Google Home Max Out; Big Apple Watch Series 3 Sales Uptick Coming; Deactivated Keylogger in Some HP Laptops

Google Home Max is rolling out to stores….it should be available in limited numbers today in Best Buy and Verizon stores, according to arstechnica.com. The $399 Home Has has dual 4.5 inch woofers and custom tweeters, and Google says it’s 20 times more powerful than the original Home. You can set it up either horizontally or vertically, and it has an aux input jack. Google’s ‘smart sound’ measures the room and it adjusts itself sonically to fit. With the delay of Apples HomePod, this gives Google a head start now in the premium home smart speaker market.

Number crunchers scouring supply lines are predicting that the Apple Watch Series 3, which was up in record territory for a wearable in November, will grow by 20% in 2018. 9to5mac.com reports that the Series 3 will hit 25 to 35 million units sold next year. The addition of health tracking, Gym Kit, Apple Pay Cash, and of course LTE connectivity seem to have been the magic combination that are propelling Watch sales now.

It’s bad enough that the FCC may be voting to allow paid fast lanes on the internet this week. Now, here’s a chilling nugget: Some HP laptops have a deactivated key logger on them. Techcrunch.com says the software has been found on over 460 HP laptop models. It’s deactivated by default, but could be turned on by any hacker getting physical access to the laptop. Upon raising the issue to HP, they have responded that it is a debug trace, that that there’s a software update out to remove it. Here’s a link to download the update: https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c05827409

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Samsung Making Galaxy X; Apple HomePod Started as Side Project; Keystroke Logging and Location Tracking-Paranoid yet?

Samsung has been at work on a Galaxy X, and surprisingly, they didn’t steal the name from Apple. Bgr.com says they’ve had it in the works since back when the iPhone X was still just called ‘8’ in rumors. The X is even more radical than the iPhone though…it’s Samsung’s long rumored bendable smartphone. They have ben doing demos at trade shows, but up to now, nothing. A sharp Dutch site has now noted that a support page has gone up online for the X family. It is expected that if and when the Galaxy X launches, it will be in very limited numbers.

Apple’s HomePod apparently started out 5 years ago as a side project for some audio engineers. According to 9to5mac.com, they wanted to build an audiophile speaker, and some versions were 3 feet tall! The project was cancelled and revived a few times. When Amazon brought out the Echo, the team was shocked at how it caught on and how much it did. Even now, some of the team has lobbied to have the HomePod do more than just music and controlling smart devices, and only running iPhone apps. Perhaps some of this is the reason for the delay in rollout…maybe they are going to bulk up HomePod’s abilities..for that, we’re going to need ‘Super-Siri!’

Not to rile you up going into the holiday shopping season, but if you think you’re being watched…you’re not paranoid, you ARE. Arstechnica.com reports that numerous sites have been running scripts that log your keystrokes, mouse moves, and wait times…even before that input is submitted or later deleted. They even grab the number of characters typed into password fields and the last 4 digits of credit cards. According to a study out last week, 482 of the 50,000 highest traffic sites are key logging you. One more thing….and not the cool kind like Steve Jobs used to tout…gizmodo.com says your Android phone has been sending location data to Google, even if you have opted out. Happy Holidays!


3 New iPhones Next Year; HomePod With Face ID; Sweat ID to Unlock Phones; Self-Driving Trucks Proliferation

Apple is due to roll out 3 new iPhones next year…two with OLED screens. Businessinsider.com reports that there will be a model like the present iPhone X, a king-sized OLED screen version with a 6.5 inch screen, and a 6.1 inch LCD screen version which will sell for substantially less money. All 3 will have the full screen design and TrueDepth Camera for 3D sensing and Face ID. This is all according to Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities, who has one of the best track records on future Apple devices. The LCD screen model will sell for between $649 and $749, with the two OLED screen models aimed at ‘the high end market.’

With Apple pressing ahead on Face ID, the iPad and MacBooks are a no-brainer, but here’s one you may not have thought of…apparently, Apple is looking at adding the feature to it’s 2nd generation HomePods. Appleinsider.com notes that obviously the feature won’t make it into the model that comes out in a few weeks, but we may see it by 2019. If so, they will have to develop a system that allows more than one user…the iPhone is one to one right now.

With fingerprint readers on many phones, and Apple adding Face ID across their line, here’s a new biometric that sounds weird but may be hard to crack…’Sweat ID.’ Thenextweb.com says scientists at University if Albany think the unique amino acid profile in our sweat could accurately and securely authenticate us to unlock devices. Unlike your fingerprints, which can be copied, and same (albeit with greater difficulty) with Face ID, it would be harder for someone to take a reading of your perspiration profile. Researchers claim that no two people can have the same profile…and no, you don’t have to have sweaty palms to use it…the sensors detect a very small amount of sweat from the eccrine glands on your fingertips!

Otto made a beer run across Colorado on autopilot in one, Tesla will show off their electric big rig this week with at least some self-driving ability…but meanwhile, a startup called Embark has been making runs since early October. According to Wired, Embark has been hauling loads of new Frigidaires from El Paso, TX to Palm Springs, Ca under the radar. A driver picks the trailer load up at the warehouse, gets them to a rest stop on the highway, and then hands off to another driver with a self-driving cab that makes the run to CA. The human driver rides along, but the truck basically plods along in the slow lane at the limit all the way to CA. Daimler, Volvo, and Tesla are working on this, and Uber’s Otto made one trip, but Embark is out there doing it!


iPhone 8 Gesture Controls; Amazon Echo Goes Muiti-Room; Sonos Making Smart Speaker; Cummins Announces Electric Big Rig

There’s already been a lot leaked about the iPhone 8, but now, here’s something new from bloomberg.com: in addition to losing the physical home button, Apple has added gesture controls that open the home screen and can actually move the software-based task bar up to mid-screen, open multitasking, and more. The task bar will look like the dock for iPad on iOS 11. In multitasking, instead of the stack overlapping cards to swipe through, it will appear of a series of standalone cards.

Getting the drop on Apple’s HomePod by a few months, Amazon has dropped a new feature letting you play, sync, and control music over multiple Echos using voce commands. 9to5mac.com says they have also rolled out new developer tools.

Meanwhile, Sonos…which has been the big name in home speakers…is working on a new one with integrated voice control functionality. According to bgr.com, the CEO has said he wants it to work with ‘all services that matter.’ While getting into Apple’s closed system and Siri is probably out, expect it to work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The FCC filing says it will work with ‘multiple voice platforms!’ It may be rolled out in October.

Tesla plans to unveil their electric truck next month. Now, diesel engine maker Cummins has announced their own electric big rig. Electrek.co says it’s designed as an ‘urban hauler,’ and has a 100 mile range on batteries. The rig can recharge in an hour, and Cummins says that will be improved before it hits the market. A hybrid version with a small diesel will also be offered, boasting a 300 mile range. The rig will pull a 44,000 lb. load.


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.


More iPhone 8 From HomePod Leak; Apple Watch May Gain LTE Capability; Faraday Future Dumps Nevada for California; Americans Using Less Juice Than A decade Ago

As geeks continue to sift through the HomePod software, we get more and more teases about the iPhone 8. Macrumors.com says it indicates that the FaceID facial recognition software is so good, you won’t have to raise the phone and hold it in front of your face to open the phone. The phone may also be capable of shooting 4K video at 60 FPS with either front or rear cameras.

The HomePod leak also seems to reveal that the Apple Watch this fall may get a new form factor and have LTE. According to bloomberg.com, you will be able to connect directly to cellular networks, with no need to be tethered to an iPhone. No indication on if you could make voice calls or it’s just for messages and data, or what apple is doing to preserve battery life, but Apple is apparently in talks with carriers in the US and Europe.

Faraday Future, which at one time planned to build a large electric car plant in Nevada and a smaller one in Vallejo, CA has bolted, and signed a lease on an abandoned Pirelli tire plant in Hanford, in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Techcrunch.com reports that it hopes to be in the new plant by November, and be delivering cars by the end of 2018. Faraday still apparently has an option for a smaller facility on Mare Island in Vallejo. Faraday’s CFO Stephan Krause downplayed financial woes tied to LeEco in China, saying the company has no legal relationship, and if the Chinese company goes under, Faraday would still be solvent.

We all have numerous electronic gadgets and devices…far more than 10 years ago…but due to their becoming more efficient, we are using less electricity! According to recode.net, residential electricity sales per person is down 7% since 2010, too. Part of the reason is more efficient devices, but another part is that people are using phones and tablets more, which are smaller and more efficient. The US Energy Information Administration warns that we may see an increase again between 2030 and 2040, as more rechargeable devices come online…and the so-called ‘smart home’ becomes common. Commercial electricity use is not tapering off, since a lot of what we do online with the cloud, Google, Amazon, and Facebook requires giant server farms that Hoover up many kilowatt hours of electricity.


Apple Smart Cam & Face ID for Apple Pay; Samsung Galaxy S8 Outpacing S7

More nuggets from the code in Apple’s HomePod software…iPhone 8 may have a feature called ‘Smart Cam’ which will intelligently capture the best photos when shooting scenes like sunrises, sunsets, and fireworks. Some other scenes are: Baby, Bright Stage, Document, and Foliage. 9to5mac.com says another leak from the HomePod code indicates Apple may be going to facial recognition for Apple Pay. The code corroborates reports from Bloomberg and KGI Securities saying iPhone 8 will ditch fingerprint recognition for facial recognition. There is also code indicating wireless inductee charging.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will drop the end of the month….meanwhile, the Galaxy S8 is doing fine, thank you very much. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung has shipped more than 20 million units of Samsung’s hero phone. 9to5google.com reports that this is an increase of 15% over what they cranked out last year by this time with the Galaxy S7.