Google Pixel 3 Update; Amazon Rekognition; Tesla Sabotage; Kids Hearing & Music Players

Google has had better success with the Pixel 2 phones that it had with the original model, and expects to see more growth with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. A little more info has trickled out about the upcoming handsets. Cnet.com reports that we will probably see the phones debut in early October. It appears that they will sport a front screen ‘notch’ like the Apple iPhone X. Geeks digging through the beta code of Android P say the code points to the Pixel 3’s getting wireless charging like the iPhone, and probably a glass back. One exciting plus…the larger 3XL may have and edge to edge display and TWO front-facing cameras, in addition to the 2 rear cams!

There had already been unrest over Amazon selling its facial recognition tech to law enforcement…the tech can detect faces in images and videos. Now, CNN says that almost 20 groups of Amazon shareholders are pressing the company to stop selling the tech to law enforcement. The investors expressed their views in a letter, warning of potential civil and human rights violations…and of course how that could have a negative impact on Amazon stock. Back in April, Amazon had announced that Rekognition had been made 25% more accurate at picking out faces that the prior version. Shareholders are concerned about the disproportionate surveilance of people of color, immigrants, and civil society organizations, as well as sales to authoritarian regimes.

Tesla has gotten up to 3,500 Model 3’s per week, on the way to the 5,000 Elon Musk promised by next month. Now, there may have been sabotage that electronically threw a wrench into the works. According to CNBC, Musk sent an all hands email to staff, saying a disgruntled employee had done ‘quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations,’  Musk said the employee had made ‘direct code changes’ to the company’s production systems, and even exported ‘large amounts’ of Tesla code to unidentified 3rd parties. The email says the person became disgruntled after not getting a promotion, but may also have been working with short sellers and oil and gas companies. Thus far, Tesla has not commented on the leaked email. For Jason Middleton, I’m Clark Reid

A new study indicates that kids who listen to portable music players are three times more likely to suffer hearing loss than those who don’t! Gizmodo notes that the large-scale study was conducted among more than 3,000 children aged 9-11. Of those, 14 percent, or 450 children, had hearing problems, based on tests. Seven percent tested positive for high-frequency hearing loss, a form of hearing loss often caused by noise exposure, usually only in one ear. Looking only at the 2,000 children for whom they had data about music player use, the researchers estimated that children who listened to portable music players were nearly three times as likely to have high-frequency hearing loss than those who didn’t.

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Google Revamps Storage Plans; Apple has 2nd Biggest Self-Driving Fleet in CA; Ticketmaster Plans Facial Recognition

Google has unveiled its consumer storage plans. The new plans are dubbed “Google One,” although the Google Drive is still Google Drive. TechCrunch.com says Goggle has added a new 200 gig tier for $2.99 a month, and dropped the price for its 2 terabyte plan from $19.99 to $9.99 a month. The old 1 terabyte plan at $9.99 goes away. You can still get in on 100 gigs or $1.99 per month, but keep in mind that now, you’ll be able to share your storage with up to five family members! An outstanding new feature is expert support 24.7 over chat, email, or phone. Previously, this was only open to business users.

Apple has been bulking up its fleet of self-driving cars, and now is up to 55, making it the 2nd biggest fleet in California, according to the DMV. As recently as January, Cupertino only had 27 cars. The biggest fleet of self-drivers is that of Cruise, a company owned by GM, which has 104. Google’s Waymo has 51 cars, and Tesla 39. It’s worth noting that both Waymo and Uber previously had more cars in California…Waymo had 100, but has moved some to Arizona and Michigan.

Your face will literally be your ticket to concerts, as the Ticketmaster division of Live Nation has announced a pilot program to drop tickets and use facial recognition tech. Thenextweb.com says Ticketmaster is partnering with Blink Identity, which claims they can make a positive ID in half a second. Some worry that this is a little too much Big Brother, since China recently put in place a similar system…but theirs is for law enforcement. If the pilot program is successful, you may see it before long for air travel, building access and more.

Amazon has resumed construction in Seattle after a squabble with the city over a controversial tax per employee on employers that make more than $20 million a year. Engadget.com reports that the ‘head tax’ had been set at $500 per employee, but ended up compromising after considerable protestation from Amazon, and set the tax at $275 per employee on businesses that make over $11 million a year. The funds are supposed to go towards helping the homeless problem there. Amazon is still grumbling, and considering not adding 7,000 expected jobs…they may hire that staff at their new ‘2nd headquarters’ when it is finalized.


More Galaxy S9 Rumors; Huawei Mate 10 Coming to US New Facebook Tools & Facial Recognition; Worst Passwords

It appears that Samsung will be again aping Apple, and the Galaxy S9 will be something of an ’S’ model…virtually identical on the outside to the present model. According to bgr.com, though, there will be some desirable upgrades inside. First off, it looks like a beefy 3200 mAh battery, up 7% from the S8. Also, the S9 reportedly will support Quick Charge 3.0 tech and 12W fast wireless charging. For comparison, Apple’s iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus just have 7W fast charging. We should see the Galaxy S9 and S9+ in late February, and they should be in hand by March.

Huawei has be rumored to be working on coming to the US via at least one of the mobile carriers. Now, 9to5google.com reports that we will probably find out who at CES next month, and that the Mate 10 will go on sale in the US in 2018. The rumor is, the Huawei hero handset will be offered through AT&T and Verizon.

Facebook has announced some new features, including one that keeps people you’ve blocked from making up a new profile and trying to contact you. Techcrunch.com says the tool kit detects the IP address and other signals to make sure the person stays blocked. They also have added one to ignore conversations, and move those to your filtered messages folder. A really slick addition now uses facial recognition to notify you if someone uploads a photo with you in it…even if you’re not tagged. You can choose to stay untagged, tag yourself, or report the photo if you think it’s inappropriate.

What are the worst passwords of the year? Splash data has put out the list, taken from over 5 million passwords that were leaked across 2017 by hackers. Macrumors.com reports that the top one is an old favorite from way back. Here are the top 5…PLEASE tell me none of you reading this has ever used these!!
1. 123456
2.password
3. 12345678
4. querty
5. 12345
If you ‘have a friend’ who’s using any of these, ask them to change to something stronger, and don’t admit it!


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.


Apple Smart Cam & Face ID for Apple Pay; Samsung Galaxy S8 Outpacing S7

More nuggets from the code in Apple’s HomePod software…iPhone 8 may have a feature called ‘Smart Cam’ which will intelligently capture the best photos when shooting scenes like sunrises, sunsets, and fireworks. Some other scenes are: Baby, Bright Stage, Document, and Foliage. 9to5mac.com says another leak from the HomePod code indicates Apple may be going to facial recognition for Apple Pay. The code corroborates reports from Bloomberg and KGI Securities saying iPhone 8 will ditch fingerprint recognition for facial recognition. There is also code indicating wireless inductee charging.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will drop the end of the month….meanwhile, the Galaxy S8 is doing fine, thank you very much. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung has shipped more than 20 million units of Samsung’s hero phone. 9to5google.com reports that this is an increase of 15% over what they cranked out last year by this time with the Galaxy S7.


Tipoff That iPhone 8 Has ‘Face ID;’ Web Viewing Means Less TV Sets; Android Getting Bluetooth Battery Indictors

Some code spotted in the firmware for the Apple HomePod seems to confirm that the new iPhone 8 will unlock with your face…which Apple may call ‘Face ID,’ considering they have already used Touch ID. The firmware also points to the cutout in the front that will eat into the top of the screen, but house the front cameras and infrared sensors making Face ID possible. 9to5mac.com reports that while Samsung will be the sole supplier of OLED displays, Apple is well along in setting things up with LG to also produce OLED screens, and they could show up as an additional supplier in 2018. The OLED screen has been the biggest challenge for Apple, along with incorporating Touch ID under the screen. When LG production comes online, it could also mean all iPhones will get OLED screens, probably starting in the fall of 2018.

Before you lament the demise of the TV industry, the numbers aren’t collapsing, but due to more people watching video over the web….and on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even desktop computers, the number of TVs per household is dropping. According to recode.net, they have gone from 2.6 TVs per household in 2009 to 2.3 in 2015, the last year we have data for. With other things to look at besides live TV and DVR, the viewing of those has dropped, too….but only from about 60 hours a week to 57!

As more phones drop the venerable phone jack and go to wireless headphones and earbuds, something that is often on your mind is ‘How much longer have I got before the phones die?’ Apple has had an indicator for years showing approximate battery level, and later a percentage of battery level for Bluetooth phones, just like for the handset. Samsung and LG also make use of the feature. Now, 9to5google.com says the feature may be coming to Android, so all Android phones will give you a heads up on when your Bluetooth device may poop out, so you can recharge it! Like with later Apple phones, Android will show you the %-age of battery left. This is probably not going to drop until Android 8.1 or 9.


Galaxy Note 8 Unveil Date; Google Pixel 2; Apple Races to Fix Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 8, Amazon’s Biggest Prime Day

Despite the tendency to flame out, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was so loved that it seemed the company was going to have to pry recalled models from the smoldering fingers of owners. The replacement Note 8 is supposed to be a hot seller, but not hot in the way the 7 was, thankfully! 9to5google.com says we can expect to see it revealed August 23rd in New York City. Samsung is wanting to push the early launch date to take advantage of a rumored delay for the Apple iPhone 8.

The latest leak and renders show a great looking Google Pixel 2 phone, with a big camera lens and slimmer bezels. Arstechinica.com reports that it is being built by LG, and is code named Taimen. It has a 6 inch AMOLED screen, up from the present model’s 5.7 incher. The back is now mostly metal, with just a small glass window, which should make it less prone to shattering when dropped. The phone has squeezable sides, which may activate the Google Assistant and launch apps.

Rumors are all over the place on the iPhone 8…it won’t have a fingerprint sensor at all, it will, but on the back, it’s under the screen. Apparently, Apple is having issues with the under screen sensor, and if they don’t get things resolved it may delay release of the new hero handset. Although KGI Securities and Bloomberg say Apple may phase out the sensor in favor of facial recognition, this seems unlikely, as it would rattle financial institutions. They will probably have to stick with the fingerprint reader until they can assure all that the facial scanner is secure. If Apple can’t get the sensor to work well by August, the iPhone 8 won’t be in volume production until late October or November.

Amazon’s Prime Day is in the history books, and the 30 hour ‘day’ is the biggest shopping day they have ever had, blowing past the last Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. According to businessinsider.com, Amazon said sales were up 60% in preliminary figures. No word on how many new signups they got for Prime as yet. Best selling deal was the reduced price Echo Dot with Alexa. Besides Amazon gadgets, most popular items in the US were an Instant Pot pressure cooker and an 23andMe DNA test.