At Amazon’s event in September, the company announced the Echo Auto, an aftermarket product designed to bring Alexa to cars. But the device has remained in pre-order status, even as other products also unveiled at the same event — like the Fire TV Recast, AmazonBasics microwave and various Echo devices for the home — went on sale and shipped to customers. The Echo Auto, meanwhile, is still only available on an invite-only basis. But Amazon confirmed to TechCrunch that it has begun to ship the device to pre-order customers.
In fact, some Echo Auto customers received their new device in time for Christmas, according to Steve Rabuchin, VP, Alexa.
Apparently, the Echo Auto was in demand, too.
“We had over a million [pre-order] requests,” Rabuchin told us. “Now, we’re just starting to ship.”
Amazon says the device began to ship to the first set of customers in December, and pre-orders continue to be fulfilled.
What Amazon didn’t explain is why the device has remained in pre-order status for so long, why it largely missed the holiday season with this ideal stocking stuffer-type of product or when it would finally exit “invite only” status for good. (That’s right — you still can’t just buy one!)
The Echo Auto isn’t the only Echo product that ran in short supply in recent days.
According to Bloomberg, Amazon’s online retail store in North America and Europe had some issues keeping some of its Echo devices in stock in time for Christmas delivery, too.
It’s not all bad news, however. Despite the shortages, the retailer reported a record-breaking holiday season, including “millions more Amazon devices” sold compared the 2017 holidays. Over the course of the year, Amazon says it sold “tens of millions” of Echo products, and it just announced a milestone of 100 million Alexa devices sold to date.
Orbital Marine Power O2 begins grid-connected power generation
Orbital Marine Power has announced that the world’s most powerful tidal turbine has begun grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Center. O2 is a floating turbine anchored off the Fall of Warness and connected via a subsea cable to the local onshore electricity network. O2 is a 2MW offshore power generation unit.
The power generation device was manufactured and launched in Dundee earlier in 2021 before being towed to Orkney. The device being deployed is the culmination of more than 15 years of development in the UK. The turbine is 74 meters long and is expected to operate in offshore waters for the next 15 years.
Its 2MW of energy production can meet the annual electricity demand for around 2000 UK homes. The power it generates is clean and predictable, thanks to the fast-flowing waters where it is anchored. Public lenders enabled O2’s construction via an ethical investment platform called Abundance Investment. The Scottish government also supported it via the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund.
With its first power generating unit in place, Orbital is now looking to commercialize this technology via the deployment of multi-MW arrays. The company says UK suppliers delivered about 80 percent of the turbine, and its operation will bring long-term employment to coastal communities. Orbital also says that commercialization costs are expected to decrease significantly compared to the roll-out of the technology, which it says was previously demonstrated with both wind and solar energy.
O2 is designed with twin 1MW power generating nacelles at the end of a retractable leg structure that is designed for low-cost access to all major components for servicing throughout its lifetime. The turbine uses 10-meter blades to give more than 600 square meters of swept area to capture flowing tidal energy. Not only does the device produce enough electricity for about 2000 UK homes, it will offset about 2200 tonnes of carbon dioxide production yearly.
B&O Beoplay EQ wireless earphones feature Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation
Bang & Olufsen has unveiled a new set of wireless earphones that feature something it calls Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation. The noise cancellation feature eliminates surrounding noise and improves immersion with the music the wearer is listening to. The true wireless earphones are called the Beoplay EQ and also support wireless phone calls.
Bang & Olufsen‘s Adaptive Active Noise cancellation combines active noise cancellation with passive cancellation to block external noise. The earphones have a dedicated ANC DSP chip and six microphones to automatically adjust noise cancellation levels to create a more seamless listening experience. The six integrated microphones are also used for directional beamforming technology, providing clearer calls and speech quality.
While the earphones are smaller in-ear style compared to other offerings that Bang & Olufsen sells, they still offer long listening times. Beoplay EQ promises a powerful and authentic listening experience with up to 20 hours of total playtime per charge. The total playtime is expanded to 20 hours thanks to the aluminum charging case that provides an additional 6.5 hours of playtime with active noise cancellation turn on.
Integrated fast charging allows the Beoplay EQ to be charged for 20 minutes to provide two hours of playtime. Two colors are available, including Black Anthracite and Sand Gold Tone. Beoplay EQ was designed to be small, comfortable to wear, and offer a secure fit thanks to an ergonomic shape. They are sweat and water-resistant and ship with interchangeable air tips in different sizes for a custom fit.
Beoplay EQ earphones utilize aptX adaptive, Bluetooth 5.0, and are IP54 rated. In addition, the earphones support any Bluetooth device, have Microsoft Swift Pair technology, and are Made for iPhone. Beoplay EQ will be available to purchase on August 19 for $399.
OnePlus 7 and 7T Widevine DRM fix comes with a caveat
There has been a lot of griping about the quality and pace of OnePlus’ recent software updates, especially when OxygenOS 11 brought about major UI changes and, with it, some nasty bugs. OnePlus 7 and 7T owners, however, seem to have had it worse and have experienced the worst that the release has to offer. After two months since the issue appeared, OnePlus is finally rolling out the fix to a bug that locked users into watching SD quality streaming videos, but many users still aren’t satisfied with how the update is being handled.
Last May, owners of OnePlus 7/7 Pro and 7T/7T Pro phones reported losing access to the ability to watch HD videos on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services. It was traced down to a still-unexplained bug from an OxygenOS 11 update that dropped the phone from Widevine DRM L1, which is required for HD or higher-res streaming, to L3, which only allows for SD content. Unsurprisingly, affected owners were none too happy, especially without an immediate solution.
Two months later, that solution finally comes with the OxygenOS 220.127.116.11 update for the OnePlus 7 and the OnePlus 7T. Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone who has installed the update is actually seeing any change on that front. Some have reported the need to clear the cache of affected apps like Netflix, which potentially means messing up some of the stored data in those apps.
Owners of these phones aren’t just complaining about the questionable quality of the fix. Some have pointed out how the latest update brings Android’s June security patches near the end of July, a week before Google releases the next round of security fixes for August.
It’s all too easy to see these complaints as just whining, but OnePlus 7 and 7T users have really had it bad. In addition to what is considered to be a very buggy OxygenOS 11 rollout, those owners feel let down by the unexplained removal of an always-on display feature that was present in previous betas. OnePlus has remained silent on that matter, but that didn’t stop the company from asking those users about how much they enjoy that non-existent AOD feature.
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