Samsung v.2 Galaxy Fold Rumors; Zuck Argues for Compromise Regulation; Ring Videos = Little Evidence; Apple Joins FIDO Password Replacement Alliance

Samsung may be preparing to roll out the next iteration of the Galaxy Fold, the $2000 folding phone with the disastrous launch last year. 9to5google.com reports that they are shooting for July, and the next gen handset may have an under display camera (no hole punch) and an S Pen, among other features. It will allegedly sport a huge 7.7 inch display when open. The outer display will be bigger, with a corner triangular notch for cam and flash. The new Fold or ‘Fold 2’ (which is code named Champ) will have a stainless steel frame and ceramics. It looks like Samsung will go to the ‘Ultra Thin Glass’ as used on the Z Flip in place of the more delicate plastic. Samsung is expected to show the Note 20 at about the same time.

At the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg pitched for (the inevitable) regulation to be somewhere between a telco and a newspaper. According to reuters.com, he claimed the company had improved its work in countering online election interference. He seems to be moving from insisting on being treated purely like a telco, where the company has no responsibility for the information that flows through it, and the more in-depth regulation that papers and other media fall under. Zuck claims Facebook now employs 35,000 people to review online content and implement security measures. He further stated that the budget for this is bigger than the revenue for the entire company when they went public back in 2012. It remains to be seen if the European Union will buy into this ‘middle ground’ type of regulation, however.

Amazon has touted its Ring cameras and their partnerships with law enforcement around the country as helping to reduce crime. There are over 800 law enforcement agencies partnering with them now. NBC News says that despite this, and Amazon’s claim that the doorbell cam reduces burglaries by over 50%, that reduction has failed to materialize. NBC News Investigations interviewed 40 law enforcement agencies in eight states, and found that there is little or no evidence to support Amazon’s claim. They did say that officers spent more time now going over video footage involving disputes by neighbors!

Thirteen of the 40 jurisdictions said they had made no arrests due to Ring footage. Another 13 said they actually could confirm arrests, and two others offered estimates. The NBC team said that large cities like Phoenix, Miami, and Kansas City, MO couldn’t tell them if or how many arrests had been made with the help of the Ring cameras. Amazon itself has said it doesn’t know how many cams have been involved in arrests, or even in helping track package thefts. In late December 2019, Ben Stickle, a professor of criminal justice at Middle Tennessee State University, published one of the first academic studies of porch camera video footage, analyzing 67 videos he and his research team found on YouTube. He found that most of the so-called “porch pirates” were unfazed by the presence of cameras.

Apple has joined nearly every other major tech and e-commerce company now in the FIDO Alliance, the effort to replace password only logins with a secure and fast login experience for websites and apps, using the emerging standard WebAuthn. According to zdnet.com, the Apple browser team added ‘experimental support’ for the standard back in 2018, then last December, added native support for FIDO-compliant security keys like the YubiKey over NFC, USB, or lightening (in iOS 13.3.0) Besides the hardware security key like the Yubi, other compliant secure logins can be made with a biometric ID derived from your PC or smartphones fingerprint sensor, or over a device based authentication program. Let’s all hope this late move by Apple will get the world ready to drive a stake through the heart of the ancient and creaky password logins that annoy us and are relatively easy pickings for hackers.


Android $ May Pass iOS This Year; Lyft Touts Self-Driving Cars; Tesla Boosts Solar Tile Installs; Chrome Will Block Insecure Downloads

Mobile app maker Liftoff claims that Android may generate more app revenue this year than iOS. Venturebeat.com reports that even though 74% of global mobile is on Android, ad dollars have always poured into iOS at a greater rate. Although engagement is about the same for apps on each platform, iOS ad costs are 2-7 times that of Android…and for a reason…iOS users tend to spend more. Liftoff sees mobile gaming as being the area that will drive Android app dollars past iOS. They see the lower costs on Android, combined with higher install-to-register rates as being what pushes them into the lead. Stay tuned…we’ll know later this year if Android does bubble to the top. Certainly Samsung’s just announced partnerships with Google and Microsoft Xbox will help Android to finally depose iOS as the king of mobile ad revenue.

The chief strategy officer for Lyft, Raj Kapoor, gave the keynote yesterday at the MOVE 2020 conference in London. According to Automotive News, a key point he made was that autonomous cars will prove critical to the future of cities. He also warned that ride share services and other for-hire car users should start moving to electric vehicles now, before cities force them to do so. He did note that driverless cars bring some issues that may not be obvious at first. For example, a driverless car won’t see a potential rider trying to ‘wave them down’ on the sidewalk, nor can you tell the car to ‘just drop you off here.’ Another point: in the US particularly, most people identify themselves with driver’s licenses, and indicate organ donation in the event of death. How will those be handled as more and more people give up cars and licenses to be permanent riders in driverless vehicles for hire or mass transit? Of course, there’s also the insurance issue and ‘fault.’ If there’s no driver, is it the owner of the vehicle or the maker who created the software and hardware to replace the driver? All issues we will have to deal with in the coming years.

Although a lot of the buzz around Tesla is from its vehicles…the Model Y about to hit roads soon, or the ‘unusual’ looking (ok…ugly) electric pickup, the company has been busy with its other arm, too. Techcrunch.com says Tesla is ramping up installs of its solar tile roofs in the San Francisco Bay Area, and will soon roll them out in Europe and China. In the Bay Area, there is a noticeable increase in ads for solar installations of the tiles and PowerWall storage units (the latter with some nice rebates or sale prices.) The tiles are made in Tesla’s Buffalo, NY factory. Elon Musk announced in a Tweet that he will host a ‘company talk’ in April there, with media and customer tours of the plant. Several months ago, Tesla said they would be ramping up to installing as many as 1,000 solar roofs per week shortly.

Google has announced plans to begin initially warning Chrome users about ‘insecure’ downloads, and will then move to block them outright eventually. Theverge.com reports that Google will gradually ensure that HTTPS (secure) pages only will be able to download files via Chrome. The warnings will start with Chrome v. 82, which is due out in April, then when v. 83 rolls out, executable downloads will be blocked from insecure sites, with warnings applied to archive sites. With v. 84, .PDFs and .doc files will get the warning, and then in v. 85, they will add audio, images, text, and video files. All will be blocked from insecure sites by the time they issue v. 86 of Chrome.


Samsung Unpacked Recap

Unpacked opened with a Zoomy, flashy multi-screen video of the Z Flip, the predicted clamshell phone. They are calling this building on the Galaxy Fold. Head of UK Mobile product marketing, Rebecca Hearst is calling it the ‘Zed Flip.’ They are positioning it as for trend setters and a premium device. 6.7 inch screen. Outside screen is a tiny two line thing, as predicted. Time, text, alarm, or calls displayed in it. The inside screen does look great. you can shoot from the outside cam without opening the phone, using the tiny outside display as a view finder. There is a hole punch cam in the inside screen.

Colors are: Mirror Purple, Mirror Black, and Mirror Gold (in limited countries).

Access to YouTube Premium will come with the Z Flip. There is a 3 stop hinge, so you can use it flat, or in flex mode, use the two parts of the screen separately! Watch a video on top part, and comment on bottom. Scroll through photos on the bottom, and see them bigger on the top part.

The hinge has a fiber shield that protects the elements of the hinge. They are using ultra thin glass, and claim 200,000 folds without problem.

The Galaxy Z Flip will be out February 14th, for $1380.

A video rolled with Thom Brown on fashion versions of Samsung gear. They seem to all feature a red, white, and blue racing stripe down the middle of the phone, and on watchbands, etc. Limited Edition will be explored more tomorrow during New York fashion week.

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Dr. T.M. Roh has taken the stage. He is doing a recap of the Galaxy phones. Now, touting the transformative power of 5G. He cites 5G, IOT, and AI as a convergence that will revolutionize how people and companies interact.

Finally, the reveal of the Galaxy S20. Rolling a video staring with an old 1800’s cam, to a Polaroid, then to slick video of the new handset. They are showing 3 models on screen. They are actually capturing and streaming the live stream over Galaxy S20’s!

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Drew Blackard, head of US Mobile Product Management is up. He is pointing out that the cam is probably the most important aspect of smartphones. They have rebuilt the entire cam section for the S20 series. They will feature a 64 megapixel cam, so you can zoom in on an area in a shot, and the edit will be clear. With ’space zoom,’ you can get 30x closer and still get a clear shot. Single Take mode will utilize each of the cams, roll 10 seconds of video, and the AI will give you the ability to pick the best shot from whichever one you think is best.

Moving on to video, the S20 will have 8K video available. Now rolling a demo with a video producer. You can capture video in 8K, upload to YouTube, then cast it to a TV and watch it in 8K right on the big screen!

You can crop any frame in video, and get a clean shot from it….with a zoom and one click.

With a micro SD card, up to a massive 1-1/2TB of storage should get you by!

Note that all the features noted above are available on all 3 of the Galaxy S20 models.

The Galaxy S20 Ultra though, gets something extra. It will have a 108MP camera! The detail is stunning. You can zoom in anywhere in the shot and it’s gorgeous. The Ultra also has the ability to catch 3x the light in every image. They use a folded lens with a 10X physical zoom and 10X of electronic zoom. You can get 100x zoom total. It’s relatively clean for such extreme zoom.

They are announcing Netflix as their mobile use partner, with bonus content exclusively available on Samsung channels (drawn from Netflix Originals). They have integrated Bixby to search your Netflix for viewing on the phones.

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David Park onstage, Head of Mobile Channel Marketing. He is touting partnership with Google. Google Duo is being integrated into the S20 and Z Flip. HD video chatting will be available.

Mobile gaming over 5G…they have 120Hz response rates on the S20s. They claim less lag between touches and the game responding. They are also partnering with Microsoft and getting 4 Xbox games. You can preorder now. More will be out later this year.

Next product reveal: Galaxy Buds Plus. They have a woofer and tweeter in each ear bud! A partnership with Spotify lets a long press gives you new songs based on your history there. There are 2 exterior mics on each bud, and ambient sound for walking around the city without getting run over (hopefully.) Buds Plus also work with iOS using a Samsung app. They are wirelessly charged, and can last up to 11 hours. Charging case adds another 11 hours! They are $149 starting on February 14th!

So how much for the phones and when?

they will drop March 6th. The base Galaxy S20 is $999, the S20+ is $1199, and Ultra is $1399. ALL are 5G! They also announced price cuts for the S10s….S10e $599, S10 $749, and S10+ $849.


MWC-Restrictions Due to Coronavirus; Samsung Unpacked Virus Precautions; Impact on iPhone Production; Tesla Patents Touchscreen Steering Wheel; Facebook Grabs Computer Vision Startup

Some major exhibitors have pulled out of the big Mobile World Congress in Barcelona due to coronavirus worries. Techcrunch.com notes that ZTE, LG, Nvidia, and Ericsson have bailed out. MWC has banned visitors from Hubei province, where the virus is thought to have started. Travelers from China will have to prove they have ben out of the country for over 14 days with a passport stamp or health certificate. MWC will utilize temperature screening as well.

Samsung Unpacked is continuing as planned, but with some modifications due to the coronavirus. 9to5google.com says there will be hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue, and thermal imaging cams will be at all entrances to detect fever. Samsung will also have face masks available. They also have medical workers standing by.

A lot of analysts are trying to determine the impact of the Coronavirus on production coming from China. According to most, authorities there aren’t going to let Foxconn open its Shenzhen facility today. Earlier reports from reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and others have said that could start having a serious impact on Apple’s iPhone production. It may mean shortages of the so-called SE2 or iPhone 9. One bright spot….a second source besides Kuo has now confirmed a $399 base price for the entry level iPhone. That one comes from Fast Company. Foxconn has said most of the workers have returned, and that the plants have been inspected, but there are differing reports on their getting permission to restart. Right now, production has been delayed by ‘at least several days.’ Another Apple supplier in Shanghai, Pegatron, has already resumed work, but Pegatron has not been able to restart their Kushan plant yet…they haven’t received government permission either.

Patents are issued all the time, and a number never see the light of day. Here’s an interesting one from Tesla. Electrek.co says the have patented a steering wheel with small touchscreens and haptic feedback. One screen, on the bottom leg of the wheel, would replace the gearshift stalk…you would just touch the appropriate spot. Other screens on the left and right legs of the wheel would have a menu of controls. Tesla indicates that this would likely not be implemented until the cars are fully self-driving. The patent even includes gestures as well as touching with the haptics. It would sense the user’s digit approaching a control before it was touched!

Facebook has acquired Scape Technologies, a London based computer vision startup. According to techcrunch.com, the company has been working on ‘location accuracy beyond GPS.’ The tech was initially aimed at augmented reality apps, but also could be used in mobility, logistics, and robotics. The company claims they intend to enable any machine equipped with a camera to ‘understand its surroundings.’


Nintendo Switch Delayed by Coronavirus; Facebook Demands Clearview Stop Scraping; Apple’s ‘CarKey’ Feature for iPhone & Watch; Teens Outsmart Instagram

Earlier, there was some speculation that the coronavirus outbreak in China might delay the freshened, smaller iPhone this spring. Now, geekwire.com reports that production of Nintendo Switch units and some accessories actually HAS been delayed due to the virus. The accessories include JoyCon Controllers and a game- Ring Fit Adventure. Nintendo didn’t say how long they expected the delay to last, but said the initial impact would be to devices shipped to Japan and also other places in China.

We’d all love to tell Facebook, Google, and the rest to stop scraping OUR data! Now, Facebook has sent a case and desist letter to facial recognition startup Clearview AI to stop scraping their (our) data! According to engadget.com, Facebook joins Google and Twitter in the C&D. Facebook also includes subsidiary Instagram in its demand. Clearview has apparently been scraping billions of images from sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube without consent to build out a giant facial recognition database, which it then makes available to around 600 police agencies in North America. The startup claims its tech is 99.6% accurate in identifying individuals. So far, no tech has been over 85-90%, and their claim is unverified. In an interesting twist, Facebook board member Peter Thiel was an early investor in Clearview AI. Venmo has also sent a cease and desist to the startup.

In the beta for iOS 13.4 that just went out to developers, eagle-eyed programmers have spotted references to a ‘CarKey’ API, which would make it possible to use an iPhone or Apple Watch to unlock, lock, and start your car! 9to5mac.com says this goes beyond most car apps. I already have an app for my car that can start and stop it, lock and unlock it, etc. from my phone. What’s different about Apple’s CarKey is that it will enable using CarKey in NFC compatible cars that would let you just hold the device near the vehicle to use it as a key. You won’t have to use FaceID like with Express Transit Cards. It will EVEN work with and iPhone or Watch that has a dead battery! The pairing is don’t through the Apple Wallet app, which will need to shake hands with the car manufacturer’s app first. The CarKey will live within the more secure Wallet App on both the phone and Watch.

Even the biggest company with a raft of good programmers can be outsmarted by clever kids. Apparently, teens have been using group accounts on Instagram to feed randomized data to the social network and protect their privacy. Cnet.com reports that the teens are relying on a sophisticated network of trusted Instagram users to post content from multiple different devices, from multiple different locations. Facebook said that this method was not against its policies, but didn’t recommend it to people because of security concerns. Nearly everything you do online is tracked. Tech giants like Facebook and Google follow what you do on their services, as well as off. It’s why you might start seeing more posts related to puppies on Instagram after purchasing dog food on Amazon, for example.


Alphabet Rakes in Increased Cash; Foxconn-Coronavirus ‘Fairly Small Impact’; Toyota & Panasonic Partner on EV Batteries; Cards Against Humanity Buys ClickHole

Google parent Alphabet blew past earnings estimates this week. Zdnet.com reports the tech giant pulled in $15.35 a share, up 17% over the previous year. Analysts had expected $12.59 a share. Google Cloud passed $10 billion in annual income for the first time. YouTube was already over $15 billion. Advertising continues to be the big cash cow, with $37.9 billion raked in 4th quarter, and $134.8 billion for the 2019 fiscal year. My Dad used to say with big numbers ‘It’s not very much if you say it real fast.’ I don’t care how fast you say it, $134 billion is a hell of a lot of cash!

Foxconn, which builds the lion’s share of iPhones and other devices for Apple, says they have seen a ‘fairly small impact’ from the coronavirus thus far. According to macrumors.com, Foxconn has warned that there could be a ‘big impact’ to iPhone production if the government of China forces factories to stay closed for another week or more. Foxconn has stopped ‘almost all’ its production in China through February 9th as commanded by the government, but has been able to cover the lost production with their facilities in Vietnam, India, and Mexico so far. A continued closure of Chinese facilities might impact the start of the new cheaper iPhone SE 2 or 9 or whatever it’s called. Apple will probably keep their schedule anyway, but there may be shortages of the cheaper phone for a while.

Toyota and Panasonic have partnered to develop and manufacture batteries for EVs. Engadget.com says the new entity will be called Prime Planet Energy and Solutions, and will begin building square-shaped prismatic cells by April 1st. Toyota will hold 51% of the battery operation, and they will employ around 5100 people at the start. The entity will make batteries for other carmakers besides Toyota, and they plan to develop new types of power cells moving forward…including ones that are more environmentally friendly.

Cards Against Humanity has bought Clickhole from G/O Media, owner of The Onion, Gizmodo, and Deadspin. According to cnet.com, Cards will turn majority ownership of ClickHole.com over to its employees. The site will continue to function independently, and employees there won’t be writing any of the game companies famous (or infamous to some) cards.

I’m Clark Reid


Possible Video Leak of Samsung Galaxy Z Flip; Huawei Outsells Apple in 2019; iPhone Q1 Shipments Down 10% Due to Coronavirus; Amazon Ring- Opt Out Of Police Partnerships

Over the weekend, a video leaked out that seems to show the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Z Flip being opened and closed. Businessinsider.com reports that the brief video was first posed by aTwitter user, @BenGeskin, yesterday. The Twitter account claimed it was the ‘first hands on video’ of the Z Flip. The clamshell type flip phone looks about like a large smartphone when open, and is a bit smaller than a wallet closed. The outside screen is really more of a tiny display of the time, etc…not really capable of displaying more than a line or two of text. The inside screen looks beautiful, and even when the user puts a thumb on the area of the hinge to close it, you don’t really see a seam or wrinkles. As we reported last week, the Z Flip will apparently be priced at a wallet deflating $1400.

Huawei was able to outsell Apple in 2019 and vault into second place in the global smartphone race. According to arstechnica.com, Huawei has 16-17% annual growth right now. Samsung is still #1 with 20% of the market, with Huawei now at 16%, Apple at 13%, and Xiaomi and Oppo holding about 8% each. Huawei has primarily made inroads in their home market of China…which has been good for them, since the US Huawei export ban means US companies can’t do business with them right now, effectively collapsing their US market.

Well known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says to look for iPhone shipments to fall 10% in the 1st quarter, due to coronavirus. 9to5mac.com says Kuo also says the 2nd quarter production might be iffy as well. Kuo looks for 36-40 million iPhones this quarter. If second quarter is actually affected, it could crimp the rollout of the smaller iPhone, known right now as the SE 2 or iPhone 9…and could even impact production ramp-up for the iPhone 11 models due out in September. The tariffs in addition to lesser demand in China saw total smartphone shipments to that country down as much as 60% year over year over the New Year holiday period.

More and more people have gotten leery about the surveillance society, and particularly since last year, it was uncovered that Amazon had cut deals with numerous law enforcement agencies to allow access to your Ring doorbell videos. According to mashable.com, you will now be able to opt out of all video request notifications from law enforcement, add or remove shared users from your account, and see your two factor authentication settings. This has been more of an issue with the Ring than some others, since all Ring video is uploaded to the cloud. I purposely bought a different brand that only saves locally and on your phone, but has no cloud storage (or annual fee for same!) In the new Ring update, you will be able to see an ‘Active Law Enforcement Map’ clarifying which local institutions are part of the Neighbor Portal network. The control center update should be rolling out on both iOS and Android in the next few days.

I’m Clark Reid