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June 22, 2021
👋 Good morning! Hope you enjoyed the solstice yesterday, depending on your hemisphere and point of view on things. The long days here in the north continue for awhile yet!
Samsung's MWC event

Mobile World Congress (MWC) starts next Monday, and leaving aside the in-person vs virtual debacle around the event, and company drop-outs, we’re just starting to see some of the players step up. 

  • It won’t be the must-see MWC of the past, but there’s some hope.

Those hopes start with Samsung, which announced a virtual event for Monday, June 28:

  • The announcement post says Samsung will “be unveiling its vision for the future of smartwatches at the event with new opportunities for both developers and users designed to deliver a new era of smartwatch experiences.”
  • New smartwatches make sense here, with expectations of a Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatch launch.
  • There’s also expected to be more detail about the Google-Samsung partnership with WearOS.
  • Samsung will also talk about, well, less interesting areas, such as the “latest security enhancements and innovations.”

Galaxy Watch 4 expectations:

  • It looks like the Galaxy Watch 4, expected to be available in at least two sizes, passed FCC certification in the past week or two.
  • The rumors point to a circular design and rotating bezel watch again, though we haven’t seen render leaks or really detailed specs either.
  • The health elements are expected to be a pulse oximeter, heart rate sensor, blood pressure monitoring, and ECG, as in previous devices, but the potential for additional health-monitoring tech is intriguing. 
  • We heard early rumors of blood glucose monitoring in January, though that was hosed down by more recent reports. What else will Samsung bring here?
  • Pricing and availability are the other big unknowns: Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 3 pricing started at $399, so that’s a pretty good guide.
  • Samsung adding more exclusivity could be an issue to watch. More recent Samsung accessory devices have had some Samsung-exclusive elements or app tie-ins. That has an ecosystem lock-in vibe that may hinder wider uptake if owners of other Android devices (or the very few iPhone owners?) want to get a Samsung smartwatch.

More MWC:

  • Others billed for MWC include Elon Musk for SpaceX on June 29, along with keynotes from Qualcomm, IBM, and ZTE.
  • There’s a chance something else pops up, too!

🔋 Samsung M32: Samsung’s new budget phone brings 6,000mAh battery, quad cameras for ~$200, only in India for now (Android Authority).

📉 OnePlus Nord N200 review: Little more than a cheap 5G entry point as a rebadged Oppo phone (Android Authority).

👉 Also, OnePlus agrees to give Nord N200 better updates than Nord N100, but just barely (Android Authority).

⌚ The Redmi K50 series might be coming before 2022 (Android Authority).

🍎 Bloomberg reports Apple is developing a whole new kind of high-end MacBook Air, with the next-gen M1-chip (M2?) (MacRumors).

🍏 Apple reportedly kills iPhone 12 Mini production earlier than expected (Android Authority).

📰 There’s a big new report in the New York Times, titled: “Sundar Pichai faces internal criticism at Google,” which suggests the Google CEO is affable, caring, low-key, and thoughtful — but too risk-averse. Rather than saying no, Pichai lets big decisions remain undecided, leaving some angst about a lack of urge to take new risks. That said, there are not a lot of mind-blowing revelations in this piece. It just sounds like things are slow, but most decisions, as a source says in the piece, are “right.” (New York Times).

🥽 The one developer that publicly agreed to try Facebook’s VR ads is already backing away (The Verge).

🤔 Even creepier COVID tracking: Google silently pushed app to users’ phones at the behest of the government (Ars Technica).

🎮 Microsoft has hired the co-creator of Portal to build native Xbox games for the cloud (Engadget).

🤖 Here’s a surprise: Tesla says it has the world’s 5th fastest computer for in-house Autopilot training. The computer, called Dojo, has 5,760 GPUs running with 10 petabytes of NVMe storage (ServeTheHome). Tesla hasn’t submitted it to the Top 500 supercomputer rankings, though.

🔋 This guy charged his Tesla by towing it at speeds over 70 mph, reaching peaks of 65 kW in regenerative charging (YouTube).

🎈 Some kind of mega “space balloon” completed its first flight, with eventual aims at space tourism (Interesting Engineering).

⚛️ “Is there any form of matter that cannot be categorized on the periodic table?” (loads!) (r/askscience).

Chart Tuesday

This is a fun visualization of Super Mario Bros. speedrunners progressing the world record between 2010-2021, with the benchmark set by Niftski’s run (4:54.948):

super mario bros speedruns
  • The horizontal location of the various ghost Marios you can is based exactly on the time of finishing vs the benchmark, though the vertical location may not be exactly the same given some variations in runs.
  • So: 11 years, and the game has been beaten just 4.392 seconds faster.
  • The theoretical limit is approaching, too, based on Tool Assisted Speedruns (, which is its own genre and something one of my friends absolutely loves.
  • There’s a documentary I’ve seen about speedrunning the game on YouTube called “Super Mario Bros: The Human Limit,” by Summoning Salt, from just a few months ago.

All the best,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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