Alexa Gets Contact Blocking for Voice Calls; LG Said to be Building Pixel XL Successor; Fisker’s Tesla Beater- 400 Mile Range & 5 Minute ChargingPosted: June 13, 2017
Amazon’s Alexa app is getting a blocker for it’s voice activated calling feature. According to geekwire.com, you just select the Conversations icon, then the Contacts icon, scroll down to Block contacts, and choose the one(s) you want to block. A number of users were surprised when voice calling was rolled out, finding out they could get unwanted calls….problem solved.
Google apparently has a different successor to the Pixel XL phone in the works. 9to5google.com reports that Google has sidelined ‘muskie,’ the earlier reported device, in favor of a bigger model from LG code named ‘taimen.’ Details are sketchy, but it appears it will be thinner, in addition to having a larger screen, and will rock a hotter Snapdragon processor…but he main focus will be on camera performance and features.
Fisker has had an answer to the Tesla in the works since at least 2014, and despite selling out to Karma Automotive, the luxury eMotion electric model is still on track for manufacture. It’s beautiful, fast (161 mph), and has a 400 mile cruising range…easily rolling past the Tesla Model S with it’s under 350 mile range. The wildest feature….it doesn’t use lithium-ion batteries….but super capacitors designed by scientists at UCLA that use graphene. They recharge in FIVE minutes! No word on the retail launch date or pricing so far…stay tuned!
Apple’s Previously Secret Screen Repair Machine Coming To 3rd Parties; Waze App Hits Android Auto in BetaPosted: June 7, 2017
Soon, you won’t have to necessarily send an iPhone in to Apple or go to one of their stores for a cracked screen. Apple is planning to put 400 of its proprietary machines in 400 third party repair centers in 25 countries. Reuters.com says one of the first will be Best Buy. The Horizon machine has been restricted to now to only Apple stores, and Apple has been quite secretive of it. According to Apple, it’s not due to legislative pressure that they are making the machines available. Some in the tech world wonder if this is a preparation for the all glass iPhone 8 models…is Apple expecting a lot more breakage? Up to now, a good repair shop could replace your screen without voiding the warranty, but couldn’t activate the fingerprint sensor. The Horizon machine takes care of that, so you can unlock with your digits and get your Apple Pay and bank apps to work.
A lot of people use and like Waze, and now the Google owned navigation app with crowd sourcing is getting into Android Auto…at least in beta. Arstechnica.com notes that most of the data for navigation is and has been available in the Google Maps app anyway, but if you love the crowd sourced traffic info…and many folks swear by it, sign up for the beta if you want to use it with your Android Auto system.
Affordable Amazon Prime for Folks on Assistance; Google Maps Shows Local Pollution; Crowd Cow Sustainable Beef-Because Crowd CowPosted: June 6, 2017
Amazon has rolled out a Prime program for folks on government assistance, like food stamps. The online giant apparently doesn’t want to leave a single market untapped! Techcrunch.com says the program is available to any customer with a valid EBT card, and it cuts the price of Prime membership from $10.99 a month to $5.99 a month. The card can only be used to get the discount, Amazon isn’t accepting payment for the Prime fee or for items purchased via EBT cards. The membership comes with all the other parts of Prime…streaming video and music, free photo storage, the Kindle lending library, etc. At the other end of the spectrum, more than 70% of households with over $112,000 a year income already have prime.
Google Maps just keeps adding things to make it better and better. Now, here’s a feature that may make you want to avoid an area…and maybe freak you out about your own. According to zdnet.com, they are adding a block-by-block map of air pollution levels. Google has used sensor equipped vehicles, and also uses available data, like from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which has 15 lager sensors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Google has completed Oakland, and is planning on data for 25 of the largest US urban areas, covering a third of the US population.
Ok, I admit this one is all about the name….Crowd Cow made it irresistible. Geekwire.com is reporting that the Seattle based startup which delivers sustainably raised beef is now going nationwide. Crowd Cow works with independent ranches and cuts out the middleman to bring quality beef direct to consumers. Ranches in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania will ship their cattle to USGA processors to get the meat “cut and wrapped. It will then be shipped from the Lancaster, PA facility where Crowd Cow does the packaging with dry ice, etc. Delivery will be available to the lower 48 states. If you want to get on their wait list for beef deliveries, get ‘mooving.’
The Essential Phone, that handset from the father of Android, Andy Rubin, has been revealed, and doesn’t disappoint. 9to5google.com reports that the front screen barely has a bezel at the bottom, and goes clear to the top, except for a little tab in the middle for the selfie cam. The phone runs on a Qualcomm 835, has 4 gigs of RAM and 128 gigs of storage. It will run on all carriers. It sports a 13 MP dual cam in back, and 8 MP selfie cam, and get this…is made from a combination of titanium and ceramic, which should weather drops considerably better than the aluminum on Samsung and Apple phones. Besides USB-C, it has wireless data transfer, and a clever magnetic connector for accessories…including a 360 degree cam that clicks into the port at the top of the phone. It sells for $699.
Google has added a personal tab as a search option. Bgr.com says you have to be signed in to use it, and for the paranoid, it can be disabled…although Google will continue to Hoover up your data and package and sell it anyway, like everyone’s. What it does do is take your previous search data, and offer results that are refined based on your prior searches. (Again, if it freaks you out, go to Search Settings in your Google account and check the Do Not Use Private Results.)
Intel has unveiled its new Extreme Core i9 processor at Computex. According to tech crunch.com, it’s got 18 cores and 36 threads! How much for that crazy amount of processing power? A cool $1999! Other siblings in the Core i9 family include one with 10 cores for $999 and a 16 core model for $1699. All of them have a base clock speed of 3.3 GHz with a turbo boost up to 4.5. No shipping date was announced, so you have time to save your pennies for that eye-popping $2000 job in a shiny new rig.
In more of a broadside than a shot across the bow to Tesla, Mercedes-Benz Energy has partnered with Vivint Solar to sell home storage batteries in the US. Techcrunch.com says homeowners who hire Vivint Solar to install an array on their roof can add up to 8 2.5 kWh Mercedes batteries for a whopping 20 kWh of storage! This is a major direct competitor to Tesla with their Solar City, solar shingles, and PowerWall. As the move to greener and more self-sustaining power systems picks up speed, expect more big players in this area.
Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft all have them, and are aggressively pushing them into our lives….digital assistants, that is. According to research by Ovum picked up by cnet.com, the number of devices with digital assistants will be over 7.5 billion by 2021, which will then exceed the population of the world! By the way, there are already 3.5 billion of the sometimes helpful little devils active in the world right now! Ovum projects that Google Assistant will command the market, followed by Chinese assistants, Siri and then Bixby form Samsung…mainly due to the count of cell phones and tablets. Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are primarily in devices other than smartphones.