Facebook Makes News Feed Changes; Galaxy Note 8 Gets Exclusive Color; iPhone 7 Reigns as World’s Most Popular Smartphone

Just as I was about to write these words, my Facebook newsfeed changed! Call it a crazy coincidence or their algorithms are REALLY creepy, but it’s a somewhat different look. 9to5mac.com reports that The comment section now looks more like chat bubbles…and speaking of chat, now, the chat has its own column instead of the pop up from the bottom. Watch for profile pics to go circular, and updated Like, Comment, and Share buttons, among other things. The changes are being rolled out gradually…so you may not see them for a while yet.

As if there wasn’t enough buzz about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8….despite the demise by fire of the popular Note 7 last year, they are adding an exclusive color that won’t be available on the S8. According to bgr.com, it’s ‘Deep Sea Blue.’ The S8 has a Coral Blue in partnership with Best Buy, but the note will be sporting the Deep Sea Blue all by itself. It debuts next week, and should be have a princely price near $1000.

While it is expected to lose sales in the run up to the iPhone 8 rollout next month, and right after due to shortages, iPhone 7 stays on the top of the heap as the world’s most popular smartphone in the June Quarter. Macrumors.com says Apple shipped 16.9 million iPhone 7 handsets and 15.1 million 7 Plus models (for 2nd place) in the quarter. The Galaxy S8 was third at 10.2 million and the S8 Plus was 4th with 9 million even.
Xiaomi was 5th with 5.5 million, then there’s everybody else. Don’t cry too hard for the also rans…they accounted for 303.7 million smartphones!


iPhone 8 in Production & Huge 3D Sensing Component Order; Tesla Working on Self-Driving Electric Big Rig; Facebook Launches ‘Watch’

Despite some rumors, appleinsider.com has gotten word from DigiTimes that Apple’s iPhone 8 is already in mass production. It’s still thought that there will be very limited supply at launch next month, but it looks like they are planning for millions of sales. 9to5mac.com reports that Lumentum, which makes the 3D sensing laser components believed to be used in the iPhone 8, looks to be cranking out around 55 million of the sensor units by the end of the year, and about 160 million next year. A number of reports say the iPhone 8 will be over $1000, but analyst Gene Munster expects the entry level model of Apple’s new hero phone to start at $950.

Some former Googlers started Otto, the self-driving semi company that was picked up by Uber. Now, according to Reuters, Tesla is working on self-driving tech that will helm its upcoming electric big rigs. The tech would let the rigs roll as a convoy with a lead vehicle furnishing the guidance for autonomous follower trucks. Alphabet’s Waymo is also deeply into self-driving truck tech. The wrinkle with Tesla’s plan is that the platooning might mean autonomy requirements wouldn’t be a lot higher than what’s already being done…an actual human driver would pilot the lead truck, and the others would just follow along. Tesla has apparently been in touch with Nevada to see about testing a couple prototype trucks.

Facebook is introducing a new spot for original video content produced by partners, who pick up 55 percent of ad break revenue. Techcrunch.com says Facebook will get 45%. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will debut to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow across mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps. With the hosting of original programming, Facebook can tack on more ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.


Facebook Working on Smart Speaker & Picks up Content Creator Pay Startup; Google Adds Real-Time SOS for Search and Maps; 11 More Smartphones Will be Daydream VR Compatible; Prescription Video Games Coming

Last week, we heard that Samsung was abandoning plans to make a smart speaker…a market dominated by Amazon and with Google in it and Apple planning a Christmas release of the HomePod. Now, businessinsider.com says Facebook is working on a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s that will bow in 2018. It will feature a 15 inch touchscreen, is being designed by Facebook, and will be built for them by Pegatron.

The social giant has picked up a startup which will help it crack down on users that share pirated videos and other content without permission. According to recode.net, it’s Source3. Facebook already has had Rights Manager for a couple years. It’s similar to YouTube’s Content ID. Facebook has wanted to host lots more professional video, but publishers are reluctant to provide them when they think they won’t be paid.

Google is launching a new feature called SOS Alerts, that will work with Search and Maps. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s designed to keep users safe, and will feature emergency hotlines and websites, and even translations of useful phrases. They are partnering with Red Cross and FEMA to help with keeping users abreast of emergency situations and providing safety info to them.

Of course, you may be a bit dialed out of the reality of an emergency if you are wearing a VR headset, but that’s the wave of the future. Google says it’s adding 11 more Daydream VR compatible phones by the end of this year. Pixel, Moto Z, and others are already compatible, according to 9to5google.com, but Huawei and Samsung will join the party, as well as HTC.

Hey, Doc, I need to play more video games…will you write me a prescription? Actually, so-called ‘brain training’ games have been out there, but not without controversy. Some say they really don’t work or work much. Now, theverge.com says a company called Akili is partnering with UCSF’s Neuroscape lab to develop a mobile game called Project:EVO. They aim to get it up to speed for FDA approval to be used to treat kids with ADHD! Clinical trials have already started. It’s not a sure thing, but prescription video games could actually be coming!


Analyst-No, iPhone 8 Won’t Be $1200; Bixby is Launched in US; Facebook to Let Publishers Charge Readers to View Stories

There have been several rumors that Apple’s iPhone 8 will start at over $1000, and go as high as $1200, to set it up as a ‘niche’ product. In a report picked up by apple insider.com, an analyst from UBS says they see the iPhone 8 shipping in November, and starting at $900 for the 64 gig model, and a $256 gig model for $1000. UBS thinks iPhone sales will be up 15% in Apple’s 2018 year. [Update: Analysts at JC Morgan believe it will ship in September, but with very tight availability.]

It wasn’t ready for the launch of the Galaxy S8 this spring, and Samsung promised voice assistant Bixby by the end of May in the US. Well, that didn’t happen either, but according to engadget.com, it’s out now. Bixby’s draw, according to Samsung, is that it understands natural language expressions better than other voice assistants. So far, the English release works in the US and South Korea. No word on if it is out in other English speaking countries yet. As we’ve reported, Samsung is working on a voice activated speaker like Amazon and Google have, and Apple is rolling out in December.

Facebook is preparing to let media outlets charge readers for access to their stories, starting in October. Businessinsider.com says they will be able to show 10 free articles per month before a paywall kicks in. No info on how much Facebook will skim from publishers on this, or if anyone there has calculated what percentage of people will simply click away, rather than pay…I predict that will be a huge majority of Facebook users. It’s tough to find people who don’t despise paywalls.


iPhone 8-Rear Facing 3D Laser; Cheaper, Wireless Oculus VR Headset Coming

The iPhone 8 is to have a rear facing 3D laser sensor to aid with augmented reality and photography. 9to5mac.com reports that it will make for a more accurate autofocus when shooting pictures. It’s possible the AR features may be activated in a later software update. The story from Fast Company also claims it will have sealed buttons that use haptic feedback, and are completely waterproof.

Facebook is planning to reveal a Wireless Oculus VR Headset next year, and it will run around $200. Unlike most cheaper headsets, it won’t require a phone to be popped into it, nor will it need to be hooked up to a PC or phone. Bloomberg says it’s aimed at immersive gaming, watching video, and social networking. It’s code named ‘Pacific,’ and looks like a pared down version of the Rift.


Echo Show Will Connect to Security Cams; Vivo-1st Smartphone To Screen-Embed Fingerprint Sensor; Facebook Tests Securing Profile Pics

Amazon says the new Echo Show will connect to Nest, Ring, and other security cams via Alexa. According to geekwire.com, the $230 smart speaker with screen, which ships next week, will also talk to cams from August, Amcrest, EZViz, IC Realtime, Vivint, and Arlo….with just a simple command to Alexa like ‘show me the front door .’

Vivo may beat both Apple and Samsung to the punch, showing the 1st smartphone with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the screen at Mobile World Congress next week in Shanghai. Macrumors.com reports that a video leaked shows the Chinese maker’s phone being unlocked with a fingerprint. Samsung had to put a sensor on the back of the Galaxy S8, but the new Note may have an embedded sensor when it launches in August, and the iPhone 8 reportedly has the feature.

Facebook is testing out a feature aimed at protecting profile pictures from scammers. Techcrunch.com says it is being piloted in India right now. The so-called ‘photo guard’ will prevent other users fro downloading a profile pic or sharing it with others, prevent others from tagging using a profile pic, and prevent others from taking screenshots of another person’s profile pic…although that appears to be an Android only feature. If activated by the user, the optional guard will show a blue border and shield around your profile pic. If it tests out, look for Facebook to roll it out to other countries soon.


iPhone 8 Launch Timing-Supplier Leak; Google’s New AI Powered Jobs Engine; VR & AR Headsets May Hit 100 Million By 2021

There had already been rumors that the iPhone 8 would be actually in peoples’ hands in October, now a supplier may have confirmed that. Bgr.com reports that Finisar, which supplies the high-tech lasers built into iPhone 8 for AR depth mapping and image recognition, will be supplying tens of millions of the lasers to one company later this year. Analysts have put things together, and look for a rollout in September as usual, but the phones actually shipping in October.

Google has launched a jobs search feature right in its search results pages that lets you search for jobs across virtually all major online jobs boards. According to techcrunch.com, that includes LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Facebook, and more. This may save job seekers a lot of hassle, as it eliminates duplicate postings and a lot of irrelevant jobs for you. Just key in something like ‘jobs near me’ or ‘writing jobs,’ and the job search widget will pop up. It’s on both Google’s desktop and mobile versions. You can also see Glassdoor and Indeed ratings.

It may not quite be here yet, but VR and AR really are The Next Big Thing, and a report by IDC picked up by cnet.com says sales of VR and AR headsets will reach about 100 million by 2021. Last year, less than 10 million of the headsets shipped. Right now, ones powered by smartphones, the so-called ‘screenless viewers’ are most popular. IDC thinks AR will fundamentally change industrial jobs in the next 5 years, and that at first, 80 percent of AR headsets will be for commercial use.