Facebook Chat Cam For TV; Netflix Roars With Q3; Tesla Buys Factory Site in China; Helm Shows Personal Private Email Server

On the heels of introducing their Portal video devices, with the cams that follow you around the room, Facebook is working on one that will live on top of your TV and make it into a giant sized Portal. Engadget.com says it’s code named ‘Ripley,’ and is expected to bow next spring.

In not-so-cool news about Facebook, they had previously announced that the Portal devices wouldn’t be collecting your data as the devices live in your house and serve you ads. Well, that may be true, BUT they will be hoovering up your data on who you call, and what apps you use, etc, and THAT data WILL be used to serve you ads on Facebook and its other platforms. Recode.net notes that this shouldn’t be a shock, since Facebook’s entire business model is based on using tons of data about you to serve you ads. Oh…and all the video views they get and how we’ve heard that video is much more important than printed content…well that was basically a big lie. Hire back writers, media…the written word still grabs lots and lots of eyeballs!

Netflix blew away Wall Street expectations, picking up 6.96 million new subscribers in the third quarter, while the Street expected 5.3 million. According to businessinsider.com, Netflix made 89 cents a share, which was 21 cents more than analysts had expected. Netflix did warn that per share earnings would be down in the final quarter…as they will have to recognize money invested in licensing and developing movies and shows, especially its ‘Originals.’

Not wanting to miss out on the big Chinese market or have sales impeded by the Trump tariffs, Tesla has bought a 210 acre site in Shanghai to build a new factory…one that will make the batteries as well as the cars. Arstechnica.com reports that it is in the so-called ‘free trade zone.’ Tesla expects that in 2 to 3 years, they can be pumping out 500,000 cars a year from the factory, and will avoid having prices increase by 60% if the tariffs continue or increase.

Now, you don’t have to be a public figure or a security wizard to rock your own private email server. Now, there’s Helm, a gadget that looks like a peaked roof on a tiny doll house or a hardcover book sitting on its edges with the spine at the top…that makes it as easy to set up a personal email server as setting up an Amazon Echo. Mashable.com notes that with your own server, your email will be physically in your home, not in the ether on some cloud server somewhere…but it’s still accessible from anywhere. The gadget has 128Gigs of built in storage and has a tray that can add up to 5 TB more. It’s $499, but you’ll need their update service (for security updates) for $99 a year, too. The Helm has a security key…actually a physical, metal key that plugs into a port on the top. Even if someone got physical access to the server, without the key, all is encrypted. There’s a back up electronic key that can live on your phone. It’s comparable with any email client that works with IMAP mail, including Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and a number of others. The service will walk you through migrating cloud service mail like Gmail to the little box.

Advertisements

Details Out on Google Pixel 3 & 3 XL; Netflix Buys Studio;LinkedIn Picks Up Glint; Princeton Identity-Walkthrough Biometric Scanner

With the non-stop leaks the last month or so, there wasn’t a ton we didn’t know about the Google Pixel 3 and 3XL, but now that they have been actually unveiled…yes, there are a few things to report. First of all, the prices are out now…Pixel 3 will start at $799 for 64 Gigs, the 3 XL will bow at $899. For 128 Gigs, add $100 more to either. Both phones run a Snapdragon 845, and have 4 Gigs of RAM. Screen size is bigger on both, thanks to thinner bezels. The 3 has a 5.5 inch display, and the 3 XL is 6.3 inches. Interestingly, both just have a single 12.2 MP camera on the rear…but TWO front facing cams. One gives a wider field of view for getting more people into a selfie, or taking in more of your surroundings.

Even with the single lens rear cam, Google has further beefed up software to carry on as one of the best…if not the best shooters on the market. New AI enhancements include a Top Shot option that picks the best image from a burst. Super Res Zoom uses multiple frames to deliver a sharper final photo, even without optical zoom.

Both Pixels now support wireless charging with a glass back, and there’s a Pixel Stand you can buy for charging. Phone-wise, the Pixels can use Google Assistant to screen spam calls, and let you decide to block or get a reminder to call back later. The phones answer themselves, and show you a transcription. Both phones will be exclusively on Verizon in the US, as has been the case with previous Pixel phones….although you can buy them unlocked directly from Google.

***

Netflix is buying ABQ Studios in Albuquerque, and is indicating they will be investing a billion dollars in new TV and film projects. Bgr.com says the studio has already produced The Avengers, The Lone Ranger, and Sicario. The Netflix buy is expected to bring up to 1,000 production jobs to Ne w Mexico as they ramp up to produce original material at ABQ. A fun piece of trivia came out of the deal…the GPS coordinates of the location where Walter White of “Breaking Bad’ buried his barrels of cash are actually those of ABQ Studios!

LinkedIn is buying employee survey software company Glint for $400 million. According to businessinsider.com, Glint specializes in employee surveys measuring satisfaction with management, compensation, and other internal issues. LinkedIn expects to offer better insights than ever combining Glint’s data with their info about the broader workforce. Glint was already used by Alphabet’s Waymo, Dish Network, United Airlines, and other major companies.

Princeton Identity has showed off it’s new walk through biometric scanner. Techcrunch.com says it’s basically built into a shipping container. You walk through, pause to get your fingerprints scanned, and it also scans your face and irises as you walk through. The Biometric Conex can process 20 people a minute at normal walking pace, and Princeton claims near perfect accuracy, what with the fingerprints, face, and iris scans. The self-contained, air conditioned unit is actually smaller than a shipping container, and can be moved nearly anywhere on a heavy duty truck. It can integrate with almost any government database. The rig runs $280,000.


Corning Gorilla Glass 6; Prime Day Lost Hour; Netflix Improves TV Interface

Another year, another Gorilla Glass. Corning has announced Gorilla Glass 6, and according to macrumors.com, Corning claims it’s engineered to sustain multiple drops. They say the average person drops their smartphone 7 times a year (who ARE these clumsy people….7….really???) Gorilla Glass 6 will allegedly sustain 15 drops from one meter without breakage, which is twice as good as Gorilla Glass 5. The product has already been in testing by phone producers, so it’s possible it will be on the new iPhones coming out in September.

Here are some big numbers to wrap your head around: $72 to $99 million dollars. (Digital Commerce 360 Says $72, Love the Sales says $99.) That’s the range they are estimating of the loss Amazon incurred with the hour of downtime they experienced on Prime Day. Businessinsider.com reports that the fallout may be even more, as some people have threatened to cancel their Prime subscriptions over the mess. Amazon is laughing all the way to the bank….it appears they hauled in about $3.4 billion in the 36-ish hours of Prime Day…a record!

Next time you chill with Netflix, you may find a more pleasing, easy to use interface on TV. Mashable.com says Netflix has revised its interface as of today…but it will take some time to get pushed out to smart TVs, streaming boxes, cable boxes, gaming consoles, etc. The new look is designed to make content easier to find and help you to get binging….er…watching faster. A prime feature is a new sidebar on the left side that accesses Search, Home, Series, Movies, My List, and New. The streaming service says there will be more improvements rolled out over coming months, too.


Samsung Galaxy S10 Rumors; Netflix Misses Growth; Boeing Drone Traffic System; Skype Updates Desktop App; Apple Store Crushes Google Play

The fabled in-screen fingerprint scanner may come to the Samsung Galaxy S10 in 2019. Businessinsider.com reports that the FOD, or fingerprint on display will let users get their finger scanned by putting int on the screen. The two larger, more high-end Galaxy S10 handsets will have an ultrasonic version of this…but the smaller Galaxy S10 will keep the fingerprint scanner on the side. The S9 phones have a reader on the back. Apple ditched fingerprint scanning last Fall for its Face ID. Samsung may ship 40 million Galaxy S10 phones in 2019 according to well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Netflix stubbed its toe in added subscribers for the first time in 5 quarters, and the stock took a plunge of over 13 percent. According to CNBC.com, they only added 5.15 million subscribers, down about a million from what was projected. Revenue also missed a bit…it was $3.91 billion instead of the predicted $3.94 billion. Analysts have worried that Netflix couldn’t sustain their growth, which has been over 100% year to date. They are also eyeing competition in streaming by Disney and AT&T. For next quarter, Netflix has just projected 5 million new subscribers, about what they did this quarter.

Some people need to be thinking ahead in order to plan for problems that most of us haven’t thought of yet. One of those is drone traffic. Right now, the only time there is an issue is with fires, when numerous media outlets and others try to fly drones over the scene to capture video, but the problem will only grow in the future. Boeing is starting to develop a drone traffic management system now to be ready. Geekwire.com says the system will use artificial intelligence and blockchain tech. A Texas AI company called SparkCognition is partnering with Boeing on the AI portion, as the aircraft company has formed a new business group called Boeing NeXt. Other companies are also looking into drone traffic management, including AT&T, Amazon, and Alphabet’s Wing.

Skype has rolled out a new desktop version, 8.0. TechCrunch.com reports that version 7 will be killed by September 1st. New features include HD video and screen sharing in calls, support for @mentions in chats, a chat media gallery, and file and media sharing up to 300 MB. Encrypted audio calls and texts are coming later, as is built in call recording.

Apple continues to find ways to coin money in addition to selling hardware. Appleinsider.com reports that an analytics firm called Sensor Tower just did a study, and Apple’s App Store doubles the revenue of Google’s Play with just half the number of downloads. From January to June of 2018, the App store raked in $22.6 billion while Google Play took in $11.8 billion. Both stores are showing big time growth….year over year, first half of this year compared to last, the two app stores grew combined by 27.8%!


MS Surface Go Debuts at $399; Facebook Tests AR Ads; Auto Download for Netflix; Apple iOS 11.4.1 With GrayKey Killer

Microsoft is diving back in to the budget-priced tablet market with the Surface Go. The 10 inch screen tablet has a built-in kickstand, and is loaded with Windows 10, and starts at $399. Theverge.com reports that preorders are open now, and it will ship in August. It basically looks like a Surface Pro that shrunk in the wash, except with somewhat more rounded corners. The smaller Surface weighs 1.15 lbs, which is a little more than the similar iPad, but still half a pound lighter than the Surface Pro. As the Pro, it has the optional keyboard cover in 4 colors, and uses the optional Surface Pen.

In the continuing quest to get and keep more advertisers, Facebook is testing out ads with augmented reality in the newsfeed. According to techcrunch.com, the ads look like normal ads in the feed but there’s a ‘Tap to try it on’ option that activates the AR capabilities. If you like the way the product looks in AR, you can go ahead and buy it. The first test advertiser to test the feature is Michael Kors. Sephora, NYX Professional Makeup, Bobbi Brown, and Pottery Barn are planning to launch tests with AR ads yet this summer.

Your Netflix binge watching just got easier on Android phones. Buzzfeed.com says Netflix is automating downloads of a series with a feature called Smart Downloads. When you finish watching an episode, Netflix will automatically delete it and download the next one as long as you are on a WiFi network. The feature will be coming to iOS phones and tablets later this year. It really only works for series…they haven’t figured out how to program the feature for movies you might want to see next. BTW, if you don’t want the feature…what’s wrong with you? You can go to settings and turn it off.

Apple has dropped iOS 11.4.1, which is mainly just bug fixes and not a terribly big deal…except for what could be one of Steve Jobs’ famous ‘One more things.’ Cnet.com reports that the lates version of iOS brings USB Restricted Mode with it. That’s the feature that keeps the police, government, or thieves from plugging a GrayKey into the handset and using that box to unlock your phone and get your data. A charger will still work, but if you haven’t used the phone in an hour, the phone has to be unlocked with your Face ID and Passcode or Touch ID and Passcode. Apple claims they were more concerned with bad guys using the GrayKey device to hack peoples’ phones than police or governments, but neither of those latter two groups will be any too happy.


Digital Car Key; Instagram’s IGTV; German Flying Taxi; Netflix Sharing

First, we got the key fob that you don’t have to pull out of pocket or purse to open and start your car. Now, the Car Connectivity Consortium, and organization of the likes of Apple, Samsung, and LG on the electronics end and Audi, BMW GM, VW, and Hyundai representing the automotive side unveiling a new Digital Key specification. Macrumors.com says it will allow manufacturers to transfer a digital key to a Trusted Service Manager via NFC directly to the secure area of the smartphone. It could not only be used for operation of your own car key-free, but also car rentals and car sharing. 

Instagram has fired a cannon blast over the bow of YouTube and Snapchat. They just rolled out IGTV, which is a new app for publishing long form videos. According to businessinsider.com, content creators will be able to make 4K videos that are significantly longer that the current Instagram 60 second limit. What remains to be seen is whether high profile users, or even we mortal video shooters, will bite when it comes to shooting and uploading mobile-first vertical video.  There is a 10 minute limit, with exceptions running to an hour for accounts with huge numbers of followers. Initially, the longer form videos will be ad-free, but they will have them later. CEO Kevin Systrom says there will be a way for creators to make a living. The IGTV app is available now on  Android and iOS just by updating the Instagram app. F

The world has missed the George Jetson 60’s flying car debut so far, but now Germany is preparing to test out a flying taxi concept from Airbus and Audi! Engadget.com reports that the government has signed a letter of intent to green light tests around Audi’s home city of Ingolstadt. Uber has also been trying to develop a flying taxi at their research center in Paris. The letter didn’t give any indication as to when tests would start. At this point, neither the Airbus-Audi partnership nor Uber has produced and flown a functional prototype, but the letter from the German Transportation minister authorizing tests shows that a flying taxi concept isn’t just hot air any longer.

There have been jokes floating for years to the effect that there is only one paid Netflix subscriber…everyone else is using their password. Now, Exstreamist has done a survey to gauge just how much password and account sharing really goes on. Bgr.com says 22% of users log in with their parents’ credentials. For 20%, it’s the password of a friend, with another 17% using the login of their current boyfriend or girlfriend. 13% are even using the Netflix account of an ex! Netflix keeps growing and seems unconcerned. A few years ago, CEO Reed Hastings said they find that password sharers are likely to become paid users anyway down the road. Netflix revenue the 1st quarter of 2018 is up 43%, with a subscriber base of 125 million worldwide.


Galaxy Note 9 Rumors; Snap Spectacles II on Amazon; Nintendo Switch Content Leak; Facebook Rebrands On This Day As Memories

More has leaked out about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, widely expected to be a minor upgrade coming in August. Bgr.com says one tweak may make a noticeable difference over the Note 8…the back cams may go horizontal instead of vertical, with the fingerprint sensor moving directly below. This will not only make the print sensor much easier to find and use, but the horizontal layout of the cams will allow for a bigger battery…perhaps even exceeding the 35 mAh battery of the Galaxy S9+. There’s also an additional hardware button showing up…no clues on what it is, but it may be related to the cameras.

Snap’s original Spectacles were kind of cool, but you had to hunt for a pop up store to get a pair of them. Now, mashable.com reports that the 2nd generation will be much easier to find…you can buy them on Amazon. There’s a price bump of 20 bucks to $149.99, but now they can be at your doorstep in a couple days in the US, UK, and Canada….even tomorrow if you’re terribly impatient! Snap only sold 220,000 of the original Spectacles, and lost a bundle ($40 million), but it appears they are confident about the round pic-taking glasses being a hit in version 2.

Best Buy may have spilled the beans about upcoming Nintendo Switch content at E3. According to businessinsider.com, Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix compatibility may be coming to the Switch. The added capabilities popped up on Best Buy’s online store. Nintendo had been expected to make an announcement anyway, but the retailer inadvertently stole their thunder.

Facebook is rolling out a rebranded On This Day as ‘Memories.’ Techcrunch.com says they are adding friends you made on the date to the usual pictures and posts from the On This Day version, in addition to ‘Memories You May Have Missed’. It’s a great way to get people to engage more…not to mention it saves Facebook server space by recycling posts. Hmm.