Samsung Folder-Massive Battery; Huawei Nova 4 Has 48 MP Cam; Apple Steals Top Tesla Designer; Google Dropping A Billion on NY Campus

More is seeping out about Samsung’s folding phone, after the brief and slight showing of it last month. Bgr.com says the Infinity Flex screen phone will have a crazy high price of $1700 or $1800 dollars, will run a Snapdragon 855, and have dual 12 MP cams, with an 8 MP selfie cam. There will be TWO battery cells, for a total capacity of 5,000 mAh or 6,000 mAh. The folder will be out next year, and analysts think that it might drop in price by 2022 to $1300…which will be the price of an iPhone by then!

With most of the news about their CFO being arrested in Canada, Huawei has rolled out a new phone that should grab headlines back for their actual business. Theverge.com reports that the Nova 4 features a 48-megapixel main camera with 3 lenses, and a ‘hole punch’ cut out for the front cam…which is a whopping 25 megapixels…on a selfie cam! Samsung has a similar ‘hole punch’ setup on the galaxy A8. The Nova 4 has a 6.4 inch display, 8 gigs of RAM, 128 gigs of storage, and a 3750 mAh battery. It will run about $490 in the US.

We’ve all heard for over a year that the Apple car…Project Titan, was dead, and that Apple was focusing on self-driving software and hardware for other cars. Now, that may be questioned a bit. According to macrumors.com, Cupertino has poached Andrew Kim, who reimagined Microsoft’s design language, then moved to Tesla in design. With Kim now at Apple Park, as well is Tesla’s chief vehicle engineer…who returned to Apple earlier this year. Kim had worked on the designs for the Models, 3, S, X, Y, the new Roadster V2, and the Semi.

With Amazon busily working on its two HQ2s outside D.C. and in NY, and Apple announcing a huge new billion dollar campus in Austin, TX, you knew Google couldn’t be sitting on their hands. Now, techcrunch.com says Google has announced it will pump a billion into setting up a campus at Hudson Square in New York. Google already has 7,000 located in NY, and this will double that over 10 years…in a 1.7 million square foot campus the company is touting as ‘the primary location’ for Google’s ‘Global Business Organization.’ The facility will be operational by 2020.


Probable Galaxy S10 Launch Date; Apple to Add Campus(es); Facebook Fact Check-Stunt? $100 Grand to Give Up Smartphone for a Year

The latest gaze into the crystal ball shows February 20th as the launch date for the Samsung Galaxy S10. 9to5google.com reports that the flat 5.8 inch screen S10 will run $1117 with 128 Gigs of storage. The standard S10 will come with 128 or 512 Gigs and they rill run $1334 and $1668 respectively. Oh…and if you go for the 1TB model, that one will be a wallet crushing $1750! 9to5google.com notes these probably aren’t the final US prices, but if they are, it appears that those tariffs are really taking a toll on consumer electronics!

All the time Amazon was playing cities off against each other for it’s HQ2…which turned out to be a couple of satellite HQs, Apple was looking in stealth mode. According to engadget.com, Apple will invest a billion dollars in a new campus in Austin, TX less than a mile from its existing facilities there. The 133 acre site will house 5,000 employees, with room to grow to 15,000. This would make Apple the biggest employer in Austin! They also plan to build out new sites in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City, CA, and expand in Pittsburg, New York, and Boulder, CO over the next 3 years! The new Austin site will have engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales, and customer support…and as with all Apple facilities it will be powered by 100% renewable energy!

Facebook is getting slammed again…this time by former and current fact-checkers for the social media giant. Businessinsider.com says the present and former employees claim that Facebook has been more interested in ‘crisis PR’ than in actually combatting the spread of fake news. A former managing editor of fact checking site Snopes also said that was what Facebook seemed to be using them for. They had partnered with Snopes the last coupe years. The editor, Brooke Bujnowski, no longer works at Snopes. She added “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care.”

News item: VitiminWater will pay you $100,000 to give up your smartphone for a full year. The fancy water purveyor will allow you to utilize a 2000s ear feature phone, however. To enter the contest, you have to post a photo to your Twitter or Instagram account, tag VitiminWater, and tell them why you need a break from your smartphone. You also have to tell them what you will do to survive or pass the time over that period of a year. Now, if Apple would just pay me $100,000 to give up VitiminWater, I’d be counting the money right now!


Apple Could Make More iPhones Outside of China; Intel’s New Sunny Cove Chips & Archetecture; Amazon NYC Warehouse Workers Push for Union; Top 10 2018 Google Searches

With the continued threat of higher tariffs from the Trump Administration, Apple is looking at moving more iPhone production out of China. Techcrunch.com says Apple is looking at more production in India, and in Brazil, where Foxconn has had a factory since 2011. If there ends up being a 10% tariff, Apple (through Foxconn) will probably stay with China. If the tariff hits 25%, Apple will say goodbye to production in China (with the exception of phones built for sale within China proper.)

Starting new year, Intel will release Core and Xeon chips with a new architecture…the add a number of instructions that accelerate frequently used workloads like cryptography and compression. Intel claims a 75% improvement in compression performance. Arstechnica.com reports that Sunny Cove chips will be built using the 10nm process. It is a derivation of Skylake, but can execute more instructions in parallel with lower latency.

In news that will give Jeff Bezos heartburn, Amazon workers in New York City are pushing to unionize. They are working with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, and according to the verge.com want to address safety concerns, long unpaid security checks, what they term unreasonable hourly quotas, and insufficient breaks. A leak recently of an anti-union training video Amazon made has increased interest. Among other things, the video encourages managers to express opinions like ‘Unions are lying, cheating rats.’ Even the raise to $15 per hour doesn’t begin to cover things for workers living in NYC, which is also true of other costly areas like Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Because we love lists, and think it gives us insight into what the collective of humanity is (or was) thinking about, here are the top 10 Google searches of 2018: #10 (imagine some echo on the numbers if you must) Kate Spade; at 9, Stephen Hawking; XXXTentacion was in the 8th slot; #7 Anthony Bourdain (note that all of these people had died); the #6 most searched was Meghan Markle; 5 actually wasn’t a person…it was ‘Black Panther’ the movie; Stan Lee was 4th; #3 was Mac Miller; in 2nd place was Avicii; and the top spot was the World Cup. Don’t you feel so much more informed?


Chinese Court Backs Qualcomm Over Apple; Google Pixel 3 XL Lite; First 350Kw EV Chargers Installed; Flying Car Market Could be $1.5 Trillion

Qualcomm has gotten an injunction against Apple in a Chinese court, banning Apple from importing older iPhones into China. Theverge.com reports that the order would affect the 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. Apple says it is still selling phones in China, and notes that iOS 12 (which is supported by all the phones blocked by the injunction) avoids the patent conflict. As new phones sold in China have this software or above, the ruling shouldn’t affect them at all. Qualcomm has been trying to ban Apple iPhones in China for over a year, as well as their attempt to ban the Apple handsets in the US (which has not been upheld by regulators.) The legal battle continues…and Qualcomm has already been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for abusing its modem monopoly in Taiwan and China. This court injunction gives Qualcomm more ammo in its claim that Apple has used its intellectual property without compensating them.

A new leak of pictures depicts Google’s ‘budget’ Pixel line. The Pixel 3 XL Lite will sport a 6 inch display and NO notch! The XL has a 5.5 inch display. Both handsets are expected to have plastic bodies, according to 9to5google.com, in keeping with the budget category. It appears that they may be powered by either a Snapdragon 670 or 710, and they sport a single rear cam. It’s unclear if they will have Google’s amazing photo software that lets the single cam phones compete with multi lens ones like Apple and Samsung have, but if so, and the price is enough lower, the ‘lite’ line could grab huge sales when it comes out.

Northern California now has some of the fastest electric vehicle chargers on the planet…even if no cars can use them yet! Engadget.com says Electrify America has installed two 350Kw chargers and eight that produce 150Kw at the Livermore Outlets, where there were already 20 Tesla Superchargers. The 350Kw chargers are expected to deliver 200 miles of range on a 10 minute charge. The Porsche Taycan will be able to use the high power stations, and will be on the market by 2020. Electrify America says its just getting ready for the future, with 17 other Simon outlet malls in California getting the high power chargers, and a number of others planned in other states.

We are still a ways away from George Jetson’s flying car that folds into a briefcase, but according to geekwire.com, Morgan Stanley has done a study that shows that autonomous flying cars…either air taxis or private vehicles, could be a $1.5 trillion dollar market by 2040! Both Boeing (through its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences) and Airbus are working on flying cars…with Airbus partnering with Vahana in Silicon Valley, Voom in Mexico and Brazil, and Audi. Lockheed Martin is also investing in eVTOL autonomous aircraft, and it looks like Northrop Grumman is jumping in, too. Raytheon and Harris are working on air traffic control tech. Morgan Stanley sees most of the money coming from transport of people, with only $413 billion from freight transportation.


Ultrasound Powered Qualcomm Fingerprint Sensor; Snapdragon 855; Google & Amazon Making AirPod Alternatives; Apple Adding Health Sensors to AirPods

Adding an extra layer to fingerprint sensor security, Qualcomm is baking in ultrasound to beef up its in-display fingerprint sensor. Engadget.com reports that the ultrasound will allow creation of a 3D mold of your finger, which will be much harder to copy. It will pick up on the ridges and even pores. As a bonus, the sensor should be able to tell it’s you, even though you still have a little of today’s lunch on your finger (wash up, you slob!) They didn’t allow testing at the demo, so we’ll have to wait to see how fast the new tech is.

Speaking of fast, Qualcomm also showed off its Snapdragon 855 at its event in Hawaii. According to 9to5google.com, the chip will power the 2019 flagship phones, including from Samsung. It will support multi-gigabit 5G, which also rolls out next year in a number of markets. Qualcomm says the chip has 3x the AI performance of last year’s chip.

It’s not that there aren’t already cheaper alternatives to Apple’s AirPods on the market, but a couple are coming from some heavyweights…Google and Amazon appear to be preparing to launch competitor products.

9to5mac.com says Apple isn’t exactly waiting around for the increased competition…they are working on more water resistance, support for Hey Siri, and interchangeability…so you could put one in an ear without checking to see if it’s Left or Right, and the AirPod would orient itself and the audio automatically. Apple is also expected to integrate health sensors into the next gen AirPods, and integrate the data with Apple Watch as well as the health app on iPhones. Well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says to look for Cupertino to sell 26-28 million sets this year, 50-55 million in 2019, and over 100 million in 2021.


Google Personalizes Search Even if Logged Out; Tesla Denies Leaked Model Y Schedule; Bose ‘Audio AR’ Sunglasses; Apple 10% Veteran & Military Discount

So…you’re searching incognito or logged out…think it keeps you anonymous, huh? Right. 9to5google.com is reporting that a study (disclosure: done by DuckDuckGo) shows that you can’t get around the so-called ‘filter bubble’ that Google applies to search just by logging out of your account or browsing incognito….in fact, not even by doing BOTH. The likely explanation is that by now, Google has so much data on you, that it can recognize you from a 3 key word search, and personalize the result to you! In the big picture of things, it may not really matter, but basically, you are never getting a 100% ‘neutral’ search result. Google said in a statement that search results can change ‘by the minute and sometimes even by the second,’ but had no comment about the personalization aspect.

Late yesterday, a story came out that Tesla would be building Model Y small SUVs at the Gigafactory in Nevada, and be producing 7,000 a month of them there by the end of 2020. Now, according to engadget.com, Tesla has denied this timeline, saying that the leaked information is outdated. The Model Y will probably be built there, and so will an additional Model 3 production line…that information is based on filings with the Chinese government included when Tesla filed to build a 2nd Gigafactory in Shanghai.

Bose is looking to make ‘AR audio’ sunglasses. No, not AR…audio only! Techcrunch.com says the shades would be intended to provide a more immersive audio experience…no head up display, or any display at all besides that which your eyeballs take in of the real world. The glasses will have a 9 axis head motion sensor and use the GPS of a tethered Android or iOS device, and will adjust the audio you hear based on those inputs. They do use small speaker grilles, not earbuds or bone conduction. Sound won’t be as immersive with the ambient noise around you, but it will be a lot safer crossing streets and such. The glasses/headset will be out in January at $199, with two styles available. Battery life is given at 3.5 hours on a charge with 12 hours standby.

Apple has just rolled out an online store that gives a 10% discount on ‘select products’ for active duty military and vets, along with members of their households. Macrumors.com reports that, for example, the iPhone XS is available at $899 ($100 bucks off), while the XR is priced at $674 (normally $749) at the regular Apple online store. Apple has had discount programs for years for educators, students, and government employees, but these discounts for active duty military and veterans exceeds those via the online educational store.


Samsung Will Have 5G Phone in 2019; Apple-All New AirPods, But No 5G Phone Until 2020; Amazon Testing King Sized Amazon Go Store

Samsung is partnering with Verizon to bring a 5G smartphone to the US in the middle of 2019! Cnet.com reports that they will show off a concept handset this week at the Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii. 5G is expected to significantly boost the speed, coverage, and responsiveness of wireless networks. Phones will upload and download data at anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than the 4G network we have today! Samsung has not said if the phone will be exclusive to Verizon, and did note that they will continue to work with other wireless partners.

Over at Apple, the word is that it will be at least 2020 before a 5G iPhone will be in peoples’ hands. According to macrumors.com, Apple will hold off a bit instead of being on the leading edge…which they have done before when new generations of wireless capability rolled out. Bloomberg points out that there has often been poor coverage when a new layer of connectivity rolls out, with phones often having to drop back to the old tech, or jumping back and forth between the two systems. Besides Samsung, Huawei and Oppo will also put out 5G smartphones next year…although neither of those two are really factors in the US market like Samsung is. Part of the delay for Apple may be the ongoing litigation with Qualcomm. Apple is partnering with Intel on 5G chips, and those won’t be out in time to get phones to market in 2019.

There will be all-new AirPods in 2020, but prior to that, Apple will release wireless charging AirPods early next year. 9to5mac.com picked up a report from well known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that says the wireless model will also include yet to be disclosed upgrades, but that the total revamp will be set for a 2020 release.

Amazon is reported to be testing out a large-sized Amazon-Go type store, sans cashiers, in Seattle. Geekwire.com says it is set up to look more like a traditional grocery store. Now what grocery store could it be designed like…oh, yeah…Whole Foods, which Amazon owns! They are particularly working on seeing if the system that tracks what shoppers grab off the shelves works well with the higher ceilings and bigger spaces with vastly more products. It remains to be seen when or if the tech will reach Whole Foods or other stores. Amazon has said in the past they have no plans to add the tech to Whole Foods stores…but such claims are often made, then things change. We do know Amazon is planning opening up to 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021.


Facebook Warned About Russia in 2014; Shopping on Phones Explodes, Top 5 Amazon Items; 10% iPhone Tariff Threat

Things just keep looking worse for Facebook when it comes to protecting user data. Businessinsider.com says a Facebook engineer warned the company in 2014 about a potential giant data issue involving Russia. This info is coming out after the British Parliament got hold of a cache of sealed Facebook documents. UK politician Damian Collins, who reviewed the documents, made the disclosure today at a hearing in front of the International Grand Committee. Mark Zuckerberg refused to show for the hearing, sending policy chief Richard Allen. Allen if this information had been given to an external body (like an agency of the US government) at the time. Allen refused to answer. The documents are sealed under court order in California, but they were published in the United Kingdom under UK parliamentary privilege.

A couple months back, a panicked friend told me ‘My phone is my life,’ as it was temporarily missing. That is more true that ever now. Cnet.com reports that total sales on smartphones through Cyber Monday was $2.2 billion, up from $1.4 billion last year! On Cyber Monday, phones accounted for 47% of traffic to online stores and 36% of actual sales. Overall Cyber Monday sales were $7.9 million, so the mobile component was substantial. Since the 1st of November $50.6 billion has been spent online, up 20% from last year!

Amazon has announced its 5 best sellers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Topping the list, according to bgr.com, the Amazon Echo Dot at $29.99 instead of $50 In the #2 spot, AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing Ethnicity (still on sale at $59 btw). The third place seller was the adored Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Programmable Pressure Cooker…still at $30 bucks off. Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones bagged the 4th place spot…and those are now sold out. #5 was Michelle Obama’s new book Becoming, which is still available at a $20 discount.

Yesterday, Donald Trump threatened to slap a 10% tariff on iPhones and MacBooks imported from China, and the stock acted accordingly. Today, Tim Cook is visiting an Idaho school district with Ivanka Trump to talk tech. Coincidence? I doubt it. So far, Cook has gotten Trump to lay off Apple products. Macrumors.com says in 2016 Apple donated an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to each classroom via its ConnectED initiative. Will a ‘charm trip’ with Ivanka keep tariffs off Apple products again? Stay tuned.


Skype over Alexa; Apple Cuts iPhone Production Orders; Space-X Approved for 7,000 Com Satellites

Microsoft has enabled Skype to work on Amazon’s Alexa devices. The rollout should be complete this week. Theverge.com reports that Echo-type hardware will be able to handle basic calling, and the Echo Show will include video support for Skype. Users will also be able to call mobile and land lines using SkypeOut, and call their contacts by simply asking Alexa to ‘Call Siri on Skype.’ OK, not really Siri…unless maybe you have a friend with that name, which would be nearly as confusing as having a pal named Alexa.

Apple has pared back production orders for the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and XR, due to ‘lower than expected demand,’ according to a Wall Street Journal report picked up by macrumors.com. Somewhat surprisingly, the biggest cuts are for the XR, which has been whacked by a third of the original 70 million units originally scheduled. Some suppliers are calling the handsets a flop, but with Apple reporting record breaking revenue of $61.5 billion on iPhones during the launch quarter, that’s a stretch. Since Apple is going to quit reporting unit numbers for iPhone sales going forward it will make it even harder to track sales…but competitor Samsung hasn’t reported unit numbers in some time.

SpaceX has gotten FCC approval to launch over 7,000 satellites. Cnet.com says they will be in very low earth orbit, and will give the company the ability to provide global satellite broadband service. The FCC has also signed off on requests from Kepler Communications, Telesat Canada, and LeoSat MA to offer broadband in the US by satellite.


Waymo Public Self-Driving Service Imminent; Facebook Patches Nasty Bug; Amazon Formalizes 2nd HQ (two of them); Apple XR Estimates Cut, but Sells Big on Singles’ Day

Waymo is apparently going to go live with their first commercial driverless car service in December. No name has been leaked yet, but cnet.com reports that the service will be a direct competitor for Uber and Lyft. Waymo will field its fleet of Chrysler Pacifica vans for the service, which will NOT be free. Expect to us an app to hail the car and pay for the ride. An article over the weekend speculated that, in a few years, we might see self-driving vehicles used for quick sex romps…but we will leave that to your imagination.

The engineers at Facebook have squashed a nasty bug in their code base that could have allowed hackers to collect highly personal info on Facebook users. According to zdnet.com, a security researcher found the bug and notified Facebook. He was browsing their online search results, and in the HTML saw iframe elements. By simple queries of yes and no, a lot could be determined about user interests and those of their friends. The researcher believes the iframe was used by Facebook itself. The bug was discovered in May, and the platform patched it shortly after being notified. The researchers, Ron Masas, points out that Facebook has become such a large and complicated platform, that there will always be bugs and hacks…even with their relatively generous bounty for people that spot problems and notify them.

It was reported here and elsewhere last week that Amazon was likely going to settle on two locations for it’s HQ2, and today they made it official. Theverge.com says Long Island City in Queens, NY, and Crystal City in Arlington, VA will share the HQ2 duties. Amazon already employs more people in these two locations than anywhere else outside of its Seattle HQ and the San Francisco Bay Area. An additional announcement was that Nashville will host a new East Coast operations hub, which will handle customer fulfillment and transportation. That facility will employ some 5,000.

The iPhone is doomed…long live the iPhone. A report from Ming-Chi Kuo cuts shipment estimates for the new iPhone XR from 100 million to 70 million, and that…coupled with the announcement last week that Apple won’t be releasing iPhone sales numbers moving forward, have whacked the stock. Nonetheless, 9to5mac.com says Apple had a huge day during Alibaba’s Singles’ Day on Sunday. Apple was the top selling mobile phone brand…one of 237 brands that pulled in over $14.36 million in sales on that one day (yes, it’s a funny number…but a nice, round 100 million yuan.) Apple even beat Chinese makers Xiaomi and Huawei. Huawei did come in 2nd, and Xiaomi was third in sales, though. Neither Alibaba nor Apple broke out what iPhone models sold the most during the giant online one-day event.