Apple Smart Cam & Face ID for Apple Pay; Samsung Galaxy S8 Outpacing S7

More nuggets from the code in Apple’s HomePod software…iPhone 8 may have a feature called ‘Smart Cam’ which will intelligently capture the best photos when shooting scenes like sunrises, sunsets, and fireworks. Some other scenes are: Baby, Bright Stage, Document, and Foliage. 9to5mac.com says another leak from the HomePod code indicates Apple may be going to facial recognition for Apple Pay. The code corroborates reports from Bloomberg and KGI Securities saying iPhone 8 will ditch fingerprint recognition for facial recognition. There is also code indicating wireless inductee charging.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will drop the end of the month….meanwhile, the Galaxy S8 is doing fine, thank you very much. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung has shipped more than 20 million units of Samsung’s hero phone. 9to5google.com reports that this is an increase of 15% over what they cranked out last year by this time with the Galaxy S7.


Analyst-No, iPhone 8 Won’t Be $1200; Bixby is Launched in US; Facebook to Let Publishers Charge Readers to View Stories

There have been several rumors that Apple’s iPhone 8 will start at over $1000, and go as high as $1200, to set it up as a ‘niche’ product. In a report picked up by apple insider.com, an analyst from UBS says they see the iPhone 8 shipping in November, and starting at $900 for the 64 gig model, and a $256 gig model for $1000. UBS thinks iPhone sales will be up 15% in Apple’s 2018 year. [Update: Analysts at JC Morgan believe it will ship in September, but with very tight availability.]

It wasn’t ready for the launch of the Galaxy S8 this spring, and Samsung promised voice assistant Bixby by the end of May in the US. Well, that didn’t happen either, but according to engadget.com, it’s out now. Bixby’s draw, according to Samsung, is that it understands natural language expressions better than other voice assistants. So far, the English release works in the US and South Korea. No word on if it is out in other English speaking countries yet. As we’ve reported, Samsung is working on a voice activated speaker like Amazon and Google have, and Apple is rolling out in December.

Facebook is preparing to let media outlets charge readers for access to their stories, starting in October. Businessinsider.com says they will be able to show 10 free articles per month before a paywall kicks in. No info on how much Facebook will skim from publishers on this, or if anyone there has calculated what percentage of people will simply click away, rather than pay…I predict that will be a huge majority of Facebook users. It’s tough to find people who don’t despise paywalls.


Galaxy S8 BOGO; $99 AR Headset for iPhone 7 Coming; Amazon-Made Meal Kits to Your Door

Have I got a deal for you! Well, actually, I don’t, but Samsung sure does. Starting today, on their website, and in the Shop Samsung app, you can buy a new Galaxy S8 and trade in your old phone, and get a 2nd S8 for FREE! Want an S8+? No problem, you can get that one with your qualifying trade in and $100! Bgr.com says it’s good on every major carrier, and they have a 24 month payment plan..better than the carrier plans, because it’s no money down.

You’ve been able to get Google Cardboard and get your feet wet with augmented reality for some time now…but if you have an iPhone, you’ve been out of luck. That is changing. 9to5mac.com reports that an LA based startup is getting ready to release the Mira Prism. It’s a $99 headset with a slot for an iPhone 7. Instead of popping the phone in a slot in front of you, the phone goes in a slot above, and you see the AR elements along with the rest of the world through a plastic visor in front of your eyes. It’s cheap and simple.just slide the phone into the Prism headset, fire up the app, and away you go! There’s even a spectator mode, to allow a friend to watch your AR experience on their own phone or tablet. You can preorder on the Mira website.

Amazon continues to eat the world…and this time, you can join in the eating! Amazon made meal kits could be on the way to your doorstep soon! According to arstechnica.com, the online giant has filed a trademark for a meal kit service with the tag line ‘We do the prep. You be the chef.’ They look to sell the kits through Amazon Fresh, their online grocery ordering and delivery service. Amazon Fresh already has meal kits from Tyson Foods and Martha Stewart. Blue Apron stock dropped 10% when the news came out, even though no start date has been announced by Amazon.


Prime Day-Best Deals Are Amazon’s Own-Natch; Galaxy S8 Sales Trail S7’s; Audi A8 First Level 3 Semi-Autonomous Car

Prime Day is in full swing, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that some of the primo deals are on Amazon’s own stuff. If you want to get your feet wet with Alexa, bgr.com says to check out the Amazon Echo in black for $89.99, or the 2nd Gen Echo Dot…also in black for $34.99. As for TVs, a Sony 65 inch 4K Smart TV is $1498, and a Samsung 55 inch Smart TV with 4K is $700.99!

According to 9to5google.com, brokerage analysts estimate that Samsung Galaxy S8 sales are trailing the S7 by about 20% for the 1st two months….9.8 million for the S8, where the S7 hit 12 million. They believe the sales hit may be due to stronger competition from Chinese brands, plus customer anticipation of the highly hyped iPhone 8.

Audi has revealed that their 2019 A8 sedan will have level 3 autonomous features. Engadget.com reports that the ‘AI Traffic Jam Pilot’ will move the car in gridlock situations on the highway without driver input. The system handles acceleration, steering, braking, and starting from dead stop. Drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel at speeds up to 37 mph. As with all of these systems, it depends on local laws, and the car will nag you if you need to take over…no napping! It is a mild hybrid…not hybrid to the level of their e-tron plug in or a Prius, but should save on fuel.


Samsung Delays Bixby for the US Again; 5 New Macs & 4 iOS Devices on Horizon

Samsung rolled out its latest Galaxy phones, the S8 models, without the virtual assistant Bixby in the US. It was due by now, but has been delayed a month. The Wall St. Journal reports that they are having trouble getting it to understand English syntax and grammar. Virtual assistants haven’t been the ‘killer app’ on smartphones anyway…only about 9% of users use the AI feature on a regular basis, according to research firm Ovum. Half of smartphone owners either had no interest in the feature or didn’t even know about it. It has been a different story with talking speakers, which the public seems to be accepting more quickly….with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant in the lead.

There are armies of people digging through regulatory filings around the world to bring you tidbits like this: a Russian filing points to 5 new Macs and 4 new iOS devices on the way from Apple. According to apple insider.com, we could see some rolled out at WWDC. There has already been speculation that Apple would show a new mid-sized iPad Pro at WWDC, fitting in between the 9.7 inch and 12 inch iPad Pros. A recent shortage of MacBooks seems to point to a refresh of MacBook Pros and Airs as well.


Echo Show-Yep, It’s the Ugly Version; Preorders Live for Unlocked Galaxy S8 & Plus; T-Mobile to Carry T-Mobile Branded Phones

Amazon has unveiled the Echo Show. It has a 7 inch touch screen, a 5 MP camera, and dual 2 inch Dolby stereo speakers and 8 microphones. Techcrunch.com reports that it will sell for $230, and is available for preorder. The actual device will be released June 28th. Besides having Alexa tell you things or do things, the Show will allow her to ‘show you things.’ The Show can be used for video calling. The nicest description so far was from engadget.com: “Unusual, boxy retro style.” It’s available in black or white, so if either is your kitchen color scheme, you’re in luck!

How about preorders for a device that IS gorgeous? Samsung answers, as preorders are open for unlocked Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus models in the US. They should be available May 31st. Theverge.com says you can either order through Best Buy or samsung.com, and they start at $724.99 for 64 gigs on an unlocked S8 and $824.99 for the 64GB unlocked S8 Plus. Both can be ordered in Midnight Black.

T-Mobile is getting ready to launch its own line of Android phones. According to 9to5google.com, there will be 3 versions, with the first out the door to be the REVVL T1. Say that fast 3 times! All will be built for T-Mobile by TCL, the firm that makes BlackBerry and Alcatel phones. The T-Mobile handsets will be midrange smartphones, with the T1 sporting a 5.5 inch screen, 3000mAh battery, and running Android Nougat. It will have a 13MP rear camera with 5MP for the selfie cam. No release date or pricing has been announced.


Apple Echo-Type Smart Speaker Coming; Galaxy S8 Random Reboots; Samsung Approved for Testing Self-Driving Cars in Korea

There are now two sources saying Apple will make a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google’s speaker. Bgr.com reports that now KGI Securities says they will launch a ‘Siri Speaker’ at WWDC in June. No word on the cost (don’t think cheap), but it’s expected to hit stores and the web in the second half of the year. It will reportedly have 7 tweeters and a subwoofer, which should give it great sound. It will use some type of Beats tech and run a version of iOS.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 had record preorders, but as it gets to peoples’ hands, there’s word that some are having random reboots. 9to5google.com reports there’s quite a thread about this on Samsung’s forums. It can happen when in use, or just sitting around. The phone does fully reboot, and it appears it may be related to an SD card issue, as removing the SD card seems to fix the problem until Samsung rolls out a software patch.

Speaking of Samsung…for those of you who thought they only made phones and TVs, etc, the Korean giant is now approved to test self-driving cars on roads in Korea. According to techcrunch.com, Hyundai has been at it for about a year now, so Samsung will be playing catch up to an extent. Samsung started as a trading company, and has interests in shipping, insurance, and more. The Korean approval allows for operating without steering wheels or pedals, which is also part of proposed new regulations in California and which Michigan already allows.