Prime Day is Here; The UK Spaceport Will Be in Scotland; Samsung Health Measurements

Christmas in July is here…or as Amazon calls it, Prime Day. The ‘day’ lasts 36 hours, not even counting the pre-sale deals or ‘last chance’ ones. Techcrunch.com notes that, as is often the case, a couple of the hotter deals are on Amazon’s own products. The Amazon Cloud Cam is $60, or half price. The Kindle Paper White has been dropped to $80, which is $40 off regular price. If you’re looking for something more pricey and outdoorsy, check the DJI Mavic Pro foldable drone at $999, which is $300 off the usual price. Prime Day officially starts at noon Pacific time July 16th.

The first spaceport built for the UK Space Agency will be on Scotland’s north coast, and Lockheed Martin is a major winner, with a $31 million grant to develop it and a new made-in-Britain system for deploying satellites into orbit. Geekwire.com says London-based Orbex will get $7 million towards design of the Prime rocket, which uses bio-propane and will deliver payloads of up to 330 lbs into low earth orbit. Orbex has also raised $40 million in public and private funds towards the rocket project.

Samsung has applied for a trademark ‘Samsung Speckle’ in Europe. Rumors are flying regarding what it is…and most point-to a device using lasers to measure heart rate or blood pressure. Businessinsider.com says the recent filing referring to the mark mentions a “laser speckle interferometric system” described in a previous patent application from 2016. Apple’s Watch uses LED lights to measure heart rates and to authenticate the wearer. A laser based system could be more accurate.

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Freshened MacBook Pro; Apple Watch Grows This Fall; Self-Driving Mercedes Test to Silicon Valley; Purple Galaxy Note 9

Apple has freshened it’s top drawer MacBook Pros today. Theverge.com reports that they come with updated processors, more configuration options, True Tone displays, and what Apple claims is a ‘quieter’ keyboard design. The 15 inch model gets a 70 percent performance boost and the 13 incher doubles in speed. The upgrade doesn’t apply to the base 13 inch MacBook Pro (without the Touch Bar), the MacBook, or MacBook Air. It is rumored the lower line MacBooks will be upgraded this fall. There is a beautiful new leather sleeve for the new MacBook Pros, in black, brown, and dark blue. The price is beautiful, to….a whopping $180 for a SLEEVE! OTOH, a fully tricked out 15 inch MacBook Pro will set you back $6699! (Once your heart resumes beating….the base model remains the same at $2399.

Apple Watch gets updated this fall…probably at the iPhone event in September. One strong rumor from Ming-Chi Kuo is that both watches will get screen size increases without the watch getting larger. According to 9to5mac.com, Apple will do this by cutting the bezel size. The screens will go from 1.31 inch and 1.54 inch to 1.57 and 1.78 inch sizes. the Watch will also get better heart rate detection.

Mercedes-Benz will start pilot testing self-driving taxis in Silicon Valley in 2019. Theverge.com reports that Daimler and Bosch have been partnering on the self-driving tech, which uses a custom version of NVIDIA’s autonomous vehicle tech. The cars will only follow preselected routes, and Mercedes hasn’t decided whether it will go with S-class cars (the biggest body Mercedes) or V-class vans, or both. As with all other self-driving cars right now, there will be a safety driver present in the vehicles.

A leaked poster shows the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in a purple color (which they’ve done before, calling it Lilac Purple) but with a twist this time…it comes with a gold S Pen. In addition, 9to5google.com says the phablet will continue to have a headphone jack. All will be revealed at Samsung’s Unpacked event, which is coming up on August 9th.


Ford-Bye Gas, Hello Batteries; Samsung Giant Indian Factory; Owning Apple i Devices = Wealth

Previously, Ford had announced that, outside of the Mustang, they were ditching cars for all SUVs and trucks. Now, engadget.com reports that Ford is going all-in on electrics. They plan to have a 300 mile range Mustang inspired small SUV (code name Mach 1) on the road by 2020. They plan to have 40 electrified vehicles…16 of then EVs…..by 2022.

Samsung has opened the world’s largest mobile phone factory in India. According to Bloomberg, it will make everything from $100 cheapies to the flagship S9. Locally, most sales in India are in the $250 or less range. Last year, India passed up the US to become the 2nd largest market for smartphones after China. Cisco did a study, and sees India going from 359 million smartphones in 2018 to 780 million in 2021.

In a study by the University of Chicago, in the US ’no individual brand is as predictive of being high-income as owning an Apple iPhone’. Businessinsider.com says the study was based on 2016 data. According to the researchers, owning an iPhone gave them a 69% chance to correctly infer that the phone owner was ‘high-income,’ which they defined as in the top 25% of income for the household type (like single adult….or couple with dependents.) For reference, back in 1992, the strongest indicator of high income households was Grey Poupon mustard!


Samsung Bug; Amazon Anti-HAck Drone; HTC Cuts; Big Bank Blockchain Success

Here’s a creepy new development for some Samsung phone owners. Apparently, Samsung Messaging is randomly sending your camera roll photos to your contacts without permission. According to theverge.com, it is on the S9 and S9+ phones at the least…and appears to be when you use MMS messaging or send a message with a link. Samsung says they are aware of the issue and are looking into it. If you have the problem, Samsung says to call 1-800-SAMSUNG and let them know. The problem was first noticed on T-Mobile, but the carrier says it’s not their issue. Meanwhile, if you have a Samsung phone, better delete those racy selfies and private pictures until Samsung issues a fix!

Amazon just got a patent approved that they filed 2 years ago for “Hostile takeover avoidance of unmanned vehicles”. It’s aimed at making their future drones as hack-proof as possible. Amazon has been experimenting with having drones deliver people’s goods within an hour, so this is one step closer to that goal. The company’s other drone-related patents include self-destruction when a failure is detected and drones that can respond to gestures and voice commands. Mashable.com says Amazon is seeking to avoid hackers who might steal the drones and their payloads, crash them, or otherwise cause disruption to the operation of drones on their way to deliver your order.

The smartphone world is dominated by Samsung, Apple, and Huewei. Now, maker HTC is cutting a quarter of its workforce worldwide…mainly at its manufacturing plant in Taiwan. Reuters.com reports that HTC once sold 10% of smartphones worldwide, but that’s been in decline for some time. Sales were down 48% from year to year in March. The company is also consolodating its smartphone and virtual reality divisions. Last year, HTC shifted 2,000 handset engineers to Google in an 1.1 billion dollar deal. Alphabet’s Google has been trying to get a foothold in the handset market with it’s Pixel line of phones.

It was confirmed today that the first cross-border, commercial transactions have been conducted on the we.trade blockchain platform – an initiative established by a group of financial giants, including Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and Rabobank. These aren’t your average bank-funded, cross-border remittances transactions powered by the blockchain, though. This particular test was a sustained cross-country, multi-bank, interoperability remittance fest. Thenextweb.com reports that over a whole business week, 10 companies conducted trades on the we.trade platform, making use of four different banks, in 11 European countries. The successful tests are a major win for the IBM Blockchain Platform, which powers we.trade.


Galaxy S10 Biometrics; Printable 3D Organs; Facebook Renegade Shareholders; AT&T Buys AppNexus

There have been rumors in the past that Samsung was going to completely ditch their iris scanner in favor of an improved version of their Apple-like Face ID. Now, it looks like the Galaxy S10 may actually do it. On top of that, 9to5google.com reports that Samsung may have figured out how to put the fingerprint reader under the screen, so they could drop the fingerprint sensor on the back of the S10. It looks like Samsung will be selling 5.8 and 6.2 inch sizes, unchanged from the S8 and S9 models. There may be a third model in the 5.8 inch form factor that will add a second camera, too.

A startup in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco called Prellis Biologics has apparently taken a big step toward developing viable 3D printed organs for people. According to techcrunch.com, the company has figured out a new tech that allows them to manufacture capillaries, a key component of making printable hearts, livers, kidneys, and lungs. Based on the new tech, Prellis has published findings that indicate that they could be able to deliver 3D printed organs implantable in people within 5 years. They are using holographic printing tech, which allows for the organs very quickly…before cellular material can deteriorate. Before humans, animal trials have to be run…and Prellis expects those to start in about 2-1/2 years!

Facebook shareholders with nearly $3 billion invested in the company are trying to topple Mark Zuckerberg as chairman and tear up the company’s governance structure. A report from Business Insider says  there is an unprecedented level of unrest among Facebook’s backers following a series of scandals.  At least a half dozen Facebook investors boasting nearly $3 billion in shares are making moves to remove Zuckerberg as chairman and break up his power base at the company. They want Zuckerberg to step down as chairman and an independent executive to be hired in his place. Shareholders also want Facebook’s dual-class share structure to be abolished because they believe it concentrates too much power into the hands of Zuckerberg and his top team. It’s a tough hill for the renegade shareholders to climb: Zuckerberg holds 75% of the class A voting stock.

Hot on the heels of their approval for snapping up Time Warner, AT&T is buying again…this time, a company called AppNexus, that delivers personalized ads based on Internet users’ Web browsing habits. The company will now be able to not only gather more information about people’s video watching habits, both online and on cable and satellite TV services, but can combine this data with AppNexus in order to deliver more personalized ads based on its customers’ TV watching and Web browsing histories.  AT&T has 60 million smartphone subscribers, 16 million home internet customers, plus DirecTV already. They expect to close on the AppNexus purchase by 3rd quarter.


Samsung Galaxy X Folder; iPhones Beef Up Hack-proofing; Waymo Ridership; Microsoft Eyes Automated Check Out

The mythic Samsung Galaxy X folding smartphone may yet be coming…the latest rumors say in 2019…pretty cool news for those excited about a phone with a large, folding screen. Ok…that’s the good news. The not-so-good news? According to Golden Bridge Investment, it will probably cost a bit under $1850…or almost double the cost of the present iPhone X. In addition to the two OLED screens with virtually no bezel between them that fold in, the handset will have a third panel for use when the phone is folded. Bgr.com reports that unfolded, the inner screens will combine for a phablet-sized  7.3 inch display! Samsung partners should get a preview at next year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Apple has confirmed a leak that says it is closing the tech loophole that has been letting law enforcement hack iPhones via USB based hardware like the GrayKey box. The GrayKey box is designed to plug into the Lightening port of an iPhone, and it then uses a data connection to brute force a passcode in as little as a few hours.  In an upcoming software update, the port will be disabled and require a password starting an hour after the phone is locked. The setting will be enabled by default. Macrumors.com says an exception is charging…which doesn’t require a data connection. Apple notes that they aren’t anti-law enforcement…in 2017 they responded to over 29,000 National Security Requests from the US government.

This Spring, Google’s Waymo kicked off an Early Rider program to let people in Arizona get their feet wet in experiencing self-driving cars. They have now let us in on a bit of a progress report. Waymo has gotten 20,000 applications to participate, and so far, riders have ranged in age from 9 to 69. Destinations pretty well mirror rides from Uber or Lyft…the most popular is getting to work…followed by restaurants, schools, and bars. According to 9to5google.com, the biggest request by riders: closer pickup and drop-off points. You’ll be glad to know that Waymo is working on how to gently wake napping riders upon arriving at their destination!

Amazon’s checkout-less stores…Amazon Go… have been covered here a number of times, but now there’s word of a heavyweight challenger in the push to eliminate the check out line at stores….Microsoft. Reuters.com says The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant is developing systems that track what shoppers add to their carts. Microsoft has shown sample technology to retailers from around the world and has had talks with Walmart  about a potential collaboration. While it isn’t clear how soon Microsoft could get their system to the market, it’s worth noting that they are the #2 provider of cloud services behind Amazon. According to analyst Gene Munster of Loop Ventures, the US market for automated checkout is worth some $50 billion dollars.


Galaxy Note 9 Rumors; Snap Spectacles II on Amazon; Nintendo Switch Content Leak; Facebook Rebrands On This Day As Memories

More has leaked out about the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, widely expected to be a minor upgrade coming in August. Bgr.com says one tweak may make a noticeable difference over the Note 8…the back cams may go horizontal instead of vertical, with the fingerprint sensor moving directly below. This will not only make the print sensor much easier to find and use, but the horizontal layout of the cams will allow for a bigger battery…perhaps even exceeding the 35 mAh battery of the Galaxy S9+. There’s also an additional hardware button showing up…no clues on what it is, but it may be related to the cameras.

Snap’s original Spectacles were kind of cool, but you had to hunt for a pop up store to get a pair of them. Now, mashable.com reports that the 2nd generation will be much easier to find…you can buy them on Amazon. There’s a price bump of 20 bucks to $149.99, but now they can be at your doorstep in a couple days in the US, UK, and Canada….even tomorrow if you’re terribly impatient! Snap only sold 220,000 of the original Spectacles, and lost a bundle ($40 million), but it appears they are confident about the round pic-taking glasses being a hit in version 2.

Best Buy may have spilled the beans about upcoming Nintendo Switch content at E3. According to businessinsider.com, Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix compatibility may be coming to the Switch. The added capabilities popped up on Best Buy’s online store. Nintendo had been expected to make an announcement anyway, but the retailer inadvertently stole their thunder.

Facebook is rolling out a rebranded On This Day as ‘Memories.’ Techcrunch.com says they are adding friends you made on the date to the usual pictures and posts from the On This Day version, in addition to ‘Memories You May Have Missed’. It’s a great way to get people to engage more…not to mention it saves Facebook server space by recycling posts. Hmm.