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January 8, 2021

☕ Good morning and hooray for Friday. Radical honesty from Hyundai caught me by surprise this week. What a mistake. Read on for more!

Elon Musk is now the world's richest person

Remember November 24, 2020, when Elon Musk passed Bill Gates to become the world’s second-richest person, but was still about $70-80 billion or so behind Jeff Bezos?

Thanks almost entirely due to Tesla stock continuing an astonishing run, Elon Musk is now the world’s richest person, by 10 billion or so dollars too, adding $25B just in 2021.

And as Ars Technica details, Musk will earn even more Tesla stock if Tesla hits ambitious revenue and profit targets.

More EV news: Apple car, Mercedes-Benz 56-inch display
Apple Event Tim Cook

Here’s what’s happened in the Apple car world yesterday:

First, incredibly, Hyundai Motor says it’s in early talks with Apple to develop an electric self-driving car, and that Apple is talking with other carmakers too (CNBC):

  • “We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided,” a representative from Hyundai Motor told CNBC.

This bizarre honesty from Hyundai:

  1. a) sent shares in Hyundai soaring some 19% in post-announcement trades;
  2. b) almost guarantees that Apple won’t make a deal with Hyundai, and; 
  3. c) saw Hyundai later walk back its early claims:
  • “We’ve been receiving requests of potential cooperation from diverse companies regarding development of autonomous driving EVs, but no decisions have been made as discussions are in early stage.”

Following that up was some more in-depth reporting from Mark Gurman at Bloomberg on where the Apple car project is, really. Which is to say, still a long way off, but actually on the table as a real project with experienced hands-on board; even if the car is nowhere near the production stage, and may just be a solution for autonomous tech,


  • “Apple Inc. will take at least half a decade to launch an autonomous, electric vehicle because development work is still at an early stage, according to people with knowledge of the efforts.”
  • The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has a small team of hardware engineers developing drive systems, vehicle interior and external car body designs with the goal of eventually shipping a vehicle. That’s a more ambitious goal than in previous years when the project mostly focused on creating an underlying self-driving system.”
  • And it may not happen like this anyway: “Apple has continued to investigate building its self-driving car system for a third-party car partner rather than its own vehicle, the people said, and it could ultimately again abandon its own car efforts in favor of this approach.”
  • In a sign it has now rebooted development of a vehicle, Apple in recent months shifted an executive known for his work on vehicle interiors and exteriors to its car team. In 2019, Apple hired former Tesla engineering vice president Steve MacManus, but he initially worked on projects unrelated to the car.
  • Don’t miss the detail on Apple’s car management team, and that “several hundred” engineers are working on the project, mostly on the self-driving car aspects vs vehicular build, and how Apple’s 66 test car fleet is doing: “In 2019, the company’s test vehicles drove an average of about 118 miles before a human safety driver had to take control. That was up from 1 mile per disengagement in 2018”.

Finally, in EV news: Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its absolutely massive 56-inch ‘Hyperscreen’ for its EQS electric car (The Verge), which is coming out this year. 

  • It sounds pretty wild, with an eight-core CPU and 24GB of RAM, meaning more RAM than my PC and phone put together.
  • It’ll use “AI” to learn most used functions and suggest modes during driving, the software powered by MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) being up to scratch is a big question.
  • Are physical knobs and dials still just better and safer than a touchscreen?
  • Expect late 2021 reviews…

 📺 Sony’s new Bravia XR TVs for 2021 bring Google TV UI and HDMI 2.1 across the board, plus a new Bravia Core streaming service for some Sony Pictures movies (Android Authority).

💻 Hands on with the new Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2, which drops back from the $999 4K premium Chromebook to a more regular approach that delivers on build and basics for $550 (Android Authority).

💻 Acer’s new Chromebook Spin 514 is powered by AMD mobile CPUs and GPUs (Android Authority).

🔊 JBL announces the Charge 5 speaker and a load of new over-ear headphones to true wireless earbuds, plus soundbar with Dolby Atmos and more (Android Authority).

🔥 Acer’s newest Nitro monitor supports HDMI 2.1 for 4K, 120 fps console gaming (Engadget).

🛬 Boeing criminally charged for lying about 737 Max crashes, fined $2.5 billion, with the fine split between injured parties. Mind you: “the Justice Department will dismiss the charge against Boeing after three years if the company cooperates with the government” (Bloomberg).

😬 WhatsApp’s new privacy policy: Let us share your data with Facebook or else, with no opt-out, for now. This is leading to people exploring Signal, Telegram, and Matrix, an open-source decentralized project (Engadget).

💳 Mobile-first bank Simple is shutting down (Engadget).

💸 A Trump tax means you’ll pay 25% more for Nvidia and AMD’s impossible-to-find graphics cards (The Verge).

🗄 The race to preserve and archive the DC Mob’s digital content and traces (Wired).

🤔 “Do I have a moral obligation to be on TikTok? Shouldn’t I stay current, the better to relate to—and thus support—the inheritors of the earth?” (Wired).

Friday Fun 
chrome 2021 01 08 12 50 41
Tristan Rayner / Android Authority

So, the Arctic polar vortex has just been disrupted. Just what exactly that means is something well explored over on Mashable, explaining that yes, it’s something that happens every other year or so, but it didn’t happen last year.

  • And when it does lose its stability during the winter, that can mean extreme weather, both freezing and unexpectedly warm, across the US and Europe.
  • Check this spinning gif showing the relative stability falling away.
  • Nothing’s certain yet, but keep an eye out on for polar vortex headlines to dominate if the stratospheric air mass keeps looking like it’ll split.


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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