New Kindles Drop; DoorDash Adds Booze-20 States; Next iPhone Pros Drop Notch for Hole Punch Cam; GM Restarts Bolt Battery Line

Amazon has refreshed the Kindle PaperWhite tablets. There are 2 new hardware models, and a separate PaperWhite Kids version. Arstechnica.com says the kids edition comes with its own case, has adds off by default, and includes a year subscription to the Amazon Kids+ service and a 2 year warranty. The kiddo model goes for $160. Amazon will keep the $110 kids model for now. The updated basic PaperWhite is $140…a $10 bump from the older model. It does have a larger 6.8 inch screen with thinner bezels, and has a faster processor which Amazon claims gives you 20% faster page turns, and a USB-C port. The Signature Edition adds auto-brightness and Qi wireless charging. Amazon will retain the $250 Kindle Oasis model, which didn’t get a refresh. 

If you don’t like bars and pub crawls, or are a shy homebody who would like and adult beverage, but don’t want to go out, has DoorDash got a deal for you. Up to now, there have been specific home alcohol delivery services, but now you can combine it with your food delivery. Cheers! According to cnet.com, DoorDash is adding alcohol delivery in 20 states, D.C., Canada, and Australia. Which states? Glad you asked. California, New York, Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Iowa, Oregon, Missouri and Nebraska will get the service. You will be able to tap the alcohol tab on the app and order from restaurants, grocers, local retailers and convenience stores. DoorDash will require ID verification and will check twice….first at checkout, then again during delivery. DoorDash had allowed alcohol delivery before via DoorDash Drive, but that was only for large orders like catered events. 

There will be mad rejoicing from the tech press next Fall. Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Apple will drop the dreaded notch for a hole punch selfie camera in next year’s iPhone Pro models. Sorry regular iPhone buyers…you will continue to ‘suffer’ with the notch. I expect the joy to last about 2 minutes, before some tech reporters to start bitching about the hole being visible on the screens. In all my interactions with normal users, not ONE has ever complained about the notch! At any rate, 9to5mac.com says there is another big bump on the way for iPhone 14 according to Kuo….the Pro models will get a 48 MP wide cam! There is also a rumor about an SE model with 5G, and a new and more affordable 6.7 inch phone. It should be noted that hole punch selfie cams and cams with much higher megapixel counts have been around for several years on Android phones. A sad note…the under screen Touch ID which had been predicted has apparently been bumped now to 2023.

The good news from General Motors….they have restarted production of Bolt EV batteries, with a ‘comprehensive action plan’ they hope will ensure that drivers can safely drive, charge, and park the EVs. Engadget.com reports that the flaws in the batteries have been corrected according to the General. The big question remains, though. Will people have enough confidence to keep buying the Bolt, or has recalling every single model and advising to park 10 feet from other cars and a garage due to fire danger killed the little EV’s chance of getting any traction. LG, which makes the batteries, says they have put into place new manufacturing processes and have stepped up quality assurance…you would hope so! GM has new software a dealer can install to check for abnormalities and warn owners to get the cars in should the battery pack have issues. 


Facebook Warned About Small LED Record Indicator-Glasses; Folding Pixel Indicated in Android Build; Why No Smartwatch Blood Pressure Yet; Tesla-Address ‘Basic Safety Issues’-NTSB

Facebook has been put on notice that the LED recording indicator on the Facebook/Ray-Ban smart glasses may be too small to really warn people that they are being recorded. According to techcrunch.com, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission has asked Facebook to demo the LED, so they can determine if it is enough. Italy’s regulator has also raised the issue. The Ray-Ban branded smart glasses are already on sale. Not having seen the glasses in the wild myself, I would offer that even a small blinking red LED might be ok for indoors, but such would be very hard to catch if someone wearing the glasses was outdoors recording you. Since the Ray-Bans look more like regular sunglasses, expect ‘glassholes’ to take things to a new, lower level, than we saw with the much maligned Google Glass.

Rumors have been around for over a year that Google was working on a folding phone, which was code named ‘Passport.’ Now, 9to5google.com reports that people have spotted some code in the upcoming Android 12.1 mentioning another foldable Pixel, code named ‘Jumbojack.’ 9to5google has also seen documentation of Jumbojack being run through various trials to see how it does closed, half open, and flipped. The rumors indicate two screens, inside and outside, as on the Samsung folders. There is speculation from the name…Jumbojack…that the phone might open like a hamburger box, as is the case with the Galaxy Z Flip, instead of ‘hot dog style’ like the Fold. Considering that the Passport was initially thought to be out by now, it may be that both (or neither) could be out in 2022. 

There were rumblings last spring that the Apple watch might get a blood sugar monitor, which would have exploded their sales to diabetics all over the world. Well that didn’t happen, and in fact, they don’t even have a blood PRESSURE monitor as yet. Theverge.com notes that the Samsung Galaxy watch announced such a feature a couple years ago, and is still waiting FDA approval. Fitbit is working on a blood pressure monitor, along with Samsung and Apple. The problem is, measuring BP is a lot trickier than logging heart rate and rhythm. A professor at University of Pennsylvania, Jordana Cohen, put it succinctly…’We’re not ready for prime time yet.’ Even with a cuff at the doctor’s office, the measurement can be off, due to some people having ‘white coat syndrome,’ in other words, fear of the check by the doc or nurse inflates their blood pressure…which may be normal at home. There are numerous home blood pressure checkers, but they all use a cuff or squeeze a finger to work. So far, using light sensors in a watch without the squeeze just hasn’t been very accurate. With three majors smartwatch makers working on it, we may well see it in the next few years…along with the holy grail of a blood sugar monitor. 

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, new NTSB head Jennifer Homendy said that Tesla needs to address ‘basic safety issues’ before it adds features to its Autopilot and Full Self Driving. The new NTSB boss also took issue with Tesla beta testing upgrades on public roadways. Homendy also slammed Tesla for using ‘Full Self Driving,’ pointing out that such a label is ‘misleading and irresponsible.’ she noted that it only enables limited autonomy in some situations, and is a far cry from actual self driving. The NTSB head’s comments don’t necessarily mean that there will be policies instituted that will ban Tesla’s tech, but it is a sizable shot over the bow of the SS Elon Musk. 


Walmart Will Launch Autonomous Delivery Service; Microsoft Accounts Can Now Drop Passwords; Nintendo Switch Gets Bluetooth Audio; First Rivian Production e-Pickup Rolls Off Line

Walmart is getting ready to launch autonomous delivery service in Austin, TX, Miami, and Washington, D.C. They are partnering with Argo AI and Ford in the endeavor. According to TechCrunch.com, the service will let customers order online using the Walmart order platform. The Argo cloud infrastructure is going to be integrated with Walmart’s platform, then routing the orders and scheduling package deliveries to customers homes. Initially, the commercial service will be limited to specific geographic areas in each city and expand over time. The companies will begin testing later this year.

Microsoft is now allowing you to remove passwords from your Microsoft accounts. Theverge.com reports that you will be able to sign in with the Authenticator app, Windows Hello, a security key, or an SMS or email verification instead of a password. Redmond had already rolled out this type of authentication for commercial users back in March to help companies connect with remote users more easily. Meanwhile, Google, Apple, and others are working towards less passwords. You can already sign in on Google Chrome without a password, and Apple has Passkeys on iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, which bring a more secure log in using the iCloud Keychain. 

In a software update, Nintendo has now made it possible to use Bluetooth ear buds and headphones with the Switch. Engadget.com says the feature only works with audio output, though…no microphone input. the system allows for up to 10 Bluetooth devices to be saved, but only one can be connected at at time. There have already been third parties accessories to make Bluetooth available, but this will make it much cleaner.

The first actual production Rivian R1T electric pickup rolled off the production line yesterday. Techcrunch.com reports that the Normal, Ill. factory is now getting ready to begin production of the R1S electric SUV as well. A second production line at the plant is set up to produce EV delivery vans for Amazon, which has 100,000 on order. Amazon started testing the e-vans earlier this year in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Rivian didn’t say how many vehicles they were expecting to produce from the pickup line, but did say deliveries are starting this month. 


Apple ‘Re-cApple’- iPhone 13, etc Event

iPad- A13 Bionic chip…20% faster in every way than the old model. 6x faster than fastest Android. 12MP wide front cam like iPad Pro. Center Stage adjusts to put the person centered automatically for video conferences in addition to in other apps.

iPad gets TrueTone and get 1st gen Apple Pencil.

Better multitasking controls (badly needed, in my opinion!)

iPad is $329 base with 64 Gb…$299 for schools. Available next week.

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iPad Mini- Thinner bezels and more colors. Screen size goes to 8.3 inches in the same size case. Touch ID moves to the on button since the display is now close to edge-to-edge. 40% faster CPU and 80% faster GPU. 

USB-C port now, and also 5G cellular comes to the Mini.

Back cam goes to 12MP and gets TrueTone flash. Still only 1 cam, though. 4K recording.

12MP ultra wide selfie cam, and supports Center Stage. 

Stereo sound in landscape mode.

Supports 2nd gen Apple Pencil, which attaches magnetically.

Starts at $499, and available with wi-fi and cellular. Preorder now, available next week.

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Apple Watch Series 7- New features for biking. Will detect starts and stops and has fall detection. 

Bigger display…20% more screen area than the 6…by reducing the borders. More rounded corners (NOT straight sides as predicted.) 70% brighter screen. 50% more text on screen. There is a full keyboard (if you would use that…even with the processor assisting, not really something you could type on.)

New watch faces, as usual.

The Series 7 gets a stronger screen, and more protection vs dust…water resistance stays the same. 

18 hour battery life, and charges 33% faster than Model 6. 45 min to go from zero to 80%.

Watch 7 is available in 5 new colors of aluminum. New bands, but still compatible with old bands.

Series 3 stays at $199. The SE at $279, and new Series 7 $399…they say available later this fall, so that rumor is true. 

No new health features like detecting blood pressure as some had predicted. Maybe next year…or the year after that. If they perfect accurate blood SUGAR readings, they will sell untold millions of watches.

iPhone 13- ooh…20% smaller ‘notch.’ The tech press just finally wet their pants. They have all bitched about the stupid notch for years. (Of course, other phones with no notch get dinged for the ‘hole punch’ camera in the screen…tech reporters are never happy!

They are keeping the Mini, and both the 13 and Mini have 2 cams. Brighter screens and better battery life. 

A15 Bionic chip 5nm tech for 15 billion transistors. 2 performance and 4 efficiency cores. 

They claim up to 50% faster than the closest competitor, which I presume is Samsung.

New wide cam with 47% more light gathering. It gets the image stabilization of the Pro and Pro Max. New ultra wide cam…lower noise shots. For video, the 13’s get ‘cinematic mode.’ They are touting ‘racks focus’…where you have a figure in focus and background a bit blurred, then zoom in and the background is in focus instead. Very cool, but doubt many will use this…anyone shooting pro or semipro video will probably buy the Pro models with the 3 cams….or shoot video on an actual professional video camera!

More 5G bands are available in the new models. Should make 5G use available in more countries, etc. 

Battery life – Mini gets 1.5 hours more, 13 gets 2.5 more hours of battery life than last year’s model. Mostly done via the chip conserving in more ways. 

More privacy features….including ways to hide your IP address and using email aliases. This has been covered earlier, so I won’t get into the weeds here. 

Apple is putting out more Mag Safe accessories….chargers, wallets, etc. They even touted 3rd party accessories. A bonus—when the Mag Safe wallet falls off the phone, you can use ‘Find My’ to locate it, LOL!. I have a Mag Safe extra battery, and it’s great, but even in a pants pocket, it can come loose from the phone. DON’T get a mag safe wallet for your credit cards and license…just don’t!

$699 for base iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 at $799. Starting capacity is 128Gigs, 512 Gigs available. 

iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max- smaller notch…of course. Bigger battery! The 13 Pro will last 1.5 hours longer than the 12, and the Pro Max 2.5 hours longer than the 12 Max.

Same A15 Bionic chip as the 13s as far as CPU, but has a 5 core GPU. 

Super Retina XDR display with 25% more brightness and Pro Motion. Can refresh from 10 Hz to 120Hz. 

6.1 inch and 6.7 inch screen sizes stay. 

Cam system gets an upgrade. 77 mm telephoto with 3x optical zoom! The 3x optical zoom also works for video. New f 1.5 wide lens with bigger sensor. Ultrawide lens gets macro photography. Can zoom in up to 2 cm.  All lenses get night mode, including the telephoto. 

New photographic styles. You can customize the different filters for real time edits and it will remember your settings so you don’t have to reset every shot. Choose rich contrast, vibrant, etc, and you can customize the tone and warmth further.

The Pros start at $999 for the Pro and $1099 for the Pro Max. (No price increase.) The Pros get the predicted 1 TB storage option. Preorder Friday, available September 24.

NO new AirPods Pro in today’s presentation. Maybe they will be rolled out with the updated MacBook Pros this Fall. 


Facebook ‘XCheck’ Shields VIPs from Rules; T-Mobile Cuts Walmart Deal; Firefox Now Has Single-Click to be Windows Default Browser; Epic Appeals in Case vs Apple

In one of the all-time shockers, it turns out Facebook rules do NOT apply to everyone. The Wall Street Journal reports that a program called ‘XCheck’ actually shields VIP users from the normal enforcement process. Included in the high profile accounts: celebs, politicians, and journalists. According to documents seen by the WSJ, there were some 5.8 million users who were excluded from the normal ‘Facebook jail’ rules everyone else has to live with. 5.8 million isn’t a lot compared to the over billion users on Facebook, but when you consider the reach of those accounts, the impact isn substantial. Facebook had claimed it was trying to eliminate the whitelisting of VIP accounts by the first half of this year, but that goal has slipped. 

T-Mobile has cut a deal with Walmart that will double its presence in large national retailers. According to geekwire.com, they will launch in 2300 stores across the US that will sell both T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile products. T-Mobile is also in Best Buy stores, too. The carrier said this is all part of the effort to expand 5G access. 

Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has announced that they have beaten Microsoft’s default browser protections in Windows. Theverge.com says that now you will be able to make Firefox the default browser with a single click, instead of wading through the cumbersome process Windows 10 has had in place. With a single click inside Firefox when running, it will do all the work in the background to make Firefox the default. So far, the one-click also works with pre-release versions of Windows 11. Microsoft has yet to respond, and so far, Google, Opera, and others have not followed Mozilla’s lead. 

As expected, Epic has appealed the ruling from Friday in the Epic v Apple case. According to theverge.com, they have given notice of filing with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision has been trumpeted by Apple as a win, but it was really very much a split decision. The judge in the case found that Epic failed to make the case that Apple was a monopoly in the mobile gaming marketplace. The decision has implications beyond the case, as the Feds have been looking at Apple’s possible monopoly power, and at this point, that is undercut by this decision.

Note that we will have a recap right here tomorrow of the Apple event unveiling the iPhone 13 and new Apple Watch models, etc. 


Some Whole Foods Getting ‘Just Walk Out’ Tech; LG’s ‘Real Folding Window’; Ford Steals Top Apple Car Exec; PayPal Snaps Up Japan’s Paidy

Amazon has been running its ‘Just Walk Out’ tech in Amazon Go stores and some of their Fresh supermarkets for a while now. Engadget.com is reporting that they are now ready to roll it out in a couple Whole Foods locations. One will be in Sherman Oaks, CA, and the other store is in the Washington, DC area. Both should be up and running by next year. Just Walk Out uses computer vision, sensors and AI to let you walk into a store, sign in with an app, fill up your bags and leave without the need to join a checkout line. Besides their own stores, Amazon is planning to license the tech to third-party retailers. Although unions have objected that the tech will cost jobs, Amazon said using the tech will actually employ a comparable number of team members. Amazon says they will be in a position to interact more with customers to give them a better shopping experience. 

LG thinks they have a better solution than folding glass held together by a plastic film as in the Samsung folding screen phones. According to theverge.com, they call their product a ‘real folding window,’ and are saying it will ship in 2023. Actually, the LG product drops the glass part entirely. The claim is that their ‘new material’ is used to coat both sides of a sheet of plastic film similar to the plastic in your clear soda bottle. LG says their material then covers a flexible OLED panel, and that the whole thing will lat longer and have a less noticeable crease than existing folding devices. LG claims the coated PET can work with tablets, laptops, and even rollable-screen phones. In addition, it can be folded outward as well as inward. Samsung is apparently also working on a coated PET material. The real question…will it help bring the high cost of folding devices down?

Ford has hired Doug Field away from Apple, where he was a VP of Apple Special Projects…his team there has been working on Project Titan, AKA the Apple Car.  Techcrunch.com notes that prior to Apple, he was a senior VP of engineering at Tesla. At Ford, he will be chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. Field’s experience at Tesla, especially with the Model 3, should be a big boost for Ford as they roll out a number of new EVs. It is a homecoming of sorts for Field…he started his career at Ford as a development engineer from 1987 to 1993. 

PayPal will complete the acquisition of Paidy shortly, according to Nikkei.com. They are dropping $2.7 billion for the Japanese ‘buy now, pay later’ firm. PayPal is working to beef up its business in Japan via cross-border e-commerce payments for overseas payment. PayPal already has 4.3 million accounts in Japan, but they hope with the acquisition to pick up more ‘pay later’ clients. Right now, Japan is 70% cash for payments. Paidy enables buy now, pay later without the need for a credit card. There is no interest charge or fee for a limited amount of time. 


Apple Event on the 14th; TikTok Passes YouTube in Viewing Time; Facebook Denies Report That WhatsApp NOT End-to-End Encrypted; Government Pressure Could Make Companies Support Smartphones Longer

The invite dropped this morning, as expected. Apple has announced ‘California Streaming,’ their upcoming digital event. It will be September 14th at 10 AM Pacific, emanating from Apple Park in Cupertino. According to Macrumors.com, once again there will be no members of the media on hand in person in the Steve Jobs Theater. Apple is widely expected to show off the iPhone 13 series, the Apple Watch Series 7, and maybe AirPods 3. Expected new MacBook Pros with the M series chips and new iPads will probably be revealed in another event….likely in October. 

TikTok continues to show more strength. Theverge.com reports that a new study from analytics firm App Annie shows that TikTok users spend more time watching content every month that YouTube users. As of June, that’s 24 hours of content a month, compared to YouTube’s 22 hours and 40 minutes in the US. In the UK, TikTok’ers watch 26 hours a month, compared to 16 hours for YouTube users. Worth noting: these figures only include viewership on Android phones, so YouTube could be in better shape if you were to add in iOS users. YouTube continues to be ahead in overall time spent since they have more than 2 billion users, compared to 700 million for TikTok.

A report out from ProPublica claims that WhatsApp does not have end-to-end encryption. Apparently, this is based on the fact that there are over 1,000 contract workers in Austin, TX, Dublin, and Singapore that examine ‘millions of pieces of users’ content.’ Facebook claims that only messages which are reported by WhatsApp users are forwarded to Facebook’s contract moderation team. The report also alleges that WhatsApp regularly shares unencrypted records with the US Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies. The best advice is still to consider ANYTHING you post on the internet as being public, and that nothing is un-hackable. 

The German government has now started looking at making smartphone manufacturers offer security updates and spare parts for 7 years. Right now, the EU requires this for 5 years, according to zdnet.com. iPhone’s Apple and Android makers are, of course, howling about this. The Germans also want the parts to be offered at ‘a reasonable price,’ and would make the producers publish a price list and make the parts available quickly. It should be noted that this is actually a completely reasonable demand. The US has made auto makers keep parts available for 10 years for decades now. As for the reasonable price part, with most car parts, there are enough aftermarket parts makers to keep those prices down. For the phone makers’ part….they feel that keeping batteries and screens available is enough, as those are the most failure prone items in the smartphones. 


Yet More on iPhone Sat Connection; Google’s ‘Human Presence Sensor’; VW EV Microbus Update; Hamill Tweets Name, Gets Massive Likes

Last week, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple would support low orbit satellite communications with iPhone 13, then, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman gave more details about the feature and its implementation.  9to5 mac.com notes that More info has leaked out now. “The emergency features will only work in areas without any cellular coverage and only in select markets. Apple envisions eventually deploying its own array of satellites to beam data to devices, but that plan is likely years away from taking off.”  Gurman also says Apple won’t give the ability for iPhone users to make calls when without cellular coverage.

Google is working with Antmicro on a “Human Presence Sensor” for upcoming Chromebooks, which could be used for face unlock or other long-awaited Chrome OS features. Google calls the project  “HPS,” which is short for “Human Presence Sensor.” According to 9to5google.com, it may be used to let the laptop wake when you approach…or  could allow your Chromebook to both stay awake and not dim the screen while you’re in front of it, similar to the “Screen attention” feature of Pixel phones. No word on when it may be actually implemented at this point. 

Five years after Volkswagen first unveiled its concept for an electric version of its iconic microbus, we’re finally getting our first glimpse of the vehicle on the road. But rather than some throwback to an era of hippies and flower power, the ID Buzz is outfitted with a high-tech suite of sensors and computing smarts for its new role as an autonomous test vehicle. Theverge.com report that the autonomous ID Buzz will serve as a platform for the automaker’s full-scale commercial ride-hailing and delivery operation that it plans on launching in Germany in 2025. For now, VW plans to deploy the ID Buzz on public roads for testing in Munich, as well as at a private track near the city’s airport. 

Star Wars legend Mark Hamill decided to test how strong the Force was with his Twitter stardom Sunday after a fan suggested he could get thousands of likes just by tweeting his own name. CNET.com says the actor, who’s best known for playing Luke Skywalker, exceeded expectations by getting more than half a million likes and over 30,000 retweets as of early Monday. Don’t try thi at home, kids….Hamill has 4.7 million followers on the social media platform, and a bunch of them are apparently happy to support his experiments. If you have only a few hundred or few thousand followers, you will probably just get razzed for trying the same thing.


Microsoft Surface Event Sept. 22; Apple Plans More Watch Health Features; Twitter Bows ‘Safety Mode’; Facebook Reduced Political Content in Feeds

Microsoft has announced a Surface hardware event for September 22nd. Theverge.com reports that the media invite says “the company will talk about devices and Windows 11.” The expected devices will probably be a successor to the Surface Duo and a new Surface laptop. Images of a new Duo 2 leaked out earlier this summer. Expected changes are a triple cam system with telephoto, ultra wide, and standard lenses. The replacement for the Surface Book 3 will likely be dubbed the Surface Laptop Pro, not the Book 4. 

We reported earlier this year that Apple was still working on a blood sugar monitor in the Watch. Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, they are also testing monitoring blood pressure trends, a thermometer for fertility and sleep tracking, and sleep apnea detection. Most of these features are not expected in this month’s new Watch, but may be in the 2022 model. Interestingly, the blood pressure monitor works differently from the cuffs we are all used to. Apple’s method measures the speed of the wave of a heartbeat via a user’s artery using sensors. The blood glucose monitor, which could be life saving for diabetics, has been in development for quite a while, and apparently is still giving Apple trouble as they work to perfect reliable tech for a Watch based feature. 

Twitter has started testing out a new ’Safety Mode,’ which will automatically block unwanted replies. Macrumors.com says the feature should cut down on spammy or abusive replies to posts. The feature will auto block accounts that uses insults, or send repetitive, uninvited replies or mentions. If turned on, Safety Mode stays active for about 7 days. Accounts that you follow will NOT be auto blocked. 

Facebook has rejiggered their algorithms once again, and has started reducing political content in your News Feed. Engadget.com reports that this comes on the heels of tests in the US, Canada, Brazil, and Indonesia. The social net claims this is all in response to the FB community. Facebook does admit that some engagement signals are better for them than others in predicting if posts seem interesting or valuable to users. Hopefully, the changes will help reduce the level of misinformation on the platform. Facebook also thinks it may make their network a more welcoming place…as some people get turned off pretty quickly by political arguments. The change is the usual rolling one, so you may not have seen it yet.