Galaxy Note 8 To One Up iPhone 7 Plus Cams; Flash will (Finally) Go Bye-Bye; Roku Bests Chromecast in Users

The Galaxy Note 8 may be about to better the flagship feature on Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus…the dual lens camera. Bgr.com reports that Samsung wanted to put the feature on the Galaxy S8, but instead opted for the Note. Like with Apple, the Note will have a regular and telephoto lens. Samsung will have a 3x optical zoom on the Note, where Apple only has 2x, and will include optical image stabilization on the telephoto as well as main lens, which Apple doesn’t. They also are making the wide angle lens 13 megapixel, while Apple shoots with 12 megapixels on both lenses…a negligible difference, but enough to tout as a feature.

It’s been a long, slow death, but Adobe is finally pulling the plug on Flash, probably the most frequently compromised software on anyone’s computer. Mashable.com says it won’t happen until 2020, but at least there is an end date to the problematic software that Steve Jobs panned back in 2009! Most all major browsers support HTML5, and many disable Flash Player by default already. Bye, Flash…we won’t miss you.

According to info from eMarketer picked up by recode.net, Roku pulls in around 40 million people in the US per month. This gives them 23% of connected TV users, easing past Google’s Chromecast with 22% and Amazon Fire TV with 21. Apple TV is an anemic 7%. The big number is 37%….that’s how many just watch via smart TVs. Mine isn’t even all that new, but has dedicated Netflix and Amazon buttons on the remote, and was dead simple to set up.

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Rent a Charger at Your Coffee Spot; Roku Shows New Quad Core Streaming Stick; New Kindle Rolls Out Next Week

A division of Battery charger maker Anker is preparing to roll out Ankerboxes that rent out portable battery packs to charge your mobile devices in a couple hundred bars, restaurants, cafes, and gyms in Seattle, with 500 planned by May. As with bike sharing services, you download an app, go to an Ankerbox in the establishment or an a portable kiosk, charge up, then return the drained battery pack to any location. It’s 30 minutes of free charging when you rent a charger— a buck 99 a day if you keep it over a day. Even if you don’t return the charger or lose it, you never pay over 30 dollars. The little chargers can give 3 full charges, with two 3350 mAh power cells in each one. Look for them April 15th in Seattle, and in other cities later this year.

Roku has dropped a new quad core streaming stick, and at just $49.99. TechCrunch.com reports that the processor bump should make the software feel much speedier than before, and it also allows for private listening through headphones plugged into your smartphone…or via wireless Bluetooth cans. Roku says the entry level sticks are the fastest growing segment of the streaming market. They also have a ‘hotel and dorm room connect’ feature, that makes it easier to connect to WiFi with an authentication page.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Tweeted yesterday that a new top line Kindle will be shown next week. No date or details, but we’ll have those when they’re available. The verge.com notes that Amazon usually doesn’t announce products until they’re ready to go.


Local TV News for Cord Cutters; Kickstarter Hits Major Milestone

One downside for some of cutting the cord is you generally lose local TV news…something handy to have access to, since local events may affect you more than national or international ones. According to techrunch.com, that drought ends today. A company called NewsON, which unsurprisingly is backed by TV stations, gets you local news on your iOS and Android devices, as well as Roku. It makes available video content from 118 stations in 90 markets. You choose local news from where you live or where you are with an interactive map, and can even post real time Tweets about news coverage. The interface is a little kludgy, but the app is free now on iTunes, Google Play, and the Roku Channel Store.

Despite the occasional scam or big delays in getting products, Kickstarter’s 9.5 million users have now pledged over 2 billion dollars to projects. So far, there have been 260,000 campaigns since 2009. Engadget.com reports that the crowdfunder is simplifying its rules for submission, too. Gaming projects have raised the most money, $412 million, with tech related ones #2 at $360 million. I’ve backed several, and only been burned once…for less than 50 bucks. Just this week, two new products I backed..including the Sherlybox private cloud and VPN arrived–it worked as pitched. I’m jazzed about it!


4th Generation Apple TV Coming in October

It’s slightly bigger than the present hockey puck, but still has a small footprint. The 4th generation Apple TV is rolling out in October, and will sell for between $149 and $199, according to 9to5mac.com. This is a bump of $50 to $100 bucks, depending on Apple’s final decision, and a good deal more than Roku, Google, or Amazon. Apple will keep the 3rd generation at $69, which it’s been selling for since March. The 4th gen model will feature Siri and a new remote control with a touchpad on top, a microphone for Siri, and motion sensors. There will also be an App store. Apple plans to launch a cable replacing streaming TV service next year for $40 a month that bundles multiple TV channels. The cheaper 3rd gen model won’t have the fancy remote control or Siri support.

It’s a constant battle for computers and smart devices to try to keep up with malware. Qualcomm is taking a new approach with their upcoming new Snapdragon 820 mobile processor. Engadget.com reports the processor will use what they call Smart Protect tech, which uses machine learning to watch for possible security issues in real time, as opposed to relying on a list of threats. In addition the Snapdragon 820 will have faster graphics capability, and an API for security software makers to utilize the chip’s heightened awareness.


Apple Patents Way For iPhones to Minimize Drop Damage

Apple has patented a system that makes your phone turn in mid-drop, almost like a cat, to minimize damage from dropping. Techcrunch.com says it an older vibration motor than the iPhone 6 and 6+, so a variation may make it into future phones.

The first three quarters of this year, 10 percent of households with broadband bought at least one streaming player, according to cnet.com. Roku still leads the pack with 29% of streaming, with Google’s Chromecast at 20%, and Apple TV at 17%.

Google is partnering with the National Park Service to let kids program and animate the Christmas trees at the White House’s President’s park. Engadget.com says the Made with Code Holiday Lights Project is in the simple Blockly language.


Fire TV Stick-Amazon’s Answer to Chromecast & Roku

Amazon has launched Fire TV Stick. Geek.com says the Chromecast and Ruku streaming stick competitor is $39, but you can preorder it for $19 the next two days if you have Amazon Prime. It will ships November 19th.

Apple is in talks to expand their NFC reach for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. 9to5mac.com says they’re angling to integrate HID and Global building keycards, and transit fare cards. Forget your BART card or key card to get in the building…just bring your iPhone.

Your phone company will hate it, but in Britain, Swytch is building an app that allows multiple, simultaneous phone numbers on a phone with one sim card. Techcrunch.com reports the app would allow for business and personal numbers on one phone, use of a ‘burner’ number if you were selling something, etc. It will work on iOS and Android, and on tablets with cellular as well. Expect it to be here early next year.


Another Car Line Getting Android in the Dash

We’re seeing more and more of the connected car. Next year, Honda Civic models will run Android. Engadget.com says they’ll sport a 7 inch, customizable touch screen display that will act a lot like a smartphone.

If you’re a bargain hunter or on a budget, check the Lumia 530 at T-Mobile. Gigaom.com says it’s $79.80 off contract. The Windows smartphone will be available October 15th, with pre-ordering starting Sunday.

Set top box maker Roku has enabled screen mirroring from some Android smart devices and Windows devices to your HDTV. 9to5google.com says you can mirror apps, photos, games, and the web on your smart device and your big screen.