Facebook Makes News Feed Changes; Galaxy Note 8 Gets Exclusive Color; iPhone 7 Reigns as World’s Most Popular Smartphone

Just as I was about to write these words, my Facebook newsfeed changed! Call it a crazy coincidence or their algorithms are REALLY creepy, but it’s a somewhat different look. 9to5mac.com reports that The comment section now looks more like chat bubbles…and speaking of chat, now, the chat has its own column instead of the pop up from the bottom. Watch for profile pics to go circular, and updated Like, Comment, and Share buttons, among other things. The changes are being rolled out gradually…so you may not see them for a while yet.

As if there wasn’t enough buzz about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8….despite the demise by fire of the popular Note 7 last year, they are adding an exclusive color that won’t be available on the S8. According to bgr.com, it’s ‘Deep Sea Blue.’ The S8 has a Coral Blue in partnership with Best Buy, but the note will be sporting the Deep Sea Blue all by itself. It debuts next week, and should be have a princely price near $1000.

While it is expected to lose sales in the run up to the iPhone 8 rollout next month, and right after due to shortages, iPhone 7 stays on the top of the heap as the world’s most popular smartphone in the June Quarter. Macrumors.com says Apple shipped 16.9 million iPhone 7 handsets and 15.1 million 7 Plus models (for 2nd place) in the quarter. The Galaxy S8 was third at 10.2 million and the S8 Plus was 4th with 9 million even.
Xiaomi was 5th with 5.5 million, then there’s everybody else. Don’t cry too hard for the also rans…they accounted for 303.7 million smartphones!


iPhone Claws Back Market Share from Android; Tesla’s Gigafactory Will Be Solar Powered; Amazon Prime Bows Cashback Rewards Visa Card

According to the latest data, Apple’s iPhone picked up 6.4% in market share in the US for the 3 months ending last November. 9to5mac.com also says that Apple did the same in 7 of 9 other key markets. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and 6s were the 3 most popular phones in the US for the period, combining for 31.3%. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge where next, grabbing 28.9% share. Apple snagged a whopping 9.1% in the UK…mainly crushing the hopes of Windows phones.They did drop 5.4% in China to local brands and lost out 3.2% in Germany, where Android picked up share.

Theverge.com reports that Tesla plans to power its Gigafactory with a 70 megawatt solar installation on the roof! That would make it 7 times larger than the present largest rooftop solar array. Excess power picked up would be stored by Powerpack storage units for use after dark, etc. The solar panels will all come from Solar City of course. Tesla acquired them last year.

If you need a reason to spend even more money with Amazon, have they got a deal for you. TechCrunch.com says Amazon is partnering with Chase to offer Prime members an Amazon Prime Visa card with 5% cash back on Amazon purchases. The card would give 2% back for restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% elsewhere. There’s no annual fee on the card. Amazon is believed to have between 58 and 69 million members, or roughly half of US households. The card is available today.


Samsung Offers $$ To Keep Note 7 Owners in the Fam; Chipmaker Revenue Shows iPhone 7’s Selling Well; Google Pixel Phones on Verizon Get Android Updates With Unlocked Phones

Samsung is making the extra effort to hold on to customers burned (some literally) but the burning and exploding Galaxy Note 7. They will give $100 credit to exchange one for a Galaxy S7 Edge or other Samsung device. Engadget.com says this comes on the official Consumer Product Safety Commission recall of all Note 7’s. There have been 96 battery issues in the US alone since mid-August when the Note rolled out.

Chipmaker TSMC is reporting record profit and sales in Q3, and has raised its forecast for 2016 revenue. Yeah, so? This points to strong iPhone 7 sales, according to 9to5mac.com. After crunching the known numbers, like what percentage of TSMC business comes from the A10 chip in the new iPhones, it looks like Apple shipments of iPhone 7 models will be around 82 million…notably higher than earlier estimates. In other words, it’s not the boring dog of an iPhone a lot of the tech press predicted!

Contrary to earlier reports, Google says Pixel phones on the Verizon system will get Android updates simultaneously with unlocked phones. 9to5google.com reports that this indicates Google will be pushing out the updates like Apple does on iOS, not delivering them to Verizon, who many feared would sit on them.


Possible iPhone 7 Headphone Jack Solution; Refreshed MacBook Pros Due in October

iphone-7-fuze-case

Although I haven’t really had an issue with it, many people are still plenty upset about the lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and Plus. Personally, I’ve used some 30 buck wireless Bluetooth ones, and tried out my quality wired ‘cans,’ and just used the dongle Lightening adapter. If you are one of those people who are feeling the pain, Fuze may have a solution coming in the next months. Thenextweb.com reports that Fuze is an indiegogo project that resembles a Mophie Juicepack battery pack case. The difference is…besides the Lightening jack at the bottom, there’s also a 3.5 mm audio jack. When it comes out, you can double your battery life, charge, and listen to your wired phones to your heart’s content. It will be $69 retail, but super early bird backers can get it for $49 if you head to indiegogo.com. Choose from white, Black, gold, rose gold, or blue.

Apple is set to freshen MacBook Pro models the end of October. The latest word, according to macrumors.com, is the they will have the previously touted OLED touch bar replacing the function keys at the top of the keyboard, a fingerprint scanner for security like the iPhones have, USB-C ports, and a thinner profile.


10 Android Phones On Sale Now at Amazon; There’s An App For That-Connected Weed Vaporizers

So you can’t go for the new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, and you’re still iffy about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, even with the safe batteries. There are 10 unlocked phones spotted by bgr.com on Amazon with big discounts today and tomorrow. Some examples: For fire sale price, there’s the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 for 99 bucks. Another C-note buys you the $400 Nesbit Robin at half off. You can pick up the $650 LG G5 for $479. You get the idea. Go get ‘em, bargain hunters!

On the higher end of the scale, Pax considers itself the Apple of vaporizers. Mashable.com reports that they’ve introduced 2 new app connected weed vaporizers. The Pax 3 heats up in 15 seconds, a full half minute faster than its predecessor, and recharges in and hour instead of 90 minutes. You can swap between flower and ‘waxy concentrates’ in seconds. The app will allow users to customize flavor and vapor volume by setting the precise temperature, as well as customizable LED color themes, interactive games and the ability to lock their device. $274.99 and you get haptic feedback and a choice of colors…10 year warranty, too.

The Pax Era uses pre-loaded cartridges, so it’s handy for when you’re on a hike or on the town. It also connects with the app. The down side? Right now you can only buy Pax Pods in Colorado or with a medical card in California. The Era is $59.99, with the Pods about $40. Everything should be out next month.


Galaxy S8 Rumors; iPhone 7 Models Sold Out in Stores

Battery fire issues on the Note 7 aside, Samsung is pressing ahead with the Galaxy S8 series. According to 9to5google.com, there are now official code names of Dream and Dream2, and it looks like the whole Galaxy line will go to wraparound Edge screens. On the down side, Samsung is probably going to not only ditch the headphone jack like Apple, but roll out their own proprietary port like Apple’s Lightening. That would allow them to charge accessory makers a licensing fee…and irritate all of us, who will now have to carry around Lightening, USB-C, and Samsung adapters everywhere. Since the Note 7 battery fire issue, it’s looking like Samsung will move the rollout up a week or two…maybe even to a month ahead of Mobile World Congress.

Yes, there’s very slim inventory of iPhone 7 models for stores tomorrow. TechCrunch.com says no Jet Black phones are available, and iPhone 7 Plus models are completely sold out. Your best bet is to order online and wait. If you really want one tomorrow, try a phone carrier store or other non-Apple store…they sometimes have a few phones early in the morning.


Chevy Bolt Will Break the 200 Mi Ceiling; Netflix-Caps Are Dumb; T-Mobile iPhone Preorders Explode, Longer Tweets in Days

Chevrolet has announced that the Bolt…the smaller, all electric sibling to the hybrid Volt….will have a range of 238 miles. Engadget.com notes that 200 miles is the ‘sweet spot,’ and cars having range exceeding that seem to ease driver fear of being stranded. Chevy says the Bolt will be in showrooms before the end of the year. The Tesla Model 3 is still about a year away from hitting the roads.

Days ago, Netflix wrote the FCC, imploring the Federal Cookie Company…as broadcasters have loved to call it…to disallow data caps. Bgr.com reports that Netflix argues caps serve no legitimate purpose and ‘are an ineffective management tool,’ really serving as a way for Comcast and TWC to stifle competition…primarily from services like Netflix. The Federal Communications Commission…which generally moves with the speed of an elderly snail…has yet to respond.

For months, the tech media has whined that the iPhone 7 would be SO boring with not changing the case design that sales would tank. According to appleinsider.com, T-Mobile’s CEO says sales of the iPhone 7 are quadruple that of the iPhone 6. So far on T-Mobile, Matte Black is the most popular color…that’s what I have coming. CEO Legere has a Jet Black one on the way.

The wait is nearly over…next Monday, Twitter’s longer Tweets will finally be live. Theverge.com reminds us that media attachments…including images, videos, polls, etc, as well as quoted Tweets, will no longer count towards the 140 character limit. Usernames at the beginning of Tweets will also no longer be counted. Go crazy, Twitterati!


Some iPhone 7 Plus Models Sold Out in Hours; FAA- Advises Against Galaxy Note 7s on Planes

Apple put the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus on pre-sale at midnight Friday morning. In less than 4 hours, according to bgr.com, some models were sold out. The 2 larger capacity iPhone 7 Plus models in the new glossy Jet Black are now backordered until November. Plus models in black or silver, it’s a 2-3 week wait. The Jet Black 128 gig iPhone 7 is also looking at a November ship date. Most of the iPhone 7 models can still be ordered for delivery next Friday. Of course, with Apple, it’s always a question of whether a shortage is from high demand, Apple’s mis-calculating demand, or artificially caused to keep the ‘reality distortion field’ going! I went with black over the Jet Black, which Apple warned may scratch more easily.

The gift that keeps on giving from Samsung. The FAA has strongly advised not to use or charge a Galaxy Note 7 on planes, due to possible battery explosions. Recode.net says it’s not an outright ban. That’s good, since Samsung is recalling the recently released handset that’s been reviewed by many as the best ever Android device. Fliers are also advised not to place the phones in checked baggage. The recall just days before Apple’s iPhone 7 rollout has to have Samsung reeling. Still, it remains the best Android handset, and with the company in the process of replacing 2.5 million of them, the problem should clear up relatively quickly.


Apple’s Event-Dual Cameras and High Gloss and AirPods…Oh, My!

Apple unveiled the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus to the world yesterday, and generally the leaks were pretty well accurate. They have a faster processor with 4 cores…which, interestingly, work in 2 pairs for either performance or power saving. The Home button now doesn’t move (or leak or break) and uses Haptic feedback to let you know if picked up your touch or presses, the phones are dust and water resistant, and our beloved and venerable headphone jack is gone. Screens are 25% brighter, and produce cinema grade color.

The big headlines, as noted by macrumors.com and others, are new glossy piano black (which Apple calls Jet Black) and matte black colors joining gold and rose gold, and improved cameras. The 7 gets a faster camera with image stabilization previously only available on the Plus, and the Plus gets the dual lens setup…one is wide angle, the other a telephoto.

The latter has a 2 power optical zoom and 10 power digital zoom. All the rear cams are 12 megapixel, with the selfie cam now bumped to 7 megapixel. The zoom is a welcome addition, as is better low light performance. The Plus will also get a software update that will allow portraits with the subject in sharp focus, and a blurred background, like pros have had on SLR and DSLR cameras.

Preorders start tomorrow, and memory has been bumped to 32, 128, and 256 gigs. The 32 gig 7 starts at $649, or $27 a month with the upgrade plan.

The ‘one more thing’, if there was one, was the new wireless headphones called AirPods. They feature internal chips for a claimed 5 hours of use, simpler pairing across Apple devices, tight Siri integration, and a charging case that can recharge them up to 4 times before needing to plug in. Apple will provide a Lightening to mini phone jack adapter for those of us with many sets of wired headphones and other accessories that need one. The $159 AirPods will be out late October, and it remains to be heard if Apple has really solved the issues of drops and noisy audio over Bluetooth to make AirPods truly worthy of replacing high end headphones.


New iPhone Color; Google Maps & Pokemon; Galaxy Note Blows Up in Samsung’s Face; Google Self-Drivers Spot Cops; Netflix Grabs 3 ‘Mythbusters

Tomorrow, we’ll know for sure, but for weeks, the tech media has been complaining that there’s nothing cool about the upcoming iPhone 7…not even a dual lens camera that may allow focusing after the fact. Now, they’re all excited about a….color. Mac rumors.com says there will be a glossy ‘piano black’ color. Never let it be said the tech media isn’t shallow!

Google Maps has added a Catching Pokemon feature to the timeline. According to thenextweb.com, you can now show in Maps when and where you’ve been Playing Pokemon Go.

In an amazing gift to Apple, Samsung is recalling all Galaxy Note 7’s..up to 2.5 million, due to batteries that can explode when charging! What has been reviewed as the best Android ever will now be recalled just as the iPhone 7 is rolled out. Bgr.com reports that you can either take it back to where you bought it, or call Sammy at 1-800-SAMSUNG. Whether you decide to swap it for a less ‘explody’ one, or trade for a Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge, Samsung will throw in a $25 gift card.

A couple of quick notes….Google has gotten a patent for self-driving cars detection of police vehicles. Thenextweb.com says it picks up on the flashing lights. The cars will automatically move to yield.

The ‘Mythbusters’ build team is getting a show on Netflix. According to bgr.com, Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, and Grant Imahara will star in ‘The White Rabbit Project,’ which will start airing on Netflix December 9th. They’ll investigate things from science, pop culture, and history…and it’s a good bet some things will blow up. Hopefully, not any Samsung batteries.