iPhone Pro Max Not Exclusively Foxconn Built; Amazon Started Drone Deliveries; Google Chrome Option Blocking Insecure Downloads; Twitter Meltdown After Musk Server Changes

After losing about a trillion dollars this year due to plant shut downs in China, Apple won’t be having Foxconn as the exclusive maker of the iPhone 15 Pro Max due out in the fall of 2023. According to macrumors.com, Luxshare will also be building the next top of the line iPhone. Luxshare will also join Pegatron in building iPhone 15 Pro models, in addition to Foxconn…which will still built the majority of the phones for Apple. Right now, Foxconn is assembling about 80% of iPhone 14 Pro models. Due to pandemic closures in China, TrendForce says Apple has seen a 22% decline in iPhone shipments for 2022. 

Amazon has started delivering orders by drone in both California and Texas. The plan is to eventually fly orders to a person’s home within an hour. Theverge.com reports that Amazon’s drone delivery service, Amazon Prime Air, dropped a number of packages in the back yards of customers in Lockford, California and College Station, Texas. The rural town of Lockford, California, is located 50 miles southeast of Sacramento and has only about 3,500 residents, while College Station, Texas, is a medium-sized city 100 miles northwest of Houston that’s home to Texas A&M.

Google is readying a security option for Chrome that will let the browser block ‘insecure’ downloads via HTTP. The vast majority of reputable sites use the safer HTTPS protocol. 9to5google.com says Chrome will display ‘Not Secure’ in the address bar, and will block insecure web forms and downloads by default. The feature is still being developed, so don’t expect it until at least March of 2023. 

Twitter had a widespread outage Wednesday after Elon Musk made and crowed about ‘significant’ backend server architecture changes. According to TechCrunch.com, Some users got logged out, others got a blank page, and a number couldn’t post or see replies to posts. The outage mainly hit Canada, Germany, Italy, and India. It also mainly affected desktop use, not mobile apps. 

I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


Meta & Alphabet- Less Dominance in Web Ads; YouTube Tests Song Lyrics on TV Screen; Retail Sales up 7.6% for Holidays; LG Unveils True Zoom Lens for Phones

Dating back to at least 2014, Meta and Alphabet have been the 800 pound gorillas of online advertising, but that grip has been gradually slipping. Now, arstechnica.com reports that the two together have droped 2.5% and amount to 48.4% of the ad market…under half for the first time. Who’s getting into their drawers the most? Amazon, TikTok, Microsoft, and Apple. As recently as 4 years ago, TikTok and Amazon weren’t even on anyone’s radar as far as online ads. Amazon has zoomed from under a billion in 2015 to $38 billion this year. TikTok’s ad revenue is up 36%. The total digital ad market is estimated at about $300 billion dollars!

YouTube Music is trying out a new feature….casting lyrics to your TV screen. According to androidpolice.com, the users in the test see album art and track details, as well as the lyrics on screen. It only works with Android 13’s new output switcher and compatible TVs so far. This feature is probably never going to be a Spotify killer, but if you are into karaoke at home, could be a cool feature. No word yet on when it might get wide distribution. 

Despite gloomy predictions of recession and the ongoing worries about inflation, US retail sales were up 7.6% over the holidays. Thehill.com says the year over year increase was tracked by Mastercard’s Spending Pulse Tracker for the period from November 1st to December 24th. Black Friday sales were up 12%, and online up 10.6%. As for online buying taking the lion’s share of spending, the story is still ‘not yet.’ E-commerce grew to 21.6% of total sales. Restaurant dining was up 15% year over year, too. 

Tim Cook recently visited Japan and appeared at Sony’s camera facility. Apple uses Sony cams in iPhones. We have reported for months that Apple may get a periscope type telephoto zoom in the next phones. Now, another Apple supplier is showing off a new periscope telephoto zoom. Engadget.com reports that LG Innotek has revealed a new true optical periscope zoom that has a 4-9 times telephoto range. LG’s zoom lens has actual moveable components, and can zoom in down to the micrometer. They also claim it uses less battery power than lenses that are a hybrid of optical and digital zooms. Whether from LG or Sony, it looks like iPhones could be getting a really cool zoom camera…and area where they have lagged behind Samsung.

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 

T-Mobile Stunts on Comcast; Car Chip Shortage Continues; Meta Doubles Down on Metaverse; Tech Moguls Push Return to Office

T-Mobile stunted in a cute way to draw attention to their 5G service and Comcast’s not-so-cheap service. According to the carrier rented a truck and drove it around Comcast’s headquarters in Philadelphia with the message ‘Make Xfinity your ex!’ Of course, that is a reference to Comcast’s branding of their service as Xfinity (which no one calls it but them.) T-Mobile is trying to lure customers to their 5G home internet service at $25 a month if you have a ‘qualifying voice line.’ Less you think T-Mobile is just clever and making a great deal available, there was a condition the government put on in their acquisition of Sprint…they had to promise to offer inexpensive wireless internet to half the US population by 2025. There’s further intrigue…Comcast’s wireless service runs on Verizon’s network! We might even riff on the old saying ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.’ In this case, be suspicious of any big business who claims they are here to help you…they are really just here to help themselves to some of your money!

As Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor rush to build out chip plants in the US, and with the passage of the CHIPS act last summer, you would think the automotive chip shortage might be easing. Nope. Not yet. Arstechnica.com reports that we are probably facing this situation through 2023. During the pandemic, as car sales dropped off a cliff, makers cancelled chip orders. Chip plants diverted those chips to other customers like internet of things device makers. Even with plants running at full capacity, there isn’t enough production, now that thing have swung back to a more normal situation. General Motors, for example, had planned to crank out 400,000 electric vehicles by the end of 2023…now that goal has been moved 6 months into 2024. 

It appears that the policy over at Meta of MMH…Make Mark Happy..will continue. Engadget.com says that Meta put out a blog post saying that 2022 was ‘harder than we expected,’ yet they are still planing to put 20% of the company’s total spending into Reality Labs in 2023…half of that going directly into augmented reality initiatives. That’s the same amount spent last year and about the same as the year before. In raw cash, it amounts to almost $10 billion dollars! Even though Reality Labs is a money pit right now, Meta believes it is building ‘foundational pieces of technology’ for the future. One big reason behind the push may be the concern that Apple’s AR headset that is coming out next year will be a major rival to the Meta Quest AR headset. Hey, when he has controlling stock votes, you gotta ‘Make Mark Happy!’

Despite the fact that so many people working from home over a couple of years of pandemic were able to be just as productive or more so than when they were toiling away at offices after a commute, more tech CEO’s are starting to demand that staff return to offices. TechCrunch.com notes that the leverage of the Great Resignation and Great Reset may be diminishing as some business leaders thing there will be a recession, which will provide them with leverage in the form of threatened layoffs if people don’t return to cubicles. A major driver of this seems to be Elon Musk’s demand when he took over Twitter that everyone return. Considering that there was never a drop in productivity, this strongly reeks of the need of executives to assert more control. With unemployment at such a low level, it remains to be seen if this will work, and folks will trudge back to offices, or if it will blow up in management’s face. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.

Elon’s Twitter CEO Poll; Apple-New MacBook Pro Models-Gurman; Google Lens Getting Ability to Read Bad Dr Handwriting-Prescriptions; Tesla Plans $10 Billion Mexican Gigafactory

It’s been widely reported that Elon Musk ran a poll over the weekend asking if he should stay on as CEO of Twitter. CNBC.com reports that 57.5% of the some 17 million voters said he should go. There have been rumblings that Saudi interests, which are one of the largest backers of his Twitter takeover, demanded he step aside. There are also calls by Tesla shareholders for him to step down, as that stock has dropped about 60% this year. Even if Musk appoints a New CEO, that person will report to him, so it remains to be seen if such a move will be meaningful. In the meantime, lots of high profile Twitter users have been popping up on several other new social media platforms that are rubbing their hands together at the thought of picking up a huge mass of users escaping from Twitter.

Apple is on track to roll out new 14 and 16 inch MacBook Pro models ‘early next year,’ according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. They will likely be a relatively minor upgrade, but will get faster processors…the M3 chip to replace the MacBook Pros that came out in the fall of 2021, which feature the M1 chip. Disclosure-this report is written and recorded on an M1 MacBook Pro. It’s very fast, so the M3 should be amazing. Apple is also reportedly working on a couple of monitors. Lots of tech watchers are hoping for something less pricey than their cheapest present model, the Studio Display, which starts at $1599.

Google Lens is getting an interesting feature soon…the ability to decipher prescriptions written in your doctor’s terrible handwriting. 9to5google.com reports that the feature was announced at an event in India. you can either take a picture directly in Google Lens or it can translate from an imported photo, too. An interesting side note—India is the home to the largest number of Google Lens users in the world. 

Tesla has a new $10 billion dollar plant on the drawing board, to be built in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon. Reuters says the new Gigafactory would be the most expensive one yet…the one in Berlin coming in at around $5.5 billion. The plant would be just outside the city of Monterrey, and initially would just build components for current vehicles. Tesla plans for it eventually start producing a cheaper Tesla model…something promised for years by Elon Musk. If built, this would be the company’s 6th Gigafactory. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.

Google Teases Find My Network; Apple’s SOS Already Saves People; Swiss Scientists Master Stopping Glasses from Fogging; Instagram New Hacking Mitigation Tools

Apple’s Find My network has been quite a useful feature…in spite of some issues with stalkers that required Cupertino to make changes to mitigate that sort of creepiness. Personally, I like it, but have only needed it once…when I got several blocks from home and it pinged my phone that I left my wallet behind. Since my building key card was in that, it meant a quick turn around to pick it up. Now, Google is teasing something like Find My for the latest Play System update. According to androidpolice.com, it looks like the long expected Find My Device will be out in the next update. It supports encrypted last known location reports. With the massive number of Android devices, being able to use them as beacons for lost devices will be a huge help to those who have ever lost or misplaced their phone…or had it ripped off. 

It has just been live a matter of weeks, but Apple’s Emergency SOS satellite service has already helped rescue some folks. The service lets owners of the latest iPhones call for help when no cell or WiFi service is available. Techcrunch.com reports a couple was driving through the Angeles National Forest when they went off the road and down about 300 feet. They were 19 miles in to the forest, so no service. Having an iPhone 14, they paged for help. A team got the exact location, and a chopper was able to get in, drop a paramedic down, and rescue them. They were both in their 20’s, and amazingly only had minor injuries. As we have reported here, Samsung is working on an even more comprehensive satellite system that will even allow very basic texting. This is a game changer for anyone who ever gets off the grid!

Glasses fogging up is an age old issue that became even more of an issue during the pandemic, with masking adding substantially to the hassle. Now, thenextweb.com says scientists in Switzerland have developed a special coating that helps keep your lenses from fogging over. It’s been known that heat will clear the fogging…just like defrosting your windshield in the car…but heated glasses are pretty impractical. The brainy Swiss folks have come up with a special gold coating that uses solar energy to produce the heat. No batteries, wires, or other unwieldy stuff. The coating can be used with other coatings, so could go into transition lenses…and even car windshields. It can heat the lenses as much as 46 degrees!  This will be a welcome help to folks who wear glasses, and maybe to drivers, too. 

Instagram has unveiled a new way for folks to try to get their hacked account back. Theverge.com reports the platform has a new all-in-one account support page. Users can get help recovering hacked accounts, report accounts that impersonate them, and get help recovering passwords. The feature for users to appoint a couple friends who can verify their identity is now live, too. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.

Honda Will Offer Full Google in Accord; TikTok Horns in on YouTube; Apple Will Support Sideloading; Musk Suspends Jet Tracker Account

Honda is jumping in to full Google mode when the 2023 Accord Touring hits the market. Engadget.com reports that the 12.3 inch screen in the Touring will feature the Google suite of apps standard right off the showroom floor. You will have Google Assistant, Maps, and the Play Store all there. In addition you will be able to adjust the climate control, navigate, or download a music app without having to touch your phone. No word on pricing. GM has 3 years of Google built-in access in some models, but then dings you for $15 a month. The new Accord Touring will still support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It stands to reason that Honda will be expanding the Google functionality to the rest of their line in time. 

TikTok is moving in a bit more on YouTube’s turf, with a new horizontal full screen mode. The platform is testing the feature out right now with select users. According to techcrunch.com, users have a new ‘full screen’ button. When you click it, the video changes to a horizontal full screen playback. This, coupled with the increase in video length to 10 minutes is a definite shot at grabbing more YouTube users’ eyeballs. Of course, YouTube offers much longer videos. I have a couple former colleagues who are streaming full two hour shows 5 days a week on YouTube. You won’t find that fare on TikTok…at least not yet.

They aren’t doing it because they want to, but Apple is working on allowing side loading, of apps to iOS devices as well as letting in third party app stores. Arstechnica.com notes that its in response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act and other regulations. Apple has claimed (with a degree of truth) that allowing outside apps to be loaded in without going through their app store can pose a security and privacy risk to users. The company is working on a system that would still require outside apps to be ‘verified’ by Apple. This is the way it works on Mac desktops and laptops right now. You can install what you want, but there are a few extra hoops you have to jump through to do it. The new system should be in place by 2024. 

With the dumpster fire that Elon Musk has made from Twitter, this isn’t surprising. He has permanently suspended @ElonJet, the account that tracked his private jet flights. Engadget.com notes that at one time, Musk offered Jack Sweeney, the college student that had the account $5000 to delete it. Sweeney countered and said he’d take $50,000. In retrospect, after buying Twitter for $44 billion, and most experts now assessing it at about $8 billion in value, Elon would have been better off paying the $50 grand to the college guy.

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.

Apple Only Sells a Quarter of Its Phones; Lyft Paying Drivers to Use EVs; GM & LG Get Federal Cash for Battery Production

Apple makes is really easy and convenient to buy iPhones from them, whether over the net of in their stores. You might think that making it so frictionless would mean Apple snags the lion’s share of iPhone buyers…but they don’t, and it’s not even close. Theverge.com reports that Apple sells about 24% of its own phones. The biggest share of iPhones sold by far are by the wireless carriers. They account for a massive 67% of sales. Considering all the deals the carriers offer, and that Apple is famously tightfisted when it comes to discounts, it shouldn’t be too surprising. Besides the carriers and Apple, not many phones get sold…4% are peddled by Best Buy, and 5% are sold by ‘other,’ a category that includes Walmart and Target. 

Lyft is rolling out a new program of incentives to get drivers to switch to electric vehicles. According to bgr.com, drivers in California can take in an extra $150 a week for giving 50 rides in their personal EVs until the end of 2024. They just have to register the EV on the platform. Drivers can get that bonus until they hit $8100. In addition, US drivers can access discounts at the charging stations of EVgo…and they are significant…up to 45% off Ego’s standard Pay As You Go rates for Gold and Platinum drivers in certain markets. Drivers can also pick up between 1 and 7% cash back on public charging stations with the Lyft Direct debit card. Finally, drivers can get a Lyft-specific discount on Level 2 (L2) home charger hardware with our partner Wallbox and get pre-negotiated rates for L2 residential home charging installation with COIL, helping with a significant barrier in access to affordable home charging.

General Motors and LG have scored a $2.5 billion dollar loan from the US Department of Energy to make Ultium Cells, the batteries that go into the General’s electric vehicles. Arstechnica.com says the cash will help with construction of 3 battery plants in the US…Lansing, Michigan, Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee. The loan was granted under DOE’s Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing program. Dating back to 2008, the ATVM program was vital to Tesla’s early success.

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 

Microsoft Tops Best Run List; EVs Can Lower Utility Bills for Everyone; Discord Adds Sign in From Other Platforms

Microsoft has again topped a list of best run companies in the US for 2022. According to geekwire.com, they eclipsed Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, and Meta. It’s the third year in a row Redmond based Microsoft has topped the Management Top 250 list. That list is complied by The Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University. Apple was #2, with Big Blue–IBM holding the third spot. Rounding out the top 5 were General Motors in 4th place, and Whirlpool scored 5th. 

Owners of EVs are not just reducing their own carbon footprints…they are helping lower utility bills for the rest of us, too. Businessinsider.com says that a study from Synapse Energy Economics backed by the Natural Resources Defense Council that studied 3 California utilities that serve households with a lot of electric cars took in $1.7 billion more in pure profit. Sounds like we’re being ripped off? No, thanks to government regulation…utilities are revenue-capped…they have to return excess profits to customers via lower rates. A key to the whole thing? Most people charge their EVs overnight when usage is lowest. That means utilities don’t have to ramp up power production during peak hours, costing lots more money. Another study last year by another group came to a similar finding. 

Discord is adding identity verification via accounts on other platforms. It’s an extension of their Connections feature, that lets users show what music they are listening to. Engadget.com reports that Linked Roles will be supported at first by Xbox, PlayStation, Steam, Epic Games, Battle.net, League of Legends, Riot Games, Reddit, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, Spotify, Facebook, GitHub, Crunchyroll, PayPal and eBay. The feature is being rolled out over the next few weeks.

I’m Clark Reid and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.

Chrome New Mode Boosts Battery Life; Tesla Returns to Radar; Amazon Sued Over Withholding Driver Tips; Apple Extends iCloud End to End Encryption

A couple of nice upgrade modes for Google’s Chrome desktop browser. As of today, theverge.com reports that Memory Saver and Energy Saver are available. The new modes allow users to reduce Chrome’s memory usage by up to 30%, and tend battery life when a device is running low on power. They are rolling out today, and should be available everywhere in the next few weeks. Look for them under the three-dot settings menu in Chrome. They can each be activated or deactivated separately. 

A few years ago, Tesla notoriously dropped lidar, a form of radar, claiming cameras could do it all as far as seeing the road and surroundings for piloting its cars. The units were costly, but really work. Other car manufacturers claimed they were crazy. Now, according to techcrunch.com, Tesla is coming back into the fold. They had even started taking out radar back in May of this year, and in October removed the 12 ultrasonic sensors from Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built in the US. Starting in January, they will be putting radar back in unspecified models. Tesla is calling it an ‘edge’ radar sensor, and says its use will be limited. It works over the frequencies allotted for car ADAS applications. Numerous cars now have such radar built in for driver assist like emergency braking. 

Amazon yesterday put out word that you can tip your driver $5 by having Alexa thank them. Nice gesture, but it came as the online giant is being sued by the DC attorney general for deceiving customers who tipped their drivers. Arstechnica.com says Amazon already paid $61.7 million in restitution to Amazon Flex delivery drivers for tips withheld by Amazon between 2016 and 2019. Now, the District of Columbia is seeking unawarded “civil penalties in connection with the misrepresentations and omissions it made to consumers with respect to these deceptive tipping practices.” The highest amount of tips withheld for a Flex driver was ‘more than $28,000.’ The average amount for tips withheld was $422.

Apple has already protected some 14 categories of iCloud data with end to end encryption…now that grows to 23…including iCloud device backups, photos, and notes. Engadget.com reports that your calendar, contacts, and iCloud mail are still unencrypted to support global systems. You can check it out further if you want to have the Advanced Data Protection, but be warned…you either have to have your recovery key safe or have a designated person like a family member who can recover your stuff if you lose your device or it gets stolen…otherwise, you will never be able to recover your info from iCloud. 

I’m Clark Reid and you’ve been ‘Technified’ for now. 

Drop Off Amazon Returns at Staples; TSMC Tripling Arizona Chip Plant Investment; Google Desktop Search Gets Continuous Scrolling; Neuralink Hit With Federal Probe

If you have had to return things to Amazon, you probably have used some of their drop off locations. I only have a couple times, but had to go to a sketchy convenience store in an even sketchier neighborhood…instead of the big, yellow lockers in my local grocery a mile away. Now, according to geekwire.com, Amazon is partnering with Staples for drop offs. Apparently, these locations will work a lot like the one’s in Kohl’s, Whole Foods, or UPS  stores…which is to say, pretty stress free if you have one of those nearby…you don’t have to re-box and pack the item. The National Retail Federation says that consumers returned more than 20% of online purchases last year, to the tune of over $218 billion worth of merchandise. As with the other locations, Staples expects to get an increase in foot traffic and therefore sales. 

Taiwan Semiconductor, TSMC, is tripling their investment in the Arizona chip making plants they are building…to some $40 billion. 9to5mac.com notes that the first plant is already finished, but production isn’t expected to start until 2024. On the down side…the plants apparently won’t ever build the latest and greatest Apple A series or M series chips. TSMC indicates the plants will always be a generation behind the production on Taiwan. The net is, the new plants won’t reduce Apple’s exposure to Taiwan by much. 

Google Search has had continuous scrolling on mobile since 2021, and now it is finally coming to the desktop browsers. No more having to click to the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th page, etc. Androidpolice.com says the continuous scrolling will be rolling out today in the US for searches in English. If you don’t see it right away, keep in mind they are doing it in stages, so it may be a few weeks before everyone sees the feature. 

Neuralink, Elon Musk’s brain implant device, is being investigated for potential animal-welfare violations. Reuters reports that internal staff complaints about animal testing being rushed, and causing needless suffering and deaths, has prompted the probe. Neuralink has been touted as a brain implant which could help people walk again, among other things. Neuralink had planned to move on to studies on people. Reportedly, the company has killed some 1500 pigs, sheep, and monkeys since 2018. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.