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October 22, 2021
🚀 Good morning! The news that Google, out of nowhere, is halving its cut of Play Store subscriptions is pretty wild, read on for more!
Duo 2 disappointment
Microsoft Surface Duo 2 In Hand

Well, sadly the second-generation of the Surface Duo, the Duo 2, is still a pretty big whiff.

My colleagues at Android Authority haven’t yet had hands-on experience so I can’t tell you anything much from the inside here, but what some other sites are saying is: better, definitely not fixed. 

  • The likes of Engadget (63/100), The Verge (6/10) and PCMag (3.5/5) are saying some nice things, especially about the multitasking setup, but it simply doesn’t work reliably enough.


  • It’s cool. There’s wow-factor: The new black color looks great and sleek, and it is a little futuristic. It’s well-built.
  • It’s no longer a disaster: Many of the original problems are fixed, though it’s still buggy.
  • Multitasking via the now 90Hz dual-screens isn’t just a possibility, but it seems to call to you: You get a lot out of using the separate screens separately, like a call on one screen and a Google Doc open on the other, or email at the left, browser at the right. Copy-pasting from one screen to another is easy. Or “tent” mode, which lets you play games sitting at a desk in a different form than usual.
  • 4G and 5G reception is solid: All US-bands are supported, from sub-6 to mmWave, and the upcoming C-band, and beats out others.
  • It has pen support, if you like that kind of thing.


  • Software bugs continue to plague the Duo line. It’s better but there are seriously poor elements lurking, like inconsistent touch response, or screenshots that take a screenshot of the wrong screen, or this from Engadget: “Then there’s the countless number of times apps have just died on me. I handed the Duo 2 off to a friend with OneNote on the right screen, so they could try the keyboard. It refused to pull up the keyboard and shortly after stopped registering any touches. We closed and opened the device and the app still wasn’t working.” Ouch.
  • The camera isn’t very good, and the camera app is buggy and annoying to use.
  • Battery life is fair at best, one review finding it lackluster, others saying it lasted a day.
  • This is a $1,500 device that seems to urge you to carry it with another phone. You need a primary phone for cameras and paying for things and doing phone things, and the Duo can be your pocket tablet for getting more work done fast.
  • At the $1,500 price, you could get a new iPhone 13 ($700) and new iPad Mini ($500) and have change. Or a new Pixel 6 ($700) and a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus ($780), which remains the best Android tablet ever. 
  • Or a bit more to get the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 for $1,800 that has none of the borderline show stopping bugs of the Duo 2, but many of the same form-factor functions and features, and with a reliable camera.

p>💰 Big news: Google will cut its Play Store fees for subscription-based apps from January 1, 2022, dropping the rate from 30% to 15% for all, which is huge for the likes of Spotify and Duolingo, and my old friend, Remember The Milk. That applies massive pressure to Apple, though no changes to Google’s cut of once-off purchases which is where games collect their money… (CNET).

👉 Backplate of Galaxy S22 Ultra leaks, could be good news? Maybe? (Android Authority).

⌚ Huawei’s launch yesterday: The new youth-focused Nova 9 which is a decent mid-ranger for under €500 with EMUI onboard, and the new Watch GT 3 is out as well, with big improvements to health and fitness tracking (Android Authority).

📸 Google Pixel 6 camera: Everything you need to know about the big upgrades with in-depth camera shootouts still to come… (Android Authority).

🔫 Official launch date revealed for PUBG: New State on Android and iOS, and it’s next week for the beta! (Android Authority).

📉 Waiting for the Huawei P50 series global launch? Despite launching in China earlier this year, it’s going to be a while before it makes it elsewhere (Android Authority).

🍎 The chip shortage has finally hit Apple: New Apple stuff isn’t shipping until mid-November/December… also, somehow, Apple’s new $19 polishing cloth is also delayed by 10-12 weeks (Gizmodo).

🍏 iFixit took a peek underneath the Apple Watch Series 7’s larger display, along with former Apple hardware engineers, which is really interesting (The Verge).

🎮 Google Stadia might have a second-life as a white-label Stadia streaming service: Batman: Arkham Knight is the first game to be powered by Google, with AT&T/Warner Bros at the helm, with the tagline “no download necessary” (9to5Google).

👁 Worldcoin: You can get this free crypto, and all of its ambitions, if the “Orb” scans your eye (Wired).

📚 Dune has hits HBO Max and theaters: Here’s stuff you need to know in advance (CNET).

🚀 South Korea got as close as it has ever been to reaching orbit with a 1,000kg or more payload, with the Korea Space Launch Vehicle II reaching orbit but a dummy satellite not quite getting placed into orbit. Only six other countries have managed to build their own and send it into orbit (The Register).

🤔 “What is morally okay but illegal?” Paying someone else’s parking meter, or buying liquor on Sundays in many parts of the US… (r/askreddit)

Friday Fun

One of the best Halloween things each year is Mundane Halloween, where people in Japan and Taiwan compete to present everyday situations in costumes that usually require backstory but seem to nicely sum-up the lives we live.

Anyway it’s too early for the 2021 rounds, but 2020 still shouldn’t be missed if you didn’t catch it and want some last minute ideas for this year. Bored Panda has a list but there’s plenty on Twitter, too.

Here’s someone who’s still loading:

halloween 2020 mundane 2

And a person who left their backpack open:

halloween 2020 mundane 1

Good times, good times.

Have a great weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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