Apple Folding Phone Patent; SodaStream Water into Wine; Paid Comcast Fast Lane; SoftBank Uber Share Offer

While Samsung has teased about a folding phone, and we just recently reported that they may actually put one out in a couple years, now Apple may be eyeing something similar. Thenextweb.com reports that Apple has applied fora patent on a foldable electronic device with a flexible display. Granted, ‘electronic device’ could also mean a laptop, tablet, or even watch, but considering Samsung’s rumblings, a phone is a good bet. As with Samsung, it could be in a couple years or even not at all…we’ll just have to stay tuned.

Before you start typing in the web address to buy one, this next gadget is reportedly only available in Germany and only for a limited time. That said, SodaStream has announced ‘Sparkling Gold’ drink mix. According to theverge.com, German users will be able to turn water into wine…basically sparkling Riesling. It’s designed to be 10% alcohol by volume at the 1 to 5 recommended ratio…but you know some people will double up! SodaStream says an independent test found that three quarters of the participants found it comparable to real French Champagnes like Moet and Chardon. One bottle can make 12 glasses of wine…again it will only be on the German SodaStream online shop…awwww!

Comcast has promised for years that they wouldn’t charge for fast lanes, or throttle or block internet content. With the FCC about to vote to drop net neutrality, the company has been running Twitter ads saying they won’t block or throttle content…but they have quietly dropped their promise about not charging extra for fast lanes. Arstechnica.com says with then NBCUniversal purchase in 2011, the company agreed to limit paid prioritization…but that condition expires in September 2018.

SoftBank and a group of investors are looking to buy a good-sized chunk of Uber…and do it for 30% less than the company presently values itself. According to bloomberg.com, if the deal flies, they would have at least 14% of Uber. Besides buying the stock for 6 billion and letting shareholders cash out, SoftBank would inject a billion of fresh cash into the ride hailing service. The tender offer is expected to start today, and the process could take some 20 business days to complete.

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iPhone May Have Smart Connector for AR; Minecraft Getting It’s Own Money; Comcast Plans Netflix Rival, No In-Flight Cell Phone Use; Radiation Blocking Undies

Yes, all the buzz is that the iPhone 8 gets and OLED screen and catches up with Samsung, but the ‘one more thing’ may be connecting to an AR or VR headset via a Smart Connector like the iPad Pro has. The connector could also be used for wireless charging, although that can be done through the back inductively. If Apple is finally ready to jump into AR, that would be huge!

Microsoft is rolling out a new marketplace and currency for Minecraft. According to bloomberg.com, businesses will be able to sell content and creations to the millions of Minecraft players. The rollout…which is due yet this spring….will have feature packs including new story lines, in-game activities, and landscapes, and they will run anywhere from a buck to $10 each. The literal ‘coin of the realm’ will be Minecraft Coins! Up to now, you could only buy items created by the Minecraft development team. 10 third party sellers will kickoff the new Minecraft store. The coins can be bought by any supported device running iOS, Android, or Windows. Microsoft didn’t disclose how much developers will get as a cut, but did say it’s over half.

Comcast is going to create its own rival to Netflix in the next 12-18 months, using NBC shows. Theverge.com says it may also include material from Comcast cable channels SyFy, USA, and Bravo. Yet to be decided is whether or not it will feature a live sports feed. Comcast has owned NBC Universal since 2011.

The new Republican FCC Chairman may have done something you will actually love. The Friendly Candy Company, as broadcasters have called it for decades, plans to kill proceedings that would relax rules and allow people to use cell phones while airborne. Macrumors.com reports that the Chairman calls the plan ‘ill-conceived’ and called tabling cell phones on airliners ‘a victory for Americans all across the country.’ Next time you’re trying to snooze or watch a flick on your mobile device in airplane mode, without some jerk shouting into their phone, thank the FCC!

For guys who carry their cell phone in their pocket that are worried about damaging their little swimmers, check out Spartan boxers and briefs. Mashable.com says they have silver woven into the fabric to protect your boys from electromagnetic radiation from the phone, The maker adds that the silver is also naturally anti-bacterial. Oh…did we mention they’re $45 per PAIR. They should last 300 wash cycles at any rate.


Comcast Partners with YouTube; Twitch Readying ‘Buy Now’ Button for Games; iPhone Getting Cam with 3D For Both Biometrics and Putting Users in Games

Comcast is partnering with YouTube, and will offer an app to watch it over their Xfinity boxes later this year. According to variety.com, no details are out about the deal, but you will be able to browse and watch YouTube’s entire catalog of videos, and use the X1 remote to do it by voice command if you like.

Twitch is getting ready to roll out a buy now button to allow you to pay streamers and buy games right in a stream you’re watching. Partnered streamers will get 5% share of the purchase, an game developers 70% of the revenue. Cnet.com says for starters it will only be available in the US to players with Amazon accounts. Ubisoft, Telltale Games and 11Bit are making their games available through Twitch stream.

Apple appears to be working on a camera for iPhones with ‘3D sensing and modeling capabilities,’ that will reinvent the user experience. Businessinsider.com reports that KGI Securities thinks it may appear in the new iPhone 8, but may well be improved on even more in a later phone. One application might be facial recognition for new biometric security, but another could be to put the user’s face into games on a character.


Chevy Bolt Will Break the 200 Mi Ceiling; Netflix-Caps Are Dumb; T-Mobile iPhone Preorders Explode, Longer Tweets in Days

Chevrolet has announced that the Bolt…the smaller, all electric sibling to the hybrid Volt….will have a range of 238 miles. Engadget.com notes that 200 miles is the ‘sweet spot,’ and cars having range exceeding that seem to ease driver fear of being stranded. Chevy says the Bolt will be in showrooms before the end of the year. The Tesla Model 3 is still about a year away from hitting the roads.

Days ago, Netflix wrote the FCC, imploring the Federal Cookie Company…as broadcasters have loved to call it…to disallow data caps. Bgr.com reports that Netflix argues caps serve no legitimate purpose and ‘are an ineffective management tool,’ really serving as a way for Comcast and TWC to stifle competition…primarily from services like Netflix. The Federal Communications Commission…which generally moves with the speed of an elderly snail…has yet to respond.

For months, the tech media has whined that the iPhone 7 would be SO boring with not changing the case design that sales would tank. According to appleinsider.com, T-Mobile’s CEO says sales of the iPhone 7 are quadruple that of the iPhone 6. So far on T-Mobile, Matte Black is the most popular color…that’s what I have coming. CEO Legere has a Jet Black one on the way.

The wait is nearly over…next Monday, Twitter’s longer Tweets will finally be live. Theverge.com reminds us that media attachments…including images, videos, polls, etc, as well as quoted Tweets, will no longer count towards the 140 character limit. Usernames at the beginning of Tweets will also no longer be counted. Go crazy, Twitterati!


Hulu Working on $40 Skinny Bundle Cable Competitor; LG In-Screen Fingerprint Reader

Just as traditional cable companies are trying to win back cord cutters with so-called ‘skinny bundles’ that feature less content and a lower price, Hulu is building a cable-like TV package that will go for around $40 a month. According to businessinsider.com, it would give viewers live channels, and Hulu hopes to have it out first quarter of next year. So far, it would have Disney Channel, ABC, ESPN, Fox Broadcast, News, FX, and the Fox national and regional sports channels. Comcast hasn’t agreed to license NBCUniversal or it’s other channels so far, as they likely view the new Hulu service as a direct competitor.

A division of LG-LG Innotek, has revealed a fingerprint sensor module that lives under the glass cover or screen of your smart phone. 9to5google.com says this would allow for more waterproof models and a sleeker design….without the physical button below the screen. It reportedly has an accuracy of .002%! LG thinks they can have it out in a phone by next year.


Build a Virtual Store From Your Phone; Comcast $15 Stream Service Cord Cutters Might Actually Want

Consumer non-favorite Comcast has kicked off a $15 a month streaming service with the original name ‘The Stream,’ that includes local networks, HBO, and on-demand movies and TV shows. Thenextweb.com reports it’s just out in Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire so far. It will be in Chicago and Seattle soon, and nationwide early next year. Naturally, there’s a catch…you have to be an Xfinity…or Comcast internet…customer. Even if it doesn’t lure you back to Comcast, it will certainly force other ISPs to look at making similar deals available.

Shopify has dropped a new app called Sello for iOS and Android that lets anyone create an online store from their phone. According to techcrunch.com, you just put up a photo of the item you plan to sell, add a price and description, and off you go! Through the app, you can accept credit card and PayPal payments, and share product listings on social networks. Shopify expects most products will be found on social nets, and not through the app. The Sello app is free, and there are no transaction fees…they make the money on payment processing.


Your Internet May Be Coming Via Lightbulbs Before Long

The news this week had a story of a random hacker stealing Wi-Fi passwords, and having been hacked a few years ago by someone parked outside my home, I’ve always worried that even the top security level and a strong password aren’t enough for Wi-Fi. As thenextweb.com reports, we may all be safer and have better coverage with the next big thing…Li-Fi. As more of us add LED bulbs around the house…my son has them in every single fixture, I have them in about half…we also gain the ability to transmit signals on light frequencies…which can’t be hacked if your curtains and shades are closed, and will make available far more spectrum to handle the traffic of ‘the internet of things,’ like your fridge, thermostat, and virtually everything else electric with a chip that lives in your home with you. There are already companies in Scotland and France offering Li-Fi. It could be in your home in the next few years.

Perhaps nothing is as aggravating as trying to cancel a service, especially a tenacious one like Comcast cable, which actually has a manual and trains people on how to block your cancellation every step of the way. TechCrunch.com says there’s a new service called Airpaper that will do it for you for 5 bucks. You do, of course, have to give them your name, address, phone number, and Comcast account number. They claim not to use the info for any other purpose. It could get hacked…they could sell that info, but I’m betting a lot of people will roll the dice anyway, just to not have the hassle of dealing with trying to cut the cord.