ToTok Chat App Is Spyware; Top 2020 Smartphones Getting Longer Optical Zoom; Secret Apple Team Pursues Internet Satellites; Ludicrous Mode & Better Battery for Tesla Model 3; EV Startup Rivian Snags $1.3 Billion More Funding

There are lots of chat apps available, and some people like to check the latest. Most of the big name secure encrypted apps are pretty safe: iMessage, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Signal, etc. If you have downloaded ToTok, though…delete it immediately! According to bgr.com, the app is named to sound a lot like the popular TikTok social network…but…the app is spyware….it tracks, ‘every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones.’ The NY Times first broke the story, and now the app has been removed from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The app appears to have been developed by a front company for DarkMatter, and Abu Dhabi based cyber intelligence and hacking firm that’s staffed by former NSA, military intelligence, and Emirati intelligence agents. Again– DELETE ToTalk now if you have it!

A note from well-respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says a number of top end smartphones in 2020 will feature 10x OPTICAL zoom. Optical zoom is far better than the electronic zoom most have, which smears and gives fuzzier shots, the more you zoom it. Macrumors.com reports that Kuo specifically mentions the Huawei P40 Pro phone. He doesn’t mention Apple or Samsung by name, but he does say the zoom feature will appear in more high end start phones in 2020. Personally, I use zoom much more than the ultra wide angle lenses that Apple and others have added lately, as do a number of pro photographers. Note that you see lots of giant telephoto lenses at sporting events and the like, in order to frame the action. The ultra wide lenses are great for the Grand Canyon or large buildings, but a lot of times you want to focus on specific people or action, so a 10X optical zoom will be very welcome, and perhaps a ‘killer feature’ when it gets here.

Who, besides the CEOs and stock holders would cry if it was possible to get completely around cellular providers and their service issues and high prices? Now, bloomberg.com says Apple has a small, secret team working on developing internet satellites and related wireless tech to allow users (and of course, Apple…which would reap more monthly fees) to get around cell providers entirely. They hope to deploy results within 5 years. Apple is not alone…Amazon plans to deploy some 3,000 satellites in the future.

Sometimes, we get the coolest heads up on future features and products from folks digging through existing lines of code. Mashable.com notes that a Twitter user was combing through Tesla code, and found a couple gems. The user, who goes by Green, spotted an inclusion of Ludicrous Mode for the Model 3. Ludicrous mode could give the 3 a head-snapping zero to 60 time of 2.5 seconds…up from the already crazy fast 3.2 seconds for the Performance model. Even more enticing was spotting an option for the 100kWh battery, a nice jump from the presently offered 75kWh battery in the Model 3. With software reveals, you never know when features might actually get here, but Green also noted other changes in the software that could point toward new options for Model 3 buyers. There could be new tire pressure sensors, new rim options, new options for glass roofs, and improved airflow.

Tesla is far from the only firm with EVs or working on same, although they are the most widely known right now, and have a huge fleet on the roads. EV startup Rivian has picked up another $1.3 billion in new funding for its EVs…which initially will focus on a pickup truck and an SUV. According to TechCrunch.com, the new cash is on top of $700 million from Amazon, $500 million from Ford, and $350 million from Cox Automotive. Amazon is in the mix because Rivian is working with them on all electric delivery vans, which should be a great way for Amazon to go considering all the short haul trip those delivery vehicles take during the average day. Rivian has a 2.6 million square foot manufacturing plant in Normal, Ill, and R&D facilities in several spots worldwide.



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