Vivo’s Dual Display NEX Phone; OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition; Amazon Gives Alexa Location Based Reminders & Routines; Daimler Buying $23 Billion Worth of Batteries for EVs

Vivo has come out with what they call an all-screen NEX smartphone. According to engadget.com, there’s NO selfie cam…but you won’t need one, they say. You can flip the phone around and just shoot your selfie with the pop up back cam…the back of the phone has a rear screen so you can set up your shot! The phone is called the NEX Dual Display Edition. The phone is out in China for $725 December 29th.

OnePlus has showed off a fancy new McLaren Edition 6T. The phone comes with 10 Gigs of RAM and 256 Gigs of storage, according to businessinsider.com. Part of the back is carbon fiber, and it has a beautiful but tough carbon fiber case….and of course, a racing stripe and the McLaren logo. Even with the vanity edition tweaked by the performance car maker, the phone is just $700…$300 less than an iPhone Xs…which doesn’t have that kind of memory or storage, and comes with no case at all to protect that glass back!

A major update has hit Alexa devices. Amazon has opened up new features, including location based routines and reminders, timer enhancements, app notifications, email support, and more. 9to5mac.com says the update was announced in September, but has just rolled out. An example given would be ‘Alexa, remind me to feed the dogs when I get home.’ When the Alexa device detects your phone inside the house, it will remind you. You can also program multiple routines with wait times…like turning on lights when you get up, but pausing for 20 minutes or so before switching on music or news.

Mercedes parent Daimler is going all-in on electric vehicles. The German giant is going to buy $23 billion worth of battery cells by 2030 to go into Mercedes-Benz EVs and commercial trucks. The company presently has supplier deals with LG, SK Innovation, and China’s CATL. Daimler plans to launch 130 electric and hybrid vehicles by 2022, and a number of commercial trucks, busses, and vans, too. Battery production for the cars with all those lithium-ion cells will be in 8 factories on 3 continents.


Microsoft’s MacBook Air Answer; Daimler Starts Building Huge Battery Factory; iPhone 9—Yes, 9 Rumor

Microsoft has rolled out an $800 MacBook Air competitor. According to business insider. com, it will have 13.5 hours of battery life. Redmond has ditched numbers, the device will just be called Surface Pro, and it is up for preorder today, with the release set for June 15th. It will run 7th generation Intel processors. Keep in mind you will need the added keyboard, which Microsoft says is improved…that will set you back another $130. For another additional charge, they’ve added LTE connectivity. Microsoft isn’t even calling it a tablet anymore in their marketing…they are pitching it as a laptop.

Tesla has their Gigafactory, but that doesn’t mean other car makers are sitting on their hands. In Germany, Daimler has started construction on a half billion dollar lithium ion battery factory. Arstechnica.com says the Mercedes-Benz maker will end up with a plant 4 times as large as their current battery factory, run by their Accumotive division. It will be in production by mid 2018, and they plan to produce batteries that can take a car a whopping 621 miles between charges!

Yeah, the iPhone 8 won’t even be out until fall, but here’s a rumor from macrumors.com about the iPhone 9! Apparently, it will launch with 5.28 inch and 6.46 inch OLED screens. This is up from the expected 5.8 inch screen on the iPhone 8, and 4.7 and 5.5 inch displays on the 7 and 7 Plus (and expected on the S models.) It looks like the iPhone 9 models will be about the physical size of the present ones, only with ‘wall to wall’ screens, and nearly no bezel.


Google Partnering with Ford on Self-Driving Cars; Sony Working On 40% Longer-Lasting Battery

Google and Ford are partnering to build self-driving cars, according to a report by Yahoo Autos. Businessinsider.com says the deal should be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. The joint venture will create a company that builds self-driving cars using Google technology. The entity will be legally separate from Ford, partly to protect Ford from potential liability. Google has been testing out their odd looking little self driving cars on city streets for a couple years now. Ford and numerous other car makers have been hard at work on self-driving car tech. The partnership would represent Google’s first success enlisting an established car-maker to adopt its technology.

Lithium-ion batteries have been powering our phones and laptops for a long time, but there are other technologies that may work better. Sony played a key part in popularizing Li-ion batteries in the 1990s. Mashable.com reports they are now working on new, sulfur-based batteries, which could offer up to 40% better energy density per volume. That means battery life would last roughly 40% longer.The first Li-S batteries were built in the late 2000s, almost none are commercially available today, mostly due to the sulfur easily degrading. It’s unclear exactly how Sony plans to solve this problem with its new batteries. Sony is apparently also working on magnesium-sulfur (Mg-S) batteries, which are potentially both more efficient and cheaper than today’s batteries.
Sony reportedly aims to have the new batteries ready for commercial production by 2020.


Next Year’s Android Smartphones Getting a Big Boost

Qualcomm has already said the next Snapdragon 820 chips will boost charging speeds…from dead to 80% charged in 90 minutes, to a lightening fast 30 minutes. Now, 9to5google.com reports that the 820 chip will increase maximum LTE download speeds by one third…from 450 megabytes per second to 600, and upload speeds will double to 150 megabytes per second. Look for the Snapdragon 820 in your next hero level Android smartphone. All US carriers are supposed to be in position to allow the upload and download speeds in 2016.

Researchers at a Japanese university, building on a concept from Stanford researchers, have built a nearly transparent lithium ion battery…something right out of Tony Stark’s Iron Man! According to bgr.com, besides being practically transparent, the battery can also charge via solar power. The battery was demoed at Innovation Japan early this month, and so far, no word on when it might be commercially available.


Dyson Hoovers Up Battery Co. That Doubles Battery Life

We reported earlier about some innovative batteries that double the life of Lithium Ion batteries. Now, geek.com reports that Dyson has vacuumed up Skati3, the company that makes them. Look for the solid state batteries in Dyson’s portable vacuums, and later in smartphones and other gadgets.

Google’s Chromecast has made your smartphone into a really great TV remote…but what if you left it in the other room? According to techcrunch.com, you can use your infrared TV remote to pause and un-pause streaming videos.It works on MOST streams and MOST TVs.

Nintendo is finally poised for something of a comeback. Bgr.com says they’re going really big into mobile games, joining Sega and Square. Even with free apps, mobile games make a mint from in-app purchases…as Sega and Square have discovered.