Twitter Tightening; WPA3 WiFi Security; Alexa Voice Hits iOS; Motion Sickness Fix for Self-Driving Car Riders

It’s widely known that Twitter has had ongoing issues with spam accounts and malicious automation. Twitter is saying that now, using AI, they are able to identify a lot more spam accounts and deactivate them more quickly…9.9 million a week, up from 3.2 million last September. Engadget.com reports that Twitter is not only using AI on present spammy accounts…going forward, new accounts will have to verify with an email address or phone number when they are being created. That feature will be out later this year. Meanwhile, the ‘firehose of social media’ will continue to audit and challenge what appear to be spammy accounts…like ones that do high volume Tweeting using the same hashtag or Tweeting at the same handle without getting a reply. 

After it got out that a huge number of routers had been infected with malware, here’s a little good news going forward: WPA3 has been finalized. New Wi-Fi routers will come with the stronger protections for your data using the new standard. Cnet.com says it will make it harder to run a common hacking attack on your router…frequently called an ‘offline dictionary-based attack,’ which allows hacker to make endless guesses of your Wi-Fi password. WPA3 is available on new routers certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. It updates WPA2, which has been around since 2004 and has bee woefully out of date. Some manufacturers are looking for ways to update existing routers, but the best bet may be to upgrade your router in the coming months to one that comes with WPA3.

Alexa voice control for the Android app has been out nearly half a year, and Amazon says now it is finally coming to iOS. According to techcrunch.com, it isn’t baked in…you’ll need to tap a button in the app, but after that you can ask Alexa questions, listen to music, access skills, and control smart devices. The update is being rolled out to users over the next few days, so if you love controlling everything possible around your abode with Alexa voice commands, you’re going to have a way to do so on iOS. The touch of a button is unfortunate, but since Apple wants you to use their Siri, iOS devices are unlikely to get voice access without first touching the app. Since their last try at smartphones, Amazon has been at a disadvantage in the mobile market, having to rely on apps on Android and iOS without having and Alexa native device.

As with the space program years ago, Virtual Reality tech is throwing off some cool side benefits. Macrumors.com says Apple engineer and popular YouTuber Mark Rober is the primary inventor of some tech patents that can be used to help stop in-car motion sickness for passengers in self-driving cars. One replaces the view of the real world with virtual environments including visual cues to match the physical motion the passengers are experiencing. Another helps allow passengers to work or surf without getting sick. Drivers are usually not affected by motion sickness, as they are watching the road ahead and their surroundings. Besides his Apple engineer gig, Rober’s YouTube channel with science related videos has some 3.4 million subscribers!

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Some Google I/O Highlights; iPhone X Plus Will Be Sized like iPhone 8 Plus; Twitter’s Unlaunched ‘Secret’ Messages

There was a lot to unpack at the keynote for Google I/O today, but here are a few highlights. It was announced that Android P will not only add gestures like the iPhone X has, but will use AI to predict what apps you’ll use in the near future. In addition, according to cnet.com, Google claims to save battery life with ‘adaptive brightness’ to control the screens brightness level based on your surroundings. for Gmail, they announced Smart Compose…which also uses AI to predict what you will write and suggests common phrases. Smart Compose should roll out in the next few weeks, but you can access it now by hitting ‘experimental access’ in your settings menu.

Google Assistant has gotten more conversational and smarter…it will now listen for up to 8 seconds, so you don’t have to keep saying ‘Hey, Google’ or ‘OK Google!’ Google Routines now allows you to design your own routines that launch simultaneous commands, much like Apple HomeKit Scenes. Before long, you will be able to order food for takeout or delivery on Android phones. Assistant now has 8 voices to choose from, including John Legend’s.

The upcoming iPhone X Plus, or whatever they end up calling the model this fall will be the same size as the iPhone 8 Plus…but with a 6.5 inch screen instead of the 8’s 5.5 inch screen! 9to5mac.com reports that the new king sized Apple hero phone will also be somewhat thicker, due to a reported larger camera sensor and larger lens. That tidbit comes by way of Macotakara. Both successors to the iPhone X will get horizontal Face ID unlock.

There is apparently a ‘secret conversation’ option hidden in Twitter’s Android app, that you could use to send encrypted direct messages. Techcrunch.com says the feature could keep users within Twitter instead of jumping over to Signal, Telegram, or WhatsApp for secure, private messages. Twitter had no comment about the feature, or if it would become available, but since it’s been coded and included, they could take it live, and hold on to those people needing secure private messaging, instead of losing those eyeballs to others.


T-Mobile & Sprint to Merge; Twitter Also Sold Data to Cambridge Analytica; Siri Mother-Effing Glitch; Fitbit To Use Google Cloud Healthcare API; Dating Apps Employ Paid Impersonators

It’s been a while in the making, but over the weekend, T-Mobile & Sprint announced their $146 billion merger. The companies are crowing about how the combination will bring the only company with the network capacity to launch a nationwide 5G network, according to bgr.com. The merged company will keep the T-Mobile name, and John Legere insists they will stay ‘magenta.’ Legare will be the CEO, and they will remain in Bellevue, WA but keep a second headquarters in Overland Park, KS, the present home of Sprint.

Twitter confirmed Saturday that Dr. Kogan, who supplied data from Facebook to Cambridge Analytica, also bought a one-time API that gained access to a random sample of public Tweets over a 5 month period. In a Bloomberg report picked up by techcrunch.com, Twitter claims that the company didn’t find any access to private data about people who use Twitter. The net is, Cambridge would have been unable to get the treasure trove of personal data from Twitter it got from Facebook, but after an investigation, Twitter has decided to off-board advertising from all accounts owned and operated by Cambridge Analytica.

Another embarrassing glitch has popped up involving Apple’s Siri. Arstechnica.com reports that if you ask it to ‘define the word mother,’ then wait for the assistant to offer an additional definition and say yes, Siri will offer ‘As a noun, it means short for “motherf**ker.” ‘ Be careful trying this out in public…

Fitbit has announced that it is partnering with Google to use their new Cloud Healthcare API to help you and your doctors to manage your healthcare better. Cnet.com says the deal will eventually let users connect results from Fitbit wearables to your electronic medical records. The deal will help Fitbit stay in the game with the likes of Apple Watch, which has the CareKit and ResearchKit platforms to manage medical conditions.

If you use a dating app, you could have flirted with a paid impersonator called a ‘closer.’ According to quartz, there are people who do this for prospective daters that find it to much work or too tedious to do the actual online flirting! One paid impersonator said the makes a screaming $1.75 for every phone number he gets, and the service…which spans a number of dating sites…has quite an extensive training program. If you are too lazy or too clueless to do the online flirting youself, check out ViDA….and good luck when you meet someone in person, and can’t flirt in real life, either!


Amazon Will Deliver Your ‘Junk’ to Your Trunk; Updated Gmail Bows; iPhone Unlocker GrayKey Hacked; Twitter Revenues Up..& Profit!

Amazon has launched a new service that gives its couriers access to a person’s vehicle for the purpose of leaving package deliveries inside. The service is in partnership with two major automakers — General Motors and Volvo — and will be rolling out in 37 cities in the US starting today. Theverge.com reports that initially, the service will only be available to Amazon Prime subscribers. who are also owners of 2015 or later GM and Volvo vehicles, with active OnStar and Volvo on Call accounts. Amazon says it plans to add other automobile brands over time. Packages that weigh over 50 pounds, are larger than 26 x 21 x 16 inches in size, require a signature, are valued over $1,300, or come from a third-party seller also are not eligible for in-car delivery. To access the new delivery service, add your car to your Amazon Key app and include a description of the vehicle, so Amazon’s couriers will be able to locate it. The car will need to be parked within a certain radius of an address used for Amazon deliveries, so either home or work. Driveways, parking lots, parking garages, and street parking are all eligible locations, Note that the courier will just send code to the Amazon Cloud, which contacts the OnStar or Volvo Cloud, and that service pops the trunk…Amazon doesn’t get access directly to unlock your car.

The freshened Gmail, with come new features, is live now. According to techcrunch.com, some highlights include an ever present sidebar with built in Google Calendar, Tasks, and Keep, and both snoozing and disappearing email (which Google calls Confidential Mode.) The confidential email can’t be forwarded, copied and pasted, or downloaded and printed…and goes ‘poof’ after a selectable amount of time. Another key feature is offline mode…you can save up to 90 days of email even when you aren’t connected to the web.

GrayKey, the unlocking system in a box that can crack an iPhone in 3 days…has been hacked. 9to5mac.com says part of their code leaked onto the internet, and the leaker has demanded $15,000 from the company…which happens to be the price of an entry level GrayKey device. Turnabout is fair play, it would appear!

Here’s a headline we haven’t seen in a while…well, actually ever! Twitter’s revenue was up 21% year over year first quarter, and the company made a profit! 9to5google.com reports that Twitter beat Wall Street expectations, with a net income of $61 million, and daily active users increased by 10%. Twitter also Tweeted out their updated privacy policy yesterday, and emailed about it early this morning. Video now accounts for more than half Twitter’s ad revenue.


HomePod Pre-Orders Sell Out; Apple Patents Stylus for Thin Air; Twitter Makes Money; Amazon Prime Tries Limited Whole Foods Prime Now Delivery

Apple’s HomePod has gotten great reviews all around for sound, but knocked for it’s lack of support of music other than Apple’s and the puny skills of Siri so far. That said, it has sold out in pre-orders a day before it officially launches. TechCrunch.com reports that some retailers do have it in stock, so if you desperately want one now, check around. People that pre-ordered are getting shipping notices for delivery tomorrow.

Also from Apple, Cupertino has apparently patented a stylus you can write in thin air…think air guitar only with drawing and words. The stylus…or ‘pencil’ in Appletalk, can be used on a tablet, any flat surface, or actually in the air, according to the patent. Thenextweb.com says on use of the latter would be to aid in drawing 3 dimensional objects…that is, for those of you who can draw at all. I can’t draw a straight line with help on a page or tablet, so it’s rather academic to me!

Twitter lost monthly users in the US…a million of them…down from 69 to 68 million. They are living steady worldwide at 330 million, though. On the plus side…and it’s a BIG plus…Twitter finally made a quarterly profit! Theverge.com points out it’s the first time they’ve turned a profit in 12 years or existence! Their revenue also grew last quarter, after declining in most of 2017. Twitter says the drop in use in the US is due to a change in Safari’s third party app integration. Interestingly, the expansion to 280 character Tweets seems to have helped pick up use…although most people rarely exceed the old limit.

Amazon is dipping its mighty toe in the water of Prime Now delivery for Whole Foods. They had already rolled out discounts related to Amazon use, and now, 4 markets will get in on Prime Now delivery of Whole Foods items delivered to your door in 2 hours. According to arstechnica.com, the cities are Austin and Dallas, Texas, Virginia Beach, Florida, and Cincinnati, Ohio. If all goes well, Amazon will be expanding Prime Now delivery to other cities, but no time frame has been given. The two hour delivery is free for all Prime members on orders of $35 or more, or customers can pay an extra $7.99 to get one hour delivery.


Possible Folding Samsung Phone Features; Toyota Plans 10 Battery EV Models; Twitter Enforces Hate & Violence Policies; Facebook Demotes Clickbait Posts

Another patent has surfaced for the folding Galaxy phone from Samsung. This one seems to indicate that the phone will not fold in half compactly like the old flip phones, but will open like a book, according to bgr.com. Also, when not in use, one screen can act as a touchpad for the other. The screens are attached with hinges, and can fold outward as well as inward to protect them, and stylus support appears to be in the plan. Ok…the phone in the drawings is really ugly and kludgy, but we’ll see what….if anything actually gets built.

Every car maker is now in full EV future mode. Reuters.com reports that Toyota is shooting for more than 10 battery EV models by the early 2020’s. They will initially bulk up EV sales in China, then move into Japan, India, the US, and Europe. Every Toyota and Lexus model will have either an electric hybrid or full battery electric version by 2025!

It’s been the wild, wild west up to now, but Twitter says it’s starting to enforce the new rules they announced a month ago about abuse, hateful conduct, and threats of violence. Theverge.com says the rules will apply to usernames and profiles as well as Tweets. They will also extend to cover accounts affiliated with hate groups both on and off the platform. They won’t apply to military or government entities, so don’t expect to see a lot of kindler and gentler posts from a well-known Tweeter on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.

Rejoice, Facebookers! Facebook is starting to crack down on clickbait posts! According to recode.net, they have adjusted their algorithm to drop such posts down in News Feeds. The vast majority of us won’t miss those ‘like and share if you agree’ posts. It’s doubtful they can keep all such posts off our walls, but less of them will be a welcome change!


Twitter Doubling Tweet Length to 280 Characters; iPhone X Shortage Will Be Due to Facial Recognition Hardware; Dyson Building Electric Car

Twitter is testing out doubling Tweet length to 280 characters for some users. 9to5google.com reports that the company decided on the expansion after finally noting that character count allowed vastly more information in some languages like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Those languages can convey about twice as much information per character as can English, Spanish, or French. Twitter noted that 9% of Tweets in English hit the limit, but only .4% do so in Japanese. They still may not expand to everybody if they feel the test goes badly.

Apple’s iPhone X delay and expected shortage is apparently due to part of the module that allows 3D facial recognition. According to macrumors.com, it is taking more time to assemble the dot projector that beams 30,000 invisible dots to your face and allows the phone to map it, determining that it’s you. The hero iPhone may be hard to get through the first quarter of next year because of the issue.

Dyson is working on an electric car. One analyst at cnet.com joked that If it’s priced like its vacuums, it will cost 12 million dollars and have lots of vortices. Actually, James Dyson had already been working on vehicle-related pollution issues since 1990. Now, the company has confirmed that it will build an electric car. Dyson announced Tuesday that his company will build a battery-electric vehicle and it should by ready by 2020. A 400-plus-person team is already hard at work on the car. James Dyson said he’s committed to investing $2.68 billion on the project. No truth to the rumor that it will have 16 vortex nozzles, or that it will Hoover up road debris as you drive…