Aussies Ban 5G Tech From ZTE & Huawei; Androids Phone Home WAY More; Solid Guess- iPhone Rollout Day

The faster 5G networks will be showing up next year, but there won’t be any equipment from Huawei or ZTE used in Australia’s 5G networks. Techcrunch.com reports that the Australian government has banned use of equipment from those companies due to risks to national security. The US banned most Huawei and ZTE tech use by government agencies and contractors earlier this year.

ET may have phoned home, and all smartphones also do…but Android handsets do it a lot more. According to mashable.com, a Vanderbilt University professor named Douglas Schmidt did a study, and Android units ping Google nearly 10 times more than Apple’s iOS touches base. Most of Google’s data collection happens when the user isn’t directly engaged with any of it’s products, and according to Schmidt’s study, Google is able to de-anonymize such data. Hey, gotta target those ads somehow!

When will the new iPhones be shown, and when can you order one? Bgr.com is betting the rollout will be on September 12th, and the preorders will start on the 14th. This is also the date reliable Apple tout Ming-Chi Kuo sees, but now BGR says they have further indications. Apparently a number of Apple partners and 3rd party accessory makers have sent them pitches with embargoes of September 12th.

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Grocery Delivery Wars Heat UP; Facebook Must Drop Discriminatory Ad Filters; iOS Gains Share in US

Amazon and Walmart have ratcheted the grocery delivery wars up another notch. Amazon is bringing delivery via Whole Foods to new markets in New York and Florida…including New York City and Miami. Techcrunch.com says Walmart is expanding in the LA area to Glendora, Baldwin Park, Garden Grove, Rosemead, Pico Rivera, Foothill Ranch, Santa Clarita…and San Diego. They expect to be live in 100 metros by year end. In the New York City area, Amazon is delivering through Whole Foods in Manhattan and Brooklyn…plus adding Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach on top of Miami. Amazon is now in 19 metro markets.

Facebook has caved to Washington state pressure, and will kill discriminatory ad filters. Arstechnica.com reports that the Washington Attorney General’s office has announced a legally binding plan to make the social media giant ‘make significant changes to its advertising platform by removing the ability of third-party advertisers to exclude ethnic and religious minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals, and other protected groups from seeing their ads.’

Apple may have been dinged this last year for softer than predicted iPhone X sales, but they still managed to grow significantly the last 90 days at the expense of Android. According to macrumors.com, iOS market share was up 5.9 points to 38.7% in the US. The secret sauce? Apple’s expanded offerings….much of the growth came via sales of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, not the pricier iPhone X. The iPhone X didn’t exactly fall off a cliff, though…it was the 4th best selling smartphone in the US the past 3 months. The tough part for Android makers is that Apple continues to get a lion’s share of profits on smartphones, even as they have less market share overall than Android.


Google Fined $5 Billion by EU; Prime Day Breaks Record; Instagram Testing Creep Removal Feature

The EU has fined Google a record $5 billion for breaking antitrust laws. The European Commission says Google abused its market dominance with Android in 3 key areas. Theverge.com says Google has bundled it’s search engine and Chrome apps into the OS, allegedly blocked phone makers from running forked versions of Android, and “made payments to certain large manufacturers and mobile network operators” to exclusively bundle the Google search app on handsets. The Commission demands that Google cease this conduct within 90 days. Google says it will appeal the decision and fine.

After the crashing problems of the first hour, never mind some striking workers in Germany, Amazon’s Prime Day once again was it’s biggest sales day in history by a wide margin. Yesterday’s Prime day exceeded Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and last year’s Prime Day, techcrunch.com reports. It is worth noting that this year, Prime Day ran 36 hours, and it was only 30 hours last year. Amazon hasn’t released precise numbers, but did say they sold over 100 million products and well exceeded $1 billion in sales.

Instagram is trialing a new feature with some public Android users that lets them manually remove followers without the followers getting notice. According to thenextweb.com, the only way you have been able to remove followers so far has been to block then unblock them, block them completely, or set the account to private. You can check to see if you are one of the users that is getting to test drive the feature by checking your followers list, and look for an icon with 3 vertical dots to the right of a user’s name. If it’s there, tap it, and a prompt pops up to remove them without letting them know.


iPhone X Made Bank in 4th Quarter; New iPhone SE Soon; Facebook’s EU Privacy Compliance; Company Using Facebook for Massive Facial Recognition Database

There has been so much coverage about what a big flop the iPhone X is…now, comes word that the flagship handset brought in 35% of total worldwide iPhone profits in the 4th quarter….and really only 2 months of that quarter! Macrumors.com reports that Counterpoint Research crunched the numbers, and also found that the handset generated five times the profit of over 600 Android OEMs that quarter! For comparison at Apple, the iPhone 8 brought in 19.1% of the profits, and the iPhone 8 Plus 15.2%.

The diminutive (by today’s standards) and dated iPhone SE only amounted to .9% of Apple’s iPhone profits in the 4th quarter last year, and now it looks like it will be getting a long-overdue refresh. According to bgr.com, Apple has registered a number of new model numbers for iPhones that will run iOS 11 with the EU and with Russia, which require them in advance. The smaller and less pricey iPhone may be out in May, or around WWDC in June. It will have greatly improved internals, but one rumor has it staying the same on the outside, with another indicating a brand new design. At any rate, we will know in a matter of weeks.

The EU’s new privacy regs go into place next month, and Facebook has released some details about how they will comply. 9to5google.com says the US will get a watered down version, as had been previously rumored. The GDPR….General Data Protection Regulation compliance makes Facebook ask users specifically to agree to a number of things, and is not allowed to present pre-selected defaults. Three key things they must ask are to chose whether or not you want them to use data from partners to show you ads, if you want Facebook to continue to let them use info you’ve shared about political, religious, or relationship info (hint: they will still have the data!), and lastly if you will allow them to use face recognition tech (like for tagging in photos.) These are such mild requirements, don’t expect much change in the ‘watered down’ US version!

If you thought the Cambridge Analytica scandal was creepy, you’ll love this…a surveillance company founded by former Israeli intelligence officers called Terrogence has been using social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube to build a giant facial-recognition database. Mashable.com reports they’ve been at this for five years! The database is part of their facial recognition service called Face-Int. Terrogence, and its parent company Verint supply intelligence tech to the US government including the NSA and the Navy. They would not disclose whether or not the US government utilizes their face database.


Android Apps Track Kids; Making Facebook Friends Portable; Amazon’s Choice Secrets; Mini Sega Genesis Coming

In the wake of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica flap, more people are becoming re-sensitized to their privacy…or lack of it. Bgr.com is pointing out that Google does a much better job of protecting privacy, but…and there’s always a but…with their third party apps, not so much. Researchers at the International Computer Science Institute have discovered thousands of Android apps that track young kids. In fact, the majority of 5855 of the most popular children’s apps were guilty of tracking in some manner. 19% of them collect personally identifiable information, while 66% transmit non-resettable persistent identifiers that negate the privacy preserving properties of the advertising ID. So…those thousands of apps are free, except for the data they steal to serve targeted ads to your kids. What a deal! ‘OK, Google! Fix this!’

Some people are leaving Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica mess…I count 31 that have bailed or deactivated on my friends list. For me, the horse got out of the barn a long time ago, so it seems a bit late to leave when you’re privacy has been violated continuously for 8 or 10 years. TechCrunch.com notes that you can download your facebook info, including your friends list…but it’s just a text list…you can’t easily take it to a competing platform. It’s just not going to work having to type them all in, or letting another platform use your email list and keep sending out pestering email to your friends. If people want the government to regulate Facebook as a utility, being able to export your friends list in a useable form to port them to another platform would be a great start. Meanwhile, we’ve speculated that somewhere, some brilliant geeks are working on programming to do it whether Facebook likes it or not. Whatever platform gets that kind of feature first will have a hell of a leg up in giving Facebook some real competition.

What kind of magic formula does Amazon use to give a product the Amazon’s Choice designation? No one has had a clue…until now. Geekwire.com reports that the online giant has started placing a ‘why we like this product’ link next to the Amazon’s Choice logo. If you click it, it will give you 3 specific reasons Amazon has awarded the Choice designator to that particular product. Some of the criteria seem heavily skewed towards highly rated, but also seen have been low return rate and popularity in Amazon search results. At least it’s a peek behind the curtain. So far, all the factors seem to be ones that lend themselves to a high degree of automation..hey, it IS Amazon!

Having purchased probably every system Sega ever made for a certain family member (which paid off in a way…he now works for a game company), I was interested to see that Sega is probably going to bring out a Sega MegaDrive Mini later this year. Cnet.com says the little box has just rolled out in Japan to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the system (MegaDrive was the original name for the system.) Now, a number of reports are surfacing saying the diminutive Genesis will e hitting the US later this year. It appears that Sega is presently asking users to let them know what classic games they want pre-loaded onto the system. Apparently the system will feature both Japanese and English voiceovers, and choice of classic or modern controls.


Apple News- Phone Screens & New AI Head; Facebook Privacy Standards; Parallel Reality Tech ‘Magic Pixels’

Apple is reportedly working on some wild ideas for future iPhones. Bloomberg.com reports that two ideas Cupertino is pursuing include touches gesture control, and curved screens….but different from those of Samsung. The control feature would let users interact in some ways by moving a finger near the screen, without actually touching it. This possible feature is a couple years away, if they go through with it. The curved screen curves inward gradually from top to bottom. There was no info on how this type of curve might help the user.

Apple also lured away Google’s Chief of Search and Artificial Intelligence. John Giannandrea will oversee Apple’s machine learning and AI strategy, and will report directly to CEO Tim Cook. One major item on his to-do list: Make Siri work better!

The word is out that Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress next week, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data mess, and the Android phones tracking calls and texts. Now, we’ve all heard that Facebook was putting in new privacy standards, which it should. The bad news? According to 9to5google.com, the gold standard privacy protection European Union users will get WON’T be extended to the US! The social media giant only says they will do something ‘in the same general direction.’ Facebook has made it easier to remove apps, though. You could always do this, but had to jump through hoops. Now, you merely click each app you want to remove, and hit the Remove button to delete them.

A Redmond, WA company has given a peek into the future of what they’re creating, and it’s pretty amazing. Misapplied Sciences was started by former Microsoft and Disney geniuses. Geekwire.com says the tech will…for example…allow you to be walking along in an airport, look up at the screen to find your gate, and only see YOUR gate info! Others walking along will only see their info. There’s no smoke, but mirrors are involved in what they call ‘parallel reality’ display technology. They have developed a ‘multi’view’ pixel, which can send different colors of light in up to millions of directions. No goofy looking (sorry, Disney) goggles or glasses are required!


Waymo’s Jaguar Deal; Facebook Speaker Delayed; President Criticizes Amazon

When you call a self-driving e-car, sometimes you may want to go posh. At least Waymo thinks so. Apparently, their latest partner for their autonomous taxi fleet is Jaguar. Jag’s new BEV–…battery electric vehicle, goes on sale later this year, and Waymo has ordered a whopping 20,000 of the classy e-cars with their I-Pace self driving system. The sensors will be built right into the Jags at the factory in Graz, Austria. Waymo says they want to give users a choice…, so will continue to run the Chrysler Pacifica vans, and add in the Jaguar I-Pace BEVs in 2020, with the full fleet of Jags on the roads by 2022. 

In the aftermath of Facebook’s frankly terrible couple of weeks with the Cambridge Analytica data mis-use disclosure, followed by the discovery that they had been logging call and text data from Android phones for years, Facebook has postponed release of their connected speaker. Originally, it was thought that the new gadget would roll out at their developer conference F8 May 1st, and be available to buyers this fall, but now the connected speaker will debut late in the year. The Facebook speaker will reportedly not only have voice control, but also video chat capability.  Continuing damage control, Facebook has now introduced a new privacy shortcuts menu, simplified shortcuts menu on mobile, and tools to find, download, and delete your Facebook data. 

While Congress is digging into Facebook and their data use or mis-use,  the president is more obsessed with Amazon. Axios is reporting that he is concerned with both the online giant’s tax treatment, and the fact that they are hurting brick and mortar stores and malls. Another thing that disturbs the Chief Executive is Amazon’s so-called ‘cushy deal’ with the US Postal Service. There has been some pushback on the latter, as the Post Office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon. There isn’t much question that Amazon has taken a big bite out of brick and mortar retailers, and that the US Treasury would benefit if Amazon collected and paid in sales tax the way physical stores all do. So far, there’s no plan from the White House dealing with these issues, but they are on Trump’s radar. Amazon stock was down as much as 7%, or 52 billion, after this report came out. In other words, it dropped 5 times more than than the president has claimed he was worth.