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.

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Google Announces Native Android ‘Foldables’ Support; Coming-Facebook 10 Minute Grace Period to Unsend Messages; Mercedes’ AI Package Delivery Tech

With a maker in China already having released a folding smartphone, Samsung releasing more about their Galaxy F, and LG on the verge of unveiling one, Google today announced Android support for a ‘foldables’ category. 9to5google.com reports that the new category of phone that unfolds into a tablet will have native Android support, allowing for makers to give you a phone with a screen like we all have, but unfolding to reveal a larger, phablet screen on the inside that is double the size of the ‘outside’ screen. Google’s ‘screen continuity’ will allow you to start with an app on the outside screen, then unfold and seamlessly continue on the bigger inner screen without a hitch. Samsung has been working closely with Google on this Android category, and is expected to release the Actual Galaxy F model early next year. The internal screen is said to be 7.3 inches.

If you have sent a Facebook private message, and instantly regretted it, you will like this. For some time, Facebook has had an ‘unsend’ feature for their top brass. Now, according to engaeget.com, the social media giant may be getting set to release the feature to everyone. It’s not an hour to change your mind like What’sApp, but a 10 minute grace period ought to be enough for people who hit send, and have nearly instant remorse. Of course, even with this feature, if the recipient has already seen the message within the 10 minute period, the deletion won’t undo whatever damage has been done to your relationship with them!

The engineers and programmers at Mercedes have been experimenting with a number of different ways to help automate delivery vehicles, so the driver/delivery person can get packages to you more quickly and efficiently. Some have ended hilariously…like one with a Ferris wheel and baskets…that one ended when a gallon of milk basically exploded all over a van. Now, the German conglomerate is trialing its latest idea. Cams and sensors light up shelves, and show the driver which shelf and spot is best for a package…lighting up green. On arrival at a drop off, it lights up green again…and everything flashes red if the person grabs the wrong item. The built in sensors also allow for less hand scanning, which should shave additional time off deliveries. AI not only helps figure out the best spot in the truck for the packages, but plots out the delivery route based on what packages are loaded and their destination addresses. Mercedes thinks this system will help the likes of FedEx and UPS, but will be even more beneficial to smaller delivery company, like those indie operators contracted by Amazon.


Waze Carpool Goes Nationwide; Tesla Outsold Mercedes Last Quarter; Apple Buys Photo Cutout Spektral; Microsoft Releases Fixed October Win 10 Update

Google’s Waze has been testing out a carpool app, and now Waze Carpool is going nationwide, as a way to connect drivers and commuters. According to techcrunch.com, they are particularly focusing on 50 Amazon Fulfillment Centers. Was plans to partner with cities, businesses, and transit agencies too. The app has been trialed in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Monterey. Waze points out that 75% of commuters travel solo in a car.

Waze Carpool differs from ride-hailing services. The app lets riders and drivers find their own carpool buddies based on profiles, star ratings, number of mutual friends, and customizable filters such as gender, co-worker or classmate, and proximity to preferred route.. The app is designed to show the best matches, such as those closest to a preferred route or a coworker on the same shift, at the top of the list. Payment is handled within the app. All new riders pay $2 for the 1st 21 days, and the app is on Android and iOS now.

Tesla may actually finally turn a profit before 2019. Apparently…according to Atherton Research…they outsold Mercedes in the uS for the first time ever, and were just 2,000 vehicles short of outselling BMW! Bgr.com reports that according to data crunched by Macquarie Research, Tesla may finally be finished burning through cash and may be profitable by year’s end.

Apple generally buys companies in a low key manner, and they recently picked up Spektral, a Danish startup that makes software that can digitally separate people and objects from the background. 9to5mac.com says the deal went down in December, but word has just leaked out now. The software lets photographers digitally ‘pluck’ a person…right down to stray hairs on the head…from one green screen type background and drop them into another. In fact, even better, it can pull a person right out of a moving picture without even needing a green screen…in real time! This tech can be amazing in Apple’s hands as they push the limits on Portrait mode photos and advance in AI applications.

Better news from Redmond…Microsoft says they have fixed the October Windows 10 update, and will re-release it today. Earlier in the month, some users reported that it deleted mass numbers of their files that couldn’t be recovered. Theverge.com reports that Microsoft claims it only happened to one hundredth of one percent of users, and only those who had activated Known Folder Redirection.


Twitter-Giving Back Chron Timeline; 8 New Alexa Devices from Amazon; Galaxy Note 9 Blows Up; Mercedes Delivers e-Truck

Twitter is going to start testing a way to switch between what they think are the ‘best’ Tweets for you to pure chronological like they used to have. Engadget.com reports that the testing should start within the next few weeks. Eventually, they will have something similar to Facebook’s news feed switch between ‘Top Stories’ and ‘Most Recent.’ It can’t happen too soon!

Amazon will be dropping at least 8 new Alexa powered devices by the end of the year, according to CNBC. Look for a Microwave oven, an amplifier, a receiver, subwoofer, some sort of in-car gadget, and more. Alexa will be baked in to all. Expect Amazon to unveil at least some of the new gear at an event later this month.

Not a good sign for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9….a woman from New York says one ‘spontaneously combusted’ in her purse, echoing the old Galaxy Note 7. The story picked up by appleinsider.com came from the New York Post. Apparently, a Long Island real estate agent said her phone got ‘extremely hot’ and she dropped it into her bag. The bag smoked, caught fire, and burned up the stuff in her bag. This seems to be the only instance involving a Note 9 so far…stay tuned….

Mercedes has started delivery of the eActros electric trucks. Electrek.co says it ws to Hermes, Germany’s biggest logistics company. They are buying about 1500 all electric vans from Mercedes. The delivery vans have dual electric motors and two battery packs at 240 kWh. Even at that, it is only good for 125 miles of range with a full payload. The trucks can recharge in 3-11 hours depending on charge rate, which can run from as low as 20 kW up to 80 kW. Mercedes says Hermes is one of 20 ‘test customers’ as they work the kinks out of their all electric truck fleet.


Samsung Foldable Smartphone 2018; Xiaomi May Drop 1st 5G Phone; Mercedes Shows e-SUV; New Snap Spectacles 2 Frames

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC

Long rumored…really long rumored, the folding smartphone will finally roll out in 2018…at least that’s what DJ Koh, CEO of Samsung Mobile is saying. Macrumors.com reports that Samsung plans to drop a model of Galaxy Note that folds by the end of the year. It will have a giant screen made of the two sides inside, and a third screen when folded on the outside. The phablet is rumored to be 7 inches diagonally, but can be folded in half much like a wallet. Samsung may show it off at their developer conference in November.

Xiaomi plans to beat every other smartphone maker to the punch, releasing the first 5G smartphone in the Mi Mix 3 later this year. 5G is going to be stunning…with download speeds 10 times that of 4G. Mashable.com notes that right now, only Verizon has any 5G, and that’s just in 3 cities and only at fixed locations…so not really mobile. 5G is expected to be more widely available in 2019 and 2020, and look for many handset makers to debut 5G phones by then. For this year, though, if you want to be first on your block with 5G capability, it’s going to be Xiaomi!

Mercedes has finally given a real look at their EQC e-SUV, which was first teased as a concept car at the Paris Auto Show two years ago. According to arstechnica.com, it goes into production in 2019, and will be on sale in 2020. Mercedes is touting 402 horsepower and up to 200 miles of range on a charge. The e-SUV will roll on the same wheelbase as the hybrid or fueled GLC, but is a little tighter…a bit shorter, thinner, and sporting a bit lower profile. It will run a pair of motors…one for each axle. Mercedes says it will charge from 10% up to 80% in 40 minutes.

Snap is showing off a couple new styles of frames for its Spectacles 2 video glasses. Thee frames are still oversized, but aren’t the total round, uber-nerd shape of the originals. Engadget.com says they are on sale at Snap’s website for $199. The frames are dubbed ‘Nico’ and Veronica,’ although Snap showed both on female models!


Mercedes Teases Production e-SUV; Smart Speaker Sales Climb; Pixel 3 Rollout; iPhone Xs-or Whatever

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.


Google Home Outships Amazon Echo; Apple-VW Self-Driving Pact; Uber Self-Driving Leaves Arizona; Silicon Valley Longs to Tax Big Tech Like Seattle

In a first, Google Home has shipped more smart speakers than Amazon…3.2 million vs 2.5 million first quarter of this year. According to cnet.com, it may be due to retailers prioritizing Google over Amazon because they see Amazon as more of a direct competitor. Alibaba had the third biggest shipping smart speaker, with Xiaomi 4th. Apple’s HomePod was lumped in with the 17% ‘other’ smart speakers.

After lots of back and forth with Mercedes and BMW the last several years that never made it to a deal, Apple has cut a deal with Volkswagen. Macrumors.com reports that Apple will be buying VW vans and converting them to employee shuttles to run between San Francisco Bay Area campuses and buildings. The vans will be fitted with Apple’s self-driving tech. Word is, no deal ever came through with BMW and Mercedes, because Apple insisted on partner companies handing over control of data and design…which no car maker was willing to do.

Uber has canned its self-driving program in Arizona, and along with it, 300 employees. Businessinsider.com says this comes 2 months after a self-driving Uber Volvo (with safety driver behind the wheel) hit and killed a woman in Tempe. The governor had already suspended their ability to test the autonomous cars there. Uber says it will regroup and double check its safety procedures and be back testing somewhere soon.

Since Seattle has dropped an annual head tax on big tech companies, a number of Silicon Valley cities are angling to do the same. Bloomberg.com reports that Seattle intends to use the revenue to help with homeless problems and relieve housing shortages caused by the influx of higher paid tech workers. San Francisco, Mountain View, Cupertino, and East Palo Alto are all looking at similar taxes on large local employers (which are virtually all tech companies) to offset growing inequality and overcrowding. The Bay Area cities have learned from Seattle’s battle with Amazon, and instead of shooting for $500 per head, are looking to extract more like $250-$300 per employee.