Google Pay Replaces Android Pay; Android P Blocks Unannounced Cam Use; Samsung’s Monster 30TB SSD; Site Tracks Musk’s Space Tesla

Google had previously pulled all its payment tools into the Google Pay tent except for Android Pay. Today, that changes. Techcrunch.com says an update to Android Pay brings it into the fold and adds some new functionality….including displaying stores nearby that accept it. Google Wallet now becomes Google Pay Send for sending and requesting money.

Android P should be unveiled at google I/O in a couple months. Meanwhile, it looks like word of a new security feature has gotten out. According to 9to5google.com, it’s to ease users minds about surreptitious camera use by apps (which has happened.) The new feature will block use of cams by any app not actively in use. If the system detects that the app is idle (running in the background), it is blocked from cam access.

We talk about Samsung smartphones all the time, because they are such a high profile, widely used product, but Samsung the company is into enough different businesses to fill a book. Now, cnet.com reports they have started production of a record breaking solid state drive weighing in at 30 TB…you read right, not 30 gigs, terabytes! While it’s unlikely you will need such storage, it will be great for government, health care, and education users that have massive troves of data. To give you a handle on how much that is, it’s enough room to store 5700 HD movies at 5 gigs each!No price has been disclosed, but you probably can’t afford it or justify it at any rate!

Practically the whole world watched as we saw shots of Elon Musk’s red Tesla roadster in space with the dummy in the spacesuit dubbed ‘Starman’ in the driver’s seat. It had been expected that batteries would allow 12 hours of transmission from space, but they died after only 4 hours. No more pictures, but now, bgr.com says at least you can track the little red car and Starman on their journey. A developer named Ben Pearson has built a site called ‘Where is Starman?’ It updates continuously, so you can check obsessively on where they are.


Dueling Display Rumors for iPhone 8; Gmail Android App Adds Money Sending

Just yesterday, we had a rumor that the iPhone 8 would keep a flat screen as it goes to AMOLED. Now, macrumors.com says a new one points to a ‘slightly curved’ screen…not near as curved as a Samsung Galaxy Edge, but a gentle curve. Actually, the present iPhones curve at the edges very slightly, so it may be a matter of semantics or maybe it’s because Apple generally builds a number of different test models before settling on a final design. In this case, we may not really know for sure until fall.

Users of the Gmail app on Android can now send or request money with anyone, including those who don’t have a Gmail address, with just a tap. Mashable.com says
it’s designed to make exchanging money as easy as attaching a file. Just tap the attachment icon (the paperclip), then choose either send or request money. A pop-up window appears where you can input the amount and add a note, and send. The entire process takes place in the Gmail app — you don’t have to have Google Wallet installed. Recipients can configure it so the money they receive through Gmail goes directly into their bank account. There are no fees involved. A little late to the party, but Google joins PayPal, Venmo, Square Cash, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger in adding a cash sending feature.


Google’s Bringing Back Google Wallet

Google is apparently getting set to revive Google Wallet to compete with Apple Pay. 9to5google.com says they are in talks with banks, carriers, and handset makers, and plan to re-launch Wallet at Google I/O in late May. A fly in the ointment may be Samsung…which just this week acquired LoopPay to roll their own mobile payment service.

According to theverge.com, Apple will open iOS to public testing, like the beta program they reinstated on Macs with Yosemite. iOS 8.3, with support for CarPlay, new emoji, and simpler Google logins will be out in beta form the middle of next month. Apple will reportedly accept 100,000 beta testers.

Bing, the Avis of search, has added a couple features to lure more users. Thenextweb.com reports that you can now check out hotel info and reviews right from the search results. Even better, there’s a new ‘order online’ button with the restaurant listings, so you can place orders for take out through services like eat24 right from your browser.


That Nicer Apple Watch Will Be Pricey

If you really want an Apple watch, start saving pennies now…macrumors.com says the stainless steel model may be $500, and the gold version over 4 grand. Senior VP of Retail and Online Stores Angela Ahrendts says expect them in the spring.

Google Wallet has gotten a nice boost from all the buzz about Apple Pay. 9to5google.com reports that users have now doubled, and payments have grown by 50% since Apple Pay was introduced.

Dell’s just showed it’s updated Venue Pro 11 tablet, and engadget.com says it’s thinner and lighter than Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet! The Venue pro 11 has a 10.8 inch screen and starts at $699.


Amazon Prime Adds Free Photo Storage

You can never have too many backups, and now if you have Amazon Prime, you get unlimited photo storage in the cloud, according to theverge.com. Note that this will work on PCs, Android, and iOS, but not yet on Macs. Amazon says that’s coming. Keep in mind that cloud storage is great for convieninece, but do keep a local backup or 3 of your pictures.

Apple Pay has grabbed a big chunk of the pay with your phone market, even though Google Wallet was already available. Now, gigaom.com reports that Windows phone users can make payments at NFC retail terminals with the Softcard app.

HP is taking orders for a new gaming laptop to compete with Alienware models. Engadget.com says the big plus for the $1500, 15.6 inch touch screen rig is that it’s noticeably thinner than Alienware machines. It will ship this month.


LG Smartphone Sales Are Up Dramatically

Sales are flat for Samsung, but LG shipped 16.8 million smartphones in the third quarter. Techcrunch.com says that’s up 39% from a year ago. The flagship G3 did well, but was helped by sales of mid price models.

The former head of Google Wallet has launched Poynt, a so-called ‘future proof’ point of sale machine for stores. The verge.com reports it will read magnetic strip cards, chip & pin cards, NFC like Apple Pay, QR codes, and even Bluetooth Beacons.

HP has revealed more about its new 3D printing tech. Engadget.com says it uses a 4 step process to print 3D parts similarly to how an inkjet printer prints documents. HP claims products like gears could be made 10 times faster than with conventional methods.