Phones That Could Charge in Minutes; Apple Leasing Proving Grounds for Self-Driving Cars; Renewable Energy Takes Huge Price Drop

Samsung has developed battery tech that could allow for faster battery charging than ever. Businessinsider.com reports that with the advanced tech, batteries could fast charge in 12 minutes instead of an hour for present fast charging. They did it using graphene instead of copper. The tech could be used in car batteries as well as smart devices. Samsung says they have found a way to mass produce the batteries at an affordable price, but no word on when they might become available.

It appears that Apple has leased a former Chrysler proving grounds in Arizona to test self-driving cars. According to 9to5mac.com, the land is in Wittmann, AZ. Chrysler has a newer facility in Yucca. The word was that the old facility was being sold to home builders, but now it looks like Apple is leasing the area, with has 3000 acres of fenced land, and 5000 total acres…including a city traffic course.

The march to renewable energy doesn’t look like it will be slowing soon. A story from thinkprogress.org found that steadily improving tech has dropped the prices of solar and wind power by 25% in just this year! That’s on top of an 80% reduction the past 10 years, which makes building renewable sources cheaper now than running old coal and nuclear plants.

Advertisements

Apple Making a Killing on iPhone X; Walmart Pay Close to Surpassing Apple Pay; Waymo Tests Self-Drivers on Public Roads; Super Tiny Japanese Phone

A fair amount of noise has been made about US companies stashing cash overseas and not paying taxes, especially using an accounting trick through Ireland. Apple is at the top of the list, although they claim they pay plenty of tax…some 35 billion dollars. That said, where does it come from? iPhones, of course. Macrumors.com says TechInsights ran numbers, and it costs about $357.50 to make a gorgeous new iPhone X…which sells for a base of $999! That’s a gross margin of 64%…compared to the iPhone 8’s already good 59% margin. Having had several friends in the retail electronics business, a lot of goods only have 28-35% margin, so Apple is making a killing….enjoy that new iPhone X…and buy a case…it’s the most breakable phone ever!

Walmart says they are close to passing up Apple Pay with their Walmart Pay system, in terms of mobile payments usage in the US. Walmart Pay, of course, runs in 4774 Walmart stores, and is available on both Android AND iOS systems. Macrumors.com reports that the average Apple Pay user makes 2 transactions per month. I must be an outlier…I use it 5-6 times a month, and would use it more if more places accepted it. By the numbers, a Forrester survey of 58,000 online consumers found that 7% used Apple Pay the last 90 days, and 6% used Walmart Pay.

Watch out drivers and pedestrians in Chandler, AZ. If you’re in the Phoenix area, you may see cars tooling down the streets sans driver. According to techcrunch.com, Google’s Waymo has driverless cars loose on the streets of Chandler…and not just a couple pre-set routes, either! In technical terms, the cars are at full level 4 autonomy. Waymo expects their first actual product to be basically a replacement for Uber, Lyft, and cabs….and it could be here sooner, not later!

A Japanese firm called FutureModel, is putting out the NichePhoneS, a credit card sized smartphone…or maybe it should be called a ‘not quite dumb’ phone. Businessinsider.com says all it does is make calls, send texts, and play some music…shades of one Motorola made years ago…remember the Rokr? It’s $88 and will be out this week in Japan. It runs Android 4.2…a 2012 operating system! If it makes it over here, it could be ok as a 2nd or 3rd phone or burner.


iPhone X Preorders Start at midnight Friday; Waymo to Test Self-Driving on Snow & Ice in Michigan; Daimler Shows Electric Truck

Preorders go live tonight at the stroke of a little after midnight for the iPhone X (because Apple is NEVER ready right at midnight!) According to bgr.com and me, your best chance of getting one of the pricey new hero phones is to use the iOS app and buy from Apple…since you know they are holding the lion’s share of phones for their own sales channel. I have found in the past that it pays to keep the app open in both your iPhone and an iPad, and alternate trying to complete the buy until one goes through. It may take you 15-30 minutes, but you are likely to score a phone…and Apple is guaranteed to score a mountain of cash!

Waymo is hauling some of it’s Chrysler Pacifica minivans to Michigan to test their self-driving system out in ice and snow. Arstechnica.com reports that most testing up to now has been in Mountain View, CA, Phoenix, AZ, and Austin, TX…all places that rarely if ever get snow. Besides ice and snow, Michigan already has a Waymo facility they use to collaborate with car makers headquartered in Detroit. Meanwhile, as they test out cold weather conditions, Waymo is making plans to expand their self driving taxi service from Phoenix to other warm weather locations like San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

Tesla may have postponed the rollout of their electric truck, but original car maker Daimler has rolled right ahead, and showed their E-Fuso Vision One at the Tokyo Motor Show this week. Theverge.com says the truck can haul 11 tons, and make it 217 miles on a charge. Daimler didn’t indicate how quickly the truck can be recharged, but did say they would be aiming for mature markets with more charging stations like Japan and Europe before looking to the US.


2018 iPad Pro May Get Face ID; Apple’s Amazing Market Penetration; Galaxy S9 Will Rock Advantage Over All Other Androids; Waymo’s Self-Driving Education Campaign

It’s looking like Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro models will have a True Depth cam and support Face ID. Macrumors.com reports that KGI Securities sees the features migrating over from the iPhone X. The system will only be on the Pro models, not the other iPads.

A lot of us can remember when Apple’s Mac had 3% or 5% of the PC market. According to a new survey picked up by appleinsider.com, that puny penetration is not Apple’s problem in the US anymore. The CNBC All-American Economic Survey finds that 64% of all Americans own an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, or iPod product! Not only that, the number of Apple products in active use has gone from 1.6 to 2.6 products per household. If you think Apple stuff is a little rich…you’re right…87% of households claiming an income over $100,000 have at least one Apple product.

Samsung strikes again….strikes a deal on processors, that is. Bgr.com says they have inked a deal with Qualcomm to have an exclusive on the upcoming Snapdragon 845 chip for the Galaxy S9 and S9+. In addition to getting the jump on other Android makers with faster silicon, Samsung will allegedly roll out the new handsets a month earlier…probably in February 2018, but some rumors say they will drop even before Mobile World Congress…maybe in January.

Some people are super excited about self-driving cars, and others are honestly a little put off if not scared by the proposition. Now, Google division Waymo is launching a campaign to teach people about self-driving cars. Mashable.com reports that Way is partnering with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Foundation for Blind Children, the National Safety Council, and Foundation for Senior Living in developing a website and ad and promotion materials extolling the virtues of self-driving cars. Ads will run on the internet and digital and radio outlets as well. The campaign is called ‘Let’s Talk Self Driving.’


Facebook Working On Voice Assistant; Waymo Focuses on Ride-Sharing & Big Rigs; Apple’s Face ID Only Does One Face at Launch

Facebook always has a number of things going on under the radar, and now businessinsider.com says one of those is a voice assistant much like Siri or Alexa. Code was spotted by a developer in a prior mobile app that indicates the assistant would be capable of making suggestions and finding basic information like scores or times of ball games. Facebook said they weren’t working on such a feature ‘right now’ earlier this year, but BI has learned that they are doing so in their secretive Building 8. The voice is code named Aloha, and Facebook is shooting for rolling it out in May 2018.

Waymo’s CEO confirmed in an interview at a Bloomberg conference that the Google subsidiary is focusing…at least initially…on ride sharing and trucking. 9to5google.com reports that CEO John Krafcik said ‘there’s a good and compelling use-case’ for ‘goods transportation,’ in other words, self-driving trucks. The ride-sharing is well underway with the fleet of Chrysler minivans that begun a public trial in Phoenix earlier this year. Also bearing down on the trucking sector….Tesla. Elon Musk announced that they will reveal their electric big rig October 25th.

According to multiple people who spoke to Apple at the rollout Tuesday, Face ID on the new iPhone X will only support one registered face per device…at least at first. According to techrunch.com, which also confirmed this separately, this could limit letting a loved one have that type of access to your phone. The iPhone Touch ID can store up to 5 fingerprints. The fix for now…or even always…is to merely give your loved one your passcode. Presumably Apple will make allowances for additional faces as Face ID expands to iPads and laptops, as those are even more likely to be shared by family members.


Apple-stravaganza; Electrifying Car News; GM’s 1st Self-Driver Ready For Production

Apple Watch will have cellular, and use the same # as your phone, as predicted. It will stream music starting in October. It sports a faster processor, Bluetooth and WiFi, and an improved heart monitor. The screen is the antenna! Orders open on September 15th, it’s available September 22nd. Starting price with cellular is $399! WiFi only starts at $329, and the Series 1 stays at $249.

iPhone 8 will be the name of the two incremental upgrades, as leaked. Glass backed reinforced by steel. They are adding True Tone (from iPad) to the Retina displays. The chip is A11 ‘Bionic.’ Ok, go ahead and laugh…I did. 2 performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores, all 6 can run at once, making the phone blazingly fast. They have the 1st Apple designed GPU. Cameras have been upgraded, as expected. The Portrait mode gets special lighting for the iPhone 8 Plus. The video has been upgraded, too. The 8 will be calibrated for AR. The 6 processors will come in handy for augmented reality. Apple iPhones FINALLY gets wireless charging, with the Qi standard. They will be 64 and 256 gigs. They will start at $699 for the 8 and $799 for the Plus.

The iPhone X (which they pronounce ten) looks essentially exactly like the leaks. Surgical grade stainless steel bands, with glass back like the 8. Two colors only….Space Gray and Silver. They are calling it the Super Retina display. It’s edge to edge, 5.8” diagonally. 458 ppi, highest pixel count ever for iPhone, and the predicted OLED screen. They have managed to get True Tone color into it, and it will continue 3D Touch for the screen.

The phone will raise to wake, but you can also just tap the screen to wake it. Swipe up from the bottom, and you go from lock screen to home screen. Swipe up and pause for a second, and it goes to multitasking. You can activate Siri with ‘Hey, Siri,’ or the longer power button. It will have Face ID…it unlocks by just looking at it, again, as predicted. 6 sensors in the band that intrudes into the top of the screen calculate that it’s you. A dot projector puts 30,000 little points on your face to ascertain that it’s actually you…it won’t be fooled by a picture or statue. They call the chip that runs this the A11 Bionic Neural engine. They claim Touch ID could be spoofed 1 in 50,000, and that with Face ID that goes to 1 in 100,000. For Apple Pay, double tap side button and look at phone, then hold by the terminal.

They demoed the Animoji which were rumored…emoji you control with your facial expressions. Very cool demo. The 1st release will have a dozen Animoji. With apps, when you close it, just swipe up, and it dissolves and parks back in the icon. Swipe down from the top and bring up your control center.

Dual 12MP camera on the X Plus. The f2.4 is faster on the X. It also has dual image stabilization, which will be cool, and Portrait Mode on the front cam as well as the back. It has a Quad LED True Tone flash. They claim zero shutter lag. The cams are tuned for augmented reality. They have increased battery life 2 hours over the 7. The X will have Qi charging like the 8 models. They are bringing out a bigger wireless charging pad that will charge the iPhone 8 or X, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time. They call it Air Power…the charger is out next year.

Like the 8 models, the X will come in 64 and 256 gigs. Pricing starts at $999. Available for preorder on October 27th, and the X ships on November 3rd.

-0-

No, Apple hasn’t sucked quite ALL the air out of the room today!

Yesterday, Mercedes-Benz revealed they would have an electric or hybrid available in eery model by 2022. Now, according to arstechnica.com, Volkswagen Group will electrify ALL 12 brands by 2030! Like Mercedes, Volvo, and Jaguar-Land Rover, this doesn’t mean they will quit making internal combustion engine cars all together by that date, but VW is the biggest volume auto maker to commit to this. The CEO says they’ve seen the future, it’s electric, and they are driving us there! 30 will be plug in hybrids and 50 will will be battery EVs…that’s 80 different electrified models.

There’s a BIG reason so many car makers are looking to electrics. While France and Britain are indicating an endtime for internal combustion vehicles by 2040, the big reason is China… the biggest vehicle market in the world. The Guardian says China is poised to ban gas and diesel cars ‘in the near future.’

Meanwhile, General Motors has thrown down the self-driving gauntlet. According to businessinsider.com, their first self-driving car is ready for production. The GM owned Cruise automation says as soon as federal and state regulators get things together, they can start cranking out the cars…in the hundreds of thousands! The first model is based around the electric Chevy Bolt.


Apple Working With Hertz; Apple Buys Eye Tracking Company; An Infarm in Every Grocery Store; Oscar Meyer Weiner Drone

Apple has tapped car rental firm Hertz to assist with testing of its autonomous vehicles. Macrumors.com reports that Cupertino is leasing vehicles from Donlen, the Hertz fleet management unit. The info showed up in information filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Meanwhile, Apple seems to be ramping up further towards an AR future. A story from appleinsider.com indicates they are buying a German company called SensoMotoric Instruments. They make hardware and software for eye tracking sensors, something key to augmented reality. The present tech tracks a wearer’s gaze in real time 120 times per second, which reduces input lag…that cuts down motion sickness when viewing. This tech probably won’t get into the iPhone 8, but could be important for the smart glasses Apple is reportedly working on.

What if fresh produce wasn’t trucked in and put in bags in your store, but was grown right there? A German startup called Infarm is working on indoor vertical farming that could grow herbs, lettuce, veggies, and fruit. According to techcrunch.com, this builds on something the Japanese have been doing, but brings it right into the supermarket, and on a modular scale. It could also find its way into restaurants. Infarm is partnering with EDEKA, Germany’s largest supermarket chain, to further develop the idea.

Everyone knows, and most people love, the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. Now, besides the iconic hot dog cars and motor scooter with sidecar, Oscar Mayer has launched a WeinerDrone. Gizmodo.com says it has enough lifting power to transport a single wrapped hot dog about a mile. No word on if it can hold a fully loaded dog with all the trimmings some people like, or on how it delivers it to you….I’m not wanting to pick up a cold dog that hits the ground, even if it IS wrapped!