Galaxy S9 Will Clone Apple’s Animojis; Twitch Has Viewer Numbers of Cable News Nets; Amazon Rolling Own AI Chips for Alexa; Facebok Launches Lists

Call it practical or insulting, but Samsung has done best with smartphones when they’ve stolen liberally from Apple. Now, macrumors.com says the Galaxy S9 will copy the iPhone X’s Animojis. Samsung teases that theirs will be 3D and be ‘more advanced’ than Apple’s. They will reveal the name of their clone when the phone rolls out on March 16th. The Samsung version, like Apple’s, will be powered by the Galaxy S9’s facial recognition system. Samsung’s facial recognition isn’t expected to be as secure as Apple’s, but Samsung will also include a rear fingerprint sensor and iris scanner.

Twitch has now become as big as the big cable nets in viewership. According to businessinsider.com, the Amazon-owned streaming service had 962,000 average viewers last month (January 2018). ESPN and Fox News have 1.5 million, MSNBC has 885,000, and CNN 783,000. Twitch channels are not all just gaming…there are also IRL streams (in real life) with massive amounts of content covering all sorts of subjects. Find them on the web at Twitch.tv.

Amazon has started designing its own AI chips to work with Alexa devices. Engadget.com says the custom silicon should enable the virtual assistant to respond more quickly by baking speech recognition into the devices that use it, rather than having to bounce to the cloud then back with a response. Alexa would still need to touch base with the cloud for more complex inquiries, but for simple requests, the chips will make it responses quicker.

Because they can never have enough of our information to sell, Facebook has launched ‘Lists.’ The new feature is rolling out today. Techcrunch.com reports that Facebook sees it as a way to get users to share more personal content. The lists can be To Do lists, Resolutions, eateries to try, bucket list travel destinations, or whatever. To entice usage, Facebook has included choices of colored backgrounds and emoji. It will appear in the ‘What’s on your mind’ status update box along with the other options.

Google sold 3.9 million Pixel phones in 2017. If that doesn’t sound like a record shattering number to you, you’re right. According to theverge.com, that’s about what Apple sells in iPhones in a week. The good news is, with the Pixel 2, the sales pace has doubled. If they can keep doubling periodically, it should be a success.

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New iPad Drop Date; iPhone 8 Will Get New Name; CNN Starts VR News Unit

Apple will show it’s freshened iPads on April 4th, according to a report picked up by bgr.com. The 9.7 inch and 12.9 inch Pro models will be joined by a brand new 10.5 inch model that will supposedly have an edgeless display. The tablets may also be available the same day as the announcement. In a tantalizing rumor, the rollout may take place at the Steve Jobs Theatre on the new Apple ‘Spaceship’ campus!

A couple of rumors about the iPhone 8 are swirling. 9to5mac.com reports that the hero phone may be called the iPhone Edition instead of 8. While it’s still expected to be shown with the 7S and 7S plus in September, the Edition may come out later. Apparently, Apple is still prototyping models with and without home buttons, and mixes with and without OLED screens and glass or ceramic backs. Some important features are locked down, though. The Edition will have a 5 inch edgeless display, dual cameras, and wireless charging.

CNN has announced formation of a virtual reality news unit. Engadget.com says the new unit will produce videos and live streams of major events, and will put out 360 degree videos, and immersive VR content. Huffington Post and the New York Times already have VR units producing the futuristic rich mix of VR forms.


No Tesla Model X For You Until Mid-2016

The already delayed Tesla SUV, the Model X, with the gullwing rear doors, will be introduced September 29th, but don’t expect to get your hands on one until the 2nd half of 2016. Bgr.com reports that the middle of next year is when Tesla’s order page indicates newly reserved cars will be shipping. Both engineering challenges and the success of the Model S have contributed to delays for the unique electric SUV. We should know the price next week, though. Elon Musk already revealed the nosebleed price for the signature model. Tesla already has 31,000 preorders banked for the Model X…nearly triple what they had for the Model S back in 2012. This just in, from Businessinsider.com:

BI Tech ‏@SAI
Tesla Model S will have over 600 miles of range in 2 years, by @greencarreports http://read.bi/1QDK1Qx

If you’ve jumped into the virtual reality world with both eyeballs, here’s something that may interest you…CNN has announced that they will partner with Next VR and broadcast the Democratic Debate on October 13th in VR!. According to engadget.com, users of Samsung’s GearVR will be able to immerse themselves in the debate as if they were sitting right in the Las Vegas audience.