Huawei Mate 20; Apple Patents Double Fold iPhone; Lyft $299 All-Access; Bezos-Internet a Confirmation Bias Machine

Huawei’s Mate 20 smartphone pretty well runs the table when it comes to top shelf features. Theverge.com is reporting that it sports 3 rear cams, and an in-display fingerprint sensor (something both Apple and Samsung have worked on, but are yet to perfect.) The Mate 20 also has a 3D face unlock feature like the iPhone X, Xs, etc, and has a hi-resolution 6.4 inch OLED display. It’s available today for $1443 with 6 Gigs of RAM and 128 Gigs of storage.

With Samsung allegedly looking to finally come out with its fabled folding smartphone by early next year, Apple has received another patent for a folding smartphone. This one has an interesting twist…according to 9to5mac.com, the patent is for a phone that folds in two places! It appears that this would allow an iPhone sized device to unfold into something the size of an iPad Mini. Apparently, Apple has been working with LG, to minimize leaks to arch competitor Samsung…which, as noted above, is actually ahead of Apple in the folding phone game. In Apple’s patent, it appears the phone can be folded with the display on the outside OR the inside. No clues in the patent info on when Cupertino might actually come out with such a phone, of course.

Lyft has gone fully live with their subscription service. The All-Access plan is now widely available for $299 a month. Engadget.com says for that, you get 30 trips a month of up to $15 in value (you pay for anything over that). There’s also a 5% discount on additional trips. If it works for you, you can sign up today, and it should be available to all US customers by the end of the week. Lyft is offering the plan as an alternative to owning a car, and time will tell if this actually moves enough people out of ownership and into full time ride sharing.

At the Wired 25 Conference Monday, Jeff Bezos noted that the internet…in its current configuration…is basically a ‘confirmation bias machine.’ Businessinsider.com reports that Bezos expressed concern that some of the web’s tech is very useful to autocratic regimes ‘to enforce their will.’ He fears that the confirmation bias leads to more and more tribalism. On the other hand, the Amazon CEO pointed out that something similar happened with the proliferation of books, and humanity survived that. He said ‘The last thing we’d ever want to do is stop the progress of new technologies.’

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iPhones May Get USB-C Ports; Microsoft Revamps Office; Tesla Laying Off 9%; Big Names Back Better Battery Quest

After going all-in on USB-C on the MacBook Pro line, it looks like Apple may be getting ready to retire the Lightening connectors on the upcoming iPhones in favor of the more universally used connection. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple may also include an 18 watt charger to take advantage of quick charging…which the current phones are already capable of, but only with 3rd party chargers. It’s worth noting that this rumor comes from Digitimes, which doesn’t have the stellar accurate leak record of the likes of KGI Securities. That said, Apple has run with the Lightening port since 2012, so a change is more likely than not.

Microsoft is porting over its Fluent Design system from Windows 10 to Office, in an effort to simplify them for the some billion users of the productivity suite. According to theverge.com, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook will all get a new, simplified ribbon that is smaller and easier to use. There are new animations, icons that are more accessible, and more. The goal is to modernize Office, and make it more intuitive. The changes will hit the main desktop versions first, but also will be brought over to the web versions. They should appear on the apps for Windows next month, and on Macs by August. Microsoft also promises and increase in speed for the productivity suite.

As first indicated last month, Tesla has begun laying off salaried employees as they move to what Elon Musk calls ‘flattening the management structure’, and a ‘thorough reorganization’ of the company aimed at helping Tesla achieve profitability by the end of this year. Electrek.co notes that as many as 3,500 employees could be let go. No line workers will be involved in the layoffs, as Tesla continues to ramp up Model 3 production, and they will still be hiring ‘mission critical’ people. After the Solar City acquisition, Tesla laid off about 20% of that workforce, cutting duplicate positions and restructuring. They are also not continuing the residential sales agreement with Home Depot…although those employees will have the opportunity to move to Tesla retail locations.

Billion dollar startup Breakthrough Energy Ventures has dived into a couple startups aimed at power storage. Form Energy is working on novel chemistries for low-cost, long-term, high-density batteries, and Quidnet Energy is working on storing energy in highly compressed water. Geekwire.com says Breakthrough is backed by some really big players in tech: Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma. The fund was started a couple years ago, but the two energy storage tech startups are two of the first investments revealed by Breakthrough. Cheap, efficient energy storage will allow power generated by renewable energy sources to be stored for use 24/7 on the energy grid.


Microsoft Thanks ‘MacBook’ Disappointment for Great Sales; Honda Teases Electric Car with AI; Gates & Others Start Alt Energy Venture Fund

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November was a banner month for Microsoft Surface consumer sales. According to techcrunch,com, they credit ‘Macbook disappointment’ for the bump. Apple, on the other hand, says they got more orders for the new Pro with limited ports than any previous Macbook Pro. Of course, Microsoft rolled out a freshened Surface book and the new, high line Surface Studio, which has gotten a lot of buzz.

Honda has dropped a picture of it’s experimental electric vehicle called the NeuV. The verge.com says they will show it at CES January 5th, and are saying it will come equipped with artificial intelligence of some kind built into what Honda calls an ‘emotion engine.’ The engine is a set of technologies that will “enable machines to artificially generate their own emotions.” So, does this mean sometimes your car will act like Grumpy Cat, and other times like an excited puppy? Stay tuned.

Bill Gates, Jack Ma, and other tech giants have formed a billion dollar tech venture fund to back cutting edge energy technologies, with the goal of searching for breakthroughs that they hope will reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to almost zero. Others involved are John Doerr, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson. Geekwire.com says Gates will be Chairman of the billion dollar Microsoft Ventures fund.