1. Making waves in sound
Not one but three stories here around audio and smart devices.
The first is that Apple has, per a Bloomberg report, quietly stopped selling third-party audio gear from its retail stores. Bose, Sonos, and some Logitech headphones and speakers have disappeared, leaving only Apple audio.
- Missing are items like Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones 700, and Logitech’s Ultimate Ears Megaboom Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, while the Sonos stocks fell as much as 7% in overnight trading following the news.
- The reasoning is not exactly a secret. Apple did the same when it rapidly ended retail sales of Fitbit devices when it released its first-generation Apple Watch.
- And we’ve heard for some time that Apple is working on a set of Apple Studio headphones, its first non-Beats over-ear headphones as its AirPods range blew the doors off in terms of popularity.
- Apple’s HomePod may also be getting a fresh revision too, given that the Sonos range has been pulled.
Speaking of smart speakers, Google’s new Nest Audio is getting very good reviews. I’ve even seen 9.5/10 scores, and our own Lily Katz from SoundGuys was on the case, awarding an 8.2/10 for the new device.
What’s good, and what’s not?
- It’s $99, which is less than the original Google Home at $129, and it’s far better than that first-gen effort.
- How does it sound? In brief: “The Nest Audio sounds quite good for its size, and performs well with a wide variety of media from spoken word to music. This neutral-leaning frequency response extends from 90Hz, and it means that music sounds close to how the audio engineers and artists intended—though some may not appreciate a lack of sub-bass emphasis.”
- “This doesn’t look or sound like an audiophile sound system, because it isn’t one. Instead, this speaker appeals to those who want an all-in-one solution with little tinkering”
- In summary: “Google dropped the old air freshener aesthetic for a cleaner, softer design that houses impressive hardware and is powered by even more impressive software. If you’re considering the new Amazon Echo but aren’t beholden to Alexa, the Nest Audio is an attractive alternative that supports multi room and stereo playback.”
One more smart device review while we’re here:
- My colleague David Imel reviewed the Samsonite Konnect-i with Google Jacquard, pictured above.
- It is a bag with smart fibers, the first move into backpacks after Jacquard was tried with Levi jackets.
- What can Jacquard do? Quote: “The Jacquard fibers on the Samsonite Konnect-i backpack allow you to interact with your phone without actually touching your phone. You can pause and play your music, skip tracks, place a Google Maps pin in your current location, or trigger Google Assistant. Jacquard works best when you have headphones connected, but it can also do other things like… counting things. If you’re into that.”
- But at $220, this is a lot of money.
- I actually recently upgraded backpacks and spent a bit of time before settling on an STM Myth in Slate Blue with 28L of storage and able to take 15-inch laptops, shifting up from a previous 20L bag which was a touch too small for what I needed.
- Do I wish it was a smart bag with Jacquard features? Kinda.
- Am I glad it was much cheaper (about $98) and doesn’t need charging? Also kinda.
2. US could get two budget OnePlus phones by the end of the month: likely Nord variants, currently code-named OnePlus N10 and N100 (Android Authority).
3. Nvidia thinks it can solve video-calling’s greatest challenges with AI. Incredibly impressive demo, but will it hold up IRL? (Android Authority). Nvidia had a bunch of other announcements too: a cheaper 2GB Jetson mini-computer, new pro GPUs, and other developer tools (Engadget).
4. Google’s G Suite is now Google Workspace (TechCrunch).
5. Google and Oracle are headed to the Supreme Court: “The future of software hangs in the balance” (Protocol).
6. Spotify finally lets you search songs by lyrics (The Next Web).
7. Venmo has a credit card and it seems fine? (Gizmodo).
8. The story of the UK incorrectly using Excel to store COVID-19 positive tests will be told as legend for years. The data was stored in columns, not rows, and that’s just the start of the problems (BBC).
9.‘The Wire’ inspired a fake turtle egg that spies on poachers (Wired).
10. There’s a “bold new shitter” headed for the International Space Station (Jalopnik).
11. Mars hasn’t been this close to Earth in 15 years — here’s how to spot it (Medium)
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