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September 14, 2021
🚀 Good morning! So many launches... Oh, and by the way, I did have fun in the Alps, if that didn't come across?
iPhone 13, today
apple iphone 13 event

In brief: Apple’s California Streaming event happens today at 10AM PT / 1PM ET.

  • That’ll give this morning’s news a little bit of a before iPhone/after iPhone feel.
  • What to watch for is how well Apple can sell its iPhone 13 (whatever it ends up being named) that is billed, thus far, as a smaller update.
  • Make no mistake: Apple always does an incredible job of showing off technology we’re already seeing in other devices, but making it seem better or even like it’s first, somehow. 
  • Based on the leaks, I expect the 120Hz refresh rate (“Pro Motion”) will be a major feature on display to encourage upgrades (“It’s really great,” someone from Apple will 100% say), along with camera and battery life improvements.
Woz, this week
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sitting in a chair during an on-stage interview.

Steve Wozniak hasn’t stopped being an entrepreneur since his Apple days, and on this day of Apple he’s going to launch a company called Privateer Space, as a “new satellite company focused on monitoring and cleaning up objects in space.”

In short:

  • Woz isn’t getting into the space race with Jeffrey Bezos and ol’ Musky and such.
  • Instead, he’s going to clean it up and presumably get paid for it?


  • What we know is that Woz is in Hawaii to launch Privateer this week, at the AMOS Tech 2021 conference, devoted to space.
  • Ahead of then, he tweeted out a teaser video that doesn’t say much, other than it’s clear the company is saying it isn’t in “a race” but just trying to “work together to do what’s right and take care of what we have.”
  • The Privateer website is in stealth mode for now. We know the co-founder is Alex Fielding, an original member of Apple’s iMac team. Together the pair have tried other ventures in the past too. 
  • And space cleanup is a big unsolved problem. The need for satellites for all manner of activities in space and on the ground, SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, plus other satellite internet constellations, have added far more potential for collisions, which could cause untold problems if satellites turn to into a mish-mash of fine debris whizzing around the earth like shrapnel.

As Gizmodo points out, people are looking at space cleanup options, but the US government isn’t funding any space cleanup missions at the moment, despite urgings: 

  • “Cleanup will cost money that the U.S. government isn’t allocating. Last year, former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine urged Congress to fund a $15 million cleanup mission, tweeting: “In the last two weeks, there have been three high concern potential conjunctions. Debris is getting worse!”
  • “Surprising delights fill the space junk waste management space. Lasers! Space claws! Tentacles! The UK and Japan government-funded space company Astroscale has already begun testing magnetic docking systems that would tow future space junk and use the Earth’s atmosphere as an incinerator. (Although clients would need to build in corresponding docking plates before launching crafts.)”

We’ll find out more as Woz launches it, pun intended, later this week.


📈 Seven marketing tricks phone brands should stop using (Android Authority).

👓 Xiaomi wants to replace phones with these Mission Impossible-style smart glasses featuring a small projector, two 5 MP cameras, and speakers, but they’re just a concept, with no real detail, not at all stylish, so don’t be fooled (Android Authority).

👍 Pixel 6 series might bring back the squeeze-to-activate Active Edge feature from the Pixel 4 (and from HTC before it). Also, Google has launched a Pixel Superfan club thing, only in the US for now (Android Authority).

🔜 New Qualcomm chip reportedly in the works for cheaper gaming phones (Android Authority).

💸 Google fined $177m for abusing Android dominance (again), in South Korea (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple has patched a major NSO zero-day flaw affecting all devices (every iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch), meaning you should update right away, again (TechCrunch).

😬 This latest Facebook “VIPs” detail is appalling, with The Wall Street Journal set to reveal explosive details, if this wasn’t enough: “For a select few members of our community, we are not enforcing our policies and standards,” reads an internal Facebook report. “Unlike the rest of our community, these people can violate our standards without any consequences.” Incredibly, this applied to 5.8 million people which is completely wild. Facebook’s response: “We regret the issue and promise to do better going forward.” My oh my. (Ars Technica).

🌃 is rolling out a dark mode to everyone (Ars Technica).

📈 Hoax that Walmart will accept Litecoin makes cryptocurrency prices spike: The Litecoin/Walmart hoax yesterday was good enough to trick Reuters, which sent newsrooms everywhere in a scramble to report on the crypto-news which turned out to be crypto-trickery. Who profited? (NY Times, gift link).

🧠 ‘Neurograins’ could be the next brain-computer interfaces (Wired).

🐮 Scientists have potty-trained cows in hopes of reducing poop-based greenhouse-gas emissions (CNET).

🚰 “ELI5: Why the water in blisters doesn’t just seep out of the pores in the blister skin?” (r/explainlikeimfive).

Chart Tuesday

There are more mobile subscriptions than people on planet Earth. Which was always going to happen eventually, as more devices having access to the internet becomes more important for a variety of reasons and applications. But we’re there already:

  • Ok, making this into a gif has compressed everything terribly, but the post on r/dataisbeautiful by u/jcceagle with a video shows just when humanity logged on from more portable devices.
  • The late 90s saw an explosion in devices in the developed world, and then the early 2010s saw a mass logging on from China and India in particular.
  • Data is from the World Bank’s World Economic Indicator series which is a pretty slick way to build a chart or table of your own.
  • I found we’ve gone from 145 million mobile subscriptions in 1996, to 7.98 billion in 2019.


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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