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July 20, 2021
🎂 Good morning! Jeff Bezos flies to space today of course, but more importantly, it's my mum's birthday!
Bezos launch
blue origin
Blue Origin

It’s launch day for Blue Origin’s New Shepard and Jeff Bezos and crew, just under two hours after this newsletter hits your inbox. 

  • The latest status was Blue Origin confirming its astronauts were go. (Hmm, “astronauts.”) 
  • That crew includes Bezos and brother Mark, 82-year-old Mercury 13 aviator Mary “Wally” Funk, and 18-year old Oliver Daemen, who replaced his father — who bought the ticket for $28 million and had some kind of “unknown scheduling conflict” — and is a physics student.
  • If you just want to tune in, you can go watch on YouTube, coverage starting at 7:30am ET.
Heads Up rolls out, but...

I’ve always had trouble with Google’s Pixel phones getting cool features that the rest of the Android ecosystem doesn’t get. 

  • It’s smart when Google uses its Pixel devices as a testbed before wider Android feature roll-outs, of course including latest versions of Android.
  • It also makes sense when Google’s building specific hardware in the hopes for people to pick up a Pixel, like the Soli radar system, and its adaptive battery mode probably relies on Google’s own device knowledge.
  • Where I think Google needs to just get on with helping everyone with an Android phone is things like Call Screening, something very helpful for stopping spam, which is not just a Pixel-owner problem.
  • No one wants Google to be like Apple, especially when features have societal benefits. Not even Pixel owners.

 But this isn’t a swipe at Google today, because hey, one of those features just started rolling out more widely: Heads Up.

  • If you didn’t know, Heads Up is a Google feature previously only on Pixels that politely reminds you to stop using your phone while walking.
  • It reminds you to focus on the task at hand while you’re on foot, which is helpful for anything from slow walking to real danger.
  • I don’t know, it’s weird that we all probably need this, but obviously we could all pay more attention at times, and the feature has worked ok for me in the past.
  • Now, Google has started deploying its Heads Up feature to all Android phones through an updated Digital Wellbeing app.
  • XDA, which broke the news, found it installed on Android phones seemingly regardless of make or manufacturer, from Asus to Realme.
  • This is good. Keep rolling out the Pixel-only features to be Android-wide, please Google.

🔓 Latest on the NSO hacking fallout: Political fallout across India, Mexico, Hungary and more (The Guardian). Also, Edward Snowden called for a spyware trade ban, saying the industry should not exist: “They don’t make vaccines — the only thing they sell is the virus” (The Guardian).

🔋 Google announces one-year warranty extension for Pixel 4 XL battery issues in US, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan (Android Authority).

📴 Android 12 ‘ruined’ the power menu, and some Googlers agree (Android Authority).

👉 7 problems modern smartphones have solved without you knowing it: HDR, fingerprint scanners (Android Authority).

💬 HalloApp is a new private social network from two former WhatsApp employees (Android Authority).

PS4 ‘cryptofarm’ reportedly wasn’t mining crypto, but using bots to grind in-game FIFA currency. What a world. (Engadget).

🚴‍♀️ Peloton keeps adding content and is now getting into gaming, which sounds pretty fun actually (Gizmodo)

📺 CNN plans to launch a CNN Plus streaming service, which sounds less fun (The Verge).

🔐 The Pentagon is bolstering its AI systems — by hacking itself (Wired).

🔭 From the telescope that brought you the First Black Hole Photo comes the best look yet at extreme cosmic jet(CNET).

🚢 Walmart, Ikea, and Amazon have a dirty shipping problem according to interesting new data breaking down maritime emissions (The Verge).

🧬 Genealogists say Leonardo da Vinci has 14 living relatives! His “many-times-great nieces and nephews include several office workers (one of whom served as a naval gunner in the 1960s), a retired upholsterer, a surveyor, and a state employee who is “passionate about motorcycling and music.” Cool and all, and at least they’re not painting Da Vinci relative NFT Mona Lisas or something. (Ars Technica).

🧼 “Between foam, liquid, or bar, what is the best type of soap for handwashing?” (r/askreddit).

Chart Tuesday

I thought this was pretty interesting via r/dataisbeautiful:

chart tuesday charts 1

Then someone re-did it by chronological order:

chart tuesday charts 2
  • There’s a definite gradual trend towards more words per year. And then the whole unfolding-pandemic-thing really did the trick to add almost six times the length of boring old years like 2002 or 2004. (Yawn, who remembers those anyway?)
  • By comparison, the rather eventful year 1945 would rank third on this list.
  • Though, and people noted this important fact in the comments, Wikipedia wasn’t invented then! 

Have a good one,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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