Triple Lens iPhone Cam-in ’19; Fitbit Adds Female Health Tracking, Quick Replies; Facebook’s Oculus Go Ingeniously Ditches Headphones; California Requires Solar on New Homes

‘You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.’ That’s what Frank Sinatra sang in “That’s Life,” and that’s the story as far as Apple’s iPhone getting a 3 lens camera system this fall! According to appleinsider.com, reports from analysts checking with a couple of Apple vendors indicate that the 3 lens system isn’t going to make it by this September. The system will allegedly include a 5x optical zoom instead of the 2x one on present iPhones. The third lens may also improve low light image quality or even play a part in range finding, or possibly add new camera effects. Personally, I hope the earlier rumors are right anyway…the zoom feature is one I have used the most on my iPhone 7 Plus.

Fitbit has rolled out two new features…’female health tracking’ (on iOS and Windows now, Android is on the way), and quick replies on Android with an Ionic or Versa. theverge.com says the female health tracking was announced a couple months ago when the Versa was unveiled. It allows for logging data about periods, including symptoms like cramps or acne. Over time, this should give women more accurate cycle predictions. The quick replies feature can be used to respond to texts or messages in apps like Facebook Messenger. they include yes and no, but also ‘sounds good,’ ‘can’t talk now, will reply later,’ and ‘what’s up?’ You can also customize them, but they have to stay 60 characters or less.

The big reveal on Facebook’s new Oculus Go headsets at F8 was that they operate entirely without an attached computer. It was immediately noted that there were no headphones or earbuds attached, though. Now, businessinsider.com reports why. Oculus has ingeniously built little speakers into the front of the side straps on the $200 VR headset. This means a bit less immersive experience, since your ears aren’t sealed in, but that might be a plus if you are viewing on a plane, train, or bus. BTW, there IS an audio jack right by the micro USB charging port if you insist on plugging in your own headphones or earbuds.

California has often been the trendsetter for many decades, and is ramping up to do it again. According to engadget.com, the states Energy Commission will begin requiring solar panels on roofs of almost all new homes, condos, and apartment buildings by 2020. There will be exceptions for homes that can’t fit panels, or would be blocked by taller buildings or trees. There will also be compliance credits for builders that install batteries like the Tesla Powerwall. It’s estimated that this will add $25,000 to $30,000 to the initial cost, but then will save owners $50,000 top $60,000 over the 25 year lifespan of the solar system. the final vote at the Energy Commission is May 9th, and it is widely expected that the rule making will pass.

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iPhone Claws Back Market Share from Android; Tesla’s Gigafactory Will Be Solar Powered; Amazon Prime Bows Cashback Rewards Visa Card

According to the latest data, Apple’s iPhone picked up 6.4% in market share in the US for the 3 months ending last November. 9to5mac.com also says that Apple did the same in 7 of 9 other key markets. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and 6s were the 3 most popular phones in the US for the period, combining for 31.3%. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge where next, grabbing 28.9% share. Apple snagged a whopping 9.1% in the UK…mainly crushing the hopes of Windows phones.They did drop 5.4% in China to local brands and lost out 3.2% in Germany, where Android picked up share.

Theverge.com reports that Tesla plans to power its Gigafactory with a 70 megawatt solar installation on the roof! That would make it 7 times larger than the present largest rooftop solar array. Excess power picked up would be stored by Powerpack storage units for use after dark, etc. The solar panels will all come from Solar City of course. Tesla acquired them last year.

If you need a reason to spend even more money with Amazon, have they got a deal for you. TechCrunch.com says Amazon is partnering with Chase to offer Prime members an Amazon Prime Visa card with 5% cash back on Amazon purchases. The card would give 2% back for restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% elsewhere. There’s no annual fee on the card. Amazon is believed to have between 58 and 69 million members, or roughly half of US households. The card is available today.


Tesla Not Alone in Looking to Solar Powered Cars; iPhone 7 May Have Had a Secret Outed

A Chinese solar panel maker is looking to make solar powered vehicles. Hanergy actually announced this last year, according to techcrunch.com, but this week rolled out 4 prototype vehicles in Beijing. They are running and driving prototypes…apparently not self-driving at this point. Right now, the range is about 50 miles, comparable with the Fiat 500e and VW e-Golf. If you also plug in and charge overnight, they say the cars have a 200 mile range.

There have been rumors of this for a couple months, but they’ve been sketchy. Now bgr.com says Macotakara is claiming the home button on the upcoming iPhone will be flush and not actually move. Vibration sensors under it will trigger it, and make it feel like a mechanical button. It will reportedly be pressure sensitive, too, allowing Apple to incorporate 3D Touch on both the screen and home button. Macotakara also claims that the new Space Black color will be in the lineup, although they say the Dark Blue won’t. If so, there will be 5 colors…Gold, Rose Gold, Space Grey, Silver, and Space Black.


Project Sunroof from Google…It’s Not About Cars!

Google unveiled a YouTube video today about Project Sunroof. Project Sunroof is a website that allows people to automate researching and then buying solar panels for home, and thus ‘Sunroof!’ 9to5google.com says it believes it has enough data on the site to determine the feasibility and return on investment for installing solar on your house….down to modeling the roof in 3D to see how many square feet are available, and whether trees or other objects will block sunlight. The site claims if you use their service, Sunroof can recommend an installation size that will generate nearly 100% of a household’s electricity use! The site includes a list of solar panel installation companies in your area.

A leak last week got the tech press in an uproar that the upcoming iPhone 6S might just have 1 gig of ram, disappointing many. Now, according to bgr.com, a leak from the same source indicates that may not be the case. Spotted by Dutch tech blog TechTastic, the new Geekbench Browser benchmark says the iPhone8,2 is going to feature a 1.5GHz tri-core A9 processor and 2GB of RAM.
TechTastic further notes that the iPhone 6s should offer users a performance on par with the iPad Air 2, which has a tri-core A8X processor. In fact, comparing the two devices, the site found that the iPhone8,2 beats the iPad Air 2 when it comes to single-core and multi-core performance.


Plenty of Apps For Apple Watch

In a vote of confidence about the imminent Apple Watch, geekwire.com reports that developers submitted over 1000 apps to run on the smart watch in the first 4 days they could be. The watch becomes available April 24th.

Just 4 days after that, on the 28th, LG will roll out it’s G4 smartphone at an event. According to theverge.com, it will feature a new camera with an f 1.8 lens, that shoots much better in low light.

Daimler Trucks, a division of the company that makes Mercedes-Benz cars, has a prototype Freightliner big rig that doubles the 6 mpg of normal rigs. Engadget.com says it uses a hybrid diesel/electric power plant, and has solar panels on the roof of the trailer. No word on when it might hit the market.


Samsung Working On Premium iPhone Competitor

Samsung may announce one of it’s most promising phones soon. Bgr.com says it’s the Galaxy A7. It has a 5.2 inch screen and better specs than the S5, but has a metal case for a more ‘premium’ look and feel.

Some scientists may have come up with a way to get more than 10-15% efficiency out of solar panels. Geek.com says hey imprint them with little bumps and pits like a Blu Ray Disk for a 22% boost in efficiency.

Stanford engineers have cooked up a nano-coating that reflects heat away AND directs internal heat away. Slashdot.org reports it can cool a building an extra 9 degrees.