Smartphones..even from Samsung and Apple…have reached something of a saturation point. The market isn’t really growing as top line phones have broken the $1000 barrier and all have amazing features. Now, Samsung is really going for the ‘wow’ factor on the Galaxy S10, hoping to bump up their market. Engadget.com reports that the upcoming S10 may be equipped with 6 cameras and have 5G capability. There also may be 4 different versions of Samsung’s flagship phone, including one with a 6.7 inch screen. That would be the one with all the cams…4 rear cams and 2 selfie cams. The other models would range in size from 5.8 to 6.4 inch screens and have anywhere from 3 to 5 cameras. Another ‘wow’ feature that might make it is the ability to wirelessly charge other phones. With more people keeping phones for two to four years, all the eye-popping features may be needed to jump start sales again.
There are some nasty little bugs that show up in software, then there are the really ugly ones that produce a ‘fatal error.’ Apparently, one has surfaced that affects cameras on Google’s Pixel 3 phones. According to 9to5google.com, a lot of people using 3rd party camera apps have gotten a ‘can’t connect to camera’ message. The cams stay disconnected from then on, and so far, Google hasn’t done anything about it besides acknowledging the issue. They are refusing to replace phones with the error, and basically have said developers are ‘working on a fix’ or there ‘might be an update.’ It’s kind of tough to wait it out, when cameras are probably the most used feature on a smartphone. For now…best to steer clear of 3rd party cam apps all together until this bug is squashed. [[Google has now said that this is a known issue and that an update will roll out to fix the problem in the coming weeks.]]
So you want to walk or run through your VR world, but you’d rather not run into the walls in your real world room…what to do? Here comes Google, with a patent that could well do the trick. Arstechnica.com says Google has patented shoes that are akin to motorized roller skates. The kicks let you walk normally while the wheels work to keep you inside the VR safe zone…without running into walls or knocking over the big screen. Although they aren’t omnidirectional…so just work backwards and forwards, they will act to give you a nearly endless virtual world, according to Google. No time frame yet on when these may be out and ready for your VR play.
Facebook Launches Portal Video Chat Screens; Google’s Pixel 3 Event; Microsoft Game Streaming Service; Oct Windows 10 Update PulledPosted: October 8, 2018
Facebook has dropped its first hardware product in the Portal line. TechCrunch.com says they are auto-zooming video chat screens ranging in price from $199 to $349. The Portal units will run Alexa and eventually Google Assistant in a countertop video chat screen that zooms to always keep you in frame. The big question will be whether people will want a Facebook cam and microphone in their house, even with a physical clip-on privacy shield. At any rate, the presale starts now. For $199, you get the 10 inch screen Portal, and for $349 you will be the proud owner of a 15.6 inch swiveling screen with a hi-fi audio Portal+. Save $100 if you buy any two Portal devices. The screens come with ‘Hey Portal’ voice navigation, bluetooth and voice activated music, Facebook Messenger for video calls, Spotify and Pandora. More video provers to come. Facebook claims there is built in privacy…no facial recognition but something called 2D pose that runs locally on the device to keep you in picture. They claim the unit only turns on with the wake word, and that it doesn’t save recordings…also they have data encryption. With a tap you can automatically disable the cam and mic, and it does have a plastic privacy shield you can slide over the cam if you still want to chat…without video. They ship in November. You can preorder at Portal.Facebook.com, Amazon, and Best Buy.
Tomorrow, October 9th, Google will be showing their latest at an event scheduled for 11am Eastern, 8 Pacific. Theverge.com reports that the flood of leaks has given us a good idea of what to expect. The Pixel 3 and 3 XL phones top the list…in fact, someone got hold of a working Pixel 3 in Asia a couple days ago from a source…talk about a leak! The phones sport target screens, wireless charging, and a second selfie cam. Also expected is a wireless charging stand for the handsets. There MAY be a Google Home speaker with a smart display to compete with the Amazon Echo Show. An expected item is the Pixel Slate, A Google branded Chrome OS tablet. Rumors have it with a detachable keyboard, and expect it to be fairly high end like the iPad Pro and Surface Pro.There will probably be a Pixelbook update, but probably not a major overhaul there. We’ll have details after the actual event tomorrow.
Look for a beta in 2019 of Microsoft’s game streaming service, Project xCloud. According to engadget.com, the idea behind the cloud system is to allow users to play any video game where they feel the most comfortable or where it’s convenient….on a console, a computer, or mobile device. Of course, Microsoft is most interested in making it as frictionless as possible for users to play their own Xbox One games. Even with the beta out next year, Redmond cautions that this is a complicated project, and may take a while longer to perfect.
Microsoft has pulled the October update to Windows 10 (version 1809) after complaints that it deleted user’s files. ZDnet.com says some users said they couldn’t even recover all files using a recovery product like Recuva. There was a similar issue with the April, 2018 update. In that case, Microsoft delayed the update until the end of the month to squash the bugs.
Their company slogan for over 100 years, a personal motto of Gottlieb Daimler, has been ‘The best…or nothing.’ Now, Mercedes is going to reveal their first production electric SUV on September 4th. According to engadget.com, a very brief video clip dropped of the vehicle over the weekend. It does have a grill…unnecessary in an e-vehicle, but perhaps necessary from a branding standpoint…making it clear that it’s unmistakably a Mercedes. Interestingly, except for the tiny script on the crest on the hood, Mercedes-Benz has never put their actual name on a vehicle in the past 70 years…only the iconic 3 pointed star! The e-SUV will roll with a 400HP motor system and 70kWh battery pack. It will boast 0-62mph in under 5 seconds and a 310 mile maximum range. It should hit the roadways in 2019.
The smart speaker market is exploding, but no one knows how much longer it will sustain such growth. Geekwire.com reports that an analysis by Canalys estimates that in the second quarter of this year, the market grew 187% worldwide year over year, with shipments of 16.8 million smart speaker devices. Amazon still commands half the market, Google now has a quarter, and the final quarter is divided up amongst Chinese players and Apple. Canalys sees Google shipping more than Amazon in Q2, 32.3% to 24.5%, but others disagree. Futuresource and Strategy Analytics say Amazon is still on top. The latter gave amazon 41% and Google 27.6% in 2nd quarter, so we’ll have to stay tuned to see who actually comes out on top when the smoke all clear.
Google will roll out the Pixel 3 at an event in New York City on October 9th, according to a couple Bloomberg sources, in a story picked up by 9to5google.com. In addition to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, we should also see a 2nd generation Pixelbook, a new set of Pixel Bud earphones, and a Pixel Watch running the Wear OS.
We are pretty certain Apple will roll out its 3 new iPhone models on September 12th, but no one is certain about the name. Macrumors.com says Apple has considered ’S’ since this would ordinarily be an ’S’ year for them…they may have more significant changes next year….BUT is waffling on naming the OLED models that. Maybe that’s due to how it sounds. Although the ‘X’ model was supposed to be TEN, most people called it X. An Xs model could bring snark and ridicule…say it fast…Xs….excess! Well, a lot of people feel that way about Apple’s prices! Anyway, whatever it is should roll out September 12th.
Google may roll out a Pixel Watch with the Pixel 3 phones this fall, in addition to a new Pixelbook. Bgr.com reports that a big tip-off is that Google is developing an app called Google Coach that is supposed to deliver fitness and health notifications on a daily basis to users. No size or shape has been leaked about the watches, but they will run on Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon Wear 3100 platform.
Sony has sold 3 million VR headsets for Playstation VR now. According to engadget.com, by then end of 2017, they were at 2 million after the 2016 launch, so their numbers have accelerated nicely in the past 8 months. They have also sold some 21.9 million PSVR games. Two new games have been announced, too: Creed: Rise to Glory pre-orders today, and ships September 25th, and Evasion also pre-orders today, and will drop October 9th.
There’s been a lot of news about a flood of ATM skimmers lately. Now, here’s a little good news. A couple of University of Florida researchers have developed a device they call the ’SkimReaper.’ Arstechnica.com says the gadget can detect virtually all overlays and ‘deep inserts’ in ATM machines. It detects when there are two or more sets of read heads. There are other ways of stealing from ATMs, but these two are by far the most widely used. In a test of skimmers the NYPD had, the SkimReaper found 100% of them. So far, 7 police agencies have signed on to get the detectors, so it may soon make it a bit harder to hackers to do their shady work.
Whole Foods Rolls Out Curbside Delivery; SnapChatting a Bit Less; Magic Leap One; Pixel 3 Leak Shows Apple-esque ‘Notch’Posted: August 8, 2018
Amazon is launching curbside pickup at Whole Foods. Reuters.com reports the service is available starting today in Sacramento, CA and Virginia Beach, VA…other cities should follow later this year. Since pickup is cheaper than delivery, it has been pushed by bigger grocers like Kroger and Walmart. Amazon is gigantic, but Whole Foods actually only has about 1% of the vary fractured grocery market. Pickup in an hour is free for orders of at least $35, while pickup in 30 minutes costs $4.99.
Snapchat has decidedly mixed results the last quarter. They lost 3 million users, a drop of 2%, but is still up 8% year over year. They also lost $353 million, but that’s still 20% less than the previous year’s loss. Their monthly audience is up 3 million for 11 of its Shows, users spend over 30 minutes a day with the platform.
The Magic Leap One Creator Edition AR headset is available….some places…for developers now. It’s a breathtaking $2295. While cnet.com notes that the price is less than the Microsoft HoloLens at 3 grand, you may need to drop another $495 for the ‘professional development edition’, which comes with an extra hub cable and a service called RapidReplace…which gets you a replacement within 24 hours. Another catch: it’s only available in Chicago, LA, Miami, New York, San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle. For the princely price, they deliver it and set it up for you in-home, to ensure a perfect fit. You can’t wear the headset with glasses, but can get prescription pop-in lenses at extra cost…or just get contacts. It does sport a bigger field of view than HoloLens, but not as wide as a regular VR headset. It’s brawn is PC-like, with a powerful system on a chip, 128 gigs of storage, 8 gigs ram.
Pictures of what’s said to be a pre-release final production Google Pixel 3 XL shows a notch at the top like the iPhone X has, and a number of other phones have emulated. Macrumors.com says the pics were put out by a Russian blogger and picked up by Android Police. The display on the 3 XL is not as wide as the iPhone X, but it is noticeably taller. It is supposed to be a 6.2 inch screen. The smaller Pixel 3 apparently does not have the notch…which reportedly holds improved cameras with two lenses.
Google Pixel 3 Launch Date; Tesla Drops Nvidia Chips for Roll Your Own; Wells Fargo-Homes Lost Over Computer ‘Error’; TSMC Hit By Virus; Apple Deletes Most Alex Jones PodcastsPosted: August 6, 2018
It now appears that Google will launch the Pixel 3 phones on October 4th…making it the 3rd year in a row they have rolled out handsets on that date. 9to5google.com says there are some rumors that Google could begin actually selling the phones on that date, but they suggest taking that with a grain of salt…or maybe a whole salt shaker!
Tesla is rolling their own, and will drop Nvidia chips. Elon Musk says the auto maker is building its own chips that are optimized for machine learning. Arstechnica.com reports that they have been working on the chips for 3 years, and it will be out next year. The chips are designed to be backward compatible, so older hardware can be swapped out, giving Tesla owners a big performance boost. Musk claims that most CPU and GPU chips do neural network in ‘some kind of emulation mode,’ but the Tesla ones will ‘run the neural net at a bare metal level.’
An SEC filing has shown that around 625 customers of Wells Fargo were either denied loan charges or didn’t receive loan modification offers they were entitled to…with about 400 losing homes at lest partly as a result. According to engadget.com, the bank revealed a ‘calculation error’ in a loan modification tool as the culprit. The error was in place between April 2010 and October 2015. Wells now says it is ‘providing remediation’, including an $8 million fund set aside for those affected.
TSMC, which makes some of the chips for Apple’s iPhones, was hit with a ‘debilitating’ computer virus that attacked many of its fabrication tools Friday night. Macrumors.com reports that they are 80% back to normal, but issued a warning that customers…including Apple…may have shipments of chips delayed. TSMC has been making A12 processor chips for the 2018 iPhones. The company says no confidential info was taken, and that the virus came from a ‘misoperation’ during the installation of software for a new process.
Apple has followed actions by Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify, and deleted most Alex Jones and Infowars podcasts, citing hate speech that violates its guidelines. Reuters.com says Apple purged the entire library for 5 of Jones’ 6 Infowars podcasts. The only survivor was ‘RealNews with David Night’ as of last night.
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.
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 BrowsingPosted: June 5, 2018
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.