Chinese Court Backs Qualcomm Over Apple; Google Pixel 3 XL Lite; First 350Kw EV Chargers Installed; Flying Car Market Could be $1.5 Trillion

Qualcomm has gotten an injunction against Apple in a Chinese court, banning Apple from importing older iPhones into China. Theverge.com reports that the order would affect the 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Apple says it is still selling phones in China, and notes that iOS 12 (which is supported by all the phones blocked by the injunction) avoids the patent conflict. As new phones sold in China have this software or above, the ruling shouldn’t affect them at all. Qualcomm has been trying to ban Apple iPhones in China for over a year, as well as their attempt to ban the Apple handsets in the US (which has not been upheld by regulators.) The legal battle continues…and Qualcomm has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for abusing its modem monopoly in Taiwan and China. This court injunction gives Qualcomm more ammo in its claim that Apple has used its intellectual property without compensating them.

A new leak of pictures depicts Google’s ‘budget’ Pixel line. The Pixel 3 XL Lite will sport a 6 inch display and NO notch! The XL has a 5.5 inch display. Both handsets are expected to have plastic bodies, according to 9to5google.com, in keeping with the budget category. It appears that they may be powered by either a Snapdragon 670 or 710, and they sport a single rear cam. It’s unclear if they will have Google’s amazing photo software that lets the single cam phones compete with multi lens ones like Apple and Samsung have, but if so, and the price is enough lower, the ‘lite’ line could grab huge sales when it comes out.

Northern California now has some of the fastest electric vehicle chargers on the planet…even if no cars can use them yet! Engadget.com says Electrify America has installed two 350Kw chargers and eight that produce 150Kw at the Livermore Outlets, where there were already 20 Tesla Superchargers. The 350Kw chargers are expected to deliver 200 miles of range on a 10 minute charge. The Porsche Taycan will be able to use the high power stations, and will be on the market by 2020. Electrify America says its just getting ready for the future, with 17 other Simon outlet malls in California getting the high power chargers, and a number of others planned in other states.

We are still a ways away from George Jetson’s flying car that folds into a briefcase, but according to geekwire.com, Morgan Stanley has done a study that shows that autonomous flying cars…either air taxis or private vehicles, could be a $1.5 trillion dollar market by 2040! Both Boeing (through its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences) and Airbus are working on flying cars…with Airbus partnering with Vahana in Silicon Valley, Voom in Mexico and Brazil, and Audi. Lockheed Martin is also investing in eVTOL autonomous aircraft, and it looks like Northrop Grumman is jumping in, too. Raytheon and Harris are working on air traffic control tech. Morgan Stanley sees most of the money coming from transport of people, with only $413 billion from freight transportation.


Digital Car Key; Instagram’s IGTV; German Flying Taxi; Netflix Sharing

First, we got the key fob that you don’t have to pull out of pocket or purse to open and start your car. Now, the Car Connectivity Consortium, and organization of the likes of Apple, Samsung, and LG on the electronics end and Audi, BMW GM, VW, and Hyundai representing the automotive side unveiling a new Digital Key specification. Macrumors.com says it will allow manufacturers to transfer a digital key to a Trusted Service Manager via NFC directly to the secure area of the smartphone. It could not only be used for operation of your own car key-free, but also car rentals and car sharing. 

Instagram has fired a cannon blast over the bow of YouTube and Snapchat. They just rolled out IGTV, which is a new app for publishing long form videos. According to businessinsider.com, content creators will be able to make 4K videos that are significantly longer that the current Instagram 60 second limit. What remains to be seen is whether high profile users, or even we mortal video shooters, will bite when it comes to shooting and uploading mobile-first vertical video.  There is a 10 minute limit, with exceptions running to an hour for accounts with huge numbers of followers. Initially, the longer form videos will be ad-free, but they will have them later. CEO Kevin Systrom says there will be a way for creators to make a living. The IGTV app is available now on  Android and iOS just by updating the Instagram app. F

The world has missed the George Jetson 60’s flying car debut so far, but now Germany is preparing to test out a flying taxi concept from Airbus and Audi! Engadget.com reports that the government has signed a letter of intent to green light tests around Audi’s home city of Ingolstadt. Uber has also been trying to develop a flying taxi at their research center in Paris. The letter didn’t give any indication as to when tests would start. At this point, neither the Airbus-Audi partnership nor Uber has produced and flown a functional prototype, but the letter from the German Transportation minister authorizing tests shows that a flying taxi concept isn’t just hot air any longer.

There have been jokes floating for years to the effect that there is only one paid Netflix subscriber…everyone else is using their password. Now, Exstreamist has done a survey to gauge just how much password and account sharing really goes on. Bgr.com says 22% of users log in with their parents’ credentials. For 20%, it’s the password of a friend, with another 17% using the login of their current boyfriend or girlfriend. 13% are even using the Netflix account of an ex! Netflix keeps growing and seems unconcerned. A few years ago, CEO Reed Hastings said they find that password sharers are likely to become paid users anyway down the road. Netflix revenue the 1st quarter of 2018 is up 43%, with a subscriber base of 125 million worldwide.


Better Battery Life for iPhone 8; People Carrying Flying Drones This Year

iPhone 8 getting a more expensive stacked logic board. According to macrumors.com, this…combined with a less power hungry OLED screen… will enable the 4.7 inch size iPhone to pack the battery capacity of the 5.5 inch model. The stacked logic board and OLED screen are what will likely push the 10th anniversary iPhone past the $1000 price barrier.

We’ve been promised flying cars for years…really since the ‘40s and ’50’s. Now, something approaching them may be on the way yet this year. Bgr.com reports that Chinese company EHang has been working on a single passenger, self-flying airborne vehicle, much as Airbus and Uber have been. Apparently Dubai may be getting a program using them underway this year. The EHang 184 has 8 rotors on 4 arms, and can carry 220 lbs at just over 35 mph. It has a cruise time of about 25 minutes. Counting takeoff and landing, it will probably be limited to about a 15 mile range.


Verizon Says Demand for Pixel Outstripping Supply; Flying Airbus Taxis by 2017; MacBook Pros Get Updated Again This Year; Caffeine Blocks Inflammation; Smartphone Air Freshener

The buzz on the Google Pixel phone is enough that demand at Verizon is outstripping supply. 9to5google.com says it has accounted for over 12% of smartphone sales at Verizon. Right now, it looks like you won’t be able to score most Pixel models until March!

Forget Uber…which knows nothing about flying. Airbus is shooting for testing self-flying taxis by the end of 2017! Zdnet.com reports that commuters could book an Airbus flying cab with a smartphone app. There are obvious regulatory hurdles before this can happen, but as they point out, it could free up roadways and the cost associated with them enormously. Besides Uber’s flirt with this, you have Terrafugia, Aeromobil, and EHang working on them, but Airbus is really the 800 lb. gorilla for the flying cab future, with their vast aircraft experience.

The new Macbook Pros that dropped this fall have been panned for lack of ports and battery life. Now, 9to5mac.com reports that they will be refreshed again this year, and get Intel Kaby Lake processors, and 32 gigs of ram. The processors are more stingy with power consumption, and the higher ram will ease a knock from actual pro power users who need all that memory. They will probably debut this fall.

Ok, take another big swig of that coffee! There have been numerous studies finding correlation between caffeine, coffee, and better health, but according to a new one from Stanford picked up by theverge.com, we may now know why. Caffeine may apparently be able to block inflammation! The study actually started as one on aging, but it turned out that people who consumed more caffeinated beverages had less inflammation, had lower blood pressure, and were generally healthier. Have another cup!

In the another first world problem department, isn’t it a hassle to have to change that room air freshener cartridge, or grab a can of air freshener? What if you could do it from your phone? Engadget.com says there’s an Indiegogo campaign for a tabletop air freshener called Moodoo. You can put up $139 for one, plus 4 scent capsules, and will be able to control it from your phone…including setting up ‘fragrance playlists.’ Yeah, this is a major first world problem for sure!


Samsung Buys Harman for Audio & Car Tech; iOS Finally Gets Twitter Highlights; China Will Block iPhone and Other Imports If Trump Imposes Tariffs

Samsung has dropped a whopping 8 billion buying US automotive and audio maker Harman International. This gives them name audio brands like Harmon Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson, and a partnership with British audio specialists Bowers & Wilkins. It also buys them into auto tech. 9to5mac.com says Harman has deals with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Chrysler, Jeep, Toyota, VW, among others. Along with the Internet of Things, car tech is looked at as one of the big future growth areas.

After almost a year on Android, Twitter finally rolls out Highlights for iOS users. Highlights is kind of a ‘While You Were Away’ on steroids. According to thenextweb.com, it’s a great way to catch the best Tweets while you weren’t checking the app…this is especially helpful if you follow people or accounts that are halfway around the world that may be Tweeting while you’re sleeping.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump often spoke of putting in massive tariffs on US imports. Now, arstechnica.com reports that China has threatened a tit for tat response if he does so…including batch of Boeing orders—replaced by Airbus. US auto and iPhone sales in China would suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports would be halted. China might also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the US. There are 131 million iPhones in China…more than any other non-Chinese maker has in that market. China is a huge market for General Motors, which killed better selling Pontiac a few years ago because the Buick brand was better liked in China. It’s actually unlikely that Trump will follow through on tariffs, which were a big part of US revenue over 100 years ago, but haven’t worked well in the global economy.


Airbus Working on Hypersonic Plane; Facebook Patents Friend List Creditworthiness

Airbus appears to be developing a hypersonic jet that would fly from London to New York in just one hour. For comparison, the Concorde needed three and a half hours to travel the same distance, and regular commercial flights need seven to eight hours for the trip. The hypersonic plane just take three hours to get you from San Francisco to Paris or from Tokyo to Los Angeles. Businessinsider.com says the new Airbus jet, described in a recently discovered patent application, would reach speeds as high as Mach 4.5, or four and a half times the speed of sound. Comparatively, the Concorde reached top speeds of Mach 2 in its glory days.
It would use a variety of engines that would serve different purposes, and power would be provided by various forms of hydrogen stored aboard.
Two turbojets under the fuselage and a rocket motor in the rear would be used during takeoff. The Airbus would lift off the runway vertically like the Space Shuttle, and the turbojets would be shut down and retracted into the belly of the plane right before it reached the speed of sound.
The rocket motor would then be used to climb to a cruising altitude of more than 100,000 feet. Then that engine would be shut down and retracted into the fuselage, and the ramjets on the wings would push the Airbus to a top speed of Mach 4.5.
The bad news is that the hypersonic jet might be extremely expensive. Airbus says the aircraft can be used for both military and commercial applications. In the latter version, the airplane would have enough room for just 20 passengers.

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Facebook has been awarded a patent that could help filter spam emails and offensive content, improve searches and, according to thenextweb.com, allow lenders to use your social habits to determine a credit approval. Under the process described, if you apply for a loan, your lender could potentially check out the credit rating of your Facebook friends. The average credit rating of your friends collectively needs to be at least a minimum credit score for your loan to be approved. Do you know your friends’ credit scores? Yeah, I don’t either. Scary stuff!