Offline Gmail Support Rolls Out; Warrantless Cellphone Tracking; Apple v Samsung, Round 3; Amazon Go to San FranciscoPosted: May 14, 2018
The offline Gmail support for search, archive, and compose is rolling out on the web. the feature was promised at Google I/O. Up to now, Gmail over the web had offline capability via the Gmail Offline Chrome app. Google recommends you uninstall the app, as the functionality is not built right into the web app. When you reconnect with the web, your changes will synch up automatically. You’ll need chrome 61 or better to use the feature. Just go to settings and hit the Offline tab, then ‘enable offline mail.’ The default stores 30 days of messages, but you can select 7 or 90 days.
As if there wasn’t enough to worry about over lack of privacy…now, it turns out that a company which mainly works with prison phone systems has leveraged a data-sharing service offered by phone carriers that allows police to track any cellphone number, with no legal checks…like a warrant…to keep the practice from being abused. The New York Times says the company is called Serurus, and they an another company are making available data the phone carriers already offer to marketers to police agencies…basically uncontrolled access to nationwide location tracking. Senator Ron Wyden has already written to the FCC and the carriers, asking them to tighten these disclosures up.
Facebook is apparently working behind the scenes, to try to make up for the Cambridge Analytica debacle. They have now suspended over 200 suspicious apps, and have reviewed ‘thousands so far,’ in the audit promised by Mark Zuckerberg, according to techcrunch.com. The social network has not released the names or info on those apps so far, and says in some cases, apps will be reinstated after reviews, interviews, and even some on-site inspections of the makers. Apparently, apps that don’t agree to the through audit are banned outright. Apps that have grabbed data will be listed on https://www.facebook.com/help/yourinfo, if you want to check whether or not one has gotten your data.
It’s the third trial in 8 years in Silicon Valley for Apple and Samsung over smartphone intellectual property. This one is centered around the $500 million judgment Apple got in the last one.
The judge is the same one who heard both the previous trials. The jury will have to interpret a completely new (and extremely vague) test that came out of the US Supreme Court appeal of this case. The outcome could well re-write US patent law, in a way that could greatly affect makers of complex products such as electronics or electric cars.
Amazon Go appears to be coming to San Francisco. The Chronicle reports that they have their eyes on a site around Post and Kearny near Union Square. Amazon Go is the ‘frictionless’ shopping experience, where you simply log in with an app, pick what you want from the shelves, then just walk out and your account is automatically billed…no waiting in lines at the checkout. Amazon hasn’t commented, but there may be an announcement in a few weeks.
Amazon & Retailer Store Automation; Saudi Prince in the Valley; Cloudflare’s Privacy DNS; Tesla Updates Model 3 AutopilotPosted: April 2, 2018
Now that Amazon has opened Amazon Go, their checkout-less brick and mortar store, retailers are going into overdrive to automate stores. Some are turning to robots to help assess and maintain stock, but a big push is to eliminate the check out wait, which frustrates shoppers. Of course, that will make it quicker and more convenient for shoppers, who can just scan items with their phone apps, to have the tab hit their debit or credit card upon leaving, but it also endangers between 30 and 50% of the world’’s retail jobs if auto check out were to be fully implemented….that’s according to the World Economic Forum. Another issue to deal with is protection of customer data. There was another reminder of this over the weekend, as Lord and Taylor and Saks disclosed that data for 5 million customers’ cards had been stolen.
What could possibly close one of the toniest hotels in Silicon Valley for a week? The official story says the need to accommodate ‘a large VIP delegation,’ at the request of the State Department. Most observers say is is very likely the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman, and his entourage. Through the 7th, neither rooms nor any of the Four Seasons Silicon Valley facilities will be available. In New York last week, a $200 billion memo of understanding was signed with the Prince and SoftBank for investment in solar power in the Saudi Kingdom. Will a giant deal come out of the visit to the Valley this week? Stay tuned, as they say. F
Cloudflare launched what it calls a ‘privacy first’ consumer DNS service yesterday, which they promise will speed up your internet connection, and perhaps more importantly, keep it private. It’s Https://220.127.116.11, and Cloudflare claims it is ‘the internet’s fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service. DNS- or Domain Name System- services work behind the scenes to convert the google.com name and all the rest into a real IP address that the routers and switchers of the internet can understand.
Tesla has addressed one of the biggest knocks to the Model 3…the autopilot controls. The automaker has moved the controls to the steering wheel, so drivers don’t have to take eyes off the road for a glance over to the center display, and reach across. With just a software update, however, drivers can now adjust the Autopilot’s cruise speed and follow distance via the steering wheel scroll buttons. The autopilot system can still be accessed through the central display if a driver prefers. The Model 3 is even more software intensive than the bigger Model S.
Amazon Go is a Go; Alexa for Business; Microsoft Goes For School Market; Moderating Kids’ Screen TimePosted: January 22, 2018
The first Amazon Go convenience store is now open to the public in Seattle. Geekwire.com says anyone with an Amazon account and the Amazon Go app can now enter the world of checkout free shopping. The online giant originally planned to go live a year ago, but has been test running the concept on their own employees. You scan in a QR code when you go in, then sensors and cams detect what has been taken off shelves, and kept…they know what you put back…then, your account is charged when you exit. There are only a couple of people in the store to help, with more in the back that restock, and a crew making fresh food…that’s it. The draw of a no-checkout-line convenience store, and perhaps grocery and other retail stores, may eventually be irresistible. The only location so far is at 2131 7th Ave in Seattle, and it’s open 7am to 9pm, if you happen to be in the area and want to check it out…so to speak!
Amazon is getting into the smart office market with Alexa for Business. Zdnet.com reports that they plan to leverage it with giant Amazon Web Services, and custom Echo devices. This could eat up a lot of the smart office assistant market, at the expense of Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Echo. One thing that immediately comes to mind…what about the security of business and trade secrets when there are always on, internet connected microphones, and speakers listening in…allegedly for commands?
For a generation, the education market was the domain of Apple…then along came Google with the Chromebook. Now, Microsoft is going after it and Google with $189 Windows 10 laptops for schools. According to theverge.com, the machines are built by Lenovo, and are called the 100e. There is also a 300e model for $279…it’s a 2-in-one, that has pen support. Microsoft is also putting out content, such as a new Chemistry Update for Minecraft: Education Edition, and they plan to put out some Mixed Reality content for the education market, too.
Some academics at University of St Thomas have offered a new theory on kids and smart devices….instead of limiting screen time to 1-2 hours, moderate it. 9to5google.com says it may work better to divide time into ‘passive’ screen time like viewing videos, and ‘active’ time such as (parent approved) video games. The professor types aren’t the only ones who have come to believe this. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, saying alternating between consuming and acting appears to work better than a hard limit of an hour or two.
Google Looking to Xiaomi to Produce Next Android One; Bay Area Check-Out Free Startup Takes on Amazon; VW WILL Have Electric Microbus in 2022Posted: August 21, 2017
Xiaomi of China makes an array of gadgets, that are generally high quality and noticeably cheaper than any competition. They have already been producing smartphones, and now may be connecting with Google to make the next Android One. Thenextweb.com reports that they are reworking their 5.5 inch Mi 5X into basically an Android One. It has a dual cam like the iPhone 7 Plus’ Portrait mode, and has good build quality and battery life. If everything pans out, Google could bring an Android One phone to the US by late this year or early next for $200-$300!
We’ve reported on Amazon’s check-out free system they are working on called Amazon Go. Now, Standard Cognition out of Palo Alto is releasing what they call an ‘alternative technology’ to eliminate the checkout process at retailers. According to geekwire.com, the startup is in talks with retailers to set up pilots in stores. Their tech uses machine vision and artificial intelligence to identify each item and detect which ones are picked up, put back, or left elsewhere in the store. They will have two apps…one for shoppers and one for the stores. As a shopper, you just grab your stuff and leave. The bill will be charged to you automatically via the app. ‘Appless’ customers will be directed by store staff to kiosks like self checkouts, where they can pay with cash or credit. Walmart also is testing a similar system they call ‘Scan & Go’
We’ve seen pictures, renders, and teases, now we know that Volkswagen will build the I.D. Buzz electric Microbus by 2022. Mashable.com says it should have a version that can make 300 miles on a charge, and be able to recharge to 80% in 30 minutes with VW’s fast charge system. Since it’s electric, it will have tons of space, and VW plans a commercial version companies can use for deliveries in inner cities that are going to eventually ban gas and diesel vehicles. It will have Level 3 self-driving, so some cruising without full driver participation will be possible. I’m seeing lines of old hippies showing up at VW dealerships looking like Fry from Futurama yelling ‘take my money!’
LTE Apple Watch & AR Glasses Coming; Amazon Puts Off Brick & Mortar; Faraday Future Punts California PlantPosted: March 28, 2017
In a report picked up from Barron’s by 9to5mac.com, an analyst for Susquehanna Financial picked up repeated rumors of an LTE connected Apple Watch 3, complete with micro SIM card. It will have a very low power chip to save battery and VoIP tech for calling.
Also, the drumbeat continues that Apple is going big with Augmented Reality. Macrumors.com says Cupertino is focusing on moving from the science project stage towards a finished consumer product. Even at that, it will probably be a 2018 launch at the soonest….although one analyst insists they will roll out AR glasses with the iPhone 8 this fall.
Amazon Go, the brick and mortar Amazon store, has been put on hold. Recode.net says the biggest sticking point is that the tech in the stores with no cashiers or checkout lines can’t handle crowds. More than 20 people inside, and it goes bonkers over tracking people and what’s been taken from specific shelf space.
Another shattered dream for further revitalizing the former submarine base at Mare Island in Vallejo, CA. According to techcrunch.com, vaporware electric car maker Faraday Future has walked away from finalizing an assembly plant and showroom there, at least for now. Faraday plans to focus on finishing their original billion dollar, 3 million square foot plant in Nevada near Las Vegas…but has downsides that to 650,000 square feet. They say they will open it this fall.
Amazon is launching a checker free ‘just walk out’ store in Seattle. Techcrunch.com reports that initially, it will be just for Amazon employees. The Go app gets you into the 1800 square foot store, and from there, sensors, computer vision, and ‘deep learning’ track what you take off the shelves and keep in a virtual cart. When the shopper walks out, their Amazon account is charged, and they get a receipt. As presently configured, the store is more like an old-school automat than a full blown grocery store, or even convenience store. It does offer ready to eat meals in addition to shelved items…they are prepared by humans in store, by the way, not robots! The store will open to all Amazon customers early next year.
Google has a new Trusted Contacts app for Android. The app allows you to keep tabs on family and close friends. According to thenextweb.com, a ‘trusted contact’ can ping you, and if they don’t hear back in 5 minutes, the app sends your location to them. For kids walking hime from school, it can be set to follow as they travel, with a banner popping up when they get home they can touch, and the tracking stops. It’s not integrated with Google Maps yet, but you can see that coming. Big Brother is watching…or Big Sis, Mom, or Dad.