Apple Working On Own CPUs for Macs; Cheaper Google Pixel 3; Tesla Model 3 Production Scramble; Facebook Adds HD Video and 360 Degree Photos to Messenger

Just as Intel is rolling out i9 and updated i7 chips, comes word that Apple is working on Macs that run its own CPUs. Arstechnica.com reports that Apple could be shipping computers running its own processors by 2020, but it will take a serious rewrite of the MacOS. On the plus side, the Apple designed chips will use less juice, increasing battery life on MacBooks, and developers will be able to publish apps that run on both the MacOS and iOS for mobile devices. Apple is thought to be treading carefully in this, and would continue to use Intel CPUs for a time, as developers still need to build apps that run on Intel processors, and they would not want to take a huge hit to the App Store if developers balk at non-intel processors.

Google is apparently going to have 3 models in the Pixel 3 lineup pater this year. According to bgr.com, one will be a more affordable model. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news? The cheap model may only be available in India and similar markets, and not here in the US. As a mid range device, it would also lack features most smartphones offer as standard…specifically, the other two Pixel models. The lower priced Pixel 3 could hit the market in July or August. No date range for the two higher line Pixel 3 phones yet…or pricing.

By now, Tesla was supposed to be cranking out 2500 Model 3s per week. They are still falling short, but are now producing 2000 per week, so at least have gotten into the ballpark after a number of production hiccups. Theverge.com says Elon Musk claims to be sleeping at the factory until they hit the 2500 number. Tesla has promised to be building 5000 per week by later the end of the 2nd quarter, as they try to clear the backlog of orders and deposits still numbering several hundred thousand. The continued misses, have spooked Wall Street and the stock has dropped 22% in March.

Facebook is trying to put on a happy face in the wake of all the negative news about privacy. The social network’s newsroom has announced that Messenger will now be able to handle 360 degree photos and panoramic shots, as well as HD quality, 720p videos right from the camera roll of smartphones. They note you will need to download the latest software update to Messenger to get the new features.

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iPad Refresh Imminent; New Air Pods; Whole Foods Break for Amazon Prime Shoppers; 5G Coming to Intel Laptops

A reliable tip-off that Apple is about to release new devices has popped up. Macrumors.com says Cupertino has registered new tablets with the Eurasian Economic Commission. This points to new iPads in just weeks. Most prognosticators are looking for a refresh of the current lower cost 9.7 inch iPad, and then either a cheaper yet version of it, or possibly an iPad Mini, which hasn’t gotten updated in a while. It’s thought that the updated iPad Pro with FaceID will bow at WWDC in June. Apple has dropped either an iPad or other new piece of hardware in March every year for the last 4 years.

While we’re in the Apple orchard, plucking rumors from the trees, there’s also one from Bloomberg that Apple is working on new models of AirPods. Apple is apparently developing a new wireless chip that helps better manage Bluetooth connections. An expected feature is a touch less Siri model…the present ones require a press in order to activate the Apple assistant, but a new model may allow for a voice only command of ‘Hey Siri’ to give total hands free use to people wanting to access the feature. A water resistant design is also thought to be in the works for at least one model of new Air Pods.

Amazon has added another perk for Amazon Prime. According to bgr.com, Prime members with an Amazon Rewards Visa card will now get 5% back on Whole Foods purchases, in addition to the 5% back on amazon.com purchases. Most such programs don’t offer as high as 5%, and almost all others restrict purchases, so having it available on all of Amazon and Whole Foods could really add up fast.

We just covered the 1st 3 cities that AT&T will wire for 5G service later this year. Now, word comes from reuters.com that Intel’s upcoming XMM 8000 modem chips will power laptops with 5G connectivity starting in the 2nd half of 2019. Blazing fast, always-connected internet could be a killer feature to push a lot more people into trading for a new laptop!


1st Phone With Diamond Screen Coming; Intel Smart Non-Glasshole Glasses; Galaxy S9 to Get Price Jump; iPad Crushed Competing Tablets Last Year

Cracked screens are a constant worry…even if low level…for everyone who carries a smartphone. Now, cnet.com says something better than either Gorilla Glass or sapphire crystal is on the way. It’s Akhan Semiconductor’s Mirage Diamond Glass. It can be layered on top of screens, much like Gorilla Glass, but is of course, stronger…being made from lab grown diamonds. Akhan will initially work with just one smartphone maker in each category. They are still working on minimizing glare, and pricing, but again…if all works out, we would have the much less breakable screens on phones by next year.

Two of the bigger complaints of GoogleGlass were the way they looked and the fact that ‘Glassholes’ could have the video on at any given time, which was way creepy. Now, theverge.com reports that Intel has a prototype called the Vaunt that may be what we all would have liked in smart glasses in the first place. They use a very low power laser to project the images right into your eyes…it looks like what’s on a screen, but the plus is, the glasses look just like regular…albeit….nerdy…black glasses. According to a Verge reporter who tried them out, they are comfortable enough to wear all day, and Intel says they will come in several styles and work with prescriptions. The electronics and batteries are built into the stems and frames of the glasses. Basically, they are more simple than GoogleGlass. They just display a small heads up display with simple messages or notifications, transmitted by Bluetooth from and Android or iPhone…a lot like how the Apple Watch works. Intel will launch an ‘early access’ program this year. No details yet on getting in that or cost yet.

Another rumor about the imminent Samsung Galaxy S9, and this one is about pricing. According to a leak in Britain, it will sell for £100 more than the S8. The S9 will be £789 in the UK, while the S8 was £689. converting currency, that’s $1114 in the US, with the S8 at $973. Of course, checking actual pricing in the US, the retail is $750, so expect the S9 to be set at more like $850 in the US. Still, a $100 (or £100) bump is not insignificant. It will bet interesting to watch and see how preorders are affected by this increase.

Apple’s decision to release a lower cost but upgraded iPad last year apparently hit the public’s sweet spot. Macrumors.com says Apple’s tablet sold more than Samsung and Amazon’s offerings combined in 2017! Apple pumped out 43.8 million iPads, while Samsung sold 24.9 million and Amazon 16.7 million…even put together, that’s 2.2 million less than Apple’s iPads. Apple grabbed 26.8% of the tablet market last year.


Alexa Can Send SMS Messages; Amazon QR ‘Smile’ Codes; Samsung Chip Biz Eclipses Intel; Apple Still Bringing iOS Apps to Macs

Bringing us one step closer to a Star Trek future, Amazon just rolled out another skill for Alexa. Thenextweb.com reports that now you can send SMS text messages by voice command over your Echo or other speaker that has Alexa. A couple of notes, though. It doesn’t work for texting 911 or sending group messages or MMS. Should be pretty handy though, if you need to send a text, and your phone’s across the room or across the house!

Yet another trick Amazon has pulled out of its sleeve…they are working with their own version of QR codes…those little boxes with gibberish patterns. TechCrunch.com says they call them ‘SmileCodes.’ In this case, you can open the scanner that is built into the Amazon app, scan the code, and it will take you to that item on Amazon’s site, or play a related movie trailer or product review. Right now, the codes are listed to pop-up shops and Amazon Lockers in Europe, but the test should be over soon, and expect a rollout in the US before long.

After decades as the top dog in chip manufacturing, Intel has been eclipsed by Samsung as of 2017. The numbers have been crunched, and according to theverge.com, Samsung raked in $69.1 billion worth of the little silicon rascals, while Intel’s take was $62.8 billion. To be fair, Samsung produced more memory and flash, while Intel still leads in processor chips. With the demand only set to increase with self-driving vehicles and more AI coming on line, Samsung should be sitting pretty with this segment of their business.

Yesterday, there was a story out that Apple would be holding back some features for iOS 12 in order to focus on security and reliability of the OS. Apparently, one feature that won’t be held back will be the ability to port iOS apps to Macs. Cnet.com says the team developing that is still on track to roll it out this year, which will make the App Store on the Mac a lot more fun and interesting.


Intel Spectre/Meltdown Patch Coming for Newer Chips; Amazon Narrows Field for 2nd HQ; Apple Repatriates Cash & Gives Bonuses; SurveyMonkey Going Public

Intel has admitted that even it’s newer CPUs are affected but the reboot problems from the Spectre/Meltdown patches. This includes Skylake and Kaby Lake chips, according to engadget.com. Patches should be out in about a week, but slowdowns will be between 2 and 25%, depending on the task, and if just one core is running.

Amazon has cut the field of cities where it may build its second headquarters. Geekwire.com says the online giant is down to 20 cities in the US and also Toronto, Canada. They include Washington, D.C. and two suburbs, which may or may not be a hint. The only West Coast city is L.A. All the rest are in the Midwest or Northeast.

Apple announced yesterday the it is bringing back $350 billion in overseas cash the next 5 years, and will build a new facility in the US, employing some 20,000 people. The company will cough up about $38 billion in taxes in the process. The new campus will initially be devoted to AppleCare. No location has been revealed, but it won’t be in California. Now, according to bloomberg.com, Cupertino has also said they are giving a $2500 bonus in restricted stock units as well. Apple has over 120,000 employees, and both full time and part time employees in all departments are eligible.

After 19 years, online polling company SurveyMonkey is getting ready to go public later this year. Recode.net reports that the company has been valued at $2 billion of late. Two other major IPOs set for this year include Spotify and Dropbox. SurveyMonkey has 650 employees and says nearly all the Fortune 500 companies have used it’s online surveys.


More Next-Gen iPhone Rumors; Amazon & Google vs HomePod; Intel Security Issue

A number of sources point to 3 new iPhones this fall…a refreshed iPhone X, a bigger iPhone X Plus with a 6.5 inch screen…also with an OLED screen, and an in-between model with a 6.1 inch LCD screen. LG will make the 6.5 inch screens, with Samsung continuing to supply the 5.8 inch OLED screen Improvements to Face ID are also touted. Now, according to macrumors.com, there may be a 2nd generation iPhone SE out this spring. It will likely keep the same form factor with a 4 inch screen as the present SE.

Amazon and Google both had sizable discounts on their smart speakers heading into the holidays. 9to5mac.com reports that analysts think they both probably lost money on the units or just broke even, in order to grab market share before Apple releases its HomePod speaker. Not only that…and you probably figured this was coming…Alexa may be soon making suggestions when you are getting ready to shop or are shopping. Yep, product placement. You may suddenly find that Alexa is suggesting specific brands…Proctor & Gamble is one such ‘advertising partner’ being discussed. The thought is, people may just order the suggested brand instead of letting Alexa blather on.

There is apparently a serious security problem with all recent Intel chips…so big a problem, that they won’t really discuss how it works, or what it is, but patches are coming. This will affect virtually all late model Windows and Mac machines. Bgr.com says it will be a crucial patch…but there’s a hitch. The patch may slow down the computers by some 30%, but at least by 5%! Pretty much every computer made in the last 10 years is affected. (90% of servers and laptops.) The fix involves moving the chip’s kernel to a completely separate address space, so every system call will require switching between 2 address spaces to keep the kernel secure…that’s where the speed bump occurs. A later update may restore the speed, but for now…patch those things when the security update comes…otherwise, your machines can be hacked and give the hackers god like power over them…including ability to read all personal info and passwords.


Apple iMac Pro Out This Week; AmEx Drops Signatures; Switch Passes 10 million in As Many Months; Clapboss Wins the Irritating War

As Jobs used to say, ‘One more thing’…yes, Apple kicked the HomePod down the road into next year, but today announced that the iMac Pro will go on sale Thursday. Businessinsider.com reports that the pricey and powerful (starting at $4999) iMac sports a 27 inch Retina display, and can be upgraded (pushing up the nosebleed price even further) to 128 gigs of RAM, 4TB of storage, and an 18 core Intel Xeon processor. The Pro is really made for pros…audio and video pros who need all that power. Unlike the MacBook Pro, which has irritated Pros with only USB C ports and not even a Mag Safe connector, the iMac Pro rocks 4 USB ports, 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, and a wired ethernet port. Did I mention it starts at almost 5 grand? My eyes are still watering!

American Express has announced that it will stop requiring signatures for purchases. Engadget.com notes that in the last few months, both MasterCard and Discover had announced the same, but only in the US and Canada starting in April. AmEx is dropping signatures globally. All say that tech advances have made signatures obsolete. In some regions people will still have to sign where required by law. This should move lines at check stands faster and increase the spread of cardless transaction systems like ApplePay.

Gaming is more than alive and well! Nintendo has announced that it has pumped out 10 million Switch consoles in 10 months! Variety.com says they are on track to pass up the Wii U soon, which took 5 years to sell 13.6 million! Three games account for over half of game sales: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Mario Odyssey, and Splatoon 2.

If you’ve ever been irritated by thos obnoxious TV ads with the guy clapping to turn lights and Christmas trees on and off…or worse, been to Grandma’s and she actually bought and uses one, get ready for the ultimate annoyance….the Clapboss! Techcrunch.com says it’s a net connected dongle that lets you clap to turn things off and on. The Kickstarter is $39, and the irritating little dongle…which has a smug, smiley face on it…will be $80 retail. It supports 6 different clap patterns so you can turn on and off 6 different devices….and annoy the hell out of anyone living with you nearly to the point of justifiable homicide.