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⚡ Welcome again to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority newsletter that breaks down the top Android and tech news from the week. The 164th edition bringing all the week’s weird and wonderful happenings to your inbox.
🎮 This week I downloaded the new TMORPG Book of Travels — it’s still in early access but first impressions are excellent; it looks gorgeous and there are only seven players per server, so I was pretty excited when I bumped into my first real person in-game. Looking forward to seeing how it develops...
- UK retailer Carphone Warehouse revealed the Pixel 6 in full ahead of its October 19 launch, while we got a peek at the Pixel 6 color names.
- Meanwhile, a rumor suggests we could see four years of Android updates for the new Pixel, and the new Google Pixel Stand leaked, too.
- Google’s also reportedly working on a Pixel Pass subscription service, bundling a new Pixel purchase with premium Google services — no word on pricing or availability yet, though here’s how much our readers say they’d pay.
- Apple’s Unleashed event is coming on October 18 at 1PM ET — nothing confirmed as yet, but we’re likely to see new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, an M1X upgrade of the Mac Mini, and possibly new AirPods.
- The Apple Watch 7 hit store shelves on Friday, but the MagSafe Duo Charger won’t fast-charge your new watch.
- Apple is exploring AirPods that can take your temperature, monitor posture, and other health-monitoring features.
- And a robotics engineering student made the first USB-C iPhone in his spare time.
- Also this week, Apple is likely to slash iPhone production by up to 10 million units due to the global chip shortage, which could affect its holiday quarter revenue.
- Samsung announced its final Unpacked event for 2021, taking place on October 20 @ 10AM ET — nothing confirmed yet, but a teaser video suggests we could see custom foldables.
- Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has yet another rumored launch date, so we might not see it at next week’s event.
- It’s a busy month for events as Sony’s holding an Xperia event on October 26 @ 11PM ET, though no word yet what we can expect to see.
- This week it was Snapchat’s turn to go down, with users across the globe reporting outages.
- Amazfit launched three new smartwatches: the GTR Pro 3, GTR 3, and GTS 3, all with long battery life and some exciting upgrades.
- Meanwhile, Magic Leap raised $500 million to make another AR headset, the Magic Leap 2, slated for a 2022 release.
- William Shatner became the oldest person to travel to space, aged 90: “Everybody in the world needs to do this,” he said in an emotional conversation with Jeff Bezos.
- Speaking of NASA, it has plans to cool Yellowstone’s supervolcano and harvest it for energy, by drilling into the side of it, which comes with its own unknowns.
- Halloween Kills hit theaters and Peacock on Friday — Peacock Premium subscribers can stream it for free for the next 60 days.
- We got the first glimpse of Needle in a Timestack, starring Leslie Odom Jr., Cynthia Erivo, and Orlando Bloom — out October 15 in selected theatres, digital, and on-demand.
- Dune’s coming to HBO Max one day early on October 21, available to ad-free tier subscribers from 6PM ET.
- And Daniel Craig and James Corden recreated 24 movies in 10 minutes and the results are pretty funny.
- HTC unveiled the new Vive Flow standalone VR headset: With less powerful processors than the Oculus Quest 2 and no controllers — you use your Android phone — it’s likely to be a hard sell at $499, launching in November.
- Rockstar finally confirmed “Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy,” bundling “Grand Theft Auto III,” “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” and “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” into one upgraded package, launching on consoles later this year.
- Back4Blood landed on Tuesday: Overall reviews on Steam are very positive, with survival tips and beginner’s guides available to help you take on the Ridden.
- Book of Travels launched in early access. The painting-like TMORPG has drawn comparisons to Journey, with just seven players per server and no quest log in sight — keep track of your adventures via pen and paper, old-school style.
- G4 TV returns November 16 with Attack of the Show, Xplay, and more, available via streaming on Twitch and on Comcast/Xfinity, Verizon Fios, Cox, and Philo.
- Motorola Edge (2021) review: A tale of two models — A decent upper mid-range phone, but fails to live up to the competition as a full-price proposition.
- Fitbit Charge 5 review: Looks better, does less — “The Charge 5 will end up being too expensive for people who want just a tracker, and too anemic for people who want the very best fitness tracker they can get.”
- Apple iPad (2021) review: Bare minimum update still beats the competition — “No other $300 tablet delivers the same level of performance and appeal as the iPad.”
- Honor 50 hands-on preview: Breaking away from Huawei — The brand’s first GMS-equipped smartphone since gaining its independence boasts a statement design, good-looking display, and solid core specs.
- Anker PowerPort III 25W review: The only phone charger you need — Small but mighty, it’s everything you want from a phone charger.
- Color OS 12 hands-on: A familiar look for Oppo’s skin with Android 12 — “Minor visual tweaks combined with a focus on privacy make Color OS 12 an easy-to-use, secure platform for long-term users.”
- Display specs and terms explained: Resolution, contrast, color gamut, and more — Everything you needed to know about displays, minus the jargon.
- Yes, dogs can “catch” their owners’ emotions: Dog owners already knew this but now science backs us up (National Geographic).
- Lost in translation? The one-inch truth about Netflix’s subtitle problem: Subtitles feel awkward and are flawed for any show that isn’t in English (The Guardian).
- The Strange, True Story of John Williams and Charles Pennock: When an accomplished bird expert goes missing, he’s presumed dead, but the truth is much stranger indeed (Audubon).
We like to think we can share whatever we want online without the risk of censorship, but increasingly that may not be the case these days. An annual report by Freedom House, a nonprofit that focuses on democracy and freedom, dives deep into the topic of internet freedom — we take a closer look at some of the eye-opening statistics…
Key facts and figures
- Overall, global internet freedom declined for the 11th consecutive year.
- Free speech on Facebook has been targeted the most over the past year by governments.
- In 56 countries — that’s 86% of those covered by Freedom on the Net — people were convicted or arrested for their online speech.
- This year, users in 41 countries faced physical attacks following their online activities.
- The internet was shut off completely by at least 20 countries’ governments.
- Meanwhile, 21 states blocked social media and communications platforms, generally during elections.
- Authorities in at least 24 countries announced or passed or announced new laws or rules governing how platforms like Facebook treat content.
Internet freedom in the USA
When it comes to global internet freedom, the United States’ score declined for the fifth consecutive year, with misleading and false news spreading faster than ever, even impacting the public’s views of the 2020 presidential election results.
- But the United States ranked 12th for human rights online, out of the 30 countries with deteriorating scores — better than China (which ranked last) but worse than top-ranking Iceland.
What’s happening in other countries?
- China takes the top place for the worst internet freedom for the seventh year in a row, with “draconian prison terms” for everything from controversial daily communications to independent reporting.
- Myanmar saw a 14-point decline in internet freedom after the 2020 general elections and the coup that followed in February 2021. Internet connectivity was cut off every night for almost three months, with mobile services entirely suspended starting in March, leaving the country dependent on wireless broadband and fixed-line services during the day only.
- In Ethiopia, the internet was shut off for more than 15 days in July 2020 after the protests following the assassination of popular ethnic Oroma singer Hachalu Hundessa.
- Meanwhile, India introduced new social media regulations for all social media intermediaries with at least 5 million users. The new rules, which state companies must deploy AI-based moderation tools and appoint local officers, are designed to improve content moderations by ensuring companies notify users when their content is taken down and give clear reasons for doing so.
- Turkey followed suit, with rules stating that social media platforms with over 1 million daily users must remove “offensive” content within 48 hours of notification. Failure to do so will result in fines, advertising bans, and even bandwidth limitations.
- These countries aren’t the only ones imposing new regulations on social media platforms: in Indonesia new takedown requirements give companies just four hours — for “urgent” situations — or up to 24 hours to remove prohibited content, with authorities already using these new rules to censor criticism of Islam and LGBT+ content.
But it’s not all bad news: there are some countries where internet freedom has improved over the past year:
- Iceland took the crown for the best environment for internet freedom, followed by Estonia for its robust human rights protections, few content restrictions, and a high rate of internet access.
- Costa Rica took third place thanks to its strong safeguards against surveillance and guarantees of free expression.
- Things are also improving in Taiwan, where internet access is affordable, there’s a lack of website blocks, and an independent judiciary protects rights to free expression. However, some individuals have still faced criminal prosecutions and fines for their online speech.
You can find out more about internet freedom by exploring Freedom House’s interactive map.
- October 18: Apple event @ 1PM ET — New 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros, an M1X upgrade of the Mac Mini, and possibly new AirPods
- October 19: Pixel 6 release date @ 1PM ET.
- October 20: Samsung Unpacked @ 10am ET — S21 FE (unlikely?), possibly customizable foldables.
- October 21: Huawei event in Vienna, possibly P50 series and Nova 9 launch.
- October 21: Dune lands in US theaters and on HBO Max.
- October 26: Sony Xperia launch @ 11PM ET.
- October 27-28: 2021 Android Dev Summit.
Tech Tweet of the Week
First:“We can promise there is no Squid Game in our town,” a spokeswoman for the Slough Borough Council in England said. https://t.co/4YpS5r5nab— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 14, 2021
Second: Check out these helium-filled robots…
Have a wonder-filled week ahead!
Paula Beaton, Copy Editor