Waymo & Fiat Chrysler Expand Ride-Hailing; Facebook Looks to Local News; iPhone X Top 3 Worldwide; Verizon Won’t Carry Huawei Line

Fiat Chrysler is preparing to provide Google’s Waymo with thousands of Pacifica hybrid minivans, as Waymo’s self-driving division rolls out public ride hailing services later this year. Reuters.com says this could press GM and Lyft to pick up the pace, as well as Uber, which already has a test fleet running. Waymo had been been testing out 500 Fiat Chrysler self-driving mini-vans through 2017 in 25 cities.

Facebook plans to start showing more local news in user newsfeeds. According to businessinsider.com, they will start this in the US, and expand to other countries later in the year. The Facebook definition of ‘local’ is if its links ‘are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area,’ not the logical ‘is actually IN a local geographic area!’

With reports out that Apple is cutting iPhone X production from 40 to 20 million this quarter, some good news popped up. 9to5mac.com reports that Kantar found the pricey Apple hero phone was the #3 phone in all the regions they monitor during December. That includes Europe, China, Japan, Australia, and the US. iOS sales overall were down half a percentage point in the US, but loyalty hit a record high 96%. Apple and Samsung account for more than 2/3 of the US market at a combined 70.8%.

Under pressure from the government, Verizon has dropped plans to carry Huawei mobile devices. 9to5google.com says AT&T had previously backed out of carrying the Mate 10 Pro. The government apparently is concerned about the closeness of the Chinese government to the phone maker and their possible ability to manipulate upcoming 5G cellular networks.


iPhone 8 May Be A Rare Find Next Year; Google May Add Hondas to Self-Driving Fleet

We’ve been seeing reports for months about the exciting iPhone 8 with curved OLED screens that cover virtually the whole front, and have wireless charging and all. Apparently, it’s going to be a treasure hunt trying to get your hands on one next year. Bgr.com reports that the screens will probably be made by Samsung, but there’s a bottleneck…only one company….Canon Tokki, makes the 328 foot long, 85 million dollar machines that can build the OLED screens, and there’s a two year wait time to get one! A lot of folks may have to settle for a ‘boring’ iPhone 7s or 7s Plus next fall!

Google’s self-driving division Waymo is maturing beyond the funny little Googlemobiles with no steering wheel or pedals. According to businessinsider.com, Waymo…which has rolled out a fleet of Fiat Chrysler minivans and had previously had Lexus SUVs running their system, is now in talks with Honda about integrating Google’s self-driving system into a fleet of Honda cars. Google is still shooting for Level 5 autonomy…which is the car driving itself completely autonomously with no human interaction or supervision.


Apple AirPods Available-But Ship Next Year; Google Partnering on Self-Driving Car Now; Samsung Will Have Only Curved Screen Phones; Uber Continued to Spy on Users

The Apple Store earlier suddenly had AirPods available today-Tuesday for delivery next Monday. Now, 9to5mac.com says delivery has slipped already to 4 weeks from today. Apple did note on their site that they have rolled out the wireless Bluetooth ear buds in 100 countries. If you want to drop $159 for the ill-fitting and odd-looking Apple wireless cans, you might try an Apple Store next week.

Google is apparently no longer going it alone in developing a self-driving car. According to theverge.com, which picked up a story from the Information, Google is now partnering with automakers on more conventional cars, with a goal of launching an autonomous ride-sharing service by the end of next year. Fiat Chrysler is making a new prototype for Google based on a minivan. Reports are that they found their own radical car with no steering wheel or pedals just too radical. The so-called ‘spin out’ division for Google’s car project is being called Waymo, and will be run like a startup, only with the resources of Alphabet, the parent company, according to a news conference today.

A hot feature for Samsung has been the curved screen on the Edge models. Apparently due to that, and Apple’s rumored move to curved OLED screens next year made by Samsung, the Galaxy S8 models will all come with the curved screens. Bgr.com reports that there will be 5.7 and 6.2 inch S8 models with the front panel being over 90% screen. Samsung continues to work on two foldable smartphone models, which can be unfolded into tablets. They may roll out in 2017.

Uber has previously been dinged for having a ‘God mode,’ that allowed some company employees to track customers. Now, in a legal filing by a former Uber security exec, it turns out that dubious feature is still around. Bgr.com notes In the filing, Ward Spangenberg said “Uber’s lack of security regarding its customer data was resulting in Uber employees being able to track high-profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.” Spangenberg is at least the 5th former Uber security pro to reveal the mode, which might be more accurately be called ‘stalker mode.’