Alibaba Singles’ Day-Biggest Online Shopping Day; French Will Look at Facebook Moderation Processes, Samsung Folder Could Cost…Gulp… $1790; CLEAR Tech Moves From Airports to Stadiums

This year on Singles’ Day, a huge day in China, Alibaba absolutely blew up online shopping. They took in $30.8 billion in sales in 24 hours Sunday, according to businessinsider.com. As a point of reference, total online sales last year on Black Friday were $5 billion, and Cyber Monday hit $6.6 billion! Alibaba sold as much in 5 minutes Sunday as Amazon does on an entire Prime Day (which was 36 hours long last year, and it’s estimated to have taken in $4.2 billion.) Singles’ Day sales for Alibaba were across its main Alibaba site as well as Taobao.com and Tmall.com, two other sites it owns and operates.

Facebook continues to get heat for doing too little with regards to protecting user rights and policing fake news and other political manipulation. Now, techcrunch.com reports that the company will cooperate with the French government as they look into FB’s moderation…including Facebook giving ‘unprecedented access’ to their internal processes. France is looking for a third way to regulate tech…not the hands off of the US nor the locked down, repressed system China has in place.

We’ve now seen a glimpse of the Samsung folding phone at their developers’ conference, and now hear it should be hitting the streets by next March. 9to5google also notes that the phone/phablet with the Infinity Flex display will retail for $1790!! It will be known as the Samsung Galaxy F, as predicted. Folded, you have a 4.6 inch outside display, but unfolded, you get a nice, phablet-sized 7.4 inches. A cool tech that has taken a long time to come into being, but at nearly $1800, it may remain a boutique gadget, and not a top seller.

CLEAR…the folks that charge $179 a year to get you more quickly through airport lines using biometrics…is now up and running in stadiums. Geekwire.com says the service is free for sports events…besides handing over your fingerprints and taking about 5 minutes to make an account. Both CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field have implemented the service, which gets you in via a shorter line AND it enables you to both age verify and pay with your prints when buying a beer at concession stands! There are currently 4 stands at Seahawks games with the CLEAR scanners, so you can grab that brewski a little faster and get back to the game!

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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.


Amazon Augmented Reality Shopping for iPhone; Google ‘Advanced Protection System’; New Entry Level GoPro Next Year

IKEA has it, not Amazon joins the party in a big way. The party is the augmented reality shopping party. Geekwire.com reports that the latest Amazon app update for iPhone 6S and above running iOS 11 includes an augmented reality feature. We tried it out yesterday, and noted a couple ways it works. One, you can open the app, point the cam at an object…I used my coffee table…and Amazon will show you a slew of other tables. You can also pick an item and use the app to virtually place it in your room…I tried a lamp, and it was pretty cool to see it virtually appear on my messy coffee table on top of the books and magazines! Hey, just in time for the holidays, a way to spend more….and with Amazon’s countdown to Black Friday in full swing, enjoy your augmented shopping!

Most any true techie will tell you that any passwords can be hacked with time and trouble. Now, Google is rolling out a solution…a tried and true system that will work, but some will hate. Yep, it’s a DONGLE. According to zenet.com, the $20 solution, which is made like a key fob you can put your physical keys on, will be made available first to politicians and lawmakers, business leaders, activists, and reporters…the people most likely to be hacked. There are two keys involved as part of two factor ID…a Feitian key to wirelessly authenticate your computer or phone over Bluetooth and a Yubikey that can be used in a USB port. They only work with real Google pages, so phishing sites are out of luck. If you lose the dongle, you will be locked out for a few days while Google determines that you are really you and unlocks your account. One catch…besides having to plug in and push a button…the system only works directly with Google accounts, so you won’t be able to get your gmail over Apple’s mail on an iPhone or Microsoft Outlook.

GoPro has had a rough couple years, with layoffs, dropped products, and closed departments in an effort to turn a profit. Now, theverge.com says that corner has been turned, and GoPro made money third quarter. In addition to rolling out a new flagship cam, the Hero 6 Black this fall, GoPro will be unveiling a new entry level cam to replace the original Hero Session in 2018. The cam maker said there will be additional products, but wouldn’t specify what they were.


Galaxy S9 Will Be Major Redesign; Pixel 2 Getting Even Better Pictures In Software Update; Amazon Launches Countdown to Black Friday Deals; Sony Revives Robot Dog

Samsung is busily working on the Galaxy S9, and word is, it will be a major redesign. Bgr.com says you can expect echoes of the iPhone X, to the surprise of no one. Rumors include 3D facial recognition, dual 16 MP cameras, and dual 12 MP selfie cams, with a nearly all screen display. It looks like it will be offered with either a 5.8 inch or 6.2 inch screen for the S9 and S9+. There are still rumblings of an under screen fingerprint sensor, but if the 3D face recognition is widely accepted on the Apple iPhone X, Samsung may drop that feature.

The Pixel 2 and 2 XL already have a terrific camera. Now, according to 9to5google.com, it’s going to get even better. Apparently Google baked in a custom chipset that improves HDR+ functionality. It didn’t make it into the 1st developer release of Android 8.1, but it looks like they will flip it on for the 2nd developer preview of Android 8.1. It should be widely available in time for the holidays!

Countdown to Black Friday is here! Amazon has launched their run up sales to the big sale day today. Bgr.com says look for a 65 inch 4K Samsung TV for under a grand, a refurbished Dyson Ball vacuum for only $150, and more. Hit Amazon’s Countdown to Black Friday page for other bargains.

Woof! Sony has revived its AIBO robot dog. Theverge.com reports that the new dog’s eyes use a couple of OLED panels to show a range of expressions, and that your robot dog can bond with you for up to two hours at a time…with 3 hours recharge time. If you ever wanted a dog that finally gets tired of chasing the ball, this one will after 2 hours! It’s controlled by an app, and you can purchase additional ‘tricks’ from an app store….requiring a $26 a month subscription. Besides that ongoing fee, the robot dog will set you back $1700. Preorders start today.


Apple-10 Prototypes for iPhone 8; Google Should Sell 3 Million Pixel Phones; Premium Amazon Alexa Coming; Cyber Monday Sets Record

There’s lots of buzz about what next year’s iPhone 8 will be like. Some may be true…but Apple is testing more than 10 prototypes of the anniversary handset right now, according to businessinsider.com. A curved screen is a consistent rumor, as is an OLED display with darker blacks and less power hogging. Of course, there’s the glass back and possible wireless charging. Apple was supposed to get OLED screens this year, but dropped them due to supply problems, so stay tuned.

Preorders for Google’s Pixel phone have blown the doors off what was expected. 9to5google.com reports that, based on preorders and Verizon activations, they should sell 3 million phones by the end of this year. The Pixel is already 10% of the premium market in India…benefitting from Samsung’s collapse over the fiery Note 7. Apple has also benefitted there, grabbing 66% of the premium phone market!

Amazon apparently has a premium Echo speaker with Alexa in the works with a large touch screen and higher grade speakers. Bloomberg.com says it may be out first quarter of 2017. The speaker and screen with be angled and on top, so a person standing can use it when it’s sitting on a counter or table. The present Echo sells for $180 when not discounted, so expect the higher line one to be over $200.

Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day, ever. According to zdnet.com, analysts say US online spending topped $3.39 billion, and that’s a 10.2% increase over last year. It’s also slightly more than Black Friday, which notched $3.34 billion. Interestingly, mobile revenue was a little lower than Black Friday, but it was still up 48% over last year’s Cyber Monday. The five best-selling toys in terms of quantity sold on Cyber Monday were Lego, Shopkins, Nerf, Barbie, and Little Live Pets. The five best-selling electronic products were Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox, Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPads, and Amazon Fire tablets.


iPad Pro Coming Sans Home Button & Bezel; Samsung Doing the Splits; Record Black Friday for Mobile

In a rumor that might telegraph features on next year’s iPhone 8, macrumors.com reports that a story from Japanese site Mac Otakara says Apple is planning a thicker, bezel-free iPad Pro with no home button. The tablet will have a 10.9 inch screen, but with the same footprint as the current 9.7 inch model. As for the thickness, it really will only be as thick as the original iPad Air. Expect it to drop around March.

On the heels of a proposal by an activist hedge fund manager, the board of Samsung Electronics will meet Tuesday to consider splitting itself in two, according to reuters.com. Samsung has a complicated corporate structure, and has a number of businesses. This might give a smartphone division more ability to become a greater player than ever in the mobile tech world.

It was a record Black Friday in one new way. Recode.net says it was the first billion dollar mobile shopping day ever, with shoppers dropping 1.2 billion on phones and tablets to pick up Black Friday bargains. Overall, it’s estimated that total online sales Black Friday hit 3.34 billion. It sounds like people are taking Lewis Black’s exhortation to …’buy more…um…stuff.’


Android Rules the World in Number of Smartphones; Apple Watch Coming to Kohl’s

A report out from strategyanalytics.com says that Android now accounts for 88% of global smartphone shipments in the third quarter of this year, with a total of 375 million phones. Apple slipped to 12%, mainly on losing ground in China and Africa. Other operating systems only account for .3% at this point, including Tizen. Apple’s iPhone running iOS obviously does far better in the US and in the narrower market for higher priced phones.

Kohl’s Department Stores will start selling the Apple Watch at 400 locations ahead of Black Friday. 9to5mac.com says they’ll roll out the smartwatch starting November 15th. Kohl’s has 1100 stores, so you’ll have to check ahead if one near you will carry the Watch. Macy’s has the Watch, but only in 180 stores. You can get the Nike+ version of Apple Watch at Dick’s Sporting Goods and Nike stores.