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June 4, 2021
💉 Morning! ...coming to you gingerly today with a fresh Pfizer dose on board, to go with my earlier AstraZeneca. It’s a mix’n’match, but it’s a good combo!
Pixel Buds A launch
Gooigle Pixel Buds A Dark Olive

Finally, Google announced the Pixel Buds A, the affordable version of its Pixel Buds. And affordable they are, dropping from $179 to $99. 

  • Overall, it looks pretty good for Google as they’re a better buy for most people. But are they the right buy, for most people?

The good news: 

  • Google has listened and made improvements despite the lower price, now at $99.
  • That includes attempting to fix the Pixel Buds’ notoriously bad audio drops, by improving the chipset and antennas.
  • This improvement now allows each earbud to connect independently to your device (extremely likely to be your phone).
  • Audio remains the same as the Pixel Buds: the same 12mm dynamic speaker drivers with two beam-forming microphones, the same vent to allow outside noise to be piped in so your ears don’t feel clogged.
  • That said, the vent has been tapered a bit, to now allow less outside noise in.
  • There’s a new Dark Olive color option.

The bad news:

  • I don’t know if it’s really bad news. Google had to cut a few corners to make these cheaper.
  • There’s no more wireless charging in the case, and you also lose the volume control feature available when you swiped the Buds.
  • Battery life is the same. New products should, ideally, be better so it’s a tiny shame that Google couldn’t wrestle more out of the package.
  • The competition. I would say if Google released these in 2020 at this price point, they’d have been much more of a winning option. By now, though, the competition is just so fierce.
  • Our sister site SoundGuys keeps very tight control on its best true wireless earbuds list for under $100. They’ll test the new Pixel Buds A, but current best buys, in the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 and the Edifier TWS1 (under $50), will be super hard to beat.
  • Then, there’s the joy of noise cancellation, though you’re stepping up to $200-plus on most occasions.

🤔 Rumors suggest Samsung Galaxy S21 FE could be a Note 20 follow-up, but …that’s a Note, not a Galaxy S device, so it’s unclear what might come out of this (Android Authority).

🌠 Google could be readying a cool astro timelapse feature for Pixels (Android Authority).

🆕 Details of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 successor have leaked through a reliable source, suggesting 4nm process and Snapdragon X65 modem, Kryo 780 CPU, and Adreno 730 GPU (Android Authority).

🔎 Google will take on some of Apple’s privacy attempts, by making it harder to track Android users across apps (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple vows to make AirTags less creepy, and deliver (a limited) Android app this year (Android Authority).

🍏 Apple’s next iPad Pro may have wireless charging and a glass back: report (The Verge).

⚡ Report: Apple working on multi-device inductive charging mat, researching truly wireless charging methods — AirPower, finally? (9to5Mac).

⛔ Huawei has been trying to get its major Chinese Android smartphone rivals to join it in running HarmonyOS to make China free of Google’s Android — but biggest Android smartphone brands didn’t join, though some others, including Skyworth, DJI, and Swiss watch producer Tissot did get on board (SCMP).

😇 Amazon’s Halo band is now tracking movement health. This piece says: “Amazon should rethink its half-baked approach to health-tracking(Gizmodo).

🎮 Legendary Sierra founders Ken and Roberta Williams are developing a new game, 20 years after their last (Engadget).

😬 Chaotic scenes at Nvidia GPU restock (Kotaku).

🐤 Twitter Blue subscriptions launch in Canada and Australia first (Engadget).

🦈 The world saw a shark-pocalypse 19 million years ago, and we don’t know why (Ars Technica).

🐝 Drama: internet backlash comes for the TikTok Texas bee queen, who saves bees mostly without protective equipment, but may have inaccurately portrayed videos (CNET).

🛫 United Airlines plans to add 15 Boom Supersonic jets to its fleet (Engadget).

😎 Next week we’ll get a partial, or annular, solar eclipse, though mostly limited to Canada, Greenland, and northern Russia. Most of the US will only see a shadow on the sun (NASA).

📦 “People on Amazon who answer a question about a product with “I don’t own one of these so I don’t know,” what is your reasoning?” (r/askreddit).

Friday Fun

That sounds super cool and tough right? Must be some kind of special flying autonomous aircraft, or a cool hovercraft thing, or water-based tank, or something?

Nope. It’s a little yacht:

Saildrone oaa pmel aoml atlantic hurricane mission
  • More cute than tough, right? How does this thing survive a hurricane?
  • The story is Saildrone and NOAA are going to send these floaty boys into the eye of major hurricanes to better understand the dynamics at play.
  • They’ve already survived a bunch of missions through different weather systems, but even if it goes wrong, we’ll know more. “It will be a voyage of discovery,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone’s founder. “We’re going to break things and we’re going to learn.”
  • And with cameras attached to the 23-foot long boat, we’ll get to see it happen, too.

All the best,
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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