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January 5, 2021
👉 Good morning! I'm humbled to report to you all that I burned my index fingertip just enough to make unlocking both my Pixel 4a 5G and my laptop very difficult. I implore you to cherish your fingertip health while you have it!
Apple’s 2021 firms up: AR?
Apple iPhone 12 Pro vs iPhone 12 Max camera 2

It’s a big year ahead for Apple, with more Apple Silicon devices and the expected iPhone 13 (a real naming quandary that) just part of the tale. 

One of the curious things about what we expect to see from Apple in 2021 is a lot like what we expected to see from Apple in 2020:

  • The news is that well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo gave out his expectations for Apple products this year in a report: “Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is out with a wide-ranging new report today focused on what to expect from Apple in 2021. The analyst says that Apple will release its first augmented reality device in 2021, alongside AirTag item trackers and much more,” wrote 9to5Mac.
  • Which, it’s fair to say, feels a little bit like 2020 all over again, especially on the AirTags side, a device we’ve heard about for a long time.
  • The delay in releasing that product is interesting. Is it on hold? Or, is Apple is waiting for something: like more iPhones and Apple devices with a U1 chip?
  • Or, is Apple waiting for the AirTags design to improve, with better battery life, and better software to release to its devices to make the ecosystem more physically findable, while preserving privacy?

AR, AirPods, Mini-LED:

  • Kuo is confident although not specific about Apple’s first augmented reality device coming this year. Glasses? Headset? Both? Nothing exact was mentioned.
  • And meeting expectations were other reports: “Kuo also said that Apple plans to release new AirPods, more Apple Silicon Macs, and its first devices with Mini-LED displays throughout the year. Previous rumors have pointed towards a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and various MacBook models with Mini-LED displays launching in 2021, offering richer colors, improved contrast, and more,” writes MacRumors.
  • Add the expected iMac to early 2021, too.
  • None of that is surprising given the usual round of Apple upgrades, so it’s all looking like a safe bet from Kuo. It may be helpful if you’re looking to upgrade, especially on the AirPods front given both their popularity and sadly the finite lifespans from the earbud batteries.
  • No mention of an upgraded Apple TV, which Apple is lagging on. 
  • The last new Apple TV came out back on September 12, 2017, and remains expensive at $179 given the competition, and now Apple TV content can be accessed by a cheaper, easier option. With HDMI 2.1 slowly coming to TVs, a sixth-generation Apple TV supporting HDMI 2.1 features would be welcome. Plus, updated hardware to play Apple Arcade games, and a remote that doesn’t slip away immediately and has better buttons would be nice.
  • Apple is also reportedly planning smaller and lighter GaN-based chargers, which is a big deal. Seriously, it’s a device we don’t think about much, but replacing the brick with a smaller, lighter, more power-efficient, and cooler device across hundreds of millions of chargers over time will be better for people and the environment… although, at the cost of replacing old with new with minimal recycled materials.
  • I’m hardly the only one that would say the biggest bet here is Apple releasing an AR product. The usefulness of Siri on the go is questionable, Apple’s famous designers may have found redesigning glasses with decent battery life hard, and Apple is never first on things like headsets, which still aren’t exactly common. 2021 and AR? I’d like to see it, but I’m unsure.

🆕 Xiaomi announces made-in-India Mi 10i — the i stands for India, it seems. A sub-$300 OnePlus Nord competitor? (Android Authority).

🔜 Amazon spills the beans on Redmi Note 9T ahead of Jan. 8 global launch, a budget 5G phone (Android Authority).

📺 LG’s new bendable OLED gaming TV curves on-demand, but may just be a concept. (Android Authority).

👋 Google may be updating the Nest Hub by adding Soli gestures given latest FCC filings (The Verge).

🚮 Discovery Plus has now launched: Here’s what you need to know to watch stuff like Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, House Hunters, 90 Day Fiancé, and various other reality-ish TV (Android Authority).

🛴 Test-driving the Walkcar, the ‘car in your bag’: It looks like a laptop with wheels, but at $2,000 yeah, it’s going to be hard (CNET).

📣 Google, Alphabet employees unionize: typically anti-union tech workers might be interested in the legal protections (TechCrunch).

🏥 The Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway-JPMorgan healthcare joint venture is officially ending, not even Amazon can beat the complexity of healthcare for now (TechCrunch).

🔓 Singapore released a COVID-19 contact tracing app and made various promises about the security of the data. Also, local police can now use any of the data for investigations. Public trust in tech designed to ease the health emergency, then made mandatory, then used by the surveillance state sounds like exactly why Apple-Google designed its contact tracing app, and why some governments avoided it (Reuters).

📹 The perpetual disappointment of remote work. My-oh-my the illustrations are perfect, too. (The New Republic).

🎻 Synchronized violin players reveal uniqueness of human networks(Ars Technica).

🤝 Wikipedia’s biggest challenge awaits in 2021: centralized, uniform code and tackling diversity (Wired).

🤔 CIA’s rebrand likened to that of a millennial pop-up shop, and yep. I get it, but it is a little bit funny (AdAge).

🎺 This robot plays the perfect sad trombone for 2021 (Gizmodo).

📡 China’s huge FAST telescope will open to scientists globally in April (Engadget).

😷 “With as many as three vaccines now approved and in use, does making a vaccine for new strains of coronavirus become easier?” (r/askscience)

Chart Tuesday
iphone apple interest chart

I invite your own considerations around this chart:

Cheers! Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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