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.


Peeking Ahead at Apple; Samsung’s Amazing Coming AI Assistant; Future Tesla Buyers & Superchargers; New Old Sega Genesis Goes into Production

Apple has a few things up its tree, including something fresh for the present iPhone 7. Thenextweb.com says they may be readying a ‘Jet White’ shiny new color to the 7 and 7 Plus to bookend the Jet Black color.

As for the future, they may add a feature to Find My iPhone that would surreptitiously turn the phone on for you with the proper authentication, so you could find a stolen phone without alerting the thief, according to bgr.com. What about the iPhone 8? We reported earlier that they were working with Energous on wireless charging. Now, again according to bgr, this is moving forward with Energous getting an infusion from a power management chip maker. You would be able to charge your phone from a source 15 feet away…no charging pad…and it would draw current whether you were at home, work, or wherever!

Appleinsider.com has discovered that Apple was just granted a patent detailing an augmented reality mapping system that harnesses iPhone hardware to overlay visual enhancements onto live video, lending credence to recent rumors suggesting the company plans to implement an iOS-based AR strategy in the near future. Tim Cook has strongly hinted about this.

Meanwhile, over at Samsung, a sea change in digital assistants. The Galaxy S8 will have a digital assistant that takes ‘smart’ to a new level. Samsung will add Viv, from San Jose’s Viv Labs (which they bought last month). Reuters.com says Viv not only can answer questions and look things up, but can effectively write software on the fly to accomplish tasks that you ask it to! This is beyond Star Trek, folks!

A huge change for future Tesla buyers. According to theverge.com, anyone getting a Tesla after January 1st, 2017 will have to pay a small fee to use Tesla Superchargers. Previous owners will still get to use them for free. Tesla says the fee will be much less than the cost of filling a car with gas.

For hardcore Sonic fans, here’s something cool from the dailydot.com: The Sega Genesis is officially back in production. TecToy is making the machines, with Sega’s blessing. Aside from the SD card slot, it’s pretty well a duplicate of the original. It comes with 22 games on the SD card. Preorders are $125 for the box. Are you hearing the Sonic the Hedgehog theme?


On the New MacBook Pro; Galaxy S8 Getting Enhanced AI Assistant

Apple showed off the new MacBook Pros yesterday, with lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing about the Touch Bar that replaces the function key row. Macrumors.com points out that there are a number of other notable changes, including Touch ID, and a much larger trackpad. It’s thinner (of course), and weighs less, but ships with only 4 combo Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports…and the headphone jack we lost on the iPhone. Delivery dates have already slipped to a month for preorders, with the 13 inch model starting at $1799 and the 15 inch model at $2399…or, you can opt for the ‘cheapie’ 13 inch model without TouchBar and only 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports for $1499. The lost ports? You’re going to need a bag full of hated dongles. TechCrunch.com crunched the numbers, and it’ll set you back a little over $250 for all of them! Although Apple has said they would never make a MacBook that runs iOS, this one does…sort of. There’s an ARM chip in it running a version of Watch OS to power the TouchBar and Touch ID, as well as the camera…utilizing the ARM chip’s secure area like on the iPhone.

We expect to see the Samsung Galaxy S8’s to hit in late February, hopefully along a non-exploding Note 8. Thenextweb.com reports that the S8 will feature an upgraded AI assistant courtesy of Viv, which Samsung acquired. They are also touting an even better camera…and Samsungs already have had some of the best of those in any mobile devices.