Google Announces Native Android ‘Foldables’ Support; Coming-Facebook 10 Minute Grace Period to Unsend Messages; Mercedes’ AI Package Delivery Tech

With a maker in China already having released a folding smartphone, Samsung releasing more about their Galaxy F, and LG on the verge of unveiling one, Google today announced Android support for a ‘foldables’ category. 9to5google.com reports that the new category of phone that unfolds into a tablet will have native Android support, allowing for makers to give you a phone with a screen like we all have, but unfolding to reveal a larger, phablet screen on the inside that is double the size of the ‘outside’ screen. Google’s ‘screen continuity’ will allow you to start with an app on the outside screen, then unfold and seamlessly continue on the bigger inner screen without a hitch. Samsung has been working closely with Google on this Android category, and is expected to release the Actual Galaxy F model early next year. The internal screen is said to be 7.3 inches.

If you have sent a Facebook private message, and instantly regretted it, you will like this. For some time, Facebook has had an ‘unsend’ feature for their top brass. Now, according to engaeget.com, the social media giant may be getting set to release the feature to everyone. It’s not an hour to change your mind like What’sApp, but a 10 minute grace period ought to be enough for people who hit send, and have nearly instant remorse. Of course, even with this feature, if the recipient has already seen the message within the 10 minute period, the deletion won’t undo whatever damage has been done to your relationship with them!

The engineers and programmers at Mercedes have been experimenting with a number of different ways to help automate delivery vehicles, so the driver/delivery person can get packages to you more quickly and efficiently. Some have ended hilariously…like one with a Ferris wheel and baskets…that one ended when a gallon of milk basically exploded all over a van. Now, the German conglomerate is trialing its latest idea. Cams and sensors light up shelves, and show the driver which shelf and spot is best for a package…lighting up green. On arrival at a drop off, it lights up green again…and everything flashes red if the person grabs the wrong item. The built in sensors also allow for less hand scanning, which should shave additional time off deliveries. AI not only helps figure out the best spot in the truck for the packages, but plots out the delivery route based on what packages are loaded and their destination addresses. Mercedes thinks this system will help the likes of FedEx and UPS, but will be even more beneficial to smaller delivery company, like those indie operators contracted by Amazon.

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Samsung Galaxy S10 Rumors; Netflix Misses Growth; Boeing Drone Traffic System; Skype Updates Desktop App; Apple Store Crushes Google Play

The fabled in-screen fingerprint scanner may come to the Samsung Galaxy S10 in 2019. Businessinsider.com reports that the FOD, or fingerprint on display will let users get their finger scanned by putting int on the screen. The two larger, more high-end Galaxy S10 handsets will have an ultrasonic version of this…but the smaller Galaxy S10 will keep the fingerprint scanner on the side. The S9 phones have a reader on the back. Apple ditched fingerprint scanning last Fall for its Face ID. Samsung may ship 40 million Galaxy S10 phones in 2019 according to well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Netflix stubbed its toe in added subscribers for the first time in 5 quarters, and the stock took a plunge of over 13 percent. According to CNBC.com, they only added 5.15 million subscribers, down about a million from what was projected. Revenue also missed a bit…it was $3.91 billion instead of the predicted $3.94 billion. Analysts have worried that Netflix couldn’t sustain their growth, which has been over 100% year to date. They are also eyeing competition in streaming by Disney and AT&T. For next quarter, Netflix has just projected 5 million new subscribers, about what they did this quarter.

Some people need to be thinking ahead in order to plan for problems that most of us haven’t thought of yet. One of those is drone traffic. Right now, the only time there is an issue is with fires, when numerous media outlets and others try to fly drones over the scene to capture video, but the problem will only grow in the future. Boeing is starting to develop a drone traffic management system now to be ready. Geekwire.com says the system will use artificial intelligence and blockchain tech. A Texas AI company called SparkCognition is partnering with Boeing on the AI portion, as the aircraft company has formed a new business group called Boeing NeXt. Other companies are also looking into drone traffic management, including AT&T, Amazon, and Alphabet’s Wing.

Skype has rolled out a new desktop version, 8.0. TechCrunch.com reports that version 7 will be killed by September 1st. New features include HD video and screen sharing in calls, support for @mentions in chats, a chat media gallery, and file and media sharing up to 300 MB. Encrypted audio calls and texts are coming later, as is built in call recording.

Apple continues to find ways to coin money in addition to selling hardware. Appleinsider.com reports that an analytics firm called Sensor Tower just did a study, and Apple’s App Store doubles the revenue of Google’s Play with just half the number of downloads. From January to June of 2018, the App store raked in $22.6 billion while Google Play took in $11.8 billion. Both stores are showing big time growth….year over year, first half of this year compared to last, the two app stores grew combined by 27.8%!


Tesla Model 3 Orders; Facebook-Not Listening; Google Gaming; CIMON Robot to ISS

If you have a reservation and deposit on a Tesla Model 3, you’re in luck….you can start spec’ing out your future car. On the occasion of Elon Musk’s 47th birthday, techcrunch.com says you can now log on to the Tesla website and start configuring your car with the online design studio. For now, only the two higher cost Model 3s are available to be configured, and they aren’t giving an estimated delivery time for some models, but if you pick the dual motor performance version…the most expensive one…Tesla says you should have it in two to four months. For advance order holders that plunked down $1000 to get in line, it will be nice to at least spec out their car.

There was a flurry of reports yesterday that a patent showed that Facebook might be getting ready to switch on your phone’s mic when your TV was on and secretly record you and what you are watching…to better serve you ads. Theverge.com has pointed out that a number of sources saw the title and what’s called the ‘abstract’ of a patent, and got this idea…without actually reading the claims…which are the actual subject matter of the patent.  It’s really a system that receives a user ID and an audio fingerprint, matches that audio fingerprint to some content, sees if that content was played for a certain duration, and then checks a counter to see if that content has been played a specific number of times. No microphone use at all. With all they already know about all of us, they could practically write a conversation in our living room, IMHO!

Earlier this year, there was a rumor that Google might be getting into gaming. Now, further reporting from 9to5google.com indicates that it’s happening. The project apparently involves a streaming platform to offer games from the cloud without presumably having to download large files in the tens of gigabytes, as well as hardware. In other words, you could open a tab on your browser and play a game. Google has been in talks with some major game studios about content. They have also hired some top game developers and marketers lately. Here’s a Google-esque wrinkle they are considering…if you hit a tough level or boss, you could hit a key to activate an overlay on your screen that cues up a YouTube walkthrough of the game you’re playing.

The International Space Station is getting a new crew member. On the SpaceX supply ship that blasted off this morning is a round robot with a flat side for a face dubbed CIMON…for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion. Engadget.com says it can speak, respond to spoken commands using AI, and fly…well, obviously fly…there’s no gravity on the ISS! The helpful robot can display repair instructions on a screen with just a voice command, so astronauts can keep both hands free for doing the repair. It will also be able to display procedures for experiments, and be something of a floating database. The ‘brains’ of the little robot are made by IBM, and the body and flight mechanism are built by Airbus.


$200 Beats HomePod; Microsoft Snaps Up Veteran AI Team; AT&T No WiFi Smart Button

Apple’s HomePod has had underwhelming sales so far, and now they may be trying to rectify that with a cheaper model than the $350 one with killer sound but anemic voice command abilities. Bgr.com reports that Apple is looking at bringing out one for $199 under the Beats brand. With a decent sounding Google Home speaker going for $130, and Amazon Alexa speakers for less yet, Apple might have a fighting chance at under $200 if the gadget still sounds better than its competitors.

Microsoft has picked up an AI team that includes the former chief speech scientist for Siri. According to businessinsider.com, Redmond has acquired AI startup Semantic Machines, to boost its ‘conversational AI’ and potentially make Cortana better at understanding natural language inquiries. At least for the short term, the artificial intelligence team will remain in Berkeley where Semantic Machines has been based. Besides Larry Gillick, the former chief speech scientist for Apple’s Siri, the team includes Cal professor Dan Klein and Stanford professor Percy Liang. Several other members worked at Nuance, the voice recognition company that built Siri.

AT&T has launched the LTE-M button, which you can use to order something online with a single click. Engadget.com says the gadget…which not only sounds like and Amazon Dash button, but is actually powered by Amazon Web Services….does have a new trick up its sleeve…it works over AT&T’s network, so doesn’t need WiFi. The AT&T button is not preprogrammed, so you can set it up to order different things, unlike the single function Dash buttons. It is pricier than an Amazon button, though. the first 5000 will be $30, then it will be $35. Since it has to be programmed, the price may not be the only limiting factor…you’ll also need to be geeky enough to figure out how to program the LTE-M button.


Some Google I/O Highlights; iPhone X Plus Will Be Sized like iPhone 8 Plus; Twitter’s Unlaunched ‘Secret’ Messages

There was a lot to unpack at the keynote for Google I/O today, but here are a few highlights. It was announced that Android P will not only add gestures like the iPhone X has, but will use AI to predict what apps you’ll use in the near future. In addition, according to cnet.com, Google claims to save battery life with ‘adaptive brightness’ to control the screens brightness level based on your surroundings. for Gmail, they announced Smart Compose…which also uses AI to predict what you will write and suggests common phrases. Smart Compose should roll out in the next few weeks, but you can access it now by hitting ‘experimental access’ in your settings menu.

Google Assistant has gotten more conversational and smarter…it will now listen for up to 8 seconds, so you don’t have to keep saying ‘Hey, Google’ or ‘OK Google!’ Google Routines now allows you to design your own routines that launch simultaneous commands, much like Apple HomeKit Scenes. Before long, you will be able to order food for takeout or delivery on Android phones. Assistant now has 8 voices to choose from, including John Legend’s.

The upcoming iPhone X Plus, or whatever they end up calling the model this fall will be the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus…but with a 6.5 inch screen instead of the 8’s 5.5 inch screen! 9to5mac.com reports that the new king sized Apple hero phone will also be somewhat thicker, due to a reported larger camera sensor and larger lens. That tidbit comes by way of Macotakara. Both successors to the iPhone X will get horizontal Face ID unlock.

There is apparently a ‘secret conversation’ option hidden in Twitter’s Android app, that you could use to send encrypted direct messages. Techcrunch.com says the feature could keep users within Twitter instead of jumping over to Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp for secure, private messages. Twitter had no comment about the feature, or if it would become available, but since it’s been coded and included, they could take it live, and hold on to those people needing secure private messaging, instead of losing those eyeballs to others.


Cheaper MacBook Air; YouTube Trials Green Screen Tech; Google Sells Zagat; Amazon Looking at Branded Checking Accounts

One of the biggest knocks on Apple gear is that it is pricey. Now, 9to5mac.com reports that a KGI Securities analysis points to a lower priced, 13-inch MacBook Air rolling out sometime in the 2nd quarter of this year. Usually reliable Ming-Chi Kuo says a cheaper MB Air would bump MacBook shipments anywhere from 10 to 15% this year. The present entry level MacBook Air starts at $999, so maybe we can expect a cheaper entry level one for $700 or $800. A cheaper iPad certainly jump started sales of that device for Apple!

The wizards at Google have developed a new tool that uses AI and machine learning to filter out and replace the background in videos in the manner of a green screen. According to mashable.com, it’s being trialed in limited beta Stories. If all goes well, Google will port the tech to their broader Augmented Reality services. No idea on when this may be released into the wild, but it could be a game changer in many ways!

Google is also spinning off Zagat to The Infatuation. No price given, but they bought the restaurant guide in 2011 for $151 million. Theverge.com says that although the ratings and such were integrated into Google Maps, Google let things slide, and Yelp has come to dominate. The Infatuation will keep Zagat as a separate brand from its own curated guides.

Amazon is apparently looking to have its own branded checking accounts. A report from engadget.com has them in talks with J.P. Morgan Chase and other big banks about the accounts. Amazon would be targeting younger shoppers and people who don’t have checking accounts.


Galaxy S9 Keeps Headphone Jack; True Depth Cam & Face ID Big iPhone X Draws; Netflix Kids See Way Less Ads; Google Poaches Apple Chip Engineers

Yes, it’s ‘old tech’, and yes it takes up space that prevents the screen from going clear to the top or bottom of a smartphone, but according to a rumor spotted by bgr.com, Samsung will keep the venerable 3.5 mm headphone jack on the upcoming Galaxy S9. The Galaxy will have the same size bezels as the S8, but upgraded internals…much like Apple’s ’S’ updates. The S9 Plus will get a dual camera, again taking a page out of Apple’s book. With Apple and most other makers opting to drop the headphone jack, though, swimming against the tide may draw in a significant number of users that refuse to go all in on Bluetooth only smartphones….particularly if they have invested hundreds of dollars in good noise cancelling wired headphones…you supposedly can’t use Bluetooth while flying, because ‘airplane mode’ turns it off.

In a report picked up by appleinsider.com, the big draws for the iPhone X are the TrueDepth camera and FaceID. Some analysts thought the FaceID concept might put buyers off, but according to the study by Strategy Analytics, buyer interest in the two features is ‘extremely positive.’ The firm surveyed 568 early adapters of the iPhone X, and also found that the so-called Super Retina HD display and improved battery life were big selling points.

It may be the death knell for sugary cereal and toy ads on TV. ‘It’ being the cord cutter household. According to bigstockphoto.com, so-called Netflix only households that use only streaming services and not over the air or cable channels have kids who see 230 hours LESS of ads per year….that’s a full 9.6 days of ads! Don’t cry your eyes out for the advertisers, though. Some will figure out ways to use ‘product placement’ in the actual kids shows to hawk their goods to the younger set…the same way products have been seen in movies for decades!

Apple has been designing chips in house for its mobile devices for several years, and is moving that way with Macs, too. Now, Google has stepped up its effort to poach Apple chip engineers, as it does the same. 9to5mac.com reports that Google has hired several key chip engineers away from its rival in Cupertino, including noted designer John Bruno. Prior to Apple, Bruno had worked at AMD.Google is not only designing chips for its Pixel line of smartphones, but also working on custom silicon for AI devices, like the wearables they, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are viewing as the future.