Apple Watch Will Have LTE & Non-LTE; Apple HomePod Short Supply at Launch; Google Paid Billions to Be Default Search on iPhone; Amazon Instant Pick Up

The Apple Watch 3 may finally have what it takes to be a must have device…it may get LTE connectivity, so it wouldn’t have to be tethered to an iPhone in order to use most features. 9to5mac.com says that generally reliable KGI Securities is predicting that the smart watch will ship in both LTE and non-LTE models. They also say that…contrary to other rumors, it won’t have a different form factor, and will look much the same as the current models. It will NOT work on 3G-only on LTE, but should work on all 4 US carriers anyway. Since cellular activity is a huge battery suck, don’t expect to totally ditch your iPhone and go total Dick Tracy…but it will be handy for runners and bikers who need to call or text, and streaming music, or for those times you are downstairs and the phone rings upstairs.

Inventec Appliances has been rumored to be supplying the HomePod to Apple, and they have noted that revenue from a smart home device (not mentioning HomePod, which would irritate famously secretive Apple) would be fairly limited this year. Macrumors.com reports that one analyst thinks that the HomePod…which ships in December….will only land in about 500,000 homes that month. In 2018, Foxconn will also start building the Apple smart speaker, which will boost supplies.

It’s apparently worth a buck or two for Google to remain the default search engine on iPhone and iPad. According to businessinsider.com, they may have paid Apple 3 billion dollars for the privilege. Researchers crunched the numbers, and with this tithe, Google may be providing 5% of Apple’s total operating profit for the year! Services now account for 13% of Apple’s total revenue, including fees from software sold on the App store and subscriptions to Apple Music.

In an announcement that sounds suspiciously like retail, only with lockers and no check out, Cnet.com says Amazon is rolling out Amazon Instant Pick Up. There are initially 5 locations in Atlanta, LA, Berkeley, College Park, Maryland, and Columbus, OH, and utilize spots Amazon already built for deliveries to campuses. Small warehouses live behind the lockers, and you can order hundreds of items by app, and pick them up. Snacks, cold drinks, personal care items, and Amazon devices are included. They can be ready in as little as 2 minutes! There will be up to 22 of these locations in the next few months.


Galaxy Note 8 May Actually Be Available the 24th; 1000 Spyware Apps at Android App Stores, Google Buys Health Monitoring Startup

The rollout of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is coming up fast…August 23rd…and now we have word when phones might be available. According to word leaked by a Best Buy employee picked up by 9to5google.com, it could be in the hands of users by the very next day! If Samsung is able to do this, instead of the usual 2 plus weeks wait time, it will give them a major jump on the release of the iPhone 8.

Hackers have apparently flooded Android app stores INCLUDING the official Google Play store with over 1000 spyware apps. ZDnet.com reports that SonicSpy can silently record calls and audio, take photos, MAKE calls, send texts to numbers the attackers have programmed, monitor call logs, contacts, and wi-fi systems picked up. It is believed to be the handiwork of malware developers in Iraq. The apps are marketed as messaging apps. Google has killed Sonic, Hulk Messenger, and Troy Chat, but there are still numerous other versions on various app stores.

We have often reported on how Apple has a virtual army working on health apps for iPhone. Now, Google has bought a health monitoring startup called Senosis. Geekwire.com says the founder of Senosis, Shwetak Patel, won a MacArthur genius grant in 2011. His team of a dozen engineers and physicians have focused on making smartphones into monitoring devices for pulmonary function, hemoglobin counts, and other vital health info. So far, they make apps called SpiroSmart, SpiroCall, HemaApp, and OsteoApp, which are under review by the FDA.


Disney Launching Own Streaming Service; Google Pixel’s Cool Storage Feature; Super Cheap Chromebook

Netflix cut a deal with Disney back in 2012 to stream the Mouse’s library of movies and shows. According to theverge.com, it just kicked in last year, and now Disney is announcing they will end the deal in 2019 in favor of their own streaming service. Interestingly, Marvel and Star Wars aren’t mentioned in the new Disney streaming service. Apparently, they are kicking around freestanding streaming services for each. At any rate, by 2019, Disney’s amazing library of shows and movies, including their LucasFilm and Marvel material, will be available on stream from a new Disney streaming service.

If you don’t always buy the maxed out memory on your smartphone, you probably have hit the point where you’re deleting songs or pictures to keep from running out of storage. THEN, when you try to update the operating system, you don’t even have room to do that. Bgr.com reports that Google has solved that part of the problem with the new Pixel. Starting with Android 8.0, the phones have a dual partition system for faster streaming updates. Basically, you keep using the system on the phone while a second system updates in the background. After download and restart, the second one becomes the normal OS. With this partition, the phone only needs 100 KB of free space to update instead of a gig. Thanks, Google!

Acer has just bowed its updated Chromebook C771. 9to5google.com says there are two models, one with touch display and one without. The laptop has an 11.6 inch screen and features a spill resistant keyboard. The cheaper version is $279.99. If you don’t mind the chrome ‘all in cloud’ system, it’s practically a disposable laptop at this price.


Google Pixel 2 May Ditch Phone Jack; iPhone 8 May Ship Late October-November; Carmakers Collaborate to Take On Waze & Google Maps

The march towards Bluetooth only seems relentless on smartphones now. According to businessinsider.com, the latest to ditch the venerable headphone jack will be the Google Pixel 2. The latest leaks show that the Pixel 2 XL will have a more premium design, with thinner borders…and both Pixel models will sport a more refined glass back plate.

Apple’s iPhone 8 will be delayed past the September rollout, and now it appears it may be late October to early November before significant numbers are in users’ hands. Macrumors.com reports that a rumor about the side button is probably off base, after picking up on info from Mac Otakara. The handset appears to have an elongated side button that will have Touch ID, since the home button is going away. Mac Otakara says it’s much more likely that the Touch ID will be under the screen, or left out entirely, rather than put into a longer button on the phone’s side.

German carmakers bought a traffic company called HERE from Nokia a couple years ago. Now, mashable.com says they plan to pool traffic data collected by their cars’ sensors for real time traffic conditions in their own map that they claim will have ‘significantly higher accuracy and more precise information about traffic conditions.’ Taken together, they already have a fleet of millions of cars in 60 countries, and the numbers will increase dramatically as more cars with sensor systems hit the roads the next few years. Besides highly accurate info for drivers, it will build data for more reliable self driving systems.


Galaxy Note 8 To One Up iPhone 7 Plus Cams; Flash will (Finally) Go Bye-Bye; Roku Bests Chromecast in Users

The Galaxy Note 8 may be about to better the flagship feature on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus…the dual lens camera. Bgr.com reports that Samsung wanted to put the feature on the Galaxy S8, but instead opted for the Note. Like with Apple, the Note will have a regular and telephoto lens. Samsung will have a 3x optical zoom on the Note, where Apple only has 2x, and will include optical image stabilization on the telephoto as well as main lens, which Apple doesn’t. They also are making the wide angle lens 13 megapixel, while Apple shoots with 12 megapixels on both lenses…a negligible difference, but enough to tout as a feature.

It’s been a long, slow death, but Adobe is finally pulling the plug on Flash, probably the most frequently compromised software on anyone’s computer. Mashable.com says it won’t happen until 2020, but at least there is an end date to the problematic software that Steve Jobs panned back in 2009! Most all major browsers support HTML5, and many disable Flash Player by default already. Bye, Flash…we won’t miss you.

According to info from eMarketer picked up by recode.net, Roku pulls in around 40 million people in the US per month. This gives them 23% of connected TV users, easing past Google’s Chromecast with 22% and Amazon Fire TV with 21. Apple TV is an anemic 7%. The big number is 37%….that’s how many just watch via smart TVs. Mine isn’t even all that new, but has dedicated Netflix and Amazon buttons on the remote, and was dead simple to set up.


Facebook Working on Smart Speaker & Picks up Content Creator Pay Startup; Google Adds Real-Time SOS for Search and Maps; 11 More Smartphones Will be Daydream VR Compatible; Prescription Video Games Coming

Last week, we heard that Samsung was abandoning plans to make a smart speaker…a market dominated by Amazon and with Google in it and Apple planning a Christmas release of the HomePod. Now, businessinsider.com says Facebook is working on a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s that will bow in 2018. It will feature a 15 inch touchscreen, is being designed by Facebook, and will be built for them by Pegatron.

The social giant has picked up a startup which will help it crack down on users that share pirated videos and other content without permission. According to recode.net, it’s Source3. Facebook already has had Rights Manager for a couple years. It’s similar to YouTube’s Content ID. Facebook has wanted to host lots more professional video, but publishers are reluctant to provide them when they think they won’t be paid.

Google is launching a new feature called SOS Alerts, that will work with Search and Maps. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s designed to keep users safe, and will feature emergency hotlines and websites, and even translations of useful phrases. They are partnering with Red Cross and FEMA to help with keeping users abreast of emergency situations and providing safety info to them.

Of course, you may be a bit dialed out of the reality of an emergency if you are wearing a VR headset, but that’s the wave of the future. Google says it’s adding 11 more Daydream VR compatible phones by the end of this year. Pixel, Moto Z, and others are already compatible, according to 9to5google.com, but Huawei and Samsung will join the party, as well as HTC.

Hey, Doc, I need to play more video games…will you write me a prescription? Actually, so-called ‘brain training’ games have been out there, but not without controversy. Some say they really don’t work or work much. Now, theverge.com says a company called Akili is partnering with UCSF’s Neuroscape lab to develop a mobile game called Project:EVO. They aim to get it up to speed for FDA approval to be used to treat kids with ADHD! Clinical trials have already started. It’s not a sure thing, but prescription video games could actually be coming!


Not Charmin, But You’ll Want to Squeeze Google Pixel 2; Amazon Partners Sell 40 Million Items Prime Day; Apple Teases New Emoji for iOS and macOS

Mr. Whipple might not buy one, but you may want to buy and squeeze a Google Pixel 2. Cnet.com says it will have a squeezable frame. Frame squeezes activate a feature or launch a specific app. The HTC U11— out now—already has this feature. You can configure it to launch the app or shortcut of your choice. One potential issue…how will the feature respond with a very protective case like an Otterbox? Some folks have saved at least hundreds in phone damage with such cases, and may not be ready to give up that protection for a cool new feature.

Amazon has announced that small businesses sold 40 million items this Prime Day. That’s up from 20 million last year. According to geekwire.com, this Prime Day was Amazon’s biggest shopping event of all time…well, maybe until next Prime Day!

Apple is teasing new emoji that will be released with iOS, macOS, and WatchOs later this year. Macrumors.com reports we can expect them with the public launch of the updated systems later this fall. All of the new Apple emoji are in the new Unicode 10 standard that bowed in June. I particularly look forward to the new barfing emoji and the head exploding one!