Google Pixel 2 May Ditch Phone Jack; iPhone 8 May Ship Late October-November; Carmakers Collaborate to Take On Waze & Google Maps

The march towards Bluetooth only seems relentless on smartphones now. According to businessinsider.com, the latest to ditch the venerable headphone jack will be the Google Pixel 2. The latest leaks show that the Pixel 2 XL will have a more premium design, with thinner borders…and both Pixel models will sport a more refined glass back plate.

Apple’s iPhone 8 will be delayed past the September rollout, and now it appears it may be late October to early November before significant numbers are in users’ hands. Macrumors.com reports that a rumor about the side button is probably off base, after picking up on info from Mac Otakara. The handset appears to have an elongated side button that will have Touch ID, since the home button is going away. Mac Otakara says it’s much more likely that the Touch ID will be under the screen, or left out entirely, rather than put into a longer button on the phone’s side.

German carmakers bought a traffic company called HERE from Nokia a couple years ago. Now, mashable.com says they plan to pool traffic data collected by their cars’ sensors for real time traffic conditions in their own map that they claim will have ‘significantly higher accuracy and more precise information about traffic conditions.’ Taken together, they already have a fleet of millions of cars in 60 countries, and the numbers will increase dramatically as more cars with sensor systems hit the roads the next few years. Besides highly accurate info for drivers, it will build data for more reliable self driving systems.


We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ AR Headsets; Amazon & Microsoft Look to Mapping for Self-Driving Cars

Having just recently had a conversation with a couple of friends in tech about how everyone is excited about virtual and augmented reality, but no one all that much about wearing big, bulky headsets, this caught my eye immediately…and it may be catching your eyes sooner, not later, and immersing them in VR and AR. Cnet.com reports Samsung has gotten a patent for smart contact lenses that will house a camera, movement sensors, transmitter, and display unit. They work in conjunction with a smartphone. You can look at photos and videos from the phone through the lenses. Google is also working along with medical provider Novartis on some smart contacts, albeit ones centering around health. Shrinking VR and AR down to contacts and earbuds? Now THAT’s something that can really take virtual reality mass market!

According to a report, both Amazon and Microsoft are close to getting involved with Here, the digital mapping business for autonomous vehicles. Here was started by Nokia, but bought by a group of German car makers….Mercedes, BMW, & Audi. Theverge.com says a board member at Daimler-parent of Mercedes-confirmed that both Amazon and Microsoft were interested in providing cloud computing capabilities for the mounds of data being gathered by Here’s sensors for autonomous vehicles.


Leak Has More Reveals About iPhone 6S

In a leak similar to one last year near the release date of the iPhone 6, we now know a bit more about the successor iPhone 6S. The next generation handset will be slightly thicker to accomodate the Force Touch and Taptic Engine features borrowed from the Apple Watch. Force Touch tells the handset different things, depending on how hard you press on the screen, while the Taptic Engine gives it a more versatile vibration motor for alerts. Despite the increase in thickness from 6.9 to 7.1 mm, there is still a bump on the back for the camera…which has unduly bothered some in the tech media…despite the fact that nearly everyone else buys a case for their iPhones that negates that issue.

As rumored earlier, Nokia has sold its HERE mapping business to a group made up of Audi, BMW, and Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz. Previously, it was rumored that Uber, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple had shown interest. The German car makers are dropping $3.07 billion for the service. It was probably only a matter of time before some car makers started to ‘roll their own’ for their navigation systems.


Nokia Is Going to Build An Aluminum Body Tablet

Nokia is jumping back into the tablet business. Slashdot.org says they’ll launch a one piece aluminum bodied tablet running Android Lollypop in China  on January 7th.

Legendary film company Kodak is going to roll out a smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show. According to engadget.com, the Android phone will be made for them by British firm Bullitt, who make the ruggedized Caterpiller phones.

LG and Mercedes-Benz are partnering to make a system to power self driving cars. Techcrunch.com says the system is based on LG’s Advanced Drive Assist Program. LG’s entertainment systems are also slated to go into Mercedes cars.


Fire Sale on Amazon Fire Phones

Yep, there’s a fire sale on Amazon Fire phones. Already 99 cents with a 2 year AT&T contract, geekwire.com says now you can buy an unlocked one for $199, down from $649 when it came out. How long before they have to promise that Bezos will deliver yours in person?

Sony may roll out an e-paper smart watch next year. Gigaom.com reports that in addition to the face, the entire band will be an e-paper display. Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, Sony will try for style.

Microsoft has just launched Clearflow for its Bing Maps. Engadget.com says they use Nokia’s Navteq system, but use live data from main roads to essentially guess traffic on unreported routes. Good luck!


New Microsoft Smartphone Reveal in Days

Microsoft will show it’s first non-Nokia Lumia smartphone next week. Venturebeat.com says it will be unveiled on the 11th, have a 5 inch screen, and come in 7 different colors.

Meanwhile, Samsung is reportedly working on a mysterious new smartphone family. After taking drubbing from Apple, bgr.com has also heard that the Galaxy S6…or Project Zero…is not an improved S5, but being designed from scratch.

You can reach out to doctors and lawyers online, now Talkspace lets you text your issues to to a therapist for $25 a week. Thenextweb.com says if you pay monthly, you get unlimited texts for that price. The app is less pricey, and more discreet than in person therapy.


Microsoft Ditches Android

Besides laying off thousands, mainly from the Nokia merger, Microsoft is also ‘laying off’ Android. The Nokia Android phones will be switched to Windows Phone and the Lumia brand, according to gigaom.com.

Thenextweb.com reports that the Google Analytics app is now available for iOS. You could already check your web & app data on Android with the app.

Just when you think nothing else can leak out about the iPhone 6, macrumors.com says it will sport a 13 megapixel camera, up from 8 on the 5s.