No Windows 11 Android Support at First; Google May Launch Pixel 6 in Next 2 Weeks; Chinese Maker-Colbalt Free EV Batteries; iPhone 13 Satellite Com-Clarification…MaybePosted: August 31, 2021
It looks like Windows 11 won’t be shipping with Android app support when it drops on October 5th. According to theverge.com, this would be a disappointing delay for one of the banner features of the upgraded OS. It appears now like the Android support won’t be pushed out until 2022. Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 computers, but new PCs will get it first, then existing devices will be able to download in the following weeks (or months.) According to Microsoft, all eligible Windows 10 PCs will be offered the free upgrade by mid 2022.
Not exactly from a known, accurate leaker, but a Weibo leaker claims the Pixel 6 handsets will be unveiled on September 13th…stepping on Apple’s iPhone 13 event…which will most likely be September 14th, if history is an indication. Bgr.com reports that this shows Google isn’t afraid of the competition. For this writer, it appears to be a gamble…can Google steal enough thunder to make a big splash with the Pixel 6 phones, or will they be swamped by all the glitz and excitement of the Apple iPhone 13 and Apple Watch rollout? Most other competitors (think Samsung) try to show their new units weeks…or a month….from an Apple announcement in order to get buzz and hopefully favorable reviews before Apple’s phones hit, but if this wild rumor is true, it’s a gutsy attempt to grab attention for the latest Pixel phones.
A Chinese firm called SVOLT says its ready to start making a cobalt free EV battery at scale. Engadget.com says they showed off an 82.6KWh battery pack in a vehicle at the Chengdu Motor Show. (The actual car is from Great Wall Motors…a logo must extend all the way across the back of the car!) It’s claimed that pack can make 373 miles of range off a single charge, and it can push the car forward 0-60 in under 5 seconds. the big deal about cobalt is that it is rare, so in short supply, and mining it is very environmentally unfriendly. Both Panasonic and Tesla have tried making batteries without heavy metals like cobalt. The Model 3 sold in China has a lithium ion phosphate battery in it that doesn’t use heavy metals in production. That unit is made by Contemporary Amperex Technology. No word on when SVOLT will have battery packs on the market.
Yesterday, we reported a rumor from noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that has the iPhone 13 carrying a special chip that might allow satellite communication. 9to5mac.com notes that a couple of experts have downplayed this, as have numerous Twitter trolls who have no clue. Bloomberg also confirmed the rumor, but clarified that it would be for emergency use only, and be a text only function. the experts (and trolls) note that the Qualcomm X60 chip doesn’t operate on satellite frequencies…which is true, but Kuo said that it was a modified version. The X65 chip, for example, DOES operate on satellite frequencies. It may be that the chip is in the phone, but that Apple won’t activate it right away, or has a longer term plan for satellite in mind. We may find out all…or not…considering it’s Apple, in the next couple weeks.
iPhone 13 Sat Phone-Kuo Rumor; GoPro New Flagship Leak; Clubhouse Add Spatial Audio Effects; Washington Researchers-Grant For Better Plastic RecyclingPosted: August 30, 2021
In the biggest iPhone rumor yet, reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the iPhone 13 will have low orbit satellite communication connectivity! Macrumors.com notes that this would let users make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage. It allegedly has a custom Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that has the sat com support. Other smartphones are expected to implement the tech in 2022. The provider is supposed to be Globalstar. Although satellite communication has always been pretty expensive up to now, I would expect government users, reporters, and others who travel to or live in places with sketchy coverage to be clamoring for iPhone 13 models if this rumor holds true. We will know in a couple weeks, as that is the time frame when Apple traditionally rolls out its latest smartphones.
In a second big leak today, the GoPro Hero 10 Black has had images seep out into the world. According to theverge.com, it really looks a lot the same as last year’s, only will rock a more powerful GP2 processor…which should give a major boost in performance. The cam will support 5.3K videos shot at 60fps, or 4K vids at 120fps! It can record 2.7K at a stunning 240fps giving more motion control (but costing resolution.) The image sensor goes up from 20 to 23 megapixels.
To give users that ‘actual room’ feel, now Clubhouse is adding spatial audio effects. Techcrunch.com says that, for example, you could make it seem like a main speaker was on stage, and people at different spots in an auditorium were asking questions. Some of this is achieved by altering the way the high and low sounds are sent out, as well as by a time delay between stereo channels. If you’ve listened to certain albums in headphones…or if you ever had stereo quad, you get the idea. At a radio station in the 1970’s, we were quad. We had one jingle ID that bounced from front to back, and another that spun. Think about listening to that in quad headphones if you were a little high (not that anyone I know ever was…)
A sad but stunning fact…despite the separate bins and all the effort, only 9% of plastics in the US are recycled. Geekwire.com reports that one issue holding recycling back is that the different plastic materials we pitch in the bin can’t be used together in a new container. The National Science Foundation has given a grant to U of Washington and Washington State scientists to try to tackle the problem. They are working a chemical process to break the plastics down into their building block monomers that can then go forward into next uses. They are also experimenting with turning some recycled plastic into hydrocarbons (which they generally come from anyway) and then producing jet fuel. With time and luck, let’s hope they are successful so we can clean things up in earnest.
T-Mobile Breach Update; Twitter-New Process Reporting COVID Misinformation; CES 2022-Live, but Vaxx Proof Needed; OnlyFans Launches New ‘PG-13’ AppPosted: August 18, 2021
We reported earlier this week that T-Mobile had a data breach that affected over 100 million users. Now, the carrier has confirmed that some 47.8 million users have had their data compromised. Engadget.com reports that 7.8 million are current T-Mobile postpaid accounts and the rest are prior or potential users that applied for credit. Unfortunately, the data is a gold mine of info….first and last names, date of birth, Social Security Number, and driver license number…though not all of that was hacked on all customers. ‘So far,’ T-Mobile hasn’t seen that the hackers got phones numbers, account numbers, passwords, or financial info. T-Mobile advises all postpaid users to change their PIN immediately. The hacker had claimed on the dark web to have 100 million accounts’ info, and was trying to sell info for about 30 million of them for around $270,000 in Bitcoin.
Twitter has unveiled a new reporting feature that lets users flag Tweets containing possible COVID-19 misinformation. According to theverge.com, users will be able to select whether the misleading comment is political, health-related, or falls into another category. The feature should be available now in the US, Australia, and South Korea. Twitter has said they won’t be able to check every single report, but will use data from the feature to determine how to expand it. The feature is aimed at easing government pressure on Twitter (as well as Facebook) to clean up their algorithms to reduce the amplification of harmful information.
After running with an all-digital version in 2021, the giant CES show will be back in Vegas with a live show in 2022…but will require proof of vaccination. Cnet.com says that CES will follow CDC protocols and require proof of vaccination…although they are still weighing proof of a positive antibody test as an alternative. CES is the biggest consumer electronics show around, with over 1,000 companies showing off their latest and greatest. CES said they will run a digital event that will run in parallel. Among others, Amazon, AMD, AT&T, Daimler AG, Dell, Google, Hyundai, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, LG, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung and Sony — are on board for the event. CES will run January 5th through the 8th, with media days on January 3rd and 4th.
In the movies, and TV, it’s nearly impossible for an actor to jump from XXX rated stuff to general audience productions. Now, we’ll see if that holds true for an app. According to Mashable.com, OnlyFans has launched a new app with no nudity and no paywall. For and entity that has pretty well only existed on ‘nekkid’ people and in flagrante delicto activity, it remains to be seen (so to speak) whether this will work for them. The app is called OFTV on both iOS and Android. It has launched with some 800 videos from over 100 creators, ranging from vlogs to cooking to meditation. For comparison, the regular not-safe-for-work OnlyFans has over a million creators and generates a whopping $2 billion in annual sales! Will they be able to get past their blue reputation and make this ‘safe’ platform fly. Time will tell.
Walmart Learns from Amazon; Aurora to Clean Space Debris; Apple Patents Tunable Glasses Lenses; Mastercard-Mag Strips Going Bye-ByePosted: August 17, 2021
Taking a page from Amazon’s playbook, Walmart is now reporting a 95% increase in ad sales. Geekwire.com reports that the giant retailer’s push into ads online has meant they have increased the number of active advertisers by 175%. Overall, Walmart has grown its e-commerce business in the 2nd quarter to $11 billion….a 90% increase year over year (when we were at the height of the pandemic in 2020.) Walmart is saying they want to become ‘completely indifferent’ as to where and how customers shop.
There is an enormous amount of ‘space junk’ orbiting the planet after decades of satellite launches and such. Now, Aurora Propulsion Technology is going to be ending space junk removing tech on Rocket Lab’s Electron later this year. According to techcrunch.com, the AuroraSat-1 CubeSat will have six ‘resistojet’ thrusters which will help the unit to quickly de-tumble and adjust attitude control. The unit will also test out Aurora’s Plasma Brakes, which are an electrically charged microtether intended to de-orbit satellites. It will eventually take a fleet of these to clear substantial amounts of space junk floating around our planet.
Patentlyapple.com has picked up on a fascinating patent granted to Apple. It is for tunable lenses for glasses (or a mixed reality headset, more likely.) The lenses adjust to varying visual impairments like myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, astigmatism, higher-order aberrations, and more. Apple does the trick using a layer of liquid crystal that is controlled by electrodes controlled by circuitry. The lenses would even allow sharing of a headset between a couple people with different vision defects. In addition to use in corrective lenses, the tunable ones could move augmented reality content to different focal points from the user’s perspective.
In a farewell that has been a long time coming, Mastercard will start phasing out magnetic strips on credit and debit cards in 2024. With all new cards utilizing the more secure chip tech, Mastercard says it will add fingerprint verification to the chips for identity verification. Cnet.com reports that the government will no longer require US banks to issue cards with mag strips by 2027, and by 2029 no cards will have them. The venerable mag strip has been around since the 1960’s…heck, Mastercard was first introduced to the public in ads featuring Ozzie and Harriet! it’s time to embrace more secure identification tech, the combo of fingerprint and the chip is a step in that direction.
Samsung AI-Designed Chip; New Cable from US to Philippines; Apple Plans Multiple Rollout Events; T-Mobile Data BreachPosted: August 16, 2021
Samsung is using AI to create cutting edge chips. According to arstechnica.com, Google and Nvidia have been talking about doing so, but meanwhile, Samsung is actually in the process. They are using software from Synopsys to accelerate chip development. The software can not only plan the layout of the chips and arrangement of components, but by doing such, can improve performance of the chip by 15%. Samsung is using the AI software to design the next generation of Exynos chips.
While Elon Musk and others are flooding the skies with tiny satellites to beam Wi-Fi everywhere, Facebook and Amazon are asking the US government for approval to go the other way. Reuters.com reports that the companies are planning to run a new undersea cable from California to the Philippines. They want to begin commercial operation by late 2022. Previously, China Mobile had looked at this, but was turned down unanimously by the FCC in 2019. Right now, there are about 300 undersea cables which really are the backbone of the internet, carrying 99% of the world’s data traffic.
We are probably less than a month away from Apple’s usual mid-September rollout of the new iPhones and Apple Watches. Macrumors.com says that isn’t the only event to expect this fall. they quote Boomberg’s Mark Gurman as saying there will also be an event (maybe in October) for the updated iPad mini with bigger display as well as updates to apple services. Finally, the highly anticipated MacBook Pros, which will rock Apple’s proprietary ‘M’ series chip and a mini-LED display should be showed off October-November. Some sources indicate they are already in production, and will be available in November.
In case you missed it, one the weekend, it was revealed that T-Mobile is investigating a data breach. According to Reuters, the personal data of over 100 million may have been compromised. The bad news: it includes social security numbers, names, phone numbers, physical addresses, and drivers licenses…basically, everything a crook would need to disrupt your life! The hacker that has the data is asking 6 bitcoin for a subset of 30 million SSNs and driver licenses, and apparently is trying to sell off the rest of the data privately.
Samsung Drops Under-$1000 Folding Phone; Facebook Delete Russian Anti-Vaxx Network; T-Mobile’s Fiber Home Internet; Senators Introduce App Store Side-Loading BillPosted: August 11, 2021
The headline from Samsung Unpacked has to be an under $1000 folding phone. The Z Flip 3 will be out August 27th, rocking a bigger cover display than last year. Samsung also rolled out the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Engadget.com reports that the selfie cam is under screen, so blends in with the display. Also, the S Pen will work with the new model…which is dropped a bit in price to $1800. Samsung claims the screen protector is 80% stronger on the newest fold. It can be preordered to day, and is on sale the 27th. As has been widely rumored, the new Galaxy Watch 4 runs Wear OS from Google. Samsung has added a 3 in 1 BioActive sensor that can measure your body fat percentage. the watch has 50% more RAM. The Watch 4 will be $249 and Watch 4 Classic will sell for $349 when they hit August 27th. Samsung also showed off Galaxy Buds 2. The new ear buds are smaller and lighter than the Galaxy Buds +, and are priced at $150.
Facebook has pulled the plug on a network of accounts from Russia that it linked to a marketing firm which was aiming to enlist influencers to push anti-vaccine content and disparage COVID-19 shots. According to Reuters, Facebook investigators called the campaign a ‘disinformation laundromat,’ creating misleading articles and petitions on forums such as Reddit, Medium, and Change.org…and using fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram to amplify the message. The accounts had been around since 2020.
T-Mobile is selling fiber-based home internet now. Theverge.com notes it appears to something of a soft launch item, but T-Mobile has confirmed that it is testing fib er optic internet in some residential buildings, in addition to a fixed wireless product…which it launched to the public in April. The T-Mobile network rings on a local providers lines. Details are sketchy, but if the trial is successful, T-Mobile will no doubt expand it. The company advised investors that they hope to pick up 500,000 home internet customers by the end of the year.
Three Senators have introduced a bill to allow third party app stores and side loading. 9to5mac.com reports that the trio, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Should this pass, we can all expect more spyware, crapware, crashes, and more. Blumenthal actually understands tech and should know better. Their intentions are good…less off the top for Apple and Google, so developers can build apps cheaper and make more…but this will end up being like monkeys guarding the banana boat it it passes.
Amazon Offers $2 Million Pot to Get Workers Vaccinated; Apple Talks With South Korean EV Part Makers; Zynga Dumping SF HQ; Google Restricts Ads to MinorsPosted: August 10, 2021
As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, Amazon has jumped in and is offering $2 million in cash and prizes in a lotto to get its frontline workers vaccinated. Geekwire.com reports that they have dubbed the contest ‘Max Your Vax.’ There will be 18 prizes, including two $500,000 cash jackpots, 6 $100,000 jackpots, 5 new vehicles, and 5 vacation packages. Amazon still hasn’t mandated vaccines for its over 1.3 million employees, though. They have put in place mask requirements in fulfillment centers, including all workers, vaccinated or not, and are requiring proof of vaccination for anyone returning to the offices. Last week, Amazon backed its return to office date to January 3, 2022.
As the buzz about the next iPhones continues to grow, with the usual September announcement date approaching, Cupertino is back in South Korea under the radar, talking to electric vehicle component makers. According to macdailynews.com, they aren’t talking to Hyundai/Kia about building an EV for them in this run (but may be…as well as to several other car makers Apple has been rumored to have spoken with), but are talking with LG, Sk, and Hanwha. Apple seems to be looking into powertrain manufacture, and particularly battery tech. They are reportedly considering using a Lithium iron phosphate battery (LFP) instead of the lithium ion batteries widely used in EVs right now. the LFP batteries have weaker performance at lower temperatures, but they cost less. Apple reportedly has figured out a way to ‘radically’ reduce battery costs AND increase EV range. THAT would be a ‘killer app’ for EVs!
Game maker Zynga is reading the tea leaves, and going to a modified WFH, limited days in office system for its more than 500 Bay Area employees. SFgate reports that this includes letting go of their iconic headquarters building with the giant dog sign just off the skyway in San Francisco. Right now, they lease 185,000 square feet in the building on Townsend…although the company originally bought the building and filled it. Later, they sold it off, and leased back some of the space. Airbnb leases more of the space in the building. Zynga says they will keep some employees full time in the office at Chartboost and Echtra, which it owns, as well as in San Mateo. Most will work from home, or come into the office 1 to 2 days a week…as is true of a number of tech and other companies.
First off, this shouldn’t even be news. ALL big tech companies and others should have already restricted ad targeting of minors. The government pushed cereal makers into doing this over ads in Saturday morning cartoons decades ago. Nonetheless, theverge.com reports that Google will no longer allow ad targeting of kids based on age, gender, or interests. They are also adding an option to let users under 18 to ask for their images to be removed from Google search results, and making uploads to YouTube by youngsters default to the most private setting. This follows Facebook’s changes made last month to Instagram…although that applies to those under 16. Google notes that a request to remove photos can’t get them erased from the web entirely…but most kids are more aware of this than adults! These changes are rolling ones, but should be most places in the next few weeks.
Google Plans Silicon Valley ‘Hardware Center’; Microsoft Tests Night Mode for Xbox; Biden Targets 52 MPG; Tesla Confirms Cybertruck DelayPosted: August 9, 2021
Google is apparently planning a second San Jose campus on top of the Downtown West project. 9to5google.com reports that it is being called a ‘hardware center.’ Right now, from what’s known, it will be made up of 3 ‘industrial’ buildings. The planning documents leaked specifically mention ‘Nest’ and ‘Google Hardware.’ One building will apparently be like a huge warehouse, and about 80% will be dedicated to manufacture, storage, and distribution. There will also be a campus next to the hardware center. Five existing buildings Google already owns will be renovated to house some 3,500 Googlers. (The Downtown West site will feature space for up to 20,000 employees.) No projected date was given for completion of the facility.
Night mode on your computer isn’t enough…now, Microsoft is publicly testing a night mode on Xbox. According to engadget.com, it will not only dim down your screen, but also the power button and controller light! There is an optional blue light filter, too…which can help minimize eye strain. I use computer glasses with a blue filter already, and it does help for the many hours in front of screens. The tests are early Alpha right now, but when night mode comes, it will be welcome…especially for late night gaming sessions.
In an aggressive move aimed at boosting sales of electric vehicles, and cutting down the pollution from gas and diesel ones that are continuing to accelerate climate change, the Biden administration has now set a target MPG of 52 starting in 2026. Cnet.com says the new regulations replace the Trump administration’s SAFE rules. The rules also call for an 10% post in fleet average MPG by 2023, followed by 5% bumps yearly through 2026. The Trump plan only called for 1.5% increases yearly. Note that some cars can already hit the old Trump standard of 43.3 MPG by 2026. I have a hybrid that averages 43 right now which is 3 years old…it also can hit 53 MPG on the highway if I behave myself (which admittedly is a rare occurrence!)
There has been plenty of speculation that Tesla’s Cybertruck mass production was slipping. Over the weekend, electrek.co noted that now, the official website now has on the order page an updated footnote to confirm that the configurator will be available when “production nears in 2022”. Elon Musk had said that some would be available by the end of 2021, so it’s not a huge delay, but at least now it’s official. In an investor note, Tesla said that production will start after the Model Y production is underway at the new plant in Texas.
YouTube Details More on ‘Shorts Fund’; Apple Expands Self-Driving Fleet; Microsoft Requiring Proof of Vaccination; WhatsApp Launches ‘View Once’ for Videos & PixPosted: August 4, 2021
Earlier this year, YouTube announced some significant investment in paying creators who submit to their TikTok competitor, YouTube Shorts. Techcrunch.com reports that the initial funding was $100 million. Now, a little more is out about the plan. Every month, YouTube will invite thousand of legible creators to claim a payment from the fund. The payments will be based on viewership and engagement. The payments will range from $100 to $10,000! YouTube won’t say what the threshold is to hit that larger number, saying that those numbers may change from month to month. The shorts MUST be original content. Creators have to be over 13, and for those 13 to 18, they will need to have a parent or guardian sign up to set up the AdSense account.
Apple had earlier cut its self-driving fleet, but now has bulked back up again. According to 9to5mac.com, they are up to 69 cars and 92 drivers. Cupertino had cut the number of drivers in half last year, in part due to the pandemic. Apple was granted a patent in March for a night vision system that combines visible light, near-infrared light, and long wave infrared sensors. The system isn said to allow a more comprehensive view of what’s ahead, and allows the system to ‘see’ further than any human driver can. Rumors continue about Apple partnering with a car maker….Hyundai/Kia, Nissan, BMW, and Canoo have all been mentioned. In fact, there was supposedly a deal with Hyundai earlier which either blew up, or was just a rumor out of hand. It’s still possible that Apple will just sell or license the tech to car makers, rather than building their own car.
Microsoft joins the growing number of big corporations in requiring proof of vaccine for US on site work. In addition, geekwire.com notes that Redmond will delay full opening now to October 4th. Microsoft also says it will offer accommodations for employees with medical conditions or other protected reasons, such as religion, that prevent them from getting vaccinated. Google, Facebook, Disney, and partially Walmart, have all implemented such requirements. Amazon has mandated that people who are unvaccinated wear masks in the office, but hasn’t pulled the trigger on requiring proof of vaccination….although they say they continue to monitor the situation with the Delta variant.
WhatsApp has launched its “View Once” feature today, which deletes photos or videos from your chat after they’ve been opened by the recipient. Theverge.com says when sending a photo or video, you can make it view once by tapping the “1” button to the left of the send button. After the recipient opens it, it’ll be deleted. The recipient will be able to see that it’s a disappearing photo, so it’s still the type of thing you’d only want to use for people you trust to not take a screenshot.
Google Tensor SoC Chip-Future Smart Glasses; Twitter Gets Help from Reuters & AP to Bolster Credible Info; Facebook-Analyzing Encrypted Data; Amazon Will Pay Whopping $10 for Your Palm PrintPosted: August 3, 2021
As Google steps up the teasing about their Tensor system on a chip, here’s another little nugget from their Rick Osterloh. 9to5google.com reports that he said it will make big improvements in AR…which he said for now will be used mainly in smartphones like the Pixel. Osterloh went on to say that smart glasses will be ‘very useful’ in the future, and added “Without a doubt, sometime in the future, there will be the ability to have those experiences on different devices too.” It sounds like Google continues to work towards a better version of Google Glass. With Apple also working on smart glasses, it seems pretty likely that we will all be seeing things through them in the next few years.
Twitter is hooking up with Associated Press and Reuters, hoping the news giants can help their curation team get credible information out to users. Engadget.com says that Trends will include contextual descriptions and links to reporting from reputable publications more frequently with the partnerships. Initially, the new news sources will focus on English language content, but that will be expanded. The Twitter curation team already contextualizes items in Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, and Portuguese. The platform hopes with the added muscle to its curation, trolls will be at least a little less successful at manipulating information or posting blatantly false information.
Facebook is working on using AI to study ways to analyze data without decrypting it. According to The Information, this would allow them to target ads based on encrypted messages in WhatsApp, and to encrypt data Facebook collects without damaging their ad targeting capabilities (and selling those all-important ads! They recently lured a top researcher from Microsoft, which is also studying this, as are Amazon and Google. This field has been dubbed homomorphic encryption. Of course, all the companies think it will be un-hackable by competitors, etc. As we all know by now with hacking…fat chance.
From the ‘You’ve got to be kidding’ department, Amazon is offering a princely $10 if you enroll your biometric data in their palm print recognition system, Amazon One. Theverge.com reports that Amazon is pitching the pay system as an easy way to pay at their stores, and plans to offer it to other businesses. The system looks at the lines, ridges, and even veins to verify your unique palm print. Right now, Amazon One is in use at 50 SSU locations, including some Whole Foods and Amazon Go stores. While it’s a laughably small amount, some of your data sells for pennies…nice to know how highly business values us!