iPhones May Get USB-C Ports; Microsoft Revamps Office; Tesla Laying Off 9%; Big Names Back Better Battery Quest

After going all-in on USB-C on the MacBook Pro line, it looks like Apple may be getting ready to retire the Lightening connectors on the upcoming iPhones in favor of the more universally used connection. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple may also include an 18 watt charger to take advantage of quick charging…which the current phones are already capable of, but only with 3rd party chargers. It’s worth noting that this rumor comes from Digitimes, which doesn’t have the stellar accurate leak record of the likes of KGI Securities. That said, Apple has run with the Lightening port since 2012, so a change is more likely than not.

Microsoft is porting over its Fluent Design system from Windows 10 to Office, in an effort to simplify them for the some billion users of the productivity suite. According to theverge.com, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook will all get a new, simplified ribbon that is smaller and easier to use. There are new animations, icons that are more accessible, and more. The goal is to modernize Office, and make it more intuitive. The changes will hit the main desktop versions first, but also will be brought over to the web versions. They should appear on the apps for Windows next month, and on Macs by August. Microsoft also promises and increase in speed for the productivity suite.

As first indicated last month, Tesla has begun laying off salaried employees as they move to what Elon Musk calls ‘flattening the management structure’, and a ‘thorough reorganization’ of the company aimed at helping Tesla achieve profitability by the end of this year. Electrek.co notes that as many as 3,500 employees could be let go. No line workers will be involved in the layoffs, as Tesla continues to ramp up Model 3 production, and they will still be hiring ‘mission critical’ people. After the Solar City acquisition, Tesla laid off about 20% of that workforce, cutting duplicate positions and restructuring. They are also not continuing the residential sales agreement with Home Depot…although those employees will have the opportunity to move to Tesla retail locations.

Billion dollar startup Breakthrough Energy Ventures has dived into a couple startups aimed at power storage. Form Energy is working on novel chemistries for low-cost, long-term, high-density batteries, and Quidnet Energy is working on storing energy in highly compressed water. Geekwire.com says Breakthrough is backed by some really big players in tech: Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma. The fund was started a couple years ago, but the two energy storage tech startups are two of the first investments revealed by Breakthrough. Cheap, efficient energy storage will allow power generated by renewable energy sources to be stored for use 24/7 on the energy grid.

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Microsoft Works on New Xbox Consoles, Tesla Greenlights Full Self-Driving Features in August; Ads Bolt Facebook for Cheaper Traditional Media; Uber-Drunk Detecting Patent

The gaming console is far from dead, according to Microsoft. Geekwire.com reports that in the keynote at E3, Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer said there will be new generations of the Xbox console. Spencer says the team is ‘deep into architecting’ the next generation Xboxes. On Sunday, Microsoft also announced that they had picked up 4 gaming studios, and have created their own called The Initiative….and they plan more first-party titles. They will continue to work on AI and cloud resources as applied to gaming, too.

Elon Musk Tweeted over the weekend that Tesla is on track to begin enabling full self-driving features starting in August. That’s when Autopilot 9 will arrive for owners, according to engadget.com. Keep in mind that this won’t mean they will activate so much that you’ll be able to climb into the back seat and take a nap…the full features may only operate at low speed….like allowing you to let go of the wheel only in a parking lot…for now.

In a twist a lot of people didn’t see coming, direct marketers are cutting back on Facebook ads for….traditional media like Radio, TV, and even print! Digiday.com reports that they surveyed 10 good sized direct to consumer companies, and every one had cut back on Facebook and Instagram ads in favor of traditional media. Clutter of feeds was mentioned, but the primary motivator: Facebook ads have gotten too high for the audience segments they target. Apparently since January, CPMs on Facebook’s platform have rocketed up 122% over last year, while impression rate had dropped. This was confirmed by AdStage. Pricing on the other hand has eased on traditional media like Radio, TV, and print.

Uber has applied for a patent that detects drunk passengers. Techcrunch.com says it measures behavior via their phone against usual behavior…including data on location, data input accuracy and speed, speed of walking. The system would alert drivers, and indicates that riders in a particularly ‘unusual’ state might be matched with drivers with special expertise or not be allowed rides at all. WHAT? Won’t that put a serious dent in their business? Isn’t being tipsy at night one of the main reasons people even CALL an Uber? Stay tuned and we’ll see if they actually start using this system.


Moto Z3 Play; Intel Tech Points to 28 Hour Laptop Batteries; Udacity & Google Partner for Free Career Courses; Dave & Buster’s Gets Multiplayer VR Arcades; Tesla Near Model 3 Goal

Motorola has unveiled the Moto Z3 Play. It is mostly an incremental upgrade according to 9to5google.com. The handset does sport a bigger 6.01 inch display and smaller bezels all around, though. The fingerprint sensor has migrated from the front to a slightly thicker aluminum side rail. The Z3 Play runs a Snapdragon 636 processor, has 4 gigs of ram, and holds either 32 or 64 Gigs of storage. It does have a 3,000 mAh battery with fast charging. It’s $499 and available globally this month.

New tech from Intel may make laptop batteries regularly last up to 28 hours! The chipmaker made the announcement at Computex, and mashable.com says they have developed a low power display tech that can cut LCD power consumption in half. Keep in mind that they get that battery life at 150 nits of screen brightness…which is probably darker than you can really work for very long, so as the saying goes, ‘your mileage will vary.’ So far, the tech will only work with Intel chips, not Nvidia or AMD graphics.

Bringing resume and cover letter help to recent grads and ‘mid-career’ professionals, Udacity has partnered with Google for a number of free courses. According to techcrunch.com, they will not only offer free courses for basics like resumes and cover letters, but also optimizing your GitHub profile and beefing up your LinkedIn network. There are even courses in ‘Data Structures and Algorithms in Python’ as well as a course on Apple’s Swift platform. A total of 12 courses are available.

The Dave and Buster’s chain is in the process of installing multiplayer VR arcades, running HTC Vive hardware. Cnet.com reports that there will be 114 of them when complete, and a total of 500 VR headsets. According to HTC, the setups will be a ‘proprietary, multi participant motion platform’ built custom for Dave & Buster’s. Happy Holodecking, gamers!

Elon Musk says Tesla is going to be hitting their goal of 5,000 Model 3 cars a week by the end of June. As businessinsider.com notes, 5,000 is the ‘magic number’ Musk cites that will put Tesla into the black with the Model 3. Up to now, they have been burning cash like crazy. The company has had to shut down the production line twice to fix and upgrade their systems. Musk even took to sleeping at the factory in a conference room for a while until they got the bugs worked out.


Facebook is going to provide some of its data to elections researchers selected by a new panel of experts. Ahead of Zuckerberg’s appearance before Congress this week, axios.com says the outside experts will “develop a research agenda about the impact of social media on society — starting with elections.” A group of private, blue chip foundations will pay for the effort. (Frankly, Facebook should reimburse them, with all the money they make!)

As rumored over the weekend, Apple has rolled out Product (RED) iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models today. According to theverge.com, preorders open tomorrow, the 10th, and the phones should start shipping on Friday the 13th…ooh, scary. The price is the same as other colors, starting at $699 for the 8 and $799 for the Plus.

Earlier in the year, Tesla registered new VINs that correspond to dual motor Model 3s. As reported here last week, the company is now producing more than 2000 of the smaller model per week now. Yesterday, Elon Musk Tweeted that they need to hit 5000 per week before adding the complexity of a 2nd motor. He then sent out a follow up Tweet saying ‘So probably July.’ the added motor will increase both the acceleration and extend the range of the Model 3. That is also when they will add white interiors…at the present, only black upholstery is available.

Word is, Spotify has been working on hardware for cars…either an in-car controller or standalone player. Now, engadget.com reports that some people have received offers for such a device, with plan pricing from $12.99 to $14.99 a month…when they clicked on the offer in the Spotify app, an error page popped up. A few sharp eyed users said their offer noted the gadget had built in 4G cellular. Spotify does have an event April 24th…maybe we’ll get more info at that time.


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.


Google Pay Replaces Android Pay; Android P Blocks Unannounced Cam Use; Samsung’s Monster 30TB SSD; Site Tracks Musk’s Space Tesla

Google had previously pulled all its payment tools into the Google Pay tent except for Android Pay. Today, that changes. Techcrunch.com says an update to Android Pay brings it into the fold and adds some new functionality….including displaying stores nearby that accept it. Google Wallet now becomes Google Pay Send for sending and requesting money.

Android P should be unveiled at google I/O in a couple months. Meanwhile, it looks like word of a new security feature has gotten out. According to 9to5google.com, it’s to ease users minds about surreptitious camera use by apps (which has happened.) The new feature will block use of cams by any app not actively in use. If the system detects that the app is idle (running in the background), it is blocked from cam access.

We talk about Samsung smartphones all the time, because they are such a high profile, widely used product, but Samsung the company is into enough different businesses to fill a book. Now, cnet.com reports they have started production of a record breaking solid state drive weighing in at 30 TB…you read right, not 30 gigs, terabytes! While it’s unlikely you will need such storage, it will be great for government, health care, and education users that have massive troves of data. To give you a handle on how much that is, it’s enough room to store 5700 HD movies at 5 gigs each!No price has been disclosed, but you probably can’t afford it or justify it at any rate!

Practically the whole world watched as we saw shots of Elon Musk’s red Tesla roadster in space with the dummy in the spacesuit dubbed ‘Starman’ in the driver’s seat. It had been expected that batteries would allow 12 hours of transmission from space, but they died after only 4 hours. No more pictures, but now, bgr.com says at least you can track the little red car and Starman on their journey. A developer named Ben Pearson has built a site called ‘Where is Starman?’ It updates continuously, so you can check obsessively on where they are.


Next iPhones May Sport Smaller Notch; Tesla Model 3-Lots of Voice Commands; Google Devices Causing WiFi Outages

After getting universally panned for the notch at the top of the screen, it seems reviewers and actual people really embraced the blacked out area on the iPhone X where Face ID and the front cam live. Now, macrumors.com hears that Apple is looking into combining Face ID and the front cam to produce a smaller notch in the iPhone X successors that will be out in September 2019. It doesn’t look like the combined setup will make this year’s phones. It isn’t clear at this point how they would roll the infrared camera, dot projector, and flood illuminator all into the cam module, but Apple has dumped $821 million into LG Innotek, the company that will make most of all the 3D sensing modules for the upcoming iPhones.

With an answer to a question on Twitter, Elon Musk revealed that the Tesla Model 3…once production is really humming….will be getting a whole slew of voice control options. TechCrunch.com reports that Musk said in response to the question that once the software people got the core product right, you’ll be ‘able to do pretty much anything via voice command’ in the Model 3. So how about “Tesla…Tea. Earl Gray. Hot?”

This isn’t exactly something you want to hear…Google Home and Chromecast devices are causing temporary outages on many routers from ASUS, Linksys, Netgear, TP-Line, and Synology. According to 9to5Google.com, some become completely inoperable for a little bit, and others just drop their internet connection. The short explanation: the Google devices send a giant burst of information when they wake from sleep mode, causing the routers to drop their net connection or shut down the connection to the device. Google says they have a team working quickly to come up with a fix.