Apple Folding Phone Patent; SodaStream Water into Wine; Paid Comcast Fast Lane; SoftBank Uber Share Offer

While Samsung has teased about a folding phone, and we just recently reported that they may actually put one out in a couple years, now Apple may be eyeing something similar. Thenextweb.com reports that Apple has applied fora patent on a foldable electronic device with a flexible display. Granted, ‘electronic device’ could also mean a laptop, tablet, or even watch, but considering Samsung’s rumblings, a phone is a good bet. As with Samsung, it could be in a couple years or even not at all…we’ll just have to stay tuned.

Before you start typing in the web address to buy one, this next gadget is reportedly only available in Germany and only for a limited time. That said, SodaStream has announced ‘Sparkling Gold’ drink mix. According to theverge.com, German users will be able to turn water into wine…basically sparkling Riesling. It’s designed to be 10% alcohol by volume at the 1 to 5 recommended ratio…but you know some people will double up! SodaStream says an independent test found that three quarters of the participants found it comparable to real French Champagnes like Moet and Chardon. One bottle can make 12 glasses of wine…again it will only be on the German SodaStream online shop…awwww!

Comcast has promised for years that they wouldn’t charge for fast lanes, or throttle or block internet content. With the FCC about to vote to drop net neutrality, the company has been running Twitter ads saying they won’t block or throttle content…but they have quietly dropped their promise about not charging extra for fast lanes. Arstechnica.com says with then NBCUniversal purchase in 2011, the company agreed to limit paid prioritization…but that condition expires in September 2018.

SoftBank and a group of investors are looking to buy a good-sized chunk of Uber…and do it for 30% less than the company presently values itself. According to bloomberg.com, if the deal flies, they would have at least 14% of Uber. Besides buying the stock for 6 billion and letting shareholders cash out, SoftBank would inject a billion of fresh cash into the ride hailing service. The tender offer is expected to start today, and the process could take some 20 business days to complete.

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Uber to Buy Volvos for Self-Driving Fleet; Apple Looks to Micro-LED for Displays; Galaxy S9 Camera Rumors

Uber is preparing to gear up for self-driving, with plans to buy up to 24,000 SUVs, then equip them with Uber’s own self-driving technology. Reuters.com says the SUVs would come equipped with Volvo’s autonomous tech, and Uber would install theirs in addition. The loaded XC90s have a starting retail price of about $50,000. Earlier this year, Lyft inked a research deal with Google’s Waymo and another with Ford, looking to moving to self-driving cars in their own fleet.

The OLED screens it has to buy from Samsung have been rumored all year to be a stopgap measure for Apple. Now, macrumors.com reports they are working with TSMC to scale up production of micro-LED panels. The advantage to the micro-LED panels is that they are both thinner and brighter, have better color accuracy, faster response times, and are more energy efficient than OLED screens.

The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S9 apparently won’t have an under screen fingerprint reader, as had been rumored for some time. It WILL use facial recognition, but according to bgr.com will just use 2D sensors. Some other Samsung devices will get 3D sensors…probably the Note series. The S9 will have 5.8 and 6.2 inch sized screens, and a single cam on the front, with dual cams on the back like the Note 8 has. The form factor is rumored to stay virtually the same as the S8 models out now.


3 New iPhones Next Year; HomePod With Face ID; Sweat ID to Unlock Phones; Self-Driving Trucks Proliferation

Apple is due to roll out 3 new iPhones next year…two with OLED screens. Businessinsider.com reports that there will be a model like the present iPhone X, a king-sized OLED screen version with a 6.5 inch screen, and a 6.1 inch LCD screen version which will sell for substantially less money. All 3 will have the full screen design and TrueDepth Camera for 3D sensing and Face ID. This is all according to Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI securities, who has one of the best track records on future Apple devices. The LCD screen model will sell for between $649 and $749, with the two OLED screen models aimed at ‘the high end market.’

With Apple pressing ahead on Face ID, the iPad and MacBooks are a no-brainer, but here’s one you may not have thought of…apparently, Apple is looking at adding the feature to it’s 2nd generation HomePods. Appleinsider.com notes that obviously the feature won’t make it into the model that comes out in a few weeks, but we may see it by 2019. If so, they will have to develop a system that allows more than one user…the iPhone is one to one right now.

With fingerprint readers on many phones, and Apple adding Face ID across their line, here’s a new biometric that sounds weird but may be hard to crack…’Sweat ID.’ Thenextweb.com says scientists at University if Albany think the unique amino acid profile in our sweat could accurately and securely authenticate us to unlock devices. Unlike your fingerprints, which can be copied, and same (albeit with greater difficulty) with Face ID, it would be harder for someone to take a reading of your perspiration profile. Researchers claim that no two people can have the same profile…and no, you don’t have to have sweaty palms to use it…the sensors detect a very small amount of sweat from the eccrine glands on your fingertips!

Otto made a beer run across Colorado on autopilot in one, Tesla will show off their electric big rig this week with at least some self-driving ability…but meanwhile, a startup called Embark has been making runs since early October. According to Wired, Embark has been hauling loads of new Frigidaires from El Paso, TX to Palm Springs, Ca under the radar. A driver picks the trailer load up at the warehouse, gets them to a rest stop on the highway, and then hands off to another driver with a self-driving cab that makes the run to CA. The human driver rides along, but the truck basically plods along in the slow lane at the limit all the way to CA. Daimler, Volvo, and Tesla are working on this, and Uber’s Otto made one trip, but Embark is out there doing it!


iPhone Day September 12th; Galaxy Note 8- Record Bright Screen; New From Fitbit; Expedia CEO to Helm Uber

Multiple sources, notably the Wall St. Journal, say Apple will roll out its updated handsets, included the widely anticipated iPhone 8 on September 12th. A lot of details are already known, including wireless charging. Now, it appears Apple’s iPhone 8 and the upgraded 7’s will only support the slower wireless charging standard from Qi. If rumors are true, pre-orders will start September 15th, and phones will be out the 22nd. Apple will also drop new Apple Watch models and a 4K capable Apple TV.

Some reports in the last week have snorted that the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 isn’t much of an improvement over the 7, or the S8 models. After some testing, 9to5google.com reports that the screen brightness is 22% better than on the Galaxy S8. Tests were run by DisplayMate. The phablet is not only that much brighter than the S8, it is nearly TWICE as bright as Apple’s iPhone 7!

Fitbit has released 3 new products. According to businessinsider.com, they are a new smartwatch called the Ionic, the Fitbit Flyer, their first ever wireless headphones, and the Aria 2, a redesigned of their Wi-Fi scale. The ionic smartwatch features 4 day battery life, GPS, water resistance to 50 meters, better heart rate tracking, in-device music storage, and contactless payments. Three colors are available: Silver Gray, Smoke Gray, and Burnt Orange. All are available with interchangeable leather and sport bands. The watches start at $299.95.
The Flyer wireless headphones are of the type with interconnecting wire between, reside in-ear, and are sweat proof. They connect with the Ionic watch, so you can listen to up to 300 songs without having a smartphone along. Fitbit claims 6 hours of play time, and the tariff will be $129.95. Preorders open Monday, they’ll be in stores and online by October. They come in Lunar Gray and Nightfall Blue.

Nope. Not Jeff Immelt. Not Meg Whitman, either. Uber will be helmed by Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Recode.net says the board has voted on what Recode calls the ‘truce’ choice for the board, which has been squabbling about ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and investor Benchmark. Benchmark had backed Meg, while Kalanick pulled for Immelt.


iPhone 8 in Production & Huge 3D Sensing Component Order; Tesla Working on Self-Driving Electric Big Rig; Facebook Launches ‘Watch’

Despite some rumors, appleinsider.com has gotten word from DigiTimes that Apple’s iPhone 8 is already in mass production. It’s still thought that there will be very limited supply at launch next month, but it looks like they are planning for millions of sales. 9to5mac.com reports that Lumentum, which makes the 3D sensing laser components believed to be used in the iPhone 8, looks to be cranking out around 55 million of the sensor units by the end of the year, and about 160 million next year. A number of reports say the iPhone 8 will be over $1000, but analyst Gene Munster expects the entry level model of Apple’s new hero phone to start at $950.

Some former Googlers started Otto, the self-driving semi company that was picked up by Uber. Now, according to Reuters, Tesla is working on self-driving tech that will helm its upcoming electric big rigs. The tech would let the rigs roll as a convoy with a lead vehicle furnishing the guidance for autonomous follower trucks. Alphabet’s Waymo is also deeply into self-driving truck tech. The wrinkle with Tesla’s plan is that the platooning might mean autonomy requirements wouldn’t be a lot higher than what’s already being done…an actual human driver would pilot the lead truck, and the others would just follow along. Tesla has apparently been in touch with Nevada to see about testing a couple prototype trucks.

Facebook is introducing a new spot for original video content produced by partners, who pick up 55 percent of ad break revenue. Techcrunch.com says Facebook will get 45%. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will debut to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow across mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps. With the hosting of original programming, Facebook can tack on more ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.


Galaxy S8 Fingerprint Scanner, Iris Scanner, & Face ‘Recognition’; Giant OLED Screen Order for iPhones from Samsung; Weirdest Things Left in Ubers

Apparently, Samsung had planned on putting the fingerprint sensor for the Galaxy S8 in the screen, but it didn’t come together in time, that’s why the scanner is on the back. It works just as before. Theverge.com notes the iris scanner is some cool tech…very James Bond, and also works fine, but you may want to steer clear of the facial recognition tech. Samsung warns not to use it for security, and they’re not kidding….it works with just a picture of you!

Apple is expecting a so-called ‘super-cycle’ of upgrades next fall. Super is the word, macrumors.com reports that they have ordered 70 million OLED panels from Samsung! Samsung may end up trying to get over 95 million of them to Apple before the end of 2017. Apple is expecting that 40% of iPhones sold next fall will be the new top line iPhone 8 with the OLED screen, with the balance being the less radical design iPhone 7S and 7S Plus.

Ever left something in an Uber, Lyft, or cab? A lot of people have. I have a couple friends who even left nice smartphones behind. Now, bgr.com has gotten a list from Uber of some of the weird stuff left behind…here are the top 10: Lobsters, Hot Cheetos, A bulletproof vest, Mustard, A ‘Back massage device,’—yeah, back— a potted plant, a Taser, Salsa, a tap handle, and an elf cutout. You probably carry an elf cutout around, right?


Spotify Grabs Mighty TV; Wells Getting Cardless Apple Pay ATMs; Ikea Dives Into Smart Home Automation; Uber Grounds Self-Drivers in Az After Crash

Spotify has picked up MightyTV, which will shut down. Techcrunch.com reports that CEO Brian Adams will become Spotify’s VP of Technology. MIghtyTV had specialized in content recommendations, but used a Tinder style swipe left and right system. Spotify was also interested in adding MightyTV’s tech to improve its recommendations and beef up its programmatic advertising.

Wells Fargo customers will be able to withdraw from ATMs by later this year using Apple Pay without needing an ATM card. According to 9to5mac.com, it may be convoluted enough that most people will stick with the card for a while. You have to log into the Wells mobile app, select card-free, ask for a single use 8 digit code AND ATM card PIN, then withdraw. Towards year end, though, Wells Fargo says, you will be able to just use Apple’s Tap and Pay. They also will add Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and their own Wells Fargo Wallet to the Tap and Pay setup.

The smart home hub gets a boost from a big player known for low prices. Ikea is diving into the smart home with a system based on the ZigBee Light Link standard…same as Philips Hue uses. Theverge.com says the system has been in a few European countries since fall, but will be widely available the end of this month. Ikea will sell a base set of an internet gateway, remote, and two light bulbs for $85.40. An Ikea extra is a motion-controlled dimmer switch, which is an extra $20.41, but can be used independently of the connected system.

Uber has sidelined its self-driving cars in Arizona after a crash involving one left it on its side. Recode.net reports that there were no injuries, and only the back up driver was aboard. Some reports say that the other driver failed to yield, but Uber is pulling all of them until the investigation is complete. So far, Uber safety drivers have had to intervene every .8 miles, so their tech is far from solid at this point.