AT&T Launches 5G Friday; VW EV-300 Mile Range; Tech Still City-Centric; Massive List of Netflix Secret Categories

AT&T will roll out 5G service in a dozen US cities Friday, becoming the first carrier to get the new higher speed cell service up and running. According to axios.com, there’s a catch (of course.) The service will only be available by mobile hotspot…with 5G capable phones not due out until next year. The blindingly fast service will initially be available in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh, N.C.; San Antonio; and Waco, Texas. In the first half of 2020, AT&T said it plans to add service in parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif. The hot spot isn’t cheap…$499 with data service running $70 a month for 15 Gigs of data.

With the present US Administration looking at relaxing regulations to help out the oil and coal industries moving to make gas vehicles cheaper, the car makers can see the writing on the wall, and all are going full throttle toward electric vehicles. Engadget.com reports that VW’s I.D. EV will give you 300 miles of range on a charge, and will sell for the price of a modern Golf diesel, which ranges between $24,000 and $32,000. The ID will be unveiled next year, and be out by 2020. VW says they will have a Tesla-like ordering system, where you can ‘build’ your car online, and get it spec’ed out like you want it, within the parameters of offered options.

With both Amazon and Google announcing big expansions into the New York City area and near Washington, D.C., and Apple announcing a new facility that will make them the largest employer in Austin, TX, a new study is out showing…surprise…tech continues to be even more concentrated in major cities. Geekwire.com says a study by the Brookings Institution shows that the top 10 cities producing the biggest share of digital services account for 44.3% of ALL tech jobs. Nearly half the new tech jobs between 2015 and 2017 were in the top 10 cities…and just FIVE cities captured 34% of all new digital services job growth: San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. At least when it comes to jobs, the digital divide between urban and rural areas is continuing to widen, and shows no amount of slowing.

So, you REALLY want to Netflix and chill. How about an absurdly long list of secret categories spanning Action and Adventure to Zombies…and some really random stuff in-between…like Dramas Starring James Earl Jones or Campy Independent Action and Adventure. Here’s the link…and be patient for loading, it really is hundreds of categories! https://bgr.com/2018/12/18/best-netflix-series-top-10-secret-categories/

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Samsung Folder-Massive Battery; Huawei Nova 4 Has 48 MP Cam; Apple Steals Top Tesla Designer; Google Dropping A Billion on NY Campus

More is seeping out about Samsung’s folding phone, after the brief and slight showing of it last month. Bgr.com says the Infinity Flex screen phone will have a crazy high price of $1700 or $1800 dollars, will run a Snapdragon 855, and have dual 12 MP cams, with an 8 MP selfie cam. There will be TWO battery cells, for a total capacity of 5,000 mAh or 6,000 mAh. The folder will be out next year, and analysts think that it might drop in price by 2022 to $1300…which will be the price of an iPhone by then!

With most of the news about their CFO being arrested in Canada, Huawei has rolled out a new phone that should grab headlines back for their actual business. Theverge.com reports that the Nova 4 features a 48-megapixel main camera with 3 lenses, and a ‘hole punch’ cut out for the front cam…which is a whopping 25 megapixels…on a selfie cam! Samsung has a similar ‘hole punch’ setup on the galaxy A8. The Nova 4 has a 6.4 inch display, 8 gigs of RAM, 128 gigs of storage, and a 3750 mAh battery. It will run about $490 in the US.

We’ve all heard for over a year that the Apple car…Project Titan, was dead, and that Apple was focusing on self-driving software and hardware for other cars. Now, that may be questioned a bit. According to macrumors.com, Cupertino has poached Andrew Kim, who reimagined Microsoft’s design language, then moved to Tesla in design. With Kim now at Apple Park, as well is Tesla’s chief vehicle engineer…who returned to Apple earlier this year. Kim had worked on the designs for the Models, 3, S, X, Y, the new Roadster V2, and the Semi.

With Amazon busily working on its two HQ2s outside D.C. and in NY, and Apple announcing a huge new billion dollar campus in Austin, TX, you knew Google couldn’t be sitting on their hands. Now, techcrunch.com says Google has announced it will pump a billion into setting up a campus at Hudson Square in New York. Google already has 7,000 located in NY, and this will double that over 10 years…in a 1.7 million square foot campus the company is touting as ‘the primary location’ for Google’s ‘Global Business Organization.’ The facility will be operational by 2020.


Probable Galaxy S10 Launch Date; Apple to Add Campus(es); Facebook Fact Check-Stunt? $100 Grand to Give Up Smartphone for a Year

The latest gaze into the crystal ball shows February 20th as the launch date for the Samsung Galaxy S10. 9to5google.com reports that the flat 5.8 inch screen S10 will run $1117 with 128 Gigs of storage. The standard S10 will come with 128 or 512 Gigs and they rill run $1334 and $1668 respectively. Oh…and if you go for the 1TB model, that one will be a wallet crushing $1750! 9to5google.com notes these probably aren’t the final US prices, but if they are, it appears that those tariffs are really taking a toll on consumer electronics!

All the time Amazon was playing cities off against each other for it’s HQ2…which turned out to be a couple of satellite HQs, Apple was looking in stealth mode. According to engadget.com, Apple will invest a billion dollars in a new campus in Austin, TX less than a mile from its existing facilities there. The 133 acre site will house 5,000 employees, with room to grow to 15,000. This would make Apple the biggest employer in Austin! They also plan to build out new sites in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City, CA, and expand in Pittsburg, New York, and Boulder, CO over the next 3 years! The new Austin site will have engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales, and customer support…and as with all Apple facilities it will be powered by 100% renewable energy!

Facebook is getting slammed again…this time by former and current fact-checkers for the social media giant. Businessinsider.com says the present and former employees claim that Facebook has been more interested in ‘crisis PR’ than in actually combatting the spread of fake news. A former managing editor of fact checking site Snopes also said that was what Facebook seemed to be using them for. They had partnered with Snopes the last coupe years. The editor, Brooke Bujnowski, no longer works at Snopes. She added “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care.”

News item: VitiminWater will pay you $100,000 to give up your smartphone for a full year. The fancy water purveyor will allow you to utilize a 2000s ear feature phone, however. To enter the contest, you have to post a photo to your Twitter or Instagram account, tag VitiminWater, and tell them why you need a break from your smartphone. You also have to tell them what you will do to survive or pass the time over that period of a year. Now, if Apple would just pay me $100,000 to give up VitiminWater, I’d be counting the money right now!


Apple Could Make More iPhones Outside of China; Intel’s New Sunny Cove Chips & Archetecture; Amazon NYC Warehouse Workers Push for Union; Top 10 2018 Google Searches

With the continued threat of higher tariffs from the Trump Administration, Apple is looking at moving more iPhone production out of China. Techcrunch.com says Apple is looking at more production in India, and in Brazil, where Foxconn has had a factory since 2011. If there ends up being a 10% tariff, Apple (through Foxconn) will probably stay with China. If the tariff hits 25%, Apple will say goodbye to production in China (with the exception of phones built for sale within China proper.)

Starting new year, Intel will release Core and Xeon chips with a new architecture…the add a number of instructions that accelerate frequently used workloads like cryptography and compression. Intel claims a 75% improvement in compression performance. Arstechnica.com reports that Sunny Cove chips will be built using the 10nm process. It is a derivation of Skylake, but can execute more instructions in parallel with lower latency.

In news that will give Jeff Bezos heartburn, Amazon workers in New York City are pushing to unionize. They are working with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, and according to the verge.com want to address safety concerns, long unpaid security checks, what they term unreasonable hourly quotas, and insufficient breaks. A leak recently of an anti-union training video Amazon made has increased interest. Among other things, the video encourages managers to express opinions like ‘Unions are lying, cheating rats.’ Even the raise to $15 per hour doesn’t begin to cover things for workers living in NYC, which is also true of other costly areas like Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Because we love lists, and think it gives us insight into what the collective of humanity is (or was) thinking about, here are the top 10 Google searches of 2018: #10 (imagine some echo on the numbers if you must) Kate Spade; at 9, Stephen Hawking; XXXTentacion was in the 8th slot; #7 Anthony Bourdain (note that all of these people had died); the #6 most searched was Meghan Markle; 5 actually wasn’t a person…it was ‘Black Panther’ the movie; Stan Lee was 4th; #3 was Mac Miller; in 2nd place was Avicii; and the top spot was the World Cup. Don’t you feel so much more informed?


Vivo’s Dual Display NEX Phone; OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition; Amazon Gives Alexa Location Based Reminders & Routines; Daimler Buying $23 Billion Worth of Batteries for EVs

Vivo has come out with what they call an all-screen NEX smartphone. According to engadget.com, there’s NO selfie cam…but you won’t need one, they say. You can flip the phone around and just shoot your selfie with the pop up back cam…the back of the phone has a rear screen so you can set up your shot! The phone is called the NEX Dual Display Edition. The phone is out in China for $725 December 29th.

OnePlus has showed off a fancy new McLaren Edition 6T. The phone comes with 10 Gigs of RAM and 256 Gigs of storage, according to businessinsider.com. Part of the back is carbon fiber, and it has a beautiful but tough carbon fiber case….and of course, a racing stripe and the McLaren logo. Even with the vanity edition tweaked by the performance car maker, the phone is just $700…$300 less than an iPhone Xs…which doesn’t have that kind of memory or storage, and comes with no case at all to protect that glass back!

A major update has hit Alexa devices. Amazon has opened up new features, including location based routines and reminders, timer enhancements, app notifications, email support, and more. 9to5mac.com says the update was announced in September, but has just rolled out. An example given would be ‘Alexa, remind me to feed the dogs when I get home.’ When the Alexa device detects your phone inside the house, it will remind you. You can also program multiple routines with wait times…like turning on lights when you get up, but pausing for 20 minutes or so before switching on music or news.

Mercedes parent Daimler is going all-in on electric vehicles. The German giant is going to buy $23 billion worth of battery cells by 2030 to go into Mercedes-Benz EVs and commercial trucks. The company presently has supplier deals with LG, SK Innovation, and China’s CATL. Daimler plans to launch 130 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2022, and a number of commercial trucks, busses, and vans, too. Battery production for the cars with all those lithium-ion cells will be in 8 factories on 3 continents.


Chinese Court Backs Qualcomm Over Apple; Google Pixel 3 XL Lite; First 350Kw EV Chargers Installed; Flying Car Market Could be $1.5 Trillion

Qualcomm has gotten an injunction against Apple in a Chinese court, banning Apple from importing older iPhones into China. Theverge.com reports that the order would affect the 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Apple says it is still selling phones in China, and notes that iOS 12 (which is supported by all the phones blocked by the injunction) avoids the patent conflict. As new phones sold in China have this software or above, the ruling shouldn’t affect them at all. Qualcomm has been trying to ban Apple iPhones in China for over a year, as well as their attempt to ban the Apple handsets in the US (which has not been upheld by regulators.) The legal battle continues…and Qualcomm has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for abusing its modem monopoly in Taiwan and China. This court injunction gives Qualcomm more ammo in its claim that Apple has used its intellectual property without compensating them.

A new leak of pictures depicts Google’s ‘budget’ Pixel line. The Pixel 3 XL Lite will sport a 6 inch display and NO notch! The XL has a 5.5 inch display. Both handsets are expected to have plastic bodies, according to 9to5google.com, in keeping with the budget category. It appears that they may be powered by either a Snapdragon 670 or 710, and they sport a single rear cam. It’s unclear if they will have Google’s amazing photo software that lets the single cam phones compete with multi lens ones like Apple and Samsung have, but if so, and the price is enough lower, the ‘lite’ line could grab huge sales when it comes out.

Northern California now has some of the fastest electric vehicle chargers on the planet…even if no cars can use them yet! Engadget.com says Electrify America has installed two 350Kw chargers and eight that produce 150Kw at the Livermore Outlets, where there were already 20 Tesla Superchargers. The 350Kw chargers are expected to deliver 200 miles of range on a 10 minute charge. The Porsche Taycan will be able to use the high power stations, and will be on the market by 2020. Electrify America says its just getting ready for the future, with 17 other Simon outlet malls in California getting the high power chargers, and a number of others planned in other states.

We are still a ways away from George Jetson’s flying car that folds into a briefcase, but according to geekwire.com, Morgan Stanley has done a study that shows that autonomous flying cars…either air taxis or private vehicles, could be a $1.5 trillion dollar market by 2040! Both Boeing (through its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences) and Airbus are working on flying cars…with Airbus partnering with Vahana in Silicon Valley, Voom in Mexico and Brazil, and Audi. Lockheed Martin is also investing in eVTOL autonomous aircraft, and it looks like Northrop Grumman is jumping in, too. Raytheon and Harris are working on air traffic control tech. Morgan Stanley sees most of the money coming from transport of people, with only $413 billion from freight transportation.


Lyft Files for IPO; Amazon Crowdsourcing Alexa Answers to Tougher Questions; Apple Watch ECG App is in Latest Software

Lyft has turned a corner, going for and IPO in a confidential SEC filing this morning. According to geekwire.com, the number of shares and price range are to be determined…they weren’t listed in the filing. Uber has been expected to do an IPO in 2019, so Lyft is beating them to the punch here. Still, Lyft…even with the latest investment round where they pulled in another $600 million last June, is valued at a little over $15 billion, while Uber commands a $62 billion valuation. Both companies have expanded from ride hailing into bike sharing recently. While there’s no timing stated in the filing, Lyft is expected to do its IPO in the 1st half of 2019.

Amazon’s Alexa is at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to sticky questions…they don’t have Google’s deep Knowledge Graph. Now, in an effort to up Alexa’s game, Amazon is launching an invite-only program that asks customers to submit answers to Alexa’s more difficult questions. Techcrunch.com reports that Amazon has been testing Alexa Answers internally, and has added 100,000 responses in the last 30 days. With the crowdsourced answers, you will get a disclaimer that the answer is ‘from an Amazon customer.’

A feature that Apple announced earlier is now available on the latest model of Apple Watch….Series 4 With the latest, greatest Watch, and a download of WatchOS 5.1.2, you can now use the ECG app to take and ECG, and get an alert if it detects an irregular heartbeat. Businessinsider.com says the feature is easy to use…fire up the app, hold your finger on the watch crown for 30 seconds, and it displays a heart rhythm reading. It saves the data in a .pdf file you can send to your doctor, too. The app also detects irregular heartbeat- atrial fibrillation (AFib). That feature actually works on earlier models of Apple Watch. Both heart features are ‘cleared’ by the FDA in the US.