Galaxy Note 8 Design Leak;, Microsoft Surface Plus Upgrade Plan; Ford’s ‘Good Neighbor Mode’

A new leak of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 shows it will keep the squared off, boxy shape of the Note 7, but uses a curved, edge-to-edge ‘Infinity Display’ that covers almost the entire front surface. There’s no physical home key. Businessinsider.com reports that it has a dual rear camera. On the front, there’s an infrared iris scanner for secure access, but the fingerprint reader is unfortunately on the back. Samsung will roll it out August 23rd in New York.

Ahh, planned obsolescence…something the tech industry has learned well from the auto industry. There are upgrade plans for your smartphone from both manufacturers and phone companies to keep you in the latest and greatest…for a price. Now, according to thenextweb.com, you can upgrade your PC every 18 months with Microsoft’s new Surface Plus program. The deal lets you pay off your computer in 24-month installments with zero interest if paid off in time (otherwise, it’s 19.99%!) If you trade in your old computer in working condition, you can start a new plan after 18 months. Check it out at microsoft.com or Microsoft Stores in the US.

Some of us who like cars have opted for a so-called ‘more aggressive’ exhaust system. Harley Davidson motorcycles have a characteristic sound. Now, Ford…which decades ago touted a model that was quieter than a Rolls Royce…has introduced ‘Good Neighbor Mode.’ Cnet.com notes that there are already a few cars like Aston Martin that have so-called silent start modes, but Ford is bringing one to the 2018 Mustang GT that you can schedule ahead of time. Starting in Quiet Exhaust mode cuts the sound level to about 72 decibels, close to what your dishwasher sounds like. You can program it ahead, so you can start off quiet at 7am, then let ‘er roar when you fire it up later in the day. Just the thing if you have crabby neighbors who don’t appreciate cars that are fun.


Next Gen HoloLens will Use Custom AI Silicon; Apple Working to Roll Their Own OLED Tech

Microsoft is working on their own AI coprocessor for the next iteration of the HoloLens. Engadget.com says it will give the headset object and voice recognition ability in real time, without any cloud connection. They intend to bake in assistance to blind folks by recognizing objects and describing them. This will also work without a data connection. There isn’t a HoloLens 2, but we will see a HoloLens 3 in late 2018 or early 2019.

Here’s a number that will bring indigestion to cable and satellite providers…Netflix was the top grossing app in the 2nd quarter of this year, with mobile revenue up 233% year over year! According to techcrunch.com, Netflix hauled in $153 million, compared with $46 million a year ago. Average app revenue growth on both the Apple App Store and Google Play is 56%! In the same period, Hulu grew by just 22%.

The new iPhone 8 will feature OLED screens made by Samsung. Apple, like other major manufacturers, is not keen on having a single supplier, and has reportedly bought CVD machines and has set up an R&D line in Taiwan to make OLED screens. 9to5mac.com notes that Apple almost never does actual manufacturing, but has developed the processes and bought the equipment for suppliers in the past. Besides having multiple manufacturers for their own security, Apple may need the production ability….they are planning to make 3 OLED iPhone models next year, and that would require better yields than Samsung has been getting from its process.


Samsung Backs Away From Smart Speakers; Microsoft Reveals Cortana Controlled Thermostat; Sears Rolls Out Alexa Powered Appliances on Amazon

We had reported, along with numerous others, that Samsung was working on a Bixby powered smart speaker to compete with Amazon’s, Google’s, and the upcoming Apple one. Now, thenextweb.com reports that Samsung has suddenly decided they are not marketable, with the dominance of Amazon, and Apple waiting in the Wings. Meanwhile, Global Market Insights predicts that the smart speaker market will grow to $13 billion by 2024. Almost half of smart speaker owners buy an additional one for their homes.

Microsoft has rolled out a great looking IOT thermostat today called GLAS. It’s made for them by Johnson Controls. According to theverge.com, it runs Windows 10 IoT Core, and has Cortana built in. Microsoft says it will detect if you are in the room or not, and also continuously monitor air quality inside and outside. Microsoft plans to add other appliances that will run their system and use Cortana.

Meanwhile, struggling retail giant Sears, which for decades had huge market share in appliances with its Kenmore brand, has started selling Alexa powered appliances via Amazon. Techcrunch.com says the retailer will bake in Alexa to air conditioners in addition to the expected refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers. You will e able to yell at Alexa to turn the AC up or down from your couch!


Sprint Will Have Exclusive on Essential Phone Launch; Xbox One X Reveal; HelloSign Gets $$ to Help You Stop Having to Sign Paper DocumentsSprint will be the exclusive vendor for Android father Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone. 9to5google.com says the titanium and ceramic phone with the edge to edge display will sell separately from the 360 degree camera attachment for VR content, though. Interestingly, there’s no word on availability or price, but you can pre-register online at Sprint’s website. So….do you feel lucky? It’s the most powerful and smallest Xbox yet…the Xbox One X was revealed yesterday. It will be $500, and should be out November 7th. According to businessinsider.com, it is capable of 4K gaming and can handle 4K Blu Ray discs. Microsoft is touting that it has ‘6 teraflops’ of processing power, which blows away the Xbox One and Playstation 4 Pro. Anyone who has had to sign a 6 inch stack of documents to buy a house will love this…HelloSign, the eSignature platform, has obtained 16 million in financing. Techcrunch.com reports that they will have a ‘freemium’ product for up to 3 documents per month, and are comparing themselves to Box and Dropbox. They also are offering HelloWorks to turn .pdf forms into easy to edit digital files. HelloSign claims they have talked 55,000 companies into using its paid subscription service, competing with Docusign and Adobe Sign. Here’s hoping one of those companies is your title company next time you have to re-fi or buy a house!

Sprint will be the exclusive vendor for Android father Andy Rubin’s Essential Phone. 9to5google.com says the titanium and ceramic phone with the edge to edge display will sell separately from the 360 degree camera attachment for VR content, though. Interestingly, there’s no word on availability or price, but you can pre-register online at Sprint’s website. So….do you feel lucky?

It’s the most powerful and smallest Xbox yet…the Xbox One X was revealed yesterday. It will be $500, and should be out November 7th. According to businessinsider.com, it is capable of 4K gaming and can handle 4K Blu Ray discs. Microsoft is touting that it has ‘6 teraflops’ of processing power, which blows away the Xbox One and Playstation 4 Pro.

Anyone who has had to sign a 6 inch stack of documents to buy a house will love this…HelloSign, the eSignature platform, has obtained 16 million in financing. Techcrunch.com reports that they will have a ‘freemium’ product for up to 3 documents per month, and are comparing themselves to Box and Dropbox. They also are offering HelloWorks to turn .pdf forms into easy to edit digital files. HelloSign claims they have talked 55,000 companies into using its paid subscription service, competing with Docusign and Adobe Sign. Here’s hoping one of those companies is your title company next time you have to re-fi or buy a house!


Apple’s Siri Speaker in Production; Skype Gets Major Makeover With ‘Me Too’ Features

Apple’s smart speaker, powered by Siri, is apparently in production and will be showed off at WWDC, according to bloomberg.com. In an effort to outshine Amazon and Google offerings, it will feature virtual surround sound, be louder and reproduce sound more ‘crisply’ than others, and (of course) have deep integration with other Apple products. It will also serve as a hub for Apple HomeKit connected devices. The device will be built by the Taiwanese company Inventec, which produces AirPods for Apple. It is expected to be out later this year.

Microsoft is giving Skype yet another makeover, but this one is much more than a fresh coat of paint. The latest iteration takes on the look of Snapchat. Theverge.com reports that although Skype has done well for video and audio calls, it hasn’t made much of a dent in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, iMessage, or Snapchat….and messaging is where the growth in conversations live. The new interface includes 3 sections in a conversation: find, chat, and capture. Chat is what is sounds like, but the other two allow you to search a convo, or find images, restaurants, or content to drop into a message. Capture is where Microsoft has added the Snapchat like capabilities….the cam opens so you can shoot pics or video, then you can add stickers, text, or annotate the shot. There’s also a Highlights feature so friends can stream pics and videos of yours and react with emoji.


Microsoft’s Beam Becomes Mixer; T-Mobile Digits Service Now Free For All; Apple Watch Hack Produces Stroke Detector

Earlier this week, Microsoft was trying to convince the world to call AR..augmented reality mixed reality. Now, we know why…marketing! Techcrunch.com reports that Microsoft has re-branded its game streaming service Beam as Mixer. They have also upped the service’s game with co-streaming, a guide, and mobile broadcasting on iOS and Android. Up to 4 streamers can now combine their streams into a single page, where they’re displayed split screen style.

T-Mobile has just made a cool new service called Digits free for all T-Mobile users. Bgr.com says that Digits combines some of the best features of Google Voice and AT&T NumberSync. You can use one number on multiple devices, but also have multiple numbers on one device…so you could carry one phone and have a business number and home number on it….or a burner number that you’ve given out on dating sites. As of May 31st, every T-Mobile number becomes a Digits number. It’s free, but you will have to call them in order to activate a second number. The freebie will expire soon, then it goes to $10 bucks more a month for a second number.

The Apple Watch is the best heart monitor of any wearable, but not close to what your doctor or hospital uses…until now. According to cnet.com, some researchers at UCSF used an app called Cardiogram with some machine learning, and hacked the Watch to be a 97% accurate detector of one of the leading causes of stroke! This may open the door to considerably more preventative health care, which is far cheaper than reacting and treating problems after the fact.


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.