Waymo & Fiat Chrysler Expand Ride-Hailing; Facebook Looks to Local News; iPhone X Top 3 Worldwide; Verizon Won’t Carry Huawei Line

Fiat Chrysler is preparing to provide Google’s Waymo with thousands of Pacifica hybrid minivans, as Waymo’s self-driving division rolls out public ride hailing services later this year. Reuters.com says this could press GM and Lyft to pick up the pace, as well as Uber, which already has a test fleet running. Waymo had been been testing out 500 Fiat Chrysler self-driving mini-vans through 2017 in 25 cities.

Facebook plans to start showing more local news in user newsfeeds. According to businessinsider.com, they will start this in the US, and expand to other countries later in the year. The Facebook definition of ‘local’ is if its links ‘are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area,’ not the logical ‘is actually IN a local geographic area!’

With reports out that Apple is cutting iPhone X production from 40 to 20 million this quarter, some good news popped up. 9to5mac.com reports that Kantar found the pricey Apple hero phone was the #3 phone in all the regions they monitor during December. That includes Europe, China, Japan, Australia, and the US. iOS sales overall were down half a percentage point in the US, but loyalty hit a record high 96%. Apple and Samsung account for more than 2/3 of the US market at a combined 70.8%.

Under pressure from the government, Verizon has dropped plans to carry Huawei mobile devices. 9to5google.com says AT&T had previously backed out of carrying the Mate 10 Pro. The government apparently is concerned about the closeness of the Chinese government to the phone maker and their possible ability to manipulate upcoming 5G cellular networks.

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More Galaxy S9 Rumors; Huawei Mate 10 Coming to US New Facebook Tools & Facial Recognition; Worst Passwords

It appears that Samsung will be again aping Apple, and the Galaxy S9 will be something of an ’S’ model…virtually identical on the outside to the present model. According to bgr.com, though, there will be some desirable upgrades inside. First off, it looks like a beefy 3200 mAh battery, up 7% from the S8. Also, the S9 reportedly will support Quick Charge 3.0 tech and 12W fast wireless charging. For comparison, Apple’s iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus just have 7W fast charging. We should see the Galaxy S9 and S9+ in late February, and they should be in hand by March.

Huawei has be rumored to be working on coming to the US via at least one of the mobile carriers. Now, 9to5google.com reports that we will probably find out who at CES next month, and that the Mate 10 will go on sale in the US in 2018. The rumor is, the Huawei hero handset will be offered through AT&T and Verizon.

Facebook has announced some new features, including one that keeps people you’ve blocked from making up a new profile and trying to contact you. Techcrunch.com says the tool kit detects the IP address and other signals to make sure the person stays blocked. They also have added one to ignore conversations, and move those to your filtered messages folder. A really slick addition now uses facial recognition to notify you if someone uploads a photo with you in it…even if you’re not tagged. You can choose to stay untagged, tag yourself, or report the photo if you think it’s inappropriate.

What are the worst passwords of the year? Splash data has put out the list, taken from over 5 million passwords that were leaked across 2017 by hackers. Macrumors.com reports that the top one is an old favorite from way back. Here are the top 5…PLEASE tell me none of you reading this has ever used these!!
1. 123456
2.password
3. 12345678
4. querty
5. 12345
If you ‘have a friend’ who’s using any of these, ask them to change to something stronger, and don’t admit it!


Facebook Testing ‘Snooze’ Feature; Huawei Takes a Shot at the iPhone X; Your Nintendo Switch Has Hidden Copy of NES Golf

Everyone with more than a handful of friends on Facebook has a few who post really annoying things…whether it’s too many food pictures, political posts, dozens of kid of cat pics, or hourly selfies. Up to now, you’ve either had to unfollow them or unfriend them. Mashable.com reports that Facebook is testing another alternative…’snoozing’ them. The feature lets you temporarily unfollow for 24 hours, a week, or 30 days. While Facebook tests out things that don’t make it into the app for everyone, let’s hope this one does! It will live on the menu with unfollow.

We noted earlier that Huawei will be rolling out their next flagship phone in October. It’s the Mate 10, and the verge.com says they are now running an ad saying they will unveil ‘the Real AI Phone’ next month…specifically on October 16th! Actually, they have had a chipset that does a decent job with AI, and the new iteration will of course be an improvement. With a nod to Apple’s Neural Engine, Huawei calls the system on a chip the “Neural Processing Unit,” or NPU. Keep you skepticism shields up, but we’ll see what they roll out on October 16th!

Hackers at SwitchBrew.org have discovered a fully playable copy of NES Golf buried inside the Nintendo Switch. According to arstechnica.com, they found it under ‘flog,’ which is golf spelled backwards, and it’s the old 80’s NES golf game, updated specifically to run on the Switch. Since the hackers posted screen shots, it’s presumed they have found how to run it, but so far haven’t given up the button combination to unlock it.


Huawei Passes Apple as #2 Smartphone; Apple & Amazon Fight over 007; Epson Shows 130 Inch Projection TV; Steve Jobs Theatre Tricks Revealed

They were neck in neck at the start of summer, but now Huawei has passed up Apple to claim bragging rights as #2 smartphone maker worldwide. 9o5google.com notes that part of the reason is consumers waiting on the new iPhone 8 or Edition that bows next week. OTOH, Huawei will roll out its flagship Mate 10 in October, so time will tell which of the freshened smartphones will rule the year for #2 by the end of the year.

You would think a movie studio would easily snatch up the rights to a franchise as storied as the James Bond one, but not necessarily. Amazon and Apple are apparently in a bidding war for 007, too. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner still has the inside track since the rights with Sony expired in 2015 with ‘Spectre,’ but Sony, Universal, and Fox are all in the hunt. Warner is pressing MGM to close a deal, but just the fact that Apple and Amazon are chasing the franchise shows how important the tech giants think content is becoming. Bond may be the last of the big, untapped movie brands, with Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm already tied up. Meanwhile, Amazon just wrapped a deal to self-distribute its first film…Woody Allen’s ‘Wonder Wheel.’

So you thought projection TV was long gone? Not so much, apparently. Bgr.com reports that Epson has just unveiled a 130 inch ‘screen-free’ laser TV. It’s out this fall for 3 grand. While that seems strong compared to a 45 incher that sells for less than $1000, bear in mind that a panel TV bigger than 75 inches runs between $4000 and $10,000. The 130 inch screen size is 300% larger than a 65 inch display. Epson’s lamp free laser should last 30,000 hours work of viewing.

As a lot of people know, after Apple’s presentations, they always hold product demos for journalists…normally in a separate room. Everyone has been wondering how that will work in the ‘flying saucer’ Steve Jobs Theatre building. Now, it’s leaked out. 9to5mac.com says a wall will slide back, revealing the demo space! A couple other tidbits….the cushy leather seats ran approximately $14,000 each, and while there’s a spiral staircase leading down to the theater area, there are also two round elevators with just one door each. The elevator cars ROTATE so the door can open on the opposite side at the bottom! Only Apple would do this!


Beats Gets Adaptive Noise Canceling; Huawei Building AI into Mobile Chips; Jaguar Land Rover Shows ‘Tron’ Steering Wheel; iPhone Name Claims

Beats has added adaptive noise canceling to Studio 3 Headphones. Techcrunch.com reports it’s a direct shot at Bose, with the new Beats models claiming to screen out sounds better and more comprehensively…not just jet plane roar. The now Apple division has also toned down its colors, and offers a bit less pumped up bass. They claim 22 ours of battery life, and the price? That’s still pumped up at $350…available now.

All the tech product companies are betting big on AI…AI has even made it into the realm of politics, with Russia’s Vlad Putin claiming that whomever nails AI first and best will rule the world. Now Huawei says they are going to bake AI processing into their next chip, with the first ever Neural Processing Unit for smartphones. Thenextweb.com explains that what that means to you is no need to phone home to the cloud for the handset to offer AI assistance. Huawei also says it will get 50% longer batter life. If you are a little skeptical…we’ll all find out how much of this is real and what’s vaporware in October when the successor to the Mate 9 drops.

For decades auto makers have shown cars of the future, and now Jaguar Land Rover has given a peek at their steering wheel of the future. Cnet.com notes that it’s right out of Tron…the ‘wheel’ is more of a flattened octagon, with no visible buttons or switches. Jag says it will be totally AI operated, and will detach and dock in your home when you’re not driving…so it can be used there as a personal assistant, too. The so-called ‘Sayer’ will be attachable to any car you like, based on what tasks you have for the day. Maybe just a sedan for your commute….or a pickup if you are helping a pal move. Jag presumes by the time something like this bows, almost all vehicles will be self-driving…at least primarily. They will show a prototype in London September 8-10, and then the week after at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

A week before the new iPhone bows, and it’s the silly season with rumors. Now, one report picked up by bgr.com says it will be iPhone X for sure. Another that relies on what major case makers are planning…9to5mac.com says that the name will be iPhone Edition, and there won’t be any 7S models…those will jump right to iPhone 8. Of course, we’ll know for sure next week!


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!