Samsung Galaxy A9-1st Phone With 4 Rear Cams; Apple Buys into Dialog Semiconductor; PayPal Partners With Walmart; Apple Watch Could Solve Journo Mystery

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The Pixel 3 just bowed, with a single rear cam that does amazing things. Now, Samsung fires back, introducing the Galaxy A9, a so-called ‘midrange’ phone with FOUR rear shooters! engadget.com reports that each has a different function. There’s a 24 MP ‘main cam,’ another lens with a 5MP sensor that just grabs depth info for bokeh mode, a 10MP telephoto with 2x optical zoom, and an 8MP extra-wide angle lens, with 120 degree field of vision…nearly fisheye. For a mid-range phone, it’s not cheap…the A9 will launch in Britain next month for $724.

Apple is dropping $300 million of it’s giant wad of cash to buy part of Dialog Semiconductor. Cupertino is also spending another $300 million committing to further purchases from what remains of Dialog’s business. Dialog has been making parts for Apple since the 1st iPhone. Apple picks up about 300 employees, chipmaking capacity in Europe, and licensing of some of Dialog’s technology.

PayPal has partnered with Walmart to offer some financial services in-store, a first in brick and mortar for PayPal. Zdnet.com says people will be able to deposit and withdraw cash from their PayPal accounts inside Walmart stores. It will be a flat $3 service fee for cash in or cash out. In addition, PayPal Cash Mastercard customers can access their cash balance using Walmart Service Desks, ATMs, and cash registers. In the US, about 7% of households are unbanked, and some 24.5 million households are considering ‘underbanked’ by the FDIC. This move will be squarely aimed at that market.

There have been lots of rumors swirling since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi vanished from the Kingdom’s consulate in Turkey. Now, according to appleinsider.com, there might be a way to learn if he was actually killed inside, or spirited away back to Saudi Arabia or otherwise. The contributor to the Washington Post had worn his Apple Watch into the consulate, but handed his iPhone to his fiancee outside before going in. It’s possible that the Watch could have transmitted info showing his location and pulse to the phone’s health app. Turkish authorities say they don’t have the Watch or know which model it was, but are following this lead in an effort to determine what happened. The Turks claim he was murdered by a Saudi team who flew in for the purpose. The Saudis say he just walked right back out (but doesn’t seem to have been seen by anyone.) If alive, he may have been captured and taken back to Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the Watch health and location data will be able to crack the case.

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Amazon Announces $15 Minimum Wage; Tesla Model 3 Hits Numbers; Universities Go Contactless ID on iPhones; California’s Bot Law

Starting in November, all Amazon US employees will make at least $15 per hour. CNBC.com notes that the amazon announcement will cover some 250,000 staffers, including part time and temp employees, and even 100,000 seasonal employees. The online giant will also bump up some employees who are already making $15 per hour. Amazon is also going to start advocating for a federal minimum wage.

Tesla hit their Model 3 production goals for Q3, and the stock popped up over $300 per share. According to engadget.com, the electric car maker cranked out 80,142 vehicles in the third quarter, and 55,840 were Model 3’s. Most of the Model 3’s produced are dual motor, all-wheel drive…which are harder to produce, but vastly more popular.

In a move previewed at Apple’s WWDC this summer, the company has announced that students at 3 universities in the US can now add their student ID cards to Apple Wallet, and cruise around campus with only their iPhone or Apple Watch. Macrumors.com reports that the schools are Duke, University of Alabama, and University of Oklahoma. The gadgets have to be running iOS 12 in the case of phones, and Watch OS 5 for the Watches. They can use their phone or watch to pay for food or beverages in the student unions and cafeterias, and for access to dorms, the gyms, and libraries. Johns Hopkins, Santa Clara, and Temple will all add their school IDs to the Apple system by the end of this school year, too.

California has a new law that requires ‘bots’ to let you know they aren’t, in fact, people. Whether the automated accounts are trying to sell you stuff, influence you politically, or help you with customer service, NBC says the automated accounts have to disclose with ‘I am a bot’ or ‘Google Assistant, making calls on your behalf,’ or such. The real trick, of course, will be enforcing this against foreign ones like the army of Russian Twitter troll bot accounts. That may be the trick of the year!

Microsoft’s Surface event is at 4 ET, 1 Pacific today. We’ll have a recap later.


Uber Wants Waymo Self-Drivers On Network; WWDC Apple Watch Leak; Reddit Passes Up Facebook; WeChat China-Divorce by Button

At the Code Conference, Uber CEO Dara Khosroshahi revealed that Uber has been in discussions to have Waymo self-driving cars added to its network. This is somewhat remarkable considering the two companies are just coming off a legal battle over alleged trade-secret theft. Theverge.com reports that the Uber CEO also forces self driving tech as ‘a horizontal technology that should be available to everybody.’ He believes that it will be open to all via third party licensing. What about the drivers? Khosrowshahi says they think ‘machines augment humans’ and that ultimately their network will be a machine network and a human network together.

A cool little nugget has been revealed ahead of time that Apple had planned for WWDC. June is Pride Month, and Apple will unveil a special Pride watch face at noon Pacific right at the end of the World Wide Developers Conference keynote. Mashable.com reports that the colors of the rainbow flag are strings on the watch face, and you can interact with them, like strumming a guitar. The special face has two complication spots.

The Facebook/Cambridge Analytics may be hurting the social media platform more than first thought. According to thenextweb.com, Amazon’s Alexa web traffic analyzing platform has determined that Reddit has passed up Facebook as third most visited site in the US. This is probably as scientific as a Survey Monkey poll, but it still gives pause. Google is the top site, with YouTube second, then Reddit, Facebook, and Amazon. Interestingly, average Reddit users spend over 15 minutes a day on the platform, compared to Google with about 7 and a quarter minutes, YouTube 8-1/2 minutes, Facebook at almost 11 minutes, and Amazon just over 7-1/2 minutes.

In what may be the ultimate for a no-deposit, no-return society, people in China can now file for divorce with a button on the WeChat app! Businessinsider.com says the trial divorce function is available right now in th eGuangdong Province, home to cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Just click, enter info, and make an appointment for the local divorce registrar. Payments can also be handled through WeChat, but so far they haven’t opened it up to spousal support payments! WeChat has a billion active users globally.


Apple Cheaper iPad Freshen; Apple Watch Rumors, Foxconn Buys Belkin

Apple rolled out the expected updated cheaper iPad at their educational event in Chicago today, as they look to regain ground in the education market they once owned. The updated 9.7 inch tablet has Apple Pencil support, TouchID, and weighs a pound. Apple also announced new versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote that support the Pencil, noting that with Pages, a report could be written collaboratively…and later, teachers will be able to grade and mark them up right in the Pages document. Theverge.com notes that the iPad is priced at $329 for consumers, $299 for schools and is available today, shipping this week. In something of a preemptive strike, Google showed the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 yesterday. That tablet runs the Chrome OS natively and sells for…wait for it…$329!

With all the attention on the freshened up iPad, a new rumor has slipped out…this from KGI Securities about the Series 4 Apple Watch. 9to5mac.com reports the upcoming Watch will have a larger display, enhanced health monitoring, and longer battery life. According to Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI, the new Watch will have a 15% larger display. Up to now, all Apple watches have either been 38 or 42mm. So far, we don’t know if this will increase the size of the watch, or just make the display larger by reducing the bezels. The increase in battery capacity points to the actual Watch growing in size. This will be the first major re-design since the 1st Apple Watch came out.

Foxconn, which produces the bulk of Apple’s iPhones, in addition to numerous other electronic devices for Apple and for other brands, is buying peripheral maker Belkin for $866 million. You have probably bought Belkin accessories like chargers, cables, and screen protectors, and perhaps a Lynksys modem, which they also sell. This gives Foxconn more than a toehold…more like a large footprint…in the peripheral market. Chet Pipkin, founder and CEO of Belkin since starting it 35 years ago, will remain and run Belkin as a wholly owned subsidiary, and may join the Foxconn management team as well.


Apple Buys Texture; Fitbit Releases 2 New Models; Tesla Model 3 Production Pains

Apple has picked up Texture, the digital newsstand, focusing in on content ‘from trusted sources.’ Techcrunch.com says the so-called Netflix of Magazine Publishing will continue to operate as it has, offering some 200 magazines online for the monthly $9.99 fee. The service will continue to run on apps for iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle Fire, and Windows 8 and 10. Texture has been owned by Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers Media, and investment firm KKR.

Fitbit has rolled out a couple of new models. The Versa is positioned as an Apple Watch competitor, while the Ace is touted as being kid friendly. Macrumors.com reports that the Versa, which is more rounded at the corners than previous models, is the lightest metal smartwatch in the US…made of ultra-thin, anodized aluminum. It has a brighter touchscreen and battery that lasts over 4 days on a charge. The Ace looks like a slimmer Fitbit and band, and is for kids 8 and up. It will track steps, active minutes, and sleep on a 5 day battery charge. It works with a Fitbit family account, so parents can monitor and control what the kids connect with. It launches in Q2, but can be pre-ordered today for $99.95 from fitbit.com. The Versa ls also open for preorders at $199.95 at the website, and other online retailers by tomorrow.

Production of the Tesla Model 3 continues to sputter. The company shut down production February 20th to the 24th to ‘improve automation and systemically address bottlenecks,’ according to engadget.com. So much for 5,000 units per week in March. The new goal is 5,000 per week in June.


Lyft To Test Self-Driving Cars Outside Concord, CA; Tesla’s Nav-Maps Engine Nears Completion; United Healthcare Looks to Apple Watch

A number of auto manufacturers are already testing self-driving equipment at the old Concord Naval Weapons Station on the Northeast part of Concord, CA. Now, Lyft has joined the party, according to theverge.com. Lyft will be testing out its self-driving tech at the 5000 square foot proving area. Uber already has a leg up on them, having started testing on public streets in several US cities. Besides Concord, there are 9 other official autonomous vehicle proving ground locations around the country, and of course, the auto makers all have had their own proving grounds for decades. Self-driving cars will be here sooner than you think…trucks, too…as Tesla is hauling a couple loads of batteries from the Gigafactory in Northern Nevada to their plant in Fremont, CA right now.

Speaking of Tesla, the Muskman has now said that their navigation and maps engine, which he claims is ‘light years ahead’ of all the others, is nearly done. Electrek.co reports that a hacker was able to get into a site Tesla is using, and posted screen shots. The hacker, who goes by ‘verygreen,’ says it looks like Google Maps, but is smoother and more detailed. Expect the software to be pushed out the Tesla owners sooner, not later.

Another company has joined the growing group offering people Apple Watches in an effort to monitor and keep them healthy…and this one is a biggie. 9to5mac.com says United Healthcare will make it so customers can earn an Apple Watch 3 basically for free, and on top of that will let users earn up to $1000 towards medical bills after the cost of the wearable.


Amazon Buys Ring; Apple Watch Tracks Skiing & SnowBoarding; Cheaper Fitbit Coming; BMW Smartphone Car Key

Amazon has swallowed up Ring, the smart doorbell and video maker. Ring’s WiFi equipped doorbells with cam detect when there is someone at the door, and notify you via your smartphone or tablet, and allow talkback. Geekwire.com says Amazon claims it will let Ring operate pretty autonomously like they have done with Zappos and Twitch, but expect tighter integration with Alexa powered devices as the online giant moves further into IoT.

As of today, if you have an Apple Watch Series 3, you can track skiing and snowboarding activity. Macrumors.com reports that apps snoww, Slopes, Squaw Alpine, Snocru, and Ski Tracks have been updated to enable custom tracking of specialized metrics including: total vertical descent and horizontal distance, number of runs, average and maximum speeds, total time spent, and of course, calories burned. Right now the SkiTracks app is integrated with Activity and Workout, so it will show up as credit towards Activity rings, and Snowcru will port active calorie measurements to the Activity app. Besides a Series 3 watch with the altimeter function, you’ll need WatchOS 4.2 or later. The apps are in the App Store now.

Fitbit didn’t get the kind of sales they wanted with the $300 Ionic smartwatch when it came out last fall. Now, cnet.com says they are close to rolling out a lower priced watch. Leaked renderings show a more rounded case, and the lower line watch won’t have GPS, but will have 50 meter water resistance. The lower priced watch apparently looks a lot like the Pebble Time Steel, which Pebble was making before Fitbit bought them a couple years ago. No pricing or precise release date is out as yet.

BMW showed a smartphone enabled car locking and unlocking at Mobile World Congress this week. According to mashable.com, the BMW Digital Key will be available to owners with Samsung smartphones. Besides the lock function, you can start the car from the phone, and there’s a wireless charging pad. Apparently, up to 5 family members will be able to use the feature, as long as they are on Samsung phones. BTW, you will still need the physical key fob to drive…for now.