Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Tuesday, July 21.
It’s OnePlus Nord launch day, where finally everything will come out of the box as we see a new mid-range contender. Watch the launch livestream here from 9:30AM ET (3:30 PM CEST, 7PM IST).
1. Pixel: 5G hints, Google camera lead goes to Adobe
Two bits of Google Pixel related news:
First, is a Pixel 4a 5G popping up.XDA Developers spotted a listing from a small US carrier, Boom! Mobile, which offers an MVNO running atop Verizon and AT&T‘s networks.It published a bunch of new phones that are 5G compatible.Curiously, one of those was listed as “Google G025E.”We know the Pixel 4a, per FCC filings, has model numbers G025J/G025N/G025M, already.So, a codename that seems like it’s part of the family, and listed as 5G compatible seems to suggest a 5G compatible Pixel 4a, which therefore likely means a mid-range 5G compatible chipset, like the Snapdragon 765G.That’s the same chipset we expect to see from the OnePlus Nord later today, so we could well just be a few weeks from Pixel 4a 5G vs OnePlus Nord comparisons.That’s if Google ever releases the Pixel 4a. The latest rumor is an early August announcement, which is shockingly soon. (Summer is getting away from me!)
The other bit of news is where the Pixel photography professor ended up, and what might play out:
Marc Levoy, the former Google Pixel camera lead, left Google quietly a few months ago.Now Levoy has popped up at Adobe, where he’ll be working on creating a universal camera app. Interesting!Adobe could be onto something. Levoy’s expertise was in computational photography, which has been seen on the Pixel range from the outset. It takes great, great snaps, even without the latest hardware or special lenses, and did things like astrophotography long before competitors.My colleague David Imel interviewed Levoy about computational photography and computer-based cameras, with an article and video diving into the details.Adobe’s not-at-all-secret ploy looks to be that if it can offer a universal app that can bring Pixel-quality photography to all platforms, it could be onto something, especially on iOS where Apple’s imaging has lots of hooks to APIs.Porting the Google Camera software has generally worked across different devices, meaning it is mostly software.Adobe said Levoy will work with the Photoshop Camera team as well as the Adobe Research, Sensei, and Digital Imaging units, and “reimagine what computational photography can be.”Which is great and all, but that could lead down a path towards $$$.Adobe could foreseeably make its universal camera app either paid, or freemium, and include some features only as part of its subscription bundle, known as Adobe Creative Cloud. At the top level, that runs $53 per month, with single app access for $20/m, which is fairly accessible for professionals who make use of the apps throughout a day.But if the Pixel loses its major feature, its no-nonsense top-line camera that can do things other devices can’t, the Pixel line might falter.
2. Samsung says it will unveil five ‘power’ devices at August 5 Unpacked event (Android Authority). Here’s a low-res peek of the Galaxy Fold 2, too, which appears to confirm a much bigger front screen on the device. And here’s Samsung’s own tease (Twitter).
3. The iPhone SE is the highlight of a grim US smartphone market: Most phone makers took a steep hit in Q2, including Samsung and LG (Android Authority).
4. WatchOS 7: Soon, your Apple Watch will know just how fit you really are. Is that a threat? (CNET).
5. Windows 10X might not arrive until 2021 (The Verge). Also, Microsoft-owned Minecraft will finally stop using Amazon AWS, and switch to Azure. Only took six years! (CNBC).
6. The creators of Monument Valley have a new game out later this year: Alba: A Wildlife Adventure, vastly different to anything from Ustwo we’ve seen before. iOS first, and it may be a long wait before it hits Android (Android Authority).
7. Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase says it prevented 1,000 customers and $280,000 in Bitcoin being sent to the Twitter hack address, by limiting transactions to that address. Which is more centralized administration than the ideal blockchain world, but preventing scams may be the best reason for a little oversight? (The Block Crypto).
8. Former Soundcloud founders have a new e-bike subscription service called Dance, launching here in Berlin today (TechCrunch). Interesting: e-bikes are great, but at a few thousand euros, iffy resale, and depreciation, plus theft problems, they are a risk. This idea of a subscription could work.
On that note, I also really like what Dutch-based startup BikeFair (bikefair.org) is doing, offering only legal bikes in a fresh and friendlier buyer/seller marketplace.
9. MIT and Mozilla release deepfake video of ‘Nixon’ announcing NASA Apollo 11 disaster, showing the ‘disturbing power’ of deepfakes (CNET).
10. Zoom Earth: Website lets you look at close-to-live satellite photos of Earth’s surface (zoom.earth).
11. “What has simultaneously gotten worse and more expensive?” (r/askreddit).
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