Samsung Unpacked; Apple Self-Driving Tests Expand; Google Assistant-STOP Talking; Microsoft Teams Growth

Samsung will show off what their president calls “the most noteworthy S series device we’ve ever created” at the next Galaxy Unpacked event. Engadget.com reports it will be Wednesday, February 9th at 10 AM Eastern. As all lately, it will be a virtual event you can watch on Samsung’s website, and will be streamed elsewhere as well. Unless Samsung changes up their naming policy, the flagship should be some iteration of Galaxy S22. Rumored changes include a slot for the S Pen and a more squared off design. 

Even in the midst of several high profile execs exiting Apple’s car/self-driving division, Cupertino is expanding its autonomous vehicle testing in California. According to 9to5mac.com, the DMV now shows Apple with 89 drivers. The number of vehicles hasn’t increased, though…still at 69. There was a time when Apple fielded some 200 drivers, but they have been at 69 for quite a while. They list a total of 148 crew members with the state. This is a shadow of what Waymo has fielded. They have 1526 drivers, and a fleet of 690. It should be noted that Apple is running their self-driving systems on Lexus SUVs, not the fabled Apple Car. The SUVs are tricked out with an array of LiDAR, radar, and cameras. Their Project Titan is rumored to have the goal of shipping a self-driving EV with NO steering wheel by 2025! Personally, I could never own such a car. I hope Apple and others at least come up with a pop-out steering control, something along the lines of the self-driving cars in the movie ‘The Demolition Man.’

Apparently, it’s a hassle to try to shut up Google Assistant when it’s talking. You may have had to say “Hey, Google…stop” multiple times. Well, engadget.com says Google has made thinks easier with a software upgrade. Now, you can just say (or YELL) “STOP,” without the Hey Google part. This comes as the result of several features they are testing out to allow you do address the Assistant without wake words. One other feature being tested is allowing you to activate Assistant by proximity alone…no word on when or if that might materialize for users.

Microsoft Teams has edged above 270 million monthly active users in December. Although Teams is adding users at a slower pace, that is still up 20 million from last summer. Geekwire.com reports that Teams only had 75 million users in April 2020. Teams and competitors Zoom and SalesForce’s Slack have all seem big growth since the start of the pandemic and millions switching over to work from home. Microsoft launched a stand alone version of Teams for small businesses in December…which works separate from the Office suite of products…and is more of a direct threat to Zoom. 



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