More iPhone 8 From HomePod Leak; Apple Watch May Gain LTE Capability; Faraday Future Dumps Nevada for California; Americans Using Less Juice Than A decade Ago

As geeks continue to sift through the HomePod software, we get more and more teases about the iPhone 8. Macrumors.com says it indicates that the FaceID facial recognition software is so good, you won’t have to raise the phone and hold it in front of your face to open the phone. The phone may also be capable of shooting 4K video at 60 FPS with either front or rear cameras.

The HomePod leak also seems to reveal that the Apple Watch this fall may get a new form factor and have LTE. According to bloomberg.com, you will be able to connect directly to cellular networks, with no need to be tethered to an iPhone. No indication on if you could make voice calls or it’s just for messages and data, or what apple is doing to preserve battery life, but Apple is apparently in talks with carriers in the US and Europe.

Faraday Future, which at one time planned to build a large electric car plant in Nevada and a smaller one in Vallejo, CA has bolted, and signed a lease on an abandoned Pirelli tire plant in Hanford, in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Techcrunch.com reports that it hopes to be in the new plant by November, and be delivering cars by the end of 2018. Faraday still apparently has an option for a smaller facility on Mare Island in Vallejo. Faraday’s CFO Stephan Krause downplayed financial woes tied to LeEco in China, saying the company has no legal relationship, and if the Chinese company goes under, Faraday would still be solvent.

We all have numerous electronic gadgets and devices…far more than 10 years ago…but due to their becoming more efficient, we are using less electricity! According to recode.net, residential electricity sales per person is down 7% since 2010, too. Part of the reason is more efficient devices, but another part is that people are using phones and tablets more, which are smaller and more efficient. The US Energy Information Administration warns that we may see an increase again between 2030 and 2040, as more rechargeable devices come online…and the so-called ‘smart home’ becomes common. Commercial electricity use is not tapering off, since a lot of what we do online with the cloud, Google, Amazon, and Facebook requires giant server farms that Hoover up many kilowatt hours of electricity.


ALL Volvos Will Be Electrified by 2019; Twitter Predicts Situations Before Police Reports Come in

Volvo has announced they will offer electrified versions of every model starting in 2019. Cnet.com reports that by that model year, there won’t be any Volvo without some degree of electrification. Some will be hybrids, with gas engine plus electric, some will be total e-vehicles. Volvo says this is in response to customer demand. They would be the only company besides Tesla to offer electrification across their entire line.

New research from Cardiff University, which examined 1.6 million tweets from the London 2011 riots, has noticed that Twitter can be used to detect dangerous situations up to an hour faster than police reports. According to mashable.com, researchers wrote event detection algorithms that use various features of Twitter data — like sentiment, frequency of tweets containing certain words, and geolocation and timing of the tweets. They discovered they were able to map out real-time disruptive events from five minutes to an hour before the Met Police were aware of them. They believe this prediction element could be used to help first responders and emergency services before the threat escalates. The down side? An argument that “predicting” some kind of activity before it escalates could lead to a Minority Report-kind of scenario, in which law enforcement intervenes to curb freedoms of assembly or interfere with freedom of speech. [There was a big outcry a couple years ago in San Fransisco where WiFi was killed to underground BART stations so moving protesters couldn’t use social media to communicate.] The scientists claim their research works at an aggregate level so really only flags events once there is sufficient ‘noise’ around a certain event, avoiding identifying individuals in a effort to retain privacy.


LG V20 Rollout Date Announced; Tesla Gives Timeline for Minibus & Big Rig Unveiling

The first smartphone to run Android Nougat, the LG V20, will be showed off to the world September 6th in San Francisco. According to thenextweb.com, the cryptic announcement just says ‘Play More,’ and ‘The Second Story Begins,’ along with a cool graphic of a book open to reveal San Francisco landmarks. With LG continuing to struggle for market share in the shadow of Apple and Samsung, this rollout a week before Apple shows the iPhone 7 may give them a boost.

Tesla had a slightly bigger loss than expected for 2nd quarter, but during the investor call, Elon Musk revealed more about upcoming new vehicles. Theverge.com says Musk announced that the company would unveil their electric big rig and minibus in early to mid 2017, and said at that point, they’d give a ‘fleshed out plan when those would enter production.’ The minibus will be built on the Model X platform. He also said that a compact SUV would be a top priority after getting the mass-market Model 3 into production.


Verizon Swallows Most of Yahoo; GM & Lyft to Launch Driverless Electric Car; iPhone 7 Rollout Date Determined

As rumored over the weekend, Verizon is buying Yahoo for $4.83 billion. Recode.net says they will roll up the core Yahoo business into Verizon-owned AOL. Tim Armstrong, who came to AOL from Google and revitalized it as a web sales engine, will run the combined AOL/Yahoo. Marissa Mayer will, as they say, exit. The sale does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba Group Holdings, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments, and Yahoo’s non-core patents. All of those will continue to be held by Yahoo, which will change its name at closing.

GM and Lyft will begin testing an electric, driverless vehicle before the end of the year. According to futuritech.info, the General plans to first release the vehicle on the Lyft platform, and then spread to the rest of the mass market. So far, GM and Lyft are keeping the timeline close to the vest as to when the vehicles will be available to most anybody, so stay tuned for that.

Two quick iPhone 7 notes from bgr.com…according to reputable leaker Evan Blass, the latest from Apple will hit the shelves September 16th. This points to a rollout by Tim Cook & company on September 6th or 7th. We also hear the headphone jack-less phone will ship with a dongle…oh, how we love those…so you can use your present headphones or earbuds. A new profit center for Apple, as angry users lose or break the stupid dongles, and have to buy more…probably for 20 or 30 dollars each!


HP Goes Big for Gaming With Omen Line; Apple Drilling Down into Charging Electric Cars

HP is bringing the Omen name to all it’s gaming hardware, with a new lineup of laptops and desktops. In the laptop arena, according to engadget.com, they’ll lead off with an $899 model sporting a 15.6 inch screen, and in desktops, they say they’re VR ready with enough power to run HTC Vive and Oculus Rift VR setups. A tradeoff to power up and stay cheaper…cheaper plastic cases on the laptops instead of aluminum. The laptops will bow July 10th, with the desktop and 32 inch monitor shipping in August.

One of the biggest silver bullets for electric cars is range…battery life. Another is getting recharged when and where you need to. According to theverge.com, Apple is diving into charging electric cars. A Reuters report says Cupertino is reaching out to charging station companies about their ‘underlying technology’ and has staffed up with engineers having experience in vehicle charging. If they are indeed working on an electric car with Project Titan, a network of charging stations will be critical to their success….as will cruising range.


Electric Car Builder Faraday to Build Factory in SF Area; Apple Joining the Voice Command Speaker Club

It would be the biggest employer to hit Vallejo, Northeast of San Francisco, since the Navy closed the Mare Island submarine base. Los Angeles based Faraday Future, the electric car startup rumored to be backed out of China, is apparently about to lock in a deal to buy a 157 acre site on Mare Island to build a car production facility and showroom. According to San Francisco Business Times, if the deal is done, Faraday has a 6 month window to firm up a proposal to build a million square foot facility on Mare Island. Faraday is already building a billion dollar, 3 million square foot facility in North Las Vegas.

Now that Google has showed it’s answer to the Amazon Echo, there are reports that Apple will have a new speaker and mic, and tools for Siri developers by their upcoming World Wide Developers Conference next month. Thenextweb.com says Apple probably intends to stitch in their Home system for the internet of things in addition to polling for restaurants and checking Maps and the rest. The lone holdout in the AI assistant sweepstakes now is Microsoft with Cortana.


Mobile Moving Up In Google Searches

Google has an upcoming change to search…engadget.com says on April 21st, they will roll out an updated algorithm that puts mobile versions of websites higher in the search results. The search giant also has a mobile-friendly test tool available for website operators to check that Google recognizes their mobile version.

Samsung has frequently been dinged for copying Apple. According to bgr.com, the tables are about to be turned, as Apple may be working on a virtual reality headset like the Gear VR. Cupertino already has some VR patents, but new job listings indicate things are heating up on developing an Apple VR headset.

Electric cars get all the glory, but a co-founder of Tesla says its electric trucks that will matter more. The verge.com reports that Ian Wright claims companies should retrofit gas guzzling trucks with his Wrightspeed range-extended power trains. Wright is already converting 25 FedEx trucks to his system, and says they’ll save 35 grand a year each in fuel and $20,000 in maintenance.