Google Pixel 3 Update; Amazon Rekognition; Tesla Sabotage; Kids Hearing & Music Players

Google has had better success with the Pixel 2 phones that it had with the original model, and expects to see more growth with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. A little more info has trickled out about the upcoming handsets. Cnet.com reports that we will probably see the phones debut in early October. It appears that they will sport a front screen ‘notch’ like the Apple iPhone X. Geeks digging through the beta code of Android P say the code points to the Pixel 3’s getting wireless charging like the iPhone, and probably a glass back. One exciting plus…the larger 3XL may have and edge to edge display and TWO front-facing cameras, in addition to the 2 rear cams!

There had already been unrest over Amazon selling its facial recognition tech to law enforcement…the tech can detect faces in images and videos. Now, CNN says that almost 20 groups of Amazon shareholders are pressing the company to stop selling the tech to law enforcement. The investors expressed their views in a letter, warning of potential civil and human rights violations…and of course how that could have a negative impact on Amazon stock. Back in April, Amazon had announced that Rekognition had been made 25% more accurate at picking out faces that the prior version. Shareholders are concerned about the disproportionate surveilance of people of color, immigrants, and civil society organizations, as well as sales to authoritarian regimes.

Tesla has gotten up to 3,500 Model 3’s per week, on the way to the 5,000 Elon Musk promised by next month. Now, there may have been sabotage that electronically threw a wrench into the works. According to CNBC, Musk sent an all hands email to staff, saying a disgruntled employee had done ‘quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations,’  Musk said the employee had made ‘direct code changes’ to the company’s production systems, and even exported ‘large amounts’ of Tesla code to unidentified 3rd parties. The email says the person became disgruntled after not getting a promotion, but may also have been working with short sellers and oil and gas companies. Thus far, Tesla has not commented on the leaked email. For Jason Middleton, I’m Clark Reid

A new study indicates that kids who listen to portable music players are three times more likely to suffer hearing loss than those who don’t! Gizmodo notes that the large-scale study was conducted among more than 3,000 children aged 9-11. Of those, 14 percent, or 450 children, had hearing problems, based on tests. Seven percent tested positive for high-frequency hearing loss, a form of hearing loss often caused by noise exposure, usually only in one ear. Looking only at the 2,000 children for whom they had data about music player use, the researchers estimated that children who listened to portable music players were nearly three times as likely to have high-frequency hearing loss than those who didn’t.

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iPad Pro May Get Face ID; Google Looking to Release 3 Pixel 3’s; Asus ZenBook Pro Replaces Touchpad with Touch Screen; Firefox Tests Side by Side Browsing

After yesterday’s preview of iOS 12 at Apple’s WWDC, some techies have noticed changes that indicate that the upcoming refresh of the iPad Pro will have Face ID and no home button. Macrumors.com reports that the higher line iPads will also get gestures that match the iPhone X, like swiping up from the dock to open the home screen, and a swipe from top right to open the Control Center. Since no hardware was shown at WWDC’s keynote, most analysts think freshened iPads and maybe MacBook Pros may come later in the fall, after the iPhone rollout in September.

It looks like Google will be following Apple in adding a 3rd phone to the Pixel line with the Pixel 3’s. According to bgr.com, there will be a Pixel 3 and larger Pixel 3 XL, as expected, but also a cheaper Pixel 3 version…probably coming in 2019, which will run a midrange Snapdragon 710 processor instead of the latest and greatest ones expected in the other Pixel 3’s. The cheaper model just went into development last month, but should be out the first half of next year.

First we got the MacBook Pro with the semi-useful ‘Touch Bar.’ now Asus has introduced the ZenBook Pro with a 5.5 inch touch screen in place of the touch pad. Although kind of gimmicky, the touch screen may be more useful overall than Apple’s Touch Bar. Theverge.com says it adds, rather than taking away features from the keyboard. The touch screen can be used as an app launcher, calculator, calendar, or numeric keypad. You can even play back YouTube videos via a Chrome extension. Asus has partnered with Microsoft, and you can get access to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint shortcuts and adjustments via the pad. It hits the market the middle of next month starting at $2299.

Firefox has released a pilot of some features. One is a Theme Editor that lets you choose colors and even textures and background….if you happen to be very OCD about your browser. The other feature reported by techcrunch.com is pretty cool if you’ve used a later model iPad. With the iPad, you can pull in another window and run a second app, switching between the two…I have found this handy with social media like Facebook and a slide over of my Twitter feed. Firefox is piloting Side View..you can use a widescreen monitor and display two tabs side-by-side inside the browser without having to open a second Firefox window. This can be very handy…here’s hoping they make it a standard feature.


ARM Based MacBook; Uber Panic Button; Cali Digital License Plates; Pixel 3 XL May Get ‘Notch’

Reports were out earlier this year that Apple will be releasing a new 13 inch entry level MacBook to take the place of the Air in the latter half of 2018. Now, macrumors.com says that Pegatron will be making ARM chips for the laptop…ditching Intel silicon as has been rumored. Using the ARM chips not only reduces Apple’s dependence on Intel, but the chips require less power and fewer transistors and are smaller…which is why they power iPhones and iPads. If another rumor holds, Apple may be trying to get a MacBook out with an entry level price of $799.

Because being able to call 911 on your phone isn’t enough, and because Uber wants to buff up its tarnished image for safety, you can now call 911 directly from the Uber app in the US. Theverge.com reports that Uber has been testing this out in as part of its ‘safety center.’ You can press the 911 button, and it will ask you if you really want to call 911…then puts the call through. It does send the rider’s location and trip details to the dispatchers when the app is used. Uber plans to add a panic button to the driver app soon, too.

From the ‘what could possibly go wrong’ department, California is rolling out a pilot project for digital license plates. According to the Sacramento Bee, the connected plates will have to be installed at a dealership for a pricey $699 PLUS installation. After that, owners will have to pay $7 a month. The plates have their own chip and battery, and can notify authorities if the car is stolen and give the location (at least of the plates…smart thieves will probably pitch them immediately.) If DMV decides to allow it, the plates can display a message as well as the tag number. Also, when you renew, it just changes the year…no stickers need be attached. It goes without saying that hackers should have a field day with these!

Some leaked images of new screen protectors indicate that Google’s Pixel 3 phones may get the dreaded Appleesque ‘notch.’ 9to5google.com says that the Pixel 3 appears to have somewhat thicker bezels than the XL, but could match features of the bigger phone. The cut outs in the notch may be for an ambient light sensor and front cam, or could be for dual front cameras. The notch on the 3XL doesn’t take up as much screen real estate as Apple’s. We’ll have to wait a few months to see if this turns out to be the real deal (or at least for more leaks.)


Pixel 3’s May Get the Dreaded ‘Notch;’ Apple Rolls Out Coding Training for Blind & Deaf Students; HTC’s Blockchain Phone

One of the most roundly criticized things about the iPhone X was the ‘notch’ at the top. Now, most Android makers are copying it, and Google may have inadvertently revealed that the Pixel 3 will also have ‘the notch.’ Of course, Apple uses the space at the top of their iPhone X screen for the Face ID sensors and cam. Bgr.com reports that by looking at the Android P beta, you can see where they have cleared out space at the top center of the screen. There’s no reason for this beyond making room for a notch. This will no doubt seal things with the rest of Android makers that haven’t already embraced notchyness, so brace yourself if it bugs you as much as it does some of the technology press.

Apple is extending its Everyone Can Code to schools that serve blind and deaf students. According to a press release, they will be furnishing the Everyone Can Code curricula for Swift, their programming language, to schools that focus on blind and deaf students starting this fall, including California School for the Blind and California School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA, plus schools in Texas, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts, The curricula is comparable with VoiceOver technology.

HTC is working on an Android handset that will be powered by blockchain tech. Thenextweb.com says it will have a universal wallet and built-in secure hardware enclave that will support cryptocurrencies and decentralized apps. They also plan to create a native blockchain network with all exodus phones acting as nodes to facilitate cryptocurrency trading among the phone users. They are hoping to have it on the market by next year.


Apple Working On Own CPUs for Macs; Cheaper Google Pixel 3; Tesla Model 3 Production Scramble; Facebook Adds HD Video and 360 Degree Photos to Messenger

Just as Intel is rolling out i9 and updated i7 chips, comes word that Apple is working on Macs that run its own CPUs. Arstechnica.com reports that Apple could be shipping computers running its own processors by 2020, but it will take a serious rewrite of the MacOS. On the plus side, the Apple designed chips will use less juice, increasing battery life on MacBooks, and developers will be able to publish apps that run on both the MacOS and iOS for mobile devices. Apple is thought to be treading carefully in this, and would continue to use Intel CPUs for a time, as developers still need to build apps that run on Intel processors, and they would not want to take a huge hit to the App Store if developers balk at non-intel processors.

Google is apparently going to have 3 models in the Pixel 3 lineup pater this year. According to bgr.com, one will be a more affordable model. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news? The cheap model may only be available in India and similar markets, and not here in the US. As a mid range device, it would also lack features most smartphones offer as standard…specifically, the other two Pixel models. The lower priced Pixel 3 could hit the market in July or August. No date range for the two higher line Pixel 3 phones yet…or pricing.

By now, Tesla was supposed to be cranking out 2500 Model 3s per week. They are still falling short, but are now producing 2000 per week, so at least have gotten into the ballpark after a number of production hiccups. Theverge.com says Elon Musk claims to be sleeping at the factory until they hit the 2500 number. Tesla has promised to be building 5000 per week by later the end of the 2nd quarter, as they try to clear the backlog of orders and deposits still numbering several hundred thousand. The continued misses, have spooked Wall Street and the stock has dropped 22% in March.

Facebook is trying to put on a happy face in the wake of all the negative news about privacy. The social network’s newsroom has announced that Messenger will now be able to handle 360 degree photos and panoramic shots, as well as HD quality, 720p videos right from the camera roll of smartphones. They note you will need to download the latest software update to Messenger to get the new features.