Facebook to Hire 1000 To Battle Election Interference; Facebook Testing Face Recognition to Unlock Accounts; Apple Looking To Roll Own on Mac Chips; Google Launches “Made for Google” Accessory Program

Facebook is making changes in the wake of the Congressional investigation of Russian election meddling via social media including Facebook. TechCrunch.com says that includes hiring 1000 more people to its global ads review team over the next year, and making it so anyone can see any ad run by any organization on Facebook instead of only the ads targeted to them.

Facebook is also testing out facial recognition as a way to get back into your account if you’re locked out. 9to5mac.com points out that if you are on the road, and don’t have roaming available, you can’t even use 2 factor identification. The face recognition would not be Apple’s Face ID, but Facebook’s own system, and it would be in addition to two-factor authentication using SMS….as noted, where SMS might not be available. It’s not clear if or when the feature will be rolled out.

Future laptops from Apple may feature Apple designed chips in place of ones from Intel. Businessinsider.com says this is coming on the heels of Apple’s new iPhone 8 models with Apple designed ARM chips that can outperform a MacBook Pro in bench tests. Apple is also apparently looking at designing custom silicon for their modem chips, too in place of Qualcomm or Media Tek.

Google is readying a ‘Made for Google’ program to certify accessories from its partners. According to 9to5google.com, it should work similarly to Apple’s accessory program, giving users a little peace of mind about buying gear that they can know will work well with Google hardware devices. No time frame as yet, but we may hear more later this week when Google bows the Pixel 2 family of products in San Francisco.

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Facebook Testing ‘Snooze’ Feature; Huawei Takes a Shot at the iPhone X; Your Nintendo Switch Has Hidden Copy of NES Golf

Everyone with more than a handful of friends on Facebook has a few who post really annoying things…whether it’s too many food pictures, political posts, dozens of kid of cat pics, or hourly selfies. Up to now, you’ve either had to unfollow them or unfriend them. Mashable.com reports that Facebook is testing another alternative…’snoozing’ them. The feature lets you temporarily unfollow for 24 hours, a week, or 30 days. While Facebook tests out things that don’t make it into the app for everyone, let’s hope this one does! It will live on the menu with unfollow.

We noted earlier that Huawei will be rolling out their next flagship phone in October. It’s the Mate 10, and the verge.com says they are now running an ad saying they will unveil ‘the Real AI Phone’ next month…specifically on October 16th! Actually, they have had a chipset that does a decent job with AI, and the new iteration will of course be an improvement. With a nod to Apple’s Neural Engine, Huawei calls the system on a chip the “Neural Processing Unit,” or NPU. Keep you skepticism shields up, but we’ll see what they roll out on October 16th!

Hackers at SwitchBrew.org have discovered a fully playable copy of NES Golf buried inside the Nintendo Switch. According to arstechnica.com, they found it under ‘flog,’ which is golf spelled backwards, and it’s the old 80’s NES golf game, updated specifically to run on the Switch. Since the hackers posted screen shots, it’s presumed they have found how to run it, but so far haven’t given up the button combination to unlock it.


Facebook Working On Voice Assistant; Waymo Focuses on Ride-Sharing & Big Rigs; Apple’s Face ID Only Does One Face at Launch

Facebook always has a number of things going on under the radar, and now businessinsider.com says one of those is a voice assistant much like Siri or Alexa. Code was spotted by a developer in a prior mobile app that indicates the assistant would be capable of making suggestions and finding basic information like scores or times of ball games. Facebook said they weren’t working on such a feature ‘right now’ earlier this year, but BI has learned that they are doing so in their secretive Building 8. The voice is code named Aloha, and Facebook is shooting for rolling it out in May 2018.

Waymo’s CEO confirmed in an interview at a Bloomberg conference that the Google subsidiary is focusing…at least initially…on ride sharing and trucking. 9to5google.com reports that CEO John Krafcik said ‘there’s a good and compelling use-case’ for ‘goods transportation,’ in other words, self-driving trucks. The ride-sharing is well underway with the fleet of Chrysler minivans that begun a public trial in Phoenix earlier this year. Also bearing down on the trucking sector….Tesla. Elon Musk announced that they will reveal their electric big rig October 25th.

According to multiple people who spoke to Apple at the rollout Tuesday, Face ID on the new iPhone X will only support one registered face per device…at least at first. According to techrunch.com, which also confirmed this separately, this could limit letting a loved one have that type of access to your phone. The iPhone Touch ID can store up to 5 fingerprints. The fix for now…or even always…is to merely give your loved one your passcode. Presumably Apple will make allowances for additional faces as Face ID expands to iPads and laptops, as those are even more likely to be shared by family members.


Samsung Teases Foldable Smartphone in ’18; Facebook Testing Group Video App & Messenger Feature; British Warships Going Voice Controlled

Ahead of the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 on Friday, Samsung’s CEO of Mobile said that it aims for the next version of the Galaxy Note to be bendable in some way, and they are shooting for launching it next year. Mashable.com says there are “several hurdles” Samsung has to overcome to implement a smartphone with a bendable screen. Analysts note that mass production on a premium smartphone with a bendable display and a thin body “will take time.” As for the Note 8…in spite of its eye-watering price tag (about $930 in the United States), Samsung said that pre-orders were the highest ever for the Note smartphone line, “beating its predecessor Note 7 over five days by about 2.5 times.”

Facebook has stealthily been testing out a new stand alone group video chat dubbed Bonfire. According to techcrunch.com, up to 8 friends can video chat, and use effects like are found in Instagram and Snapchat. Apparently, you can join the chats via the Messenger app without downloading the Bonfire app. Right now, it’s being tested in Denmark, but users can invite friends to join in worldwide.

Britain is apparently working to integrate Siri like voice systems into their warship controls. Engadget.com reports that the voice controls will join touchscreen displays, and possibly even AR in the Navy’s quest to allow officers to think and act decisively. They are shooting (pun intended) for deployment by 2023.


A Google Dot and Pixel Chromebook; Facebook Safety Check Gets Button; Apple’s iPhone 8 3D Tech Ahead of Qualcomm by 2 Years; ‘O’ is For Oreo

Google may put out a smaller version of its home speaker rivaling the Amazon Echo Dot. This would allow you to add voice control to traditional audio system or string together several Home units…Google Assistant everywhere! Also possibly bowing this fall may be a Pixel branded Chromebook. Theverge.com says since the Pixel Chromebook rumor just surfaced, that device may not be introduced in October, but later in a separate rollout.

Facebook is giving more prominence to its Safety Check feature. According to techcrunch.com, a dedicated button is rolling out on both the app and the desktop. In addition to checking to see if family and friends are safe after a crisis, it will indicate places around the world where Safety Check has been recently enabled.

It’s widely reported that the iPhone 8 will have 3D sensing, and now KGI Securities reports that the system is 2 years ahead of Qualcomm’s 3D tech in both hardware and software. This will give Apple a couple years head start over Android devices in 3D sensing abilities. Some tech reporters that have sneered at the cutout in the display atop the iPhone 8 for cameras and sensors may eat their words if the advanced 3D sensing turns out as spectacular as suspected.

Google announced yesterday…in an event during the eclipse…that Android O would be called Oreo. Cnet.com says a major focus on the update is better batter life. Oreo also gets smarter copy and paste. If it detects that what you have started to highlight is an address, it will highlight the entire thing, so you don’t have to. It then may suggest a map in addition to ‘paste.’ The update will be available by the end of the year on Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Essential, Huawei, HTC, LG, and Motorola. It should roll out to Pixel and Nexus phones ‘soon.’


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.