Microsoft has enabled Skype to work on Amazon’s Alexa devices. The rollout should be complete this week. Theverge.com reports that Echo-type hardware will be able to handle basic calling, and the Echo Show will include video support for Skype. Users will also be able to call mobile and land lines using SkypeOut, and call their contacts by simply asking Alexa to ‘Call Siri on Skype.’ OK, not really Siri…unless maybe you have a friend with that name, which would be nearly as confusing as having a pal named Alexa.
Apple has pared back production orders for the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and XR, due to ‘lower than expected demand,’ according to a Wall Street Journal report picked up by macrumors.com. Somewhat surprisingly, the biggest cuts are for the XR, which has been whacked by a third of the original 70 million units originally scheduled. Some suppliers are calling the handsets a flop, but with Apple reporting record breaking revenue of $61.5 billion on iPhones during the launch quarter, that’s a stretch. Since Apple is going to quit reporting unit numbers for iPhone sales going forward it will make it even harder to track sales…but competitor Samsung hasn’t reported unit numbers in some time.
SpaceX has gotten FCC approval to launch over 7,000 satellites. Cnet.com says they will be in very low earth orbit, and will give the company the ability to provide global satellite broadband service. The FCC has also signed off on requests from Kepler Communications, Telesat Canada, and LeoSat MA to offer broadband in the US by satellite.
SiriusXM Buying Pandora; Walmart Using Oculus Go For Employee Training; A Stake in Airbnb for Hosts; Apple Adding Depth Control During Photo ShootingPosted: September 24, 2018
SiriusXM is to buy Pandora via an all stock deal, with the value set at $3.5 billion. According to cnbc.com, the deal includes a provision where Pandora can potentially enter into a better deal if they can find it. Pandora claims about 6 million premium subscribers. It’s possible another deal could come in for more, but Apple and Spotify have looked at the streamer already, and didn’t bite. Barring an angel stepping in, the deal with SiriusXM will close the first quarter of 2019.
Walmart is putting Oculus Go VR headsets in all its stores nationwide, to be used in employee training programs. Zdnet.com reports that there should be around 17,000 of the virtual reality headsets deployed in Walmarts around the country by the end of the year. Walmart plans to train on new technology, compliance, and ’soft skills’ like empathy and customer service.
Airbnb has reportedly sent a letter to the SEC asking the government agency to allow offering equity in the company to hosts. Engadget.com says basically this would allow shares to go to gig economy workers, not just investors and staff. Uber has asked for this kind of deal more than once, but in Airbnb’s case, they are asking for a rule change to allow it, not just an exception. So far, the SEC has not responded.
The new iPhone Xs and Xs Max have a cool feature for the bokeh portrait effect. When the phones rolled out, Apple announced that users could adjust the depth of field on an image after shooting it. Now, according to 9to5mac.com, Apple may add to this in an upcoming software update. Apparently, they are testing letting users adjust the depth of field while shooting a picture. The feature may come later this year in iOS 12.1 or 12.2, according to reports.
Samsung Leak-4 Versions of Galaxy S10; iPhone Xs & Xs Max Ram & Battery Info; Fitbit Care Service; Woof! Sony’s Aibo Robot DogPosted: September 19, 2018
The Samsung Galaxy S9 hasn’t set any records so far…in fact, it’s the slowest selling Galaxy S phone series since 2012. That may be changing, though. Bgr.com says a new leak points to as any as 4 Galaxy S10 models! All will be powered by 7 nanometer chips like the new iPhones. It appears all will also be ‘full screen’ designs, again like Apple’s phones. On top of that, besting Apple at least this time around, there will be at least one with a triple-lens camera…AND a dual lens front selfie cam, too! The phones should rock an ultrasonic fingerprint sensor…it will live behind the display, so no fooling around to find the sensor on the back. There will be a new Chapter model, with slightly less dramatic specs, plus the main phone…with a 5.8 inch super AMOLED display, a bigger one with a 6.44 inch screen, and the 5 cameras, finally…a 5G model! We may see all of these, plus the long-rumored folding Samsung shoe at CES in Las Vegas this coming January.
Thanks to China’s Ministry of Industry, we now know the memory size of the new iPhones and their battery size. Macrumors.com reports that both the new iPhone Xs and Xs Max have 4 Gigs of RAM…the upcoming XR has 3 Gigs. The Xs Max sports the biggest battery ever in an Apple handset…3174 mAh, while the XR will have 2942 mAh. The Xs loses battery capacity compared to the X, going from 2716 down to 2658 mAh, a drop of 2.2%. Apple touts 90 more minutes of use time from the Xs Max over the old X, but several early testers say they are doing noticeably better than that.
Apple is far from alone when it comes to wearables getting into the health market…Fitbit has launched Fitbit Care, a service that will coat on staying well…whether it comes to slogging through your fitness plan or managing diseases. According to theverge.com, the service is a premium product designed for health care customers or employers and health systems that use Fitbit to keep tabs on employee health (and keep costs down.) There’s a new app (of course) called Fitbit Plus. It processes data from your Fitbit and other medical devices like blood pressure monitors. The app also features a social platform. First users are those with health insurance from Humana, which already provides customers with Fitbits. We will probably see a number of other companies dive in now that both Apple’s Watch and Fitbit devices have embraced health whole hog…or maybe that’s half-hog….or vegan, artificial hog.
Grab your credit card, and swallow hard…Sony’s revamped Aibo robot dog is up for pre-order in the US. Engadget.com says the adorable pup for early adapters, robot fans, and dog lovers that are allergic to actual pets ships mid-December. You’ll get Aibo, an ‘aibone,’ a pink ball, paw pads, and 3 years of AI cloud service…all for the small fee of (gulp) $2900! That’s more than a couple vet visits and a year’s supply of dog food for most! If you have the nearly 3 grand to throw down, hurry…it’s a limited edition!
Apple is about to ship their 2 billionth iOS device…2 billion iOS devices, first billion dollar company. Suppose there’s a connection here?
It will be called Watch Series 4, despite rumors to the contrary.
The display is bigger, and curves over the corners. Screens are 35% and 32% larger, but the watch is thinner, and has thinner bezels to get more screen space. New faces display multiple time zones or more health and fitness complications. There are faces that display sports scores, some spacey ones with moving graphics.
The digital crown now includes haptic feedback….it’s more precise. The new speaker is 50% louder, and the mic has been moved to the opposite side from the speaker so you won’t get feedback.
New back is now ceramic and sapphire. Radio signals can pass through both the front and back, giving better coverage for calls.
New faster processor, dual core 64 bit with 2X faster performance.
New accelerometer and gyroscope can detect hard falls. It will pop up a screen that says the fall is detected, do you want to call for help. If you don’t in a minute, it will call 911 for you.
The heart rate sensor has been upgraded. It will now notify of a low heart rate, it can screen heart rhythm and will notify you if it detects AFib. The optical sensor does this. There is a new electrical sensor that will allow you to take an electrocardiogram! This ECG sensor is a first in consumer devices. Open the app, put your finger on the digital crown. It takes only 30 seconds. If things are normal, it will tell you sinus rhythm. If you have atrial fibrillation, it will also tell you. It will save as a chart printout like you get when you have an ECG in a clinic so your doctors can read it. It saves those as a pdf.
The monitor has received clearance from the FDA! It should be available later this year. The health data is encrypted on the device and in the cloud.
Battery life is the same 18 hours as Series 3.
Colors are: Silver, Gold, & Space Grey. Order on Friday the 14th, available on the 21st. Watch OS 5 drops on September 17th.
Series 4 starts at $399, Cellular at $499. The older Series 3 will be $279.
It will be the Xs (small s…the only thing we didn’t know for sure about the name.) They say Ten s…most people will call it the Xs….excess, and excess Max, LOL!
Surgical grade stainless steel bezel. New gold finish. So gold, silver, and space grey. It will stand 2 meters in the water for 30 minutes.
The Xs Super Retina OLED display is 5.8” . The display has a 60% better display than the X. The 6.5” version Max is Apple’s biggest display ever. It’s the same size handset as the 8 Plus, but with bigger display. You can see split views on the larger phone.
They have widened the stereo field for the speakers over previous models.
It has faster algorithms and a faster secure enclave chip, so will recognize your face and unlock the phone faster.
The new chip is called the A12 Bionic. It’s a 7 nanometer chip…the first ever. 6.9 billion transistors. 6 Core CPU, 4 Core GPU, and Neural engine. The new neural engine is 8 cores, up from 2 in last year’s iPhone X. 5 trillion operations per second.
Apps will launch 30% faster.
You can get the new Xs and Xs Max with 512 Gigs of storage.
Apple says the new phone can do real time machine learning, which is important for photography and Animoji.
Siri shortcuts will allow you to combine tasks…kind of like using computer macros to run multiple tasks.
Game developer Bethesda Game Studios showed off capability of the new system with their Elder Scrolls Blades.
Nexteam showed a new app called Homecourt that uses the camera and processors to check 6 metrics for every basketball shot taken…you can analyze your form, release time, and other insight into improving your game.
Directive Games demoed use of AR to emulate playing an arcade game with friends. They will have a game out later this year.
Apple is staying with 2 lenses…12MP wide and 12MP telephoto lenses… f1.8 lens with a bigger sensor. The sensors are twice as fast as before. It does record in true stereo sound for video.
Now, the Image signal processor uses the Neural engine. Should give better red eye fix, and better result on hair and things like glasses. They are introducing Smart HDR. It will detect motion, and not only shoot instantly when you hit the button, but it will shoot multiple shots and use the engine to merge the best of each for a single great shot.
They have improved the portrait mode and stage lighting mode. Bokeh has been improved for better background blur in portraits.
There’s a depth slider in portrait mode you you can adjust the depth of field AFTER taking the pic!
The new Xs and Max have Dual Sim card tech one physical and an e-SIM …this enables you to set up two different phone numbers, use two different plans, or use one number for travel and another at home. The phone will show you if it is…for example…the home line or business line. (China will get two actual physical SIM cards.)
iPhone XR….The new, cheaper model. It’s aluminum, with the LCD screen, and white, black, blue, coral, and yellow colors. [Also (Product)Red.]
It only has one camera lens, but the screen goes edge to edge, and the phone has Face ID. Its 6.1” display is dubbed “Liquid Retina.”
No 3D Touch but it has Haptic Touch like the MacBook Pro. It also runs the A12 Bionic chip.
12MP wide angle camera with the bigger sensor, but only has the one lens…no ‘telephoto.’ You still have support for the Tru-Depth camera in the front.
This will have an hour and a half more battery life than iPhone 8 Plus.
$749 for base iPhone XR— Order October 19, ships October 26th.
$999 for base iPhone Xs
$1099 for base iPhone Xs Max
Preorders for both this Friday, ship next Friday.
Prices for the older phones now will be: iPhone 7 from $449 and 8 from $599.
Also covered: updates to HomePod software and Apple TV OS. Both those updates drop next Monday.
Mac OS Mojave will be out September 24th.
Their company slogan for over 100 years, a personal motto of Gottlieb Daimler, has been ‘The best…or nothing.’ Now, Mercedes is going to reveal their first production electric SUV on September 4th. According to engadget.com, a very brief video clip dropped of the vehicle over the weekend. It does have a grill…unnecessary in an e-vehicle, but perhaps necessary from a branding standpoint…making it clear that it’s unmistakably a Mercedes. Interestingly, except for the tiny script on the crest on the hood, Mercedes-Benz has never put their actual name on a vehicle in the past 70 years…only the iconic 3 pointed star! The e-SUV will roll with a 400HP motor system and 70kWh battery pack. It will boast 0-62mph in under 5 seconds and a 310 mile maximum range. It should hit the roadways in 2019.
The smart speaker market is exploding, but no one knows how much longer it will sustain such growth. Geekwire.com reports that an analysis by Canalys estimates that in the second quarter of this year, the market grew 187% worldwide year over year, with shipments of 16.8 million smart speaker devices. Amazon still commands half the market, Google now has a quarter, and the final quarter is divided up amongst Chinese players and Apple. Canalys sees Google shipping more than Amazon in Q2, 32.3% to 24.5%, but others disagree. Futuresource and Strategy Analytics say Amazon is still on top. The latter gave amazon 41% and Google 27.6% in 2nd quarter, so we’ll have to stay tuned to see who actually comes out on top when the smoke all clear.
Google will roll out the Pixel 3 at an event in New York City on October 9th, according to a couple Bloomberg sources, in a story picked up by 9to5google.com. In addition to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, we should also see a 2nd generation Pixelbook, a new set of Pixel Bud earphones, and a Pixel Watch running the Wear OS.
We are pretty certain Apple will roll out its 3 new iPhone models on September 12th, but no one is certain about the name. Macrumors.com says Apple has considered ’S’ since this would ordinarily be an ’S’ year for them…they may have more significant changes next year….BUT is waffling on naming the OLED models that. Maybe that’s due to how it sounds. Although the ‘X’ model was supposed to be TEN, most people called it X. An Xs model could bring snark and ridicule…say it fast…Xs….excess! Well, a lot of people feel that way about Apple’s prices! Anyway, whatever it is should roll out September 12th.