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January 27, 2021
⏲ Good morning! The clock ticks today — the Doomsday Clock in fact. Plus, rare blue jet lightning! All of that will more sense as you keep reading...
Pei’s Nothing announcement
nothing logo
Nothing

I waited around to write the main story of the day to see what OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s new venture was going to be.

  • In advance, we knew the startup raised at least $7M in funding for its new London HQ, with that figure announced and more tipped in from further seed investment.
  • Some of the early investors are interesting: Tony Fadell (inventor of the iPod), Casey Neistat, Steve Huffman (CEO of Reddit) and others, many quite big names in their fields. 
  • And from the job listings, such as this one for a PR Manager, we had seen signs it was going to be a consumer tech play, and with a global approach. Nothing too revelatory, but at the same time, Pei could’ve been jumping into blockchain or electric vehicles.

And so, here came the news: OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei’s next company is ….Nothing.

  • It’s literally called Nothing.
  • Here’s the link, but there’s nothing there: nothing.tech

Unfortunately, that’s about as much as we know, too. Pei said exciting words without actually saying anything in a fairly frustrating round of quotes. For example:

  • “Nothing’s mission is to remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital future,” says Pei, listed as Nothing’s CEO, in the press release
  • “We believe that the best technology is beautiful, yet natural and intuitive to use. When sufficiently advanced, it should fade into the background and feel like nothing.”

The company declined to specify what Nothing’s first gadgets will be, or areas they’ll be in, and only really said in an interview with The Verge that while the team is being built, they’ll focus on “simpler categories,” and build up “an ecosystem of devices” that all conform to the goal of making money from selling hardware, not software. 

  • Pei did admit the company would use contract manufacturers but emphasized, quote, it “plans to differentiate itself by using “custom made” components in its products right from the start”.
  • It’s all a bit mysterious and while you can tell I’m at least slightly bothered by the lack of detail, credit to Carl Pei for putting together a bunch of buzz (ado?) about nothing.

🌶️ At least, though, there’s a touch of spicy drama, because he is clearly throwing just a little shade at his old company, OnePlus, in these select quotes: 

  • “There’s a reason why a lot of products on the market look quite similar,” Pei observes. “It’s because they share a lot of the same components and the same building blocks.” 
  • And, Pei said Nothing won’t just “relabel somebody else’s products.”
  • Heh. Obviously, Pei was frustrated at OnePlus.
  • And, for all the effort OnePlus has spent telling us it’s not an Oppo-derivative, here we are.
Roundup

📹 Sony Xperia Pro finally launched: A slightly odd 4K smartphone with HDMI-input for true video professionals and a $2,500 pricetag. It’s crazy expensive, even for Sony, but may it make sense for videographers and YouTubers and pros (Android Authority). We’re arguing about this here on Slack, and MrMobile has done a good job explaining more about the specific use cases… but $2,500? (YouTube).

🤳 Google Camera developer says “I no longer recommend OnePlus,” for the GCam app mod popularly used on many non-Google phones. Why? OnePlus is purposefully breaking features now, for some reason (celsoazevedo.com)

🌉 Your Chromebook now doubles as a smart display: lock screen is now just like a Nest Hub, with personalized weather, music controls, and your choice of art (Android Authority).

📲 Huawei’s US sanctions will be reviewed under Biden’s new Commerce pick: Gina Raimondo said she would “review the policy, consult with you, consult with industry, consult with our allies and make an assessment as to what’s best for American national and economic security.” (Android Authority).

⏩ Speed Test G: Galaxy S21 Ultra vs Note 20 Ultra (a clear winner) (Android Authority).

🔫 Everything you need to know about FAU-G: India’s new PUBG Mobile clone (Android Authority).

🍎 Update your iPhone: iOS 14.4 rolls out with three major security fixes (that Apple mentioned directly, unusually), so you know it’s important. Otherwise, there are new features too, including Bluetooth audio selection: you can designate the type of third-party audio devices you’ve connected via Bluetooth eg. speaker, headset, earbuds, and so on, with sound customized for each type.

📈 Microsoft reported its quarterly results, with the word “up” being popular when explaining performance. Lots of interest in how the Xbox business is going: very well, both hardware sales obviously with the new Xbox range, but content and service revenue (hello Game Pass) is way up too (GeekWire).

🐤 Twitter did a few things: it acquired a six-person newsletter platform operation out of The Netherlands to get into the subscriber space, and a competitor to Substack (TechCrunch), and is going to open its entire tweet archive to academic researchers for free, to study online society more easily (The Verge).

🤔 “How exactly do flashbangs produce light?” (r/askscience).

Wednesday Weirdness

Rare cool and weird ‘blue jet’ lightning has been spotted and photographed from space by astronauts.

  • And wow, I’d never heard of this, do check it out: the ESA video looks insanely cool and also features elves! (Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations).
lightning esa
ESA

And today, we also find out if the Doomsday Clock ticks closer to midnight. Given it was last at 100 seconds in 2020, the closest it’s ever been, and after the year we just had, well….

Here’s what it is, via the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

“The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.”

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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