Apple Watch Will Have LTE & Non-LTE; Apple HomePod Short Supply at Launch; Google Paid Billions to Be Default Search on iPhone; Amazon Instant Pick Up

The Apple Watch 3 may finally have what it takes to be a must have device…it may get LTE connectivity, so it wouldn’t have to be tethered to an iPhone in order to use most features. 9to5mac.com says that generally reliable KGI Securities is predicting that the smart watch will ship in both LTE and non-LTE models. They also say that…contrary to other rumors, it won’t have a different form factor, and will look much the same as the current models. It will NOT work on 3G-only on LTE, but should work on all 4 US carriers anyway. Since cellular activity is a huge battery suck, don’t expect to totally ditch your iPhone and go total Dick Tracy…but it will be handy for runners and bikers who need to call or text, and streaming music, or for those times you are downstairs and the phone rings upstairs.

Inventec Appliances has been rumored to be supplying the HomePod to Apple, and they have noted that revenue from a smart home device (not mentioning HomePod, which would irritate famously secretive Apple) would be fairly limited this year. Macrumors.com reports that one analyst thinks that the HomePod…which ships in December….will only land in about 500,000 homes that month. In 2018, Foxconn will also start building the Apple smart speaker, which will boost supplies.

It’s apparently worth a buck or two for Google to remain the default search engine on iPhone and iPad. According to businessinsider.com, they may have paid Apple 3 billion dollars for the privilege. Researchers crunched the numbers, and with this tithe, Google may be providing 5% of Apple’s total operating profit for the year! Services now account for 13% of Apple’s total revenue, including fees from software sold on the App store and subscriptions to Apple Music.

In an announcement that sounds suspiciously like retail, only with lockers and no check out, Cnet.com says Amazon is rolling out Amazon Instant Pick Up. There are initially 5 locations in Atlanta, LA, Berkeley, College Park, Maryland, and Columbus, OH, and utilize spots Amazon already built for deliveries to campuses. Small warehouses live behind the lockers, and you can order hundreds of items by app, and pick them up. Snacks, cold drinks, personal care items, and Amazon devices are included. They can be ready in as little as 2 minutes! There will be up to 22 of these locations in the next few months.


Galaxy Note 8 To One Up iPhone 7 Plus Cams; Flash will (Finally) Go Bye-Bye; Roku Bests Chromecast in Users

The Galaxy Note 8 may be about to better the flagship feature on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus…the dual lens camera. Bgr.com reports that Samsung wanted to put the feature on the Galaxy S8, but instead opted for the Note. Like with Apple, the Note will have a regular and telephoto lens. Samsung will have a 3x optical zoom on the Note, where Apple only has 2x, and will include optical image stabilization on the telephoto as well as main lens, which Apple doesn’t. They also are making the wide angle lens 13 megapixel, while Apple shoots with 12 megapixels on both lenses…a negligible difference, but enough to tout as a feature.

It’s been a long, slow death, but Adobe is finally pulling the plug on Flash, probably the most frequently compromised software on anyone’s computer. Mashable.com says it won’t happen until 2020, but at least there is an end date to the problematic software that Steve Jobs panned back in 2009! Most all major browsers support HTML5, and many disable Flash Player by default already. Bye, Flash…we won’t miss you.

According to info from eMarketer picked up by recode.net, Roku pulls in around 40 million people in the US per month. This gives them 23% of connected TV users, easing past Google’s Chromecast with 22% and Amazon Fire TV with 21. Apple TV is an anemic 7%. The big number is 37%….that’s how many just watch via smart TVs. Mine isn’t even all that new, but has dedicated Netflix and Amazon buttons on the remote, and was dead simple to set up.


Facebook Working on Smart Speaker & Picks up Content Creator Pay Startup; Google Adds Real-Time SOS for Search and Maps; 11 More Smartphones Will be Daydream VR Compatible; Prescription Video Games Coming

Last week, we heard that Samsung was abandoning plans to make a smart speaker…a market dominated by Amazon and with Google in it and Apple planning a Christmas release of the HomePod. Now, businessinsider.com says Facebook is working on a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s that will bow in 2018. It will feature a 15 inch touchscreen, is being designed by Facebook, and will be built for them by Pegatron.

The social giant has picked up a startup which will help it crack down on users that share pirated videos and other content without permission. According to recode.net, it’s Source3. Facebook already has had Rights Manager for a couple years. It’s similar to YouTube’s Content ID. Facebook has wanted to host lots more professional video, but publishers are reluctant to provide them when they think they won’t be paid.

Google is launching a new feature called SOS Alerts, that will work with Search and Maps. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s designed to keep users safe, and will feature emergency hotlines and websites, and even translations of useful phrases. They are partnering with Red Cross and FEMA to help with keeping users abreast of emergency situations and providing safety info to them.

Of course, you may be a bit dialed out of the reality of an emergency if you are wearing a VR headset, but that’s the wave of the future. Google says it’s adding 11 more Daydream VR compatible phones by the end of this year. Pixel, Moto Z, and others are already compatible, according to 9to5google.com, but Huawei and Samsung will join the party, as well as HTC.

Hey, Doc, I need to play more video games…will you write me a prescription? Actually, so-called ‘brain training’ games have been out there, but not without controversy. Some say they really don’t work or work much. Now, theverge.com says a company called Akili is partnering with UCSF’s Neuroscape lab to develop a mobile game called Project:EVO. They aim to get it up to speed for FDA approval to be used to treat kids with ADHD! Clinical trials have already started. It’s not a sure thing, but prescription video games could actually be coming!


Samsung Backs Away From Smart Speakers; Microsoft Reveals Cortana Controlled Thermostat; Sears Rolls Out Alexa Powered Appliances on Amazon

We had reported, along with numerous others, that Samsung was working on a Bixby powered smart speaker to compete with Amazon’s, Google’s, and the upcoming Apple one. Now, thenextweb.com reports that Samsung has suddenly decided they are not marketable, with the dominance of Amazon, and Apple waiting in the Wings. Meanwhile, Global Market Insights predicts that the smart speaker market will grow to $13 billion by 2024. Almost half of smart speaker owners buy an additional one for their homes.

Microsoft has rolled out a great looking IOT thermostat today called GLAS. It’s made for them by Johnson Controls. According to theverge.com, it runs Windows 10 IoT Core, and has Cortana built in. Microsoft says it will detect if you are in the room or not, and also continuously monitor air quality inside and outside. Microsoft plans to add other appliances that will run their system and use Cortana.

Meanwhile, struggling retail giant Sears, which for decades had huge market share in appliances with its Kenmore brand, has started selling Alexa powered appliances via Amazon. Techcrunch.com says the retailer will bake in Alexa to air conditioners in addition to the expected refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers. You will e able to yell at Alexa to turn the AC up or down from your couch!


Galaxy S8 BOGO; $99 AR Headset for iPhone 7 Coming; Amazon-Made Meal Kits to Your Door

Have I got a deal for you! Well, actually, I don’t, but Samsung sure does. Starting today, on their website, and in the Shop Samsung app, you can buy a new Galaxy S8 and trade in your old phone, and get a 2nd S8 for FREE! Want an S8+? No problem, you can get that one with your qualifying trade in and $100! Bgr.com says it’s good on every major carrier, and they have a 24 month payment plan..better than the carrier plans, because it’s no money down.

You’ve been able to get Google Cardboard and get your feet wet with augmented reality for some time now…but if you have an iPhone, you’ve been out of luck. That is changing. 9to5mac.com reports that an LA based startup is getting ready to release the Mira Prism. It’s a $99 headset with a slot for an iPhone 7. Instead of popping the phone in a slot in front of you, the phone goes in a slot above, and you see the AR elements along with the rest of the world through a plastic visor in front of your eyes. It’s cheap and simple.just slide the phone into the Prism headset, fire up the app, and away you go! There’s even a spectator mode, to allow a friend to watch your AR experience on their own phone or tablet. You can preorder on the Mira website.

Amazon continues to eat the world…and this time, you can join in the eating! Amazon made meal kits could be on the way to your doorstep soon! According to arstechnica.com, the online giant has filed a trademark for a meal kit service with the tag line ‘We do the prep. You be the chef.’ They look to sell the kits through Amazon Fresh, their online grocery ordering and delivery service. Amazon Fresh already has meal kits from Tyson Foods and Martha Stewart. Blue Apron stock dropped 10% when the news came out, even though no start date has been announced by Amazon.


Not Charmin, But You’ll Want to Squeeze Google Pixel 2; Amazon Partners Sell 40 Million Items Prime Day; Apple Teases New Emoji for iOS and macOS

Mr. Whipple might not buy one, but you may want to buy and squeeze a Google Pixel 2. Cnet.com says it will have a squeezable frame. Frame squeezes activate a feature or launch a specific app. The HTC U11— out now—already has this feature. You can configure it to launch the app or shortcut of your choice. One potential issue…how will the feature respond with a very protective case like an Otterbox? Some folks have saved at least hundreds in phone damage with such cases, and may not be ready to give up that protection for a cool new feature.

Amazon has announced that small businesses sold 40 million items this Prime Day. That’s up from 20 million last year. According to geekwire.com, this Prime Day was Amazon’s biggest shopping event of all time…well, maybe until next Prime Day!

Apple is teasing new emoji that will be released with iOS, macOS, and WatchOs later this year. Macrumors.com reports we can expect them with the public launch of the updated systems later this fall. All of the new Apple emoji are in the new Unicode 10 standard that bowed in June. I particularly look forward to the new barfing emoji and the head exploding one!


Galaxy Note 8 Unveil Date; Google Pixel 2; Apple Races to Fix Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 8, Amazon’s Biggest Prime Day

Despite the tendency to flame out, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was so loved that it seemed the company was going to have to pry recalled models from the smoldering fingers of owners. The replacement Note 8 is supposed to be a hot seller, but not hot in the way the 7 was, thankfully! 9to5google.com says we can expect to see it revealed August 23rd in New York City. Samsung is wanting to push the early launch date to take advantage of a rumored delay for the Apple iPhone 8.

The latest leak and renders show a great looking Google Pixel 2 phone, with a big camera lens and slimmer bezels. Arstechinica.com reports that it is being built by LG, and is code named Taimen. It has a 6 inch AMOLED screen, up from the present model’s 5.7 incher. The back is now mostly metal, with just a small glass window, which should make it less prone to shattering when dropped. The phone has squeezable sides, which may activate the Google Assistant and launch apps.

Rumors are all over the place on the iPhone 8…it won’t have a fingerprint sensor at all, it will, but on the back, it’s under the screen. Apparently, Apple is having issues with the under screen sensor, and if they don’t get things resolved it may delay release of the new hero handset. Although KGI Securities and Bloomberg say Apple may phase out the sensor in favor of facial recognition, this seems unlikely, as it would rattle financial institutions. They will probably have to stick with the fingerprint reader until they can assure all that the facial scanner is secure. If Apple can’t get the sensor to work well by August, the iPhone 8 won’t be in volume production until late October or November.

Amazon’s Prime Day is in the history books, and the 30 hour ‘day’ is the biggest shopping day they have ever had, blowing past the last Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. According to businessinsider.com, Amazon said sales were up 60% in preliminary figures. No word on how many new signups they got for Prime as yet. Best selling deal was the reduced price Echo Dot with Alexa. Besides Amazon gadgets, most popular items in the US were an Instant Pot pressure cooker and an 23andMe DNA test.