Apple Watch Will Have LTE & Non-LTE; Apple HomePod Short Supply at Launch; Google Paid Billions to Be Default Search on iPhone; Amazon Instant Pick Up

The Apple Watch 3 may finally have what it takes to be a must have device…it may get LTE connectivity, so it wouldn’t have to be tethered to an iPhone in order to use most features. 9to5mac.com says that generally reliable KGI Securities is predicting that the smart watch will ship in both LTE and non-LTE models. They also say that…contrary to other rumors, it won’t have a different form factor, and will look much the same as the current models. It will NOT work on 3G-only on LTE, but should work on all 4 US carriers anyway. Since cellular activity is a huge battery suck, don’t expect to totally ditch your iPhone and go total Dick Tracy…but it will be handy for runners and bikers who need to call or text, and streaming music, or for those times you are downstairs and the phone rings upstairs.

Inventec Appliances has been rumored to be supplying the HomePod to Apple, and they have noted that revenue from a smart home device (not mentioning HomePod, which would irritate famously secretive Apple) would be fairly limited this year. Macrumors.com reports that one analyst thinks that the HomePod…which ships in December….will only land in about 500,000 homes that month. In 2018, Foxconn will also start building the Apple smart speaker, which will boost supplies.

It’s apparently worth a buck or two for Google to remain the default search engine on iPhone and iPad. According to businessinsider.com, they may have paid Apple 3 billion dollars for the privilege. Researchers crunched the numbers, and with this tithe, Google may be providing 5% of Apple’s total operating profit for the year! Services now account for 13% of Apple’s total revenue, including fees from software sold on the App store and subscriptions to Apple Music.

In an announcement that sounds suspiciously like retail, only with lockers and no check out, Cnet.com says Amazon is rolling out Amazon Instant Pick Up. There are initially 5 locations in Atlanta, LA, Berkeley, College Park, Maryland, and Columbus, OH, and utilize spots Amazon already built for deliveries to campuses. Small warehouses live behind the lockers, and you can order hundreds of items by app, and pick them up. Snacks, cold drinks, personal care items, and Amazon devices are included. They can be ready in as little as 2 minutes! There will be up to 22 of these locations in the next few months.

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Facebook Working on Smart Speaker & Picks up Content Creator Pay Startup; Google Adds Real-Time SOS for Search and Maps; 11 More Smartphones Will be Daydream VR Compatible; Prescription Video Games Coming

Last week, we heard that Samsung was abandoning plans to make a smart speaker…a market dominated by Amazon and with Google in it and Apple planning a Christmas release of the HomePod. Now, businessinsider.com says Facebook is working on a smart speaker similar to Amazon’s that will bow in 2018. It will feature a 15 inch touchscreen, is being designed by Facebook, and will be built for them by Pegatron.

The social giant has picked up a startup which will help it crack down on users that share pirated videos and other content without permission. According to recode.net, it’s Source3. Facebook already has had Rights Manager for a couple years. It’s similar to YouTube’s Content ID. Facebook has wanted to host lots more professional video, but publishers are reluctant to provide them when they think they won’t be paid.

Google is launching a new feature called SOS Alerts, that will work with Search and Maps. Thenextweb.com reports that it’s designed to keep users safe, and will feature emergency hotlines and websites, and even translations of useful phrases. They are partnering with Red Cross and FEMA to help with keeping users abreast of emergency situations and providing safety info to them.

Of course, you may be a bit dialed out of the reality of an emergency if you are wearing a VR headset, but that’s the wave of the future. Google says it’s adding 11 more Daydream VR compatible phones by the end of this year. Pixel, Moto Z, and others are already compatible, according to 9to5google.com, but Huawei and Samsung will join the party, as well as HTC.

Hey, Doc, I need to play more video games…will you write me a prescription? Actually, so-called ‘brain training’ games have been out there, but not without controversy. Some say they really don’t work or work much. Now, theverge.com says a company called Akili is partnering with UCSF’s Neuroscape lab to develop a mobile game called Project:EVO. They aim to get it up to speed for FDA approval to be used to treat kids with ADHD! Clinical trials have already started. It’s not a sure thing, but prescription video games could actually be coming!


White House Kicks in $400 Million for Fast 5G Testing; Google Search for Voter Registration

On the heels of yesterday’s FCC vote to adopt new rules to guide the development of 5G technology, the White House has announced a $400 million Advanced Wireless Research Initiative. Engadget.com says the project aims to build four “city-scale testing platforms” over the next 10 years. Part of the plan is to free up spectrum above 24 GHz for the high-speed networks that are said to be 100 times faster than the 4G we use today. Both AT&T and Verizon have already announce testing plans, and there’s sure to be others to follow soon.

According to thenextweb.com, Google has a announced a new Search feature to make it easier for people in the US to register to vote and find out more about their local requirements. Just type in ‘register to vote’, and the Search will show guidelines for registering online, by mail, or in person. You can also see the requirements (such as being 18 years old and not being in jail for a felony), as well as registration deadlines depending on how you choose to register.


New Samsung Chips for the Internet of Things

Samsung has unveiled a new family of chips designed for the internet of things. Cnet.com says The Artik line has 3 versions, ranging from 10 bucks to 100 dollars, and can be expected to power trackers, drones, smart hubs, and more. Intel has new tiny processors coming by the end of the year, so Samsung is getting a head start by rolling out their line now. The chip family uses the same tech as Samsung uses in their smartphone processors.

Basing a decision on a Supreme Court ruling that smartphones taken by police from an arrested individual can’t be searched without a warrant, a federal district court judge has ruled that this extends to laptops going through customs, putting a crimp on the ‘border exception rule’ that has allowed authorities to seize and search items at the border or at airports. According to Arstechnica.com, the decision points out that a laptop contains much more private information than a mere container or even a briefcase.


Samsung Rumored to Be Looking At Buying AMD

Samsung’s future smartphones and tablets could have graphics that really scream. Geek.com says they are rumored to be about to acquire AMD…the chip and graphics card maker. The Radeon graphics card tech would be particularly appealing to Samsung. AMD also has a large patent portfolio.

Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to a 30 day extension to the deadline to renegotiate a ten year search deal. According to reuters.com, the original 10 year deal made in 2010 allowed for changes or termination after 5 years. Even with the partnership, Google still controls about 2/3 of the search market, and both Yahoo and Microsoft have been disappointed with their combined 30 percent.

This could be an actual lifesaver for cyclists. Theverge.com reports that Volvo has developed a special reflective spray paint that is only visible at night. Dubbed ‘Lifepaint,’ the washable material lasts about 10 days. It’s completely invisible until hit by the glare of headlights, then it glows. Besides bikes, it can be applied to clothes, helmets, shoes, and backpacks. It’s been rolled out in Kent and London, United Kingdom first, and if it does well will be offered here.


Mobile Moving Up In Google Searches

Google has an upcoming change to search…engadget.com says on April 21st, they will roll out an updated algorithm that puts mobile versions of websites higher in the search results. The search giant also has a mobile-friendly test tool available for website operators to check that Google recognizes their mobile version.

Samsung has frequently been dinged for copying Apple. According to bgr.com, the tables are about to be turned, as Apple may be working on a virtual reality headset like the Gear VR. Cupertino already has some VR patents, but new job listings indicate things are heating up on developing an Apple VR headset.

Electric cars get all the glory, but a co-founder of Tesla says its electric trucks that will matter more. The verge.com reports that Ian Wright claims companies should retrofit gas guzzling trucks with his Wrightspeed range-extended power trains. Wright is already converting 25 FedEx trucks to his system, and says they’ll save 35 grand a year each in fuel and $20,000 in maintenance.


Apple Pay is Growing At Warp Speed

Apple Pay is making inroads in mobile payment, and fast. Gigaom.com says the NFC payment system on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus now will work with bank cards accounting for 90% of dollars spent.

On a related note, the verge.com reports that Samsung is planning to launch an Apple Pay competitor. They are said to be in talks with mobile payments startup LoopPay. Recode says the service will roll out next year.

Bgr.com says Google has released its search stats for the year, and in the gadget category, 7 out of 10 were smartphones. The iPhone 6 was most searched for, followed by the Galaxy S5 and Nexus 6.