Some Apple WWDC Highlights; Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Launch In August; Microsoft Buys GitHub

Apple’s keynote at the World Wide Developers Conference was a bit of a marathon, going on for over 2 hours. While I kept wondering if Steve Jobs would have made them keep it to an hour and 15 minutes, here are a few high points: for coolness, the ‘wow’ award goes to the new Animoji….and specifically a new feature Apple has dubbed ‘Memoji.’ It allows you to build your own animoji of yourself and send it in iMessage. They seem to have a massive variety of skin tone, face shape, hair color and style, eye color, and accessories like glasses, hats, etc. People will go nuts with this feature, I’m thinking.

iOS 12 will bring a performance boost to older devices, and there are some pretty spectacular AR abilities that were demoed….including a cool app using Legos. Photos search picks up better object and scene recognition.

Siri is getting Shortcuts. These are quick actions like ‘I lost my keys’ that Siri can then help with….another example was texting meeting attendees that you will be late. In addition to stock Shortcuts, an app lets you make your own using drag and drop.

Something for mobile device addicts and especially for kids….Apple has beefed up Do Not Disturb to work outside of just bedtime. You can also fine tune all notifications to cut down on the number of the things that pop up.

Something called Screen Time gives people and idea about how much they use (or over use) their phone. Parents can even set up to report child use on a main device.

FaceTime has added Group Chat for up to 30.

One feature a lot of people will be happy to hear about tis that Apple’s Car Play will now play nice with Google Maps.

Apple Watch got a new Pride band and watch face…available today, but also Watch OS 5 picks up automatic workout detection and a walkie-talkie feature. It also adds yoga! as a workout.

The next iteration of MacOS is called Mojave. It includes a much wanted Dark Mode, and also enhanced privacy, and Desktop Stacks, that group things automatically by date, type, or tag…then kind of unfurl with a click. Finder has a new Gallery View to preview images, video, pdf’s, etc. The App Store has gotten a fresh coat of paint. Safari has Intelligent Tracking Prevention to stop social media ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons, and makes it harder for advertisers to track you online.

While Apple is putting on their big show, word is out that Samsung’s delayed Galaxy Note 9 should get here in early August. Bloomberg.com says it will run on the same CPU as the S9 and S9+, the Snapdragon 845. It appears to be an incremental upgrade to the Note 8, not a major overhaul.

Rumors have flown, and now Microsoft has announced that the are picking up social coding platform GitHub in and all-stock deal running $7.5 billion. According to thenextweb.com, the deal will close by the end of 2018. Microsoft is putting in a new CEO, Nat Friedman…late of Xamarin, but also claims GitHub will run independently. Former CEO and co-founder Chris Wanstrath joins Microsoft as a technical fellow.


Uber Wants Waymo Self-Drivers On Network; WWDC Apple Watch Leak; Reddit Passes Up Facebook; WeChat China-Divorce by Button

At the Code Conference, Uber CEO Dara Khosroshahi revealed that Uber has been in discussions to have Waymo self-driving cars added to its network. This is somewhat remarkable considering the two companies are just coming off a legal battle over alleged trade-secret theft. Theverge.com reports that the Uber CEO also forces self driving tech as ‘a horizontal technology that should be available to everybody.’ He believes that it will be open to all via third party licensing. What about the drivers? Khosrowshahi says they think ‘machines augment humans’ and that ultimately their network will be a machine network and a human network together.

A cool little nugget has been revealed ahead of time that Apple had planned for WWDC. June is Pride Month, and Apple will unveil a special Pride watch face at noon Pacific right at the end of the World Wide Developers Conference keynote. Mashable.com reports that the colors of the rainbow flag are strings on the watch face, and you can interact with them, like strumming a guitar. The special face has two complication spots.

The Facebook/Cambridge Analytics may be hurting the social media platform more than first thought. According to thenextweb.com, Amazon’s Alexa web traffic analyzing platform has determined that Reddit has passed up Facebook as third most visited site in the US. This is probably as scientific as a Survey Monkey poll, but it still gives pause. Google is the top site, with YouTube second, then Reddit, Facebook, and Amazon. Interestingly, average Reddit users spend over 15 minutes a day on the platform, compared to Google with about 7 and a quarter minutes, YouTube 8-1/2 minutes, Facebook at almost 11 minutes, and Amazon just over 7-1/2 minutes.

In what may be the ultimate for a no-deposit, no-return society, people in China can now file for divorce with a button on the WeChat app! Businessinsider.com says the trial divorce function is available right now in th eGuangdong Province, home to cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Just click, enter info, and make an appointment for the local divorce registrar. Payments can also be handled through WeChat, but so far they haven’t opened it up to spousal support payments! WeChat has a billion active users globally.


Qualcomm-New AR & VR Chips; Microsoft Passes Alphabet Market Cap; Amazon Expands Whole Foods Discount; Siri Driven Beats speaker coming

Qualcomm has rolled out a dedicated chipset for mass market AR and VR headsets. According to techcrunch.com, the Snapdragon XR1 will support 4K streaming at 60fps. The chipset is aimed at helping manufacturers cut the cord to PC tethered systems. Qualcomm says the chipset won’t match PC based systems, but says for a lot of users, the higher graphics and memory bandwidth of chips like the Snapdragon 845 aren’t needed for a good VR or AR experience.

The horserace is on! Fully 4 tech companies are in the hunt to become the first company in the world with a trillion dollar market cap. Businessinsider.com reports that Microsoft has passed up Google parent Alphabet for the first time in 3 years this week, hitting $753 billion…compared to Alphabet’s $739. Apple and Amazon are still #1 and #2, and it is most likely one of them will cross over the mark first, but it’s still amazing to see 4 tech giants nearing the trillion dollar milestone!

On the subject of Amazon, they are expanding their 10% off discount deal at Whole Foods for Prime members to 12 additional states. According to geekwire.com, all 365 Whole Foods stores will be included now. Available deals will rotate weekly. Customers also get the savings with Whole Foods grocery delivery, which is free for Prime members using Prime Now on orders over $35. Amazon is really trying to unload the upscale grocer’s ‘Whole Paycheck’ reputation. Of course, Amazon also just raised the cost for prime 20 bucks to $119 a year!

Among predictions of things to debut at Apple’s WorldWide Developers Conference next week, analyst Gene Munster says look for a Beats branded cheaper version of the HomePod…also powered by Siri. Macrumors.com says it may sell for around $250. We’ll recap the WWDC keynote highlights next week.


WWDC; SpaceX Broadband Sat Launch Delay; More Galaxy S9 Leaks; Starbucks Digital Guru to J. Crew

It looks like some folks have figured out the dates for Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. Apparently, there are events all through June at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center…….EXCEPT for Monday June 4th through Friday, June 8th. Macrumors.com says a reliable source has told them WWDC will again be in San Jose like last year. Previously, it was at Moscone Center in San Francisco from 2003 to 2016. With the exception of last year, Apple has released the date officially in April, so we won’t know until then. Usually, there around 5,000 developers and a thousand engineers for the event. Tickets go via a random lottery, and have been $1599 a pop.

There’s a lot of interest in SpaceX’s internet satellite launch. Now, the launch has been delayed for a few days. According to engadget.com, they want to run further final checkouts on the farings used to protect the Falcon 9’s payload. the Launch had been scheduled for February 17th…… now it will be on the 19th. The rocket will be taking up a Spanish radar imaging satellite, but most of us are interested in the Microsat-2a and 2b internet satellites. They would be the first of a number which would provide gigabit internet speeds around the globe.

Samsung will roll out its latest…the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus… next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Of course, there was a huge leak yesterday, so much of what we had heard about the handset was confirmed, plus more. German site WinFuture says both phones will have variable aperture cameras…which should make them better than ever for low light pictures. The Plus gets a dual lens cam, the S9 a single, but both are 12 megapixel. The selfie cam is 8 megapixel with autofocus. That all-important battery capacity….it will be 3000 mAh on the S9 and 3500 on the Plus. Both phones have iris and face recognition, as well as a fingerprint sensor for biometric unlocking, and the Samsung version of Apple’s Animoji. The screens are the same as on the S8,  all changes are ‘under the hood.’ They will be available in  Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple, and Coral Blue.

The man who headed up Starbucks digital business,  including its Mobile Order and Pay features and in-store Wi-Fi efforts, is leaving the coffee retailer to work his magic in apparel business. Adam Brotman, has jumped to J. Crew to help lead the struggling retailer as president and chief experience officer.  Geekwire.com notes that Starbucks is perceived as one of the most forward-looking companies when it comes to the use of technology in its operations.  J. Crew needs the help… same store sales dropped nine percent during the third quarter of 2017, and its net loss jumped to $17.6 million for that period.  Before Brotman joined them, J. Crew had pitched selling themselves to Amazon.


Some Highlights From Apple’s WWDC Keynote

The Apple home speaker got a sneak preview. It does look a lot like a mini-Mac Pro tower, and is called HomePod. There is no screen, it is powered by Siri. HomePod is 7 inches tall, and has 7 tweeters with a 4 inch upwards firing woofer, it runs an Apple A8 chip. With 6 mics, Apple claims it can hear you from across the room and respond even with loud music playing. They are touting acoustic modeling, echo cancelation, and spatial awareness. In other words, it will detect the room, and fire the speakers to give you the best sound for that area. If you run two, they are smart enough to sync up. Besides for music, it will use Siri in the usual way to get information, and also control your HomeKit devices. It will run $349. Comes in White & Space Grey, and ships in December.

Another tease was the iMac Pro. It will have an 8 core Xeon processor for base, and up to 18 core available. It runs Radeon Vega graphics with 16 gigs of vRAM. It can roll with 128 gigs of memory and 4TB of SSD storage. The iMac Pro ships in December, and will start at $4999. All the iMacs and MacBooks get Kaby Lake Intel processors and faster SSD drives. The freshened iMacs and MacBooks are shipping today.

As expected, the new iPad was shown off extensively. It has the 10.5 inch screen in the same size as the 9.7 inch model, and still weighs just a pound. It starts at 64 gigs, and $649. Preorders open now, and they ship next week.

A number of other reveals revolve around the software systems and content. For content, Amazon Prime Video is coming to Apple TV later this year. Also, the new iOS 11 will have a pretty amazing AR developers kit. A couple of demos put AR right on a desktop at the stage, with the audience right in the shot! Another had a developer standing in the middle of a Star Wars world she was manipulating on the fly…watch out for Darth Vader swinging that light saber! Steam is bringing their VR to the Mac later this year! Apple will probably post the VR Star Wars video and AR demo later today, and you should watch them!

In the new Mac OS…High Sierra, Apple File System will be brought over from iOS, modernizing Apple’s ancient file system. For Safari, we get autoplay blocking!! Now you can read an article without the annoying autoplay audio blasting away. They also touted intelligent tracking prevention using machine learning. New, better compression for video and pictures.

iOS 11 gets some major features on the iPad…the App Tray can be brought up in apps, it will save configurations of screen splits for you to return to, and now, there is a files function and DRAG and DROP! You can send money or receive it in iMessage using Touch ID, and there’s a translation feature that works on the fly with Chinese, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Other languages follow later this year.

The App Store gets a total makeover. It starts with a Today screen, and separates out Games from other apps.


Samsung Delays Bixby for the US Again; 5 New Macs & 4 iOS Devices on Horizon

Samsung rolled out its latest Galaxy phones, the S8 models, without the virtual assistant Bixby in the US. It was due by now, but has been delayed a month. The Wall St. Journal reports that they are having trouble getting it to understand English syntax and grammar. Virtual assistants haven’t been the ‘killer app’ on smartphones anyway…only about 9% of users use the AI feature on a regular basis, according to research firm Ovum. Half of smartphone owners either had no interest in the feature or didn’t even know about it. It has been a different story with talking speakers, which the public seems to be accepting more quickly….with Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant in the lead.

There are armies of people digging through regulatory filings around the world to bring you tidbits like this: a Russian filing points to 5 new Macs and 4 new iOS devices on the way from Apple. According to apple insider.com, we could see some rolled out at WWDC. There has already been speculation that Apple would show a new mid-sized iPad Pro at WWDC, fitting in between the 9.7 inch and 12 inch iPad Pros. A recent shortage of MacBooks seems to point to a refresh of MacBook Pros and Airs as well.


Apple Echo-Type Smart Speaker Coming; Galaxy S8 Random Reboots; Samsung Approved for Testing Self-Driving Cars in Korea

There are now two sources saying Apple will make a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo or Google’s speaker. Bgr.com reports that now KGI Securities says they will launch a ‘Siri Speaker’ at WWDC in June. No word on the cost (don’t think cheap), but it’s expected to hit stores and the web in the second half of the year. It will reportedly have 7 tweeters and a subwoofer, which should give it great sound. It will use some type of Beats tech and run a version of iOS.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8 had record preorders, but as it gets to peoples’ hands, there’s word that some are having random reboots. 9to5google.com reports there’s quite a thread about this on Samsung’s forums. It can happen when in use, or just sitting around. The phone does fully reboot, and it appears it may be related to an SD card issue, as removing the SD card seems to fix the problem until Samsung rolls out a software patch.

Speaking of Samsung…for those of you who thought they only made phones and TVs, etc, the Korean giant is now approved to test self-driving cars on roads in Korea. According to techcrunch.com, Hyundai has been at it for about a year now, so Samsung will be playing catch up to an extent. Samsung started as a trading company, and has interests in shipping, insurance, and more. The Korean approval allows for operating without steering wheels or pedals, which is also part of proposed new regulations in California and which Michigan already allows.


iPhone 8-Bigger Screen, Smaller Form Factor; WWDC Moves to San Jose; Verizon Snags Drone Management Software Maker

We’ve written plenty about the iPhone 8’s OLED screen, as has everybody, and how it will have a 5.8 inch size. Now, macrumors.com, in a report from KGI Securities, picks up some new tidbits. The form factor of the handset will be about like the 4.7 inch iPhone 7, easing one hand operation. Because the front will be virtually all screen, the display size will be like that of the 5.5 inch iPhone Plus in the smaller chassis. The bottom of the screen will feature a row of virtual buttons, but KGI Securities says it may not have a home button or fingerprint sensor at all…instead, adapting ‘other biometric technologies,’ like iris or facial recognition.

Apple has announced WWDC 2017. 9to5mac.com says it is moving from San Francisco to the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, and will be June 5th through the 9th. Registration for tickets starts March 27th. The San Jose venue is roughly the same size as Moscone Center in San Francisco, so will accommodate 5000 developers and around a thousand Apple engineers. The Proximity to Apple’s Cupertino HQ and Campus 2 will ease attendance of more Apple engineers.

Verizon has picked up Skyward, a startup out of Portland that makes drone management software. According to geekwire.com, the code helps commercial drone operators track, connect, and manage drones. The software can be used by businesses in agriculture, construction, film production and telecommunications, and helps smooth compliance with FAA regulations.


WWDC Keynote Brief Hilights

iOS 10

If you use the notifications on the lock screen, Raise to Wake lets you see them before you hit the button and go to the home screen.

3D Touch allows you to reply to apps including 3rd party ones right from the lock screen.

Control Center has a right swipe now, with a dedicated music screen.

You can also right slide on Lock Screen, and get to the Camera.

Left swipe, and get to your widgets.

They are opening up Siri to developers. Some interesting things should come from this!

Improved contextual suggestions when you’re typing through deep learning.

Photos….significant changes. Adding object and scene recognition to Face recognition, and giving you the opportunity to see pix on a map. It’s all done locally on the iPhone. They also will categorized by trip and dates, and groups of people. A new interface is supposed to pull all these together through a new tab called Memories. In addition to your pix from an event, it will create a collage of what it picks as best, and even put them into a movie with sappy music. You can use key words like ‘epic’ to get different sappy music.

Maps has some cool new proactive updated functions, but also open to developers too, now. For example, Open Table would not only show the location, but you could book a reservation, book a car, and pay for both with Apple Pay all within the app.

Apple Music has finally gotten a redesign from the ground up. It will open to your library first, and they’ve added downloaded music to playlists, songs, artists, etc. You can finally see which songs have actually been downloaded to your phone, instead of being in the cloud.

There is also a discovery playlist, and new curated music, or you can use the Artist Connect to see stuff artist you follow have uploaded…pix, tour info, etc.

Updated design to their Apple News. It will create categories for you based on what you read. They also rolled out subscriptions, so you can now read publications right in the app.

HomeKit- They have added cameras, door locks, air conditioners, and more, and some major builders are integrating HomeKit into new houses now. A new app called Home has all your HomeKit controlled accessories on one screen. Scenes lets you lock the door, turn lights down and off, etc.

You can access all of your stuff from your phone remotely through Apple TV securely.

They have added transcription to voicemail on your phone, so you can read it instead of listening. Another feature uses a giant database to show if incoming calls from unknown numbers might be spam or telemarketers.

Your contact card remembers how you usually communicate, and hi lights that…if you text or call or Skype, or whatever mode you prefer.

Messages is the most frequently used app on iOS. They have added rich links that ads art work from the web automatically. You can tap camera in Messages, and it brings up a live viewfinder right in Messages so you can shoot and send.

Emoji are 3 times bigger in Messages. They have added emoji predictions, and even can add them after you finish tapping….it will hi light words that have emoji associated with them and you can tap and add.

They have added bubble effects…you can make the bubbles wiggle, jump in size, or even appear in ‘invisible ink’ so stuff will appear then disappear right in the app.

Quick replies allow you to quickly select a thumbs up, etc, but you can also scribble with your finger in your own crummy handwriting.

You can now access Apple Music right in Messages, and share songs.

They have a Jib Jab function that lets you plug in faces of your friends on a wacky moving Jib Jab character.

iOS 10 supports all iOS 9 devices except the iPhone 4s and iPad 2.

Mac OS update is called Sierra.

Siri is coming to the Mac, as the headline feature update. They are saying ‘it’s the same Siri we know and love,’ or in the case of some of us, know and hate…

Using the Continuity feature, where your devices sense each other, will now use the connection between Watch or iPhone to auto unlock and log in to your Mac, using a super secure connection. It only works when you’re right by it.

A universal clipboard will let you copy and paste items from, for example, your iPhone right to the clipboard on the Mac!

iCloud Drive will allow you to access stuff in your Documents and Desktop between Macs and from your Mac to your iPhone.

A new interface is offered to let you store older files in the Cloud, and will auto clear some stuff to free up space. For example, it will clear the Safari cache monthly.

Apple Pay is coming to the Mac….it will be web based. Now there will be a ‘pay with Apple Pay screen that will pop up. While shopping online, you can authenticate with your iPhone or Watch.

TV OS….Sling TV available today. New remote app that mimics Siri Remote. Live Tune in lets you load a channel app and start watching instantly.

Watch OS 3.0

Apps will load instantly. Scribble allows you to write replies in addition to just picking Apple’s canned ones. There are a number of updated screens, including showing the temp or your exercise circles on the home screen. You can swipe through the apps quickly, or even swipe faster using the little dots at the bottom of the screen.

A screen gives you a choice of different timers, and another shows you your calendars and to-do lists, etc.

One of the cool new adds is SOS, which will call 911 (or whatever emergency number in different countries) and it will also send your medical card…then, notify your family or contacts you have chosen automatically…and show them a map of where you are. It works over cellular or Wi-Fi.


Web Creator Working to Reinvent It; Apple Will Live Stream WWDC Keynote June 13th

A group of scientists got together this week in San Francisco to look for ways to create web 2.0. Tim Berners-Lee came up with the world wide web 27 years ago, originally for scientists to find info easily. Commenting on the present day web, Berners-Lee said “It controls what people see, creates mechanisms for how people interact. It’s been great, but spying, blocking sites, repurposing people’s content, taking you to the wrong websites — that completely undermines the spirit of helping people create.” The New York Times says Berners-Lee and his group are working on coming up with a more peer-to-peer web that would be much less suited to spying on people or hoovering up their information, and might include a micro payment system, so that advertising wouldn’t be the only model to pay for it, and would ease the need for all our information for targeted advertising.

Apple will live stream the keynote for the World Wide Developers Conference Monday, June 13th. According to macrumors.com the stream will be available over apple.com, and via an events app on Apple TV. We’ll cover the hilights of announcements right here.