3 New iPhones Next Year; HomePod With Face ID; Sweat ID to Unlock Phones; Self-Driving Trucks Proliferation

Apple is due to roll out 3 new iPhones next year…two with OLED screens. Businessinsider.com reports that there will be a model like the present iPhone X, a king-sized OLED screen version with a 6.5 inch screen, and a 6.1 inch LCD screen version which will sell for substantially less money. All 3 will have the full screen design and TrueDepth Camera for 3D sensing and Face ID. This is all according to Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities, who has one of the best track records on future Apple devices. The LCD screen model will sell for between $649 and $749, with the two OLED screen models aimed at ‘the high end market.’

With Apple pressing ahead on Face ID, the iPad and MacBooks are a no-brainer, but here’s one you may not have thought of…apparently, Apple is looking at adding the feature to it’s 2nd generation HomePods. Appleinsider.com notes that obviously the feature won’t make it into the model that comes out in a few weeks, but we may see it by 2019. If so, they will have to develop a system that allows more than one user…the iPhone is one to one right now.

With fingerprint readers on many phones, and Apple adding Face ID across their line, here’s a new biometric that sounds weird but may be hard to crack…’Sweat ID.’ Thenextweb.com says scientists at University if Albany think the unique amino acid profile in our sweat could accurately and securely authenticate us to unlock devices. Unlike your fingerprints, which can be copied, and same (albeit with greater difficulty) with Face ID, it would be harder for someone to take a reading of your perspiration profile. Researchers claim that no two people can have the same profile…and no, you don’t have to have sweaty palms to use it…the sensors detect a very small amount of sweat from the eccrine glands on your fingertips!

Otto made a beer run across Colorado on autopilot in one, Tesla will show off their electric big rig this week with at least some self-driving ability…but meanwhile, a startup called Embark has been making runs since early October. According to Wired, Embark has been hauling loads of new Frigidaires from El Paso, TX to Palm Springs, Ca under the radar. A driver picks the trailer load up at the warehouse, gets them to a rest stop on the highway, and then hands off to another driver with a self-driving cab that makes the run to CA. The human driver rides along, but the truck basically plods along in the slow lane at the limit all the way to CA. Daimler, Volvo, and Tesla are working on this, and Uber’s Otto made one trip, but Embark is out there doing it!

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iPhone 8 in Production & Huge 3D Sensing Component Order; Tesla Working on Self-Driving Electric Big Rig; Facebook Launches ‘Watch’

Despite some rumors, appleinsider.com has gotten word from DigiTimes that Apple’s iPhone 8 is already in mass production. It’s still thought that there will be very limited supply at launch next month, but it looks like they are planning for millions of sales. 9to5mac.com reports that Lumentum, which makes the 3D sensing laser components believed to be used in the iPhone 8, looks to be cranking out around 55 million of the sensor units by the end of the year, and about 160 million next year. A number of reports say the iPhone 8 will be over $1000, but analyst Gene Munster expects the entry level model of Apple’s new hero phone to start at $950.

Some former Googlers started Otto, the self-driving semi company that was picked up by Uber. Now, according to Reuters, Tesla is working on self-driving tech that will helm its upcoming electric big rigs. The tech would let the rigs roll as a convoy with a lead vehicle furnishing the guidance for autonomous follower trucks. Alphabet’s Waymo is also deeply into self-driving truck tech. The wrinkle with Tesla’s plan is that the platooning might mean autonomy requirements wouldn’t be a lot higher than what’s already being done…an actual human driver would pilot the lead truck, and the others would just follow along. Tesla has apparently been in touch with Nevada to see about testing a couple prototype trucks.

Facebook is introducing a new spot for original video content produced by partners, who pick up 55 percent of ad break revenue. Techcrunch.com says Facebook will get 45%. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will debut to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow across mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps. With the hosting of original programming, Facebook can tack on more ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.


Microsoft Claims New iOS Cam App Beats Apple’s; Otto Keeps On Truckin’

Microsoft has rolled out an app called Pix that they claim takes better photos with no settings that the standard Apple app does with them. According to 9to5mac.com, it uses AI to automatically adjust the shots…taking particular aim at making sure people are brightened up, to compensate for backlighting…one of the biggest spoilers of smartphone pictures. The app also starts shooting when you open the app, and before hitting the shutter, to keep from missing that great shot you wanted to capture. It basically shoots a burst of pix, but only offers the 3-4 the AI picks as best, so as not to gobble up your memory. I read several reviews by professional photographers, who agreed that it gets close to professional results. It’s free, and at the app store now, and coming soon to Android.

We reported a while back about Otto, the self-driving truck startup built by a trio of ex-Googlers. Now, businessinsider.com finds they already have four trucks out 24/7. Otto doesn’t plan to build trucks but kits to retrofit them. Existing trucks can install one of Otto’s $30,000 kits to produce autonomous driving capabilities. Right now in a test truck, two people ride in the truck: one behind the wheel and another studying what the truck’s LIDAR and software systems are “seeing.” But ultimately, Otto envisions that trucks will only require one person, and that the “driver” will be able to take lunch breaks and naps in the cab while the truck fully steers itself down the highway, requiring the driver to take control only on city streets. The Otto folks see self-driving trucks in wide use within 5 years.


Startup Aims to Make Existing Big Rigs Self-Driving; Twitter Excluding Links & Pix From 140 Character Limit

Four ex-Googlers have launched Otto, a startup aimed at making big rigs autonomous. The San Francisco based company has drawn employees form Apple, Tesla, and Cruise Automation. Backchannel.com reports that they will aim to retrofit existing semis instead of trying to build new trucks from scratch. There are over 4 million big rigs on the highways. Otto has already installed their system on 3 big rigs. They claim to be able to do the retrofit for a ‘small fraction’ of the 100-300 grand it costs for a new big rig tractor cab.

In case you missed it, Twitter is getting ready to exclude pictures and links from the 140 character limit sometime in the next couple weeks. Thenextweb.com notes that links currently gobble up 23 characters out of that miserly 140. No official word from Twitter as yet.