Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Friday, 20 November 2020.

1. Amazon Echo Frames reach second-generation

Amazon Echo Frames

Remember when Amazon tried some new Echo wearables as part of its “Day One Edition” product line, with invite-only availability?

Two of those are seeing big changes.

  • First is the bad news, I guess: the $130 Echo Loop ring is dead.
  • The idea was it had a tiny speaker and it could vibrate on your finger when you get a call or notification.
  • It was worth a shot because getting silent notifications is not a solved problem yet, and evidently still isn’t. The ring was also pretty thick and unwieldy looking.
  • Anyway, if you bought one, existing customers are getting “updates and support” at least for now, but it’s no longer in production and not sold.

But more importantly, the Echo Frames smart glasses have been upgraded and they’re going live to the general public.

  • The second generation of Echo Frames are available to preorder for $250, and moving from invite-only to open to preorders for all.
  • The basic premise of the pilot product remains the same with the new second-gen smart glasses.
  • The updates include increased battery life by 40%, automatically power-off when the glasses have been set down for more than three seconds, better sound quality, and smart volume controls adjust automatically to account for ambient noise.
  • New colors: Classic Black, Horizon Blue and Modern Tortoise.
  • I needed a reminder of what the glasses actually do, and just to get you up to speed as well, the Frames aren’t about visuals as they are offering Alexa to your ears.
  • There’s a headset-like ability where the microphone and speakers pair with smartphone apps, and let you connect to Alexa and use smart assistant features.
  • That includes listening to music, listening to books, or asking questions, and hands-free tasks like commanding smart home devices or reading a shopping list as you wander around a shop.
  • Amazon does offer instructions and help to get prescription lenses fitted from an optometrist but doesn’t offer them itself, by the way.
  • I am reminded of the original reviews, which went something like: “You have to really love Alexa to want to wear it on your face” (Washington Post), and that almost no one wants to wear glasses if they don’t need glasses.
  • I wouldn’t mind some smarts being baked into my current glasses, but no way in heck am I paying Amazon to not fit prescription lenses to their limited frames styles.
  • And charging glasses, which is still via a custom cable, seems like it could be annoying.

2. It’s official: Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note 9 series is coming next week (Android Authority).


3. Google is rolling out end-to-end encryption for RCS in Android Messages beta, after two years of getting there (Android Authority).


4. Why is it so dang hard to place an order for a next-gen console or new Nvidia graphics card? (The Verge).


5. iOS gamers can now enjoy some cloud streaming gaming, with Google Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce Now platforms now working in Safari via web app, bypassing the App Store. Fortnite is effectively back on iPhone/iPad. (TechCrunch).


6. Speed Test G: iPhone 12 vs OnePlus 8T (it’s not really a contest) (Android Authority).


7. iFixit digs into the M1 MacBooks and finds similarities galore, except for that M1 chip (Engadget).


8. Roblox files to go public. Extraordinary numbers: 31 million daily active users, and 22.2 billion engaged hours. You might only know about this if you have kids but the kids just love it (TechCrunch).


9. Don’t be alarmed given the safety changes Boeing has been forced to make, but for flying nerds: How to tell if you’re flying on a recently recertified Boeing 737 MAX (Jalopnik).


10. The Pope’s Instagram account liked a post from a model in a pose probably not seen as particularly …devout. No one’s fessed up, so the Vatican is asking Instagram. Oops. (The Guardian).


11. Deep space isn’t pure black, and scientists don’t know why (NPR).


12. Facing destructive collapse, the famed Arecibo Observatory will be demolished. This was once a major US scientific achievement that is and was critical for astronomy, and fell into dangerous tatters (The Verge).


13. Here are 2020 award-winning wildlife photos (Agora).


14. Rocket Lab launched Electron in a big test of booster recovery, successfully brought the booster down in a parachute (SpaceNews)


15. ELI5: Why are there “hot people” and “cold people,” – like my mum, who is always cold. Why?! (r/explainlikeimfive).


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