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…

ALL Volvos Will Be Electrified by 2019; Twitter Predicts Situations Before Police Reports Come in

Volvo has announced they will offer electrified versions of every model starting in 2019. Cnet.com reports that by that model year, there won’t be any Volvo without some degree of electrification. Some will be hybrids, with gas engine plus electric, some will be total e-vehicles. Volvo says this is in response to customer demand. They would be the only company besides Tesla to offer electrification across their entire line.

New research from Cardiff University, which examined 1.6 million tweets from the London 2011 riots, has noticed that Twitter can be used to detect dangerous situations up to an hour faster than police reports. According to mashable.com, researchers wrote event detection algorithms that use various features of Twitter data — like sentiment, frequency of tweets containing certain words, and geolocation and timing of the tweets. They discovered they were able to map out real-time disruptive events from five minutes to an hour before the Met Police were aware of them. They believe this prediction element could be used to help first responders and emergency services before the threat escalates. The down side? An argument that “predicting” some kind of activity before it escalates could lead to a Minority Report-kind of scenario, in which law enforcement intervenes to curb freedoms of assembly or interfere with freedom of speech. [There was a big outcry a couple years ago in San Fransisco where WiFi was killed to underground BART stations so moving protesters couldn’t use social media to communicate.] The scientists claim their research works at an aggregate level so really only flags events once there is sufficient ‘noise’ around a certain event, avoiding identifying individuals in a effort to retain privacy.

Supplier Appears to Confirm iPhone 8 Wireless Charging & Waterproof; Twitter Freshenes Design; Flight Prescreening By Fingerprint Being Tested

the CEO of Apple’s prime partner in India, Wistron, let it slip that the iPhone 8 will indeed be waterproof and have wireless charging! 9to5mac.com reports that he was speaking to shareholders about different testing for the new handset, and mentioned that those features would alter the assembly and after-testing process a bit. iPhone 7 already got a good level of water resistance.

Twitter is trying to bulk up on new users, and has put a new coat of paint on the app across all platforms….mobile desktop, and web. According to techcrunch.com, its’ not a major makeover…mainly a move in settings, different typography, change in icon shape, and round profile pictures. A lot of these features were already in use on the Android app, but now have made the jump to all Twitter’s other platforms.

The TSA Precheck is nice for people who fly frequently, but now they are testing out making it even quicker and less painful. Cnet.com says TSA is testing out a fingerprint scanner….you won’t even need to show your boarding pass and Driver License or passport. The biometric screening is being tested out in Atlanta and Denver right now. As long as bad guys don’t get hold of James Bond type peel off fake fingerprints, it should be golden.

iPhone 8 Possible Pricing; 4K Zoom Nest Cam; Twitter Has Considered Premium Subscription

In a report picked up by 9to5mac.com an analyst from UBS says the iPhone 8 won’t start at a grand, as has been speculated. He claims the new Apple hero phone will debut this fall for $870, and go up to $1070. The thought is, Cupertino won’t want to break that important thousand dollar psychological barrier with the base model of their new hero phone. He also predicts it will take up 45% of iPhone sales next year.

Alphabet owned Nest is working on a 4K indoor security camera. According to Android Police, it’s not that anyone needs 4K for that, it’s for a smart zoom feature. If you zoom in on an area with this cam, it won’t become all distorted, but give you a nice 1080p section of the view…like we’ve seen in movies for years! The new Nest Cam may be out shortly, and will reportedly cost over $300…yes, for ONE camera!

Twitter, the social network so many love and rely on, but which can’t seem to find a way to make any real money, is considering offering a premium subscription service. Recode.net reports that the short form firehose of information hasn’t decided to do it for sure, but if they do, it would include access to special features and services. CEO Jack Dorsey did stress that it was very important to them that Twitter be free and open to everyone around the world, however.

Windows 10 S Laptop Guns for Chromebooks; 43 Inch LG Monitor Supports 4 Sources; Twitter Adds More Streams and Shows

Microsoft has revealed its answer to Chrome OS. Windows 10 S is a ‘streamlined and secured’ version of Windows 10…translation….it’s sandboxed. That’s not the biggest part, though. Techcrunch.com reports that Microsoft has talked most major PC makers into making Windows 10 S machines. Base level ones will start at $189, and should be out this summer. Redmond expects school districts to snap up the laptops at that price point. They come with a one year free subscription to Minecraft: Education Edition, and Office 365 apps are free for both students and teachers.

As Apple announced they were getting out of the monitor business (then had a change of heart of sorts), other companies have jumped in with displays to take up the slack. Now, 9to5mac.com says LG has quietly unveiled a 42.5 inch 4K job that has 4 HDMI ports and supports up to 4 display feeds….for under $700! Four feeds, so you could keep a browser open, watch a game, PLAY a game, and have a window for actual work!

We heard yesterday that Twitter was building out a 24/7 streaming video service with Bloomberg. Now, they’ve announced live video plans with Live Nation, Buzzfeed, The WNBA, and almost a dozen partners. According to recode.net, the partners look so far to be heavy on sports, then news, with a little entertainment sprinkled in. It remains to be seen how much of the new content will materialize and when.