Facebook F8 Keynote; UK Tells Zuck Show Up or Subpoena; 2 Bigger Samsung Galaxy Phones; Another Hint Apple May Roll Without Qualcomm or Intel

Mark Zuckerberg dropped a big bombshell in his F8 keynote this morning….a Facebook dating app! Businessinsider.com reports that the social network will also launch a possible rival to Apple’s FaceTime…video chat via Instagram. WhatsApp will be getting video calling, and Messenger will get simplified, and some AR camera tools are coming. As for VR, the Oculus Go, Facebook’s new standalone VR headset ships today. It’s $199, a big drop from the present $399 Oculus headset (which you need a high end PC to use!) A crowd pleaser—Facebook is handing out a free Oculus Go headset to everyone at F8! FB will also be adding upvotes and downvotes to comments, like Reddit. Also, Stories will be opened up to third party developers. They are also adding ‘live commenting’ to videos…they will appear in a video alongside the video and narrate it in real time.

The UK Parliament really wants to hear from Mark Zuckerberg in person. According to techcrunch.com, they have let Facebook know that since Zuck is giving evidence to the European Parliament in May, if he lands in Britain, he will be hit with a summons.

Up to now, you have only been able to get Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones with 64 gigs of storage in the US, but starting May 18th, you can go crazy with more space. Bgr.com reports that both phons will add 128 and 256 gig capacities by then. Preorders are open now. The 128 gig S9 runs $769.99, with the S9+ gobbling up $889.99 of your bucks. For the maxed out 256 gig S9, expect to drop $819.99, or pony up $939.99 for the S9+ .

A job posting was dropped from Apple’s site that some say points to the company rolling their own modem chips and dropping Qualcomm. Businessinsider.com says the gig was for a ‘mmWave IC design engineer.’ That would appear to indicate that Apple was wanting to design in house its own chip for next gen 5G networks. Although Apple is locked in a courtroom battle with Qualcomm, this shouldn’t be a stunner…they have been running iOS mobile devices on processors of their own design for a decade.

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Galaxy S10 3D Face Recognition; Galaxy S9 Easter Egg Health Feature; Nest Temp Sensor & Video Doorbell; Apple Patents ‘Keyless Keyboard’

The Galaxy S8 and the new S9’s have face unlock, but it’s 2D, not 3D. Now, according to 9to5google.com, Samsung is working on a true 3D system like Apple’s iPhone X on the S10. If the trials pan out, you may not need to combine the face unlock with either a fingerprint or iris reader to access things like your bank and credit accounts when the S10 comes out next year.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are out tomorrow, and have a heart rate sensor on the back. That’s nothing new for Samsung, but this one has an added trick that never got covered in all the leaks or even the rollout. Bgr.com says Samsung has managed to fly a feature of it under the radar. In February, at the rollout, Samsung also announced an app called My BP Lab. The app transforms the Galaxy S9’s heart rate monitor into a blood pressure monitor. Preliminary tests by journalists that have tried it out indicate that the readings are extremely accurate! Right now, the feature is a bit of a beta, and isn’t incorporated into the main Samsung Health app, but it likely will be before long.

Nest has rolled out a temperature sensor that works with its smart thermostats to keep rooms in your home closer to the ideal temperature. Theverge.com reports that the #39 sensor will be shipping in April, and there’s a preorder now for a 3 pack for $99. It does require the latest-generation Nest Learning Thermostat or the Thermostat E, and won’t work with first or second generation Nests…so I’m out of luck for now.

Nest has also released the Hello video doorbell for $229, and the long time coming Nest x Yale door lock…which is $249 or $279 if you get Nest Connect. The video doorbell does require a wired connection with power, but it is a direct shot at the Amazon Ring from Google.

Apple has applied for a patent on a ‘keyless keyboard,’ one that would basically use another touchscreen with haptic feedback to allow for a more versatile (and liquid and crumb-proof) keyboard. Appleinsider says it would allow for moving the trackpad into the middle, or changing the layout of the keyboard to an ergonomic one, and even specialty keyboard layouts using just software. As will all patents, and especially Apple’s, there’s no telling when or if this might hit the market.


Galaxy S9+ Cam Best Yet; Carriers Tout Phone # App Authentication; Uber Health Launched

It will probably only last until the new models of their competitors come out, but Samsung’s Galaxy S9+ camera has snagged the highest DxOMark score ever at 99. Fortunately for the cellphone makers, the scale doesn’t end at 100! Bgr.com reports that the Galaxy has narrowly eclipsed the cameras on the Google Pixel 2, which had a 98, and the iPhone X with a 97. Huawei’s Mate 10 Pro also scored a 97. No matter how objective these test try to be, with photos, there’s still a subjective element…just like a painting, the art is in the eye of the beholder…but for now, Samsung reigns supreme!

The 4 major US phone carriers, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, & T-Mobile, have rolled out plans for an authentication platform that would add extra security for people downloading apps to Apple’s iPhone and other handsets. Appleinsider.com says the tech uses a ‘cryptographically verified phone number and profile data’, info such as how long you’ve had the number, the account type, IP address, and SIM card info. The carriers plan to trial the system in the next few weeks, and launch it later this year. It is hoped the extra layer of security will help counter fraud and identity theft.

Uber has launched Uber Health, a new ride hailing platform for healthcare. According to techcrunch.com, the service is like UberCENTRAL, their ride-booking service for business customers. With the service, the riders don’t have to have the Uber app, the healthcare provider can book rides to and from appointments. Uber says it is HIPAA compliant, and can be used by the clients via a landline. The ride hailing company points out that the service is just for appointments, and is not designed to replace 911 or ambulance rides for emergencies.


Samsung Galaxy S9 is Here; Sony Xperia XZ2 Gets 3D Scanning; Nokia Bows Retro Matrix Banana Phone; Apple Working on High End Over Ear Headphones

With all the leaks, there was precious little unknown about the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, but they were finally shown over the weekend at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. 9to5google.com notes that we did get the pricing, which isn’t as bad as predicted. The S9 will be $719 unlocked, and the S9+ weighs in at $839. They can be preordered March 2nd, and will be out March 16th. As predicted, it has a dual aperture camera, with the settings f/1.5 and f/2.4. The larger S9+ has the dual rear cams, too. Both phones have Face Unlock as well as IrisScanning. Samsung’s ‘Intellegent Scan’ turns out to actually just be a way to fallback to IrisScan if Face Unlock can’t be used. IrisScan and your fingerprint are still used for secure authentication, like Samsung Pay.

Sony has really never been able to gain traction in smartphones like they have in other electronics, so with the Xperia XZ2, they tout features ported over from their other devices. Zdnet.com reports that the phones have added 3D scanning to the front cam. This isn’t a huge feature now, but can create 3D selfies that can be uploaded to Facebook and be for avatar creation…which could be used in gaming features later. Sony has added a vibration system that they say adds to the ‘feel’ of bass heavy music, and they claim the screen tech comes from their Bravia TVs.

Once dominant, Nokia has been an also-ran in the era of smartphones. Now owned by HMD, the Nokia brand is re-introducing the Nokia 8110 from the 1999 movie ‘The Matrix.’ It comes in black like the movie, and banana yellow. Theverge.com says t’s still just a feature phone, not s smartphone, so you can’t run all your Android apps on it, but on the plus side…25 days of standby battery and it will be on sale in May for only $97. Use it and throw it in the trash when you’re zapped back to the Nebuchadnezzar.

A world away from smartphones….Apple is working on some high end over hear headphones to be released later this year. They will be Apple branded, not Beats, according to macrumors.com. The rumor is that they will have the ease of use of AirPods only with better sound. The leak indicates that the ‘cans’ will be more expensive than AirPods, but not as pricey as some super premium headphones, so may be in the price range of Apple’s Home Pod…under $400.


WWDC; SpaceX Broadband Sat Launch Delay; More Galaxy S9 Leaks; Starbucks Digital Guru to J. Crew

It looks like some folks have figured out the dates for Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. Apparently, there are events all through June at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center…….EXCEPT for Monday June 4th through Friday, June 8th. Macrumors.com says a reliable source has told them WWDC will again be in San Jose like last year. Previously, it was at Moscone Center in San Francisco from 2003 to 2016. With the exception of last year, Apple has released the date officially in April, so we won’t know until then. Usually, there around 5,000 developers and a thousand engineers for the event. Tickets go via a random lottery, and have been $1599 a pop.

There’s a lot of interest in SpaceX’s internet satellite launch. Now, the launch has been delayed for a few days. According to engadget.com, they want to run further final checkouts on the farings used to protect the Falcon 9’s payload. the Launch had been scheduled for February 17th…… now it will be on the 19th. The rocket will be taking up a Spanish radar imaging satellite, but most of us are interested in the Microsat-2a and 2b internet satellites. They would be the first of a number which would provide gigabit internet speeds around the globe.

Samsung will roll out its latest…the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus… next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Of course, there was a huge leak yesterday, so much of what we had heard about the handset was confirmed, plus more. German site WinFuture says both phones will have variable aperture cameras…which should make them better than ever for low light pictures. The Plus gets a dual lens cam, the S9 a single, but both are 12 megapixel. The selfie cam is 8 megapixel with autofocus. That all-important battery capacity….it will be 3000 mAh on the S9 and 3500 on the Plus. Both phones have iris and face recognition, as well as a fingerprint sensor for biometric unlocking, and the Samsung version of Apple’s Animoji. The screens are the same as on the S8,  all changes are ‘under the hood.’ They will be available in  Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple, and Coral Blue.

The man who headed up Starbucks digital business,  including its Mobile Order and Pay features and in-store Wi-Fi efforts, is leaving the coffee retailer to work his magic in apparel business. Adam Brotman, has jumped to J. Crew to help lead the struggling retailer as president and chief experience officer.  Geekwire.com notes that Starbucks is perceived as one of the most forward-looking companies when it comes to the use of technology in its operations.  J. Crew needs the help… same store sales dropped nine percent during the third quarter of 2017, and its net loss jumped to $17.6 million for that period.  Before Brotman joined them, J. Crew had pitched selling themselves to Amazon.


Galaxy S9 Will Clone Apple’s Animojis; Twitch Has Viewer Numbers of Cable News Nets; Amazon Rolling Own AI Chips for Alexa; Facebok Launches Lists

Call it practical or insulting, but Samsung has done best with smartphones when they’ve stolen liberally from Apple. Now, macrumors.com says the Galaxy S9 will copy the iPhone X’s Animojis. Samsung teases that theirs will be 3D and be ‘more advanced’ than Apple’s. They will reveal the name of their clone when the phone rolls out on March 16th. The Samsung version, like Apple’s, will be powered by the Galaxy S9’s facial recognition system. Samsung’s facial recognition isn’t expected to be as secure as Apple’s, but Samsung will also include a rear fingerprint sensor and iris scanner.

Twitch has now become as big as the big cable nets in viewership. According to businessinsider.com, the Amazon-owned streaming service had 962,000 average viewers last month (January 2018). ESPN and Fox News have 1.5 million, MSNBC has 885,000, and CNN 783,000. Twitch channels are not all just gaming…there are also IRL streams (in real life) with massive amounts of content covering all sorts of subjects. Find them on the web at Twitch.tv.

Amazon has started designing its own AI chips to work with Alexa devices. Engadget.com says the custom silicon should enable the virtual assistant to respond more quickly by baking speech recognition into the devices that use it, rather than having to bounce to the cloud then back with a response. Alexa would still need to touch base with the cloud for more complex inquiries, but for simple requests, the chips will make it responses quicker.

Because they can never have enough of our information to sell, Facebook has launched ‘Lists.’ The new feature is rolling out today. Techcrunch.com reports that Facebook sees it as a way to get users to share more personal content. The lists can be To Do lists, Resolutions, eateries to try, bucket list travel destinations, or whatever. To entice usage, Facebook has included choices of colored backgrounds and emoji. It will appear in the ‘What’s on your mind’ status update box along with the other options.

Google sold 3.9 million Pixel phones in 2017. If that doesn’t sound like a record shattering number to you, you’re right. According to theverge.com, that’s about what Apple sells in iPhones in a week. The good news is, with the Pixel 2, the sales pace has doubled. If they can keep doubling periodically, it should be a success.


1st Phone With Diamond Screen Coming; Intel Smart Non-Glasshole Glasses; Galaxy S9 to Get Price Jump; iPad Crushed Competing Tablets Last Year

Cracked screens are a constant worry…even if low level…for everyone who carries a smartphone. Now, cnet.com says something better than either Gorilla Glass or sapphire crystal is on the way. It’s Akhan Semiconductor’s Mirage Diamond Glass. It can be layered on top of screens, much like Gorilla Glass, but is of course, stronger…being made from lab grown diamonds. Akhan will initially work with just one smartphone maker in each category. They are still working on minimizing glare, and pricing, but again…if all works out, we would have the much less breakable screens on phones by next year.

Two of the bigger complaints of GoogleGlass were the way they looked and the fact that ‘Glassholes’ could have the video on at any given time, which was way creepy. Now, theverge.com reports that Intel has a prototype called the Vaunt that may be what we all would have liked in smart glasses in the first place. They use a very low power laser to project the images right into your eyes…it looks like what’s on a screen, but the plus is, the glasses look just like regular…albeit….nerdy…black glasses. According to a Verge reporter who tried them out, they are comfortable enough to wear all day, and Intel says they will come in several styles and work with prescriptions. The electronics and batteries are built into the stems and frames of the glasses. Basically, they are more simple than GoogleGlass. They just display a small heads up display with simple messages or notifications, transmitted by Bluetooth from and Android or iPhone…a lot like how the Apple Watch works. Intel will launch an ‘early access’ program this year. No details yet on getting in that or cost yet.

Another rumor about the imminent Samsung Galaxy S9, and this one is about pricing. According to a leak in Britain, it will sell for £100 more than the S8. The S9 will be £789 in the UK, while the S8 was £689. converting currency, that’s $1114 in the US, with the S8 at $973. Of course, checking actual pricing in the US, the retail is $750, so expect the S9 to be set at more like $850 in the US. Still, a $100 (or £100) bump is not insignificant. It will bet interesting to watch and see how preorders are affected by this increase.

Apple’s decision to release a lower cost but upgraded iPad last year apparently hit the public’s sweet spot. Macrumors.com says Apple’s tablet sold more than Samsung and Amazon’s offerings combined in 2017! Apple pumped out 43.8 million iPads, while Samsung sold 24.9 million and Amazon 16.7 million…even put together, that’s 2.2 million less than Apple’s iPads. Apple grabbed 26.8% of the tablet market last year.