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Pixel 5 turns into a smart charging pad, iOS 14 back tap, more tech news today!

These smartphones features are unique now but will hopefully spread to all flagships soon, and more tech news you need today!

Published onNovember 4, 2020

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Wednesday, 4 November 2020.

1. New features: Pixel 5 charging pad, iOS 14 Back Tap

Today feels like a day to touch on some handy smartphone features that are downright great if you have a chance to use them.

First, is the confirmation today that the Google Pixel 5 ‘Battery Share’ makes reverse wireless charging easier.

  • Reverse wireless charging is where instead of wirelessly charging your phone, you use the phone to wirelessly charge another device.
  • A common example is true wireless earbuds cases that can be wirelessly charged, and have smaller battery sizes to top up.
  • You can also use one phone to charge another via wireless, to help out.
  • Now, the Pixel 5 can reverse wirelessly charge too. But it’s smart: when the Pixel 5 is charging via wired USB-C, with ‘Battery Share’ turned on, it makes the back of the Pixel 5 an effective charging pad for other Qi-compatible devices.
  • And it’s reasonably well executed as well, as Google explains: “When your Pixel phone is plugged in and charging, Battery Share turns on automatically for a short period. If your phone doesn’t sense another device using its power during that time, Battery Share turns off.
  • There’s a video too.
  • And to be clear, you can use reverse wireless charging to share power when it’s not plugged in, it’s just a manual operation to prevent unwanted charging, which is perfectly reasonable.
  • It’s a good idea! It’s probably one other flagships should implement via a software update if possible, or in their next release. Why not?
  • And, if you really want, buy two Pixel 5s and charge one off the other. Right?

The other feature is the “secret” back button in iPhones that have updated to iOS 14:

  • In iOS 14, ‘Back Tap’ was added via the Accessibility menu, so many people may not have even noticed.
  • Here’s how Apple describes Back Tap: “Built to create a simple and easy way to trigger convenient tasks for those with accessibility needs, a quick double or triple tap on the back of your iPhone can be configured to trigger a number of actions, such as opening the Magnifier, or triggering VoiceOver when your iPhone is in your pocket. It can even map to common system features such as Control Center, or accessibility-specific activities such as Switch Control actions.
  • To be clear, with this feature on, the back of your iPhone turns into a touch-sensitive button. (Turn it on by going Settings > Accessibility > Touch, and scrolling down to make sure Back Tap is on.)
  • Then, by opening the Back Tap option further, you can access further menus to create Shortcuts for double taps and triple taps.
  • For example, double-tap the back of your iPhone to open the camera, or triple-tap to take a screenshot.
  • Back Tap, from my experience trying it from a borrowed iPhone, isn’t perfect. Apple appears set to be trying to prevent accidental activations, which is useful, but it doesn’t always work perfectly. It’s likely the feature will improve over time, but it’s worth trying to see if it becomes part of your flow.
  • Google had included something similar in Android 11 betas, but didn’t include it in the final version, possibly due to similar misfire issues.
  • And Android phones had experimented with various gestures far more so than on the iPhone. Motorola phones would turn on the flashlight if you did a double-chop hand action, and a wrist-twist opened the camera.
  • Little tricks like this didn’t really catch on more widely, though, and I don’t really know why, other than how device-specific features tend to struggle to remain useful.

2. Leak: Maybe a few more Qualcomm Snapdragon 875 details, leaks indicating it is built around 5nm process, new Cortex CPUs and GPU (Android Authority).

3. Nokia has a bunch of low-cost 4K Android TVs at most sizes (Android Authority).

4. 200W+ charging could be a thing in 2021 (as if we need it) (Android Authority).

5. Spotify will now allow you to stream songs directly from your Apple Watch, no phone required (The Next Web).

6. Apple, Google hiring special effects masters away from Hollywood to work on AR & VR, and it’s working: “The difference is, in tech, you are broadly treated more like a human being.” (Apple Insider)

7. It looks like California’s Prop 22 passed, which allows the likes of Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to have gig workers work as independent contractors (without benefits) rather than as employees. The ballot measure does include some guarantees. (TechCrunch).

8. Elon Musk says Tesla may reveal Cybertruck changes in a ‘month or so’ (Engadget).

9. Pokimane wants Twitch fans to stop giving her so much money, and so set a $5 donation cap. Great! (Polygon).

10. The looming world-record fintech IPO from Ant Group was suspended, just two days before launch by regulators in China. Unprecedented. Alibaba owns ~33% of Ant Group (CNBC).

11. SpaceX Starlink users provide first impressions and unboxing pictures (Ars Technica).

12. 17 soothing videos to watch if you’re feeling panicky for some reason (Lifehacker).

13. This question! “Why do sprinklers go like ‘ts ts ts ts ts ts ts’ and come back like ‘t t t t t t t’?” (r/nostupidquestions).

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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