iPhone X Made Bank in 4th Quarter; New iPhone SE Soon; Facebook’s EU Privacy Compliance; Company Using Facebook for Massive Facial Recognition Database

There has been so much coverage about what a big flop the iPhone X is…now, comes word that the flagship handset brought in 35% of total worldwide iPhone profits in the 4th quarter….and really only 2 months of that quarter! Macrumors.com reports that Counterpoint Research crunched the numbers, and also found that the handset generated five times the profit of over 600 Android OEMs that quarter! For comparison at Apple, the iPhone 8 brought in 19.1% of the profits, and the iPhone 8 Plus 15.2%.

The diminutive (by today’s standards) and dated iPhone SE only amounted to .9% of Apple’s iPhone profits in the 4th quarter last year, and now it looks like it will be getting a long-overdue refresh. According to bgr.com, Apple has registered a number of new model numbers for iPhones that will run iOS 11 with the EU and with Russia, which require them in advance. The smaller and less pricey iPhone may be out in May, or around WWDC in June. It will have greatly improved internals, but one rumor has it staying the same on the outside, with another indicating a brand new design. At any rate, we will know in a matter of weeks.

The EU’s new privacy regs go into place next month, and Facebook has released some details about how they will comply. 9to5google.com says the US will get a watered down version, as had been previously rumored. The GDPR….General Data Protection Regulation compliance makes Facebook ask users specifically to agree to a number of things, and is not allowed to present pre-selected defaults. Three key things they must ask are to chose whether or not you want them to use data from partners to show you ads, if you want Facebook to continue to let them use info you’ve shared about political, religious, or relationship info (hint: they will still have the data!), and lastly if you will allow them to use face recognition tech (like for tagging in photos.) These are such mild requirements, don’t expect much change in the ‘watered down’ US version!

If you thought the Cambridge Analytica scandal was creepy, you’ll love this…a surveillance company founded by former Israeli intelligence officers called Terrogence has been using social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube to build a giant facial-recognition database. Mashable.com reports they’ve been at this for five years! The database is part of their facial recognition service called Face-Int. Terrogence, and its parent company Verint supply intelligence tech to the US government including the NSA and the Navy. They would not disclose whether or not the US government utilizes their face database.

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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’s iPhone SE & Smaller iPad Pro, etc; Chromecast Becomes Googlecast

If there was a ‘one more thing’ at Apple’s event yesterday, it didn’t come from Apple. The FBI put on hold it’s demand for Cupertino to crack the San Bernardino terrorist iPhone, claiming it had outside help to do so. Since two former CIA directors have said the NSA could do it, that’s a pretty good guess. Meanwhile, back in Cupertino, Apple showed the 4 inch iPhone SE, the new 9.7 inch iPad Pro model, and new Apple Watch bands. the iPhone SE is pretty much an iPhone 6S squeezed into an iPhone 5S case. It starts at $399 for the nearly useless 16 gigs of memory, and is $499 for the more useable 64 gigs. Preorders start Thursday, and it’s available March 31st.

Apple has shoehorned its iPad Pro into a smaller 9.7 inch version. You get the same 4 speakers and Apple Pencil stylus support. It weighs less than a pound, and has it’s own version of the keyboard case. The smaller Pro…Pro-ette? comes in silver, gold, space grey, and rose gold, and starts at $599 for 32 gigs. A loaded up one with the Pencil will pretty well murder a grand. It is also available for preorders starting Thursday and out on the 31st.

As expected, Apple Watch gets a so-called ‘Spring lineup’ of bands, but the big news is the price cut from $349 to $299. It’s a good guess that an Apple Watch v. 2.0 will be out in the fall with this price reduction.

Over at Google, or if you insist…Alphabet…Chromecast has morphed into Googlecast. 9to5google.com says some Vizio TVs will come with Googlecast built in, and there are some new Googlecast enabled speakers. The app is also renamed Googlecast, and the updated version will be out on Android and iOS this week.


Apple Event Moved Back a Week; Microsoft HoloLens Developer Kit Out March 30th-for 3 Grand!

Apple’s spring event will be the week of March 21st, instead of earlier, as previously reported. It’s expected that they’ll show off the 4 inch iPhone SE, with the beefed up A9 processor, Live Photos, and Apple Pay. According to 9to5mac.com, the smaller phone won’t have 3D touch like the 6 and 6 Plus. It’s supposed to have 16 gig and 64 gig models, and sell for between $400 and $500. Apple will probably drop the price of the aging 5S down to $250 or less upon rollout of the new SE model.

Preorders have started for Microsoft’s developer edition today. It will start shipping March 30th, for a princely $3000! Microsoft didn’t say when the consumer version would be available. Theverge.com says the HoloLens will be bundled with 7 apps and games for developers. The 30th is also the date for Microsoft’s Build developer conference in San Francisco…tickets sold out in less than a minute!