Snap May Buy Chinese Drone Maker; Huawei Nearly Even With Apple in Phone Sales; IBM Crams 330TB into the Palm of Your Hand

Because selfies from phones, and Spectacle glasses for short clips just aren’t enough, Snap is looking at picking up Zero Zero Robotics, a Chinese drone maker. According to thenextweb.com, they make the ‘Hover Camera Passport’ drone for $500. It is tiny, made of light carbon fiber, and uses facial recognition to track the user…making sure you’re in those shots you can later filter or plaster with stickers! The drone is being sold through the Apple Store, and so far, Zero Zero denies any deal with Snap.

Huawei is relentlessly pushing to be the world’s largest smartphone maker, and wants to do it by 2021. Macrumors.com reports that they are nipping at the heels of Apple right now, with 38.4 million shipped in the 2nd quarter of this year, compared with Apple’s 41 million. It’s still a ways to top dog Samsung, at 79.5 million. These 3 brands account for nearly half the 360 million smartphones shipped out in the 2nd quarter of 2017.

While some chase the dream of storing nearly unlimited data in your genetic material, the scientists at IBM have managed to cram 330 TERAbytes of data into a cartridge that will fit in the palm of your hand. Theverge.com says that’s enough for 330 million books! The IBM folks went old school for the medium, too, with a twist. It’s a special prototype sputtered magnetic tape. The original back up tape drives IBM made 60 years ago could hold 2 megabytes on reels of half inch wide tape! They think the medium will work well for cold storage of vast amounts of data being stored in the cloud.


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!


Google Pixel 2 Rumors; Huawei Gunning to be World’s Largest Smartphone Maker

The Google Pixel is a good phone, but not near what it needs to be to cut into Apple or Samsung. 9to5google.com says they are looking to rectify some of its shortcomings with the Pixel 2. Rumors had already been out about possible waterproofing, but it looks like they are especially focusing on the camera. Google is reportedly testing better chipsets from a couple different manufacturers. The Pixel 2 likely won’t get a higher megapixel size, but better low light shooting and more features. Of interest, however, is that a ‘B’ model is being tested…a lower price point Pixel. Don’t get too excited though…it appears to be aimed at different markets, and not for US release.

The smartphone market the last 6 years has pretty well been Apple, Samsung, and everyone else fighting for scraps. Now, according to macrumors.com, Huawei is angling to go from just being China’s largest smartphone maker and #3 worldwide to #1. They are shooting for passing up Samsung and Apple by 2021, just 4 years from now. They have made big inroads in European markets, but so far, haven’t dented the US. Part of the problem for them has been no carrier agreements, but Huawei has now hired a former Verizon negotiator, so look for them to try to ‘go big’ in the US.


Apple Corners Smartphone Profits; Super Battery Concept Charges in Seconds & Lasts Days

They may not have the biggest market share, but according to a Strategy Analytics report picked up by 9to5mac.com, Apple took in 91% of mobile industry profits in the third quarter of 2016. Huawei had the best showing of any Android maker with 2.4%. Samsung, of course, helped Apple by taking a big loss with the recall of their fiery Galaxy Note 7 models. LG and HTC also reported losses.

Thenextweb.com reports that a new battery concept from scientists at University of Central Florida may be able to charge in seconds and last 20 times longer than a conventional lithium ion cell….possibly lasting over a week! It’s essentially a super capacitor. The battery doesn’t degrade like present ones, either…holding the same charge after 30,000 recharges. Keep your fingers crossed, if this pans out, it will be a game changer for smart devices, electric vehicles, and anything else running on batteries.


Google Will Launch Hybrid OS; Xiaomi’s New Flagship Has Ultrasonic Fingerprint Reader; Apple Patents Laser Mapping System & Hybrid Keyboard

Google looks to launch its upcoming Andromeda…Android/Chrome hybrid OS on a Huawei Nexus tablet and a convertible laptop, according to 9to5google.com. The convertible laptop will probably sport the new Pixel brand, as Google appears poised to call the phones they will show October 4th. It will have either an Intel M3 or i5 Core processor, 32 or 128GB of storage and 8GB or 16GB of RAM. There’s also apparently a fingerprint scanner, two USB-C ports, stereo speakers, four microphones, and a 10 hour battery. It’s apparently priced around $800.

Chinese phone maker Xiaomi has showed off its Mi 5s and 5s Plus handsets. According to theverge.com, they have a better camera, faster processor, but of most interest…and ultrasonic fingerprint reader that is under the glass on the front. The portion of the front with the reader doesn’t have screen space under it. Apple has a patent for similar tech, but the iPhone 8 will likely have an all glass screen on the front, edge to edge. On the Xiaomi phones, an indentation in the glass is the only spot that will read prints. Apple’s may not be so restrictive. Ultrasonic fingerprint readers are generally more accurate than the capacitive ones currently used by Apple, Samsung, and the rest.

Apple has also patented laser based positional and 3D mapping hardware…this could give far more reliable mapping for…say…self-driving cars! Appleinsider.com says they were also granted a patent for a hybrid mechanical/ capacitive touch sensitive keyboard. They also have an optical connector that converts signals to light which connects accessories to a laptop through micro-perfs that are invisible to the naked eye. It uses infrared laser light, which draws less power than Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.


Big Tesla Auto Pilot Update Coming; 7 Inch Google Tablet by 4th Quarter; Apple Car Division Restructures; Amazon Continues Retail Push

A major upgrade will be pushed out to Autopilot in Tesla Model S vehicles in the next week or two. TechCrunch.com reports that the so-called Version 8.0 will have updates to signal processing that will let the autopilot rely more on the radar sensors, without confirming data from cameras. According to Elon Musk, the upgrade should see “any thing that’s metallic, anything that’s large and dense,” and then brake the vehicle, “as long as it’s not large and fluffy.” So short of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the lanes, it should brake, and even guide the car off to an exit.

Google may roll out a 7 inch Android tablet made by Huawei before the end of the year. According to theverge.com, it will have 4 gigs of RAM. Considering that they don’t seem to be sticking with Nexus for the phones, it will probably have a different name as well. We could well get more details at Google’s rumored event on October 4th.

Apple’s Project Titan has laid off dozens of staffers. Macrumors.com says that since Bob Mansfield left, Apple seems to be pivoting towards autonomous driving systems instead of going for building an entire Apple car. The division still has between 500 and 1000 employees working on the project.

In addition to the brick and mortar book store Amazon opened last year, it looks like now the online giant will open over 100 pop up stores in malls around the country. Businessinsider.com points out that these much smaller locations will operate mainly to showcase Amazon hardware like Kindles, Fire TV, and the Echo speakers — as well as accessories. The real goal is to drive more traffic to Amazon’s online store. There are already 21 Amazon pop up stores in 12 states.


Sony PS4 Neo Event Scheduled; iPhone Outselling Samsung S7 in US again

September 7th is the date…Sony has announced their PlayStation Meeting in New York. Arstechnica.com says we can expect the rollout of the 4K ready Playstation 4 Neo. It’s rumored to have a jump in CPU clock speed, more and faster GPU cores, and more memory bandwidth. On the heels of this updated PlayStation, Sony is thought to be going to show their PlayStation VR headset in October, just a month later.

After taking a dive, Apple’s iOS got another uptick in the second quarter of this year. According to 9to5mac.com, Apple’s share of the smartphone market growing by 1.3% in the USA and 3.1% in the UK. This gave Apple a 31.8% share in the U.S. and 37.2% in the UK. Here in the US, iPhone 6s/6s Plus outsold the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 edge to make the iPhone the best-selling handset in the quarter at 15.1% against Samsung’s 14.1%, with the iPhone SE taking third place at 5.1%. In Britain, the iPhone SE was the best-selling smartphone for the quarter, at 9.2% of the market, just ahead of the iPhone 6s at 9.1%. Apple didn’t fare so well in China, where Apple’s share dropped 1.8% to 17.9%, putting Apple behind both Huawei and Xiaomi.