Facebook Makes News Feed Changes; Galaxy Note 8 Gets Exclusive Color; iPhone 7 Reigns as World’s Most Popular Smartphone

Just as I was about to write these words, my Facebook newsfeed changed! Call it a crazy coincidence or their algorithms are REALLY creepy, but it’s a somewhat different look. 9to5mac.com reports that The comment section now looks more like chat bubbles…and speaking of chat, now, the chat has its own column instead of the pop up from the bottom. Watch for profile pics to go circular, and updated Like, Comment, and Share buttons, among other things. The changes are being rolled out gradually…so you may not see them for a while yet.

As if there wasn’t enough buzz about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8….despite the demise by fire of the popular Note 7 last year, they are adding an exclusive color that won’t be available on the S8. According to bgr.com, it’s ‘Deep Sea Blue.’ The S8 has a Coral Blue in partnership with Best Buy, but the note will be sporting the Deep Sea Blue all by itself. It debuts next week, and should be have a princely price near $1000.

While it is expected to lose sales in the run up to the iPhone 8 rollout next month, and right after due to shortages, iPhone 7 stays on the top of the heap as the world’s most popular smartphone in the June Quarter. Macrumors.com says Apple shipped 16.9 million iPhone 7 handsets and 15.1 million 7 Plus models (for 2nd place) in the quarter. The Galaxy S8 was third at 10.2 million and the S8 Plus was 4th with 9 million even.
Xiaomi was 5th with 5.5 million, then there’s everybody else. Don’t cry too hard for the also rans…they accounted for 303.7 million smartphones!


Galaxy Note 8 May Actually Be Available the 24th; 1000 Spyware Apps at Android App Stores, Google Buys Health Monitoring Startup

The rollout of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is coming up fast…August 23rd…and now we have word when phones might be available. According to word leaked by a Best Buy employee picked up by 9to5google.com, it could be in the hands of users by the very next day! If Samsung is able to do this, instead of the usual 2 plus weeks wait time, it will give them a major jump on the release of the iPhone 8.

Hackers have apparently flooded Android app stores INCLUDING the official Google Play store with over 1000 spyware apps. ZDnet.com reports that SonicSpy can silently record calls and audio, take photos, MAKE calls, send texts to numbers the attackers have programmed, monitor call logs, contacts, and wi-fi systems picked up. It is believed to be the handiwork of malware developers in Iraq. The apps are marketed as messaging apps. Google has killed Sonic, Hulk Messenger, and Troy Chat, but there are still numerous other versions on various app stores.

We have often reported on how Apple has a virtual army working on health apps for iPhone. Now, Google has bought a health monitoring startup called Senosis. Geekwire.com says the founder of Senosis, Shwetak Patel, won a MacArthur genius grant in 2011. His team of a dozen engineers and physicians have focused on making smartphones into monitoring devices for pulmonary function, hemoglobin counts, and other vital health info. So far, they make apps called SpiroSmart, SpiroCall, HemaApp, and OsteoApp, which are under review by the FDA.


New Color for iPhone 8; No In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor for iPhone 8 or Galaxy S9

In a new leak, pictures of iPhone 8 mock ups show a black one that looks a lot like the piano black they have, a silver one, and what is being called a copper gold color. 9to5mac.com notes that more likely than not, only the black is a sure thing, but since Apple’s Rose Gold came out more like pink, this may be a way of differentiating a new color.

Rumors have been all over the place, but according to 9to5google.com, neither the iPhone 8 or Samsung Galaxy S9 may have an under screen fingerprint sensor. KGO Securities, one of the most reliable leakers, says both are having difficulty with the function. Apple reportedly will use cams and software for FaceID, and Samsung will tout its upgraded iris recognition. Samsung may keep a rear of phone fingerprint sensor, but it appears everyone is having issues with the under screen fingerprint reading tech.


Apple Smart Cam & Face ID for Apple Pay; Samsung Galaxy S8 Outpacing S7

More nuggets from the code in Apple’s HomePod software…iPhone 8 may have a feature called ‘Smart Cam’ which will intelligently capture the best photos when shooting scenes like sunrises, sunsets, and fireworks. Some other scenes are: Baby, Bright Stage, Document, and Foliage. 9to5mac.com says another leak from the HomePod code indicates Apple may be going to facial recognition for Apple Pay. The code corroborates reports from Bloomberg and KGI Securities saying iPhone 8 will ditch fingerprint recognition for facial recognition. There is also code indicating wireless inductee charging.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will drop the end of the month….meanwhile, the Galaxy S8 is doing fine, thank you very much. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung has shipped more than 20 million units of Samsung’s hero phone. 9to5google.com reports that this is an increase of 15% over what they cranked out last year by this time with the Galaxy S7.


Snap May Buy Chinese Drone Maker; Huawei Nearly Even With Apple in Phone Sales; IBM Crams 330TB into the Palm of Your Hand

Because selfies from phones, and Spectacle glasses for short clips just aren’t enough, Snap is looking at picking up Zero Zero Robotics, a Chinese drone maker. According to thenextweb.com, they make the ‘Hover Camera Passport’ drone for $500. It is tiny, made of light carbon fiber, and uses facial recognition to track the user…making sure you’re in those shots you can later filter or plaster with stickers! The drone is being sold through the Apple Store, and so far, Zero Zero denies any deal with Snap.

Huawei is relentlessly pushing to be the world’s largest smartphone maker, and wants to do it by 2021. Macrumors.com reports that they are nipping at the heels of Apple right now, with 38.4 million shipped in the 2nd quarter of this year, compared with Apple’s 41 million. It’s still a ways to top dog Samsung, at 79.5 million. These 3 brands account for nearly half the 360 million smartphones shipped out in the 2nd quarter of 2017.

While some chase the dream of storing nearly unlimited data in your genetic material, the scientists at IBM have managed to cram 330 TERAbytes of data into a cartridge that will fit in the palm of your hand. Theverge.com says that’s enough for 330 million books! The IBM folks went old school for the medium, too, with a twist. It’s a special prototype sputtered magnetic tape. The original back up tape drives IBM made 60 years ago could hold 2 megabytes on reels of half inch wide tape! They think the medium will work well for cold storage of vast amounts of data being stored in the cloud.


Galaxy Note 8 Design Leak;, Microsoft Surface Plus Upgrade Plan; Ford’s ‘Good Neighbor Mode’

A new leak of the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 shows it will keep the squared off, boxy shape of the Note 7, but uses a curved, edge-to-edge ‘Infinity Display’ that covers almost the entire front surface. There’s no physical home key. Businessinsider.com reports that it has a dual rear camera. On the front, there’s an infrared iris scanner for secure access, but the fingerprint reader is unfortunately on the back. Samsung will roll it out August 23rd in New York.

Ahh, planned obsolescence…something the tech industry has learned well from the auto industry. There are upgrade plans for your smartphone from both manufacturers and phone companies to keep you in the latest and greatest…for a price. Now, according to thenextweb.com, you can upgrade your PC every 18 months with Microsoft’s new Surface Plus program. The deal lets you pay off your computer in 24-month installments with zero interest if paid off in time (otherwise, it’s 19.99%!) If you trade in your old computer in working condition, you can start a new plan after 18 months. Check it out at microsoft.com or Microsoft Stores in the US.

Some of us who like cars have opted for a so-called ‘more aggressive’ exhaust system. Harley Davidson motorcycles have a characteristic sound. Now, Ford…which decades ago touted a model that was quieter than a Rolls Royce…has introduced ‘Good Neighbor Mode.’ Cnet.com notes that there are already a few cars like Aston Martin that have so-called silent start modes, but Ford is bringing one to the 2018 Mustang GT that you can schedule ahead of time. Starting in Quiet Exhaust mode cuts the sound level to about 72 decibels, close to what your dishwasher sounds like. You can program it ahead, so you can start off quiet at 7am, then let ‘er roar when you fire it up later in the day. Just the thing if you have crabby neighbors who don’t appreciate cars that are fun.


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.