had Apple using and OLED display from Samsung. No details, but expect a newer, more powerful processor as well. As Apple has historically dropped laptops in October, instead of close to…or at their iPhone event, some Apple watchers think this one will follow that course and come out in October.
More smart home gadgets from Samsung are out. According to theverge.com, the Korean company has released the SmartThings Cam for $89.99, SmartThings WiFi Smart Plug for $17.99, and a SmartThings Smart Bulb for $9.99. The cam and bulb can be used without a SmartThings hub. The Smart Bulb runs Zigbee 3.0, and does rely on the hub. All of them work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s Bixby. The smart cam has full HD video with HDR, and has IR for night vision, two-way audio, ‘person detection’, and a 145 degree field of view. It comes with 24 hour cloud backup (for up to 4 cams) at no extra charge. Stand and shelf mount are both included. Samsung’s SmartThings platform works with over 600 devices from some 60 companies.
A bipartisan bill has been introduced that wold require tech companies to reveal how much your data is worth to them. Businessinsider.com says Senators Mark Warner (D) and Josh Hawley (R) are behind the bill, which…if passed into law…would require tech companies like Facebook and Google to let you know every 90 days what info they had collected about/from you, and how much it is worth to them. Senator Warner opined that the data could be worth as little as $5 a month per user, but others have estimated a higher figure. Warner noted that Facebook probably knows more about active users than the US government knows about you. Senator Hawley also introduced a separate bill that would strip tech giants of a legal protection that shields them from liability for content posted by users. The jointly introduced bill on data would apply to companies that have over 100 million monthly users…which would hit Twitter and Amazon in addition to Facebook and Google.
Microsoft is apparently looking at releasing a dual screen Surface tablet as early as the 1st half of next year. Such a tab was previewed to employees earlier this month. Now, engadget.com is reporting that the new Surface will also run both Android apps and Apple’s iCloud. The screens would both be 9 inchers, and have a 4:3 aspect ratio. It will run Windows Lite OS. It is rumored to be a folder, and have always on LTE or 5G.
Apple Asks Suppliers-Move iPhone Production From China; Waymo Partners with Renault and Nissan; Amazon Air Adds to FleetPosted: June 20, 2019
Apple is looking at moving between 15% and 30% of all iPhone production out of China to get around Trump’s tariffs. Cnet.com reports that Apple has polled major suppliers to calculate the costs. China had said last month they might throw a 25% tariff on US goods to retaliate against the US tariffs on their products. Some analysts figure the tariffs could boost iPhone costs by 14%, although Apple’s Tim Cook says he doesn’t see that happening. Apple already builds iPhones in India and South America. Primary supplier Foxconn had said earlier this month that they can make all of Apple’s US bound production of iPhones outside of China if needed….noting that 25% of its capacity is already outside of mainland China.
Waymo has inked an exclusive partnership with Renault and Nissan to research how commercial autonomous vehicles might work for both passengers and packages in France and Japan. According to techcrunch.com, research is the only goal of the partnership ‘for an initial period.’ In a statement from Waymo CEO John Krafcik, Waymo said they see this as an opportunity to bring their autonomous tech to what they called ‘a global stage, with an innovative partner.’
Amazon Air has already been flying its own cargo planes. This week at the Paris Air Show, they announced they are adding 15 more. Mashable.com says they will be leased through GE Capital Aviation Services, and are part of the plan for the Amazon Prime expansion of free one-day delivery. Amazon has had between 40 and 50 cargo planes flying, and plans to have 70 aircraft by 2021. They also will open 3 new air facilities this year: Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Wilmington Air Park, and Chicago Rockford International Airport. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport will act as the primary Amazon Air Hub, but that won’t open until 2021.
YouTube-Big Changes to Kid Content; Google’s Billion Dollar Bay Housing Plan; Best Buy To Fix Apple Products; Eviation Shows Electric PlanePosted: June 19, 2019
YouTube is looking at moving all kid content to a separate product…the YouTube Kids app, after drawing substantial fire over mis-use of children’s content but predators (to say nothing of objectionable videos.) The Wall St. Journal reports that the transition, if done, is risky since children’s videos are some of the most popular on YouTube, and throw off millions in advertising revenue. According to the reporting, they are also looking at turning off auto-play on the kids app…which means another allegedly related video won’t start playing the minute the one the child chooses is over. Auto play has resulted in exposing kids to inappropriate material, and has allowed child predators to manipulate the algorithm and lure in kids. Nothing is set in stone yet, so stay tuned.
In other Google related news, Google (which most have dropped calling by the silly banner corporate name of Alphabet) has announced that they will throw in a billion dollars towards the Bay Area housing crisis…which it and other wildly successful tech companies have helped to make an order of magnitude worse that it already was. According to techcrunch.com, $750 million of that comes in the form of repurposing its own commercial real estate for residential purposes. This will allow for 15,000 new homes “at all income levels.” The other $250 million will be invested in a fund that will “provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.” While 20,000 homes isn’t nearly enough, it’s a good start on tackling a giant problem that reaches across the entire 9 county San Francisco Bay Area.
Apple has announced that it is partnering with Best Buy in a sizable expansion of its service network. Engadget.com says that now, Apple owners will be able to choose from around 1,000 Best Buy locations around the US to get repairs or service on their Apple products. Best Buy’s Geek Squad now has some 7,600 newly Apple certified technicians, who can do same-day iPhone repairs and service other Apple products. Best Buy will also establish iPhone recycling at the sites.
The Paris Air Show saw the unveiling of Israeli startup Eviation’s electric airplane yesterday. According to geekwire.com, the firm hopes to win FAA certification for the short haul plane by 2021 or 2022. Their first customer for the 9 passenger, electric plane is Cape Air, which is out of Massachusetts, but which flies general-aviation commuter routes in the Midwest Montana, and the Caribbean…in addition to the northeastern US. The list price for the electric plane is $4 million, but Cape will get a nice volume discount for buying a ‘double digit’ fleet of them from Eviation. The Israeli firm says the plane will have a 650 mile range at 276 mph flying at 10,000 feet. Several other companies are also working on electric planes, and plan to have them in the air in the next two to three years.
Facebook & Partners Launching Cryptocurrency Next Year; Apple Adding PIP to Apple TV; Twitch Snags Social Net Platform Bebo; Morse Code Shows Google Appropriated Genius’ LyricsPosted: June 18, 2019
Facebook has acknowledged its plans for a cryptocurrency, a long time rumor. Libra will launch next year, and 9to5mac.com reports that they have some heavy duty financial partners for the currency and a wallet called Calibra. In on the deal are MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Uber, eBay, Vodafone, and Mercy Corps. The currency will be controlled by a non—profit known as the Libra Association…of which Facebook is just one member. At launch, the association will be jointly controlled by all members. Each member has kicked in $10 million, and will have one vote. The association will be headquartered in Switzerland. Libra won’t be free floating like bitcoin and others. The value will be pegged to a basket of assets that will ‘anchor its value.’ Facebook says they will use the same type of verifications and anti-fraud processes that banks and credit cards use to protect users. More info will certainly be seeping out as we get closer to the launch next year.
Not really mentioned in the marathon 2 hour plus WWDC keynote earlier this month: Apple TV is apparently getting Picture in Picture. According to theverge.com, tvOS 13 allows Apple TV users to shrink down any video playing in the Apple TV app to a corner of the screen, and continue browsing through content and menus…all while still watching the video originally playing. The option exists to switch the windows or exit the mode entirely. Apple may or may not add the feature by this fall, but it appears to be on the way.
Amazon’s Twitch has acquired social net Bebo. Techcrunch.com says the early social network platform will be rolled up into Twitch’s e-sports business…particularly focusing on Twitch Rivals. Twitch apparently dropped less that $25 million on the company (some reports say a lot less than that). It had been bought by AOL for $850 million in 2008. The platform didn’t really take off, and AOL unloaded it after only a couple of years for….$25 million. The e-sports market is no small potatoes. eMarketer says there were some 400 million users of e-sports platforms in 2018, producing $869 million from sponsorships, player fees, and advertising.
When you google lyrics to a song, you may note that Google displays them in the search results…as opposed to going to Genius’ website. According to bgr.com, Google has been copying Genius’ lyrics for years and pasting them into search results, bypassing Genius’ site…and they say they have proved it. Genius hid a Morse code message within lyrics to prove Google was ripping off their lyrics. Genius first noticed that Google seemed to have their lyrics in 2016, from a very difficult to understand song (and Genius had gotten the lyrics directly from the artist.) They alerted Google in 2017, but nothing. What Genius did to prove their case was to alternate straight and curly single-quote apostrophes in some lyrics…corresponding to Morse code. The code spells out Red Handed! Google continues to dispute this, saying they partnered with LyricFind in 2016, and said they would investigate and terminate agreements with partners who aren’t ‘upholding good practices.’