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January 28, 2021

✨ Good morning! I'm preparing to make kimchi this weekend! Any tips?

Tesla goes full steering wheel weird
2021 tesla model s

Tesla included images of its upcoming 2021 Model S refresh in an announcement last night, and wow, that steering wheel/yoke/thing.

The top-line news is that the refresh is interior and specs focused, and there are divisive decisions here.

Tweaks to the exterior are more standard:

  • The Model S has a new front bumper with tweaked air intakes, an updated rear diffuser, and new 19- and 21-inch wheel designs.
  • That’s about it: the exterior trim is now finished in black to match the Model Y, but no additional paint options.


Tesla motors model s
The latest dashboard design for the Tesla Model S.

Then there are controversial design decisions in the cockpit and interior: 

  • The split-steering wheel can’t possibly be ignored, and it looks divisive at best. I’ll quote Jalopnik’s take here: 
  • …there is a reason steering wheels are round. By cutting the top off of a steering wheel, and flattening the bottom, Tesla appears to be turning the Model S yoke into something more akin to that found in a formula race car. Unless the steering rack is quick enough that you can turn lock to lock without moving your hands, this is a totally ridiculous move. No. Bad Tesla.
  • It may not be a problem if it’s progressive so it doesn’t have to be turned right through and cause your elbows to hit your knees but, as stated above.
  • My take is that it’s less about a Formula 1 steering wheel and more about removing the wheel getting in the way of the digital gauge cluster/screen in front of the driver.
  • Also, what’s odd is that there are no indicator stalks! Now you have to press a haptic touch button on the left side of the steering wheel.
  • Not to say all classic elements should never be redesigned, but…
  • Also, it seems like the horn is now a touch button? Unconfirmed for now, so no further comment.
  • In any case, I saw a joke explaining that if the Apple car came with no indicator stalks, at least there’d be an expensive dongle to add one back in…


2021 tesla model s plaid

Other elements:

  • There’s a large 17-inch central screen, much like that of the Model 3 and Model Y.
  • That new center screen Tesla is also billing as a gaming computer with 10 teraflops of processing power. You’ll have noticed you can see Witcher 3 on the renders.
  • The rear seats look a little more sculpted and now there’s an 8-inch screen that shares the same infotainment/gaming functions as the main screen.

Three options:

  • The new Model S is now faster and it now has “up to” 520 miles (840km) of range, on the new Plaid+ model.
  • The Plaid+ apparently does 0-60 in 1.99 seconds which may set your hair on fire, too. And Tesla, I think, is claiming this particular model is the most aerodynamic production car in the world. It’ll go for $139,990.
  • The other two more normal options are the $79,990 Dual Motor Long Range version, with two motors and all-wheel drive.
  • And the $119,990 Plaid, which adds a third motor and other tricks.
  • You can order now, and Tesla says the lower-tier options are estimated to ship from March, with the Plaid+ from late 2021.

(More on Tesla’s sales and quarterly figures below)


👉 WhatsApp is bringing biometric authentication to WhatsApp Web, Desktop (Android Authority).

📁 Samsung may share its foldable phone displays with rivals. (By share I’m sure we mean sell at healthy margin) (Android Authority).

💰 Global smartphone shipments: Apple takes top spot from Samsung in Q4 2020 (Android Authority).

🤝 Honor CEO expects to resume ties with Google soon (Android Authority).

Garmin Lily review: This wearable for women has all the basics. But basics only (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple researching ‘light folding’ to make periscope lenses for iPhone …just like we have now from Samsung, Huawei, and Oppo (AppleInsider).

📈📉 Apple, Facebook, Samsung, and Tesla all released quarterly financial results. The view-from-afar is that all did well, but limited sales forecasts for Apple and Facebook for the months ahead caused the market to react negatively. 

🔎 More specifically, Samsung Electronics saw mobile revenue fall 11% year-on-year, and projected tech acquisitions to propel it into “future cars” (Reuters). Tesla reported its first annual profit as growth looked more like an S&P500 heavyweight car company, than a rising startup; reporting a profit off its regulatory tax credit sales (Jalopnik). Apple reported an all-time record quarter of $111.4 billion in revenue but didn’t offer a formal sales outlook (MacRumors). Facebook cautioned “significant uncertainty” in 2021 (The Verge), while reporting a decline in users in the US/Canada, even as usage soared. Also, Facebook once again pledged to depoliticize Facebook (Gizmodo)

⏳ Still no sign of Google apps being updated for iOS and its privacy labels (Daring Fireball).

🙅‍♀️ Discord banned WallStreetBets, and the subreddit chose to go private for about an hour. On the first, Discord enjoyed the growth until it didn’t, and once the community reached a tipping point of 250,000 live chatters, there’s little chance of coherent moderation. Which Discord couldn’t help with. On the second, r/wallstreetbets is back with a note that didn’t super explain why it went private, but hey, the GameStop fun continues (Ars Technica).

🌍 Earth at a cute angle: a fun argument for switching satellite imagery from top-down to off-angle. It hurts your brain for a second, but it’s compelling (Medium).

🤔 ELI5: “What is a hedge-fund?” (r/explainlikeimfive).

Throwback Thursday

Benedict Evans has a new intriguing presentation ( looking  to the next 50 years of tech. 

  • It first focuses on how Covid has accelerated the path towards digital ubiquity
  • And it highlights, more than anything, that the integration of tech and society is becoming less about having a device and more about ubiquity and utility. 

Here’s one graph (of the many, many) that fits today’s throwback theme of reminding us where we came from:

computing users

There are 130+ slides here so take your time!


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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