Galaxy S9 Gets FM Radio; Shortage of Apple Replacement Batteries; Connected Underwear

Another feature has leaked out about the Samsung Galaxy S9 that debuts next month. According to bgr.com, Samsung will unlock the FM chip on phones sold in the US and Canada. While you can get radio and internet radio over apps, this might come in very handy in emergencies like hurricanes, fires, and earthquakes. The FCC recently called on Apple to do the same, and in fact to activate FM chips in existing iPhones (although the latter isn’t technically possible.)

On the topic of Apple, there’s the ongoing saga of the slowed down, older iPhones due to batteries failing. Macrumors.com says those $29 replacement batteries promised by Apple may not be here in enough volume until March or April for the iPhone 6 Plus. The delay is only a couple weeks for the iPhone 6, and Apple says batteries should be available right now for iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and SE.

In a sure sign that the Internet of Things has gone too far….smart underwear! Mashable.com reports that the skivvies come with sensors woven into the fabric of the undies, and the have a small, rechargeable module that can be removed for recharging….and of course, washing. The Skiin bras and underwear from Myant have 6 different sensors that track heart rate, temperature, pressure, motion, body fat, and hydration levels. All the data is sent to your smartphone app. Pricey? Of course! $279 for 4 pairs of undies.

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Two Wild TVs From CES; iOT-Everything Including the Kitchen Sink; Alexa Baked into Some New Windows 10 PCs; Sony Bows 3 New Phones

It’s CES week, the BIG Show for consumer electronics, and you can always count on some off the wall, ‘wow’ items. Theverge.com reports there are a couple of TVs that won’t disappoint in that department. Samsung has rolled out a 146 inch TV called The Wall. It uses Micro LED, which has a lot of the same benefits of OLED, and is ‘module based.’ The modules can be assembled to make a TV just the size to fit your needs…although 146 inch would probably be perfect for a man cave. You have to think the price will exceed that of many houses, though! The Wall launches this spring.

If a wall sized TV isn’t to your liking, how about a 65 inch screen that rolls up like a piece of paper? LG is showing their updated roll-up TV. It’s a 4K model that rolls down into a base when not in use. No word from LG when this marvel might be available.

The old joke is something has ‘everything but the kitchen sink.’ Well now, the Internet of Things can even control that! According to mashable.com, Delta is showing a sink that can be controlled by Alexa. They plan to have these in model homes to show the tech off by later this year, with the sinks hitting the market sometime in 2018.

Speaking of Alexa…and I realize you know what I did there, last year Amazon and Microsoft announced plans to let Cortana and Alexa talk to each other on Windows 10 PCs. Now, arstechnica.com says Acer, Asus, and HP have all announced that Alexa will be baked into some of their notebooks that will be coming out this year. All will apparently use the Alexa Windows 10 app that will be released later this year. It should be just about like using an Echo.

Sony has unveiled 3 new smartphones at CES. According to bgr.com, they are mid-range phones, not flagship type devices. Nothing spectacular about them, with one exception….the Xperia XA2 Ultra has two FRONT facing cams, and a 23 megapixel rear cam! The phones should be out late this month, giving people a chance to see if the buzz over the cam setup is worth it, or just a cool gimmick.


Samsung Backs Away From Smart Speakers; Microsoft Reveals Cortana Controlled Thermostat; Sears Rolls Out Alexa Powered Appliances on Amazon

We had reported, along with numerous others, that Samsung was working on a Bixby powered smart speaker to compete with Amazon’s, Google’s, and the upcoming Apple one. Now, thenextweb.com reports that Samsung has suddenly decided they are not marketable, with the dominance of Amazon, and Apple waiting in the Wings. Meanwhile, Global Market Insights predicts that the smart speaker market will grow to $13 billion by 2024. Almost half of smart speaker owners buy an additional one for their homes.

Microsoft has rolled out a great looking IOT thermostat today called GLAS. It’s made for them by Johnson Controls. According to theverge.com, it runs Windows 10 IoT Core, and has Cortana built in. Microsoft says it will detect if you are in the room or not, and also continuously monitor air quality inside and outside. Microsoft plans to add other appliances that will run their system and use Cortana.

Meanwhile, struggling retail giant Sears, which for decades had huge market share in appliances with its Kenmore brand, has started selling Alexa powered appliances via Amazon. Techcrunch.com says the retailer will bake in Alexa to air conditioners in addition to the expected refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers. You will e able to yell at Alexa to turn the AC up or down from your couch!


Atari Entering Internet of Things; Giant MySpace Hack; Mophie Adds Wireless Charging to Juicepacks

Atari is launching into the Internet of Things with a line of connected objects that will debut later this year. No word on what precise devices are included, but venturebeat.com reports that the legendary video game maker will develop the devices in partnership with Sigfox, a startup based in the south of France that is building a global communications network for IoT devices. Sigfox’s network already operates in 18 countries and runs with 7 million devices.

Mashable.com says MySpace and Tumblr have recently joined LinkedIn on the list of websites that had millions of login credentials stolen and put up for sale later. Over 64 million Tumblr accounts and more than 360 million MySpace accounts were affected by the data breach. Not all of them had complete email, usernames and passwords, but 111 million had a username and 358 million had a primary password. You can’t remember your password? Well 2 of the top 4 most popular passwords in the breach were password1 and 123456.

The Mophie Juicepacks are one of the best battery cases out there…full disclosure…I have had several and really like them. Now, they have just gotten better. In addition to protecting your iPhone and giving you about 50% extra power, Mophie is introducing ‘Charge Force,’ which is a Juicepack only with added wireless charging. Techcrunch.com says the charging pad and battery case are $99, same as previous Juicepacks, but a desktop/dresser stand and magnetic vent mount for cars will each set you back about $60 extra bucks. They should be in stores and online in the next few weeks.