GM Starts Mass Producing Self-Driving Electric Cars; Firefox Gets Multiprocess Update (Finally); Amazon Patents Delivery Drone with Winch

It’s likely that the Tesla Model S can be fully self-driving with software activation, but isn’t yet. Meanwhile, they aren’t asleep at the switch at General Motors. GM has cranked out 130 electric Bolts on a production line. according to engadget.com, the General had already built 50 self-driving Bolt EVs, but this latest batch is fully mass produced, and more advanced than the hand finished models. The future really is coming at warp speed.

Mozilla has finally released Firefox with multiprocess architecture, 8 years after starting the project. Arstechnica.com says, without getting into the weeds, the net is that it’s faster and more stable, and despite multiprocess platforms hogging more memory, they were able to build it so it is quicker and uses less RAM than Google’s Chrome. It’ probably worth giving a spin if you’re not already a Firefox user.

Amazon has patented a couple of interesting things for drones. Geekwire.com reports that one is a winch setup that can lower packages to the ground on a tether. It has a counterbalance to keep the package from swaying wildly on its way to your porch or other delivery spot. Another patent is for folding wings, that fold in half, but then extend themselves for flight. Amazon had previously experimented with dropping packages with a small parachute.


New iPhones May All Have Wireless Charging; Chevy Self-Driving Car…It’s Among Us

A lot has been made about the iPhone 8…OLED screen, possible all-glass form, and wireless charging. Now, businessinsider.com says wireless charging is not only a ‘go,’ but that the 7S and 7S Plus will also get it AND will all be all-glass. KGI Securities also predicts that the wireless charging is one reason the 8 will break the $1000 barrier. Extra layers have to be added to prevent overheating of the 3D Touch sensor from the wireless system. The two phones with the LED screens won’t have this issue. The new 3D touch sensor is expected to provide a better user experience.

General Motors has been testing out its self-driving car, code named Albatross, on the streets of San Francisco. SFGate.com reports that the Cruise Automation division of GM released a video of the vehicle rolling through the Potrero and then Mission neighborhoods. The dash cam video shows that the driver has hands near the wheel, but the car appears to be fully automatic. From the looks of the dash, it’s a Chevy Bolt electric vehicle. Last year, according to theverge.com, General Motors self-driving cars drove nearly 10,000 miles around California. During those test-drives, the cars had to be taken out of autonomous mode 181 times at a rate of 18.5 times per 1,000 miles.


Samsung Buys Harman for Audio & Car Tech; iOS Finally Gets Twitter Highlights; China Will Block iPhone and Other Imports If Trump Imposes Tariffs

Samsung has dropped a whopping 8 billion buying US automotive and audio maker Harman International. This gives them name audio brands like Harmon Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Lexicon and Mark Levinson, and a partnership with British audio specialists Bowers & Wilkins. It also buys them into auto tech. 9to5mac.com says Harman has deals with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Chrysler, Jeep, Toyota, VW, among others. Along with the Internet of Things, car tech is looked at as one of the big future growth areas.

After almost a year on Android, Twitter finally rolls out Highlights for iOS users. Highlights is kind of a ‘While You Were Away’ on steroids. According to thenextweb.com, it’s a great way to catch the best Tweets while you weren’t checking the app…this is especially helpful if you follow people or accounts that are halfway around the world that may be Tweeting while you’re sleeping.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump often spoke of putting in massive tariffs on US imports. Now, arstechnica.com reports that China has threatened a tit for tat response if he does so…including batch of Boeing orders—replaced by Airbus. US auto and iPhone sales in China would suffer a setback, and US soybean and maize imports would be halted. China might also limit the number of Chinese students studying in the US. There are 131 million iPhones in China…more than any other non-Chinese maker has in that market. China is a huge market for General Motors, which killed better selling Pontiac a few years ago because the Buick brand was better liked in China. It’s actually unlikely that Trump will follow through on tariffs, which were a big part of US revenue over 100 years ago, but haven’t worked well in the global economy.


New GoPros Including Drone; Waze Gets Parking Help; Google’s Pixel Event; GM Sets Bolt Price & Pledges 100% Renewable Power

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GoPro has revealed 3 new cams- the Hero 5, Hero 5 Session, and Hero Session. Businessinsider.com says they start at $399 for the 5. They also showed a foldable drone called Karma. The Drone is $799, but can be bundled with the cams…with the Hero 5 Session the combo is $999, and it’s $1099 for the Hero 5 Black and the Karma. It has a gimbal to stabilize footage you shoot.

Parking in cities can be infuriating. Now, Google’s Waze throws you a lifeline, as they’ve partnered with Inrix to bring additional parking lot data to the Waze app. According to 9to5google.com, the beefed up parking adding parking lot data to the already available street parking data is available on both the Android and iOS Waze apps.

We reported a rumor last week about Google’s Pixel smartphone event in early October. Now it’s official. Engadget.com reports that the invites are out and the event is October 4th. Google may show 2 new Pixel branded phones, a 4K Chromecast, and a new Daydream VR headset.

GM has announced pricing for it’s all electric Bolt, due out the end of the year. Reuters.com says it will start at $37,495. This should bring it under the ‘magic’ $30,000 level with the Federal tax break of $7500. It’s supposed to go 238 miles fully charged. Also, the General has just pledged that it would move all its facilities to 100% renewable energy by 2050…that’s over 350 facilities in 59 countries! Walmart, Unilever, and Apple are also moving to all-renewable facilities.


Verizon Swallows Most of Yahoo; GM & Lyft to Launch Driverless Electric Car; iPhone 7 Rollout Date Determined

As rumored over the weekend, Verizon is buying Yahoo for $4.83 billion. Recode.net says they will roll up the core Yahoo business into Verizon-owned AOL. Tim Armstrong, who came to AOL from Google and revitalized it as a web sales engine, will run the combined AOL/Yahoo. Marissa Mayer will, as they say, exit. The sale does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba Group Holdings, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments, and Yahoo’s non-core patents. All of those will continue to be held by Yahoo, which will change its name at closing.

GM and Lyft will begin testing an electric, driverless vehicle before the end of the year. According to futuritech.info, the General plans to first release the vehicle on the Lyft platform, and then spread to the rest of the mass market. So far, GM and Lyft are keeping the timeline close to the vest as to when the vehicles will be available to most anybody, so stay tuned for that.

Two quick iPhone 7 notes from bgr.com…according to reputable leaker Evan Blass, the latest from Apple will hit the shelves September 16th. This points to a rollout by Tim Cook & company on September 6th or 7th. We also hear the headphone jack-less phone will ship with a dongle…oh, how we love those…so you can use your present headphones or earbuds. A new profit center for Apple, as angry users lose or break the stupid dongles, and have to buy more…probably for 20 or 30 dollars each!


GM & Lift Within a Year of Testing Self-Driving Taxis; iPhone 7 Generating More Buzz Than the 6S Did

General Motors and Lyft’s on-demand, self-driving taxis will begin testing in an undisclosed city sometime in the next year, according to the Wall Street Journal and engadget.com. Earlier this year, the General invested $500 million in the ride-sharing service, and last month, GM also picked up San Francisco-based Cruise Automation. Cruise has been making aftermarket self-driving kits that could be added to several Audi vehicles for around $10,000. The self-driving cabs will be based on electric Chevy Bolts powered by Cruise’s self-driving technology.

After the 1st quarterly dip in iPhone sales since the first Apple smartphone rolled out, it looks like the slump may be over. Bgr.com says a UBS report shows that almost half of those surveyed said they ‘are holding off buying a new iPhone until the next model is available.’ They break it down to about 40% in the US…virtually the same as with the iPhone 6, and 50% of prospective iPhone 7 buyers in China.


Amazon Hosted Secret Robotics Meeting; GM Starts Pre-Production of All Electric Bolt

This week in Palm Springs, Amazon hosted an invitation only conference for experts on AI, robotics, and space exploration. Geekwire.com reports the people from Toyota, Rethink Robotics, MIT, UC-Berkeley and others were present. Amazon not only has a big interest in robots….they have over 30,000 of them working in their warehouses, made by Kiva…a company they acquired in 2012.

General Motors has begun pre-production on the all-electric Chevy Bolt, just ahead of the showing Tesla plans for their Model 3. Both vehicles are intended for a mass market, with price tags under 30 grand. Thenextweb.com notes that pre-Production may mean GM isn’t far from full production, so the Bolt could possibly be out in the Fall as a 2017 model…at least 6 months ahead of the smaller sized Tesla Model 3.