iPhone Day September 12th; Galaxy Note 8- Record Bright Screen; New From Fitbit; Expedia CEO to Helm Uber

Multiple sources, notably the Wall St. Journal, say Apple will roll out its updated handsets, included the widely anticipated iPhone 8 on September 12th. A lot of details are already known, including wireless charging. Now, it appears Apple’s iPhone 8 and the upgraded 7’s will only support the slower wireless charging standard from Qi. If rumors are true, pre-orders will start September 15th, and phones will be out the 22nd. Apple will also drop new Apple Watch models and a 4K capable Apple TV.

Some reports in the last week have snorted that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 isn’t much of an improvement over the 7, or the S8 models. After some testing, 9to5google.com reports that the screen brightness is 22% better than on the Galaxy S8. Tests were run by DisplayMate. The phablet is not only that much brighter than the S8, it is nearly TWICE as bright as Apple’s iPhone 7!

Fitbit has released 3 new products. According to businessinsider.com, they are a new smartwatch called the Ionic, the Fitbit Flyer, their first ever wireless headphones, and the Aria 2, a redesigned of their Wi-Fi scale. The ionic smartwatch features 4 day battery life, GPS, water resistance to 50 meters, better heart rate tracking, in-device music storage, and contactless payments. Three colors are available: Silver Gray, Smoke Gray, and Burnt Orange. All are available with interchangeable leather and sport bands. The watches start at $299.95.
The Flyer wireless headphones are of the type with interconnecting wire between, reside in-ear, and are sweat proof. They connect with the Ionic watch, so you can listen to up to 300 songs without having a smartphone along. Fitbit claims 6 hours of play time, and the tariff will be $129.95. Preorders open Monday, they’ll be in stores and online by October. They come in Lunar Gray and Nightfall Blue.

Nope. Not Jeff Immelt. Not Meg Whitman, either. Uber will be helmed by Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Recode.net says the board has voted on what Recode calls the ‘truce’ choice for the board, which has been squabbling about ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and investor Benchmark. Benchmark had backed Meg, while Kalanick pulled for Immelt.


The Galaxy S8’s Bixby Won’t Understand English at Release; Flying Cars Coming This Year; Fitbit’s Apple Watch Competitor & Headphone Release Pushed Back

The highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy S8 release is just days away, at April 21st, but don’t expect the much touted personal assistant Bixby with it. Arstechnica.com reports that the English language version of Bixby will probably not be released until the end of May. There is reportedly a hack to let you access Google Assistant with the dedicated Bixby button if you’d like.

AeroMobil says they will unveil their flying car later this year. Mashable.com says they will also start accepting preorders in late 2017. It runs like a regular car, and runs on regular gas, but in flight, utilizes ‘hybrid propulsion,’ a combo of the internal combustion motor and and electric one. The price hasn’t been announced, but it’s probably more than your house. The prototype will debut April 20th in Monaco at a luxury supercar show….of course.

Fitbit is reportedly having production issues with its Apple rival smartwatch and Bluetooth headphones. According to cnet.com, both were supposed to be available after midyear, but now it looks like the release has been pushed back to fall to work out the production kinks. The watch is supposed to have a color display like Apple Watch, 4 days battery life, heart rate monitor, touchless payments, and live streaming support.

Screen Cost Much Higher for iPhone 8; Pricey But Cool Smartwatch; Volvo Rolls Out Cheaper Electric Car Than Tesla With Greater Range

We’ve reported, along with numerous others, that the upcoming iPhone 8 or Edition or whatever will probably break the $1000 barrier…now we know why. According to 9to5mac.com, the OLED screen and 3D Touch module is costing 60% more to make than the ones on the iPhone 7. That, along with other premium components that integrate the fingerprint sensor and allow wireless charging will cause the new hero phone to break the 1 grand barrier. BTW, that 60% increase? It’s to $15, so don’t feel sorry for Cupertino!

Even though smartwatches haven’t really caught fire…FIGURATIVELY, Samsung fans….the latest Android Wear 2.0 smartwatch is from premium watchmaker Tag Heuer partnering with Intel. Theverge.com says it’s $1600, which kind of gives perspective to the next iPhone and to the Samsung Galaxy S8 topping a thousand dollars! On the other hand, it’s a Tag Heuer, so it looks gorgeous AND it’s modular…both when you order, and later. They say you can swap out the internals when the current one becomes obsolete for new smartwatch guts or even an analog chronograph!

Volvo is out with an electric car that will compete with the Tesla Model 3, only apparently is cheaper and has better range. Bgr.com reports that the Volvo will have a 250 mile range and sell for $35,000 to $40,000. Chevy already has the Bolt out in that price band with a 238 mile range. It’s expected that since it’s a Volvo, a mini-SUV body will be offered. It’s out this year.

Mitsubishi: 56 Inch Projection Screen You Can Walk Through; Apple Watch Really Is Succeeding

Mitsubishi has developed a 56 inch projection screen a person can walk through. The midair display is clean enough that you can read text from it, according to geek.com. It might be overkill for home use, but this could well be a big thing in advertising. The tech to project it can be either off to a side, or a meter back from the image. Mitsubishi expects to have it on the market within 4 years.

The supposedly failed Apple Watch sold 5.1 million during the holiday quarter, grabbing 63% of the smartwatch market. Macrumors.com says that, combined with Samsung, the two makers held down 80% of the smartwatch market. The Swiss watch market, which has been slow to react to smartwatches, dropped off 4.8%, selling 7.9 million in the holiday quarter. If the next gen Apple Watch can actually be used to call, text, and so forth even if you leave your iPhone at home, it may really blow the smartwatch market wide open.

German Car Makers Heating Up on Hydrogen; Samsung New Smartwatch/Fitness Tracker?

Audi and Mercedes are getting excited about hydrogen fueled cars. For Mercedes, it’s back to the future…they first had a fleet of them in 1980, but with a 150 mile range and 45 minutes to fuel up, killed the project. Now Audi has showed it’s h-tron Quttro fuel cell SUV at the North American International Auto Show, and according to arstechnica.com, Mercedes has green-lighted production of it’s fuel cell version of the GLC SUV to sell in 2017. BMW has showed an i8 and a 5 series with fuel cells, but neither is set for production so far. General Motors has partnered with the Army to investigate suitability of fuel cell EVs for military use. Toyota and Honda are well along in hydrogen fuel cell tech, too. Toyota has the 2016 Mirai that’s actually for sale. California…where you can buy a fuel cell EV, has now increased the subsidy on them up to $6500 on top of any federal incentive. A combination of hydrogen fuel cell and electric may be the wave of the automotive future…along with driving by Jarvis, apparently.

Details are sketchy, but Samsung may be about ready to launch new wearable, possibly to replace the less than exciting Gear Fit. It’s called SM-R150 for now, and a watch version has a rotating bezel like the Gear Fit. The interesting thing is a picture with one on a shirt…like a removable that you don’t have to keep on your wrist. Engadget.com points out that leaks so far don’t indicate if it will be a full blown smart watch or something more like a Fitbit, but expect it to be revealed in the coming months.

Apple Owns Smartwatch Market; Skype Adds Mobile Group Video Calling

Most of 2015, we heard about Apple’s big fail with the Apple Watch, and it’s lackluster sales…all the while Apple claimed it was doing fine. A Juniper Research report picked up by mashable.com shows that Apple was right…fine doesn’t even describe it…Apple grabbed 51.5% of the world smartwatch market in 2015. The numbers aren’t large compared to the 10s of millions of iPhones…only 8.8 million shipped, but over half the market is nothing to sneeze at. Android Wear watches were just 10%. Note that the smartwatch category does NOT count Fitbits.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve had 10 years of free video calling over Skype. Now, the verge.com says Skype has added mobile group video calling to the mix over iOS, Android, and Windows 10 Mobile. Look for it in the coming weeks, but you can preregister now on the company’s dedicated 10th anniversary website to check out an early version. Google Hangouts has had the feature for a while that handles up to 10 friends, but Skype says their group calling can handle up to 25.

Coming With Apple TV Update

The next version of Apple TV should make its debut at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Thenextweb.com says it will sport a new faster processor, more storage, Siri and HomeKit integration. They are likely to reveal more about their streaming TV service at WWDC, and preview an App Store just for Apple TV.

If you are really considering a smart watch, but worry about the poor battery life most have, bgr.com reports that Vector has a couple models available for preordering now. They claim 30 days of battery life for both the rectangular and round dial versions. A ‘sensor activated notification system’ pulls up notifications with the flick of a wrist. They sell for between $244 and $425.

According to tech crunch.com, next week at their F8 developer conference, Facebook will announce new ways for third parties to offer experiences through its messenger app. Facebook is wanting to turn Messenger into a freestanding platform.

Swiss Luxury Watch Maker Joins the Smartwatch World

The Swiss are getting into the smart watch market in a big way. Ahead of the Apple Watch drop, Tag Heuer has unveiled a luxury smart watch. Reuters.com says it’s got Intel inside, and runs Android. It looks just like a real Carrera, and could be on wrists by fall.

Streaming music sales have gone from 5% of the market 5 years ago to 27 percent last year. Cnet.com reports that stream sales hit $1.87 billion in 2014, slipping by CDs, which took in $1.85 billion. Digital downloads like iTunes dropped again, but still accounted for a whopping $2.58 billion!

Right now, it’s just in New York, but there’s an app out called OpenStreetCab that both Uber and the cab companies hate. According to bgr.com, it compares, and tells you which is the cheapest. The data so far suggests it’s Uber for longer rides, cabs for a shorter one.

Microsoft Smartwatch Out Soon, Will Work With Multiple OS’s

According to geekwire.com, Microsoft plans to release it’s own health tracking smart watch in the next few weeks. It will be unique in that it will be able to work not only on Windows, but on iOS and Android. It will also talk with Microsoft’s X Box One.

If you really, really like your books on an e-reader and not a tablet, Amazon has just dropped the Kindle Voyage. Arstechnica.com reports that it’s sharp and crisp, can last 30 days on a charge, but priced from $199 to $289!

Apple is pressing to get Beats Music prices down to $5 a month. 9to5mac.com says Apple wants to keep the Beats Music Service brand, but the pricing matches what the best iTunes customers spend a year on music. No date has been set for the relaunch.

How Much Do Two Companies Dominate Smartphones?

If you’ve wished for more variety in the smartphone market, good luck…it’s tough for manufacturers to compete. Bgr.com reports that for the last 6 years, Apple and Samsung have accounted for 88% of all mobile phone profits!

Best Buy and 7-Eleven are making waves in mobile payments. Gigaom.com says they are shutting down near field communications used by Isis and Google. Both are part of a group of big retailers called Merchant Customer Exchange, that uses bar code readers like Starbuck’s.

Samsung is rumored to be working on a Gear 2 smartwatch with a sim card, according to techcrunch.com. It would initially be exclusive in their native Korea. With this Gear 2 you could make calls without being tethered to a smartphone. It’s been a long time coming, but if Dick Tracy were around, he’d finally be getting something even better than his 2-way wrist radio or TV!