Sprint Will Have Exclusive on Essential Phone Launch; Xbox One X Reveal; HelloSign Gets $$ to Help You Stop Having to Sign Paper DocumentsSprint will be the exclusive vendor for Android father Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone. 9to5google.com says the titanium and ceramic phone with the edge to edge display will sell separately from the 360 degree camera attachment for VR content, though. Interestingly, there’s no word on availability or price, but you can pre-register online at Sprint’s website. So….do you feel lucky? It’s the most powerful and smallest Xbox yet…the Xbox One X was revealed yesterday. It will be $500, and should be out November 7th. According to businessinsider.com, it is capable of 4K gaming and can handle 4K Blu Ray discs. Microsoft is touting that it has ‘6 teraflops’ of processing power, which blows away the Xbox One and Playstation 4 Pro. Anyone who has had to sign a 6 inch stack of documents to buy a house will love this…HelloSign, the eSignature platform, has obtained 16 million in financing. Techcrunch.com reports that they will have a ‘freemium’ product for up to 3 documents per month, and are comparing themselves to Box and Dropbox. They also are offering HelloWorks to turn .pdf forms into easy to edit digital files. HelloSign claims they have talked 55,000 companies into using its paid subscription service, competing with Docusign and Adobe Sign. Here’s hoping one of those companies is your title company next time you have to re-fi or buy a house!

Sprint will be the exclusive vendor for Android father Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone. 9to5google.com says the titanium and ceramic phone with the edge to edge display will sell separately from the 360 degree camera attachment for VR content, though. Interestingly, there’s no word on availability or price, but you can pre-register online at Sprint’s website. So….do you feel lucky?

It’s the most powerful and smallest Xbox yet…the Xbox One X was revealed yesterday. It will be $500, and should be out November 7th. According to businessinsider.com, it is capable of 4K gaming and can handle 4K Blu Ray discs. Microsoft is touting that it has ‘6 teraflops’ of processing power, which blows away the Xbox One and Playstation 4 Pro.

Anyone who has had to sign a 6 inch stack of documents to buy a house will love this…HelloSign, the eSignature platform, has obtained 16 million in financing. Techcrunch.com reports that they will have a ‘freemium’ product for up to 3 documents per month, and are comparing themselves to Box and Dropbox. They also are offering HelloWorks to turn .pdf forms into easy to edit digital files. HelloSign claims they have talked 55,000 companies into using its paid subscription service, competing with Docusign and Adobe Sign. Here’s hoping one of those companies is your title company next time you have to re-fi or buy a house!


Apple’s Previously Secret Screen Repair Machine Coming To 3rd Parties; Waze App Hits Android Auto in Beta

Soon, you won’t have to necessarily send an iPhone in to Apple or go to one of their stores for a cracked screen. Apple is planning to put 400 of its proprietary machines in 400 third party repair centers in 25 countries. Reuters.com says one of the first will be Best Buy. The Horizon machine has been restricted to now to only Apple stores, and Apple has been quite secretive of it. According to Apple, it’s not due to legislative pressure that they are making the machines available. Some in the tech world wonder if this is a preparation for the all glass iPhone 8 models…is Apple expecting a lot more breakage? Up to now, a good repair shop could replace your screen without voiding the warranty, but couldn’t activate the fingerprint sensor. The Horizon machine takes care of that, so you can unlock with your digits and get your Apple Pay and bank apps to work.

A lot of people use and like Waze, and now the Google owned navigation app with crowd sourcing is getting into Android Auto…at least in beta. Arstechnica.com notes that most of the data for navigation is and has been available in the Google Maps app anyway, but if you love the crowd sourced traffic info…and many folks swear by it, sign up for the beta if you want to use it with your Android Auto system.


Affordable Amazon Prime for Folks on Assistance; Google Maps Shows Local Pollution; Crowd Cow Sustainable Beef-Because Crowd Cow

Amazon has rolled out a Prime program for folks on government assistance, like food stamps. The online giant apparently doesn’t want to leave a single market untapped! Techcrunch.com says the program is available to any customer with a valid EBT card, and it cuts the price of Prime membership from $10.99 a month to $5.99 a month. The card can only be used to get the discount, Amazon isn’t accepting payment for the Prime fee or for items purchased via EBT cards. The membership comes with all the other parts of Prime…streaming video and music, free photo storage, the Kindle lending library, etc. At the other end of the spectrum, more than 70% of households with over $112,000 a year income already have prime.

Google Maps just keeps adding things to make it better and better. Now, here’s a feature that may make you want to avoid an area…and maybe freak you out about your own. According to zdnet.com, they are adding a block-by-block map of air pollution levels. Google has used sensor equipped vehicles, and also uses available data, like from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which has 15 lager sensors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Google has completed Oakland, and is planning on data for 25 of the largest US urban areas, covering a third of the US population.

Ok, I admit this one is all about the name….Crowd Cow made it irresistible. Geekwire.com is reporting that the Seattle based startup which delivers sustainably raised beef is now going nationwide. Crowd Cow works with independent ranches and cuts out the middleman to bring quality beef direct to consumers. Ranches in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania will ship their cattle to USGA processors to get the meat “cut and wrapped. It will then be shipped from the Lancaster, PA facility where Crowd Cow does the packaging with dry ice, etc. Delivery will be available to the lower 48 states. If you want to get on their wait list for beef deliveries, get ‘mooving.’


Some Highlights From Apple’s WWDC Keynote

The Apple home speaker got a sneak preview. It does look a lot like a mini-Mac Pro tower, and is called HomePod. There is no screen, it is powered by Siri. HomePod is 7 inches tall, and has 7 tweeters with a 4 inch upwards firing woofer, it runs an Apple A8 chip. With 6 mics, Apple claims it can hear you from across the room and respond even with loud music playing. They are touting acoustic modeling, echo cancelation, and spatial awareness. In other words, it will detect the room, and fire the speakers to give you the best sound for that area. If you run two, they are smart enough to sync up. Besides for music, it will use Siri in the usual way to get information, and also control your HomeKit devices. It will run $349. Comes in White & Space Grey, and ships in December.

Another tease was the iMac Pro. It will have an 8 core Xeon processor for base, and up to 18 core available. It runs Radeon Vega graphics with 16 gigs of vRAM. It can roll with 128 gigs of memory and 4TB of SSD storage. The iMac Pro ships in December, and will start at $4999. All the iMacs and MacBooks get Kaby Lake Intel processors and faster SSD drives. The freshened iMacs and MacBooks are shipping today.

As expected, the new iPad was shown off extensively. It has the 10.5 inch screen in the same size as the 9.7 inch model, and still weighs just a pound. It starts at 64 gigs, and $649. Preorders open now, and they ship next week.

A number of other reveals revolve around the software systems and content. For content, Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV later this year. Also, the new iOS 11 will have a pretty amazing AR developers kit. A couple of demos put AR right on a desktop at the stage, with the audience right in the shot! Another had a developer standing in the middle of a Star Wars world she was manipulating on the fly…watch out for Darth Vader swinging that light saber! Steam is bringing their VR to the Mac later this year! Apple will probably post the VR Star Wars video and AR demo later today, and you should watch them!

In the new Mac OS…High Sierra, Apple File System will be brought over from iOS, modernizing Apple’s ancient file system. For Safari, we get autoplay blocking!! Now you can read an article without the annoying autoplay audio blasting away. They also touted intelligent tracking prevention using machine learning. New, better compression for video and pictures.

iOS 11 gets some major features on the iPad…the App Tray can be brought up in apps, it will save configurations of screen splits for you to return to, and now, there is a files function and DRAG and DROP! You can send money or receive it in iMessage using Touch ID, and there’s a translation feature that works on the fly with Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Other languages follow later this year.

The App Store gets a total makeover. It starts with a Today screen, and separates out Games from other apps.


Apple’s Siri Speaker in Production; Skype Gets Major Makeover With ‘Me Too’ Features

Apple’s smart speaker, powered by Siri, is apparently in production and will be showed off at WWDC, according to bloomberg.com. In an effort to outshine Amazon and Google offerings, it will feature virtual surround sound, be louder and reproduce sound more ‘crisply’ than others, and (of course) have deep integration with other Apple products. It will also serve as a hub for Apple HomeKit connected devices. The device will be built by the Taiwanese company Inventec, which produces AirPods for Apple. It is expected to be out later this year.

Microsoft is giving Skype yet another makeover, but this one is much more than a fresh coat of paint. The latest iteration takes on the look of Snapchat. Theverge.com reports that although Skype has done well for video and audio calls, it hasn’t made much of a dent in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, or Snapchat….and messaging is where the growth in conversations live. The new interface includes 3 sections in a conversation: find, chat, and capture. Chat is what is sounds like, but the other two allow you to search a convo, or find images, restaurants, or content to drop into a message. Capture is where Microsoft has added the Snapchat like capabilities….the cam opens so you can shoot pics or video, then you can add stickers, text, or annotate the shot. There’s also a Highlights feature so friends can stream pics and videos of yours and react with emoji.


Samsung Delays Bixby for the US Again; 5 New Macs & 4 iOS Devices on Horizon

Samsung rolled out its latest Galaxy phones, the S8 models, without the virtual assistant Bixby in the US. It was due by now, but has been delayed a month. The Wall St. Journal reports that they are having trouble getting it to understand English syntax and grammar. Virtual assistants haven’t been the ‘killer app’ on smartphones anyway…only about 9% of users use the AI feature on a regular basis, according to research firm Ovum. Half of smartphone owners either had no interest in the feature or didn’t even know about it. It has been a different story with talking speakers, which the public seems to be accepting more quickly….with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant in the lead.

There are armies of people digging through regulatory filings around the world to bring you tidbits like this: a Russian filing points to 5 new Macs and 4 new iOS devices on the way from Apple. According to apple insider.com, we could see some rolled out at WWDC. There has already been speculation that Apple would show a new mid-sized iPad Pro at WWDC, fitting in between the 9.7 inch and 12 inch iPad Pros. A recent shortage of MacBooks seems to point to a refresh of MacBook Pros and Airs as well.


The Essential Phone Revealed; Google Search Personal; Intel’s Insane 18 Core i9 Processor

The Essential Phone, that handset from the father of Android, Andy Rubin, has been revealed, and doesn’t disappoint. 9to5google.com reports that the front screen barely has a bezel at the bottom, and goes clear to the top, except for a little tab in the middle for the selfie cam. The phone runs on a Qualcomm 835, has 4 gigs of RAM and 128 gigs of storage. It will run on all carriers. It sports a 13 MP dual cam in back, and 8 MP selfie cam, and get this…is made from a combination of titanium and ceramic, which should weather drops considerably better than the aluminum on Samsung and Apple phones. Besides USB-C, it has wireless data transfer, and a clever magnetic connector for accessories…including a 360 degree cam that clicks into the port at the top of the phone. It sells for $699.

Google has added a personal tab as a search option. Bgr.com says you have to be signed in to use it, and for the paranoid, it can be disabled…although Google will continue to Hoover up your data and package and sell it anyway, like everyone’s. What it does do is take your previous search data, and offer results that are refined based on your prior searches. (Again, if it freaks you out, go to Search Settings in your Google account and check the Do Not Use Private Results.)

Intel has unveiled its new Extreme Core i9 processor at Computex. According to tech crunch.com, it’s got 18 cores and 36 threads! How much for that crazy amount of processing power? A cool $1999! Other siblings in the Core i9 family include one with 10 cores for $999 and a 16 core model for $1699. All of them have a base clock speed of 3.3 GHz with a turbo boost up to 4.5. No shipping date was announced, so you have time to save your pennies for that eye-popping $2000 job in a shiny new rig.