Makers Partner Promoting e-Cars; Google Assistant & Multi-Room Audio; LinkedIn Gets Auto-Roll Ads; Facebook Limiting 3rd Party Ad Targeting Data

While there’s already a fair amount of interest in electric cars, now 16 auto makers have teamed up with several states in a campaign called ‘’Drive Change. Drive Electric.’  BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, VW, & Volvo are involved. The goal is to educate and inform consumers about the variety of zero-emission vehicles. Mashable.com says There will be a new website, ads, social media campaigns and events, designed to get more people into electric cars.

Google is rolling out an extension that lets you pair Assistant devices to Bluetooth speakers allowing voice control of multi-room audio. You could already stream music from a phone, tablet, or computer to Google Home over Bluetooth, but now, you can stream music to other Bluetooth speakers around your house, including in multiple rooms. According to 9to5google.com, you will still need a Google Home device to control them. The companion app will let you set a default speaker or set of speakers, and the pairing works on all Google Home devices, including the Mini and Max.

Microsoft has added what’s a feature to advertisers but probably a bug to you to its LinkedIn platform. Techcruhch.com reports that Video ads will now appear and auto roll in your feed. The good news? At least the audio is muted initially, so you won’t be jarred by something playing right after the site loads. The ads will contain links that can point to the advertisers’ sites, and that can be used to collect leads. Microsoft says the feature is rolling out over the next several weeks, and has been tested by over 700 advertisers since October. Now, you can look forward to LinkedIn acting even more like a social network site…although it seems unlikely people bailing on Facebook will be posting cat or food pictures on LinkedIn.

Facebook has announced that it will limit how much data it makes available to advertisers buying hyper-targeted ads. The embattled social media giant says in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal,  it will stop using data from third-party data aggregators — companies like Experian and Acxiom — to help supplement its own data set for ad targeting. Recode.net notes that Facebook previously let advertisers target people using data from a number of sources: Facebook’s own data they had collected, info from the advertiser itself, and data from 3rd party sources like credit reporting firm Experian. Facebook hasn’t said it will quit using third party firms for ad measurement help, but is reevaluating that practice.

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Galaxy S9 Keeps Headphone Jack; True Depth Cam & Face ID Big iPhone X Draws; Netflix Kids See Way Less Ads; Google Poaches Apple Chip Engineers

Yes, it’s ‘old tech’, and yes it takes up space that prevents the screen from going clear to the top or bottom of a smartphone, but according to a rumor spotted by bgr.com, Samsung will keep the venerable 3.5 mm headphone jack on the upcoming Galaxy S9. The Galaxy will have the same size bezels as the S8, but upgraded internals…much like Apple’s ’S’ updates. The S9 Plus will get a dual camera, again taking a page out of Apple’s book. With Apple and most other makers opting to drop the headphone jack, though, swimming against the tide may draw in a significant number of users that refuse to go all in on Bluetooth only smartphones….particularly if they have invested hundreds of dollars in good noise cancelling wired headphones…you supposedly can’t use Bluetooth while flying, because ‘airplane mode’ turns it off.

In a report picked up by appleinsider.com, the big draws for the iPhone X are the TrueDepth camera and FaceID. Some analysts thought the FaceID concept might put buyers off, but according to the study by Strategy Analytics, buyer interest in the two features is ‘extremely positive.’ The firm surveyed 568 early adapters of the iPhone X, and also found that the so-called Super Retina HD display and improved battery life were big selling points.

It may be the death knell for sugary cereal and toy ads on TV. ‘It’ being the cord cutter household. According to bigstockphoto.com, so-called Netflix only households that use only streaming services and not over the air or cable channels have kids who see 230 hours LESS of ads per year….that’s a full 9.6 days of ads! Don’t cry your eyes out for the advertisers, though. Some will figure out ways to use ‘product placement’ in the actual kids shows to hawk their goods to the younger set…the same way products have been seen in movies for decades!

Apple has been designing chips in house for its mobile devices for several years, and is moving that way with Macs, too. Now, Google has stepped up its effort to poach Apple chip engineers, as it does the same. 9to5mac.com reports that Google has hired several key chip engineers away from its rival in Cupertino, including noted designer John Bruno. Prior to Apple, Bruno had worked at AMD.Google is not only designing chips for its Pixel line of smartphones, but also working on custom silicon for AI devices, like the wearables they, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are viewing as the future.


Tipoff That iPhone 8 Has ‘Face ID;’ Web Viewing Means Less TV Sets; Android Getting Bluetooth Battery Indictors

Some code spotted in the firmware for the Apple HomePod seems to confirm that the new iPhone 8 will unlock with your face…which Apple may call ‘Face ID,’ considering they have already used Touch ID. The firmware also points to the cutout in the front that will eat into the top of the screen, but house the front cameras and infrared sensors making Face ID possible. 9to5mac.com reports that while Samsung will be the sole supplier of OLED displays, Apple is well along in setting things up with LG to also produce OLED screens, and they could show up as an additional supplier in 2018. The OLED screen has been the biggest challenge for Apple, along with incorporating Touch ID under the screen. When LG production comes online, it could also mean all iPhones will get OLED screens, probably starting in the fall of 2018.

Before you lament the demise of the TV industry, the numbers aren’t collapsing, but due to more people watching video over the web….and on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even desktop computers, the number of TVs per household is dropping. According to recode.net, they have gone from 2.6 TVs per household in 2009 to 2.3 in 2015, the last year we have data for. With other things to look at besides live TV and DVR, the viewing of those has dropped, too….but only from about 60 hours a week to 57!

As more phones drop the venerable phone jack and go to wireless headphones and earbuds, something that is often on your mind is ‘How much longer have I got before the phones die?’ Apple has had an indicator for years showing approximate battery level, and later a percentage of battery level for Bluetooth phones, just like for the handset. Samsung and LG also make use of the feature. Now, 9to5google.com says the feature may be coming to Android, so all Android phones will give you a heads up on when your Bluetooth device may poop out, so you can recharge it! Like with later Apple phones, Android will show you the %-age of battery left. This is probably not going to drop until Android 8.1 or 9.


Nintendo Scores big with the Switch; Lyft Donation Program Going Live; SiriusXM Buys Automatic

Nintendo has a serious hit in the Switch. The new gaming system sold 2.74 million in less than a month, and geekwire.com says that’s more than the Wii U sold in its first full year. The flagship game, “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” slightly outsold the console, too!

Lyft had announced it would be offering a ‘Round Up and Donate’ feature, allowing users to top off their fare to the nearest buck and give to a worthy cause. Now, tech crunch.com reports that the program will go live May 1st. It will bow on Android first, followed quickly by an iOS version. The first organization Lyft is supporting is the USO, the folks that provide support and entertainment to military members and veterans. There will be a number of other charity partners, with the user getting to choose which one they donate to.

SiriusXM has snapped up smart car accessory maker Automatic for a cool $100 million plus. Automatic makes a Bluetooth gadget that lets you track and read driving data from your iPhone.The Automatic Link plugs into the OBD….on board diagnostic port of your car, and transmits data to your phone. They also have a cheaper device called the Automatic Lite.


Bluetooth 5 About to Be Rolled Out; Snapchat Working on Google Glass Type Product

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, the group that sets the standards for the low power wireless standard, is going to rollout Bluetooth 5 next week. Theverge.com reports that it will have 4 times the speed and double the range of the best Bluetooth now available. It will also offer much more support for connectionless services…like beacons that can help people navigate around, both in buildings and outside. The added range and speed are particularly aimed at all the Internet of Things devices popping up for your home.

Snapchat is working on a Google Glass style AR headset, according to businessinsider.com. Snapchat has snapped up a couple of hardware specialists from GoPro, and a tech recruiter from Google’s Project Aura, the division that came up with Google Glass. These strengthen rumors of a Glass-type product from March when it leaked out that Snapc had hired an eyewear designer and a man specializing in miniaturized low power electronics. They are now listing jobs for a 3D mobile software engineer and mobile prototype developer, among others. Stay tuned.


Big Bluetooth Speed & Range Boosts Coming; Apple Pay Between Individuals

Huge improvements may turbocharge people connecting more of their homes to the internet of things. Engadget.com reports that the firm that oversees Bluetooth is making big updates in 2016…meaning Bluetooth connections should see a 100% speed boost and quadruple the range. This will be for all Bluetooth, not just connected internet of things gadgets. They’re also working on mesh networking- so a whole area, home, or building can be connected.

As more stores embrace Apple Pay…I just used it for the first time at Trader Joe’s this week…Apple is expanding in a new way. Geek.com says they’re working with banks on setting up peer to peer payments between friends and family over Apple Pay. This will hit PayPal’s Venmo right in the pocketbook, as Apple doesn’t play to charge the banks processing fees. It looks like they will just use it to attract and keep Apple Pay users and financial institutions. Of course, it also gives them more data to better target ads towards you!


New Technology Recaptures Phone Energy and Extends Battery Life

One of the most ingenious gadgets ever is in the pipeline. Nikola Labs has cooked up an iPhone 6 case that harvests electricity from the cellular, wi-fi, and Bluetooth transmitters in your phone. According to techcrunch.com, they will launch a Kickstarter by the end of the month for $99, and have a case out by September. Nikola claims they can recycle enough RF energy to give you 30% more battery life! The tech can be used in other devices that have little RF transmitters like smartwatches and tablets.

Dropbox is going to drop an update for iOS in the next few weeks that will let you create Microsoft Office files from scratch online…not just edit them. Engadget.com reports that it will also bring commenting functionality. No word on when an Android release is coming, but you can bet it’s in the pipeline, too.