Processor is a digest of what’s happening in a world of consumer technology with sharp analysis (or maybe just jokes) by Dieter Bohn. Sign up for the newsletter here and check Processor video series on YouTube.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol happily praised itself for grabbing fake AirPods. Only they did not really turn off, they were the new OnePlus Buds. Which, yes, is similar to a knock-off AirPods. But they’re also a real product from a real company that really does things (but if you want to make the case that OnePlus is just Pontiac for Oppo̵
Except CBP did not laugh. CBP doubled down, saying no, it did not make a mistake, and OnePlus Buds are counted as fake, and CPB actually has the legal authority to seize them. It smells of retconning, but it can also nonetheless be true that CPB can do it (grab the buds, I mean. It’s probably free to retcon in today’s America too).
After the titanic news about Oracle and TikTok and Nividia and Arm, the OnePlus Buds saga was the little escape I needed until I realized that it is also a synecdoche for the globalized conflict between the US, China and the strange state of IP law. Oh good.
We catch you following Apple’s keynote today, which is just one of several major tech events taking place this week. I hope you can join us to keep an eye on our liveblog.
┏ Google launches Pixel 5, new Chromecast and smart speaker on September 30th. Surprise! Google’s event will not have many surprises. It has already teased the Pixel 5, Pixel 4A 5G and the upcoming Nest speaker that looks vaguely pillow-shaped. It has not talked much about Chromecast, but we know it too: it switches to Android TV and is called the code “Sabrina.”
┏ The LG Wings twist screen offers a new spin on the dual-screen smartphone. I … I love that kind. I mean, it’s ridiculous, and the chances that there will be good software support for the second screen experience are minimal. I could go on and on about why it’s silly.
But it’s silly too! Phones can be a little crazy! I mean, not only does this have a second screen, as the first screen rotates away to reveal it has brought the pop-up selfie camera back. LG’s product engineers sat in a room and asked how many moving parts it could pack in a smartphone, and the answer was not a number, but simply “yes”.
┏ LG also teased a vertically sliding version of a phone, which: yes again. Go away, LG, be crazy.
┏ AMD unveils its Radeon RX 6000 GPU design on Twitter – and in Fortnite.
┏ Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup does not have 120Hz high-update screens, says analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. I can already predict the year of shit talk it will entail, so let me just say this. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s disappointing. I have long said that any phone that costs a thousand dollars or more must have a screen with high refresh rate and iPhone lacks one is a miss. It’s not the most important spec on a phone, but it does make a noticeable difference.
┏ Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2 is fully leaked via official promo videos.
┏ Anker says it hits down on stolen podcasts. Ashley Carman with the inside story of how Anchor is trying to solve a problem it really should have solved earlier.
Copycats, Mignano says, found a solution in Anchor’s detection system. “This is definitely a new type of attack for Anchor,” he said. The people who uploaded these copycat shows downloaded the audio from another source, manually uploaded it to Anchor, and filled in the metadata, which essentially made it a new podcast.
┏ Zipline and Walmart launch drone deliveries of health and wellness products. Kim Lyons:
The program is for on-demand deliveries of health and wellness products and will begin in a trial early next year near Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. Zipline’s launch and release system allows on-demand delivery in less than an hour and operates from a Walmart store capable of serving a radius of 50 kilometers.
┏ Verizon buys Tracfone in deal worth more than $ 6 billion.
┏ Xbox Series S plays Xbox One S versions of Xbox One games. So to review: Xbox Series S can play enhanced versions of Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, but they are the Xbox One S versions, not the Xbox One X versions, although the Xbox Series S is newer and in some ways more powerful than Xbox One X, which means that if you want the best Xbox One X gaming experience, you need the Xbox Series X. Xbox.
I have a lot of funny jokes that there are too many Xbox details to keep track of. But the truth is, I’m very interested in seeing if Microsoft’s Game Pass Ultimate focus works. The whole idea is that you do not have to worry too much about which Xbox you have when you want to play a game, it will just play Xbox games. You just have to worry when deciding which Xbox you want to buy next.
In a previous newsletter, I mumbled about hiding the true cost of the consoles behind monthly payments – I will always grumble about that kind of thing. But as long as Microsoft is facing the total cost, the monthly installments look like a pretty good idea. I can even jump to one myself.
┏ Xbox Series X and S: Everything You Need to Know About the Next Generation of Xbox. This new generation of consoles is much more complicated than “better graphics, better games.” Jon Porter has written the comprehensive guide to the upcoming Xboxes:
Microsoft’s new consoles give you a lot more freedom in how you play its new games, but depending on where you choose to play them, you’ll not get the exact same experience. For example, the Xbox Series X is a much more powerful machine than the Series S or the current Xbox One, which has a big impact on performance.
More from The Verge
┏ The discovery of harmful gas on Venus could be a sign of life. Read this important story (and watch the video) by Loren Grush about an incredibly exciting discovery:
Finding even a small amount of phosphine on Venus is tempting because of how the gas is produced here on Earth. Either it is artificially produced by humans – for products like fumigants or biological weapons – or it is a natural by-product of life. Phosphine can be found in swamps and swamp areas where it is thought to be produced by microbes. It can also be found in the intestines of animals or in the pelvis they leave behind. Above all, it is a gas that is almost exclusively associated with life on Earth, increasing the possibility that it may be a sign of microbes floating in the Venusian clouds.
┏ Oracle’s TikTok agreement achieves nothing. Russell Brandom nails it. This is theater. All that sound and rage that doesn’t matter.
┏ Google announced one of the biggest green promises from tech yet. Justine Calma also notes that Microsoft has set itself a slightly more aggressive goal than Google has. Still good.
Google has been CO2-neutral every year since 2007, meaning it offsets the emissions it generates from burning fossil fuels by investing in renewable energy projects or other initiatives that pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it. But relying on shifts does not actually wean the company from fossil fuels. Google released 4.9 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2018 alone, roughly the amount that more than 1 million passenger cars might put out in a year.
┏ Nvidia’s $ 40 billion Arm acquisition is about bringing AI down from the cloud. You can always count on James Vincent to come up with a Promethean metaphor:
The big idea is that AI, like an ancient god, is finally stepping down from the clouds to walk among the people. Machine learning algorithms are used to rely on computing data centers with AI tools and applications that send information over the Internet to these remote servers for processing. But while heavy chips are still needed for research and cutting-edge applications, many machine learning tools are now light enough to run on the device without connecting to the Internet. The benefits of this are straightforward: you get faster processing, greater security and reduced power consumption.
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