More iPhone 8 From HomePod Leak; Apple Watch May Gain LTE Capability; Faraday Future Dumps Nevada for California; Americans Using Less Juice Than A decade Ago

As geeks continue to sift through the HomePod software, we get more and more teases about the iPhone 8. Macrumors.com says it indicates that the FaceID facial recognition software is so good, you won’t have to raise the phone and hold it in front of your face to open the phone. The phone may also be capable of shooting 4K video at 60 FPS with either front or rear cameras.

The HomePod leak also seems to reveal that the Apple Watch this fall may get a new form factor and have LTE. According to bloomberg.com, you will be able to connect directly to cellular networks, with no need to be tethered to an iPhone. No indication on if you could make voice calls or it’s just for messages and data, or what apple is doing to preserve battery life, but Apple is apparently in talks with carriers in the US and Europe.

Faraday Future, which at one time planned to build a large electric car plant in Nevada and a smaller one in Vallejo, CA has bolted, and signed a lease on an abandoned Pirelli tire plant in Hanford, in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Techcrunch.com reports that it hopes to be in the new plant by November, and be delivering cars by the end of 2018. Faraday still apparently has an option for a smaller facility on Mare Island in Vallejo. Faraday’s CFO Stephan Krause downplayed financial woes tied to LeEco in China, saying the company has no legal relationship, and if the Chinese company goes under, Faraday would still be solvent.

We all have numerous electronic gadgets and devices…far more than 10 years ago…but due to their becoming more efficient, we are using less electricity! According to recode.net, residential electricity sales per person is down 7% since 2010, too. Part of the reason is more efficient devices, but another part is that people are using phones and tablets more, which are smaller and more efficient. The US Energy Information Administration warns that we may see an increase again between 2030 and 2040, as more rechargeable devices come online…and the so-called ‘smart home’ becomes common. Commercial electricity use is not tapering off, since a lot of what we do online with the cloud, Google, Amazon, and Facebook requires giant server farms that Hoover up many kilowatt hours of electricity.


Apple Smart Cam & Face ID for Apple Pay; Samsung Galaxy S8 Outpacing S7

More nuggets from the code in Apple’s HomePod software…iPhone 8 may have a feature called ‘Smart Cam’ which will intelligently capture the best photos when shooting scenes like sunrises, sunsets, and fireworks. Some other scenes are: Baby, Bright Stage, Document, and Foliage. 9to5mac.com says another leak from the HomePod code indicates Apple may be going to facial recognition for Apple Pay. The code corroborates reports from Bloomberg and KGI Securities saying iPhone 8 will ditch fingerprint recognition for facial recognition. There is also code indicating wireless inductee charging.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will drop the end of the month….meanwhile, the Galaxy S8 is doing fine, thank you very much. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung has shipped more than 20 million units of Samsung’s hero phone. 9to5google.com reports that this is an increase of 15% over what they cranked out last year by this time with the Galaxy S7.


Snap May Buy Chinese Drone Maker; Huawei Nearly Even With Apple in Phone Sales; IBM Crams 330TB into the Palm of Your Hand

Because selfies from phones, and Spectacle glasses for short clips just aren’t enough, Snap is looking at picking up Zero Zero Robotics, a Chinese drone maker. According to thenextweb.com, they make the ‘Hover Camera Passport’ drone for $500. It is tiny, made of light carbon fiber, and uses facial recognition to track the user…making sure you’re in those shots you can later filter or plaster with stickers! The drone is being sold through the Apple Store, and so far, Zero Zero denies any deal with Snap.

Huawei is relentlessly pushing to be the world’s largest smartphone maker, and wants to do it by 2021. Macrumors.com reports that they are nipping at the heels of Apple right now, with 38.4 million shipped in the 2nd quarter of this year, compared with Apple’s 41 million. It’s still a ways to top dog Samsung, at 79.5 million. These 3 brands account for nearly half the 360 million smartphones shipped out in the 2nd quarter of 2017.

While some chase the dream of storing nearly unlimited data in your genetic material, the scientists at IBM have managed to cram 330 TERAbytes of data into a cartridge that will fit in the palm of your hand. Theverge.com says that’s enough for 330 million books! The IBM folks went old school for the medium, too, with a twist. It’s a special prototype sputtered magnetic tape. The original back up tape drives IBM made 60 years ago could hold 2 megabytes on reels of half inch wide tape! They think the medium will work well for cold storage of vast amounts of data being stored in the cloud.


Galaxy Note 8 Design Leak;, Microsoft Surface Plus Upgrade Plan; Ford’s ‘Good Neighbor Mode’

A new leak of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 shows it will keep the squared off, boxy shape of the Note 7, but uses a curved, edge-to-edge ‘Infinity Display’ that covers almost the entire front surface. There’s no physical home key. Businessinsider.com reports that it has a dual rear camera. On the front, there’s an infrared iris scanner for secure access, but the fingerprint reader is unfortunately on the back. Samsung will roll it out August 23rd in New York.

Ahh, planned obsolescence…something the tech industry has learned well from the auto industry. There are upgrade plans for your smartphone from both manufacturers and phone companies to keep you in the latest and greatest…for a price. Now, according to thenextweb.com, you can upgrade your PC every 18 months with Microsoft’s new Surface Plus program. The deal lets you pay off your computer in 24-month installments with zero interest if paid off in time (otherwise, it’s 19.99%!) If you trade in your old computer in working condition, you can start a new plan after 18 months. Check it out at microsoft.com or Microsoft Stores in the US.

Some of us who like cars have opted for a so-called ‘more aggressive’ exhaust system. Harley Davidson motorcycles have a characteristic sound. Now, Ford…which decades ago touted a model that was quieter than a Rolls Royce…has introduced ‘Good Neighbor Mode.’ Cnet.com notes that there are already a few cars like Aston Martin that have so-called silent start modes, but Ford is bringing one to the 2018 Mustang GT that you can schedule ahead of time. Starting in Quiet Exhaust mode cuts the sound level to about 72 decibels, close to what your dishwasher sounds like. You can program it ahead, so you can start off quiet at 7am, then let ‘er roar when you fire it up later in the day. Just the thing if you have crabby neighbors who don’t appreciate cars that are fun.


Tipoff That iPhone 8 Has ‘Face ID;’ Web Viewing Means Less TV Sets; Android Getting Bluetooth Battery Indictors

Some code spotted in the firmware for the Apple HomePod seems to confirm that the new iPhone 8 will unlock with your face…which Apple may call ‘Face ID,’ considering they have already used Touch ID. The firmware also points to the cutout in the front that will eat into the top of the screen, but house the front cameras and infrared sensors making Face ID possible. 9to5mac.com reports that while Samsung will be the sole supplier of OLED displays, Apple is well along in setting things up with LG to also produce OLED screens, and they could show up as an additional supplier in 2018. The OLED screen has been the biggest challenge for Apple, along with incorporating Touch ID under the screen. When LG production comes online, it could also mean all iPhones will get OLED screens, probably starting in the fall of 2018.

Before you lament the demise of the TV industry, the numbers aren’t collapsing, but due to more people watching video over the web….and on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even desktop computers, the number of TVs per household is dropping. According to recode.net, they have gone from 2.6 TVs per household in 2009 to 2.3 in 2015, the last year we have data for. With other things to look at besides live TV and DVR, the viewing of those has dropped, too….but only from about 60 hours a week to 57!

As more phones drop the venerable phone jack and go to wireless headphones and earbuds, something that is often on your mind is ‘How much longer have I got before the phones die?’ Apple has had an indicator for years showing approximate battery level, and later a percentage of battery level for Bluetooth phones, just like for the handset. Samsung and LG also make use of the feature. Now, 9to5google.com says the feature may be coming to Android, so all Android phones will give you a heads up on when your Bluetooth device may poop out, so you can recharge it! Like with later Apple phones, Android will show you the %-age of battery left. This is probably not going to drop until Android 8.1 or 9.


Google Pixel 2 May Ditch Phone Jack; iPhone 8 May Ship Late October-November; Carmakers Collaborate to Take On Waze & Google Maps

The march towards Bluetooth only seems relentless on smartphones now. According to businessinsider.com, the latest to ditch the venerable headphone jack will be the Google Pixel 2. The latest leaks show that the Pixel 2 XL will have a more premium design, with thinner borders…and both Pixel models will sport a more refined glass back plate.

Apple’s iPhone 8 will be delayed past the September rollout, and now it appears it may be late October to early November before significant numbers are in users’ hands. Macrumors.com reports that a rumor about the side button is probably off base, after picking up on info from Mac Otakara. The handset appears to have an elongated side button that will have Touch ID, since the home button is going away. Mac Otakara says it’s much more likely that the Touch ID will be under the screen, or left out entirely, rather than put into a longer button on the phone’s side.

German carmakers bought a traffic company called HERE from Nokia a couple years ago. Now, mashable.com says they plan to pool traffic data collected by their cars’ sensors for real time traffic conditions in their own map that they claim will have ‘significantly higher accuracy and more precise information about traffic conditions.’ Taken together, they already have a fleet of millions of cars in 60 countries, and the numbers will increase dramatically as more cars with sensor systems hit the roads the next few years. Besides highly accurate info for drivers, it will build data for more reliable self driving systems.


Galaxy Note 8 To One Up iPhone 7 Plus Cams; Flash will (Finally) Go Bye-Bye; Roku Bests Chromecast in Users

The Galaxy Note 8 may be about to better the flagship feature on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus…the dual lens camera. Bgr.com reports that Samsung wanted to put the feature on the Galaxy S8, but instead opted for the Note. Like with Apple, the Note will have a regular and telephoto lens. Samsung will have a 3x optical zoom on the Note, where Apple only has 2x, and will include optical image stabilization on the telephoto as well as main lens, which Apple doesn’t. They also are making the wide angle lens 13 megapixel, while Apple shoots with 12 megapixels on both lenses…a negligible difference, but enough to tout as a feature.

It’s been a long, slow death, but Adobe is finally pulling the plug on Flash, probably the most frequently compromised software on anyone’s computer. Mashable.com says it won’t happen until 2020, but at least there is an end date to the problematic software that Steve Jobs panned back in 2009! Most all major browsers support HTML5, and many disable Flash Player by default already. Bye, Flash…we won’t miss you.

According to info from eMarketer picked up by recode.net, Roku pulls in around 40 million people in the US per month. This gives them 23% of connected TV users, easing past Google’s Chromecast with 22% and Amazon Fire TV with 21. Apple TV is an anemic 7%. The big number is 37%….that’s how many just watch via smart TVs. Mine isn’t even all that new, but has dedicated Netflix and Amazon buttons on the remote, and was dead simple to set up.