Alexa Can Send SMS Messages; Amazon QR ‘Smile’ Codes; Samsung Chip Biz Eclipses Intel; Apple Still Bringing iOS Apps to Macs

Bringing us one step closer to a Star Trek future, Amazon just rolled out another skill for Alexa. Thenextweb.com reports that now you can send SMS text messages by voice command over your Echo or other speaker that has Alexa. A couple of notes, though. It doesn’t work for texting 911 or sending group messages or MMS. Should be pretty handy though, if you need to send a text, and your phone’s across the room or across the house!

Yet another trick Amazon has pulled out of its sleeve…they are working with their own version of QR codes…those little boxes with gibberish patterns. TechCrunch.com says they call them ‘SmileCodes.’ In this case, you can open the scanner that is built into the Amazon app, scan the code, and it will take you to that item on Amazon’s site, or play a related movie trailer or product review. Right now, the codes are listed to pop-up shops and Amazon Lockers in Europe, but the test should be over soon, and expect a rollout in the US before long.

After decades as the top dog in chip manufacturing, Intel has been eclipsed by Samsung as of 2017. The numbers have been crunched, and according to theverge.com, Samsung raked in $69.1 billion worth of the little silicon rascals, while Intel’s take was $62.8 billion. To be fair, Samsung produced more memory and flash, while Intel still leads in processor chips. With the demand only set to increase with self-driving vehicles and more AI coming on line, Samsung should be sitting pretty with this segment of their business.

Yesterday, there was a story out that Apple would be holding back some features for iOS 12 in order to focus on security and reliability of the OS. Apparently, one feature that won’t be held back will be the ability to port iOS apps to Macs. Cnet.com says the team developing that is still on track to roll it out this year, which will make the App Store on the Mac a lot more fun and interesting.

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Tesla Planning Name Change & Wireless Charging; Texting to Get Another Makeover?

Tesla Motors has acquired the tesla.com site from a fan of the scientist that’s owned it since the 90’s. Businessinsider.com says right now, it redirects to teslamotors.com. It looks like Tesla is about to drop motors and just become Tesla…as Apple Computer became Apple years ago. They will fold their Tesla energy brand under this umbrella…the division that makes the Powerwall and Powerpack batteries, as well as the auto operation. The storage division is expected to be a third of their battery factory production by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Tesla Model S is on the way to getting wireless charging. According to mashable.com, a supplier called Plugless is taking $244 deposits on a wireless charger they plan to introduce late this spring. It will cost $2440 if you order now…more later. The wireless rig can run off any 50 amp circuit, and only needs pro installation for outdoors. It will give a Model S 20 miles of range per hour charge. Right now, no system is available for the all wheel drive Model S, the Model X, Roadster, or upcoming Model 3.

Text…the most old-school thing besides voice available on mobile phones…may be getting a makeover. Theverge.com reports that Google has partnered with 19 phone carriers to update SMS and MMS messages. The new moniker? RCS, or Rich Communications Service. It would allow for sending higher quality photos, starting group chats, and video. T-Mobile has already used it for video calling. If it ends up being baked into Android, it would simplify contacting people…in fact, a simple text could seamlessly start a video chat without choosing Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc.


The Two Biggest Carriers Now Testing Blazing Fast 5G; Facebook Testing SMS Integration With Messenger on Android

Last year, Verizon began testing its 5G network, and now AT&T has said they have as well. According to 9to5mac.com, AT&T expects speeds of 10-100 times faster than today’s LTE. Verizon has estimated their 5G system will be 30-50 times faster. AT&T says at 1 gigabit per second, you will be able to download a TV show in less than 3 seconds! Because standards have to be agreed upon, full 5G won’t hit until 2020, but some carriers are planning to offer at least some service by next year.

Facebook is testing out bringing back SMS message support to Messenger for Android. They had dropped such support in 2013 due to lack of use, but now think it will take off. Venturebeat.com says they are also adding multiple account support. Facebook says this will allow family members and friends to access their individual accounts from a shared phone, or a person to use their personal and business page accounts from the same device. For now, both SMS and multiple account access are only out on Android in the US.