Facebook Chat Cam For TV; Netflix Roars With Q3; Tesla Buys Factory Site in China; Helm Shows Personal Private Email Server

On the heels of introducing their Portal video devices, with the cams that follow you around the room, Facebook is working on one that will live on top of your TV and make it into a giant sized Portal. Engadget.com says it’s code named ‘Ripley,’ and is expected to bow next spring.

In not-so-cool news about Facebook, they had previously announced that the Portal devices wouldn’t be collecting your data as the devices live in your house and serve you ads. Well, that may be true, BUT they will be hoovering up your data on who you call, and what apps you use, etc, and THAT data WILL be used to serve you ads on Facebook and its other platforms. Recode.net notes that this shouldn’t be a shock, since Facebook’s entire business model is based on using tons of data about you to serve you ads. Oh…and all the video views they get and how we’ve heard that video is much more important than printed content…well that was basically a big lie. Hire back writers, media…the written word still grabs lots and lots of eyeballs!

Netflix blew away Wall Street expectations, picking up 6.96 million new subscribers in the third quarter, while the Street expected 5.3 million. According to businessinsider.com, Netflix made 89 cents a share, which was 21 cents more than analysts had expected. Netflix did warn that per share earnings would be down in the final quarter…as they will have to recognize money invested in licensing and developing movies and shows, especially its ‘Originals.’

Not wanting to miss out on the big Chinese market or have sales impeded by the Trump tariffs, Tesla has bought a 210 acre site in Shanghai to build a new factory…one that will make the batteries as well as the cars. Arstechnica.com reports that it is in the so-called ‘free trade zone.’ Tesla expects that in 2 to 3 years, they can be pumping out 500,000 cars a year from the factory, and will avoid having prices increase by 60% if the tariffs continue or increase.

Now, you don’t have to be a public figure or a security wizard to rock your own private email server. Now, there’s Helm, a gadget that looks like a peaked roof on a tiny doll house or a hardcover book sitting on its edges with the spine at the top…that makes it as easy to set up a personal email server as setting up an Amazon Echo. Mashable.com notes that with your own server, your email will be physically in your home, not in the ether on some cloud server somewhere…but it’s still accessible from anywhere. The gadget has 128Gigs of built in storage and has a tray that can add up to 5 TB more. It’s $499, but you’ll need their update service (for security updates) for $99 a year, too. The Helm has a security key…actually a physical, metal key that plugs into a port on the top. Even if someone got physical access to the server, without the key, all is encrypted. There’s a back up electronic key that can live on your phone. It’s comparable with any email client that works with IMAP mail, including Apple Mail, Microsoft Outlook, and a number of others. The service will walk you through migrating cloud service mail like Gmail to the little box.


iMac Pro Ordering Open; Samsung Galaxy S9 Leak; Disney Buys Fox Film & TV Divisions

The new iMac Pro can be ordered online today from Apple. It’s a beast, aimed at audio and video pros, and as we told you earlier starts at $4999. Now, macrumors.com lets us know that it tops out at an eye-watering and wallet melting $13,199. Geek number crunchers have determined that the $4999 base is a reasonably fair price…a similarly equipped PC costs around $5100. The mid-range version of the iMac Pro completely smokes a 2013 Mac Pro…it’s 45% faster! Do you need one? Unless you ar doing advanced video and graphics editing, recording and editing an album, creating virtual reality content or doing real-time 3D rendering, probably not. For now, until the modular updated Mac Pro comes out, this may be the go to machine for video and audio pros.

Some renderings and specs have leaked out about the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+. Bgr.com describes is as an ’S’ generation of the Galaxy S8…quite similar in design and features, with some improvements. One bump up is reputed to be better cameras. Taking a page from Apple’s book (again), Samsung will, for the first time, put a better dual lens camera in the S9+…the S9 will just have a single lens cam on the back. Samsung has apparently moved the fingerprint sensor on the back a bit, too…it’s under the camera.

The Walt Disney Company has acquired the film and TV divisions of 21st Century Fox, as has been rumored. TechCrunch.com reports the price is over $52 billion in stock. Disney will get enough of Hulu to be majority shareholder, and also pick up Nat Geo, Star TV, Fox’s movie and TV studios, and Sky. Fox News and national sports channels will be spun off into a new company. With the film studio comes ownership of the original Star Wars film, the X-Men franchise, the Deadpool franchise, as well as Avatar. The mega deal will probably take 12-18 months to close, pending government approvals.


Tipoff That iPhone 8 Has ‘Face ID;’ Web Viewing Means Less TV Sets; Android Getting Bluetooth Battery Indictors

Some code spotted in the firmware for the Apple HomePod seems to confirm that the new iPhone 8 will unlock with your face…which Apple may call ‘Face ID,’ considering they have already used Touch ID. The firmware also points to the cutout in the front that will eat into the top of the screen, but house the front cameras and infrared sensors making Face ID possible. 9to5mac.com reports that while Samsung will be the sole supplier of OLED displays, Apple is well along in setting things up with LG to also produce OLED screens, and they could show up as an additional supplier in 2018. The OLED screen has been the biggest challenge for Apple, along with incorporating Touch ID under the screen. When LG production comes online, it could also mean all iPhones will get OLED screens, probably starting in the fall of 2018.

Before you lament the demise of the TV industry, the numbers aren’t collapsing, but due to more people watching video over the web….and on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and even desktop computers, the number of TVs per household is dropping. According to recode.net, they have gone from 2.6 TVs per household in 2009 to 2.3 in 2015, the last year we have data for. With other things to look at besides live TV and DVR, the viewing of those has dropped, too….but only from about 60 hours a week to 57!

As more phones drop the venerable phone jack and go to wireless headphones and earbuds, something that is often on your mind is ‘How much longer have I got before the phones die?’ Apple has had an indicator for years showing approximate battery level, and later a percentage of battery level for Bluetooth phones, just like for the handset. Samsung and LG also make use of the feature. Now, 9to5google.com says the feature may be coming to Android, so all Android phones will give you a heads up on when your Bluetooth device may poop out, so you can recharge it! Like with later Apple phones, Android will show you the %-age of battery left. This is probably not going to drop until Android 8.1 or 9.


Voice Calling On Amazon Echo & Google Home; Big Facebook Video Update; Apple May Add Additional OLED Screen Supplier

Voice calling may be coming to Amazon Echo and Google home. Theverge.com reports that the feature could be rolled out this year, but both companies ‘have concerns about privacy, emergency services, and regulatory hurdles.’ Apparently, you will only be able to make calls over speakerphone, which may put off some users. Google will probably just extend Google Voice, while Amazon is looking at options such as syncing to your present number, call forwarding, or even having the Echo get its own number. They also haven’t finalized switching to your phone if you leave the house or room where the Echo is located.

Facebook is rolling out a major update for video. Thenextweb.com says one of them will seem more like a bug than a feature…videos will now auto play sound. There is apparently an app setting to disable it, at least. On the plus side, vertical video will now take up more of the screen on Android and iOS devices, and there is a picture in picture mode. Facebook will also be rolling out a video app for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV, as well as other platforms, but no firm date on those yet.

Apple is apparently looking at adding China’s BOE as a supplier of OLED screens for the iPhone 8, according to macrumors.com. Samsung, LG, Sharp, and Japan Display are already believed to be used, but there are concerns that they couldn’t keep up with demand. At this point, it’s still thought that the OLED screen will only be available on the iPhone 8, with the 7S and 7S Plus models staying with LCD displays. BOE is opening an additional factory this summer, and another about 2 years down the line.


Facebook Testing ‘Floating Videos’

Facebook is testing a new feature, so you may see a new button on the lower right of the control bar at the bottom of videos. Thenextweb.com reports that it allows videos to float, and move to the lower left corner, allowing you to continue to scroll through your newsfeed while watching the video. You can drag the video window anywhere, and it can be shared at any point. It automatically goes away if you click to another Facebook page.

There continue to be advances in solar cell tech, and now the army…yes, the US Army…has built smaller, cheaper, tougher solar cells. According to engadget.com, instead of single crystal silicon, the army has super thin sandwiches of sliver and gold between semiconductor layers. Normally infrared and ultraviolet solar rays heat, warp, and crack all-silicon panels. With the gold an silver layers, they can use a fuller spectrum of solar wavelengths to generate power without that damage. The new panels also generate the same amount of energy regardless of the angle of sunlight…they don’t have to be on expensive, motorized tracking stands. The panels are still in the testing stage, but could be a major breakthrough in solar technology.