Alexa for Business; Automation vs Jobs; iPhone Batteries Getting Apple Power Management; Smart Wearables Starting to Take Off

Amazon is apparently gearing up to release a version of Alexa for business. More could be out later today at the Amazon Web Services re:Invent meetings. A CNBC report picked up by Geekwire.com says the release would focus on features and skills for workers and businesses. One tricky issue still being navigated is how to authenticate who is speaking so access can be granted based on their permissions.

On a related topic, there’s a new report out that sees up to 375 million workers displaced by AI, robots, or some other form of automation by 2030! The report was produced by the McKinsey Global Institute, which notes that displaced doesn’t mean REplaced. Some will be, but many will add new job skills…others will need to switch occupations. Full employment will be more difficult to attain. The report says what it calls ‘predictable physical work,’ including dish washing, food preparation, and protective services, will take the biggest hit. Demand will increase in India and Mexico, but the US might see 31% less jobs!

Apple is busily working on its own power management chips for iPhone batteries. According to macrumors.com, they could be out in phones in 2 years, and will give users better battery life. Cupertino could replace half the main power management chips in iPhones as soon as next year, but it might be 2019 before they are being built into all Apple mobile devices.

After a very slow start, smart wearables are beginning to take off. Cnet.com reports that global shipments of wearables hit 26.3 million devices in the third quarter of this year, up 7.3%. Most of the growth is in smart wearables…those that can run third party apps. In fact, basic wearables actually declined, but smart watches like the Apple Watch and Android Wear increased by 60%. Fitbit and Xiaomi tied for 1st place in the market, with the Apple Watch third.

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Apple Push on AR Headset iPhone Replacement; Harry Potter AR Game; Facebook Working on Anti-Revenge Porn System

We commented recently that AR- augmented reality and AI-artificial intelligence, will be the next really big thing. Now, word is from bloomberg.com that Apple is working on a breakthrough product to replace the iPhone. It’s an AR headset that could be in customer hands (or more to the point, on their faces) by 2020. That’s only 3 years away, kids! The device will have its own display and run on its own chip and operating system. The whole project is spread over several Apple facilities and code named T288. It builds on the ‘system-on-a-package’ concept of the also small Apple Watch. Not mentioned is how Apple will deal with powering the device…the Apple Watch can easily run all day, but only for an hour when talking on LTE. Streaming video overlays along with live visuals through the glasses won’t exactly be thrifty when it comes to battery use!

Staying with AR, Niantic’s follow up game to the wildly successful Pokemon Go will be a Harry Potter AR game. According to techcrunch.com, it will be out next year. No precise time frame, but the game is expected to let users roam their real surroundings in search of Potter items, casting spells, and fighting villains.

Facebook is working on a system to combat revenge porn. That’s a great idea, but with a catch…9to5google.com says you have to upload your nudes to Facebook…what could possibly go wrong? The idea is that FB would create an encrypted version of the raw data in the image file…if an EX tries to upload a file with that data, it’s blocked. You still have to send the nude to yourself in Messenger…which means people with stupid, simple passwords (lots of them) and people who can be Phished would be vulnerable. No word on how the system would work on altered photos…like the EX pulling the nude of you out of the pic and Photoshopping it into another background or just grabbing (the naughty) parts and posting them, which might show up as different data. Let’s hope Facebook thinks this all through…it’s being trialled in Australia and 3 other countries right now.


Google Tested a Pixel 2 Wake to Shoot Feature; Broadcom Offers to Buy Qualcomm; Foxconn Added as Apple Watch Supplier; Tesla Invite To Truck Reveal is Out

It hasn’t been activated yet, but 9to5google.com has discovered a wake to shoot gesture that activates the camera. Basically, when you pick it up and hold it in either landscape or portrait picture mode, the camera app opens. It will work whether the phone is asleep or locked. The feature requires specific hardware. It’s not known if Google has held off due to concerns of launching the cam by mistake or couldn’t finish some work before launch, but let’s hope it comes in the future!

An offer is in the works that will be the biggest tech deal ever. Broadcom has proposed buying rival Qualcomm for $130 billion. According to businessinsider.com, this would make Broadcom the third largest maker of chips and components for smartphones behind Intel and Samsung. It also might make the Qualcomm vs Apple lawsuit go away. As we reported last week, Apple is looking at ditching Qualcomm completely over that, and Apple is one of Qualcomm’s biggest customers that throws off most of the modem division’s revenue. The merger would have to be approved by shareholders and the Department of Justice due to antitrust concerns.

Foxconn is apparently supplying System in Package tech for Apple Watch next year. 9to5mac.com reports that Quanta Computer was the original sole assembler of the smartwatch, and Apple added Compal Electronics this year, but only for older generation watches. Like many huge companies, Apple likes to have 2 or more suppliers for major components, to avoid getting gouged on price and unexpected supply chain jam ups.

The invite is out, and so’s the date. Tesla will preview its electric big rig on November 16th, in Hawthorne, CA. at 7 in the evening. Cnet.com notes that the twilight shot of the truck is from the right front quarter…the only other tease pic we’ve seen was from the front…yep…it just looks like the outline of a more zoomy big rig.


Apple-stravaganza; Electrifying Car News; GM’s 1st Self-Driver Ready For Production

Apple Watch will have cellular, and use the same # as your phone, as predicted. It will stream music starting in October. It sports a faster processor, Bluetooth and WiFi, and an improved heart monitor. The screen is the antenna! Orders open on September 15th, it’s available September 22nd. Starting price with cellular is $399! WiFi only starts at $329, and the Series 1 stays at $249.

iPhone 8 will be the name of the two incremental upgrades, as leaked. Glass backed reinforced by steel. They are adding True Tone (from iPad) to the Retina displays. The chip is A11 ‘Bionic.’ Ok, go ahead and laugh…I did. 2 performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores, all 6 can run at once, making the phone blazingly fast. They have the 1st Apple designed GPU. Cameras have been upgraded, as expected. The Portrait mode gets special lighting for the iPhone 8 Plus. The video has been upgraded, too. The 8 will be calibrated for AR. The 6 processors will come in handy for augmented reality. Apple iPhones FINALLY gets wireless charging, with the Qi standard. They will be 64 and 256 gigs. They will start at $699 for the 8 and $799 for the Plus.

The iPhone X (which they pronounce ten) looks essentially exactly like the leaks. Surgical grade stainless steel bands, with glass back like the 8. Two colors only….Space Gray and Silver. They are calling it the Super Retina display. It’s edge to edge, 5.8” diagonally. 458 ppi, highest pixel count ever for iPhone, and the predicted OLED screen. They have managed to get True Tone color into it, and it will continue 3D Touch for the screen.

The phone will raise to wake, but you can also just tap the screen to wake it. Swipe up from the bottom, and you go from lock screen to home screen. Swipe up and pause for a second, and it goes to multitasking. You can activate Siri with ‘Hey, Siri,’ or the longer power button. It will have Face ID…it unlocks by just looking at it, again, as predicted. 6 sensors in the band that intrudes into the top of the screen calculate that it’s you. A dot projector puts 30,000 little points on your face to ascertain that it’s actually you…it won’t be fooled by a picture or statue. They call the chip that runs this the A11 Bionic Neural engine. They claim Touch ID could be spoofed 1 in 50,000, and that with Face ID that goes to 1 in 100,000. For Apple Pay, double tap side button and look at phone, then hold by the terminal.

They demoed the Animoji which were rumored…emoji you control with your facial expressions. Very cool demo. The 1st release will have a dozen Animoji. With apps, when you close it, just swipe up, and it dissolves and parks back in the icon. Swipe down from the top and bring up your control center.

Dual 12MP camera on the X Plus. The f2.4 is faster on the X. It also has dual image stabilization, which will be cool, and Portrait Mode on the front cam as well as the back. It has a Quad LED True Tone flash. They claim zero shutter lag. The cams are tuned for augmented reality. They have increased battery life 2 hours over the 7. The X will have Qi charging like the 8 models. They are bringing out a bigger wireless charging pad that will charge the iPhone 8 or X, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time. They call it Air Power…the charger is out next year.

Like the 8 models, the X will come in 64 and 256 gigs. Pricing starts at $999. Available for preorder on October 27th, and the X ships on November 3rd.

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No, Apple hasn’t sucked quite ALL the air out of the room today!

Yesterday, Mercedes-Benz revealed they would have an electric or hybrid available in eery model by 2022. Now, according to arstechnica.com, Volkswagen Group will electrify ALL 12 brands by 2030! Like Mercedes, Volvo, and Jaguar-Land Rover, this doesn’t mean they will quit making internal combustion engine cars all together by that date, but VW is the biggest volume auto maker to commit to this. The CEO says they’ve seen the future, it’s electric, and they are driving us there! 30 will be plug in hybrids and 50 will will be battery EVs…that’s 80 different electrified models.

There’s a BIG reason so many car makers are looking to electrics. While France and Britain are indicating an endtime for internal combustion vehicles by 2040, the big reason is China… the biggest vehicle market in the world. The Guardian says China is poised to ban gas and diesel cars ‘in the near future.’

Meanwhile, General Motors has thrown down the self-driving gauntlet. According to businessinsider.com, their first self-driving car is ready for production. The GM owned Cruise automation says as soon as federal and state regulators get things together, they can start cranking out the cars…in the hundreds of thousands! The first model is based around the electric Chevy Bolt.


iPhone Details Revealed with iOS Gold Master Leak; Mercedes Goes Big With Electrics; Tesla Expands Supercharger Net; No Stoner Drones in CA

Someone at Apple leaked the Gold Master version of iOS 11 over the weekend, and many details are out about the new iPhones and more. 9to5mac.com says the iPhone X will have wireless charging for sure, Face ID looks to replace Touch ID, the camera gets special flash options for portrait mode, and it all runs on an A11 6 core processor. Two are high power and 4 low power, and all can run at the same time, which will blow away all Android devices out there. A new feature for the X are 3D animations called ‘Animoji,’ that will mimic your expressions using the 3D sensors. The iPhone 8 models will also run 4K video at 60 FPS, and Portrait Lighting will also be included on the 8 models. Of course, it’s still possible that Tim Cook and company have a couple things up their sleeves for tomorrow…the show gets underway at 10am Pacific. Some analysts say if the X model is $999, only 20% will upgrade, but others look for 40% to make the jump.

Also revealed in the OS 11 leak….there will be an LTE Apple Watch for sure. Instructions have been found for pairing it and activating it. It will use the same number as your iPhone, but can be used independently…say, if you are on a run and want to stream music or take a call, but don’t want to schlep your phone along. No details on how much additional the carriers will charge.

The folks who gave us the car, Daimler, are saying Mercedes-Benz will offer electric versions of all models by 2022. Reuters quotes CEO Dieter Zetche (he of the magnificent mustache) on this. This means there will be at least 50 Mercedes that are either hybrid or fully electric within 4 model years!

On the topic of electrics, Tesla has announced that they are adding to their supply of Superchargers. According to techcrunch.com, instead of the freeway system stations, they are focusing on populated city centers…in this case Chicago and Boston. The new chargers are built out so that multiple cars can tap into the same Supercharger without downgrade in charging rate…that should give a full charge in 45-50 minutes! The new chargers are physically smaller, which will help for installations in parking garages.

This story is a big downer, man. Thenextweb.com reports that California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has explicitly forbidden dispensaries from delivering pot to customers by drone. Drivers can deliver, so long as they don’t leave unattended pot in vehicles. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive or walk to your local dispensary in order to fly high!


iPhone Day September 12th; Galaxy Note 8- Record Bright Screen; New From Fitbit; Expedia CEO to Helm Uber

Multiple sources, notably the Wall St. Journal, say Apple will roll out its updated handsets, included the widely anticipated iPhone 8 on September 12th. A lot of details are already known, including wireless charging. Now, it appears Apple’s iPhone 8 and the upgraded 7’s will only support the slower wireless charging standard from Qi. If rumors are true, pre-orders will start September 15th, and phones will be out the 22nd. Apple will also drop new Apple Watch models and a 4K capable Apple TV.

Some reports in the last week have snorted that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 isn’t much of an improvement over the 7, or the S8 models. After some testing, 9to5google.com reports that the screen brightness is 22% better than on the Galaxy S8. Tests were run by DisplayMate. The phablet is not only that much brighter than the S8, it is nearly TWICE as bright as Apple’s iPhone 7!

Fitbit has released 3 new products. According to businessinsider.com, they are a new smartwatch called the Ionic, the Fitbit Flyer, their first ever wireless headphones, and the Aria 2, a redesigned of their Wi-Fi scale. The ionic smartwatch features 4 day battery life, GPS, water resistance to 50 meters, better heart rate tracking, in-device music storage, and contactless payments. Three colors are available: Silver Gray, Smoke Gray, and Burnt Orange. All are available with interchangeable leather and sport bands. The watches start at $299.95.
The Flyer wireless headphones are of the type with interconnecting wire between, reside in-ear, and are sweat proof. They connect with the Ionic watch, so you can listen to up to 300 songs without having a smartphone along. Fitbit claims 6 hours of play time, and the tariff will be $129.95. Preorders open Monday, they’ll be in stores and online by October. They come in Lunar Gray and Nightfall Blue.

Nope. Not Jeff Immelt. Not Meg Whitman, either. Uber will be helmed by Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Recode.net says the board has voted on what Recode calls the ‘truce’ choice for the board, which has been squabbling about ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and investor Benchmark. Benchmark had backed Meg, while Kalanick pulled for Immelt.


iPhone Rollout Date; Google Pixel Reveal Date; Samsung’s Echo to the Echo

The highly anticipated (and even more highly hyped) iPhone 8 will roll out on September 12th. Techcrunch.com reports that the date was confirmed by rooting around with the telecom companies and finding that Apple plans a press event for that date. If the usual format since 2012 is followed, the phone should be on sale a week later on September 22nd. Multiple sources have cautioned that the iPhone 8 will be in extremely tight supply until close to the holidays.It’s expected that the upgraded Apple Watch 3 will drop with the iPhone, and of course the next version of the OS, iOS 11.

Google will unveil the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL on October 5th, according to android police.com. The next gen phones will be powered by Snapdragon 836 chips. All rumors point to the XL just being a larger version of the 2. Both will have 4 gigs of RAM, dual front facing speakers, an always on display, and as we noted earlier, the feature Mr Whipple of Charmin would love, a squeezable frame to relay commands to the phone.

In a MSNBC interview, Samsung’s mobile division boss confirmed that they are working on a smart speaker…something previously defined. Engadget.com says it will be announced ‘soon,’ but probably not by next week’s IFA show. A smart speaker is a logical next move, since Samsung just expanded their Bixby voice assistant to over 200 countries this week. It’s expected that Bixby will be the ‘star feature’ of the Samsung smart feature.