Lots of Alexa, Little Buying; Apple Thinks Virtual Keyboard; Zillow Adds Mortgages; Way Cheaper June Oven

Amazon has been pumping out Alexa devices like crazy, but so far, people love them for playing music, videos, adjusting lights, and all sorts of ‘skills,’ as Amazon dubs them, but very few are actually buying stuff from Amazon with the Alexa enabled devices. Thenextweb.com says only about 2% of people have used it for shopping (according to a report from The Information.) Even worse, 90% of people who tried shopping only did it once. 20% of users have used Alexa to track things they’ve bought or hunt for deals, but actual buying is mainly done on other devices like their phones, laptops, and tablets. Amazon hasn’t given up…they are known for playing a long game…but this has to be disappointing to them.

Although their tablets sell better than about any others, Apple has consistently said they won’t add touchscreens to MacBooks…citing bad ergonomics, among other problems. Now, mashable.com reports that Cupertino may be thinking of a virtual keyboard. Patents recently discovered point to Apple expanding on their TouchBar by looking at fully customizable virtual keyboards…in place of the normal keyboard. A plus would be that you could resize the virtual keyboard on the lower panel, and have increased screen size or even a second screen. Apple’s patent app indicates haptics would allow for feedback for keystrokes. The panel could be modified by the user easily to switch from keys to sliders, which would be great for people doing audio production on a laptop!

Zillow has jumped into the mortgage business with the acquisition of Mortgage Lenders of America. According to techcrunch.com, the real estate portal and lead generation service will now not only provide buyers with quotes from third party lenders but be able to offer real estate brokers in-house type mortgage operations and mortgage affiliation. The jury is out on this move initially….Zillow stock dropped on the news of the acquisition of Kansas-based MLoA.

June rolled out a smart oven a couple years ago. A cool countertop gadget with a built in processor, sensors galore, and a bit of AI. It did an amazing job of cooking various foods with its preset programs…BUT…it was $1500! Now, engadget.com says June has dropped a newer model that’s faster, smarter, and maybe most importantly….cheaper. You will have to live without the stainless steel knob (no loss, since there’s a touchscreen) and weight scale, but more oven for less money should be a winner. The new oven adds functions like slow cooking, air fryer, and dehydrator. In 2016, there were 25 presets…now you get over 100. Lazy cooks and people who really don’t like to cook but love to eat are all set! Yes, there’s even a setting for ‘leftover pizza!’

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Apple May Have Added 2nd Supplier for 4 Inch iPhone; Zillow Ups Game for Video Walkthroughs of Homes for Sale

Apple has been using 2 suppliers for iPhone 6S production, and it looks like they are doing the same for the upcoming 4 inch iPhone 5se. Foxconn, Apple’s long time main supplier will build the new small model, and Wistron will make some as well. Apparently Apple started working with Wistron in February of 2015 on this. Bgr.com says that Wistron will join Foxconn in building the 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus this fall, while Foxconn and Pegatron will crank out the 4.7 inch iPhone 7 models.

Zillow Group has announced a new feature to apps that lets agents and homeowners shoot and post video walkthroughs. According to geekwire.com, the idea is to make video walkthroughs more common on its Zillow and Trulia sites, in addition to the photo galleries posted with home listings. Agents can shoot and upload videos through the Premier Agent App. There’s no sound in the 2 minute clips, and they plan to add baked in video stabilization for smooth, consistent videos. Homeowners and photographers can create video walkthroughs via the Zillow Real Estate App, for approval by the agent before uploading. No word on when the video feature goes live yet.