Apple Working With LG on Foldable iPhone; Echo Dot Loses Its Touch; Toyota Hydrogen Trucks Go To Work in LA

We have heard rumors for a year that Samsung is working on a foldable phone. Now, it turns out Apple is, as well. Apple’s has some ‘one more thing’ type big trick, apparently…they are working with LG’s display unit on the OLED screens, for fear Samsung will steal their idea…which has happened wholesale in the past. According to 9to5mac.com, LG Innotek is also working on the rigid flexible circuit board that would power the phone. It’s expected in 2020. Samsung may have one out by next year.

Yesterday, we reported that Amazon’s preproduction Echo Dots were staying on all the time and eavesdropping on tech reporters that were supposed to be reviewing them. Google sent a patch, and said they were working on a more permanent fix. Now, 9to5google says it apparently wasn’t feasible…Google has killed the tap to wake feature…which was apparently causing the problem. Sorry, you’ll have to go to all the trouble of saying ‘OK, Google’ to wake your Echo Dot…but that beats the hell out of it recording everything in your bedroom 24/7!

All the attention is on electric cars, and even on a couple electric semi-trucks, with Tesla teasing showing their version soon. Another alternative fuel is hydrogen. While Mercedes and a couple of Japanese makers have done quite a bit with hydrogen fuel cell cars, not much has happened on the truck front…until now. According to techcrunch.com, Toyota is starting a pilot with fuel cell big rigs at the Port of LA. The rigs have 670 horsepower, and dan haul and 80,000 lb. load. They can run about 200 miles a day. If the fuel cells stand up to the frequent refueling, Toyota plans to test longer haul semi trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

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Amazon Doorbell To Let Delivery People in Once; Amazon Prime ‘Really Valuable’ to Whole Foods Shoppers; Google Mini Bug Left Mics On; Movie Studios Band Together For Easier Film Downloads

The battle of grocery home delivery has heated up, with Amazon matching Walmart with in home, right to the fridge deliveries. Amazon, however, may have an ace up its sleeve…theverge.com says they are working on a smart doorbell device that could allow delivery drivers one-time access to enter a home and drop off a package or groceries to the fridge! Amazon has been talking to Phrame, which makes smart license plate frames that secure an emergency key.

If, like a lot of people, grocery shopping means running to the store, Amazon is also touting Prime membership further…according to geekwire.com, Amazon is promising to make Prime membership ‘really valuable’ to Whole Foods shoppers, essentially making Amazon Prime the customer rewards program at Whole Foods. Amazon says that so far, the merger is going well enough they are thinking about shutting down their own grocery services and doing everything through the Whole Foods subsidiary.

Google is working on a fix for the Google Home Mini. Some of the pre-production ones don’t wait for you to address them….they have been listening and recording every word. 9to5google.com says it’s because the devices think they are getting a touch to activate. They have put out a patch to make them respond only to the verbal ‘OK Google’ command, and are working on a fix for the hardware gesture.

In a move that’s amazing for Hollywood, Disney, Fox, Warner, & Universal may team up on downloadable movies. Engadget.com reports that they have signed up to make flicks available through Disney’s new film service. The studios hope people will just buy more movies directly through the service instead of going through iTunes, Amazon, etc. to get links to download. It isn’t known if the studios will continue to support Ultraviolet to provide cross platform links.


GM Will Have 20+ Electric Cars by 2023; Apple’s TrueDepth Cam is 2-1/2 Years Ahead of Android; Walmart Buys Delivery Service Parcel; Headphones Customize Music to Your Hearing

Joining a growing number of car makers, General Motors will launch at least 20 all electric cars by 2023. Theverge.com reports that two of those will join the Bolt in the next 18 months, and that the General will also make a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. GM has said it is committed to an all-electric future. Daimler has said they will have an electric model of every Mercedes-Benz by 2022, Volkswagen will be completely electrified by 2030, and Volvo plant to cease production of gas-only vehicles by 2019.

According to an analysis by KGI Securities, it will take Android makers 2-1/2 years to catch up to the functionality of Apple’s True Depth Camera featured on the iPhone X. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple will ship 30-35 million of the new hero phone by year’s end. The True Depth cam system enables Face ID, and other advanced features like face tracking and analysis for the Animoji. Apparently, it is the difficulty in making the cam system that has delayed production of the iPhone X, which the majority of people seem to be waiting for over the just-released iPhone 8.

With Amazon now doing some of its own deliveries, and not relying on UPS and the post office for everything, Walmart has jumped into the logistics business and picked up Parcel, a Brooklyn based delivery startup. Arstechnica.com says the 4 year old company has focused on getting city dwellers packages at convenient times. They offer a 2 hour pick up window, so your orders aren’t stolen off the porch or out of the entryway. Parcel also sends live updates over text to recipients and shippers updating them on last mile location of the package as its delivered. Walmart plans to expand service beyond New York City, combining Parcel’s infrastructure with that of Jet, which it bought a year ago.

Always of interest to those of us who have made our living wearing headphones…better headphones! According to engadget.com, those might be the Nuraphones. Nura claims they are like prescription headphones for your ears. The cans are over the ear, but contain earbud like inserts inside. They tune themselves to your ears using ‘otoacoustic emissions’…sound returns from the inner ear when stimulated…that produce an aural ‘fingerprint’ of sorts. The processor then creates a personal equalization setting for each ear, custom tailored to your hearing. The app that works on either Android or iOS gives you 3 different hearing profiles, and there are a couple programmable buttons on the headphones. They last 20 hours on a charge, and speaking of charges, they will set you back a princely $399!


Amazon Drops New Echos; Google Making Higher End Home ‘Max;’ Next LED iPhones May Be Bezel-less, Too

Amazon rolled out 2nd generation Echos yesterday, and they’re shorter by half, have a dedicated bass speaker, and are on sale for $99. Theverge.com reports that you can also pick up a 3 pack for $250, so you can have multi-room coverage. The new Echos can also make free calls to the US, Canada, and Mexico. If you just want the calling, Amazon also dropped a $35 gadget called Connect.

With the new Amazon Echos, upgraded Sonos speakers coming, and the Apple iHome looming in December, Google isn’t sitting on its hands, either. According to bgr.com, there’s an upgraded Google Home in the works called the Max. It will be a higher end version with so-called premium sound to compete with the Sonos and iHome. Since the Pixel 2 phones are supposed to roll out next week, maybe Google will tease the Max or even show it.

The iPhone X will be out in November in very short supply, and now we’re hearing the phones for next year may not all go to OLED screens like it has…Apple may stick with LCD for it’s lower tier phones. 9to5mac.com says Apple is working on a new form of advanced LED panel that will give the phones a near bezel free design like the OLED iPhone X has. Since LED screens cost less, it will help keep the price down on the successor to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.


Google Assistant Now Controls Smart Appliances; App to Download Streamed Netflix & HBO Shows to Watch Offline; BMW Charging Pad..for Cars; Microsoft Dives Into Quantum Computing

Google Assistant can now control more smart devices, including appliances from LG. 9to5google.com reports that included are fridges, AC, ovens, washers & dryers…almost 90 different appliances. There are also some new headphone models that utilize Google Assistant. LG is even offering a deal…get an LG smart Wi-Fi appliance between October 8th and October 25th, and you’re eligible for a free Google Home unit.

When you’re binge watching a show from Netflix. Amazon, Hulu, or HBO, sometimes things get glitchy. Now, there’s an app on Android and iOS that lets you download the shows for later viewing OFFLINE! According to thenextweb.com the app, PlayOn Cloud, also supports YouTube, Yahoo Views, CBS, PBS CW, ABC, NBC, & Fox. There is an extra charge, though. It’s $0.99 per recording, or there are bundles for $0.20 each. Netflix has offered offline downloads as has Amazon, but they expire. With PlayOn, the videos are deleted from the cloud after 30 days, but anything you have downloaded stays on your device.

We’ve all been in places like Starbucks and seen the wireless charging pads, and of course Apple has made a big deal about joining the wireless charging smartphone club now with Qi charging…pads are already available from Mophie and Kensington. Theverge.com says BMW is getting ready to roll out one for their 530e iPerformance plug in hybrid. They claim 3.5 hour charging without a cable. The pad requires a 22o volt outlet, and is still awaiting final testing and UL approval, so it may be a year or more away, but faster, hassle free charging for cars will only accelerate the move to electric vehicles.

On Monday, Microsoft announced that it is going to be moving into the next big thing in computing….quantum computing. According to arstechnica.com, this should allow computers to do absolutely amazing things in the future. Redmond plans to release a new quantum computing programming language late this year, with full Visual Studio integration. If quantum computing sounds like Greek to you, don’t feel bad. In a Wall St. Journal interview, Bill Gates noted that while he was good at math and physics…probably an understatement….when the quantum computing slides came up in a presentation, it looked like hieroglyphics to HIM!


Amazon Working on Alexa Powered Smart Specs; 2018 iPhones All Get Face ID; Gmail Finally Catches Up

Google has updated Glass on a small scale and on the down low after the uproar the original GlassHoles created. It’s been reported that Apple is also working on smart glasses, and now Amazon is working at putting Alexa into smart glasses. Babak Parviz, who founded Google Glass, has been working at Amazon since 2014. According to an Financial Times report picked up by thenextweb.com, Amazon is also working on a home security cam that would tie into its ‘ecosystem of products.’

Unless Apple’s new Face ID is absolutely and roundly despised and panned, expect it on all 2018 iPhones. That’s the take of KGI Securities’ MIng-Chi Kuo, probably the preeminent Apple analyst in the world. Appleinsider.com notes that the TrueDepth camera needed for Face ID can bring other cool and innovative applications. It is still possible that Apple will bring back TouchID under screens as a second biometric, which would allow for a second layer of authentication for secure apps like banking.

Google has finally given Gmail something most other email clients…and even Apple’s iMessage have had. Clickable links allow you to easily save and add names, addresses, and email addresses into your contact file, Google Maps, and clicking on a phone number will call it. Mashable.com reports that the rollout should be complete to everyone with Gmail in a couple more days.


Amazon Looks to Build 2nd HQ in 2nd US City; New Surface PCs Out Next Month; Apple Paying Dearly for Single OLED Supplier Samsung

Amazon is ‘seeking proposals’ for a second US campus which they will drop about 5 billion on…and which will create as many as 50,000 jobs. According to geekwire.com, it would be the ‘full equal’ of the Seattle operation. They are looking at cities of over a million with a stable, business friendly environment and urban or suburban locations with the ability to attract and retain strong tech talent. Expect a bidding war like for the Olympics or a professional sports franchise from cities! Stay tuned.

Microsoft will drop at least one new Surface at its Future Decoded event in late October. Thenextweb.com reports there could be LTE versions of the Surface Pro, and maybe a refresh of the Surface Book, which dates to 2015. It’s also expected that Microsoft will show some Snapdragon powered Windows devices, but those may be third party, not Surface machines.

Apple is racing to help things along for a second supplier of OLED screens. Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities estimates that those Samsung displays for the iPhone 8 or Edition are running around $120-$130 per handset for Apple….compared with about $45-$55 per phone they pay for the LCD screens on the iPhone 7 Plus! This is one of the major reasons analysts think the new hero iPhone will run around $1000. At any rate, we’ll know for sure what it will cost next week!