This Week in Tech News

Mobile World Congress Opens with Samsung's Galaxy S9

Episode 1466

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus

Samsung announced the Galaxy S9 at Mobile World Congress this morning. Leo originally thought that Apple's $1,000 price tag on the iPhone X would influence mobile phone prices moving forward, but Samsung chose to only raise the price a bit, by comparison, starting at $720 for the 64GB version. You can trade in your older models to get a better price. You can also get $100 off if you buy from Best Buy. Leo says, however, that you don't get any benefit by paying more for larger storage considering the Android phones have a microSD slot for additional storage.

Apple to Store iCloud Keys in China

Episode 1466

Tim Cook

In a move that is causing concern with privacy advocates, Apple has announced it will store iCloud recovery keys in China. Leo says that it's really no different from what Apple does here, but it will make it easier for the Chinese government, or any government for that matter, to gain access to someone's data. Apple does protect your privacy from selling to advertisers, but if the government really pushes, Apple will cave to what they consider an "appropriate" law enforcement request.

Google to Condemn Insecure Websites

Episode 1465

Google

Beginning in July, if your website isn't secure (with an https url), it will warn anyone coming to your site that it isn't. It'll start in Chrome with a warning that "this site is insecure." Leo says it will start with a shaming technique of just a warning, but eventually, it will start bouncing any site that doesn't comply.

Facebook Spams 2 Factor Authentication Users

Episode 1463

Facebook on iPhone

Sending unsolicited text messages is bad form, and Facebook got caught using their 2 Factor Authentication database to send out ads and other notifications.

Facebook admitted their faux pas and apologized. Leo says that's become the modus operandi of Facebook: move fast and break things, then apologize. In other words, better to ask forgiveness than ask permission.

Samsung's Future Galaxy Note Could Have Foldable Screen

Episode 1462

Samsung Galaxy Note8

Samsung has been quite vocal about its plans to build a smartphone with a foldable screen in it, and we could see that next year with the Galaxy Note. On the front it will look like a regular smartphone, but then you'll be able to open it up to a 6 or 7" tablet. That will likely cost a lot more, and Samsung has already said it will be raising the price of the next Galaxy S phone, starting at around $850.

Read more at techradar.com.

Apple Launches HomePod

Episode 1461

Apple HomePod

Leo got his Apple HomePod this week and he says it's a device that suffers from an identity crisis. Apple isn't selling it as a home assistant like the Echo or Google Assistant, even though it has Siri on it. It's limited in its ability to play music, though. It's slightly better than the first generation Sonos, but not as good as a bonafide stereo system. It's just an expensive speaker for Apple Music via Airplay. It doesn't even work with Bluetooth. If you're not drinking that Kool-aid, there's no sense in buying one.

SpaceX Launches the Falcon Heavy

Episode 1461

Space X StarMan - Tesla in Space

Leo says that the Space X Falcon Heavy rocket launch, with two boosters automatically landing afterwards, was a triumph of engineering (even though one crashed in the ocean). The fun part was using Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster as ballast with a mannequin dressed in a spacesuit, playing Bowie's Space Oddity on the stereo. What a great test, and the PR stunt of the century for Tesla, with hundreds of thousands watching the live stream of StarMan orbiting the earth before heading off to Mars.

Day Before Big Game Is the Biggest TV Buying Day of the Year

Episode 1460

LG B7A OLED

The day before the Super Bowl is the biggest TV buying day of the year — even bigger than Black Friday. That's because it's also the end of the model year and they want to clear out the old models to make room for the new models. Leo says that there are some times you want to wait for the latest and greatest, but right now is not that time. LCD and OLED TVs are still dominant and will be for a few more years until MicroLEDs take hold. So if you were waiting, don't! If you have an HD TV and wonder if you should buy 4K, now is the time because of HDR 4K TVs.

Tech Companies Announce Quarterly Earnings

Episode 1459

yellow bar chart

Tech companies announced quarterly earnings last week, and everything was up. Alphabet's revenue was up 24%, but because of the new tax law, it actually lost money. Alphabet had an additional tax expense of $9.9 billion, but that money went toward taxes on funds that were kept overseas to avoid that tax. Ebay lost money because it had to pay $3.1 billion, and Lenovo lost money because it had to pay $400 million in taxes.

Samsung Galaxy S9 to Be Announced Later This Month

Episode 1459

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung will be announcing the Galaxy S9 smartphone later this month at Mobile World Congress. We expect the phone to be more expensive this time around, at $850, and it will look a lot like the Galaxy S8. It will have dual cameras, but for the most part, it likely won't be anything major that would prompt an upgrade unless you're already in the market for a new phone anyway.