Qualcomm-New AR & VR Chips; Microsoft Passes Alphabet Market Cap; Amazon Expands Whole Foods Discount; Siri Driven Beats speaker comingPosted: May 30, 2018
Qualcomm has rolled out a dedicated chipset for mass market AR and VR headsets. According to techcrunch.com, the Snapdragon XR1 will support 4K streaming at 60fps. The chipset is aimed at helping manufacturers cut the cord to PC tethered systems. Qualcomm says the chipset won’t match PC based systems, but says for a lot of users, the higher graphics and memory bandwidth of chips like the Snapdragon 845 aren’t needed for a good VR or AR experience.
The horserace is on! Fully 4 tech companies are in the hunt to become the first company in the world with a trillion dollar market cap. Businessinsider.com reports that Microsoft has passed up Google parent Alphabet for the first time in 3 years this week, hitting $753 billion…compared to Alphabet’s $739. Apple and Amazon are still #1 and #2, and it is most likely one of them will cross over the mark first, but it’s still amazing to see 4 tech giants nearing the trillion dollar milestone!
On the subject of Amazon, they are expanding their 10% off discount deal at Whole Foods for Prime members to 12 additional states. According to geekwire.com, all 365 Whole Foods stores will be included now. Available deals will rotate weekly. Customers also get the savings with Whole Foods grocery delivery, which is free for Prime members using Prime Now on orders over $35. Amazon is really trying to unload the upscale grocer’s ‘Whole Paycheck’ reputation. Of course, Amazon also just raised the cost for prime 20 bucks to $119 a year!
Among predictions of things to debut at Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference next week, analyst Gene Munster says look for a Beats branded cheaper version of the HomePod…also powered by Siri. Macrumors.com says it may sell for around $250. We’ll recap the WWDC keynote highlights next week.
HomePod Pre-Orders Sell Out; Apple Patents Stylus for Thin Air; Twitter Makes Money; Amazon Prime Tries Limited Whole Foods Prime Now DeliveryPosted: February 8, 2018
Apple’s HomePod has gotten great reviews all around for sound, but knocked for it’s lack of support of music other than Apple’s and the puny skills of Siri so far. That said, it has sold out in pre-orders a day before it officially launches. TechCrunch.com reports that some retailers do have it in stock, so if you desperately want one now, check around. People that pre-ordered are getting shipping notices for delivery tomorrow.
Also from Apple, Cupertino has apparently patented a stylus you can write in thin air…think air guitar only with drawing and words. The stylus…or ‘pencil’ in Appletalk, can be used on a tablet, any flat surface, or actually in the air, according to the patent. Thenextweb.com says on use of the latter would be to aid in drawing 3 dimensional objects…that is, for those of you who can draw at all. I can’t draw a straight line with help on a page or tablet, so it’s rather academic to me!
Twitter lost monthly users in the US…a million of them…down from 69 to 68 million. They are living steady worldwide at 330 million, though. On the plus side…and it’s a BIG plus…Twitter finally made a quarterly profit! Theverge.com points out it’s the first time they’ve turned a profit in 12 years or existence! Their revenue also grew last quarter, after declining in most of 2017. Twitter says the drop in use in the US is due to a change in Safari’s third party app integration. Interestingly, the expansion to 280 character Tweets seems to have helped pick up use…although most people rarely exceed the old limit.
Amazon is dipping its mighty toe in the water of Prime Now delivery for Whole Foods. They had already rolled out discounts related to Amazon use, and now, 4 markets will get in on Prime Now delivery of Whole Foods items delivered to your door in 2 hours. According to arstechnica.com, the cities are Austin and Dallas, Texas, Virginia Beach, Florida, and Cincinnati, Ohio. If all goes well, Amazon will be expanding Prime Now delivery to other cities, but no time frame has been given. The two hour delivery is free for all Prime members on orders of $35 or more, or customers can pay an extra $7.99 to get one hour delivery.
Apple Supplier Cuts Deal to Make Lenses for AR Glasses; Self-Driving Nissan Leaf Taxi Test; Amazon Handmade in Hand in 2 HoursPosted: December 5, 2017
It’s an open secret that Apple has been working on AR smart glasses. Now, 9to5mac.com reports that Apple supplier Quanta has inked a deal to start making lenses for augmented reality smart glasses. This deal isn’t apparently specific to Apple, but it sure opens the door for Cupertino to bring such a wearable to market. Last year, Quanta poured $45 million into Lumus, which makes AR lenses, and they now have apparently struck a licensing agreement that will make AR glasses much more affordable. Quanta has indicated that full AR headsets could be priced at less than the cost of a high end cell phone, or under $1000. Quanta says an AR product may be out in 2019, but maybe not from Apple, which is shooting for 2020.
Nissan has fired up 2018 Leaf production in the US, with the promise of battery packs coming that will get drivers 150 miles between charges…and down the road 225 miles. Now, according to techcrunch.com, the company is working with Japanese software maker DeNA to test an autonomous ride-hailing service. They expect to start testing the self-driving cabs in Japan this March. The interesting wrinkle about Nissan’s project is not just getting from point A to point B…you can apparently put in a general written inquiry such as wanting a specific kind of food, and the car will find and take you to a restaurant that serves it!
Stepping things up a notch for people using Amazon Handmade so they can better compete with Etsy, Amazon will start offering Prime Now 2 hour delivery for handmade artisan products. According to geekwire.com, customers in select Prime Now cities will be able to buy handmade items between now and Christmas Eve for the 2 hour delivery. The cities include: Austin, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.
A gigantic lobbying group has just been formed to press regulators to allow for self-driving cars. Google, Ford, Uber, Lyft, and Volvo are all involved. It’s called the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, according to theverge.com, and is headed by David Strickland, a former NHTSA administrator. They will press the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to come up with a clear set of federal standards by this summer.
Amazon has added San Francisco as the 8th city for its Prime Now one hour restaurant delivery service. With over 4000 restaurants packed into 49 square miles, San Francisco may be the restaurant capital of the world, and Amazon has thrown in a new feature…for all markets with Prime Now…a price guarantee. Geekwire.com says if you find a lower price on the restaurant’s in-person menu within 24 hours, you’ll get a refund. 33 zip codes in the City by the Bay will get the service, and there are 117 restaurants to choose from. If you want to try it out, it’s FREE during launch. Regular price for One Hour Prime Now is usually $7.99.
Apple has introduced Trade Up with Installments, which lets you put the price of a trade-in towards payments on a new iPhone, with payments down to as low as $15 a month. This is on top of your phone plan, of course, but the interesting thing noted by techcrunch.com is that Apple will take non-Apple trade-ins. Android users can get up to $300 for their used devices…like a Samsung Galaxy S6 in good condition will net you $290 towards the purchase of a new iPhone. Apple basically gets you and writes a mini-loan through Citizens Bank. If you like to trade more than every 2 years, this might be the deal. Apple is cleverly stealing the concept of conquest sales from the auto business, which has done this as well as loyalty discounts for decades.
Amazon has had Flex, and Uber-like home delivery service for Prime Now customers. The retail giant is now working to contract with private drivers to take even standard packages to customers’ doors, cutting out UPS, FedEx, and the Post Office more than ever. According to geekwire.com, the program is in effect already in part of Texas. They are reportedly paying drivers $18 an hour, and shifts can be scheduled 8a to 4p 7 days a week. Considering that Amazon has been working on leasing over 20 planes from Boeing, and flying out of a center formerly used by DHL, it sure looks like they are moving full force into doing their own logistics.
Some companies have been working on hydrogen fuel cells for cars since the 80’s. Now, one has managed to shoehorn one into smartphone size. Geek.com says Intelligent Energy has added a very slim hydrogen fuel cell to an iPhone 6! It reportedly doesn’t replace the rechargeable battery, but complements it. The company has been working closely with Apple on integrating it without modifying the phone. The back of the phone with the hydrogen cell is covered with vents to allow heat and water vapor to escape, but not enough that you will notice that. The upside? You can use your iPhone for a week without recharging! They are working on a disposable cartridge at this point, and have to decide on pricing, but this could be a huge game changer in smart devices and our other portable electronics!
Amazon has added home town Seattle and surrounding area to it’s one hour delivery service Prime Now. It was already available to Amazon Prime members in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Manhattan, Miami, and Indianapolis. More cities are on tap for later this year. Speaking of on tap, they have added the option to order beer, wine, and liquor for quick delivery, according to techcrunch.com. Other last minute needs are included in the service, which is via a standalone iOS or Android app…including party supplies, gifts, household items, and cold items like milk or frozen ones such as ice cream. Cheers!