Switch Online Launches in September; Owl Auto Security Cam; Google Issues Router Fix; Amazon Hand Tracker Patent

Nintendo’s Switch online service, which had been delayed from last year, is now scheduled to be activated in September. Theverge.com says it will cost $3.99 a month, or $19.99 a year. Besides online play, the subscription will give players access to classic games, and features like leaderboards and multiplayer. The hot Switch has already outsold its predecessor Wii U…more than 14 million have been bought since it was launched.

An ex-Apple manager who helped develop the iPod has a startup that is making what they call the 1st security cam for your car. According to 9to5mac.com, the Owl security cam is always connected over AT&T’s LTE system, and it’s powered by the OBD (on-board diagnostics) port every modern car has. Owners can access 24 hours of video footage with a companion app. It has LED lights on either side for theft deterrence, and a 2.4 inch display. Since its always on, it is able to send alerts if activity is detected. The cam is $299, with cellular service for $10 a month, but at launch, a special bundle price of $349 includes the cam and 1st year of cellular service. Preorders are open today at owlcam.com, with delivery expected by the end of the month.

We reported earlier about a bug from Google Play Services that was causing routers to crash when Google Home or Chromecast devices were awakened. 9to5google.com reports that Google has rolled out a fix to all users. It’s version 11.9.75, and should be downloadable from the Play Store if it hasn’t updated your devices already on its own.

In what may be a useful tech that can’t outrun its creepy factor, Amazon has patented wristbands that track where warehouse workers’ hands are. The idea is to make sure they are reaching the right shelf or cubby to grab an item to be boxed and shipped out. Geekwire.com notes that not every patent actually makes it into use, and this one that has the wristbands which emit ultrasonic sounds or radio pulses to help guide the employees’ hands to the right bins may never see actual use. They seem extremely intrusive and super creepy!

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Waymo & Fiat Chrysler Expand Ride-Hailing; Facebook Looks to Local News; iPhone X Top 3 Worldwide; Verizon Won’t Carry Huawei Line

Fiat Chrysler is preparing to provide Google’s Waymo with thousands of Pacifica hybrid minivans, as Waymo’s self-driving division rolls out public ride hailing services later this year. Reuters.com says this could press GM and Lyft to pick up the pace, as well as Uber, which already has a test fleet running. Waymo had been been testing out 500 Fiat Chrysler self-driving mini-vans through 2017 in 25 cities.

Facebook plans to start showing more local news in user newsfeeds. According to businessinsider.com, they will start this in the US, and expand to other countries later in the year. The Facebook definition of ‘local’ is if its links ‘are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area,’ not the logical ‘is actually IN a local geographic area!’

With reports out that Apple is cutting iPhone X production from 40 to 20 million this quarter, some good news popped up. 9to5mac.com reports that Kantar found the pricey Apple hero phone was the #3 phone in all the regions they monitor during December. That includes Europe, China, Japan, Australia, and the US. iOS sales overall were down half a percentage point in the US, but loyalty hit a record high 96%. Apple and Samsung account for more than 2/3 of the US market at a combined 70.8%.

Under pressure from the government, Verizon has dropped plans to carry Huawei mobile devices. 9to5google.com says AT&T had previously backed out of carrying the Mate 10 Pro. The government apparently is concerned about the closeness of the Chinese government to the phone maker and their possible ability to manipulate upcoming 5G cellular networks.


3 New Macs Coming; Google Home Catching Up With Amazon Echo; Nationalized 5G Network; Nissan Self-Parking Slippers

Apple is reportedly working on 3 new Models (maybe more). They will be integrated with custom co-processors, and Cupertino has both new laptops and desktops in the works, according to macrumors.com. Some could be out yet this year. Apple had already confirmed it was working on an new, modular Mac Pro, but what other models could be refreshed are only an educated guess at this point. The MacBooks and MacBook Pros could use it for sure, as well as the Air, and Mac Mini.

Amazon has held the lion’s share of home speakers with it’s Echo line, powered by Alexa, sitting at 69%. 9to5google.com points out that Google Home has grown from almost nowhere to 31% already, though, and now with the Apple HomePod just out, expect more erosion in that number. Google Home barely registered in June of 2017, but during the holidays grabbed 40% of sales…mainly due to success of the Home Mini! Microsoft’s Cortana speakers haven’t really moved the needle, but Apple could…recall how they jumped into the already going portable music market years ago with the iPod, and virtually took that segment over.

You have to go a ways to freak out and infuriate both the far left and the far right, but it looks like an idea from the Trump Administration has done just that. According to businessinsider.com, they are exploring a form of nationalized 5G wireless network. The government apparently fears a huge cybersecurity threat…mainly from China…if they don’t. Folks on the left and the right are more freaked out by the prospect of the government controlling the wireless network. The administration is looking at a totally government one, or a national network in partnership with the wireless companies. Both AT&T and Verizon have responded, noting that they are ‘already well down the road’ to 5G wireless networks nationwide. In other words…’bug off!’

Self-driving cars? Pfft! Get me some of these self-driving, self-parking slippers. Bgr.com says Nissan has made some for a Japanese hotel, the ProPILOT Ryokan. Little wheels drop out of the bottom, and a small electric motor run by a processor magically returns the slippers to their proper place! Apparently the TV remote will do the same in rooms, and the bedding is wired with tricks of their own. Personally, I bow down to our robot overlords…and request that my slippers head over here to my feet!


Samsung Galaxy Invite/Cam Tease; Porsche Plans ‘More Super’ Superchargers; AT&T’s ‘Internet Bill of Rights’ Ploy

Samsung has sent invites to the Galaxy S9 launch, which is February 25th in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress. It will be at noon Eastern time, 9am Pacific. The invite teases cam improvements with ‘Camera, reimagined.’ It’s expected to have improved battery life, in addition to whatever camera tricks are announced. The verge.com notes that the event will be live streamed on Samsung’s website.

With most auto makers racing to produce many electric and hybrid models, you can expect fast ones from Porsche. Speed on the highway is apparently not all, according to bgr.com. Porsche’s head of Electrics/Electronics Development, Uew Michael said in an interview that the upcoming Mission E (which will start at $85,000, right in the breadbasket of the Tesla Model S) will not only be fast, but charge fast. Porsche is going to put out its own supercharger recharging stations that will give you 250 miles of range on a 20 minute charge! Right now, Tesla can get you a half charge in 30 minutes and it takes 75 minutes on a supercharger for a full charge. The Porsche Mission E will have a max range of 310 miles, and do 0-60 in under 3.5 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph!

AT&T is running ads saying it is pro net neutrality, and always has been. Techcrunch.com reports that they are pushing for an ‘internet Bill of Rights’ for users. If that sounds like the opposite of what they have favored to you, you’re right. It’s really just a sneaky way to try to get Congress to tightly regulate Facebook and Google. Even the FCC noted in a report that AT&T favored content at its own DirecTV over other content providers. Of course, what the phone company doesn’t come out and say when they call for control of these internet companies. is that they are content providers that furnish content ON the internet, they don’t provide ACCESS to the internet like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. The ISPs would love to kneecap content providers besides them…it’s good for their business and bad for Facebook, Google…and users.


More Galaxy S9 Rumors; Huawei Mate 10 Coming to US New Facebook Tools & Facial Recognition; Worst Passwords

It appears that Samsung will be again aping Apple, and the Galaxy S9 will be something of an ’S’ model…virtually identical on the outside to the present model. According to bgr.com, though, there will be some desirable upgrades inside. First off, it looks like a beefy 3200 mAh battery, up 7% from the S8. Also, the S9 reportedly will support Quick Charge 3.0 tech and 12W fast wireless charging. For comparison, Apple’s iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus just have 7W fast charging. We should see the Galaxy S9 and S9+ in late February, and they should be in hand by March.

Huawei has be rumored to be working on coming to the US via at least one of the mobile carriers. Now, 9to5google.com reports that we will probably find out who at CES next month, and that the Mate 10 will go on sale in the US in 2018. The rumor is, the Huawei hero handset will be offered through AT&T and Verizon.

Facebook has announced some new features, including one that keeps people you’ve blocked from making up a new profile and trying to contact you. Techcrunch.com says the tool kit detects the IP address and other signals to make sure the person stays blocked. They also have added one to ignore conversations, and move those to your filtered messages folder. A really slick addition now uses facial recognition to notify you if someone uploads a photo with you in it…even if you’re not tagged. You can choose to stay untagged, tag yourself, or report the photo if you think it’s inappropriate.

What are the worst passwords of the year? Splash data has put out the list, taken from over 5 million passwords that were leaked across 2017 by hackers. Macrumors.com reports that the top one is an old favorite from way back. Here are the top 5…PLEASE tell me none of you reading this has ever used these!!
1. 123456
2.password
3. 12345678
4. querty
5. 12345
If you ‘have a friend’ who’s using any of these, ask them to change to something stronger, and don’t admit it!


Waymo Self-Drivers More Independent Last Year; Apple Watch Owns Wearable Market; AT&T Starting 5G Rollout

Alphabet’s Waymo division continues to march relentlessly towards fully autonomous self-driving cars. 9to5google.com says California DMV figures showed far fewer safety related disengages in 2016 and considerably more miles driven. In 2015, there were .8 disengages per 1000 miles, and in 2016 that dropped to .2 per thousand. Both numbers are exceptionally low, and now word is, Waymo has started using an updated sensor suite just last month…which presumably will drive the figures lower.

Apple said they had record sales 4th Quarter for the Apple Watch, but still doesn’t release details. According to data from Strategy Analytics, though, they pumped out 5.2 million of them for the holidays, grabbing 63.4% of the market. Samsung was next at 9.8%. Overall, smartwatches were up a tiny 1% in 2016 from 2015.

Later this year, Austin, Texas and Indianapolis, Indiana will be first to get blazingly fast 5G service from AT&T. Theverge.com reports that speeds will hit 400 Mbps. That’s not true 5G, which is 1Gigabit, but AT&T claims some top speeds will hit that by year’s end. At any rate, it’s 40 times faster than 4G, and unquestionably in the ballpark with fiber speeds.


Samsung May Release Limited Galaxy S8’s Early; Apple Partnering with Zeiss on AR Glasses; Verizon & AT&T Trip Hammer on Legacy Data; TwitchCon Switches to Long Beach

According to thenextweb.com, Samsung may drop a limited supply of Galaxy S8 smartphones a month of so before the official launch…shipping perhaps as early as February or March. Sammy is reportedly gearing up for a sizable production bump for the S8, partly to make up for lost units and the debacle with the Note 7.

Apple is said to be partnering with Carl Zeiss on AR glasses. Cnet.com says they are lightweight AR/mixed reality glasses. Visualize Pokemon Go through glasses, only with all sorts of interesting things overlayed on top of your field of view. Tim Cook had said in an interview last year he felt AR was the larger of the two, when compared to virtual reality. If Apple can build a cool looking pair of glasses or slightly more that aren’t dorky and work well, they could blow the AR market up like they did with the iPhone 10 years ago.

Speaking of smartphones, the Big Two carriers are taking slightly different tacks…but both aiming squarely at making users with legacy unlimited data plans miserable. Zdnet.com reports that Verizon users who use over 200 Gigs of data over several months will have to move to a new plan by February 16th or be cut off! Nothing like the subtile approach! AT&T, on the other hand, will start dinging people with grandfathered legacy data plans….like moi….an extra 5 bucks a month starting in March if they don’t move to a so-called tiered data plan. They just jacked up the grandfathered plans last February. So with both Verizon and AT&T you can either pay more, pay more, or be cut off. The ‘free market’ at work…

After a successful convention in San Diego, Twitch is moving TwitchCon 2017 to Long Beach. Engadget.com reports that the show will be at Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center in Southern California October 20th through the 22nd. Last year, the attendance jumped to 35,000 from 20,000 the previous year. They plan to incorporate even more non-gaming events this time, to attract a broader scope of attendees.