Galaxy Note 9 ‘Unpacked’; NYC Whacks Uber and Lyft; Facebook May Drop From #2 Website; Apple Considers Subwoofer for iMacs

Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy Note 9 at their Unpacked event. 9to5google.com notes that it bows with up to 512 gigs of storage, a Bluetooth S-Pen, and has a base price of $999. It’s not a revolutionary update, but has some nice adds…the Bluetooth connected S-Pen, for one. The connection lets you use the pen as a remote shutter for the camera, and a remote for presentations. The Note 9 still rolls with dual cams and the dual aperture primary sensor like the S9 family. It does have a built in AI camera mode that adjusts settings to get the best possible shot. Besides the Bluetooth pen, another notable advance is the 4000 mAh battery, which is up 20% from the Note 8. It should give virtually everyone an all day battery, and has USB-C fast charging as well as wireless charging (with charging pad.) You’ll drop the $999 for the 128 gig model, and a wallet crushing $1249 for the 512 gig memory rig.

New York City’s Council voted to cap the number of for-hire delivery and transportation vehicles yesterday, in a kneecap to Uber and Lyft. According to theverge.com, the city will halt new for-hire licenses for 12 months while it studies the industry. The council made an exception to vehicles that are wheelchair accessible…those can still be licensed. Exceptions can also be had for particular neighborhoods that are low on ride-hail vehicles. The council also passed a bill that establishes a $15 living wage for drivers. Both bills head for Mayor de Blasio’s desk, and he’s likely to sign them. Uber already has 80,000 vehicles in NYC.

Facebook has taken some real hits lately, but may be about to get another body blow. Businessinsider.com reports that SimilarWeb has released a study showing that Facebook is about to be passed up as the number two website in America by YouTube. YouTube is projected to blow past Facebook in traffic in the next 3 months, making it #2 to parent Google. Facebook’s monthly visits have dropped from 8.5 billion two years ago to 4.7 billion this past July. YouTube is up to 4.5 billion in July, and on an upswing.

Apple may be getting ready to improve the tinny sound of the built in speakers in their iMac. They have patented a way of putting in a subwoofer that would double as a cooling device. Without getting into the weeds technically, Apple would use sub-audible air flow to reduce the amount of noise the computer makes in addition to providing cooling and sub-woofer thump for music. Geek.com points out it may be another great idea that never sees the light of day, but a very interesting combination that would go well into Apple’s impossibly skinny computers.

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Freshened MacBook Pro; Apple Watch Grows This Fall; Self-Driving Mercedes Test to Silicon Valley; Purple Galaxy Note 9

Apple has freshened it’s top drawer MacBook Pros today. Theverge.com reports that they come with updated processors, more configuration options, True Tone displays, and what Apple claims is a ‘quieter’ keyboard design. The 15 inch model gets a 70 percent performance boost and the 13 incher doubles in speed. The upgrade doesn’t apply to the base 13 inch MacBook Pro (without the Touch Bar), the MacBook, or MacBook Air. It is rumored the lower line MacBooks will be upgraded this fall. There is a beautiful new leather sleeve for the new MacBook Pros, in black, brown, and dark blue. The price is beautiful, to….a whopping $180 for a SLEEVE! OTOH, a fully tricked out 15 inch MacBook Pro will set you back $6699! (Once your heart resumes beating….the base model remains the same at $2399.

Apple Watch gets updated this fall…probably at the iPhone event in September. One strong rumor from Ming-Chi Kuo is that both watches will get screen size increases without the watch getting larger. According to 9to5mac.com, Apple will do this by cutting the bezel size. The screens will go from 1.31 inch and 1.54 inch to 1.57 and 1.78 inch sizes. the Watch will also get better heart rate detection.

Mercedes-Benz will start pilot testing self-driving taxis in Silicon Valley in 2019. Theverge.com reports that Daimler and Bosch have been partnering on the self-driving tech, which uses a custom version of NVIDIA’s autonomous vehicle tech. The cars will only follow preselected routes, and Mercedes hasn’t decided whether it will go with S-class cars (the biggest body Mercedes) or V-class vans, or both. As with all other self-driving cars right now, there will be a safety driver present in the vehicles.

A leaked poster shows the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in a purple color (which they’ve done before, calling it Lilac Purple) but with a twist this time…it comes with a gold S Pen. In addition, 9to5google.com says the phablet will continue to have a headphone jack. All will be revealed at Samsung’s Unpacked event, which is coming up on August 9th.


Galaxy Note 9 Rumors; Snap Spectacles II on Amazon; Nintendo Switch Content Leak; Facebook Rebrands On This Day As Memories

More has leaked out about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, widely expected to be a minor upgrade coming in August. Bgr.com says one tweak may make a noticeable difference over the Note 8…the back cams may go horizontal instead of vertical, with the fingerprint sensor moving directly below. This will not only make the print sensor much easier to find and use, but the horizontal layout of the cams will allow for a bigger battery…perhaps even exceeding the 35 mAh battery of the Galaxy S9+. There’s also an additional hardware button showing up…no clues on what it is, but it may be related to the cameras.

Snap’s original Spectacles were kind of cool, but you had to hunt for a pop up store to get a pair of them. Now, mashable.com reports that the 2nd generation will be much easier to find…you can buy them on Amazon. There’s a price bump of 20 bucks to $149.99, but now they can be at your doorstep in a couple days in the US, UK, and Canada….even tomorrow if you’re terribly impatient! Snap only sold 220,000 of the original Spectacles, and lost a bundle ($40 million), but it appears they are confident about the round pic-taking glasses being a hit in version 2.

Best Buy may have spilled the beans about upcoming Nintendo Switch content at E3. According to businessinsider.com, Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix compatibility may be coming to the Switch. The added capabilities popped up on Best Buy’s online store. Nintendo had been expected to make an announcement anyway, but the retailer inadvertently stole their thunder.

Facebook is rolling out a rebranded On This Day as ‘Memories.’ Techcrunch.com says they are adding friends you made on the date to the usual pictures and posts from the On This Day version, in addition to ‘Memories You May Have Missed’. It’s a great way to get people to engage more…not to mention it saves Facebook server space by recycling posts. Hmm.


Some Apple WWDC Highlights; Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Launch In August; Microsoft Buys GitHub

Apple’s keynote at the World Wide Developers Conference was a bit of a marathon, going on for over 2 hours. While I kept wondering if Steve Jobs would have made them keep it to an hour and 15 minutes, here are a few high points: for coolness, the ‘wow’ award goes to the new Animoji….and specifically a new feature Apple has dubbed ‘Memoji.’ It allows you to build your own animoji of yourself and send it in iMessage. They seem to have a massive variety of skin tone, face shape, hair color and style, eye color, and accessories like glasses, hats, etc. People will go nuts with this feature, I’m thinking.

iOS 12 will bring a performance boost to older devices, and there are some pretty spectacular AR abilities that were demoed….including a cool app using Legos. Photos search picks up better object and scene recognition.

Siri is getting Shortcuts. These are quick actions like ‘I lost my keys’ that Siri can then help with….another example was texting meeting attendees that you will be late. In addition to stock Shortcuts, an app lets you make your own using drag and drop.

Something for mobile device addicts and especially for kids….Apple has beefed up Do Not Disturb to work outside of just bedtime. You can also fine tune all notifications to cut down on the number of the things that pop up.

Something called Screen Time gives people and idea about how much they use (or over use) their phone. Parents can even set up to report child use on a main device.

FaceTime has added Group Chat for up to 30.

One feature a lot of people will be happy to hear about tis that Apple’s Car Play will now play nice with Google Maps.

Apple Watch got a new Pride band and watch face…available today, but also Watch OS 5 picks up automatic workout detection and a walkie-talkie feature. It also adds yoga! as a workout.

The next iteration of MacOS is called Mojave. It includes a much wanted Dark Mode, and also enhanced privacy, and Desktop Stacks, that group things automatically by date, type, or tag…then kind of unfurl with a click. Finder has a new Gallery View to preview images, video, pdf’s, etc. The App Store has gotten a fresh coat of paint. Safari has Intelligent Tracking Prevention to stop social media ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons, and makes it harder for advertisers to track you online.

While Apple is putting on their big show, word is out that Samsung’s delayed Galaxy Note 9 should get here in early August. Bloomberg.com says it will run on the same CPU as the S9 and S9+, the Snapdragon 845. It appears to be an incremental upgrade to the Note 8, not a major overhaul.

Rumors have flown, and now Microsoft has announced that the are picking up social coding platform GitHub in and all-stock deal running $7.5 billion. According to thenextweb.com, the deal will close by the end of 2018. Microsoft is putting in a new CEO, Nat Friedman…late of Xamarin, but also claims GitHub will run independently. Former CEO and co-founder Chris Wanstrath joins Microsoft as a technical fellow.