Apple Watch May Not Make Voice Calls at Launch; PayPal & Apple Pay Cut off White Supremacists; Nokia 8 Boasts Dubious ‘Bothie’ Photos

Despite the very strong rumors that Apple Watch will launch with an LTE capable model, it looks like it won’t initially make voice calls. Appleinsider.com says the LTE capability will initially just work for faster data. Voice calling will likely be activated later in the year. In the meantime, the Watch will support FaceTime, Skype, and other apps that make calls, so it will still be pretty Dick Tracy. KGI Securities says it might even be early 2018 before the Watch will make cell calls over the regular carrier networks.

Apple Pay and PayPal have both cut off websites that sell Nazi apparel and materials. According to buzzfeed.com, white supremacist merch will be banned. Uber, Facebook, Twitter, MailChimp, and WordPress have also taken some live of action against the groups. Earlier, Airbnb had cancelled lodging attempts by white supremicist groups trying to book in Charlottesville.

In a sign that feature creep has gotten to the point of ridiculousness, the new Nokia 8, an otherwise good hero smartphone, has introduced the ‘bothie.’ Mashable.com reports that the phone has a feature called Dual Sight, that lets you view the back and front cams on a split screen, and shoot simultaneous photos with them. The ‘bothie’ feature works on both photos and video, and can be live streamed to social media. It’s $701, and rolls out in September. If you buy one…and it’s a nice phone…PLEASE don’t post ‘bothies!’


Facebook Makes News Feed Changes; Galaxy Note 8 Gets Exclusive Color; iPhone 7 Reigns as World’s Most Popular Smartphone

Just as I was about to write these words, my Facebook newsfeed changed! Call it a crazy coincidence or their algorithms are REALLY creepy, but it’s a somewhat different look. 9to5mac.com reports that The comment section now looks more like chat bubbles…and speaking of chat, now, the chat has its own column instead of the pop up from the bottom. Watch for profile pics to go circular, and updated Like, Comment, and Share buttons, among other things. The changes are being rolled out gradually…so you may not see them for a while yet.

As if there wasn’t enough buzz about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8….despite the demise by fire of the popular Note 7 last year, they are adding an exclusive color that won’t be available on the S8. According to bgr.com, it’s ‘Deep Sea Blue.’ The S8 has a Coral Blue in partnership with Best Buy, but the note will be sporting the Deep Sea Blue all by itself. It debuts next week, and should be have a princely price near $1000.

While it is expected to lose sales in the run up to the iPhone 8 rollout next month, and right after due to shortages, iPhone 7 stays on the top of the heap as the world’s most popular smartphone in the June Quarter. Macrumors.com says Apple shipped 16.9 million iPhone 7 handsets and 15.1 million 7 Plus models (for 2nd place) in the quarter. The Galaxy S8 was third at 10.2 million and the S8 Plus was 4th with 9 million even.
Xiaomi was 5th with 5.5 million, then there’s everybody else. Don’t cry too hard for the also rans…they accounted for 303.7 million smartphones!


Apple Watch Will Have LTE & Non-LTE; Apple HomePod Short Supply at Launch; Google Paid Billions to Be Default Search on iPhone; Amazon Instant Pick Up

The Apple Watch 3 may finally have what it takes to be a must have device…it may get LTE connectivity, so it wouldn’t have to be tethered to an iPhone in order to use most features. 9to5mac.com says that generally reliable KGI Securities is predicting that the smart watch will ship in both LTE and non-LTE models. They also say that…contrary to other rumors, it won’t have a different form factor, and will look much the same as the current models. It will NOT work on 3G-only on LTE, but should work on all 4 US carriers anyway. Since cellular activity is a huge battery suck, don’t expect to totally ditch your iPhone and go total Dick Tracy…but it will be handy for runners and bikers who need to call or text, and streaming music, or for those times you are downstairs and the phone rings upstairs.

Inventec Appliances has been rumored to be supplying the HomePod to Apple, and they have noted that revenue from a smart home device (not mentioning HomePod, which would irritate famously secretive Apple) would be fairly limited this year. Macrumors.com reports that one analyst thinks that the HomePod…which ships in December….will only land in about 500,000 homes that month. In 2018, Foxconn will also start building the Apple smart speaker, which will boost supplies.

It’s apparently worth a buck or two for Google to remain the default search engine on iPhone and iPad. According to businessinsider.com, they may have paid Apple 3 billion dollars for the privilege. Researchers crunched the numbers, and with this tithe, Google may be providing 5% of Apple’s total operating profit for the year! Services now account for 13% of Apple’s total revenue, including fees from software sold on the App store and subscriptions to Apple Music.

In an announcement that sounds suspiciously like retail, only with lockers and no check out, Cnet.com says Amazon is rolling out Amazon Instant Pick Up. There are initially 5 locations in Atlanta, LA, Berkeley, College Park, Maryland, and Columbus, OH, and utilize spots Amazon already built for deliveries to campuses. Small warehouses live behind the lockers, and you can order hundreds of items by app, and pick them up. Snacks, cold drinks, personal care items, and Amazon devices are included. They can be ready in as little as 2 minutes! There will be up to 22 of these locations in the next few months.


Galaxy Note 8 May Actually Be Available the 24th; 1000 Spyware Apps at Android App Stores, Google Buys Health Monitoring Startup

The rollout of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is coming up fast…August 23rd…and now we have word when phones might be available. According to word leaked by a Best Buy employee picked up by 9to5google.com, it could be in the hands of users by the very next day! If Samsung is able to do this, instead of the usual 2 plus weeks wait time, it will give them a major jump on the release of the iPhone 8.

Hackers have apparently flooded Android app stores INCLUDING the official Google Play store with over 1000 spyware apps. ZDnet.com reports that SonicSpy can silently record calls and audio, take photos, MAKE calls, send texts to numbers the attackers have programmed, monitor call logs, contacts, and wi-fi systems picked up. It is believed to be the handiwork of malware developers in Iraq. The apps are marketed as messaging apps. Google has killed Sonic, Hulk Messenger, and Troy Chat, but there are still numerous other versions on various app stores.

We have often reported on how Apple has a virtual army working on health apps for iPhone. Now, Google has bought a health monitoring startup called Senosis. Geekwire.com says the founder of Senosis, Shwetak Patel, won a MacArthur genius grant in 2011. His team of a dozen engineers and physicians have focused on making smartphones into monitoring devices for pulmonary function, hemoglobin counts, and other vital health info. So far, they make apps called SpiroSmart, SpiroCall, HemaApp, and OsteoApp, which are under review by the FDA.


iPhone 8 in Production & Huge 3D Sensing Component Order; Tesla Working on Self-Driving Electric Big Rig; Facebook Launches ‘Watch’

Despite some rumors, appleinsider.com has gotten word from DigiTimes that Apple’s iPhone 8 is already in mass production. It’s still thought that there will be very limited supply at launch next month, but it looks like they are planning for millions of sales. 9to5mac.com reports that Lumentum, which makes the 3D sensing laser components believed to be used in the iPhone 8, looks to be cranking out around 55 million of the sensor units by the end of the year, and about 160 million next year. A number of reports say the iPhone 8 will be over $1000, but analyst Gene Munster expects the entry level model of Apple’s new hero phone to start at $950.

Some former Googlers started Otto, the self-driving semi company that was picked up by Uber. Now, according to Reuters, Tesla is working on self-driving tech that will helm its upcoming electric big rigs. The tech would let the rigs roll as a convoy with a lead vehicle furnishing the guidance for autonomous follower trucks. Alphabet’s Waymo is also deeply into self-driving truck tech. The wrinkle with Tesla’s plan is that the platooning might mean autonomy requirements wouldn’t be a lot higher than what’s already being done…an actual human driver would pilot the lead truck, and the others would just follow along. Tesla has apparently been in touch with Nevada to see about testing a couple prototype trucks.

Facebook is introducing a new spot for original video content produced by partners, who pick up 55 percent of ad break revenue. Techcrunch.com says Facebook will get 45%. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will debut to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow across mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps. With the hosting of original programming, Facebook can tack on more ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.


Disney Launching Own Streaming Service; Google Pixel’s Cool Storage Feature; Super Cheap Chromebook

Netflix cut a deal with Disney back in 2012 to stream the Mouse’s library of movies and shows. According to theverge.com, it just kicked in last year, and now Disney is announcing they will end the deal in 2019 in favor of their own streaming service. Interestingly, Marvel and Star Wars aren’t mentioned in the new Disney streaming service. Apparently, they are kicking around freestanding streaming services for each. At any rate, by 2019, Disney’s amazing library of shows and movies, including their LucasFilm and Marvel material, will be available on stream from a new Disney streaming service.

If you don’t always buy the maxed out memory on your smartphone, you probably have hit the point where you’re deleting songs or pictures to keep from running out of storage. THEN, when you try to update the operating system, you don’t even have room to do that. Bgr.com reports that Google has solved that part of the problem with the new Pixel. Starting with Android 8.0, the phones have a dual partition system for faster streaming updates. Basically, you keep using the system on the phone while a second system updates in the background. After download and restart, the second one becomes the normal OS. With this partition, the phone only needs 100 KB of free space to update instead of a gig. Thanks, Google!

Acer has just bowed its updated Chromebook C771. 9to5google.com says there are two models, one with touch display and one without. The laptop has an 11.6 inch screen and features a spill resistant keyboard. The cheaper version is $279.99. If you don’t mind the chrome ‘all in cloud’ system, it’s practically a disposable laptop at this price.


New Color for iPhone 8; No In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 8 or Galaxy S9

In a new leak, pictures of iPhone 8 mock ups show a black one that looks a lot like the piano black they have, a silver one, and what is being called a copper gold color. 9to5mac.com notes that more likely than not, only the black is a sure thing, but since Apple’s Rose Gold came out more like pink, this may be a way of differentiating a new color.

Rumors have been all over the place, but according to 9to5google.com, neither the iPhone 8 or Samsung Galaxy S9 may have an under screen fingerprint sensor. KGO Securities, one of the most reliable leakers, says both are having difficulty with the function. Apple reportedly will use cams and software for FaceID, and Samsung will tout its upgraded iris recognition. Samsung may keep a rear of phone fingerprint sensor, but it appears everyone is having issues with the under screen fingerprint reading tech.