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.

Advertisements

Samsung Revealing Foldable Galaxy F; Amazon Drops Free Ship Minimum for Holidays, Apple- 5G by 2020; 7-11 Test Driving Cashier Free Checkout

The annual Samsung Developer Conference is coming up Wednesday, November 7th. After the last round of top line Galaxy phones only got a slight facelift, and sales have dragged, Samsung is finally going to drop its bombshell folding phone, the Galaxy F this week. Bgr.com says the Samsung folder will have a large 7.3 inch OLED screen when opened up, and a second 4.6 inch OLED screen on the outside that you can use as a regular smartphone. The clamshell design will allow a phablet to be carried in a normal pocket or purse. The actual Galaxy F will probably ship next year, but a lot of details will be revealed Wednesday…stay tuned.

Amazon is giving out an early Christmas present…free shipping without a minimum purchase for everyone…not just Prime members. According to arstechnica.com, you can start making those holiday orders today, and your bargains will all ship free until Christmas. Normally, Amazon requires a $25 minimum for free shipping if you don’t have Prime. Target also has waived its $35 minimum for free shipping over the holidays…Walmart is holding the line so far, still requiring a $35 minimum sale for free shipping.

Apple is shooting for 2020 for its first 5G iPhone. Macrumors.com reports that the 5G phones will use exclusively Intel chips for the higher speed cellular operation. Those chips, the 8161, will be 10 nanometer. Apple is already down to 7 with its latest mobile CPU chips.

It’s one thing for Amazon to open it’s ‘Go’ stores that are cashier and line free. Walmart has been experimenting with it as well, but now, in a major add to the push for no checkout lines, 7-11 is trialing cashier free checkout. Theverge.com says the company is installing scan-and-go tech in 14 Dallas area stores this week. Customers can scan the bar code on their items, then pay with their phone, card, Apple Pay or Google Pay. You’ll need the 7-11 app to skip the cashier lines, and cashiers will still be on hand to handle hot food…and alcohol…which requires an ID check.


Amazon-Black Friday Month?; Tesla Summon Upgrade, Apple & iHeart Media Talks

Black Friday deals on Amazon are live now. This makes Black Friday, for all practical purposes on Amazon, Black November. Bgr.com reports that Amazon has fielded 4 different gift guides, and is touting Prime FREE same day delivery. Oh…and in case you really are celebrating Thanksgiving and cooking a turkey, you can reach the Butterball Turkey Talk Line using Alexa! Christmas trees? Yep, 6 and 7 foot Fraser Firs, Black Hills Spruces, and Balsam Firs. Trees over $25 ship free.

If the Summon self-parking feature isn’t enough for you, Tesla’s about to give it an upgrade. Elon Musk has Tweeted that a tweaked version will be out in 6 weeks, and it will allow vehicles to drive around parking lots, find empty spots, and read signs. According to engadget.com, (the) “Car will drive to your phone location & follow you like a pet if you hold down summon button on Tesla app.” As usual, the update will be pushed out over the air to Tesla Model 3, S, and X cars.

Talk about going for a lifeline…iHeartMedia is talking to Apple in hopes of bringing Beats 1 to US radio…and truckloads of Apple cash to the bankrupt media company. Venturebeat.com notes that the former Clear Channel still operates some 850 broadcast radio stations coast to coast. The media company is touting access to cars, kitchens, and exposure to a new audience for the Apple streaming service…and hints at exclusive music deals that might otherwise fall into Spotify’s lap. At this point, the talks are very preliminary, and are considered a long shot.


Driverless Waymo’s Hitting Cali Roads; Ford & VW May Share e-Platform; Apple Pulls watchOS Update; Solar Cell-Electricity & Hydrogen Simultaneously

The application went in last spring, but yesterday, Google’s Waymo got permission from California to start testing driverless cars on public roads. 9too5google.com notes that Waymo was already operating in 25 US cities, but always with a safety driver on board. Waymo will start initial testing in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, and Palo Alto…all near the Google and Alphabet campuses. The DMV permit allows for day/night testing on city streets, rural roads, and highways with posted speed limits of 65 mph…so pretty well anywhere in the above communities and their surroundings. Perhaps Waymo should strap in a realistic dummy to make other motorists feel more comfortable!

With the move to electric vehicles, a number of auto makers are partnering with others. Toyota has hooked up with Subaru and BMW, for example, and now Ford and Volkswagen may be teaming up. Cnet.com reports that Ford and VW may share a platform for EVs. VW had previously said it might open up its MEB platform to others. Ford and VW had announced a ‘memorandum of understanding’ about possible collaboration last summer. Ford had previously announced that it would be bringing 40 EV models to market, and that it was investing some 11 billion in electrics by 2022. As long as we don’t have a Musta-Beetle or the like, all will probably be well with the EV world!

After their big show yesterday on iPads and Macs, Apple dropped iOS 12.1 and watchOS 5.1. Now, according to zdnet.com, they have pulled the Watch update. It was apparently bricking the newest, greatest Watch Series 4 models. The Watches just stopped booting at the apple logo, and couldn’t be force quit or rebooted, even if unpaired from an iPhone. Many users attempted to take the devices into Apple Stores, but most were out of Series 4 models, and they are being shipped from overseas by 3 day air. Apple says it is a very small number that were affected.

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a process that can turn sunlight and water into electricity AND hydrogen! Engadget.com says its an ‘artificial photosynthesis’ process, but a big step up from previous attempts…going from 6.8% to 20.2% efficient. The team is moving into experimenting with real-world applications of the tech, but both electricity and hydrogen (for fuel cells) from one source could be a giant step towards more clean energy.


Apple Mac & iPad Rollout & More

New MacBook Air— Now gets Retina display….finally.
It has no bezel….13.3 inch display. 4x resolution compared to old Air. They have added Touch ID with the keyboard. There’s a T2 chip and secure enclave. The keyboard is improved, and there’s a Force Touch trackpad.

Stereo speakers are 25% louder and have better bass. 3 mics improve use of Siri. 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports ( yep…only 2..you’d better buy a bag full of dongles!!)

Even though it has a 13.3” screen the new Air is 17% smaller than the old air and only weighs 2.75 lbs, dropping a quarter lb. Every new Air is made of 100% recycled aluminum.

1.6GHz i5 processor, 128GB storage, 8GB Ram Starts at $1199 and available next week.
=================================

Updated Mac Mini— All get 4 cores, with 6 cores available. They aren’t mobile chips, but regular cpu’s. The new Mini is 5X faster. The new Mini is able to support 64 Gigs of memory on SO-DIMMs. They are available with up to 2TB of SSD memory. 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, HDMI, 2 USB A ports.

Mini starts at 799 with a base config of 8GB, 3.6GHz quad-core processor. Order today and available next week.

===================================

New iPad Mini, iPad, and Pro. The new iPads have Face ID, no home button, a thinner bezel, and a magnetically attached Apple Pencil.

The Pro has the ‘liquid retina’ display. With no bezel, it 12.9” screen, but in a smaller package. The iPads Face ID works like it does in the iPhone X, Xs, etc.

The new iPads are running the new A12X Bionic chip. There’s an 8 core CPU…7 core GPU. It’s 90% faster, and is faster than 92% of PCs sold in the last year. The new Pro will be available with 1TB of storage, and will get USB-C. You will be able to charge your iPhone from your iPad Pro, too!

The new Pencil attaches magnetically, automatically pairs, and charges wirelessly. New magnetically attachable smart keyboard folio (that also protects the iPad.)

They demoed a basketball game (NBA 2K Mobile) that looks nearly like video of an actual game. Apple claims this kind of resolution has never been done on a mobile device.

Adobe demoed actual Photoshop on the iPad Pro. Adobe also showed off their new augmented reality product, which will be out next year.

11″ starts at $799, 12.9″ starts at $999. Orders start today, arrive November 7. Current 10.5-inch remains at $649. LTE versions available.

iOS 12.1 will be available today, with Group FaceTime, eSIM support for iPhone Xs and Xs Max, 70 new emoji, and more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Other things are happening besides with Apple. Twitter is rumored to be considering killing the ‘Like’ button, in order to force more debate between users. CEO Jack Dorsey said so at a private Twitter event last week, according to vox.com. Also of note…increasing the character count from 140 to 280 didn’t really produce an avalanche of longer Tweets.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The era of electric aviation is nearly upon us. easyJet says they will launch a 9 passenger electric plane next year. They are also working on a battery powered 150 seat plane for short haul trips of under 300 miles. Electrek.co reports that 30% of flights are in that range, and that Boeing and Airbus sold nearly 1000 jets for those routes last year at around $90 million a pop, so an electric model would really shake up the market.


Samsung Galaxy S10 Release & Rumors; iOS 12.1 Out Tuesday with eSim Launch; IBM Red Hat Buy-Red Saves Big Blue; Gab Down Over Synagogue Shooter

It’s looking more and more like the Samsung Galaxy S10 will be s pretty significant update. According to businessinsider.com, there will be 3 models (like a certain company out of Cupertino), ranging from 5.8 to 6.1 to 6.4 inch display sizes. One will be a less expensive model without the curved edges Samsung has favored of late. One model may support 5G networking. A big rumor has a front facing fingerprint scanner under the display, and the phones may have something like Face ID…at least on the two higher end models. A big leapfrogging over Apple….3 rear cams may come on at least two models, and two front facing cams. The 3rd back lens will be a 16MP ultra wide angle lens. Expect the S10’s in March…no pricing leak so far.

The two top phones will have ‘almost no bezel, and the front cam may be hidden under the display…no notch? Here’s an innovation if it pans out…no earpiece. The audio will be transmitted to your ear with vibrations emanating from the display!

Tomorrow…Tuesday…we are expecting freshened iPads and a replacement to the MacBook Air from Apple. Stealing from Ron Popeil of Ronco fame—’but wait…there’s more!’ We will probably see iOS 12.1 released after the show, and it will include the eSim launch for the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and XR. 9to5mac.com reports that you will be able to add a 2nd phone line to your existing iPhone for calls and texts, and even can use different data plans on each number. The handset will answer calls from both numbers automatically. The service should be available from carriers in the US, Europe, and India. You should be able to sign up through Apple stores or some carrier apps.

That’s just for the latest iPhone users…how about everyone else in the iPhone world? There are 70 new emoji coming, too! Also in 12.1…the ability to adjust the bokeh blur in Portrait mode before shooting the pic.

IBM…Big Blue…has not had the best time of it the last few years. Now, with the acquisition of Red Hat for $34 billion, they may have bought themselves a lifeline. Techcrunch.com notes that IBM is saying that the addition will be a game changer, as it will make IBM the number one hybrid cloud provider, since Red Hat is the top supplier of Linux open source software. Linux has been successful in running big data workloads and AI workloads, which will assist IBM in expanding its healthcare software business particularly.

The site that billed itself as a ‘free speech’ alternative to Twitter used by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, Gab, is offline. Arstechnica.com says it has been dropped by a number of tech platforms including PayPal, Joyent, Medium, and GoDaddy. The site has been around a couple years, and says they have 800,000 users. Although Gab had banned explicit violence calls, they had been a hotbed of hate speech, and particularly favored by alt-right
types like Richard Spencer and KKK’s David Duke.


Huawei Mate 20; Apple Patents Double Fold iPhone; Lyft $299 All-Access; Bezos-Internet a Confirmation Bias Machine

Huawei’s Mate 20 smartphone pretty well runs the table when it comes to top shelf features. Theverge.com is reporting that it sports 3 rear cams, and an in-display fingerprint sensor (something both Apple and Samsung have worked on, but are yet to perfect.) The Mate 20 also has a 3D face unlock feature like the iPhone X, Xs, etc, and has a hi-resolution 6.4 inch OLED display. It’s available today for $1443 with 6 Gigs of RAM and 128 Gigs of storage.

With Samsung allegedly looking to finally come out with its fabled folding smartphone by early next year, Apple has received another patent for a folding smartphone. This one has an interesting twist…according to 9to5mac.com, the patent is for a phone that folds in two places! It appears that this would allow an iPhone sized device to unfold into something the size of an iPad Mini. Apparently, Apple has been working with LG, to minimize leaks to arch competitor Samsung…which, as noted above, is actually ahead of Apple in the folding phone game. In Apple’s patent, it appears the phone can be folded with the display on the outside OR the inside. No clues in the patent info on when Cupertino might actually come out with such a phone, of course.

Lyft has gone fully live with their subscription service. The All-Access plan is now widely available for $299 a month. Engadget.com says for that, you get 30 trips a month of up to $15 in value (you pay for anything over that). There’s also a 5% discount on additional trips. If it works for you, you can sign up today, and it should be available to all US customers by the end of the week. Lyft is offering the plan as an alternative to owning a car, and time will tell if this actually moves enough people out of ownership and into full time ride sharing.

At the Wired 25 Conference Monday, Jeff Bezos noted that the internet…in its current configuration…is basically a ‘confirmation bias machine.’ Businessinsider.com reports that Bezos expressed concern that some of the web’s tech is very useful to autocratic regimes ‘to enforce their will.’ He fears that the confirmation bias leads to more and more tribalism. On the other hand, the Amazon CEO pointed out that something similar happened with the proliferation of books, and humanity survived that. He said ‘The last thing we’d ever want to do is stop the progress of new technologies.’