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.


Record Number Shopping Online for Holidays; Amazon’s ‘X-Ray Vision’ for Packages; Reuters Poll Says Fiery Galaxy Note 7 Didn’t Damage Samsung Brand in US

It’s not really a surprise, but more people than ever will shop over the holidays online. TechCrunch.com reports that holiday spending online is projected to go up by 18%. A full 47% of shoppers will do some shopping online this holiday season….and a third will buy using mobile devices. The survey was commissioned by Visa, which certainly has an intent interest in the topic! Clothing, accessories, and home decor are still categories people really prefer to buy in person, according to the poll.

The Amazon app is getting a new feature that kind of affords you X-Ray vision for your packages. According to mashable.com, you scan the barcode on the package through the app with your phone’s camera, and the app will show you which of your orders are inside. This should be a boon for those getting multiple items…and some of them perhaps Christmas presents you don’t want prying eyes to see!

After the global recall of millions of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, a lot of people thought Samsung might have to fold their tent and leave. Now, a Reuters poll suggests ‘not so fast.’ The survey had 27% saying they’d first consider Samsung when buying, but a whopping 91% of Samsung owners said they’d buy another. That’s only 1 percentage point under Apple, with their vaunted customer loyalty. It looks like the Galaxy Note 8 or whatever they call it should do just fine!

Apple Leases Former Sunnyvale Pepsi Plant- Apple Car; Paying With Your Face…or Your Car Coming

Apple has leased a nearly 100,000 square foot building in Sunnyvale that used to be a Pepsi bottling plant. 9to5mac.com says the facility is more like a warehouse than office building, and sits on 5 acres…and is probably for Project Titan, the Apple Car. Apple already has an 80,000 square foot building and a 140,000 square foot facility in Sunnyvale thought to be for the project…both are a 10 minute walk from the old Pepsi plant.

Last year, MasterCard announced its pay with a ‘selfie’ option. Now, they’ve showed it off at Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. It uses the front camera of a smartphone and a single blink to identify a buyer. Cnet.com reports that rival Visa showed off a connected car that pays for your gas or for parking seamlessly. A chip in the car ‘talks’ to the gas pump or parking meter. It might be thrifty…pumping just enough gas to fill up, or paying for only the exact time you are parked.

New Way to Prevent Picture Shake from Apple

The smartphone camera wars continue to push the envelope in picture taking. Apple has patented a tech called ‘Mirror Tilt Actuation’ for future iPhones. Bgr.com says it will actually tilt the tiny mirror in the camera assembly on future iPhones, to compensate for jitters and hand movement as you shoot that crucial selfie.

Visa is working with a service called Mobile Location Confirmation to use real time data from smartphones, to prevent fraud and so you don’t have to call your bank to let them know you’re traveling…especially out of the country. 9to5google.com reports that the service will be optional though, so check with your own card provider.

Google has partnered with Mattel to bring the venerable View Master into the 21st century. Thenextweb.com says instead of a plastic viewer and stereoscopic round cardboard, it works on Android smartphones, and provides 360 degree, 3D views. It’s out this fall, and $29.99…phone not included!