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April 23, 2021
🐝 Good busy bee morning to you!
AirTags get early reviews

Apple’s AirTags are in the hands of reviewers, mostly for 12 hours or less.

But the reviews are proving interesting.

  • There are a few questions trying to be answered here.
  • Are they good enough to buy, how do they compare to Tile, are they particularly good in any way, and is there a true need, anyway?
  • The answers, I think, look like this: yes, well, in an Apple way – yes, and that really depends.

Probably the best of the reviews is from The Verge

  • …I do think Apple has put together a thoughtfully designed system that goes a long way toward ensuring privacy and safety while still making it easier for you to locate your stuff.
  • AirTags are a very Apple-y Apple product, and that ends up being great but also just a little annoying (and, for third-party companies like Tile, troubling).”
  • Also: they scratch easily. “Sincerely, do not expect these to stay looking pristine for long — not since the weird early days of the iPod nano has an Apple product gotten scuffed this easily.”

That point around third-party companies not being able to access Apple’s same comprehensive software integrations means they’re at a disadvantage. 

  • Either you think of that as a natural disadvantage, or anti-competitive.

And do you really need it?

The thing about Bluetooth trackers is that they suit a certain kind of person. 

Story time:

  • I lost my wallet for almost a month, during the earlyish pandemic lockdown time when I didn’t need it because I wasn’t going anywhere, but I sure couldn’t find it either.
  • (I did finally find it, I still remember the relief washing over me like a warm hug.)
  • That led me to buy and review the Tile Slim, where I said I like it for peace of mind, there’s little downside other than cost and eventually the battery wearing out. I tested it just now, it works. I’m glad I have it.
  • But I’d never really thought about tracking anything else….

Mashable’s review tackles these thoughts and does it well: 

  • Yeah sure, you’re likely to find a use for one of these, maybe for your keys or whatever.
  • But they’re just big/obtrusive enough to not be comfy in a wallet and you might already own a Tile. 
  • Bluetooth trackers have largely existed without excitement, and while precision finding with UWB is cool, others will do it too.

The other thing is Apple will be pushing its ecosystem. One of the originally potentially useful things with Tile is that anyone with the Tile app could help you find your stuff if it travelled away from you.

  • Apple is talking the same thing up, outmuscling Tile by saying “nearly a billion devices out in the world” can help to locate an AirTag.
  • That’s what Samsung did with its SmartTags too, helpfully working with Samsung phones, but only Samsung phones. Still, there’s a lot of those.
  • That’s the kind of selling point/peace of mind that Tile can’t really access.
  • Yet, in theory, it’s pretty easy for a thief to spot an AirTag on a bag of gear, and just yeet it?
  • That makes the use case… mostly keys?
Roundup

🚀 NASA and SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission to the ISS took off spectacularly and successfully this morning, with the first stage rocket landing on the drone ship, and SpaceX Dragon and four astronauts in orbit and on its way. Link is to the ongoing livestream. (YouTube).

📁 Samsung patents a double folding phone with three displays, along with a fast-charging magnetic S Pen (Android Authority).

📺 Xiaomi Mi QLED TV launches with 75-inch 120Hz panel and hefty price (Android Authority).

📶 Google Fi introduces cheaper unlimited plan, offerings are starting to be less straightforward as the competition gets better too (Android Authority).

📉 iPhone 12 models accounted for 61% of US iPhone sales in fiscal Q2 2021, report says. The iPhone 12 mini was the lowest selling iPhone in that quarter, too (9to5Mac).

👻 Snapchat said its Android user base is now bigger than its iOS user base (CNBC).

💵 Can Apple get you to pay for podcasts? (The Verge). Also, this argues that because Apple isn’t providing podcast creators with their subscribers’ details, a drawback for growing a community (Mashable).

YouTube is now building its own video-transcoding chips, with custom silicon aiming to crunch YouTube’s completely incredible video-transcoding workload: 20-33x efficiency improvements

😬 Consumer Reports: Tesla’s Autopilot can be tricked into working without anyone in the driver’s seat (Consumer Reports).

⛅The UK gets serious about weather: Met Office and Microsoft to build climate supercomputer (BBC).

📺 Researchers take down a botnet pretending to be millions of people …watching TV, for ad fraud (Gizmodo).

🔫 Call of Duty: Warzone pulls a Fortnite with the launch of its new map, that goes back to the 80s (The Verge).

🚮 Stopping plastic in rivers from reaching the ocean, and recycling it, with tech from The Ocean Cleanup (CNET).

👂 “Any news from Tinnitus treatment?” (r/askscience)

Friday Fun
google logo big g at mwc 2019

On Wednesday night, Google’s domain for Argentina expired: google.com.ar

And, as often happens, an enterprising young Argentinian went ahead and bought google.com.ar for under $4, leading to a country-wide block of the site for several hours (MercoPress).

It’s pretty murky, though — Google’s domain registered through a service called nic.ar was set to expire in July (rdap.nic.ar/domain/google.com.ar), so the reason why it was available to be bought at all isn’t clear”

  • “Nicolás David Kuroña said in his Twitter account @Argentop that “I want to clarify that I entered nic.ar I saw the name of google.com.ar available and I legally bought it as appropriate!”. Domains listed on nic.ar expire every year and must be renewed, but this time Kuroña was faster. “It is all legal !!,” Kuroña said.”
  • “Minutes after the maneuver, it was confirmed that Google recovered the domain.”

This kind of thing used to happen more. A mix of good samaritans and more opportunistic types bought domains like google.co.uk, or famously, passport.com (CNET) when domains expired.

Have a fun weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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