iPhone 8 Gesture Controls; Amazon Echo Goes Muiti-Room; Sonos Making Smart Speaker; Cummins Announces Electric Big Rig

There’s already been a lot leaked about the iPhone 8, but now, here’s something new from bloomberg.com: in addition to losing the physical home button, Apple has added gesture controls that open the home screen and can actually move the software-based task bar up to mid-screen, open multitasking, and more. The task bar will look like the dock for iPad on iOS 11. In multitasking, instead of the stack overlapping cards to swipe through, it will appear of a series of standalone cards.

Getting the drop on Apple’s HomePod by a few months, Amazon has dropped a new feature letting you play, sync, and control music over multiple Echos using voce commands. 9to5mac.com says they have also rolled out new developer tools.

Meanwhile, Sonos…which has been the big name in home speakers…is working on a new one with integrated voice control functionality. According to bgr.com, the CEO has said he wants it to work with ‘all services that matter.’ While getting into Apple’s closed system and Siri is probably out, expect it to work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The FCC filing says it will work with ‘multiple voice platforms!’ It may be rolled out in October.

Tesla plans to unveil their electric truck next month. Now, diesel engine maker Cummins has announced their own electric big rig. Electrek.co says it’s designed as an ‘urban hauler,’ and has a 100 mile range on batteries. The rig can recharge in an hour, and Cummins says that will be improved before it hits the market. A hybrid version with a small diesel will also be offered, boasting a 300 mile range. The rig will pull a 44,000 lb. load.

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Prime Day-Best Deals Are Amazon’s Own-Natch; Galaxy S8 Sales Trail S7’s; Audi A8 First Level 3 Semi-Autonomous Car

Prime Day is in full swing, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that some of the primo deals are on Amazon’s own stuff. If you want to get your feet wet with Alexa, bgr.com says to check out the Amazon Echo in black for $89.99, or the 2nd Gen Echo Dot…also in black for $34.99. As for TVs, a Sony 65 inch 4K Smart TV is $1498, and a Samsung 55 inch Smart TV with 4K is $700.99!

According to 9to5google.com, brokerage analysts estimate that Samsung Galaxy S8 sales are trailing the S7 by about 20% for the 1st two months….9.8 million for the S8, where the S7 hit 12 million. They believe the sales hit may be due to stronger competition from Chinese brands, plus customer anticipation of the highly hyped iPhone 8.

Audi has revealed that their 2019 A8 sedan will have level 3 autonomous features. Engadget.com reports that the ‘AI Traffic Jam Pilot’ will move the car in gridlock situations on the highway without driver input. The system handles acceleration, steering, braking, and starting from dead stop. Drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel at speeds up to 37 mph. As with all of these systems, it depends on local laws, and the car will nag you if you need to take over…no napping! It is a mild hybrid…not hybrid to the level of their e-tron plug in or a Prius, but should save on fuel.


iPhone 8 Color Rumor; 3 OLED iPhone 9 Models; Amazon Prime Poised to Pass Up Cable TV; Alexa Can Tell When Your Stuff is Out for Delivery; Future 3D Printing-Star Trek Replicator?

The latest iPhone 8 rumor is that there will be 4 colors, and one will be mirror like. 9to5mac.com says it will be either sliver or black…which is confusing, since there is already the pretty mirror-like Jet Black. Perhaps with the glass back, it will be even more mirror-like. You can admire it before you stuff it in an Otterbox so you don’t break your precious thousand buck toy! In other future iPhone news, 2018 reportedly will bring 3 new iPhone models, and all will have OLED displays. It’s over a year away, but Nikkei sees Apple suppliers preparing to meet the expected demand.

Amazon Prime is nipping at cable TV’s numbers. According to recode.net, there are 79 million US homes that have Amazon Prime, including Prime Video. That compares to 90 million who are paying for cable or satellite this year. Amazon’s numbers grew from 66 million to the 79 million year over year, to they may pass up pay TV by next year! It’s a desirable market, too…over 80% of America’s wealthiest households have Amazon Prime.

If you are like most of us, you probably go to Amazon’s website and obsess over when your loot is going to be delivered. Theverge.com says you can ask Alexa ‘where’s my stuff,’ and your Echo will track deliveries. Now, just in time for prime day, your Echo will also light up a different color on delivery day. Alexa will ask you if you want to be notified when your package is out for delivery. For some of us, the Echo’s LED ring will probably actually stay that ‘out for delivery’ color all the time!

3D printing just gets more amazing all the time. They are building everything from toys to food to cars to houses right now…some admittedly pretty crude. Zdnet.com says the logical extension will be the Star Trek replicator making our food …or ‘Tea…Earl Grey….hot!’ They point out that there is a difference between printing materials at the molecular level and the micron level, but it’s really not that much. We may not see this right away, but it’s definitely on the horizon. With improving printers to work at the molecular level and better voice assistants, we could all be Captain Picard in this lifetime!


Amazon Touchscreen Echo Leak; Smart Speaker Market Set to Double; Spray On Touchpads

As with all tech companies, Amazon plays with different versions of products. Thenextweb.com got its hands on a pic of one version for the upcoming Alexa powered touchscreen Echo, and the tech media collectively threw up. The wedge shaped gadget with a 7 inch screen has been universally panned. A prior leak had a short round tower with a smaller touchscreen angled on top. Let’s hope the previous leak is closer to what actually drops…probably later this month. It is said to be equipped to make video calls, and may have visual recognition, like the hapless Fire phone.

With a touchscreen Echo in the pipeline, the Google speaker finding homes, and Apple reported to be working on a high end smart speaker, 9to5mac.com has picked up a report from Reuters that says smart speaker use will double in the US this year. They are looking at 35.6 million. Amazon is expected to hold a little over 70% of the market.

Want a touchpad somewhere? Just spray it on! That’s the concept behind Electrick (with a ‘k’), a design from some brainy folks at Carnegie Mellon University. Techcrunch.com says it is mainly the brainchild of a PhD student named Yang Zhang, and it uses small electrodes attached to the edges of a painted surface. You can put a touchpad on wood, plastic, dry wall…reportedly even Play Doh and Jell-O. The tech is set to be demonstrated at a conference in Denver.


Apple Working on Non-Invasive Glucose Monitor; Next iPhones Getting More RAM; Amazon Offering Echo’s Voice Recognition to Other Device Makers

Apple has a team of biomedical engineers working on sensors to monitor blood glucose levels accurately through the skin, without the finger prick and blood draw. Macrumors.com says Apple may do this via an add on and app instead of building it into every Apple Watch, since FDA approval for the entire watch would take so long, they couldn’t produce new models yearly. It will be a huge boon to diabetics who test to monitor blood sugar without repeated ‘sticks.’ Others have tried using light through skin to measure glucose for years, but they’ve been inaccurate, or the sensors have burned the skin. Stay tuned!

All 3 iPhone models due out this fall will come with 3 gigs of memory, according to macrumors.com. They will continue to carry Lightening connectors, but with USB C power delivery for faster charging. The present iPhone 7 Plus already has 3 gigs of memory, which is handy if you have lots of browser tabs open and helps the portrait mode on the camera to function.

Amazon is going to make its tech available to other device makers that gives the Echo its great voice recognition. Techcrunch.com reports that it will be by invitation only. Amazon will pick the OEMs it allows to incorporate its tech into their devices. It apparently works with different CPUs like ARM, Intel, and Raspberry Pi. ‘Hey, Siri, have Apple apply for voice recognition help from Alexa.’ Ok, we can dream, can’t we?


iPhone 8 May Just Get Inductive Charging; Newest Snapdragon Chip May Be Exclusive to Samsung Galaxy S8; Amazon Echo For Trekkies; Kids & Internet Devices in Bed

We’ve reported before that Apple will probably have wireless charging for the iPhone 8. Some rumors have it getting the Energous system, which uses radio waves, and works across the room. Now, macrumors.com reports that patents filed as late as 2013 indicate Apple may just roll their own with inductive charging….in other words, the tried and true set the phone on a charging pad method. It’s not as zoomy or futuristic, but in filings, Apple claims the wireless radio charging is too inefficient and not practical now.

There’s a new Qualcomm chip coming out, the Snapdragon 835, and it looks like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will have it exclusively at first. 9to5google.com says LG’s new G6, which will be shown at Mobile World Congress, will ship with the 821 chip, the same as the Google Pixel. The Snapdragon 821 is a perfectly good chip, and not quite a year old, but for the latest and greatest, you’ll have to get the Galaxy S8 after April.

Amazon may have added a killer feature to the Echo for Trekkies. You can now change the wake word in the settings to ‘Computer.’ Cnet.com says in addition to ‘Alexa’ and ‘Computer,’ you can also choose ‘Amazon,’ or ‘Echo.’ A Cnet reporter asked Echo to set phasers to stun, and it replied that was coming in a future update!

According to a new study by Intel Security, 76% of parents let their kids take internet connected gadgets to bed, while only 23% of them monitor the kids’ usage. Venturebeat.com says the survey polled 13,000 people. They come by it honestly….the survey also found that 36% of parents had been called out by their kids for checking their smartphones during family time. Even though parents aren’t monitoring kids as they should, 34% of parents have caught children visiting inappropriate sites.


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.