Palantir invested $25m in Faraday Future to use data mining software

 Data-mining firm Palantir invested $25 million in Faraday Future shortly before the electric vehicle startup became a publicly traded company in July, according to a previously unreported Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) document filed late last week.

Palantir Technologies

In addition, Faraday Future signed a commercial contract to use Palantir’s software, according to one of Palantir’s most recent SEC filings. Neither company disclosed how much Faraday Future is paying, though Palantir’s filing notes the contract will last between four and six years. Representatives for both companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Palantir says its software is meant to serve as a “central operating system” for companies that need to sift through lots of data. Its customers have included the US Customs and Border Protection agency, which used Palantir software to track immigrants during the Trump administration, as well as police departments around the country, which have used Palantir’s controversial predictive policing software.

Palantir’s investment was part of the so-called Private Investment in Public Equity (PIPE) portion of the merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that made Faraday Future public. PIPEs are essentially a fundraising round that happens concurrently with many SPAC mergers. Faraday Future raised a total of around $795 million in its PIPE, which included other investors like Geely, China’s largest private automaker.

Palantir’s participation in the PIPE is just the latest in a rash of investments the company has made in startups that are (or were) in the process of merging with SPACs. In some of those instances, Palantir has followed up its investment with a deal to sell its software services to the company in question, as was first reported in July by journalist Eric Newcomer. (One robotics startup, Newcomer reports, is paying Palantir $42 million to use its software, following a $21 million investment from the data-mining company.)

Faraday Future’s electric vehicles are going to create an incredible amount of data — at least, once they’re built. The company’s first vehicle, the FF 91 SUV, isn’t supposed to go into production until at least July 2022, and has been delayed for years as the company struggled. But when it exists, the electric SUV will be dotted with sensors and cameras meant to power an advanced driver assistance system in the near term and one day (perhaps) something closer to full autonomy.

The inside of the FF 91 will be even more of a data-generation machine. There are cameras in every seat capable of performing facial recognition, which will be used to quickly pull up all sorts of preferences for drivers and passengers, like their personalized app and media libraries, favored seating positions and climate settings, and more.

Samsung S7 tab is coming to the US at $529

 Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S7 is officially coming to the US starting on Thursday for the 5G version with the Wi-Fi model expected a few weeks later, the company has announced. But now we have full details of its US pricing and availability.

Samsung tab S7

The first version of the Galaxy Tab S7 FE to release in the US will be its 5G model. It’ll be available to order starting Thursday, August 5th, from AT&T, Verizon, and Samsung’s own online store, with prices starting at $669. It will also be available from other retailers, as well as T-Mobile and US Cellular “in the coming days,” according to Samsung. Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi model will be priced lower at $529, and will release beginning in September. Preorders for the Wi-Fi version open Thursday. That compares to a starting price of $649 for the Tab S7 Wi-Fi, or $849 for its 5G version.

The big selling point for the Tab S7 FE is its large 12.4-inch display, which is the same size as last year’s $849 Tab S7 Plus, although it’s LCD rather than OLED. Internally the 5G version of the Tab S7 FE is powered by a Snapdragon 750G, while the Wi-Fi version has a Qualcomm SM7325 chipset. Rounding out the specs are 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable storage, and a 10,090mAh battery. There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the rear, and a 5-megapixel camera on the front, orientated so it’s on the top while you’re using the tablet in landscape. You also get an S Pen stylus in the box, which is helpful for note taking and sketching.

As well as the Tab S7 FE, Samsung has also announced that the 5G version of the Galaxy Book Go laptop will be available from AT&T and Verizon this month. AT&T preorders open on August 5th, while Verizon’s availability starts on August 13th. AT&T is selling the laptop for $799.99. It will be available to preorder on August 5th, and will be available “in the coming weeks,” AT&T says.

Samsung's new Z Fold and Flip3 are the newest trend

There’s no new Note being announced this year, and so the Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra will stay right where they are in Samsung’s lineup. Instead, this summer the focus is on what Samsung sees as the future of phones: foldables. The company has just introduced the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3, a pair of devices that showcase the potential of folding screens in different ways.

Samsung Z Fold3 & Z Flip3

The Z Fold 3 is a productivity powerhouse that now has 120Hz displays both inside and out. And it’s carrying over some of the Galaxy Note’s DNA by adding support for the S Pen stylus. But what’s even more important than the usual spec upgrades is the message Samsung is sending about durability: the Fold 3 is more resilient than its predecessors.

So for the Fold 3, Samsung made a slew of changes to the device’s materials and internal design that should give the $1,799 foldable smartphone a better chance of lasting years into the future. It looks similar to the Fold 2, but refinements are everywhere. The screen’s protective film is now 80 percent stronger; Samsung is using Gorilla Glass Victus on the cover screen for improved drop protection; the aluminum in the Fold 3’s hinge is now 10 percent stronger. And the entire device is now rated IPX8 for water resistance, meaning you can submerge it for up to 30 minutes and it should come out unscathed.

The Z Fold 3 is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, has 12GB of RAM, and comes in 256GB or 512GB storage configurations. Its three rear cameras are close to what was in the Fold 2: the f/1.8 wide, f/2.0 ultra-wide, and f/2.4 telephoto cameras still use 12-megapixel sensors and the apertures are unchanged. But the tele lens now features optical image
stabilization. The 10MP camera on the cover screen is also the same.

As for the S Pen, the stylus works on the Fold 3’s 7.6-inch primary screen — though oddly not the cover display, Samsung told me. The company developed a special “Fold Edition” S Pen that covers all the basics, and the more expensive S Pen Pro is also supported and adds air gestures and some Bluetooth tricks. (Both are sold separately from the Fold 3.) The S Pen Pro has a nifty toggle switch that you can flip when using the stylus with other Samsung devices; they apparently use a different frequency than the Fold 3.

Preorders for Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 start today and it’s available in three colors: black, green, and silver. The flagship foldable will go on sale August 27th alongside the Galaxy Z Flip 3, Galaxy Buds 2, and two new smartwatches that Samsung also introduced today.


The all new Apple store is live

 The Apple Store was mysteriously down on Tuesday for just about an hour, but it has emerged from the downtime with a brand new look and a dedicated tab on Apple’s top-level navigation.

Apple Store

At the top of the store, there are images and links to many of Apple’s product lines (Mac, iPhone, AirPods, etc.). Some of those links take you to new dedicated Store pages for the products, which show you what models are available and point to resources like shopping guides, accessories, and support. On the main Store page, there are also sections for what’s new, links to support pages, and more.

The new design is filled with cards — it’s somewhat reminiscent of Apple’s Store app for iOS. It feels mobile-first, with smooth horizontal scrolling between cards on phone, something that doesn’t translate as well to desktop. There, the site surfaces arrows you may need to tap on.

As far as we can tell, there aren’t any new products — this update appears to be strictly a fresh coat of paint for Apple’s online store. And the pages for actually buying a product don’t appear to be different than they were before.

The change to the store arrives ahead of what’s expected to be a busy fall for Apple — the company has been rumored to be working on the iPhone 13, new AirPods, and new MacBook Pros that all could launch soon. Whatever products Apple ends up announcing, now there’s a new store that can showcase them.

Samsung S22 could again be a FLAGSHIP

This month, Samsung will finally take the wraps off the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3, neither of which is expected to give a tough time to the best camera phones out there. Much of the rest of 2021 will be all about Galaxy S22 leaks for Samsung fans, which, if recent history is any precedent, will be unveiled early next year. Not a whole lot is known about the series and reports have been going back and forth when it comes to the main camera.

Maybe it could be coming with a 200MP camera sensor

A higher megapixel count doesn't necessarily guarantee better pictures, which is probably why you don't see Apple and Google engaging in megapixel wars. Instead, these companies try to extract the maximum potential out of a sensor before retiring it.

After three years, Google's Pixel phones will finally get new camera hardware this October and Apple is also expected to equip its highest-end iPhone model with a 48MP sensor next year.

Samsung, on the other hand, has shown willingness to walk into unchartered territory and is currently said to be working on a 600MP sensor. Thus, a 200MP sensor may very well find its way to the Galaxy S22 series.

The company quite recently announced the world’s smallest 0.64μm-pixel sensor - the 1/2.76-inches 50MP ISOCELL JN1 camera. It's supposedly meant for mid-tier phones. In February, it unveiled the 50MP ISOCELL GN2 sensor which is 1/1.12-inches and has 1.4μm-sized pixels.

United Airlines would let passengers pre order food

 United Airlines announced a new option for passengers to preorder food, snacks, and beverages online up to five days before their scheduled flight. Orders can be made either on United’s website or through the airline’s mobile app. United claims that it is the “first and only” carrier to allow economy customers this option.

United Airlines

Previously, only premium customers on certain eligible flights could preorder their food and drinks. Now, United is extending the option to all ticket-holders. To start out, only passengers on flights from Chicago to Honolulu; Orange County, CA; Sacramento, CA; and San Diego will be eligible to preorder food and drinks. But by early fall, United says it will extend the option to passengers of all flights over 1,500 miles.

United has been adding amenities and eliminating nuisance fees as a strategy to help attract customers back inside its planes. Last year, the airline permanently eliminated its change fee policy, quickly followed by its main rivals, Delta and American. United also recently added a Bluetooth option for in-flight entertainment. With customer demand still below pre-pandemic levels, the airline industry as a whole is seeking to make flying look safe, stress-free, and, most of all, cheap.

United is billing the food and drink preorder option as a way to improve service, allowing flight attendants to move through the cabins faster and delivering more personalized service to passengers. Preorders are handled through United’s contactless payment system, which the airline also claims is safer for passengers and flight attendants (although evidence suggests that COVID is rarely transmitted through surface contact).

Customers who choose not to preorder their food and drinks can still do so during the flight. But United is urging customers to load their credit card in the app’s digital wallet in order to facilitate contactless payment while on board.

Square launches new Square Banking for small businesses and startups

Square is launching a new free banking service on Tuesday that connects to the payment and point-of-sale products the company already offers to small businesses. Square Banking combines checking accounts, savings accounts, and Square’s existing small business loans (now called Square Loans) into a package that the company claims is both fair and accessible.

Square Banking

In terms of features, Square’s new savings account can automatically set aside money from every sale made on Square’s platform. Square Savings will also let users create custom folders for saving toward specific goals. Funds in a Square Checking account will be instantly available to use for payroll and other payments using a Square debit card, and Square says its accounts have no account minimums, overdraft fees, or recurring fees

Square says Square Loans are offered based on a small business owner’s previous sales history through its platform rather than their credit score. The company hasn’t made any dramatic changes to its loan service (formerly Square Capital), but users will be able to pay off their loan with a percentage of each sale on Square, and Square says in the future loans will be available immediately in a Square Checking account once approved.

Given the banking features already baked into Square’s consumer-facing Cash app, it makes sense it would go all-out for its original customer base. The quasi-closed loop of taking payments through Square, keeping money in a Square account, and then spending money with a Square debit card also keep things simple for business owners, provided they’re comfortable putting all their eggs in one basket.

You can sign up your small business for a free Square Banking account today.

Samsung teases Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip 3 ahead of August unpacked event 2021

 Samsung has officially announced when it will hold its next Unpacked product event: August 11th at 10AM ET / 7AM PT. It is widely expected to announce the next version of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 — both of which have already leaked quite a bit. Samsung’s not being shy about those expectations, as a quick look at its invite reveals the outline for both of those devices.

Samsung Event 2021

Samsung is also expected to announce new Galaxy watches, which would be the first to use the new combined Wear platform that was announced at Google I/O earlier this year.

Samsung is holding the event virtually again on its website, and it promises to post more details on the livestream here. It’s also keeping up another Samsung trend: letting customers “reserve” “its next flagship” before it’s even been officially announced. Samsung says it will offer “increased trade-in credit and 12 months of Samsung Care+ at a discounted rate” for early reservations.

According to the images leaked by Evan Blass, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 looks very similar to the current iteration of the folding phone. The largest upgrade will apparently be compatibility with Samsung’s S Pen stylus. Samsung itself has been telegraphing that it would add stylus support to the Fold line for a very long time now.

As for the Galaxy Z Flip 3, the biggest update may be on the outside, where Samsung will replace a very tiny screen with a slightly larger but still fairly small screen.

Samsung has done a better job with durability on its folding devices since it switched over to using “Ultra thin glass” under a plastic sheet for these displays. However, the screens are still much more fragile than regular smartphone screens. If Samsung is intending to encourage users to poke at the Z Fold 3’s screen with a plastic stick, that folding screen will need to become more durable.

Though it’s not likely to get top billing, the new Galaxy smartwatches are likely to be a bigger shift than the iterative updates to the folding phones. That’s because it’ll be the first Samsung smartwatch to run Google’s Wear operating system in over half a decade. Samsung had been using its own Tizen-based OS on smartwatches, which had benefits over Google’s Wear OS but did not have an app library worth using. Now that the two operating systems are combined, this upcoming Samsung watch will be our first real look at what the new Wear operating system really works.

We are expecting both a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 with a rotating bezel and a Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 4 without to be announced, both in multiple colors.

It’s always possible there will be more on tap — Samsung’s Galaxy Buds lineup could also be due for a new model. We’ll find out for sure when Samsung kicks off its livestream on August 11th.

Google to remake over 900 emojis

 Google is tweaking 992 of its emoji designs to make them more “universal, accessible, and authentic,” the company announced today. The new designs will arrive this fall alongside Android 12, but Google says they’ll also be available on older versions with apps that use its Appcompat compatibility layer. They’re also coming to other Google platforms like Gmail, Chrome OS, Google Chat, and YouTube Live Chat this month.

Google Redesign

None of the changes are particularly drastic. Instead, they’re mostly the kinds of tweaks that make the meaning of each emoji easier to understand at a glance by a wider range of people. The pie emoji, for example, currently looks like a classic American pumpkin pie. That’s fine for Americans, but it means that, in the UK, the design looked closer to a tart than a traditional pie. The new more universal design should fix this.

Google has given its designs a bolder, more exaggerated look, which is helpful considering how small they appear on most screens. The croissant and bacon emoji will now have more of a shine to them, while the scissors have a more exaggerated sharp edge. Vehicles like cars and taxis have also had their proportions adjusted to make them more eye-catching.

If you’re wondering why we’ve seen such a flurry of emoji news over the past couple of days, it’s because this year’s World Emoji Day lands tomorrow, July 17th. Yesterday, we saw the announcement of the finalists for this year’s new batch of emoji, Facebook announced new emoji with sound for its Messenger service, and even Microsoft got in on the action with a new set of 3D emoji across Windows, Office, Microsoft Teams, and elsewhere.

Intel in talks to buy the $30 billion AMD's company

 In 2008, chipmakers Intel and AMD took two distinct paths: Intel kept manufacturing its own chips to maintain full control, while AMD decided to spin off its semiconductor business as GlobalFoundries, relying on it and other manufacturers to provide the actual silicon. Now, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Intel is looking to snap up AMD’s former fabs as well, in a deal that could value them at $30 billion.

Intel

It’s clear from the WSJ story that the deal isn’t a sure thing, and GlobalFoundries outright denied that it was in talks with Intel. But it’s possible Intel’s negotiating with the investment firm that owns GlobalFoundries instead, as the WSJ points out. It’s also intriguing that the Journal doesn’t have a “no comment” from Intel itself — that’s sometimes a canary to indicate a company did comment, just off the record or on deep background.

There’s an obvious reason why Intel might want GlobalFoundries — Intel is actually ramping up its foundry business now. In an attempt to turn around the struggling company, new Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger announced in March that Intel would no longer go it alone, outsourcing more of its chip production to third-party foundries, agreeing to produce more chips for other companies using its own foundries, and also investing in new fabs itself. That included a $20 billion investment in new facilities in Arizona, but it could take many years for new buildings to get constructed and ramp up.

In the meanwhile, it could snap up GlobalFoundries, the #4 foundry in the world (according to TrendForce), one that accounts for 7 percent of all foundry business by revenue. That won’t put Intel on the same footing as a giant TSMC or Samsung (which together account for an estimated 74 percent), but it’d be a start.

Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 would support the S Pen Pro

 After many teases, it seems as if a Samsung foldable is finally going to get support for an S Pen stylus. FCC filings for the S Pen Pro, a bigger version of the S Pen with Bluetooth connectivity that Samsung announced in January, have been made public, and one document (PDF) reveals that the upcoming stylus will work with the unannounced Galaxy Z Fold 3 (which is presumably the next device in the Z Fold lineup).

Galaxy Fold 3

And it’s not just the Z Fold 3 — the stylus, which doesn’t have a release date but is set to hit this year, will apparently support the S21 Ultra, the Note 20 lineup, and more. You can see the full list of devices that the S Pen Pro will support in this image from the filing:

The S Pen Pro’s support for the Z Fold 3 isn’t a major surprise — the company has been hinting toward some sort of S Pen support for the foldable for some time. During last year’s Unpacked event, Samsung’s president of mobile TM Roh said in a Q&A that the company has been “happy to hear” that people want the S Pen to work with the Fold. In a December blog, he said that the company was looking to bring some of the Galaxy Note’s “most well-loved features” to other devices — which seems likely to be a wink toward stylus support, one of the hallmarks of the Note line. And in January, Roh was even more explicit, saying that the company plans to “expand the S Pen experience across additional device categories in the future.”

A detailed leak has already shown the unannounced phone with a stylus: a render shared by noted leaker Evan Blass depicts what appears to be the Galaxy Z Fold 3 with a new “Fold Edition” S Pen propped up next to it. Perhaps the Z Fold 3 will come with the Fold Edition stylus in the box while the S Pen Pro will be sold separately.

FCC documents becoming public can indicate that a product may be announced soon after they are published. In this case, an official announcement for the S Pen sometime soon would make sense, as Samsung has held summer Unpacked events in early August for the past few years. Blass has also already stated that this year’s event is scheduled for August 11th, alongside revealing a bunch of other devices that are expected to be revealed at the show, including the Z Fold 3, the Z Flip 3, two new Galaxy Watches, and new Galaxy Buds

Palantir invested $25m in Faraday Future to use data mining software

  Data-mining firm Palantir invested $25 million in Faraday Future shortly before the electric vehicle startup   became a publicly traded co...