iPhone 8 in Production & Huge 3D Sensing Component Order; Tesla Working on Self-Driving Electric Big Rig; Facebook Launches ‘Watch’

Despite some rumors, appleinsider.com has gotten word from DigiTimes that Apple’s iPhone 8 is already in mass production. It’s still thought that there will be very limited supply at launch next month, but it looks like they are planning for millions of sales. 9to5mac.com reports that Lumentum, which makes the 3D sensing laser components believed to be used in the iPhone 8, looks to be cranking out around 55 million of the sensor units by the end of the year, and about 160 million next year. A number of reports say the iPhone 8 will be over $1000, but analyst Gene Munster expects the entry level model of Apple’s new hero phone to start at $950.

Some former Googlers started Otto, the self-driving semi company that was picked up by Uber. Now, according to Reuters, Tesla is working on self-driving tech that will helm its upcoming electric big rigs. The tech would let the rigs roll as a convoy with a lead vehicle furnishing the guidance for autonomous follower trucks. Alphabet’s Waymo is also deeply into self-driving truck tech. The wrinkle with Tesla’s plan is that the platooning might mean autonomy requirements wouldn’t be a lot higher than what’s already being done…an actual human driver would pilot the lead truck, and the others would just follow along. Tesla has apparently been in touch with Nevada to see about testing a couple prototype trucks.

Facebook is introducing a new spot for original video content produced by partners, who pick up 55 percent of ad break revenue. Techcrunch.com says Facebook will get 45%. The “Watch” tab and several dozen original shows will debut to a small group of U.S. users tomorrow across mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps. With the hosting of original programming, Facebook can tack on more ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.

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Xiaomi Getting Ready to Bring Their Smartphones to the US; Apple’s WWDC Starts June 13th

After following the lead of Samsung and shamelessly aping Apple’s iPhone in their home country of China, it looks like maker Xiaomi is ready for their US closeup. Bgr.com reports that they have become the fastest growing smartphone maker, and now they’re coming to the US. Their latest crop of phones barely resemble the iPhone now, and they’ve purchased about 1500 patents from Microsoft. Xiaomi is known now for selling affordable smartphones with designs and specs that rival much more expensive ones, so if you’re on a budget but want a top flight phone, this could be the real deal.

We knew it was coming soon, and now we have a date. Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference will kick off in San Francisco Monday, June 13th, with the keynote at the usual 10 am Pacific. Bill Graham Civic Auditorium will be crammed to the rafters with tech reporters and developers. By noon that day, we should have lots more details about the next version of Apple’s iPhone/iPad software — iOS 10 — as well as news on Apple Watch, Apple TV and Macs. Cnet.com says they’ll have live coverage, as will a number of other tech sites. We’ll recap things right here. Stay tuned…