Alexa for Business; Automation vs Jobs; iPhone Batteries Getting Apple Power Management; Smart Wearables Starting to Take Off

Amazon is apparently gearing up to release a version of Alexa for business. More could be out later today at the Amazon Web Services re:Invent meetings. A CNBC report picked up by Geekwire.com says the release would focus on features and skills for workers and businesses. One tricky issue still being navigated is how to authenticate who is speaking so access can be granted based on their permissions.

On a related topic, there’s a new report out that sees up to 375 million workers displaced by AI, robots, or some other form of automation by 2030! The report was produced by the McKinsey Global Institute, which notes that displaced doesn’t mean REplaced. Some will be, but many will add new job skills…others will need to switch occupations. Full employment will be more difficult to attain. The report says what it calls ‘predictable physical work,’ including dish washing, food preparation, and protective services, will take the biggest hit. Demand will increase in India and Mexico, but the US might see 31% less jobs!

Apple is busily working on its own power management chips for iPhone batteries. According to macrumors.com, they could be out in phones in 2 years, and will give users better battery life. Cupertino could replace half the main power management chips in iPhones as soon as next year, but it might be 2019 before they are being built into all Apple mobile devices.

After a very slow start, smart wearables are beginning to take off. Cnet.com reports that global shipments of wearables hit 26.3 million devices in the third quarter of this year, up 7.3%. Most of the growth is in smart wearables…those that can run third party apps. In fact, basic wearables actually declined, but smart watches like the Apple Watch and Android Wear increased by 60%. Fitbit and Xiaomi tied for 1st place in the market, with the Apple Watch third.

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HTC Rolls Out New All Glass Phone With AI; CVS Announces Cheaper Alternative to EpiPen; Amazon Will Hire 100,000 Full-time the Next 18 Months

Getting the drop on both Samsung and Apple, HTC has made an early announcement about its new flagship phone, the U Ultra. Bgr.com reports it has a 5.7 inch screen, a small second screen next to the camera and above the main screen, AI to learn your habits and offer suggestions, and a glossy glass back. It has a 3000 mAh battery, but no headphone jack. It’s on presale today at $749, but won’t be out aside from Taiwan until March.

CVS Pharmacy has partnered with Impax Labs to make a much cheaper alternative to the EpiPen from Mylan, which has been priced at $600 brand name, $300 generic for the two pack. According to arstechnica.com, the CVS generic version of Adrenaclick will sell for $109.99, with or without insurance. A factory coupon cuts that to $9.99 for qualifying patients.

Amazon has announced that it plans 100,000 new full time jobs in the US over the next year and a half. Theverge.com says they will be in all areas of the company, but you can bet most will be in their fulfillment centers…Amazon is planning more of the warehouses around the country. While this is great news, it is likely to be much of a wash, as a number of big retailers seem to be on the verge of folding due to sagging sales…while Amazon grows at warp speed. Some analysts see the expansion as a move by Amazon to curry favor with the incoming administration.