iPad Pro May Get Face ID; Google Looking to Release 3 Pixel 3’s; Asus ZenBook Pro Replaces Touchpad with Touch Screen; Firefox Tests Side by Side Browsing

After yesterday’s preview of iOS 12 at Apple’s WWDC, some techies have noticed changes that indicate that the upcoming refresh of the iPad Pro will have Face ID and no home button. Macrumors.com reports that the higher line iPads will also get gestures that match the iPhone X, like swiping up from the dock to open the home screen, and a swipe from top right to open the Control Center. Since no hardware was shown at WWDC’s keynote, most analysts think freshened iPads and maybe MacBook Pros may come later in the fall, after the iPhone rollout in September.

It looks like Google will be following Apple in adding a 3rd phone to the Pixel line with the Pixel 3’s. According to bgr.com, there will be a Pixel 3 and larger Pixel 3 XL, as expected, but also a cheaper Pixel 3 version…probably coming in 2019, which will run a midrange Snapdragon 710 processor instead of the latest and greatest ones expected in the other Pixel 3’s. The cheaper model just went into development last month, but should be out the first half of next year.

First we got the MacBook Pro with the semi-useful ‘Touch Bar.’ now Asus has introduced the ZenBook Pro with a 5.5 inch touch screen in place of the touch pad. Although kind of gimmicky, the touch screen may be more useful overall than Apple’s Touch Bar. Theverge.com says it adds, rather than taking away features from the keyboard. The touch screen can be used as an app launcher, calculator, calendar, or numeric keypad. You can even play back YouTube videos via a Chrome extension. Asus has partnered with Microsoft, and you can get access to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint shortcuts and adjustments via the pad. It hits the market the middle of next month starting at $2299.

Firefox has released a pilot of some features. One is a Theme Editor that lets you choose colors and even textures and background….if you happen to be very OCD about your browser. The other feature reported by techcrunch.com is pretty cool if you’ve used a later model iPad. With the iPad, you can pull in another window and run a second app, switching between the two…I have found this handy with social media like Facebook and a slide over of my Twitter feed. Firefox is piloting Side View..you can use a widescreen monitor and display two tabs side-by-side inside the browser without having to open a second Firefox window. This can be very handy…here’s hoping they make it a standard feature.

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Next iPhones May Sport Smaller Notch; Tesla Model 3-Lots of Voice Commands; Google Devices Causing WiFi Outages

After getting universally panned for the notch at the top of the screen, it seems reviewers and actual people really embraced the blacked out area on the iPhone X where Face ID and the front cam live. Now, macrumors.com hears that Apple is looking into combining Face ID and the front cam to produce a smaller notch in the iPhone X successors that will be out in September 2019. It doesn’t look like the combined setup will make this year’s phones. It isn’t clear at this point how they would roll the infrared camera, dot projector, and flood illuminator all into the cam module, but Apple has dumped $821 million into LG Innotek, the company that will make most of all the 3D sensing modules for the upcoming iPhones.

With an answer to a question on Twitter, Elon Musk revealed that the Tesla Model 3…once production is really humming….will be getting a whole slew of voice control options. TechCrunch.com reports that Musk said in response to the question that once the software people got the core product right, you’ll be ‘able to do pretty much anything via voice command’ in the Model 3. So how about “Tesla…Tea. Earl Gray. Hot?”

This isn’t exactly something you want to hear…Google Home and Chromecast devices are causing temporary outages on many routers from ASUS, Linksys, Netgear, TP-Line, and Synology. According to 9to5Google.com, some become completely inoperable for a little bit, and others just drop their internet connection. The short explanation: the Google devices send a giant burst of information when they wake from sleep mode, causing the routers to drop their net connection or shut down the connection to the device. Google says they have a team working quickly to come up with a fix.


PC & Mac Sales; Smart Speaker Market Booming, Wireless Earbuds-‘Assistive Hearing’ Coming

It’s easy, especially when covering tech, to be all over the latest mobile devices, and lose track of what’s happening with the venerable PC…which most of us still have and use. Bgr.com has the numbers as tracked by IDC, and here’s where computer brands stood in 2017: #1 was H-P with 22.7% of the market. Lenovo came in 2nd with 21.1%. In third place was Dell with 16.1% market share, and 4th was Apple at 7.6%. Acer was in 5th place with 6.8%, and ASUS grabbed 6th with 6.6%, hot on their trail. The other 19.1% of computer sales was ‘everybody else.’ Of all of them, Apple had the most growth in the 4th quarter covering the holidays.

While Apple fanboys and fangirls breathlessly await the Apple HomePod, the smart speaker market is absolutely booming. According to 9to5mac.com, it’s up 128% since a year ago. Research from Edison Research and NPR indicates one in 6 Americans own a smart speaker of one type or another. 65% of owners say they would never want to go back to not having one! Of the 16% of us that have smart speakers, 11% are Amazon Alexa powered, while 4% use Google Home.

Since Congress passed a law allowing some hearing aid tech without prescription, wireless earbud makers are looking to that as a new market. Engadget.com reports that wireless earbud pioneer Bragi announced at CES that they would be diving into personalized hearing enhancement for their Dash earbuds. On top of that, they are working to develop personalized fitting for hearing loss using the so-called ‘Earprint’ test….pointing out that correcting for hearing loss needs to be as personalized as fitting for glasses. Another company called Nuheara showed off their updated product called IQBuds Boost.


Pixel Preorders Outstrip Demand; Microsoft VR Headset Partners; Surface Book i7; Renewables Pass Up Coal

Since the sputtering flameout of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Apple has increased production of iPhones, expecting to pick up new customers. According to 9to5google,com, they aren’t alone. Google Pixel phone preorder deliveries have now slipped to mid-November. Some phones originally slated for delivery this week will now be shipped November 18th!

At their event today, Microsoft announced they are working with partners to release standalone VR headsets starting at $299. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer are all involved. Thenextweb.com says Redmond also showed off a ‘HoloTour’ app that was initially developed for the HoloLens that lets you take Street View like trips around the globe.

Microsoft adds the Surface Book i7 to the Surface family. It contains a number of internal upgrades according to arstechinca.com, including a welcome 16 hour battery life! More from the Microsoft event-which is going on now-tomorrow.

Noting a major milestone, slashdot.org reports that renewable energy sources like solar and wind have passed up coal as the world’s largest source of power capacity! The International Energy Agency says a million solar panels were installed every day last year, and two wind turbines were added every hour last year in China alone.


Google Joining Mozilla in Emerging Smartphone Markets

Google is jumping into the hot emerging markets for smartphones. Businessinsider.com says on the 15th, they’ll roll out Android One in India. It has a 4.5 inch screen, dual SIM cards and is under $100.

According to 9to5google.com, The Asus ZenWatch, which goes on sale in October, will ship for under $200. It runs Android Wear, and is aimed at the LG G watch and Samsung Gear Live.

Thenextweb.com reports that YouTube has quietly launched a fan funding feature. Think it as a virtual ‘tip jar’ for content providers. Out of a $10 donation, the artist gets $9.29 after Google’s cut.