Samsung Has ‘Walk Mode’; Amazon Prime Day; iPhone’s Birthday

While Apple appears ready to bake in an option to iOS 11 that blocks texting and the like while you are driving, Samsung is out with another needed feature, and you can download it as an app from the Play Store right now. 9to5google.com says Walk Mode will sense when there’s danger in front of you, and tell you to look up from your screen! With all the ‘smartphone zombies’ walking around cities, Samsung says it runs in the background, and pops up an overlay to warn you of walls, tripping hazards, or…oh yeah, OTHER HUMANS you might walk into! The initial version is a bit buggy….seeing phantom things, and sometimes blocking the phone from being used while moving. Let’s see if version 2.0 addresses these.

Ok, power shoppers, it’s official. Amazon has announced Prime Day 2017. It’s July 11th, and according to bgr.com, it will last 30 hours…because Amazon knows we can’t possibly buy enough bargains in 24! As usual, it’s for Prime members only, and Amazon always gets a lot of sign ups…even just for the 30 day free trial. Besides the 30 hours of fevered keyboarding to buy lots of stuff, Amazon will again feature promotions leading up to the 11th. July 5th, it’s Alexa voice shopping, the 6th is for Amazon Music, on the 7th, Amazon Video, the 8th is for Everyday Essentials, and the 9th, Amazon Reading. The 10th is when they will actually start Prime day at 6pm Pacific time.

Finally, Happy Birthday iPhone, and actually all smartphones. Macrumors.com reminds us that it was 10 years ago today that Steve Jobs revealed the iconic iPhone that has literally changed the world, putting a touch screen computer in pockets and purses everywhere. Having been one of those early adapters, I can remember that the original one really didn’t do much compared to modern models. Here’s a couple of numbers though…by October 2008, Apple had sold 10 million iPhones. As of now, they have sold over a billion…it’s like McDonald’s hamburgers, only way more expensive and fragile! Happy Birthday, iPhone!


Affordable Amazon Prime for Folks on Assistance; Google Maps Shows Local Pollution; Crowd Cow Sustainable Beef-Because Crowd Cow

Amazon has rolled out a Prime program for folks on government assistance, like food stamps. The online giant apparently doesn’t want to leave a single market untapped! Techcrunch.com says the program is available to any customer with a valid EBT card, and it cuts the price of Prime membership from $10.99 a month to $5.99 a month. The card can only be used to get the discount, Amazon isn’t accepting payment for the Prime fee or for items purchased via EBT cards. The membership comes with all the other parts of Prime…streaming video and music, free photo storage, the Kindle lending library, etc. At the other end of the spectrum, more than 70% of households with over $112,000 a year income already have prime.

Google Maps just keeps adding things to make it better and better. Now, here’s a feature that may make you want to avoid an area…and maybe freak you out about your own. According to zdnet.com, they are adding a block-by-block map of air pollution levels. Google has used sensor equipped vehicles, and also uses available data, like from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which has 15 lager sensors in the San Francisco Bay Area. Google has completed Oakland, and is planning on data for 25 of the largest US urban areas, covering a third of the US population.

Ok, I admit this one is all about the name….Crowd Cow made it irresistible. Geekwire.com is reporting that the Seattle based startup which delivers sustainably raised beef is now going nationwide. Crowd Cow works with independent ranches and cuts out the middleman to bring quality beef direct to consumers. Ranches in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania will ship their cattle to USGA processors to get the meat “cut and wrapped. It will then be shipped from the Lancaster, PA facility where Crowd Cow does the packaging with dry ice, etc. Delivery will be available to the lower 48 states. If you want to get on their wait list for beef deliveries, get ‘mooving.’


iPhone Claws Back Market Share from Android; Tesla’s Gigafactory Will Be Solar Powered; Amazon Prime Bows Cashback Rewards Visa Card

According to the latest data, Apple’s iPhone picked up 6.4% in market share in the US for the 3 months ending last November. 9to5mac.com also says that Apple did the same in 7 of 9 other key markets. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and 6s were the 3 most popular phones in the US for the period, combining for 31.3%. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge where next, grabbing 28.9% share. Apple snagged a whopping 9.1% in the UK…mainly crushing the hopes of Windows phones.They did drop 5.4% in China to local brands and lost out 3.2% in Germany, where Android picked up share.

Theverge.com reports that Tesla plans to power its Gigafactory with a 70 megawatt solar installation on the roof! That would make it 7 times larger than the present largest rooftop solar array. Excess power picked up would be stored by Powerpack storage units for use after dark, etc. The solar panels will all come from Solar City of course. Tesla acquired them last year.

If you need a reason to spend even more money with Amazon, have they got a deal for you. TechCrunch.com says Amazon is partnering with Chase to offer Prime members an Amazon Prime Visa card with 5% cash back on Amazon purchases. The card would give 2% back for restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% elsewhere. There’s no annual fee on the card. Amazon is believed to have between 58 and 69 million members, or roughly half of US households. The card is available today.


Amazon-Deep Discounts Via Alexa; iPhone Lock Screen Hack Exposes Contacts & Pictures

Amazon opened up a new way to separate you from your money….’voice shopping weekend!’ Cnet.com says Prime customers can grab a discount by ordering over Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Tap, Fire HD Tablet, and Fire TV using the Alexa voice assistant. The sale is now through November 21st. There will also be Alexa exclusive deals through the rest of November and all of December, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Buy items for over 10 bucks with Alexa, and Amazon will throw in a $5 gift card, too!

A kinky hack has been discovered for iPhones. It does take physical access to the phone, but if you have Siri turned on for the lock screen (I don’t), a hacker can get your phone number and call the phone…that gives them access to iMessages. According to thenextweb.com, a particular combination of touches to the contact info bar and keyboard exposes your contacts and pictures. If you don’t want someone compromising your contacts and naughty pics you’ve sent, disable Siri on the lock screen until Apple fixes this hack!


Looking Ahead, Apple Sees AR in iPhone’s Camera App; One Day Amazon Prime Membership Sale

It’s no secret…Tim Cook has noted several times that augmented reality will become a huge thing. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple has a team working on tech from several of its acquisitions to integrate AR into its camera app. Cupertino hopes people will be able to aim the cam at something in the real world, and have the software recognize it, like facial recognition for everything. The end game seems to be releasing smart glasses that integrate with iPhones. Some VR and AR features could come as soon as next year with the iPhone 8…which one source has already claimed will be ‘a clear piece of glass with mixed reality.

If you don’t have Amazon Prime, here’s your chance to get it at a discount…but only tomorrow, November 18th. Amazon will cut the price from $99 per year to $79 for 24 hours for new members only. A lot of us save it in shipping alone, but you also get Prime Video, Prime Music and more.


Amazon’s Music Unlimited Service; Apple Really Magic Keyboard

Amazon has kicked off its new Music Unlimited service. Geekwire.com says it starts at $4 a month to use on a single Echo smart speaker, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap. The Echo works well, and getting millions of songs for half the price of Apple Music or Spotify Premium should be a heck of a draw. To use it on unlimited devices, it’s $7.99 a month for Prime members, $9.99 otherwise. Prime members already have access to a couple million songs with their membership.

There’s been plenty of reporting about Apple adding a smart touchscreen strip above the keyboard on the upcoming MacBooks to replace the function keys. Apparently, morphing function keys isn’t the only thing like that they are working on. A leak out of China picked up by bgr.com says Apple is working on an even more magical Magic Keyboard…one with a changing, color E ink display on the keys that can change up depending on the user’s needs or application in use. Apple is apparently working with a startup called Sonder on this, and is working to buy Sonder. The Really Magic Keyboard could be out in 2018.


Tentative Date for Tesla Autopilot Update; Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Apology & Recall; Clarkson Netflix Show November Start

Elon Musk has announced that Tesla hopes to begin a worldwide rollout of V. 8.0 of their Autopilot software next Wednesday. Bgr.com says this is barring any last minute issues popping up. The revised version will utilize radar a lot more than previous versions…which primarily used it to supplement cameras. The update will be pushed out over the air as in the past.

Samsung’s president has issued a video apology for the fires and explosions of Galaxy Note 7s. According to 9to5google.com, they have replaced 130,000 of the 2.5 million bad handsets so far. They have implored people to power present devices down until they can be replaced. Since the Consumer Product Safety Commission stepped in, Samsung has said that replacement phones will be available no later than September 21st, and now you can take yours in and get your money back, then just go buy the new one when they are available.

The new car show starring the original Top Gear guys: Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond, will premiere on Amazon November 18th. It’s called The Grand Tour. If you’re a Prime member, you can watch it free, or pay a monthly video subscription of 8 bucks a month.