NOkay Google; New iPhones Get Apple Pencil Support & Lower Price; Banks Monitoring Phone & Computer Use; No Wake Word for Cars

In the ‘just another thing to creep you out’ department, Google can apparently track your location even if you have Location Services switched off. Businessinsider.com reports that on Android devices and iOS devices running Google’s apps, if you use Google Maps, the app stores your minute to minute location. Even with Location History paused, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you open Maps. Also, daily weather updates on Androids pinpoint your rough location. Google searches…even if location neutral? Yep, they store your location. Google says this is ‘made clear’ in their agreement…like anything is clear and easy to find in those!

Apple may have a couple things up their sleeve with the new iPhones that will rattle SamsungWorld. According to zdnet.com, Cupertino will not only add Apple Pencil support to the new iPhones (in direct threat to the brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 9), but also may have squeezed suppliers on costs to offer lower across the board prices. The price range will apparently be from $699 for the mid-sized LED screen, single cam ‘budget’ model people are calling iPhone 9 to $999 for the supersized OLED screen XI Plus (or whatever they are calling it.) All three new iPhones will have Face ID.

In an effort to fight fraudsters, banks are secretly Hoovering up as many as 2,000 data points on how you use your phone and computer. 9to5mac.com says they run from the angle at which you hold your phone to whether you use the numeric keypad or the numbers at the top of the keyboard, and even if you use the mouse scroll wheel or not. Royal Bank of Scotland said they already caught one fraudster with the data…the hacker used the scroll wheel and typed numbers with the keys at the top…something the customer had never done before. Then, the crook tried to transfer a 7 figure blast of cash out of the account…and was blocked. Yeah, it seems creepy as hell, but OTOH, who wants a million or so sucked out of your account? For the record, I’m ok with any of you transferring a million or more IN to my account as often as you want to!

Wake words…they work for voice assistants, but sure sound stupid. “Hey, Siri,” “OK, Google,” “Alexa”, and all may not be necessary in cars much longer. Engadget.com reports that Nuance is putting an updated system into next year’s BMWs that will understand when the driver is talking to passengers, on the phone, or to the car. Nuance calls it ‘Just Talk’ mode. According to Nuance, the system listens for expressions, grammar, phrases, words and even sentence structure that it can determine with a high probability that the driver is directing toward the car. A plus for you, not to use a wake word or push a button or touch a screen…but also, a plus for the car makers. They feel it will help keep drivers in their system instead of using Apple Car Play or Android Auto.

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Apple Working On Own CPUs for Macs; Cheaper Google Pixel 3; Tesla Model 3 Production Scramble; Facebook Adds HD Video and 360 Degree Photos to Messenger

Just as Intel is rolling out i9 and updated i7 chips, comes word that Apple is working on Macs that run its own CPUs. Arstechnica.com reports that Apple could be shipping computers running its own processors by 2020, but it will take a serious rewrite of the MacOS. On the plus side, the Apple designed chips will use less juice, increasing battery life on MacBooks, and developers will be able to publish apps that run on both the MacOS and iOS for mobile devices. Apple is thought to be treading carefully in this, and would continue to use Intel CPUs for a time, as developers still need to build apps that run on Intel processors, and they would not want to take a huge hit to the App Store if developers balk at non-intel processors.

Google is apparently going to have 3 models in the Pixel 3 lineup pater this year. According to bgr.com, one will be a more affordable model. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news? The cheap model may only be available in India and similar markets, and not here in the US. As a mid range device, it would also lack features most smartphones offer as standard…specifically, the other two Pixel models. The lower priced Pixel 3 could hit the market in July or August. No date range for the two higher line Pixel 3 phones yet…or pricing.

By now, Tesla was supposed to be cranking out 2500 Model 3s per week. They are still falling short, but are now producing 2000 per week, so at least have gotten into the ballpark after a number of production hiccups. Theverge.com says Elon Musk claims to be sleeping at the factory until they hit the 2500 number. Tesla has promised to be building 5000 per week by later the end of the 2nd quarter, as they try to clear the backlog of orders and deposits still numbering several hundred thousand. The continued misses, have spooked Wall Street and the stock has dropped 22% in March.

Facebook is trying to put on a happy face in the wake of all the negative news about privacy. The social network’s newsroom has announced that Messenger will now be able to handle 360 degree photos and panoramic shots, as well as HD quality, 720p videos right from the camera roll of smartphones. They note you will need to download the latest software update to Messenger to get the new features.


Another Strong Hint that iPhone 8 Will Feature AR; Google Working on 3 Successors to Present Pixel Phone

While the tech world pours over rumors that the iPhone 8 will have an OLED screen…perhaps curved….and wireless charging, another strong hint has dropped that the real game changer may be AR. Bgr.com reports that advanced 3D sensor maker Lumentum put out guidance that it has booked revenue into what it calls ‘a high-volume mobile-device application.’ iPhones already have 3D sensors, but they are used as range finders and proximity detectors. Highly advanced 3D sensors like Lumentum makes could be used for gesture control or mapping the surrounding 3D environment. This truly could be Apple’s ‘next big thing.’

The folks at Google are apparently working on 3 models to update the Pixel phone. According to thenextweb.com, the three are code named for freshwater fish, and one will have a larger screen than the other two. There may be a cheaper version, as well as a feature packed waterproof high-end successor. As Apple and Samsung, the updated phones will likely have a slimmer bezel, too.


‘Amazon Killer’ Startup Jet Launches

Jet, which has been operating in beta since April, officially launched today. They’ve raise 225 million in their effort to out-Amazon Amazon. Businessinsider.com reports the site promises prices 10-15% lower than anywhere else. Product prices start at about 8% cheaper, but Jet gives further discounts when you bundle multiple orders into a single shipment. The company claims not to take a cut of product prices, but just be about making money from a Costco like $50 annual membership fee.

Google has released a new plug in that allows you to open files for Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint right from Google Drive. When you’re ready to save, you can save right inside Drive, too. According to engadget.com, it works with Office on Windows machines, but Google hasn’t announced when the plug in might be available on Macs.


Facebook Testing ‘Floating Videos’

Facebook is testing a new feature, so you may see a new button on the lower right of the control bar at the bottom of videos. Thenextweb.com reports that it allows videos to float, and move to the lower left corner, allowing you to continue to scroll through your newsfeed while watching the video. You can drag the video window anywhere, and it can be shared at any point. It automatically goes away if you click to another Facebook page.

There continue to be advances in solar cell tech, and now the army…yes, the US Army…has built smaller, cheaper, tougher solar cells. According to engadget.com, instead of single crystal silicon, the army has super thin sandwiches of sliver and gold between semiconductor layers. Normally infrared and ultraviolet solar rays heat, warp, and crack all-silicon panels. With the gold an silver layers, they can use a fuller spectrum of solar wavelengths to generate power without that damage. The new panels also generate the same amount of energy regardless of the angle of sunlight…they don’t have to be on expensive, motorized tracking stands. The panels are still in the testing stage, but could be a major breakthrough in solar technology.