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Why Samsung and Xiaomi are talking UWB, and more tech news you need to know today

Some big smartphone makers are suddenly pushing UWB and we think we know why, plus more tech news you need to know today!

Published onOctober 12, 2020

Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra S20 Ultra
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Monday, 12 October 2020.

1. UWB is ultra, it’s wideband, and Apple’s announcing it tomorrow?

Here’s a little preview of the future via Samsung, which said today in a blog post that says it expects UWB to be one of the “next big wireless technologies”.

What’s UWB?

  • UWB, or ultra-wideband, looks like the next big thing as it allows for fast data transfer over longer ranges, with precision location services baked in.
  • UWB chips are now present in several new smartphones, like the iPhone 11 series and the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.
  • And the reason is that the technology looks intensely useful. Better Bluetooth is a simple mostly right answer, but another example would be much better NFC, as well, given accuracies can be down to centimeters.
  • So, what does it mean? Samsung’s examples of using UWB technology: finding your car in a parking lot, or unlocking your front door as you approach it.
  • Yes, using Bluetooth and NFC could maybe work as well for these examples, but UWB is going to dramatically amplify and simplify the possibilities.

Coincidentally, Xiaomi has also posted its own take on UWB earlier today. (Probably, it’s not a coincidence at all — it’s very possible Apple is going to show off UWB applications tomorrow in its event, including the launch of AirTags, its take on Tile devices for keeping track of the location of things. So, here are Samsung and Xiaomi with the pre-emptive strike)

  • Xiaomi’s video isn’t in English so forgive me for missing some of it, but what it does show is someone using a Xiaomi phone to control devices such as a smart light, smart display, fan, and smart TV, just by pointing it at the devices.
  • In other words, there’s no identification or connection. Like an IR blaster, but more universal, and like Bluetooth in the data transfer options, but without having to pair.
  • The video clip also shows off a smart lock automatically unlocking the door as it detects the phone within a ~1 metre/~3 ft radius. Again, no interaction required.
  • This is also the technology likely to be used in cars as phones use digital keys. Apple’s own Car Key tech uses UWB but with NFC as well for phones and cars without the tech.
  • In any case, it’s looking very likely that Apple will show off the tech tomorrow, so we’ve seen preemptive strikes here from leading competitors.
  • HUAWEI would usually be in the mix, but for its tech troubles. Back in 2015, HUAWEI said UWB was too costly to popularize, at the time. How things change!
  • Power consumption may be an issue, though.

In advance, don’t miss: Pricing details on Apple’s entire iPhone 12 lineup may have just leaked (Android Authority). The iPhone 12 mini may start at $699, iPhone 12 at $799, iPhone 12 Pro $999, and iPhone 12 Pro Max starting at $1,099. All will have 5G, but will 5G be a big enough selling point? Can’t wait to see how Apple approaches this.

2. OnePlus Nord special edition could bring back classic sandstone option (Android Authority).

3. OnePlus 7T one year later: It still holds up (Android Authority).

4. 100W wireless charging could be a thing next year (Android Authority).

5. Five Eyes nations plus Japan and India call for Big Tech to bake backdoors into everything (The Register).

6. Apple is turning stores into fulfillment centers: now starting to ship devices directly from its stores, not warehouses (The Verge).

7. Remember the kinda creepy Amazon Halo? Which analyzed your tone of voice? “Amazon Halo’s Principal Medical Officer Dr. Maulik Majmudar says he hears your concerns about the company’s newly unveiled Halo device — but not in a creepy way.” (Protocol)

8. Engineering a battery fast enough to make recharging like refueling (Ars Technica).

9. NASA announces delay of SpaceX Crew-1 launch to ISS, citing issues with Falcon 9 rocket (Gizmodo).

10. Human ‘microevolution’ sees more people born without wisdom teeth and an extra artery in the forearm ( Discussion here (r/science).

11. Rapper Logic drops $220,000 on rare Pokemon card — a first-edition Charizard (CNET).

12. “Are there any stars or planets that rotate so fast, they’re closer to discs than spheres?” (r/askscience).

The DGiT Daily delivers a daily email that keeps you ahead of the curve for all tech news, opinions, and links to what’s going down in the planet’s most important field. You get all the context and insight you need, and all with a touch of fun. Plus! Rotating daily fun for each day of the week, like Wednesday Weirdness. Join in!

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