Facebook F8 Keynote; UK Tells Zuck Show Up or Subpoena; 2 Bigger Samsung Galaxy Phones; Another Hint Apple May Roll Without Qualcomm or Intel

Mark Zuckerberg dropped a big bombshell in his F8 keynote this morning….a Facebook dating app! Businessinsider.com reports that the social network will also launch a possible rival to Apple’s FaceTime…video chat via Instagram. WhatsApp will be getting video calling, and Messenger will get simplified, and some AR camera tools are coming. As for VR, the Oculus Go, Facebook’s new standalone VR headset ships today. It’s $199, a big drop from the present $399 Oculus headset (which you need a high end PC to use!) A crowd pleaser—Facebook is handing out a free Oculus Go headset to everyone at F8! FB will also be adding upvotes and downvotes to comments, like Reddit. Also, Stories will be opened up to third party developers. They are also adding ‘live commenting’ to videos…they will appear in a video alongside the video and narrate it in real time.

The UK Parliament really wants to hear from Mark Zuckerberg in person. According to techcrunch.com, they have let Facebook know that since Zuck is giving evidence to the European Parliament in May, if he lands in Britain, he will be hit with a summons.

Up to now, you have only been able to get Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ phones with 64 gigs of storage in the US, but starting May 18th, you can go crazy with more space. Bgr.com reports that both phons will add 128 and 256 gig capacities by then. Preorders are open now. The 128 gig S9 runs $769.99, with the S9+ gobbling up $889.99 of your bucks. For the maxed out 256 gig S9, expect to drop $819.99, or pony up $939.99 for the S9+ .

A job posting was dropped from Apple’s site that some say points to the company rolling their own modem chips and dropping Qualcomm. Businessinsider.com says the gig was for a ‘mmWave IC design engineer.’ That would appear to indicate that Apple was wanting to design in house its own chip for next gen 5G networks. Although Apple is locked in a courtroom battle with Qualcomm, this shouldn’t be a stunner…they have been running iOS mobile devices on processors of their own design for a decade.

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Apple Talking to Goldman About Financing Your iStuff; Mercedes Building an E-Sprinter Van; UK Government Looks to Bolster Gig Workers’ Rights

Apple is in talks with Goldman Sachs to offer consumer financing for people buying iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, etc. 9to5mac.com reports that it is a type of loan or finance deal, not a credit card. It would allow people buying an iPhone X for a grand to finance it with Goldman instead of charging to a high interest credit card. It’s possible that any deal Apple makes with Goldman would also roll up the iPhone Upgrade Program. There are no further details, and it’s not a done deal…stay tuned.

You see Mercedes Sprinter delivery vans on the freeways and streets all the time…even more so in Europe. Now, according to engadget.com, Mercedes is planning an -Sprinter version. It looks like it would be geared at city deliveries, where short hauls wouldn’t need a huge range and the accompanying huge battery packs. Mercedes says the costs are on par with running diesel vans, but without the smog issues. The e-version will be much more connected…allowing fleet managers to schedule maintenance and order parts, and consumers…with a camper van, for example…to be able to turn the heat on in the van while returning from a hike. The e-Sprinter should debut in 2019.

The ‘gig’ economy is a two edged sword…it allows work flexibility, albeit without the benefits of a regular job. Now, the government in the UK is looking at a plan to get and improve benefits for gig workers like sick pay, holiday pay, and stable contracts. Cnet.com says such regulations will provide a much more stable workforce without continued fights, as with Uber, over whether the workers are employees or not.


iPhone Claws Back Market Share from Android; Tesla’s Gigafactory Will Be Solar Powered; Amazon Prime Bows Cashback Rewards Visa Card

According to the latest data, Apple’s iPhone picked up 6.4% in market share in the US for the 3 months ending last November. 9to5mac.com also says that Apple did the same in 7 of 9 other key markets. The iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and 6s were the 3 most popular phones in the US for the period, combining for 31.3%. Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge where next, grabbing 28.9% share. Apple snagged a whopping 9.1% in the UK…mainly crushing the hopes of Windows phones.They did drop 5.4% in China to local brands and lost out 3.2% in Germany, where Android picked up share.

Theverge.com reports that Tesla plans to power its Gigafactory with a 70 megawatt solar installation on the roof! That would make it 7 times larger than the present largest rooftop solar array. Excess power picked up would be stored by Powerpack storage units for use after dark, etc. The solar panels will all come from Solar City of course. Tesla acquired them last year.

If you need a reason to spend even more money with Amazon, have they got a deal for you. TechCrunch.com says Amazon is partnering with Chase to offer Prime members an Amazon Prime Visa card with 5% cash back on Amazon purchases. The card would give 2% back for restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% elsewhere. There’s no annual fee on the card. Amazon is believed to have between 58 and 69 million members, or roughly half of US households. The card is available today.


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.


Degrees from Facebook or Google University? Amazon Expanding Private Label Offerings for Prime Members

Britain is looking at changes to their university system that would allow companies like Google and Facebook to set up their own academic institutions in the country that could award degrees. Thenextweb.com reports that neither of those companies has indicated that they would be interested in doing so, but government ministers in the UK think ‘challenger institutions’ set up by companies including Facebook, Google and others would ensure that they have ‘suitably skilled workers’ moving into the future.

Amazon will soon expand its lineup of private-label goods to include perishable food items — offering nuts, spices, vitamins, tea, coffee, baby food and other products under new Amazon brands such as Happy Belly, Wickedly Prime and Mama Bear, according to geekwire.com. The products will only be available for purchase by Amazon Prime members. It’s another perk for prime members, and another profit center for Amazon…private label brands frequently bring in higher profits to companies than name brands.