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!


Galaxy Note 8 May Actually Be Available the 24th; 1000 Spyware Apps at Android App Stores, Google Buys Health Monitoring Startup

The rollout of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is coming up fast…August 23rd…and now we have word when phones might be available. According to word leaked by a Best Buy employee picked up by 9to5google.com, it could be in the hands of users by the very next day! If Samsung is able to do this, instead of the usual 2 plus weeks wait time, it will give them a major jump on the release of the iPhone 8.

Hackers have apparently flooded Android app stores INCLUDING the official Google Play store with over 1000 spyware apps. ZDnet.com reports that SonicSpy can silently record calls and audio, take photos, MAKE calls, send texts to numbers the attackers have programmed, monitor call logs, contacts, and wi-fi systems picked up. It is believed to be the handiwork of malware developers in Iraq. The apps are marketed as messaging apps. Google has killed Sonic, Hulk Messenger, and Troy Chat, but there are still numerous other versions on various app stores.

We have often reported on how Apple has a virtual army working on health apps for iPhone. Now, Google has bought a health monitoring startup called Senosis. Geekwire.com says the founder of Senosis, Shwetak Patel, won a MacArthur genius grant in 2011. His team of a dozen engineers and physicians have focused on making smartphones into monitoring devices for pulmonary function, hemoglobin counts, and other vital health info. So far, they make apps called SpiroSmart, SpiroCall, HemaApp, and OsteoApp, which are under review by the FDA.


Galaxy Note 8 Design Leak;, Microsoft Surface Plus Upgrade Plan; Ford’s ‘Good Neighbor Mode’

A new leak of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 shows it will keep the squared off, boxy shape of the Note 7, but uses a curved, edge-to-edge ‘Infinity Display’ that covers almost the entire front surface. There’s no physical home key. Businessinsider.com reports that it has a dual rear camera. On the front, there’s an infrared iris scanner for secure access, but the fingerprint reader is unfortunately on the back. Samsung will roll it out August 23rd in New York.

Ahh, planned obsolescence…something the tech industry has learned well from the auto industry. There are upgrade plans for your smartphone from both manufacturers and phone companies to keep you in the latest and greatest…for a price. Now, according to thenextweb.com, you can upgrade your PC every 18 months with Microsoft’s new Surface Plus program. The deal lets you pay off your computer in 24-month installments with zero interest if paid off in time (otherwise, it’s 19.99%!) If you trade in your old computer in working condition, you can start a new plan after 18 months. Check it out at microsoft.com or Microsoft Stores in the US.

Some of us who like cars have opted for a so-called ‘more aggressive’ exhaust system. Harley Davidson motorcycles have a characteristic sound. Now, Ford…which decades ago touted a model that was quieter than a Rolls Royce…has introduced ‘Good Neighbor Mode.’ Cnet.com notes that there are already a few cars like Aston Martin that have so-called silent start modes, but Ford is bringing one to the 2018 Mustang GT that you can schedule ahead of time. Starting in Quiet Exhaust mode cuts the sound level to about 72 decibels, close to what your dishwasher sounds like. You can program it ahead, so you can start off quiet at 7am, then let ‘er roar when you fire it up later in the day. Just the thing if you have crabby neighbors who don’t appreciate cars that are fun.


Galaxy Note 8 To One Up iPhone 7 Plus Cams; Flash will (Finally) Go Bye-Bye; Roku Bests Chromecast in Users

The Galaxy Note 8 may be about to better the flagship feature on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus…the dual lens camera. Bgr.com reports that Samsung wanted to put the feature on the Galaxy S8, but instead opted for the Note. Like with Apple, the Note will have a regular and telephoto lens. Samsung will have a 3x optical zoom on the Note, where Apple only has 2x, and will include optical image stabilization on the telephoto as well as main lens, which Apple doesn’t. They also are making the wide angle lens 13 megapixel, while Apple shoots with 12 megapixels on both lenses…a negligible difference, but enough to tout as a feature.

It’s been a long, slow death, but Adobe is finally pulling the plug on Flash, probably the most frequently compromised software on anyone’s computer. Mashable.com says it won’t happen until 2020, but at least there is an end date to the problematic software that Steve Jobs panned back in 2009! Most all major browsers support HTML5, and many disable Flash Player by default already. Bye, Flash…we won’t miss you.

According to info from eMarketer picked up by recode.net, Roku pulls in around 40 million people in the US per month. This gives them 23% of connected TV users, easing past Google’s Chromecast with 22% and Amazon Fire TV with 21. Apple TV is an anemic 7%. The big number is 37%….that’s how many just watch via smart TVs. Mine isn’t even all that new, but has dedicated Netflix and Amazon buttons on the remote, and was dead simple to set up.


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.


Galaxy Note 8 Launch in August; Virgin Mobile Goes iPhone Only; Classic Sega Genesis Games FREE on Mobile

Hot off the press…or web, anyway, Samsung will unveil its Galaxy Note 8 in August. According to cnet.com and Reuters, it will have a curved screen that will be slightly larger than the Galaxy 8’s 6.2 incher, and have 2 rear cameras. Despite the flameout…in a number of cases literally…of the Note 7, there is a substantial hard-core fan base that will snap up the Note 8 models as soon as they hit the market!

Galaxy Note 8 fans, Samsung fans, or any other Android users will have to look elsewhere for a carrier if they were considering Virgin Mobile…they have announced that after June 27th, they will sell nothing but Apple iPhones. Bgr.com reports that Virgin will be kicking off a new wireless plan to go along with the change. A new promotion for the $50 per month Inner Circle plan is out too…buy a new iPhone through Virgin, and get the 1st full year of unlimited service for just a dollar. After that, the monthly fee pops back up to $50. (Check the fine print…like with everyone else’s ‘unlimited’ plan, there are limits!)

The venerable Sega Genesis managed to attract substantial hard core, dedicated fans to its games. If you were one or know one, you’ll be happy to find out that Sega has launched the 1st wave of its Sega Forever collection on mobile…for free! Engadget.com says there are ads, but for $2, you can play ad free. The initial launch includes the 1991 version of Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II, Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon, and Altered Beast. All are available today on iTunes and Google Play. For iPhone or iPad, you also get some iMessage sticker packs. Sega will be adding new titles about every two weeks.


Google Stand Alone VR Headsets; Google Indoor Location VPS; Google Home gets Hands Free Calling, More; Galaxy Note 8 Will Sport Dual Cams

Google is working on a standalone VR headset with HTC and Lenovo. 9to5google.com says the new system will be much easier to use, and will heighten the feeling of presence. Headsets should be out in the world and available later this year.

At I/O, Google has also revealed it is working on detailed indoor location positioning using its Tango 3D sensing computer vision tech. According to techcrunch.com, they call this Visual Positioning Service, or VPS. As an example, it could lead you directly to a certain item in a big box home improvement store. No word on when the system will be rolled out, but it will be a cool addition to the AR and VR systems Google and others are working on.

Speaking of indoors, Google Home is getting hands-free calling, proactive assistance, and Bluetooth streaming. Proactive assistance will be timely info like traffic alerts. The hands free calling can call any land line or mobile in the US or Canada with just a ‘Hey, Google call X. No setup is required, and it will default to private number, unless you want to have your number display. You can stream music from your Android of iPhone over Bluetooth, or use SoundCloud.

The Galaxy S8 and Plus didn’t get it, but it looks like the Note 8 will have dual rear cams. Bgr.com reports that there will be a 12Mp wide angle lens and a 13 Mp telephoto with a 3x optical zoom, leapfrogging Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus with the 2x optical zoom.