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 Will Have 5G Phone in 2019; Apple-All New AirPods, But No 5G Phone Until 2020; Amazon Testing King Sized Amazon Go Store

Samsung is partnering with Verizon to bring a 5G smartphone to the US in the middle of 2019! Cnet.com reports that they will show off a concept handset this week at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii. 5G is expected to significantly boost the speed, coverage, and responsiveness of wireless networks. Phones will upload and download data at anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than the 4G network we have today! Samsung has not said if the phone will be exclusive to Verizon, and did note that they will continue to work with other wireless partners.

Over at Apple, the word is that it will be at least 2020 before a 5G iPhone will be in peoples’ hands. According to macrumors.com, Apple will hold off a bit instead of being on the leading edge…which they have done before when new generations of wireless capability rolled out. Bloomberg points out that there has often been poor coverage when a new layer of connectivity rolls out, with phones often having to drop back to the old tech, or jumping back and forth between the two systems. Besides Samsung, Huawei and Oppo will also put out 5G smartphones next year…although neither of those two are really factors in the US market like Samsung is. Part of the delay for Apple may be the ongoing litigation with Qualcomm. Apple is partnering with Intel on 5G chips, and those won’t be out in time to get phones to market in 2019.

There will be all-new AirPods in 2020, but prior to that, Apple will release wireless charging AirPods early next year. 9to5mac.com picked up a report from well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that says the wireless model will also include yet to be disclosed upgrades, but that the total revamp will be set for a 2020 release.

Amazon is reported to be testing out a large-sized Amazon-Go type store, sans cashiers, in Seattle. Geekwire.com says it is set up to look more like a traditional grocery store. Now what grocery store could it be designed like…oh, yeah…Whole Foods, which Amazon owns! They are particularly working on seeing if the system that tracks what shoppers grab off the shelves works well with the higher ceilings and bigger spaces with vastly more products. It remains to be seen when or if the tech will reach Whole Foods or other stores. Amazon has said in the past they have no plans to add the tech to Whole Foods stores…but such claims are often made, then things change. We do know Amazon is planning opening up to 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021.


Samsung Revealing Foldable Galaxy F; Amazon Drops Free Ship Minimum for Holidays, Apple- 5G by 2020; 7-11 Test Driving Cashier Free Checkout

The annual Samsung Developer Conference is coming up Wednesday, November 7th. After the last round of top line Galaxy phones only got a slight facelift, and sales have dragged, Samsung is finally going to drop its bombshell folding phone, the Galaxy F this week. Bgr.com says the Samsung folder will have a large 7.3 inch OLED screen when opened up, and a second 4.6 inch OLED screen on the outside that you can use as a regular smartphone. The clamshell design will allow a phablet to be carried in a normal pocket or purse. The actual Galaxy F will probably ship next year, but a lot of details will be revealed Wednesday…stay tuned.

Amazon is giving out an early Christmas present…free shipping without a minimum purchase for everyone…not just Prime members. According to arstechnica.com, you can start making those holiday orders today, and your bargains will all ship free until Christmas. Normally, Amazon requires a $25 minimum for free shipping if you don’t have Prime. Target also has waived its $35 minimum for free shipping over the holidays…Walmart is holding the line so far, still requiring a $35 minimum sale for free shipping.

Apple is shooting for 2020 for its first 5G iPhone. Macrumors.com reports that the 5G phones will use exclusively Intel chips for the higher speed cellular operation. Those chips, the 8161, will be 10 nanometer. Apple is already down to 7 with its latest mobile CPU chips.

It’s one thing for Amazon to open it’s ‘Go’ stores that are cashier and line free. Walmart has been experimenting with it as well, but now, in a major add to the push for no checkout lines, 7-11 is trialing cashier free checkout. Theverge.com says the company is installing scan-and-go tech in 14 Dallas area stores this week. Customers can scan the bar code on their items, then pay with their phone, card, Apple Pay or Google Pay. You’ll need the 7-11 app to skip the cashier lines, and cashiers will still be on hand to handle hot food…and alcohol…which requires an ID check.


Amazon Employees Deleting Bad Reviews; Microsoft May Field Black Surface 2; Fire at Tesla Gigafactory; US Leading in 5G

Amazon is investigating claims that some employees are deleting bad reviews for cash…from $80 up to $2000. According to arstechnica.com, it’s happening in the US but is ‘rampant’ in China.
Employees are allegedly also selling out info involving keywords used in searches for products and buyer habits. Most of the activity is facilitated by middlemen via WeChat. No comment from Amazon beyond that they are investigating.

Microsoft may have decided that black is the new black. Theverge.com reports that there may be a Black Surface Laptop 2 unveiled at the Surface event October 2nd. The original Surface RT came in a black magnesium alloy, but Redmond rapidly switched to a silver color for the Surface 2. Besides the Surface Laptop 2, Microsoft is expected to show ra refresh of the Surface Pro at their upcoming event in New York City.

There was apparently a fire at the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada late Saturday. Engadget.com sys it was in the cooling tube coating oven area. The factory was evacuated and shut down, but the fire was quickly dispatched. Production resumed early Sunday. It appears that the factory was only down a brief time, and that it shouldn’t seriously impact vehicle production at the plant in Fremont.

For years, the US has lagged in internet speeds while paying more. Now, the US may be leading Europe and Asia in one area of tech infrastructure…we may be getting 5G coverage faster. According to Ericsson’s VP of 5G Commercialization Thomas Noren, via ZDnet.com, the US has been able to iron out tech challenges and is ahead of the pack. South Korea is also further along than most other countries. You still shouldn’t expect 5G coverage to be very widespread much before 2020 in the US.


Last Minute Apple Rumors; Ford’s Electric Crossover; AT&T Adding 5 Cities to 5G Coverage

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, known for pretty reliable Apple rumors, has dropped a few today, ahead of the Apple rollout Wednesday. According to macrumors.com, Kuo says Cupertino will replace Lightning with a USB-C port on the upcoming iPad Pro. The new iPhones will have 5W power adapters…not the rumored higher wattage ones. The new, cheaper MacBook will have TouchID but won’t have a Touch Bar, and the Watch 4 will all have a ceramic back and support EKG in addition to a thinner bezel and bigger face. As for the iPhones, Kuo thinks the new 6.1” one (which will ship late September or early October) will account for 65-70% of the new iPhone models shipped.

We’ve been hearing that Ford is aiming to drop all sedans save the Mustang, and focus primarily on SUVs and pickups as they move to electric vehicles. Now, that automaker has teased an electric performance crossover SUV codenamed the ‘Mach 1.’ Theverge.com reports that Ford has increased its investment in EV tech to $11 billion. Note that in the teaser image, the tail lights mimic those on the original Mustang.

AT&T has announced they are adding 5 more cities to their 5G network by the end of the year. Houston, Jacksonville, Louisville, New Orleans, and San Antonio will join the 7 cities already announced: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Raleigh and Waco. Waiting to get the faster service until early 2019: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. The carrier is also working on its Project AirGig, which is designed to cover rural populations that don’t have access to high speed internet. They will apparently roll out cheaper plastic antennas that can be mounted on existing poles, buildings, etc to increase coverage.


Aussies Ban 5G Tech From ZTE & Huawei; Androids Phone Home WAY More; Solid Guess- iPhone Rollout Day

The faster 5G networks will be showing up next year, but there won’t be any equipment from Huawei or ZTE used in Australia’s 5G networks. Techcrunch.com reports that the Australian government has banned use of equipment from those companies due to risks to national security. The US banned most Huawei and ZTE tech use by government agencies and contractors earlier this year.

ET may have phoned home, and all smartphones also do…but Android handsets do it a lot more. According to mashable.com, a Vanderbilt University professor named Douglas Schmidt did a study, and Android units ping Google nearly 10 times more than Apple’s iOS touches base. Most of Google’s data collection happens when the user isn’t directly engaged with any of it’s products, and according to Schmidt’s study, Google is able to de-anonymize such data. Hey, gotta target those ads somehow!

When will the new iPhones be shown, and when can you order one? Bgr.com is betting the rollout will be on September 12th, and the preorders will start on the 14th. This is also the date reliable Apple tout Ming-Chi Kuo sees, but now BGR says they have further indications. Apparently a number of Apple partners and 3rd party accessory makers have sent them pitches with embargoes of September 12th.


New Google Pixelbook Coming; HomePod Siri Features; Qualcomm Shows 5G Module; Tesla Supplier Cash Ask

The Pixel 2 was a big improvement on the original Google Pixel phone, and the 3 is eagerly anticipated this Fall. Now, 9to5google.com says leaker Evan Blass, who has a pretty decent track record, is touting the release of and updated Pixelbook alongside the Pixel 3 and 3XL handsets. Bless claims the updated Chrome OS Pixelbook will be shipping by the holidays. The fall event is expected to also show off A Pixel Watch and new generation of Pixel Buds.

Apple is testing a private beta version of OS12 for HomePod that includes multiple Siri timers and allows people to make and answer phone calls…in an effort to keep up with Alexa and Google Home. 9to5mac.com reports that corporate and some retail employees are test driving the beta. The multiple timers feature is one Alexa has that allows, for example, someone to put a couple timers on different things they are cooking at the same time. Right now, it’s unclear which, if any, of these features will make it to the final release of OS12 for HomePod this fall.

Qualcomm has showed off the first completely integrated 5G module for smartphones…including 5G mmWave antenna, wave radio, power amp, and antenna array. According to macrumors.com, the whole system has been crammed into a package small enough to sit on your fingertip. It is thin enough to fit the bezel of a phone, and Qualcomm sees up to 4 being put into a handset so if one antenna is covered by a hand or otherwise blocked, the unit will still transmit and receive. The tiny 5G modules are being shipped to phone makers this week.

Tesla has reportedly ask for cash back from suppliers, in order to cut their costs and become profitable in Q4. While it’s not unusual for a company to ask for or demand price cuts from suppliers….Walmart is a past master at this…it IS unusual to ask for money back from previously furnished and paid for items. That’s what electrek.co says Tesla has done. Some of the clawbacks would date back to 2016. It remains to be seen if any suppliers will cooperate, now that Tesla is producing the promised 5,000 Model 3s per week.