New Samsung & LG Hero Phones Out in January; Amazon Jumps into VR & AR, Lyft Gets Self-Driving Permit

We were expecting Samsung to show off the new Galaxy S9 in January. Now, it looks like it will be launched at CES 2018, and according to bgr.com, LG will also show its latest and greatest, the G7. Last year, the LG G6 was overshadowed by Apple and Samsung, and with the runaway success of the iPhone X and a strong Samsung Galaxy S9, they will need the new G7 to have some ‘wow’ factor. The G7 is rumored to have and OLED display, like the iPhone X and Galaxy S9, but does add its own wrinkle…the fingerprint sensor will be under the screen, not on the back like the S9’s. For those leery of the iPhone X’s facial recognition scheme, this might be a real draw.

Google, Apple, and Microsoft are busily working on VR and AR products, so it was only a matter of time. Geekwire.com reports that Amazon is jumping in with its new ‘Sumerian’ service for Amazon Web Services. Sumerian will allow creation of VR, AR, and 3D scenes for Oculus, Vive, iOS, and Android. Sumerian has a web based editor for creating interactive 3D scenes, and a library of objects and templates. It launches in preview today on all but Android, which Amazon says is coming soon.

Another company has a permit to test self-driving cars in California, and this one is a biggie. Cnet.com says Lyft was granted a permit, and now brings to 45 the number of companies testing or getting ready to roll driverless cars on public roads. They join VW, General Motors, Tesla, Google’s Waymo, Uber, and Apple. You’ll be able to spot them by the apparatus on top, but don’t expect to see no one in the driver’s seat…all the permits require a driver on board, just in case.

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Dual Vertical Cams for iPhone 8; Amazon’s Holiday Moves a Billion Items; Microsoft-First Tech to a Trillion in Valuation; LG’s ‘Floating’ Speaker

Another week, another new iPhone 8 rumor…and this one has nothing to do with curved screens, all glass, or the like. Bgr.com has picked up a report from Japanese site macotacara that the 5 inch iPhone 8 will move to a dual vertical cam setup instead of the horizontal orientation on the 7 Plus. The phone is supposed to be a bit taller than the iPhone 7 but not as wide as the Plus, so it could just be a matter of internal real estate…or maybe an even more killer camera. Time…and rumors…will tell!

Amazon Prime killed it again for the holidays. The online giant shipped over a billion items between November 1st and December 19th, according to cnet.com. The Echo Dot was the most desired item, selling out. It just got back in stock today, but the regular Echo is out of stock until January 26th. December 23rd was the most popular delivery day for Prime Now…nice going, last minute shoppers!

Microsoft under CEO Satya Nadella has had a rebirth, and is innovating and growing again. Geekwire.com says that following the acquisition of LinkedIn, analyst Michael Markowski of Equities.com claims Microsoft will be the first tech company to hit a market valuation of a trillion dollars, beating out Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook.

If you didn’t get an Amazon Echo with Alexa for Christmas, you might be coveting LG’s latest…which they just teased, and will show at CES next week It’s the PJ9 Bluetooth speaker, and it floats in midair above its base! 9to5mac.com reports that powerful magnets do the magic trick. It’s battery powered, and when it gets low, it lands on its base and wirelessly recharges itself! LG claims the 360 degree sphere has ‘deep bass, flush midrange tones, and crisp highs.’ We’ll find all that out plus the price and availability at CES next week.


Fords to Get Apple CarPlay & Android Auto; 18 Inch Roll Up LG Display!

Ford will integrate both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into its in-dash infotainment system. Thenextweb.com reports that all existing and future models with the Sync 3 connectivity system will support both platforms. This means all 2017 Ford models will work with either for calling, music playback, and voice commands. Ford predicts that 43 million Sync 3 equipped cars will be on the road by 2020. If you have a present Ford with Sync 3, you’ll be able to upgrade and add CarPlay or Android Auto later this year.

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The folks at LG have been experimenting with roll up screens for a while now. They are now going to show a prototype 18 inch screen at CES this week! Sony, Samsung, & Sharp are all looking into rollup screens, but this is the largest one by far. Theverge.com says LG will also show off a 55 inch ‘paper thin’ TV that has all the electronics installed independently.


From HD to 4K to 8K-The Video Quality Arms Race Continues

Just as higher def 4K TVs are finding their ways into living rooms, Sony and LG are planning to show 8K TVs at CES next week. Bgr.com says a side benefit should be lower prices for 4K TVs this year.

After sprucing up Office Mobile on iOS and Android, gigaom reports that Microsoft will add more touch features for its Windows Mobile version in the next 6 weeks.

A hacker has released an exploit claimed to be able to break into any iCloud account. Businessinsider.com reports iDict has been tried by some Reddit users, and seems to work. No word yet from Apple on a fix.


HTC Goes Big With High Megapixel Cams in New Smartphone

HTC will show it’s new flagship smartphone, code named ‘Hima’ at CES next week. 9to5google.com says it has a 5 inch screen and a 20.7 megapixel camera, and a 13 megapixel front facing ‘selfie’ camera!

LG has rolled out a new ‘Art Slim’ series of TV’s that are 75% slimmer! They’ll be showing off a .3 thick 55 inch one next week, and cnet.com reports the 65 inch screen is barely thicker. They’re 25% lighter weight, too!

Virtual reality headsets are cool, but you need content, and now Samsung has introduced a service called Milk VR featuring 360 degree content. TechCrunch.com notes that Samsung wants it to become the YouTube of VR content.