Will iPhone 8 Bring a ‘Supercycle’ of Upgrades; Amazon Prime Offers HBO & Cinemax for Additional $$

The second half of 2017 may bring what’s being called a ‘supercycle’ of iPhone upgrades. Businessinsider.com reports that KGI Securities has been polling Apple suppliers, and Apple may be gearing up to ship between 90 and 110 million iPhone 8 models the second half of next year. It’s possible that they may even blow past the 113 million iPhone 6’s they sold the back half of 2014. Besides KGI, 3 other analysts believe 2017 could be a banner year as the anniversary iPhone bows.

Just a day after Netflix plays catchup by offering downloads for viewing later, which Amazon has already had, Amazon Prime Video introduces HBO for an additional $15 a month and Cinemax for $10 a month. Venturebeat.com notes that cord cutters could be induced to buy in….but for 30 days, Prime members can try them for free!


iPhone 5se in March & More on the iPhone 7; Galaxy S7 Out in March

Several sources say the updated smaller iPhone will carry the 5se name when it drops in mid-March. 9to5mac.com also reports that the smaller phone will probably be powered by the current iPhone 6s’s A9 and M9 processors. Apparently, when the iPhone 7 comes out in the fall, Apple doesn’t want the 5se to have chips that are two generations older than the iPhone 7’s expected A10 system. The M9 chip will allow the 5se to have the always-on ‘Hey Siri’ feature. It’s also now thought it will replace the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the fall when iPhone 7 comes out.

Before all that happens at Apple, we now know the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge will launch in the US on March 11th. Samsung is widely expected to show the phones at a special event February 21st, or at Mobile World Congress the 22nd through the 25th in Barcelona. Bgr.com says the S7 will probably have a pressure sensitive display…a nod towards Apple’s 3D Touch, as well as Vivid Photos, which appears to be an answer to Apple’s Live Photos.

Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Clones Apple Force Touch; Leather Tesla Stocking Stuffer

More is leaking out about the Samsung Galaxy S7. Due out in March, the S7 will have a pressure sensitive screen copying Apple’s Force Touch, according to theverge.com. The non-Edge version will have expandable storage like the S6 models, and it will sport an improved camera with no ‘bump’ on the back. Maybe best of all, the S7 will have a USB-C port….the kind that lets you insert the cable in either way, and fast charging…reportedly a nearly full charge in 30 minutes! There are still rumors of a retina scanner, but those have been popping up since the S5, so don’t hold your breath.

Be still my heart….a Tesla for Christmas! Well, sort of. Like many other manufacturers, Tesla has leather left over after cutting those buttery seat covers. Now, they’ve started making iPhone 6 cases out of the excess. Bgr.com reports that they run $45 to $50, depending on whether for a 6 or 6 Plus, and if you want a wallet case or not. The wallet case has RFID blocking, too. Thanks, Santa Musk!

New Apple iPhone Battery Case; Google Makes Mobile Chrome Safe by Default

Several Apple news items: Today, Cupertino rolled out a Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 6S and 6, their first since 2007. According to appleinsider.com, Apple claims 25 hours of extended use. It’s soft silicone with a strange hump for the battery on the back, and runs $99. The silicone gives a sure grip, but does collect dirt.

Many people will be surprised to find that Apple Maps is now used 3 times as often as Google Maps on iPhone. Macrumors.com says this figure was given to the AP by Apple. Google does dominate over all smartphones, of course, with more Android phones in service than iPhones. I tried Apple Maps last spring traveling from Northern California to the Magic Kingdom, and it routed me off the 5 through city streets and back. I thought it was nuts, until I discovered it routed me around a terrible crash in LA with a monster backup.

Apple is dropping 13 million on their Sacramento area campus. Reportedly, this is to change a large warehouse into a logistics center, and they will add an additional 1450 parking spaces and jobs, of course. It’s possible more than logistics is going on…this facility was Apple’s last manufacturing center in the US until 2004.

In a nice move by Google, they have turned on Safe Browsing by default on Chrome for Android. Theverge.com reports that it has always been in the settings, but this will give an extra layer of protection to mobile browsing on Android for Chrome users. Google is releasing the feature as part of Play Services, which means it will appear in other in-house apps moving forward.

Leak Has More Reveals About iPhone 6S

In a leak similar to one last year near the release date of the iPhone 6, we now know a bit more about the successor iPhone 6S. The next generation handset will be slightly thicker to accomodate the Force Touch and Taptic Engine features borrowed from the Apple Watch. Force Touch tells the handset different things, depending on how hard you press on the screen, while the Taptic Engine gives it a more versatile vibration motor for alerts. Despite the increase in thickness from 6.9 to 7.1 mm, there is still a bump on the back for the camera…which has unduly bothered some in the tech media…despite the fact that nearly everyone else buys a case for their iPhones that negates that issue.

As rumored earlier, Nokia has sold its HERE mapping business to a group made up of Audi, BMW, and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz. Previously, it was rumored that Uber, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple had shown interest. The German car makers are dropping $3.07 billion for the service. It was probably only a matter of time before some car makers started to ‘roll their own’ for their navigation systems.

Samsung May Be Going Extra Thin in Addition to Extra Large

We had just reported on the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, an upcoming smartphone/phablet with a whopping 5.7 inch screen, and now it appears that the phone giant is prepping a model that’s much thinner than an iPhone 6. According to bgr.com, the Galaxy A8 is a full millimeter thinner than the iPhone 6 at just 5.9 millimeters. This svelte thinness is in spite of the phone having a 5.7 inch display like the anticipated S6 Edge Plus! No release schedule for this skinny whopper, and sources say it might even be exclusively for the Asian market.

Amazon is looking at crowd sourcing for deliveries. Forbes.com reports that their On My Way program may use individuals to deliver packages, something like an Uber or Lyft for package delivery. Amazon’s shipping costs grew 31% last year, and this would be a way for them to keep a lid on delivery costs. If they do roll the service out, it may be limited to smaller, more inexpensive items…and not larger or more expensive ones that require insuring. Smart & Final has partnered with Instacart to make local deliveries for a while, and last month Costco and Kroger joined them in doing so.

Sprint Adds An Apple Bundle For Life Deal

If you’re big on Apple, and due for an upgrade, Check out Sprint. Engadget.com says an addition to their For Life deals gets you an iPhone 6, an LTE iPad Mini 3, and service for $100 a month. That’s $17 less than separately.

With the Samsung Galaxy S6 due to roll out March 1st, new big leaks that include pictures show a round edged metal chassis like the iPhone 6. Bgr.com reports that It will feature a smaller, thinner battery and an Apple Pay rival.

For transporting most sensitive files, or offsite storage, Toshiba has released a hardware encrypted flash drive, with physical buttons to key in a passcode. Betanews.com says it comes in 4 to 32 gig sizes, and costs from $95 to $200.

Moto Relaunches Smartphone Line in China

Motorola is returning to China next month. 9to5google.com says after being acquired by Lenovo, they’ll begin selling the Moto X, Moto X Pro, and Moto G. The X Pro is basically the same as a Nexus 6.

Smarter appliances are coming on fast, and LG has rolled out the Twin Wash washer. Geekwire.com reports it sports a regular front load washer, and a mini one in the pedestal base, so you can do 2 loads at once!

A lot of iPhone cases add battery life, but Reach 79 has rolled out one for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus that doubles signal strength. Macrumors.com says they’re $60 and $70 respectively, and will help battery life since the phone won’t have to work as hard getting a signal.

Apple May Add a 4 Inch Model to the iPhone 6S

After going big with the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple is rumored to be looking at a return to a 4 inch model with an iPhone 6S Mini. Appleinsider.com says an analyst at Cowen and Company indicates it would have specs like last year’s iPhone 5S. This would be the first time Apple has had 3 different sizes of a current model if it happens.

Techcrunch.com reports that Samsung has released Look At Me, and app for autistic kids. It’s supposed to help kids to make better eye contact. Developed by South Korean psychologists and professors, it’s on Google Play.

App maker Confide is offering services to entertainments, labels, and networks. Cnet.com says their app has end to end encryption, and automatically self destructs…leaving no embarrassing email trail. No word on whether Sony has reached out to them.

Apple Pay is Growing At Warp Speed

Apple Pay is making inroads in mobile payment, and fast. Gigaom.com says the NFC payment system on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus now will work with bank cards accounting for 90% of dollars spent.

On a related note, the verge.com reports that Samsung is planning to launch an Apple Pay competitor. They are said to be in talks with mobile payments startup LoopPay. Recode says the service will roll out next year.

Bgr.com says Google has released its search stats for the year, and in the gadget category, 7 out of 10 were smartphones. The iPhone 6 was most searched for, followed by the Galaxy S5 and Nexus 6.