Apple Picks Up Waymo Wheel; Facebook Limits Weapon Ad Views to Teens; Foxconn N.A. HQ to Milwaukee; Google Pumps Half Billion into Chinese e-commerce Firm

Although Apple has been seen as withdrawing from the self-driving car race, they have continued to busily work on software and hardware integration they could license to others for self-driving cars. Now, Apple’s secretive autopilot Project Titan has picked up a biggie from Alphabet’s Waymo…Jaime Waydo. Before Waymo, she worked for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Waydo was responsible at Waymo for checking prototype safety and had a big hand on giving the ok for them to start real-world tests in Phoenix. At NASA, she worked on the Mars rovers. Appleinsider.com points out that Apple has continued to build up its test fleet, and may well need to beef up quality control. 

Facebook has announced that they will begin preventing minors from seeing ads for gun accessories like magazines and holsters. According to theverge.com, ads were already banned for guns and modifications, but now such items as above, and also including gun mounted scopes, flashlights, slings, etc. will be restricted to those over 18. Facebook’s rationale is to age-limit accessories that might make guns seem cooler to teens. The change comes in the aftermath of school shootings in Santa Fe, Texas, Parkland, Florida, and others. Some have grumbled that it’s a baby step, but it’s a start. The new policy is effective June 21st.

It’s been promised for some time, and now main Apple supplier Foxconn has announced that their North American headquarters will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The firm has bought a seven story building in the city’s downtown area, and reuters.com says will eventually be staffed with some 500 employees. Foxconn had also previously promised to pump $10 billion over 4 years into a 20 million square foot LCD panel plant in Wisconsin. That operation is slated to eventually employ up to 13,000 people. Foxconn is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer, employing over a million people worldwide.

Google will pour $550 million in cash into China’s second largest e-commerce operator, JD.com. According to CNBC, Google and JD will work together to develop retail infrastructure that can better personalize the shopping experience and reduce friction in many markets, including Southeast Asia. JD.com will also make a selection of items available for customers in the US and Europe via Google Shopping…a service that lets people search for products on e-commerce sites and compare prices between sellers. Google hopes to win back product searches from Amazon with the beefed up selection from JD.com.  In another case of synergy between Google and JD, JD has been testing drone deliveries to reach rural customers in China.

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Apple Cheaper iPad Freshen; Apple Watch Rumors, Foxconn Buys Belkin

Apple rolled out the expected updated cheaper iPad at their educational event in Chicago today, as they look to regain ground in the education market they once owned. The updated 9.7 inch tablet has Apple Pencil support, TouchID, and weighs a pound. Apple also announced new versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote that support the Pencil, noting that with Pages, a report could be written collaboratively…and later, teachers will be able to grade and mark them up right in the Pages document. Theverge.com notes that the iPad is priced at $329 for consumers, $299 for schools and is available today, shipping this week. In something of a preemptive strike, Google showed the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 yesterday. That tablet runs the Chrome OS natively and sells for…wait for it…$329!

With all the attention on the freshened up iPad, a new rumor has slipped out…this from KGI Securities about the Series 4 Apple Watch. 9to5mac.com reports the upcoming Watch will have a larger display, enhanced health monitoring, and longer battery life. According to Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI, the new Watch will have a 15% larger display. Up to now, all Apple watches have either been 38 or 42mm. So far, we don’t know if this will increase the size of the watch, or just make the display larger by reducing the bezels. The increase in battery capacity points to the actual Watch growing in size. This will be the first major re-design since the 1st Apple Watch came out.

Foxconn, which produces the bulk of Apple’s iPhones, in addition to numerous other electronic devices for Apple and for other brands, is buying peripheral maker Belkin for $866 million. You have probably bought Belkin accessories like chargers, cables, and screen protectors, and perhaps a Lynksys modem, which they also sell. This gives Foxconn more than a toehold…more like a large footprint…in the peripheral market. Chet Pipkin, founder and CEO of Belkin since starting it 35 years ago, will remain and run Belkin as a wholly owned subsidiary, and may join the Foxconn management team as well.


Next iPhones-Smaller Then No Notches; Amazon Expands Discounted Prime; Cam Makers Partner for Easier Smartcams; Brits Refine Laws for Self-Driving Cars

The latest word, which comes from Korea’s ET News by way of macrumors.com, is that the next iPhones will have a notably smaller notch for the TrueDepth camera system. This will apparently be true for all 3 models expected in the fall. In addition to that, a sketchier rumor says Apple will be able to ditch the notch entirely in 2019!

Amazon already discounts Prime for people with an EBT card to $5.99 a month, instead of $12.99. Now, according to geekwire.com, they will expand this program to people on Medicaid, too. Users will still get free 2 day shipping, Prime Video, etc. Amazon says they plan to add other ways for people on assistance to qualify for the discount moving forward. The 2 day delivery for people on Medicaid is especially interesting since Amazon is looking to get into the prescription business.

Smartcams can bee cool to have for checking on kids, pets, or just for home security, but some can be a pain to set up, and even more so to get to work with other kinds, and with various systems. Now, Sony, Nikon, iPhone maker Foxconn, as well as others, are working together to make it possible for you to monitor video streams from different cams through a unified interface. Thenextweb.com reports that the makers are devising a specification called NICE so the footage from various cams can be split into scenes, indexed, made searchable and scannable in thumbnails, and more easily stashed in cloud storage. If all works out, there should be NICE cams and related products on the market by 2019.

Self-driving cars are gearing up to hit the roads, and like in the US, the Brits are trying to get things ready. Techcrunch.com says regulators in the United Kingdom are shooting for 2021 as the year driverless cars without a safety operator can be rolling on the roads there. A number of issues have to be worked out, including who is the responsible party if there’s no driver, and how to allocate civil and criminal responsibility where there is shared control through some human-machine interface. If things go as planned, car makers may not have to worry one day about building right hand drive cars for the UK and a number of former British colonies that still drive on the left side of the road.


Google Tested a Pixel 2 Wake to Shoot Feature; Broadcom Offers to Buy Qualcomm; Foxconn Added as Apple Watch Supplier; Tesla Invite To Truck Reveal is Out

It hasn’t been activated yet, but 9to5google.com has discovered a wake to shoot gesture that activates the camera. Basically, when you pick it up and hold it in either landscape or portrait picture mode, the camera app opens. It will work whether the phone is asleep or locked. The feature requires specific hardware. It’s not known if Google has held off due to concerns of launching the cam by mistake or couldn’t finish some work before launch, but let’s hope it comes in the future!

An offer is in the works that will be the biggest tech deal ever. Broadcom has proposed buying rival Qualcomm for $130 billion. According to businessinsider.com, this would make Broadcom the third largest maker of chips and components for smartphones behind Intel and Samsung. It also might make the Qualcomm vs Apple lawsuit go away. As we reported last week, Apple is looking at ditching Qualcomm completely over that, and Apple is one of Qualcomm’s biggest customers that throws off most of the modem division’s revenue. The merger would have to be approved by shareholders and the Department of Justice due to antitrust concerns.

Foxconn is apparently supplying System in Package tech for Apple Watch next year. 9to5mac.com reports that Quanta Computer was the original sole assembler of the smartwatch, and Apple added Compal Electronics this year, but only for older generation watches. Like many huge companies, Apple likes to have 2 or more suppliers for major components, to avoid getting gouged on price and unexpected supply chain jam ups.

The invite is out, and so’s the date. Tesla will preview its electric big rig on November 16th, in Hawthorne, CA. at 7 in the evening. Cnet.com notes that the twilight shot of the truck is from the right front quarter…the only other tease pic we’ve seen was from the front…yep…it just looks like the outline of a more zoomy big rig.


New ARM Chip Will Be a Big Boost to Samsung Phones; Apple Working on Flexible Touch Displays; Base iPhone 7 Gets a Simple, Big Upgrade

ARM will have new chips out in time for next year’s flagship smartphones like those from Samsung that will boost performance by 30% while giving 30% better power efficiency. Cnet.com says ARM claims you will be able to run a phone’s chip at full speed for the duration of a movie, game, or VR experience! It’s the Cortex-A73 computing processor and Mali-G71 graphics processor. The graphics processor gives 50% higher performance with 20% energy savings. Samsung and a couple others have already licensed the tech…no word about Apple, but they’ve used ARM in the past.

An Apple supplier, TPK…which is a division of Foxconn, has a silver nanowire tech rolling out that will allow for flexible touch screens. Since Foxconn is the major supplier of iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, patentlyapple.com notes that there’s a high probability that you’ll be seeing these everywhere in the next 2-5 years. More to the point, TPK says they expect their clients to launch flexible touch panel devices in the 2nd half of 2016! If they’re talking about Apple, a folding 7 inch tablet or display that wraps around your arm will be one hell of a ‘one more thing! Stay tuned!

One of the most boring, yet important tidbits has just dropped about the iPhone 7…bgr.com reports it will finally ship with 32 gigs of memory instead of the nearly useless 16 gigs in the base phone. No more cheapskate Apple buyers whining about having to delete pictures and songs from their iPhones anymore!


Closer to Flying Car; ‘More Complex iPhone 7 Production Starting

LiliumFlyingCar

Lilium Aviation of Germany is working on an electric short haul private jet that could bring us closer to George Jetson’s flying car. According to BBC, it’s 100% electric, can fly 310 miles at 248 miles per hour, and has a ceiling of 9900 ft. It recharges overnight from a regular electrical outlet. It can land and take off from a back yard, and instead of one motor, has the redundancy of 36 small ducted fan motors.The 320Kw battery pack puts out 435 horsepower. It qualifies as a Light Sport Aircraft, so only requires 20-30 hours of training, and takes off and lands autonomously. Lilium has already flown a smaller prototype and is building a full sized one. They hope to be production ready by the end of 2018!

New leaks about the iPhone 7…despite talk that it will be practically an iPhone 6S, it is reported to be more complex to build…perhaps little change cosmetically, but some new and interesting features under the hood. Bgr.com reports that both Foxconn and Pegatron have started hiring a month earlier than usual for a new model. Also, new leaked images show the antenna stripes at the top and bottom…no longer crossing the back, and a new pinhole between the camera lens and flash may be for laser autofocus…a feature LG has had for a couple years.


Moto’s Modular Capable Flagships Coming; Foxconn to Build Big iPhone Plant in India

Pictures leaked out a while back of Motorola’s 2 Moto X flagships with what looked like fairly large speaker holes on the metal back, and a protruding camera lens. According to venturebeat.com, there’s more to it than that. The Vertex and Vector Thin will accommodate modular backplates you can swap out that add functionality. There will be at least 6 at launch counting the plain cover. The others have: stereo speakers; a battery pack; a camera grip with flash and optical zoom; a pico projector; and a rugged cover with wide angle lens attachment. The camera lens will sit flush with the backplates…which Motorola calls Amps….attached. So far, no pricing on either the phones or the Amps.

The Economic Times of India says Foxconn is close to a deal to build a 10 billion dollar iPhone manufacturing plant there. 9to5mac.com reports it will sit on 1200 acres, and be up and running in about 18 months. This is only one of 10-12 manufacturing plants Foxconn hopes to open in India by 2020. Apple sales were up 56% year over year in India.