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.