GM Will Have 20+ Electric Cars by 2023; Apple’s TrueDepth Cam is 2-1/2 Years Ahead of Android; Walmart Buys Delivery Service Parcel; Headphones Customize Music to Your Hearing

Joining a growing number of car makers, General Motors will launch at least 20 all electric cars by 2023. Theverge.com reports that two of those will join the Bolt in the next 18 months, and that the General will also make a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. GM has said it is committed to an all-electric future. Daimler has said they will have an electric model of every Mercedes-Benz by 2022, Volkswagen will be completely electrified by 2030, and Volvo plant to cease production of gas-only vehicles by 2019.

According to an analysis by KGI Securities, it will take Android makers 2-1/2 years to catch up to the functionality of Apple’s True Depth Camera featured on the iPhone X. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple will ship 30-35 million of the new hero phone by year’s end. The True Depth cam system enables Face ID, and other advanced features like face tracking and analysis for the Animoji. Apparently, it is the difficulty in making the cam system that has delayed production of the iPhone X, which the majority of people seem to be waiting for over the just-released iPhone 8.

With Amazon now doing some of its own deliveries, and not relying on UPS and the post office for everything, Walmart has jumped into the logistics business and picked up Parcel, a Brooklyn based delivery startup. Arstechnica.com says the 4 year old company has focused on getting city dwellers packages at convenient times. They offer a 2 hour pick up window, so your orders aren’t stolen off the porch or out of the entryway. Parcel also sends live updates over text to recipients and shippers updating them on last mile location of the package as its delivered. Walmart plans to expand service beyond New York City, combining Parcel’s infrastructure with that of Jet, which it bought a year ago.

Always of interest to those of us who have made our living wearing headphones…better headphones! According to engadget.com, those might be the Nuraphones. Nura claims they are like prescription headphones for your ears. The cans are over the ear, but contain earbud like inserts inside. They tune themselves to your ears using ‘otoacoustic emissions’…sound returns from the inner ear when stimulated…that produce an aural ‘fingerprint’ of sorts. The processor then creates a personal equalization setting for each ear, custom tailored to your hearing. The app that works on either Android or iOS gives you 3 different hearing profiles, and there are a couple programmable buttons on the headphones. They last 20 hours on a charge, and speaking of charges, they will set you back a princely $399!

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Google & Walmart Team Up to Take on Amazon’s Voice Based Shopping; Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 Launch Date; Samsung’s Bixby Spreads to 200 Countries

Samsung officially rolled out the Galaxy Note 8 in New York today. The widely anticipated successor to the flameout Note 7 has a 6.3 inch display, dual cams, and 6 gigs of RAM. You get 64 gigs of storage plus what you can add with an SD card. 9to5google.com reports It has a more ‘boxy’ look than the 7, in a callback to previous Notes. The dual 12Mp cameras on the back are different than Apple’s different focal length system. One is a standard cam, and the other shoots black and white. The standard lens takes wide angle shots and the monochrome one shoots telephoto. This should produce a 2X optical zoom and take better low light shots. The phablet should be available September 15th, and will come in silver, orchid gray, gold, and the new ‘deep sea’ blue.

Google and Walmart have announced you will be able to use Walmart’s ‘Easy Reorder’ feature via Google Assistant through a Google Home speaker. Techcrunch.com says Google Express has also ditched membership fees and now promises 1 to 3 day free delivery for minimum orders or more. Amazon with Alexa will still remain the 800 pound gorilla of voice online shopping, but a partnership of Google and Walmart should give them a serious run for their money. It’s a LOT of money, too…RBC Capital figures Alexa could be a $10 billion business by 2020.

Bixby…the intelligent assistant which Samsung dropped very late earlier this summer in the US, for the Galaxy S8 phones, is now live in 200 countries in addition to Korea and the US…including UK, Australia, and Canada. This rollout just a day before today (Wednesday’s) big unveiling of the Galaxy Note 8 in New York City.


Google Looking to Xiaomi to Produce Next Android One; Bay Area Check-Out Free Startup Takes on Amazon; VW WILL Have Electric Microbus in 2022

Xiaomi of China makes an array of gadgets, that are generally high quality and noticeably cheaper than any competition. They have already been producing smartphones, and now may be connecting with Google to make the next Android One. Thenextweb.com reports that they are reworking their 5.5 inch Mi 5X into basically an Android One. It has a dual cam like the iPhone 7 Plus’ Portrait mode, and has good build quality and battery life. If everything pans out, Google could bring an Android One phone to the US by late this year or early next for $200-$300!

We’ve reported on Amazon’s check-out free system they are working on called Amazon Go. Now, Standard Cognition out of Palo Alto is releasing what they call an ‘alternative technology’ to eliminate the checkout process at retailers. According to geekwire.com, the startup is in talks with retailers to set up pilots in stores. Their tech uses machine vision and artificial intelligence to identify each item and detect which ones are picked up, put back, or left elsewhere in the store. They will have two apps…one for shoppers and one for the stores. As a shopper, you just grab your stuff and leave. The bill will be charged to you automatically via the app. ‘Appless’ customers will be directed by store staff to kiosks like self checkouts, where they can pay with cash or credit. Walmart also is testing a similar system they call ‘Scan & Go’

We’ve seen pictures, renders, and teases, now we know that Volkswagen will build the I.D. Buzz electric Microbus by 2022. Mashable.com says it should have a version that can make 300 miles on a charge, and be able to recharge to 80% in 30 minutes with VW’s fast charge system. Since it’s electric, it will have tons of space, and VW plans a commercial version companies can use for deliveries in inner cities that are going to eventually ban gas and diesel vehicles. It will have Level 3 self-driving, so some cruising without full driver participation will be possible. I’m seeing lines of old hippies showing up at VW dealerships looking like Fry from Futurama yelling ‘take my money!’


Apple Watch Rumor-Glucose Monitoring; Amazon-4K Alexa TV and Now = Walmart X2; BMW, Intel, & Mobileye Add Delphi to Self-Driving

It’s been no secret that Apple has wanted to get deep into the weeds regarding heath monitoring for the Apple Watch. The do have north of 200 folks with PhDs working on various projects. Now, macrumors.com reports that they may be close to rolling out non-invasive sensors to monitor blood glucose. This would be something of a Holy Grail for diabetics, meaning no finger sticks all day. Apparently, the sensors would be built into interchangeable smart watch bands, along with other functionality. This way, people who buy Apple Watch that don’t need those functions wouldn’t have to pay extra for them. The sensors are due in ‘an upcoming Apple Watch,’ but it’s unclear if they will make the third generation one out this fall.

Amazon has announced 4K TVs running Alexa. They will be sold under the Westinghouse brand, according to theverge.com. Preorders are open now, with prices ranging from $449 for a 43 inches to $899 for a 65 inch display. They are expected in stores next month. A lot has been made over Apple and Google valuation…Apple at 800+ billion and all…but ponder this….Amazon now has a market cap of $459 billion…that’s just about TWO Walmarts! Amazon has just been a public company for 18 years!

BMW, Intel, & Mobileye have now been joined by Delphi in their self-driving platform development. Techcrunch.com says Delphi will supply key computing components to the system. Intel and Delphi had previously worked together on autonomous tech. They are shooting for 2021 to bring their platform into production…not just for BMW vehicles but for other auto makers and system developers.


Apple Considers iPhone Powered Apple Laptop; iPhone Owners Have More Smart Home Gear; App Converts Your DVDs Into a Personal Netflix

A patent just revealed that Apple is thinking about eventually making laptops that basically just run via your iPhone. According to cnet.com, the filing shows a cavity where the touchpad normally goes that holds an iPhone.The phone not only powers the laptop, but doubles as the touchpad. As always, keep in mind Apple patents lots of things that never see the light of day.

On the topic of iPhones, JD Power says iPhone owners have more smart home devices and are more satisfied with their phones. 9to5mac.com reports that- for example- 13% of iPhone owners have a smart thermostat, compared to 11% for Android owners. While Apple is still winning the satisfaction beauty contest, it’s just by a whisker now. Power says Apple’s average score is 840 out of 1000, but Samsung is just 1% behind at 839.

If you have a cabinet full of DVDs you rarely watch (raising hand here), there’s an app you may love. Businessinsider.com says Walmart’s Vudu will now let you scan the barcode of your DVDs and it will unlock the ability to watch that movie on the Vudu app for $2 each…and it works across all your devices that have the app. You can also upgrade from DVD to HDX for 5 bucks each. Right now, it works on about 8000 titles, but they are working to expand it…Vudu has around 100,000 total titles. Vudu says the average movie collector has about 100 DVDs and Blu Rays. Some of us have a lot more.


Oculus Connect 3 Headlines; Where NOT to Buy Your Google Pixel Phone

Mark Zuckerberg was front and center yesterday for Oculus Connect 3. The VR company is working on a standalone headset that will tuck into the lineup between the expensive, PC tethered Oculus Rift and a Gear VR. It will have position tracking.

There’s a drop date for the very late Oculus Touch motion controllers…they’ll be out December 6th, and run $199. They do include an extra camera sensor for tracking. You can also add a 3rd sensor for an additional $79 for room scale VR, according to theverge.com.

Another December present….$49 in-ear Rift headphones to complement the on ear models the Rift comes with.

More games are on the way, and they have partnered with Disney on some original short films based on classic characters.

If you are lusting for a new Pixel phone from Google, here’s a tip…don’t buy it through Verizon, unless you want to wait and wait for software updates. According to arstechnica.com, Verizon will control when updates get pushed out, not Google, on the phones they sell. Although they are the ‘exclusive’ provider, you can buy the phones unlocked from the Google Store, Best Buy, Target, and Walmart. The phone will work with any carrier. If you want to ensure that your software gets updated in a timely way, don’t buy it through Verizon.


Facebook’s Firing Trending Editors Brings SNAFUs; Future iPhones May Get Better Than OLED Screens; Amazon’s Amazing Numbers

It didn’t take long….barely half a week has passed since Facebook canned 18 editorial contractors and went algorithm only for its Trending Topics. There have been some obvious goofs, like wrong videos linked to stories, but yesterday a completely made-up story made it and stayed for hours. Theverge.com says the fake story about Fox commentator Megan Kelly’s secret affinity for Hillary Clinton sat in the trending topics for hours…proving that algorithms and engineers make lousy news editors! The story, by the way, came from libertarian source End the Fed.

We’ve reported that the iPhone 8 may switch to OLED screens. Now, according to thenextweb.com, Apple may already be looking at a better tech in the next couple years. It’s micro LED. Cupertino bought LuxVue two years ago, and a secret Taiwan facility is working on the tech…which supposedly combines the best advantages of LED screens with OLED ones. It would also be another way for them to cut a further tie with Samsung, which makes OLED screens.

Just how big a gorilla is Amazon online? More than 800 pounds! Businessinsider.com reports that Amazon sold 6 times more online than the next 8 biggest retailers COMBINED! That’s 59 billion worth of stuff in the 2nd quarter of the year, while Walmart, Target, Best Buy and the rest totaled $10 billion together. The Department of Commerce calculates Amazon generated around 30% of US retail sales growth by itself!