Microsoft Plans Cheaper iPad Rival; Apple Vein Face Scan; New Whole Foods Discount for Prime Members

Microsoft is gearing up to release a line of lower cost Surface tablets by later this year that would compete with the hot selling cheaper iPad. Bloomberg.com reports that the last (somewhat) cheaper Surface kind of bombed at $499 back in 2012, but the pricey Pro has sold well. Of course the cheaper iPad is just over $300, so that may be a sweet spot. The cheaper Surface would have a 10 inch screen…just above the 9.7 inch size of the iPad. It is expected to sell for $400, will have USB-C, and be lighter than present Surface tablets. That comes at the cost of battery life…only 4 hours! The Surface Pro can make 13.5 hours on a charge. Again look for these the 2nd half of the year.

As if Apple’s Face ID and the fact that Ticketmaster is testing out facial recognition for concert admission wasn’t enough, now Apple may be going deeper…literally. According to appleinsider.com, Apple is are looking at taking biometrics to the next level…scanning the veins in a user’s face! In a patent just published called ‘Vein imaging using detection of pulsed radiation,’ Apple can scan the blood vessel patterns below the skin in your face. They claim it can even tell identical twins apart. By the way, ‘radiation’ is relative…you won’t glow in the dark…it’s from infrared light, not radioactive material! As with all Apple patents, this may or may not make it into a phone.

In an effort to build business, Amazon has dangled two new discounts for Prime members at Whole Foods. Arstechnica.com says one is an additional 10% off sale items, and another is ‘deep discounts’ on select best-selling items (or what grocers have called ‘loss leaders’ for decades.’) The deep discounts at Whole Foods will include meat and fish, however. The first deep discount items include organic strawberries, wild-caught halibut, cold brew coffee, and granola.

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Amazon Looks to Build 2nd HQ in 2nd US City; New Surface PCs Out Next Month; Apple Paying Dearly for Single OLED Supplier Samsung

Amazon is ‘seeking proposals’ for a second US campus which they will drop about 5 billion on…and which will create as many as 50,000 jobs. According to geekwire.com, it would be the ‘full equal’ of the Seattle operation. They are looking at cities of over a million with a stable, business friendly environment and urban or suburban locations with the ability to attract and retain strong tech talent. Expect a bidding war like for the Olympics or a professional sports franchise from cities! Stay tuned.

Microsoft will drop at least one new Surface at its Future Decoded event in late October. Thenextweb.com reports there could be LTE versions of the Surface Pro, and maybe a refresh of the Surface Book, which dates to 2015. It’s also expected that Microsoft will show some Snapdragon powered Windows devices, but those may be third party, not Surface machines.

Apple is racing to help things along for a second supplier of OLED screens. Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities estimates that those Samsung displays for the iPhone 8 or Edition are running around $120-$130 per handset for Apple….compared with about $45-$55 per phone they pay for the LCD screens on the iPhone 7 Plus! This is one of the major reasons analysts think the new hero iPhone will run around $1000. At any rate, we’ll know for sure what it will cost next week!


Pixel Preorders Outstrip Demand; Microsoft VR Headset Partners; Surface Book i7; Renewables Pass Up Coal

Since the sputtering flameout of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, Apple has increased production of iPhones, expecting to pick up new customers. According to 9to5google,com, they aren’t alone. Google Pixel phone preorder deliveries have now slipped to mid-November. Some phones originally slated for delivery this week will now be shipped November 18th!

At their event today, Microsoft announced they are working with partners to release standalone VR headsets starting at $299. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer are all involved. Thenextweb.com says Redmond also showed off a ‘HoloTour’ app that was initially developed for the HoloLens that lets you take Street View like trips around the globe.

Microsoft adds the Surface Book i7 to the Surface family. It contains a number of internal upgrades according to arstechinca.com, including a welcome 16 hour battery life! More from the Microsoft event-which is going on now-tomorrow.

Noting a major milestone, slashdot.org reports that renewable energy sources like solar and wind have passed up coal as the world’s largest source of power capacity! The International Energy Agency says a million solar panels were installed every day last year, and two wind turbines were added every hour last year in China alone.


Galaxy S8; Microsoft’s Surface Event; How Amazon Drones Will Land for You

Even after the catastrophe with fiery Galaxy Note 7’s, time marches on for Samsung and everyone else. According to bgr.com, Sammy is pressing ahead with the expected Galaxy S8 models for February 26th rollout. Expect an edge to edge 4K Super AMOLED screen (and wraparound in the case of the Edge), with just a bezel at the top and bottom. Screen real estate is supposed to be 80% of the front, so it sounds like they are getting rid of the home button. Inside, expect a faster processor, and either 6 or 8 gigs of RAM!

Microsoft’s Surface event is tomorrow, the 26th. Theverge.com reports that it will be jam packed, but look for the spotlight to be on a new Surface all-in-one PC. Think of a Microsoft iMac, only with a hinge to lay flat on a desk. It will rock a touchscreen and have stylus support. Other big areas to watch for are emphasis on creating 3D content, and it looks like Redmond will be letting 3rd parties build their own HoloLens headsets. Microsoft may also show an Amazon Echo competitor with Cortana built in.

We’ve been reporting for over a year about Amazon’s drone program. All well and good, but how are those little rascals going to find a place to drop off your package?
Geekwire.com says Amazon plans for you to print out a symbol on your printer, and put it where you want the drone to land. You’ll have to supply your own rocks to keep the paper from blowing down the street!