iMac Pro Ordering Open; Samsung Galaxy S9 Leak; Disney Buys Fox Film & TV Divisions

The new iMac Pro can be ordered online today from Apple. It’s a beast, aimed at audio and video pros, and as we told you earlier starts at $4999. Now, macrumors.com lets us know that it tops out at an eye-watering and wallet melting $13,199. Geek number crunchers have determined that the $4999 base is a reasonably fair price…a similarly equipped PC costs around $5100. The mid-range version of the iMac Pro completely smokes a 2013 Mac Pro…it’s 45% faster! Do you need one? Unless you ar doing advanced video and graphics editing, recording and editing an album, creating virtual reality content or doing real-time 3D rendering, probably not. For now, until the modular updated Mac Pro comes out, this may be the go to machine for video and audio pros.

Some renderings and specs have leaked out about the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Bgr.com describes is as an ’S’ generation of the Galaxy S8…quite similar in design and features, with some improvements. One bump up is reputed to be better cameras. Taking a page from Apple’s book (again), Samsung will, for the first time, put a better dual lens camera in the S9+…the S9 will just have a single lens cam on the back. Samsung has apparently moved the fingerprint sensor on the back a bit, too…it’s under the camera.

The Walt Disney Company has acquired the film and TV divisions of 21st Century Fox, as has been rumored. TechCrunch.com reports the price is over $52 billion in stock. Disney will get enough of Hulu to be majority shareholder, and also pick up Nat Geo, Star TV, Fox’s movie and TV studios, and Sky. Fox News and national sports channels will be spun off into a new company. With the film studio comes ownership of the original Star Wars film, the X-Men franchise, the Deadpool franchise, as well as Avatar. The mega deal will probably take 12-18 months to close, pending government approvals.

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New Samsung & LG Hero Phones Out in January; Amazon Jumps into VR & AR, Lyft Gets Self-Driving Permit

We were expecting Samsung to show off the new Galaxy S9 in January. Now, it looks like it will be launched at CES 2018, and according to bgr.com, LG will also show its latest and greatest, the G7. Last year, the LG G6 was overshadowed by Apple and Samsung, and with the runaway success of the iPhone X and a strong Samsung Galaxy S9, they will need the new G7 to have some ‘wow’ factor. The G7 is rumored to have and OLED display, like the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, but does add its own wrinkle…the fingerprint sensor will be under the screen, not on the back like the S9’s. For those leery of the iPhone X’s facial recognition scheme, this might be a real draw.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft are busily working on VR and AR products, so it was only a matter of time. Geekwire.com reports that Amazon is jumping in with its new ‘Sumerian’ service for Amazon Web Services. Sumerian will allow creation of VR, AR, and 3D scenes for Oculus, Vive, iOS, and Android. Sumerian has a web based editor for creating interactive 3D scenes, and a library of objects and templates. It launches in preview today on all but Android, which Amazon says is coming soon.

Another company has a permit to test self-driving cars in California, and this one is a biggie. Cnet.com says Lyft was granted a permit, and now brings to 45 the number of companies testing or getting ready to roll driverless cars on public roads. They join VW, General Motors, Tesla, Google’s Waymo, Uber, and Apple. You’ll be able to spot them by the apparatus on top, but don’t expect to see no one in the driver’s seat…all the permits require a driver on board, just in case.


Galaxy Note 9 May Get Under Display Print Reader; Other Android Makers Looking To Face ID Clones; GM Buys Lidar Maker For Self-Driving; Food Delivered to Your Mouth-We Will Become Like In Wall-E

Apple had to ditch the effort for the iPhone X, but Samsung is working on putting under screen fingerprint sensors in the Galaxy Note 9 for next year. Businessinsider.com reports that they are planning to let you unlock your screen simply by touching a finger on part of it.

Meanwhile, other Android makers are turning to developing 3D sensing for Face ID clones like Apple has in the soon to be released iPhone X. Appleinsider.com says the number of makers looking at 3D sensing has tripled since Apple showed off the tech in September. It’s not all about unlocking phones…the 3D tech also opens the door to AR…augmented reality.

General Motors has bought Strobe, a 3 year old startup that makes lidar tech for self driving vehicles. According to the New York Times, the company will be folded into Cruise Automation, the GM self-driving subsidiary. The General says it will help accelerate its efforts to develop and build electric cars with self-driving capabilities. They are saying the tech will help bring such cars to the market sooner than you think!

Researchers at University of Sussex have developed TastyFloats…a food delivery system that levitates food morsels right into your mouth…no hands or utensils! Thenextweb.com says it’s not really ro make us like the denizens of Wall-E, but to test if food tastes differently without touch or manipulation. It uses two phased arrays of ultrasonic transducers to transport the morsels of food. OTOH, someone may ‘monitize’ the idea, and then we really could all become porky couch potatoes.


Another Strong Hint that iPhone 8 Will Feature AR; Google Working on 3 Successors to Present Pixel Phone

While the tech world pours over rumors that the iPhone 8 will have an OLED screen…perhaps curved….and wireless charging, another strong hint has dropped that the real game changer may be AR. Bgr.com reports that advanced 3D sensor maker Lumentum put out guidance that it has booked revenue into what it calls ‘a high-volume mobile-device application.’ iPhones already have 3D sensors, but they are used as range finders and proximity detectors. Highly advanced 3D sensors like Lumentum makes could be used for gesture control or mapping the surrounding 3D environment. This truly could be Apple’s ‘next big thing.’

The folks at Google are apparently working on 3 models to update the Pixel phone. According to thenextweb.com, the three are code named for freshwater fish, and one will have a larger screen than the other two. There may be a cheaper version, as well as a feature packed waterproof high-end successor. As Apple and Samsung, the updated phones will likely have a slimmer bezel, too.


Apple Wins the Holiday; Galaxy S8 May Have a Stylus Supporting Model; How About a Paper Airplane Machine Gun?

Ever since the Galaxy Note meltdown in late summer, the year has gone south for Samsung. Now that holiday figures are in, we know the extent. According to Flurry Analytics, if you got a phone for the holidays, it’s likely it was an iPhone. 44% of new phone and tablet activations were for Apple devices. Samsung didn’t quite hit half of that, with 21%. Huawei was a distant third at 3%, with 5 other phone makers tied for 4th at 2%. Medium phones are still most popular at 45%, but phablets are gaining fast…picking up 10% year over year to capture 37% of the form factor share.

A new rumor may throw a bone to Samsung’s hardcore Galaxy Note 7 fans. Bgr.com reports that there may be a ‘plus’ sized Galaxy S8 that will accept the S Pen stylus. The leak out of China says it won’t fit inside the phone, and will sell separately. Still, it’s a popular feature that may bring a lot of Note fans back to buy a new S8.

Everyone’s been to sporting events where they inspect for weapons and such. Everyone has also seen the occasional paper airplane sail down to the court or field. Now, gizmodo says you might see a blizzard of them without such checkpoints. A fellow named Dieter Krone has developed a 3D printed machine gun that folds and shoots 120 paper airplanes a minute! Take that, opposing team!


Galaxy S8; Microsoft’s Surface Event; How Amazon Drones Will Land for You

Even after the catastrophe with fiery Galaxy Note 7’s, time marches on for Samsung and everyone else. According to bgr.com, Sammy is pressing ahead with the expected Galaxy S8 models for February 26th rollout. Expect an edge to edge 4K Super AMOLED screen (and wraparound in the case of the Edge), with just a bezel at the top and bottom. Screen real estate is supposed to be 80% of the front, so it sounds like they are getting rid of the home button. Inside, expect a faster processor, and either 6 or 8 gigs of RAM!

Microsoft’s Surface event is tomorrow, the 26th. Theverge.com reports that it will be jam packed, but look for the spotlight to be on a new Surface all-in-one PC. Think of a Microsoft iMac, only with a hinge to lay flat on a desk. It will rock a touchscreen and have stylus support. Other big areas to watch for are emphasis on creating 3D content, and it looks like Redmond will be letting 3rd parties build their own HoloLens headsets. Microsoft may also show an Amazon Echo competitor with Cortana built in.

We’ve been reporting for over a year about Amazon’s drone program. All well and good, but how are those little rascals going to find a place to drop off your package?
Geekwire.com says Amazon plans for you to print out a symbol on your printer, and put it where you want the drone to land. You’ll have to supply your own rocks to keep the paper from blowing down the street!


Amazon’s British Drone Tests; New (Old) Apple Car Boss; Future iPhones—Iris Scanning and Glasses-Free 3D

Amazon has gotten permission to test drone deliveries in the United Kingdom, according to venturebeat.com. They will test beyond line of sight operations, obstacle avoidance, and single-person supervision of multiple, highly-automated drones. FedEx and UPS have also shown interest in drone delivery.

Former Apple exec under Steve Jobs Bob Mansfield has come out of retirement to run Project Titan, the Apple car project. Businessinsider.com reports that he originally intended to retire in 2012, but moved to a special projects team that built the Apple Watch. Since then, not much has been heard from him. Apple allegedly intends to start selling vehicles in 2021.

A couple of interesting features may be coming to iPhones, one in 2018. Appleinsider.com says we might see ‘Iris ID’ replace Touch ID, as Apple brings iris scanners to the iPhone family. Meanwhile, Samsung may introduce iris recognition tech in its flagship Galaxy S series this year. More exciting than Iris ID, Apple has patented a method of ‘autostereoscopic’ displays. This would allow for 3D without the special glasses. It uses a pixel array featuring a second array of subpixels and lens structures, the latter emitting light at a number of different angles. The key component though would be the “beam steerer,” pointing the correct light at the viewer. No word on when we might have this in our hands yet.