iPhones May Get USB-C Ports; Microsoft Revamps Office; Tesla Laying Off 9%; Big Names Back Better Battery Quest

After going all-in on USB-C on the MacBook Pro line, it looks like Apple may be getting ready to retire the Lightening connectors on the upcoming iPhones in favor of the more universally used connection. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple may also include an 18 watt charger to take advantage of quick charging…which the current phones are already capable of, but only with 3rd party chargers. It’s worth noting that this rumor comes from Digitimes, which doesn’t have the stellar accurate leak record of the likes of KGI Securities. That said, Apple has run with the Lightening port since 2012, so a change is more likely than not.

Microsoft is porting over its Fluent Design system from Windows 10 to Office, in an effort to simplify them for the some billion users of the productivity suite. According to theverge.com, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook will all get a new, simplified ribbon that is smaller and easier to use. There are new animations, icons that are more accessible, and more. The goal is to modernize Office, and make it more intuitive. The changes will hit the main desktop versions first, but also will be brought over to the web versions. They should appear on the apps for Windows next month, and on Macs by August. Microsoft also promises and increase in speed for the productivity suite.

As first indicated last month, Tesla has begun laying off salaried employees as they move to what Elon Musk calls ‘flattening the management structure’, and a ‘thorough reorganization’ of the company aimed at helping Tesla achieve profitability by the end of this year. Electrek.co notes that as many as 3,500 employees could be let go. No line workers will be involved in the layoffs, as Tesla continues to ramp up Model 3 production, and they will still be hiring ‘mission critical’ people. After the Solar City acquisition, Tesla laid off about 20% of that workforce, cutting duplicate positions and restructuring. They are also not continuing the residential sales agreement with Home Depot…although those employees will have the opportunity to move to Tesla retail locations.

Billion dollar startup Breakthrough Energy Ventures has dived into a couple startups aimed at power storage. Form Energy is working on novel chemistries for low-cost, long-term, high-density batteries, and Quidnet Energy is working on storing energy in highly compressed water. Geekwire.com says Breakthrough is backed by some really big players in tech: Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma. The fund was started a couple years ago, but the two energy storage tech startups are two of the first investments revealed by Breakthrough. Cheap, efficient energy storage will allow power generated by renewable energy sources to be stored for use 24/7 on the energy grid.

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Galaxy S8 Pay Surpass iPhone $$; Apple Acquired Facial Recognition Startup; Chevy to Test Thousands of Self-Driving Bolts; Bill Gates & the Robot Tax

Usually, smartphone rumors are pretty exciting…especially about the handsets from Samsung and Apple. Here’s one that has a bit of a chill to it…bgr.com says that the upcoming Galaxy S8 may pass up the iPhone 8 in price! The iPhone 8 is rumored to be around $1000, but SamMobile spotted a leaked database in Ukraine (since taken down), and it shows the Galaxy S8 models at $950 and $1050. Whatever the price, they will launch next month in black, gold, and Orchid Gray. Get your wallet ready!

According to a report from and Israeli finance website called Calcalist picked up by 9to5mac.com, Apple has acquired facial recognition startup RealFace. This lends credence to the rumor that the next generation of iPhones may have facial recognition either in addition to or in place of the fingerprint reader. The tech may first be rolled out on the iPhone 8 this fall.

Chevrolet is aiming to field a test fleet of thousands of self-driving electric Bolts in 2018. Techcrunch.com reports that the fleets will mainly be operated with partner Lyft for on-demand ride-hailing. This is a couple years ahead of competitor Ford and others who have been shooting at 2020 for deployment of test fleets. Self driving cars may be here sooner than you think.

Yes, it sounds like the title of a Tom Swift book….Bill Gates and the Robot Tax…but actually, the tech magnate is calling on governments to look a bit further into the future. Engadget.com says in an interview with Quartz, Gates advocates taxing worker robots to offset job losses. the funds would be used for training of the people who lost jobs to robots…training in areas where humans will still be needed…he specifically points to child and senior care. The European Parliament has rejected a robot tax for now, but that is to develop guidelines for deploying


Microsoft Thanks ‘MacBook’ Disappointment for Great Sales; Honda Teases Electric Car with AI; Gates & Others Start Alt Energy Venture Fund

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November was a banner month for Microsoft Surface consumer sales. According to techcrunch,com, they credit ‘Macbook disappointment’ for the bump. Apple, on the other hand, says they got more orders for the new Pro with limited ports than any previous Macbook Pro. Of course, Microsoft rolled out a freshened Surface book and the new, high line Surface Studio, which has gotten a lot of buzz.

Honda has dropped a picture of it’s experimental electric vehicle called the NeuV. The verge.com says they will show it at CES January 5th, and are saying it will come equipped with artificial intelligence of some kind built into what Honda calls an ‘emotion engine.’ The engine is a set of technologies that will “enable machines to artificially generate their own emotions.” So, does this mean sometimes your car will act like Grumpy Cat, and other times like an excited puppy? Stay tuned.

Bill Gates, Jack Ma, and other tech giants have formed a billion dollar tech venture fund to back cutting edge energy technologies, with the goal of searching for breakthroughs that they hope will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero. Others involved are John Doerr, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson. Geekwire.com says Gates will be Chairman of the billion dollar Microsoft Ventures fund.