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⚡ Welcome to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority newsletter that breaks down the top Android and tech news from the week. The 176th edition coming right up, with everything from CES 2022, to the S21 FE reveal, OnePlus 10 Pro specs, and more.
🥶 It was -4 °C here this morning, so I'm cozied up indoors playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey — so far I think I'm preferring it to Origins!
- The Samsung S21 FE was finally unveiled at CES 2022 — Available January 11, starting at $699, with a bigger battery, but weaker camera system and less RAM than the S21.
- Samsung also announced a dedicated SmartThings hub device, basically a tablet that’s a big remote for your smart home, coming to South Korea first.
- And it revealed a new portable projector called Freestyle for $899, and its largest curved monitor yet, the 55-inch Odyssey Ark.
- The company also showed off new foldable tech: four new “folds” are on the way including “S” and “G” folds, the Flex Note for foldable notebooks, and Flex Slidable, similar to the Oppo X 2021.
- Samsung plans to stalk Apple with so-called Tiger strategy, calls for Samsung to improve flagship market share, narrow the gap to Apple, and more.
- The Galaxy Z Flip 3 Olympic Edition was announced, and it’s snow upgrade, only available in China for now.
- OnePlus confirmed OnePlus 10 Pro specs, showing off the design at CES 2022 — it’ll pack a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, with 5,000mAh battery, 80W wired charging, and 120Hz AMOLED, with RAM/storage configurations to come. Camera details also landed this week, including 150-degree ultrawide, but no prices yet.
- And the OnePlus 9RT is finally leaving China this month.
- The US International Trade Commission has found Google infringed on five Sonos patents, declaring a ban on Google bringing these products into the US, including Pixel phones, Chromecast devices, and Google Home speakers. The import ban will kick off in 60 days, but the case is subject to a presidential review, so could be vetoed.
- Google Pixel patent hints at under-display selfie camera future — doesn’t mean a Pixel device is coming with this tech anytime soon, though.
- And Google’s bringing Fast Pair to all the things, from smart TVs to Chromebooks: Fast Pair for headphones is rolling out in the coming weeks, coming to Google TV and other Android TV devices in the next few months.
- From a rugged watch to a VR headset: Here’s what Apple could launch in 2022.
- Also this week Apple briefly became the first US company to hit $3 trillion market cap.
- And Apple lost Mac architecture lead Jeff Wilcox to Intel.
- The chip-making giant announced its 12th Gen Alder Lake desktop CPU lineup at CES 2022, also coming to laptops, with eight new H-series 12th Gen mobile processors, plus six 12th-Gen P-series mobile processors for “thin and light” laptops, including a peek at foldable laptops.
- At CES 2022, Acer launched a trio of new Chromebooks, starting from $299, with latest chips from Intel and Mediatek. It also launched the Acer Predator 2022 lineup with 12th-Gen Intel Core and AMD Ryzen 6000 processors.
- Also at CES, Asus launched the Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, a 17.3-inch foldable display laptop with 12th-Gen Intel Core i7 U-Series processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB storage, and software to split-screen the device and rearrange windows.
- Not to be outdone, Lenovo launched its ThinkBook Plus Gen 3, another 17.3-incher, but this time with a secondary 8-inch LCD screen, with a variety of use cases, for $1,399. It also unveiled ThinkPad X1 laptops with better webcams and mics, plus a new Nano, updated its 2022 Lenovo Yoga laptops, and refreshed Legion 5 gaming laptops, showing off new gaming monitors, too.
- MSI launched new laptops for gaming and content creation.
- Meanwhile, Dell showed off the XPS 13 Plus with a capacitive “touch function bar,” but ditches the headphone jack — oh, and it’ll pack Intel’s latest 12th-Gen Core i7 12800P.
- In CPUs, AMD announced the Ryzen 6000 series of mobile CPUs for laptops, pushing Zen 3+ to a 6nm platform, and RDNA2 graphics for the first time, and a Microsoft Pluton security processor, too.
- AMD also had GPU news you may have already seen earlier this week in the Daily: Radeon RX 6500 XT and RX 6400 GPUs, including the RX6000S GPU series for thin gaming laptops. We also saw previews of the Ryzen 7000 series, based on Zen 4, and a new AM5 socket.
- Speaking of GPUS, Nvidia unveiled new flagship GeForce RTX 3090 Ti, and gaming laptop chips RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti, plus a new $249 RTX 3050 GPU that you might actually be able to get your hands on.
- The James Webb Space Telescope sun shield is fully deployed.
- Mars helicopter Ingenuity prepares for first flight of 2022: it’ll be its 19th flight to the Red Planet.
- China switches on ‘artificial sun’ five times hotter than the real thing: The Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), known as an “artificial sun,” reached temperatures of 70,000,000C.
- Vivo V23 series launched: the Vivo V23 and V23 Pro offer 90Hz OLED screens, two selfie cameras, and 44W charging — oh, and a color-changing fluorite AG glass back in gold or black colorways (with the color changing when exposed to sunlight).
- Redmi K50 specs confirmed: faster charging, larger battery.
- And Realme confirmed GT2 Pro global release, including Europe and India, though no firm dates yet.
- Eufy’s new Security Video Doorbell was revealed at CES 2022, uses twin cameras to watch for videos and packages.
- Moto G Stylus 2022 promo slides leaked, confirming design and more.
- And Qualcomm thinks Qualcomm-powered laptops are too expensive.
- HMD admits it screwed up Android 11 rollout for Nokia phones, but it’s learned from its mistakes. The company also launched a slew of new budget Android phones at CES 2022, exclusively available in the US.
- Meanwhile, Toyota dethroned General Motors as the No.1 automaker in the US in 2021, the first time on record a foreign car manufacturer has topped the list.
- And The New York Times has a story on Wordl — we’ve been playing this all week, and it’s horribly addictive, in the best possible way.
- Finally, it’s Moviepass, but for Tacos: How does a taco per day for 30 days for $10 sound?
- Marvel’s Morbius is delayed again to April 1 due to the pandemic.
- Amazon’s Fallout TV series set to start production this year, executive-produced by the creators of Westworld and a duo from Bethesda Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks, plus showrunners Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel) and Graham Wagner (Silicon Valley).
- Beavis and Butthead get a new, middle-aged look: creator Mike Judge reveals the pair have grown up ahead of their next movie.
- And The Umbrella Academy Season 3 drops the Sparrow Academy character posters, but still no confirmed date for the new season.
- The Sundance Film Festival’s being held online this year, with all in-person events canceled due to the omicron variant.
- Josh Hartnett recruited for Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, alongside a star-studded ensemble including Cillian Murphy Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, and Rami Malek.
- The best classic movies on Amazon Prime right now: If you haven’t seen Guys and Dolls or The Count of Monte Cristo — or didn’t have time for It’s a Wonderful Life over the holidays, there’s no time like the present.
- Fancy something a bit more gnarly? Check out Slasher: Flesh and Blood on Shudder.
- This week at CES 2022, Sony revealed the PlayStation VR2, the next generation of VR headset, designed for the PS5. Though we didn’t actually set eyes on the headsets, features will include haptic feedback, eye tracking, 4K HDR, 90/120Hz frame rates, and more, could enter mass production in China soon. We got a first look at a new PSVR2 game too: Horizon Call of the Mountain will be a Horizon Forbidden West spin-off from Guerrilla Games, co-developed with Firesprite.
- Asus’ Rise of Gamers event at CES 2022 saw loads of ROG gear including gaming laptops, monitors, and more.
- And HP Gaming doubled down on desktops for CES 2022: Omens of all sizes made an appearance, including the Omen 45L with brand-new Cryo Chamber, housing up to a 360mm AiO liquid cooler that pulls ambient air for cooling.
- Meanwhile, Alienware’s X-series got an update and a new model at CES 2022 and Razer announced new Blade 14, Blade 15, and Blade 17 laptops, plus a crazy new modular gaming desk PC concept and a haptic gaming chair.
- CyberPower launched a PC case that breathes: The Kinetic promises to accurately control temperatures with 18 individually-controlled articulating vents that open and close depending on the temperature inside the case.
- And in accessories, HyperX launched the Cloud Alpha wireless headset, apparently offering up to 300 hours gaming time on a single charge.
- Meanwhile, 505 Games confirmed the Director’s Cut of Death Stranding is coming to PC soon.
- The Japanese internet’s reacting to Square Enix’s plans for blockchain and NFTs, with some saying “Square Enix is finished,” and “They’ve lost their way.”
- And Xbox Game Pass starts off 2022 with a killer lineup, including Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Outer Wilds, Gorogoa, and more.
- Speaking of Xbox, Ubisoft’s bringing its subscription service to the console, but no idea when yet, with Rainbow Six: Extraction coming to Game Pass when the game launches on January 20.
- OnePlus Buds Z2 review: A great value companion for OnePlus phones — Water-resistance and solid noise-cancelling for under $100, but you might want to look elsewhere if you’re tied to a different phone brand.
- Garmin Venu 2 Plus review: The first real Garmin smartwatch — “It’s not perfect, and it certainly isn’t cheap, but the Venu 2 Plus is one of the most well-rounded wearables we’ve ever used.”
- Garmin Vivomove Sport review: The intersection of style and substance — “This hybrid device offers the style of an analog timepiece and the brains of an entry-level smartwatch.”
- Skagen Falster Gen 6 review: Wear OS isn’t the only problem — Inaccurate GPS, heart rate, and sleep tracking plus outdated software make this a tough recommendation.
- Google Nest Hub (2nd gen) review: Don’t sleep on this one — A cheaper price tag, better audio, and sleep tracking make the Nest Hub (2nd gen) worthy of your hard-earned cash.
- The best phones launched at CES 2022: It’s not all about the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE — the year’s first major launches include the TCL 30V, Nokia G400, and more (Android Authority).
- OnePlus 10 and 10 Pro: All the rumors — Design, specs, features, and that all-important release date (Android Authority).
- Samsung Galaxy S21 FE hands-on: Entering the Twilight phone — It’s finally here, and we get hands-on with Samsung’s latest smartphone (Android Authority).
- Apple AirTags help you find your lost stuff… until you lose the AirTag itself: Being reunited with a lost AirTag proves far more difficult than you might expect (TechRadar).
- The Untold Story of Sushi in America: A beautifully illustrated journey through sushi’s history in the US (The New York Times Magazine).
- How Fallout 4 Uses Lovecraftian Horror to Unsettle the Player: If you didn’t know about Fallout 4’s Lovecraftian connections, dive right in (Game Rant).
Aside from the award winners and standout innovations of the year, though, we’re taking a moment to look at some of the coolest, out there, sometimes-amazing, sometimes-just-downright-strange products we saw this year.
A finger-biting cat soft toy
Without a doubt, Amagami Ham Ham was the strangest thing we saw at CES 2022. Roughly translated as “gentle bite,” this cat plushie gently suckles on your finger. The idea behind the toy, made by Yukai Engineering, is to “give you innocent, comforting pleasure to brighten your day.” Um, okay. Is it just us or is this a bit… well… weird?
BMW’s color-changing car
Although most of us wanted Transformers in our lives as kids, the idea that a car could change color at the flip of a switch seemed like the stuff of science fiction, until now. BMW’s iX Flow is the world’s first color-changing car, wrapped in electrophoretic coloring material that works the same way as your Kindle’s e-ink display.
Embedded in the wrap are millions of microcapsules which each contain a positively charged black pigment and a negatively charged white pigment. Apply an electrical charge and either the white or black pigments rise to the top of the microcapsule, effectively changing the vehicle’s color in minutes. Right now there’s only a choice between black and white, but in future, we could see a huge rainbow of shades. The iX Flow’s nowhere near production-ready yet though, so you’ll have to wait a while longer.
A gaming vest that lets you feel every bullet
Because everybody wants to feel Every. Single. Bullet hitting their body while playing Call of Duty, Owo’s Haptic Vest is here. Feel being shot, falling, and even being bitten by mosquitoes. Great! Except, why would you want to? In all seriousness, haptic clothing is pretty cool and I’d love to get my hands on one of these to use with my Oculus Quest 2, though maybe not for zombie games…
An inflatable space habitat for an out-of-this-world trip
Sierra Space’s Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) is the giant inflatable habitat for space we never knew we needed. The company’s launching its Dream Chaser spaceplane later this year (a life-size replica was on show at CES), taking both people and cargo into low-earth orbit, and it’ll also shuttle visitors — both tourists and astronauts — to and from the habitat.
A scaled-down version of the habitat itself — which accommodates up to four people — was showcased at CES 2022. Traveling to space folded into a launch vehicle, the LIFE habitat inflates to an impressive three stories, with dedicated spaces for eating, playing, working, and exercise. Sierra Space is also working with Bezos’ Blue Origin on Orbital Reef, a ‘mixed-use business park’ in space, hoping to be the world’s first commercial space station.
A toilet that analyzes your poop
A toilet that analyzes your “deposits” and gives you tips on healthy living — cool or just downright creepy? A bit of both, we’d say. Toto’s Wellness Toilet is just a concept for now — in fact, it’s one that’s been in development since 2017 — by Toto, a Japan-based toilet and bidet company.
The toilet uses “multiple cutting-edged sensing technologies” to analyze your “mental and physical status.” Data’s then sent to an app that provides recommendations for a healthier diet and lifestyle, like “eat more fruit.” Hmm.
The concept’s intentionally pretty light on details for now, and the head of Digital Innovation at the company promises the toilet will track data linked to stress, fitness level, and body conditions. It’ll also, somehow, collect input on scent and blood flow, though it’s not clear how.
Feline Fitness tracking
January’s the most popular time of year to improve your health and fitness, but what about your kitty? If your feline friend’s had a few too many treats over the festive season, Korean brand PurrSong is here to help. The LavvieTAG, its fitness tracker for kitties, tracks your cat’s activity and makes it easy to spot unusual behavior which could indicate illness.
The LavvieTAG is available soon, and it’s part of a series of connected devices including the LavvieBox, a smart litter box, Lavvie Water, a smart water dispenser, and the LavvieBot S, an automatic litter box that’ll set you back a cool $900.
Basically, this is a way to keep track of your cat’s energy levels, feeding routines, calorie intake, and more, with graphs that help monitor changes and hourly activity recording — handy if you’re away from home. The tracker itself is the size of a quarter, lightweight, and boasts four weeks’ battery life, plus it comes with a charger that handily charges three tags at once.
You probably don’t need this in your life, but if your kitty’s elderly or has been unwell, you might want it.
“Invisible” headphones — no Hogwarts involved
Speaking of things you might want, one of my favorite mentions at CES 2022 was the “invisible” headphones from Noveto. The Noveto N1 is a pretty cool concept that looks a bit like your average soundbar, but according to TechRadar, it “uses beamforming technology to create a binaural audio experience without the need for a pair of headphones — but unlike a soundbar, this audio can only be heard by the user’s own ears.”
The experience created is similar to wearing a pair of headphones, immersing you in three-dimensional spatial audio, with only a whisper of sound audible to others in the room. The device transmits ultrasound through the air, which merges into audible pockets outside your ears. Motion sensors help the N1 track when you move or turn your head, though it remains to be seen how accurate this will be.
The N1 looks great too with its black matte aluminum and fabric design, and ring light on the front — it’s known as HAL (Heuristic Activity LED), so hopefully, it won’t become sentient — and has a USB-C port and 3.5mm AUX port, plus Alexa voice recognition and face recognition. It could well become an alternative for anyone suffering from those all-day-headphone-wearing headaches at the office.
Cycling outdoors, indoors (well, kind of)
I must confess to geeking out over LG’s Virtual Ride, even though I (a) don’t own an indoor bike and (b) don’t really like cycling. Go figure. It could be because it looks pretty cool though, with its stacked floor-to-ceiling OLED display in an r-shape, curving around for an immersive experience while you’re cycling. The three 55-inch displays allow you to take a virtual bike ride wherever you like, whether that’s through the streets of Paris or the rainforests of the Amazon. And according to Electronics 360, “the curvature radius allows for sharp curves on the bike ride to enhance the immersion of traveling outdoors.”
It’s kind of like those virtual biking experiences at the gym, only without the queues, or other people’s sweat on the handlebars. Why go outside, when you can bring the outside, inside, asks LG? Well, fresh air, the wind in our faces, the thrill of the open road, for starters, but it’s still a cool product.
January 11: Samsung Galaxy S21 FE on sale
January 11: OnePlus 10 Pro launches in China @ 1AM ET
January 28: Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection comes to PS5
February 4: Dying Light 2: Stay Human launch on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, and PC (plus a Cloud version for Switch).
February 18: Horizon: Forbidden West launch on PS4/PS5
February 28-March 3: MWC Barcelona
Tech Tweet of the Week
It’s been a busy week, but hopefully, we’re still managing to string words together better than somebody at this store…
is this store having a stroke wtf pic.twitter.com/cdOv7OVQdY— Rob N Roll (@thegallowboob) January 4, 2022
A little something extra: Would you want to visit the moon?
Have a great week ahead!
Paula Beaton, Copy Editor.