Huawei is launching connected glasses in partnership with Gentle Monster, a Korean sunglasses and optical glasses brand. There won’t be a single model, but a collection of glasses with integrated electronics.
Huawei is positioning the glasses as a sort of earbuds replacement, a device that lets you talk on the phone without putting anything in your ears. There’s no button on the device, but you can tap the temple of the glasses to answer a call for instance.
The antenna, charging module, dual microphone, chipset, speaker and battery are all integrated in the eyeglass temple. There are two microphones with beam-forming technology to understand what you’re saying even if the device is sitting on your nose.
There are stereo speakers positioned right above your ears. The company wants you to hear sound without disturbing your neighbors.
Interestingly, there’s no camera on the device. Huawei wants to avoid any privacy debate by skipping the camera altogether. Given that people have no issue with voice assistants and being surrounded by microphones, maybe people won’t be too suspicious.
The glasses come in a leather case with USB-C port at the bottom. It features wireless charging as well. Huawei teased the glasses at the P30 press conference in Paris, but the glasses won’t be available before July 2019.
Pretty much every self-driving car on the road, not to mention many a robot and …
The diminutive Raspberry Pi Zero is getting its first upgrade in nearly five years. Today, Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton announced the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, a new $15 product that puts the processor from the Raspberry Pi 3 into a board the exact same size as the original Zero.
The new board swaps the old Zero’s 1 GHz single-core ARM11 processor for a quad-core Cortex A53-based Broadcom BCM2710A1 processor, also clocked at 1 GHz—the same processor used in the original Raspberry Pi 3 released back in 2016, albeit clocked slightly lower. This is a substantial increase in power and capability for the Pi Zero, going from one core to four and from 32 bits to 64.
Upton said that the performance increase over the original Zero “varies across workloads” but that for multithreaded tasks like those simulated by sysbench, “it is almost exactly five times faster.” Heat dissipation is provided by “thick internal copper layers” in the board, which should help prevent thermal throttling without the use of additional fans or heatsinks.
But the Pi Zero 2 W is still a low-powered, miniature version of the Pi, which means there’s just not a lot of physical space for other upgrades. The Zero 2 W still uses 512MB of RAM, 2.4 GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.2, and a single HDMI port along with two micro-USB ports (one for power, one for data) and a microSD card slot. Because it still uses the same Zero form factor, it should fit all existing cases and accessories made for the original Pi Zero.
Upton said that the company hopes to ship about 200,000 Pi Zero 2 W boards in the remainder of 2021 and an additional 250,000 in the first half of 2022. These numbers are being limited somewhat by ongoing chip shortages, which prompted a rare price increase for the flagship Raspberry Pi 4 model earlier this month.
The original Pi Zero W and the Wi-Fi-less Pi Zero will continue to be manufactured and sold for their original prices of $10 and $5, respectively.
It’s the most reliable upgrade in tech: take a thing that was already good, and make the screen bigger.
From laptops to TVs to phones to game consoles to tablets to watches, the time-honored tradition of making the screen bigger has resulted in some excellent upgrades, at least as long as making the screen bigger doesn’t screw up anything else.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (11th gen, 2021)
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And that’s Amazon’s playbook with the $140 11th-generation Kindle Paperwhite. Next to the 10th-generation model, the designs look nearly identical, but the new one has a larger screen enabled in part by slimmer borders around the top and sides.
But just because the bigger screen is the most noticeable thing about the new Paperwhite doesn’t mean it’s the only thing. It now has a USB-C port for charging, replacing the aging micro-USB port. Performance is improved in small but noticeable ways. Its frontlight adds more LEDs, so the illumination looks smoother and more uniform, and it also picks up the auto-brightness sensor and warm light features from the $250 Kindle Oasis.
All of that comes together in a $140 e-reader that is the best Kindle—and, by extension, the best e-reader—that you can currently buy.
Bigger screen with a better frontlight
The headline feature of the new Paperwhite is its 6.8-inch screen, a big step up from the old Paperwhite’s (and the standard Kindle’s) 6-inch display. It doesn’t change the Kindle’s user interface much, but it does mean a lot more words per page when you’re using the same font sizes, margins, and spacing.
The space for the larger screen mostly comes out of the Kindle’s top and side bezels, which are much slimmer than before (though the bottom bezel is a little thicker than before, likely to ensure that you still have plenty of room for your thumbs while you’re holding the device). Even with the bezel tweaks, the new Kindle is taller and wider than the old one, but not so much that it feels harder to hold for extended periods. The design of the 11th-generation Paperwhite and the 10th-gen Paperwhite are otherwise identical, with bezels that are flush with the display and the same soft-touch plastic back.
The new Paperwhite also gets an upgraded frontlight that makes it a lot more like the more-expensive Kindle Oasis. The frontlight now uses 17 LEDs, up from five in the last-gen Paperwhite and four in the standard Kindle. And it now has a warmlight option that can shift the display’s color temperature from the standard cool blue to a warm orangey-yellow.
Two separate sliders control backlight brightness and the light’s color temperature. Even if you don’t care for the yellow display effect that most phones/tablets/computers offer now, turning the display warmth up a few ticks takes the harsh edge off of the bluish Kindle frontlight and makes the display a lot more pleasant to look at. A built-in auto-brightness sensor also helps with this.
The Kindle Oasis has still-more LEDs in its 7-inch screen—25, instead of 17—but the Paperwhite’s screen is so bright and evenly lit that I doubt I could tell the difference even with the two devices next to each other.
Better performance (with one serious bug)
Amazon claims the new Paperwhite has “20% faster page turns,” and while I didn’t measure anything with a stopwatch, the 11th-gen Paperwhite did feel more consistently responsive than 10th- and 7th-gen models I normally use. That’s true not just for page turns, but also for navigating menus, highlighting passages, and typing out quick notes. The new Paperwhite is still occasionally prone to the kinds of random, inexplicable minor hangups and hitches that all Kindles I’ve used have sometimes suffered from, but those pauses take less time to resolve themselves than they do on the older models.
That said, I can consistently get the new Kindle to totally lock up by rapidly adjusting the backlight and warmth sliders and then opening a book—almost as though giving the screen too many inputs in too short a time makes it stop responding entirely. The frontlight will still turn on and off, but the display won’t refresh or respond to input until the device has been hard rebooted.
I suspect that this is a bug that can be resolved with a software update, and it’s not something you’ll run into if you’re not tweaking the settings a bunch in a short period of time. But it’s something to be aware of—I’ve contacted Amazon to see whether this is a known issue and if a fix is coming.
Have you heard about the new version of Android? No, not Android 12—that launched an entire week ago! It’s time to talk about the new new version of Android: “Android 12L.”
Remember all those talks we had about a mid-cycle, tablet-focused release of Android that the community had unofficially dubbed “Android 12.1”? That release is officially “Android 12L,” and it’s out now as a developer preview.
Google started its surprise announcement with some big-screen stats:
There are over a quarter billion large screen devices running Android across tablets, foldables, and ChromeOS devices. In just the last 12 months we’ve seen nearly 100 million new Android tablet activations—a 20% YoY growth, while ChromeOS, now the fastest growing desktop platform, grew by 92%. We’ve also seen Foldable devices on the rise, with year on year growth of over 265%! All told, there are over 250 million active large screen devices running Android. With all of the momentum, we’re continuing to invest in making Android an even better OS on these devices, for users and developers.
The wildest new addition to Android is a taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Google says the bar will let users “instantly switch to favorite apps.” It sounds like you can pin shortcuts to the bar, but we haven’t heard anything about recent or running apps showing up there. One GIF Google shared shows that a permanent bar full of icons makes it very easy to enter split-screen mode—just drag an icon out from the bar into either half of the display.
Once you’re in split-screen mode, your two apps will be separated by a divider that appears to let you resize the windows. Each app window has rounded corners, and the dock icons are square—an odd change given that Android 12 uses round corners on just about everything else.
The notification panel on phones uses an expandable, accordion-style UI; you swipe down once for the notification panel and swipe down again to expand the quick settings. On Android 12L, these two panels live right next to each other, fully expanded, in the new dual-pane panel.
Google would really like developers to make tablet apps optimized for big screens, and to that end, it has recommended navigation patterns, a resizable emulator, and various responsive UI APIs. One demo cycles through several recommended display modes, like a single panel “phone” layout, an “unfolded foldable” layout with a visible navigation panel next to a wide content area, a “tablet” mode with a dual-pane layout, and an even bigger “desktop” layout for Android on Chrome OS devices.