iPhone XR Could Be Half New iPhone Sales; Zuck Says FB Needs Help On Election Prep; Mapillary Partners With Amazon- Parking Spot Tech

DigiTimes is prediction that Apple’s new lineup of iPhones should end up with sales of over 85 million units the second half of this year. Macrumors.com reports that DigiTimes also predicts that the new, less expensive iPhone XR could account for over half of new iPhone sales. The estimates are based on supply chain information and Apple’s previous year sales. The XR goes on preorder next month, while the two more expensive models, Xs and Xs Max can be preordered tomorrow.

With less than 60 days to the US midterm elections, Mark Zuckerberg is warning that Facebook can’t fight election interference alone. According to businessinsider.com, Zuck dropped a 3,000 word essay titled “Preparing for Elections.” He says Facebook has started proactively cooperating with state officials to solve the problem of election interference. Although not apologizing for Facebook’s role in the last elections re fake news, Zuckerberg has admitted he should have taken the problem more seriously, and the essay crystalizes his (and Facebook’s) thinking on how they can do better moving forward…but that they need the help of governments, other tech companies, and journalists.

Mapillary has partnered with Amazon Rekognition for visual data analysis to try to make it easier for people to find parking in congested urban areas. Venturebeat.com says the Swedish startup is developing a street level imagery platform that used computer vision tech to enhance digital maps. They will use Amazon’s text-in-image feature to scan parking sign data on a massive scale. The startup already has 350 million images, but will need the Amazon system to read the text on signs that tell how many spaces are available, etc. In initial tests of 40,000 signs, they are correct 95% of the time. Any app that makes it less of a hassle to find parking will be welcomed everywhere.

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Fresh Apple Rumors; Microsoft Kills Russian Phishing Domains; Facebook Gives Us Reputation Score; Aston Martin Building 25 ‘Goldfinger’ DB5 Replicas

Several Apple tidbits seeped out yesterday. Businessinsider says Apple will release a new Mac Mini this fall aimed at pro users. The $500 Mini has no screen or keyboard, but you can hook them up and make it into an inexpensive computer. Often, however, they are used in computer rooms as remote computers and storage options for businesses. Also in the wings is a new laptop which will be like a MacBook Air. It’s unclear if it will BE an Air or just called MacBook, but will come with a 13 inch ‘Retina’ display…allegedly with a higher resolution than Apple uses on other products. It will also have thinner bezels around the screen.

In addition, Apple will be dropping new Watch models….they have registered 6 numbers with the EU. The Watch is supposed to get a bigger screen, better health sensors, and longer battery life. The Watch could bow with new iPhones..no date, but thought to be on September 12th if Apple follows previous years.

Finally, from Cupertino, the iPhones may be getting faster wireless charging. Presently, they can be charged at a maximum of 7.5 watts with a software update, but it looks like Apple will jump that up to 15 watts, matching what Samsung phones can do for wireless fast charging.

Microsoft has pulled 6 phishing domains that belong to Russian government hackers. They had been registered to the GRU military intelligence agency….the ones alleged to have stolen and leaked the hacked Clinton emails in 2016. Theverge.com says the domains were aimed at spoofing government targets like ‘senate.group’ and ‘adfs-senate-email.’ Others were aimed at the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute…two conservative think tanks which have been critical of President Trump. It appear that these domains had yet to be used, to Microsoft may have prevented more Russian interference into the 2018 election.

In an effort to fight gaming of their systems that has allowed malicious users to post fake news, and false reporting of true items as untrue, Facebook has started assigning users a reputation score ranging from zero to one. According to bloomberg.com, it’s not intended to be an absolute indicator of a person’s credibility, but it’s one of numerous behavioral clues the company is using to try to fight fake news and people who tag items as false just because they disagree with them. Academics are already complaining that Facebook isn’t being transparent about this, but OTOH, if they were, people would be able to more easily game this safeguard.

You may get a chance to buy a copy of one of the most legendary movie cars ever made. Aston Martin is going to build 25 new DB5 cars like the one featured in James Bond’s ‘Goldfinger.’ Arstechnica.com says the cars won’t have an ejection seats, and even though they won’t be street legal, probably won’t have machine guns, oil slick dispensers, or tire flatteners, but will have a rotating license plate. No word on the pop up bulletproof shield. Dust off your checkbook…they will go for $3.51 million bucks EACH!


Google Pumps $300 Million into Saving Online Journalism; IBM Rolls Out Watson Assistant; 100 TB SSD Drive; IoT Mousetrap-Wait, What?

Google has announced that they are launching the Google News Initiative with $300 million. According to mashable.com, the intent is to fight fake news by providing publishers online tools. No list of the publishers was released at the announcement. Facebook started a similar initiative last January, but so far, not much impact has been felt the past 14 months.

In an effort to build an assistant for the business world, IBM has showed off Watson Assistant. Big Blue has been working on the project for a year, and hopes to get established in the business world before Amazon can with Alexa. Cnet.com reports that Watson won’t be for asking what the weather or a sports score is, but more of a behind the scenes brain. It is already in use in the airport in Munich, Germany for a robot that can give directions and gate info. IBM is also working with BMW for an in car voice helper. No, it doesn’t look like you will be able to use it to play Jeopardy if you’re bored in your cube, but it will be great, according to IBM, for crunching sensitive info companies may not want being bounced out into the world to Amazon, Google, Apple, or Microsoft servers.

Bigger is better, right? Now, a company in Irvine, CA, Nimbus Data, has showed the biggest SSD drive ever, a 100 Terabyte job. To give you an idea of how insanely big that is, thenextweb.com says it would hold half of Spotify’s catalog…in something that fits in a pocket!! Its not really designed for home for office use, actually…more for enterprise customers that need to cram more storage into their space that requires less cooling expense. Speaking of expense, no price is out yet, but as a comparison, Samsung has a 15TB drive that came out in 2016 for 10 grand!

A company named Victor has claimed to have built a better mousetrap…it’s connected to the Internet of Things. If this seems silly and massive overkill for way more than you’d spend on a mousetrap, you’re right. According to zdnet.com, it’s really aimed at restaurants and businesses where traps need to be set in attics and cellars that are not very accessible….because seeing visible rodents can be a sure fire business killer. The IoT mousetrap runs on Comcast’s MachineQ platform, and has a dashboard for monitoring. Victor claims they have improved battery life and WiFi range to the point that they can be left unattended for long periods, saving on labor for pest control in larger facilities. Finally….a trap that catches mice and ‘rats them out.’


Amazon Prime Shipped 5 Billion; Apple’s iPhone Battery Replacement; Germany Enforcing Social Media Hate Speech Law; Yes-Robocalls Have Gotten Worse; Wireless Android Auto Coming

Order lots or stuff with free shipping using Amazon Prime? Yeah, you and everyone else. According to techcrunch.com Amazon shipped over 5 billion items with Prime in 2017. We don’t know how much growth this shows, as they’ve never released numbers before, but 5 billion is a staggering number! A third party estimate from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners has 63% of all Amazon customers as Prime members, though, and calculates that there are 90 million Prime members just in the US!

You probably heard the flap over the holidays about Apple using software to slow down older iPhones to conserve dying batteries…and not telling anyone, and hence, the uproar. Apple last week issued a rare apology, and dropped the price of replacement batteries from $79 to $29…available right now in limited quantities. The replacement applies to ‘anyone with an iPhone 6 or newer whose battery needs to be replaced.’ In the rush, Apple didn’t note what happened if the phone fails an official Genius Bar diagnostic test. Now, macrumors.com reports that Apple will replace the batteries at their stores even if the phone doesn’t flunk the Genius Bar test! How about phones older than iPhone 6? Basically…you’re screwed….you’ll have to pay the $79 bucks.

Germany has waded into the arena of hate speech, fake news, and illegal material on social media. BBC.com says they are now starting enforcement of a law banning such content. If the content isn’t removed within 24 hours after the social media company is notified, the fine is up to 50 million Euro…or about $60 million bucks! That MIGHT get their attention. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will be the law’s main focus but it is also likely to be applied to Reddit, Tumblr and Russian social network VK. Other sites such as Vimeo and Flickr could also be caught up in the dragnet.

If it seems like you’ve been getting more robocalls…you are. According to theverge.com, a recent FTC report shows they have quintupled since 2009! The agency has gotten 375,000 complaints a month in 2017, compared to 63,000 a month in 2009. One reason is cheap access to internet calling services and autodialing. Now, there is vastly more neighborhood or area number spoofing, with the calls really calling from almost anywhere in the world. The do not call registry and blocking tools from phone companies and phone makers MAY have helped, but aren’t remotely keeping up with the problem.

Lots of cool things will be rolled out at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show. 9to5google.com says one will be wireless Android Auto. JVC/Kenwood will show off an Android Auto screen that doesn’t have to be plugged into your USB port, but runs over the Bluetooth. There was already such a device for Apple CarPlay rolled out by Alpine a few months ago. They use a 6.8 inch screen, and will sell under the JVC and Kenwood brands. It’s expected that they will also be bringing out an Apple CarPlay compatible version later on. Let’s hope they are easily detachable and can be hidden in trunks, for break-in prone cities like San Francisco!


Waymo Offers Free Rides in Self-Driving Vans; Galaxy S8 Grabs Big Preorders; Google Tweaks Search to Tamp Down Fake News

If you live in the Phoenix area, and intrigued by self-driving cars, has Waymo got a deal for you. According to theverge.com, you can sign up for a free ride in a Waymo minivan…in fact, you can sign up as often as you like on their website. They will select riders based on the types of trips they want to take and agreeableness to using the self-driving service as their primary mode of transportation. All the test cars will have a safety driver along to grab the controls if needed. Besides Phoenix, the service will be available in Gilbert, Tempe, and Chandler. Waymo says the service area there is about twice the area of San Francisco, to give you an idea of the covered territory. They have 100 minivans there, and will add 500 more for this free project, which they are calling “Easy Rider.”

Despite the disastrous Galaxy Note 7 with the fires and recall, Samsung says the Galaxy S8 preorders are their best ever, with 30% year over year growth compared to the S7. Macrumors.com reports that this is despite launching without one of the signature features, the personal assistant Bixby in English language countries. Samsung says that should be available by the end of May…maybe they hooked up the software with a Berlitz course.

Google has announced that it has altered its search engine to ‘surface more high quality content from the web,’ or in English, tamp down fake news, offensive, or clearly misleading content. Cnet.com says Google is also allowing users to flag results that are offensive or unhelpful.


Apple Going for Glasshole Market; Twitter Adds Mute to Convos and Hashtags; Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario Run a Month Away; Spotify Has Been Wearing SSDs-Patch Is Out

Yes, they were clunky, but that wasn’t the main reason people who had Google Glass were called ‘glassholes.’ Apple has revolutionized portable music players with the iPod and phones with the iPhone, can they do the same with digital glasses? Bloomberg.com says they’re working on some. A great AR headset would go a long way in bringing in the future, which at lot of people think will involve AR. The real trick will be having small enough components to produce a good AR experience, and batteries that power it which won’t weigh you down. It’s a huge challenge, but think about the iPod and iPhone…maybe by 2018 we’ll see the iAR or will it be Apple AR?

A lot of criticism has been thrown at Facebook and Twitter over fake news and trolls since the election. Now, bgr.com reports that Twitter has added a mute feature to conversations and hashtags to try to contain harassment. Previously, you could only mute individuals, and their friends could still gang up on a person. You will also now be able to mute keywords and hashtags.

Super Mario Run for iPhone and iPad will launch December 15th. Geekwire.com says it will sell for $10, and is specifically designed for mobile devices. Gamers can try before they by for free with elements of the games 3 modes. The game is designed to accomodate one-handed play….Mario runs forward on his own. Just tap to make him jump.

After sucking up life out of SSDs for months, Spotify has released a fix. According to bgr.com, a bug has allowed the app to continually rewrite data to your drive, even while in idle mode…up to 5 to 10 gigs an hour. Over a day, it would write up to 700 gigs. SSDs have a limited number of writes available, although most should last 10 years with normal use. Look for V. 1.0.42, it’s out and you should have it or upgrade to it on your desktop or laptop.