Facebook F8 Keynote; UK Tells Zuck Show Up or Subpoena; 2 Bigger Samsung Galaxy Phones; Another Hint Apple May Roll Without Qualcomm or Intel

Mark Zuckerberg dropped a big bombshell in his F8 keynote this morning….a Facebook dating app! Businessinsider.com reports that the social network will also launch a possible rival to Apple’s FaceTime…video chat via Instagram. WhatsApp will be getting video calling, and Messenger will get simplified, and some AR camera tools are coming. As for VR, the Oculus Go, Facebook’s new standalone VR headset ships today. It’s $199, a big drop from the present $399 Oculus headset (which you need a high end PC to use!) A crowd pleaser—Facebook is handing out a free Oculus Go headset to everyone at F8! FB will also be adding upvotes and downvotes to comments, like Reddit. Also, Stories will be opened up to third party developers. They are also adding ‘live commenting’ to videos…they will appear in a video alongside the video and narrate it in real time.

The UK Parliament really wants to hear from Mark Zuckerberg in person. According to techcrunch.com, they have let Facebook know that since Zuck is giving evidence to the European Parliament in May, if he lands in Britain, he will be hit with a summons.

Up to now, you have only been able to get Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones with 64 gigs of storage in the US, but starting May 18th, you can go crazy with more space. Bgr.com reports that both phons will add 128 and 256 gig capacities by then. Preorders are open now. The 128 gig S9 runs $769.99, with the S9+ gobbling up $889.99 of your bucks. For the maxed out 256 gig S9, expect to drop $819.99, or pony up $939.99 for the S9+ .

A job posting was dropped from Apple’s site that some say points to the company rolling their own modem chips and dropping Qualcomm. Businessinsider.com says the gig was for a ‘mmWave IC design engineer.’ That would appear to indicate that Apple was wanting to design in house its own chip for next gen 5G networks. Although Apple is locked in a courtroom battle with Qualcomm, this shouldn’t be a stunner…they have been running iOS mobile devices on processors of their own design for a decade.


Facebook’s F8 Launches; Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Will Have a Killer Dual Camera

Facebook had a lot to talk about yesterday as their F8 conference opened. Techcrunch.com notes the headline item: FB is working on an augmented reality developer platform. This is not exactly surprising since their acquisition of Oculus, so we can expect more and more selfie masks, overlays of info on real world objects the cam sees, and more…eventually, they expect a normal-ish pair of glasses or contacts to replace the screens we use…from desktop to smart devices! A number of adds to the Messenger app…you can order food through delivery.com, book a restaurant, and group pay for a meal, and there is a new game tab with new bots. Also, QR codes will get you info at concerts and sporting events.

Samsung held back a bit on the stunning Galaxy S8…the Note 8 will be out later this year, and will feature a dual cam setup like the iPhone 7 Plus. According to appleinsider.com, Apple analyst KGI Securities says the Note 8 cam setup will be ‘much better’ than the array on the iPhone 7 Plus, and may match the rumored performance of the one due out on the iPhone 8. KGI thinks Samsung will ship 50 to 55 million S8s this year and 13-15 million of the Note 8 after it rolls out.


Facebook’s Crazy 360 Degree Camera; New Kindle Out; Apple Owns Teens

At F8, Facebook revealed the “Surround 360”, a 17-lens 3D VR camera yesterday that looks like a UFO on a stick and requires almost no post-production work. They won’t make or be selling the Surround 360. Techcrunch.com says that later this summer Facebook will put the hardware designs and video stitching algorithms on Github. All the parts can by bought online for $30,000.

As expected, Amazon has launched a brighter, smaller, thinner Kindle Oasis for $290, with a leather case increasing battery life to 20 months standby time, It has a funky bump on one side Amazon says helps make it easier to hold with one hand like a book. Theverge.com says it’s available for pre-order today, and ships April 27th.

For decades, it’s been a marketing truism that if you get buyers when they’re teens, you can often keep them for life. Apple seems to be doing this…they did it with the original Macs in schools, and now with iOS and wearables. According to a Piper Jaffray survey picked up by appleinsider.com, only 12% of teens had a smartwatch. Of those, 71% were Apple’s. 69% of teens owned an iPhone, and 64% an iPad. The iPad percentage is up slightly…analyst Gene Munster says probably with the introduction of the 9.7 inch iPad Pro that can use a Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil. Parents…keep your wallet handy!


HTC 10 Pre-Orders Start Now; Facebook Announces Chatbots at F8 Conference

As we reported last week, HTC has dropped the new model 10. It comes with 4GB of RAM and a 5.2-inch 2K display packs 564 pixels per inch behind layered Gorilla Glass. And the fingerprint sensor unlocks the phone in 0.2 seconds. HTC claims the 3,000mAh battery provides 2 days of use, and can charge up to 50 percent in 30 minutes with Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 through the new USB-C port. According to geekwire.com, it has a separate tweeter and woofer, on the top-front and bottom respectively, each have their own amp. The camera also got a bump. A new 12MP sensor has improved low-light performance thanks to the bigger “Ultra Pixels.”
Pre-orders start today, April 12, with an expected ship date of early May. The unlocked device will go for $699.

Today at the Facebook Developer Conference…F8…the social media giant officially announced it was adding the rumored chatbots to the Messenger app. Gizmodo.com says the bots can book a hotel, order a meal, find a restaurant, hail a cab, and do much more through text chatting. They also will be a lifeline to smaller businesses who have been depending on sketchy websites and 800 phone numbers. They can basically operate as an app within an app. Facebook’s F8 Conference continues this week…more to come, no doubt.


Coming With Apple TV Update

The next version of Apple TV should make its debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Thenextweb.com says it will sport a new faster processor, more storage, Siri and HomeKit integration. They are likely to reveal more about their streaming TV service at WWDC, and preview an App Store just for Apple TV.

If you are really considering a smart watch, but worry about the poor battery life most have, bgr.com reports that Vector has a couple models available for preordering now. They claim 30 days of battery life for both the rectangular and round dial versions. A ‘sensor activated notification system’ pulls up notifications with the flick of a wrist. They sell for between $244 and $425.

According to tech crunch.com, next week at their F8 developer conference, Facebook will announce new ways for third parties to offer experiences through its messenger app. Facebook is wanting to turn Messenger into a freestanding platform.