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.


Better Battery Life for iPhone 8; People Carrying Flying Drones This Year

iPhone 8 getting a more expensive stacked logic board. According to macrumors.com, this…combined with a less power hungry OLED screen… will enable the 4.7 inch size iPhone to pack the battery capacity of the 5.5 inch model. The stacked logic board and OLED screen are what will likely push the 10th anniversary iPhone past the $1000 price barrier.

We’ve been promised flying cars for years…really since the ‘40s and ’50’s. Now, something approaching them may be on the way yet this year. Bgr.com reports that Chinese company EHang has been working on a single passenger, self-flying airborne vehicle, much as Airbus and Uber have been. Apparently Dubai may be getting a program using them underway this year. The EHang 184 has 8 rotors on 4 arms, and can carry 220 lbs at just over 35 mph. It has a cruise time of about 25 minutes. Counting takeoff and landing, it will probably be limited to about a 15 mile range.


Uber Snags NASA Engineer in Look at Flying Taxis; LG G6 Gets US Drop Date; Rumor-Apple VR Headset This Year

Uber has hired a former NASA engineer named Mark Moore for its Uber Elevate flying taxi project. According to thenextweb.com, Moore worked on feasibility of short haul helicopter type vehicles for urban flight while at NASA. It seems like a crazy wild idea, but hey….could happen, and would that ever revolutionize transportation!

It’s already been known that LG would show its G6 smartphone at Mobile World Congress February 26th. Now, venturebeat.com says it will launch in the US on April 7th, after rolling out in Korea March 9th. The April 7th drop date will give LG a head start on Samsung, which plans to launch the Galaxy S8 April 21st. Word is, the G6 will be the first non-Google phone to launch with Google Assistant.

Augmented and virtual reality evangelist Robert Scoble is saying Apple’s partnership with Carl Zeiss on smart glasses may put an Apple VR headset in the hands of consumers as soon as the middle of this year, or at the latest, next year! Appleinsider.com reports that he claims multiple sources at ‘the highest levels’. Scoble says he expects a very lightweight pair of glasses, with the electronics living elsewhere on the body, like in an iPhone or some other wearable. Zeiss already sells the VR One Plus, which is a headset that holds a user’s smartphone and converts it to a VR or AR system. Scoble is pretty optimistic on the timing…others Apple watchers, like KGI Securities, have said it will be another year and a half before Apple rolls out such a product.


Verizon Says Demand for Pixel Outstripping Supply; Flying Airbus Taxis by 2017; MacBook Pros Get Updated Again This Year; Caffeine Blocks Inflammation; Smartphone Air Freshener

The buzz on the Google Pixel phone is enough that demand at Verizon is outstripping supply. 9to5google.com says it has accounted for over 12% of smartphone sales at Verizon. Right now, it looks like you won’t be able to score most Pixel models until March!

Forget Uber…which knows nothing about flying. Airbus is shooting for testing self-flying taxis by the end of 2017! Zdnet.com reports that commuters could book an Airbus flying cab with a smartphone app. There are obvious regulatory hurdles before this can happen, but as they point out, it could free up roadways and the cost associated with them enormously. Besides Uber’s flirt with this, you have Terrafugia, Aeromobil, and EHang working on them, but Airbus is really the 800 lb. gorilla for the flying cab future, with their vast aircraft experience.

The new Macbook Pros that dropped this fall have been panned for lack of ports and battery life. Now, 9to5mac.com reports that they will be refreshed again this year, and get Intel Kaby Lake processors, and 32 gigs of ram. The processors are more stingy with power consumption, and the higher ram will ease a knock from actual pro power users who need all that memory. They will probably debut this fall.

Ok, take another big swig of that coffee! There have been numerous studies finding correlation between caffeine, coffee, and better health, but according to a new one from Stanford picked up by theverge.com, we may now know why. Caffeine may apparently be able to block inflammation! The study actually started as one on aging, but it turned out that people who consumed more caffeinated beverages had less inflammation, had lower blood pressure, and were generally healthier. Have another cup!

In the another first world problem department, isn’t it a hassle to have to change that room air freshener cartridge, or grab a can of air freshener? What if you could do it from your phone? Engadget.com says there’s an Indiegogo campaign for a tabletop air freshener called Moodoo. You can put up $139 for one, plus 4 scent capsules, and will be able to control it from your phone…including setting up ‘fragrance playlists.’ Yeah, this is a major first world problem for sure!


Google May Make Samsung Ditch Hot Galaxy S8 Feature; Uber Launches Self-Driving Cars in San Francisco; Amazon Tests Drone Deliveries in the UK

One cool feature Samsung has been planning to give Galaxy S8 buyers may be out. Bgr.com reports that the Viv virtual assistant may be blocked by Google. Samsung’s deal with Google requires them to use the upcoming Google Assistant…or whatever they end up calling it…on Android. Viv runs rings around Google when it comes to complicated queries. It’s still possible that Viv will debut on the S8 in February, if Google thinks it will look too bad blocking the hot feature.

Uber self-driving cars roll out in San Francisco today. They will be the same as is used in Pittsburgh, PA…Volvo XC90’s with a driver behind the wheel, and a co-pilot of sorts, collecting and analyzing data. According to recode.net, Uber hasn’t applied for permits for the cars, which is required by California DMV, but since there’s a driver sitting behind the wheel, they may not technically need to. A self driving Uber will cost the same as Uber X. One caveat…the cars can’t leave San Francisco.

Amazon Prime Air has kicked off test deliveries in the United Kingdom. It’s a very small trial…only two beta users near the fulfillment center in Cambridge so far. Techcrunch.com says the first delivery was an Amazon Fire TV and bag of popcorn, and it arrived in 13 minutes. The drones can carry up to 5 pounds. The first customers can order 7 days a week, but only during daylight and in weather decent enough to fly the drones. The customer has to roll out a small mat in a back yard or the like for the drone to spot and land on.