Echo Show Will Connect to Security Cams; Vivo-1st Smartphone To Screen-Embed Fingerprint Sensor; Facebook Tests Securing Profile Pics

Amazon says the new Echo Show will connect to Nest, Ring, and other security cams via Alexa. According to geekwire.com, the $230 smart speaker with screen, which ships next week, will also talk to cams from August, Amcrest, EZViz, IC Realtime, Vivint, and Arlo….with just a simple command to Alexa like ‘show me the front door .’

Vivo may beat both Apple and Samsung to the punch, showing the 1st smartphone with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the screen at Mobile World Congress next week in Shanghai. Macrumors.com reports that a video leaked shows the Chinese maker’s phone being unlocked with a fingerprint. Samsung had to put a sensor on the back of the Galaxy S8, but the new Note may have an embedded sensor when it launches in August, and the iPhone 8 reportedly has the feature.

Facebook is testing out a feature aimed at protecting profile pictures from scammers. Techcrunch.com says it is being piloted in India right now. The so-called ‘photo guard’ will prevent other users fro downloading a profile pic or sharing it with others, prevent others from tagging using a profile pic, and prevent others from taking screenshots of another person’s profile pic…although that appears to be an Android only feature. If activated by the user, the optional guard will show a blue border and shield around your profile pic. If it tests out, look for Facebook to roll it out to other countries soon.


Alexa Gets Contact Blocking for Voice Calls; LG Said to be Building Pixel XL Successor; Fisker’s Tesla Beater- 400 Mile Range & 5 Minute Charging

Amazon’s Alexa app is getting a blocker for it’s voice activated calling feature. According to geekwire.com, you just select the Conversations icon, then the Contacts icon, scroll down to Block contacts, and choose the one(s) you want to block. A number of users were surprised when voice calling was rolled out, finding out they could get unwanted calls….problem solved.

Google apparently has a different successor to the Pixel XL phone in the works. 9to5google.com reports that Google has sidelined ‘muskie,’ the earlier reported device, in favor of a bigger model from LG code named ‘taimen.’ Details are sketchy, but it appears it will be thinner, in addition to having a larger screen, and will rock a hotter Snapdragon processor…but he main focus will be on camera performance and features.

Fisker has had an answer to the Tesla in the works since at least 2014, and despite selling out to Karma Automotive, the luxury eMotion electric model is still on track for manufacture. It’s beautiful, fast (161 mph), and has a 400 mile cruising range…easily rolling past the Tesla Model S with it’s under 350 mile range. The wildest feature….it doesn’t use lithium-ion batteries….but super capacitors designed by scientists at UCLA that use graphene. They recharge in FIVE minutes! No word on the retail launch date or pricing so far…stay tuned!


Mercedes to Bring Home Storage Batteries to US; Digital Assistants to Outnumber People by 2021

In more of a broadside than a shot across the bow to Tesla, Mercedes-Benz Energy has partnered with Vivint Solar to sell home storage batteries in the US. Techcrunch.com says homeowners who hire Vivint Solar to install an array on their roof can add up to 8 2.5 kWh Mercedes batteries for a whopping 20 kWh of storage! This is a major direct competitor to Tesla with their Solar City, solar shingles, and PowerWall. As the move to greener and more self-sustaining power systems picks up speed, expect more big players in this area.

Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft all have them, and are aggressively pushing them into our lives….digital assistants, that is. According to research by Ovum picked up by cnet.com, the number of devices with digital assistants will be over 7.5 billion by 2021, which will then exceed the population of the world! By the way, there are already 3.5 billion of the sometimes helpful little devils active in the world right now! Ovum projects that Google Assistant will command the market, followed by Chinese assistants, Siri and then Bixby form Samsung…mainly due to the count of cell phones and tablets. Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are primarily in devices other than smartphones.


Apple Watch Rumor-Glucose Monitoring; Amazon-4K Alexa TV and Now = Walmart X2; BMW, Intel, & Mobileye Add Delphi to Self-Driving

It’s been no secret that Apple has wanted to get deep into the weeds regarding heath monitoring for the Apple Watch. The do have north of 200 folks with PhDs working on various projects. Now, macrumors.com reports that they may be close to rolling out non-invasive sensors to monitor blood glucose. This would be something of a Holy Grail for diabetics, meaning no finger sticks all day. Apparently, the sensors would be built into interchangeable smart watch bands, along with other functionality. This way, people who buy Apple Watch that don’t need those functions wouldn’t have to pay extra for them. The sensors are due in ‘an upcoming Apple Watch,’ but it’s unclear if they will make the third generation one out this fall.

Amazon has announced 4K TVs running Alexa. They will be sold under the Westinghouse brand, according to theverge.com. Preorders are open now, with prices ranging from $449 for a 43 inches to $899 for a 65 inch display. They are expected in stores next month. A lot has been made over Apple and Google valuation…Apple at 800+ billion and all…but ponder this….Amazon now has a market cap of $459 billion…that’s just about TWO Walmarts! Amazon has just been a public company for 18 years!

BMW, Intel, & Mobileye have now been joined by Delphi in their self-driving platform development. Techcrunch.com says Delphi will supply key computing components to the system. Intel and Delphi had previously worked together on autonomous tech. They are shooting for 2021 to bring their platform into production…not just for BMW vehicles but for other auto makers and system developers.


More Cortana Driven Smart Speakers; Waymo Logs Millions of Miles; Apple Buys Sleep Tracker; iPhone 8 Leaked CAD Drawings

Earlier this week, Harman Kardon unveiled Invoke, their Cortana powered Amazon Echo competitor. Now, techcrunch.com says HP is also jumping into the smart speaker market. Instead of following their rather successful Surface marketing effort of rolling their own, Microsoft seems to be using the formerly wildly successful PC model of licensing to numerous makers. The speakers will reportedly use Skype for calling. The Amazon Alexa device can take and make calls, and Apple’s is expected to as well.

Waymo, the self-driving car people from Alphabet/Google, says they have now logged 3 million miles on public roads. According to 9to5google.com, a million of those self-driven miles have been in the last 7 months! In March, Waymo greatly expanded their fleet with 500 Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

Apple has bought Beddit, a company that tracks sleep. According to business insider.com, they make a $150 sleep monitoring pad that goes between the sheets. The monitor tracks a person’s heart rate, awake time, and snoring, then the companion app calculates a ‘sleep score’ and can wake users at an ‘optimal’ time with a smart alarm. The page linked to the Watch App Store is gone from their website, but the app is still live there as of today.

Some CAD drawings have leaked out from a manufacturer of the upcoming iPhone 8. 9to5mac.com says that these show no fingerprint sensor on the back, but do depict the all glass front and back with stainless steel edges and the vertical dual cams on the back. The phone appears to be thicker than the current iPhone 7 and Plus. It’s still possible the 8 will have an ugly and clumsy fingerprint sensor on the back like the Samsung Galaxy S8, but we probably won’t know that until Fall.


Echo Show-Yep, It’s the Ugly Version; Preorders Live for Unlocked Galaxy S8 & Plus; T-Mobile to Carry T-Mobile Branded Phones

Amazon has unveiled the Echo Show. It has a 7 inch touch screen, a 5 MP camera, and dual 2 inch Dolby stereo speakers and 8 microphones. Techcrunch.com reports that it will sell for $230, and is available for preorder. The actual device will be released June 28th. Besides having Alexa tell you things or do things, the Show will allow her to ‘show you things.’ The Show can be used for video calling. The nicest description so far was from engadget.com: “Unusual, boxy retro style.” It’s available in black or white, so if either is your kitchen color scheme, you’re in luck!

How about preorders for a device that IS gorgeous? Samsung answers, as preorders are open for unlocked Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus models in the US. They should be available May 31st. Theverge.com says you can either order through Best Buy or samsung.com, and they start at $724.99 for 64 gigs on an unlocked S8 and $824.99 for the 64GB unlocked S8 Plus. Both can be ordered in Midnight Black.

T-Mobile is getting ready to launch its own line of Android phones. According to 9to5google.com, there will be 3 versions, with the first out the door to be the REVVL T1. Say that fast 3 times! All will be built for T-Mobile by TCL, the firm that makes BlackBerry and Alcatel phones. The T-Mobile handsets will be midrange smartphones, with the T1 sporting a 5.5 inch screen, 3000mAh battery, and running Android Nougat. It will have a 13MP rear camera with 5MP for the selfie cam. No release date or pricing has been announced.


Amazon Touchscreen Echo Leak; Smart Speaker Market Set to Double; Spray On Touchpads

As with all tech companies, Amazon plays with different versions of products. Thenextweb.com got its hands on a pic of one version for the upcoming Alexa powered touchscreen Echo, and the tech media collectively threw up. The wedge shaped gadget with a 7 inch screen has been universally panned. A prior leak had a short round tower with a smaller touchscreen angled on top. Let’s hope the previous leak is closer to what actually drops…probably later this month. It is said to be equipped to make video calls, and may have visual recognition, like the hapless Fire phone.

With a touchscreen Echo in the pipeline, the Google speaker finding homes, and Apple reported to be working on a high end smart speaker, 9to5mac.com has picked up a report from Reuters that says smart speaker use will double in the US this year. They are looking at 35.6 million. Amazon is expected to hold a little over 70% of the market.

Want a touchpad somewhere? Just spray it on! That’s the concept behind Electrick (with a ‘k’), a design from some brainy folks at Carnegie Mellon University. Techcrunch.com says it is mainly the brainchild of a PhD student named Yang Zhang, and it uses small electrodes attached to the edges of a painted surface. You can put a touchpad on wood, plastic, dry wall…reportedly even Play Doh and Jell-O. The tech is set to be demonstrated at a conference in Denver.