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The Weekly Authority: 📱 Pixel pre-orders
⚡ Welcome to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority newsletter that breaks down the top Android and tech news from the week. The 204th edition here, with Pixel 6 pre-orders, a confirmed Unpacked date, OnePlus 10T launch date, a clip from The Last of Us: Part 1, and more!
🥵Pleased to report I survived the UK heatwave and have been playing God of War; better late than never — and so far, I’m impressed and pretty excited for God of War: Ragnarok in November.
Popular news this week
- The Pixel 6a launched for pre-orders on Thursday, with a free pair of Pixel Buds A ahead of its release next week, July 28 — and you can check out our review below.
- If you do get a Pixel 6a, you can turn it into a Ninja Turtle Beach with Dbrand’s cool new skins.
- An entire country could ban Chromebooks in schools due to Google’s data policies.
- And Google now lets apps use third-party billing in Europe, Apple yet to announce plans.
- Meanwhile, Google will start testing its recently revealed AR glass tech in the real world from next month, albeit limited to some employees and select “trusted” testers.
- YouTube Music could finally get a key feature from Play Music.
- Also: Google announced new audio switching technology that’ll make it easier to switch audio between Android devices, available on the Pixel Buds Pro.
- Samsung confirmed its Unpacked event date for August, and you can nab pre-order perks if you reserve a Z Fold 4, Z Flip 4, Galaxy Watch 5, or Galaxy Buds 2 Pro device.
- The first Galaxy Z Flip 4, Z Fold 4 press renders leaked ahead of Unpacked.
- But there’s bad news for cash-conscious folk as the Z Flip 4 price leaks.
- Ever wondered which sells more, the Flip or the Fold? Here’s your answer.
- Meanwhile, Samsung may have killed the Galaxy S22 FE due to the S22 Ultra, looks more and more likely the S22 FE has been canceled.
- Samsung could cut one rear camera from Galaxy A phones, including the A24, A34, and A54.
- Motorola revealed a launch date for two new flagships, the new Razr and the X30 Pro, the latterwith a 200MP camera and 125W charging.
- Here’s when the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 will launch, a lot sooner than expected.
- And Qualcomm launches a new suite of wearable platforms for your next Wear OS watch.
- M2 Pro and M2 Max MacBook Pro could land as early as fall 2022: According to Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter, we could see them between fall 2022 and spring 2023.
- And Apple to fix problematic laptop keyboards for free, agrees to $50 million settlement in class-action lawsuit over its faulty “butterfly keyboard” design.
- Woops: Stolen AirPods lead to high-speed chase and arrests as two people connected to a string of auto burglaries tracked down using Find My Location.
- Two companies join SpaceX in the race to Mars, with a launch possible in 2024.
- See the jaw-dropping winners of NASA’s photographer of the year competition.
- And NASA just announced an ambitious date to launch its megarocket to the moon, could be as soon as next month.
- Leaked ASUS Zenfone 9 renders showed the device from all angles.
- A canceled Surface Duo device briefly appeared on eBay.
- And OPPO Reno 8 Pro launched globally: Find X5 Pro on a budget?
- Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite Android launcher was just acquired by an analytics company — on that note, here are some of the best Android launchers, if you’re in the market for an alternative.
- AA’s Adamya Sharma already weighed in on why ads and content on Android lock screens are a bad move, but here’s what our readers think about it.
- According to new figures from Canalys, global smartphone shipments show a 9% year-over-year drop for Q2 2022, with Samsung holding the majority market share at 21%.
- The US government is watching you all the time, new documents show.
- And Twitter wins fight to fast-track Elon Musk deal trial, which will take place over five days in October.
- Speaking of, Elon Musk doesn’t want to hold Bitcoin during a crypto winter, dumps 75% of Tesla’s holdings. Want to learn more about investing in cryptocurrency? Check out our great guide.
- And you could soon play Steam games in your Tesla as the company gets closer to Steam integration.
- Bye-bye News Feed: Facebook’s overhauling its design to compete with TikTok, focusing on video Reels on the Home screen, with a separate “Feeds” tab to see recent posts from friends and family.
- And scientists hack fly brains to make them remote-controlled: Yes, it’s as creepy as it sounds, and the company behind the project wants to “develop a headset that can read the neural activity in one person’s brain and then write it to another brain, basically transferring thoughts or perceptions between people.”
- Something else creepy: New AI tools let you chat with your dead relatives: from animating old-timey photographs to recording videos of yourself that could be used in a Q & A format at your funeral.
- A new trailer dropped for HBO’s GoT prequel series House of the Dragon, coming to HBO Max August 21.
- Jordan Peele’s Nope hit theaters with strong $6.4 million Thursday previews.
- We saw the first Halloween Ends trailer, landing October 15 in theaters.
- And the first trailer for brutal thriller Carter dropped on Monday, streaming on Netflix from August 5.
- Meanwhile, Winona Ryder’s sci-fi thriller Gone in the Night is a must-see, and Mashable’s got a review.
- Amazon’s giving Prime Video its biggest redesign in years with new navigation and a top 10 list.
- Netflix updates us on its paid password sharing plans, testing a new feature in five countries.
- And you’ll have to sacrifice content for the cheaper Netflix plan with ads.
- Speaking of, Netflix’s new Resident Evil series is going down badly with fans, is one of Netflix’s lowest-rated shows ever.
- But for those who quite enjoyed Netflix’s new take on the popular game (myself included), here are 7 shows like Resident Evil to check out.
- And the worst Marvel movie is reportedly getting a sequel: Eternals, the lowest-ranked Marvel film, looks like it could be getting a follow-up, according to moderators on the Marvel Studios Spoilers Reddit page.
- Finally: Here are this week’s best new shows to stream, including Issa Rae’s new HBO Max exclusive show.
- New screenshots and a clip from The Last of Us Part 1 have leaked ahead of its September 2 release.
- Two notable new releases this week: Interactive movie As Dusk Falls landed for PC and Xbox on Monday, while if you prefer playing as a cat, feline adventure Stray arrived on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC on Tuesday, with The Verge’s review for the latter in.
- PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium now have seven-day free trial, for new subscribers only, but gives you a chance to play Stray.
- Speaking of Stray, Annapurna Interactive and Travel Cat have teamed up to create a limited edition cat backpack for $140 (pictured above).
- Xbox’s summer sale is on with amazing deals on games like Red Dead Redemption II, Far Cry, and more, including the BioShock Collection for $10 — running until the end of the month.
- And spending on video games in the US declined 10% compared to the first half of 2021 — down to $26.3 billion, according to NPD, likely due to delayed releases and supply constraints.
- Ubisoft’s Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has been delayed to “sometimes after March 2023,” and several projects have been canceled, including Splinter Cell VR and Ghost Recon Frontline.
- Speaking of Ubisoft, Assassin’s Creed Rift is rumored to be set in Baghdad: The direct sequel to Valhalla is reportedly planned to launch next year.
- And Switch and mobile game Star Wars: Hunters has been delayed again, now expected 2023.
- Nintendo will close the Wii U and 3DS eShops on March 27, 2023, though the company promises you’ll still be able to re-download purchased games and DLC, receive software updates for games you already own, and play games online for the foreseeable future.
- Following last week’s warning about using your Switch in the heat, temperatures above 35C could throttle Valve’s Steam Deck performance, the company warned, and the handheld will shut down if the temperature of its internal components hits 105C.
- Fans of Doom will be delighted to hear creator John Romero is making a new FPS, though not much more information yet.
- Google Pixel 6a review: Nobody (but Google) puts Google in a corner — “Google’s latest budget offering takes some key steps forward, right into the path of the Pixel 6” (Android Authority).
- OnePlus Nord 2T review: Second tier — “A forgettable device that does what it promises and nothing more” (Android Authority).
- Framework Laptop (2022) Review: Promises Kept —Delivers a rigorous ecosystem for repairability (The Verge).
- Samsung M8 Smart Monitor Review: “An excellent all-round display, capable of crisp 4K picture quality while also flaunting the smarts to run streaming apps without the help of external devices” (Trusted Reviews).
- Google Pixel 5a revisited: The good and the bad a year later — As pre-orders open for the Pixel 6a, how does the Pixel 5a hold up in 2022? (Android Authority).
- I bought an electric scooter for quick commutes, and here’s what I learned: “After a few days, I felt I had mastered the basics of riding an electric scooter. And after a few weeks of commuting, the fun factor is still far from wearing off” (Android Authority).
- Edits to a cholesterol gene could stop the biggest killer on earth: Injecting gene-editing tool Crispr can modify DNA in the patient’s liver cells (MIT Technology Review).
- Will AI Steal Submarines’ Stealth? “Any new technology that might render the oceans effectively transparent, making it trivial to spot lurking submarines, could thus undermine the peace of the world” (IEEE Spectrum).
- This startup wants to invent brand new forms of meat: “Vow Food is experimenting with cells from 22 species, including crocodile and alpaca” (Emerging Tech Brew).
- Northvolt AB plans to use carbon in wood from Nordic forests to reduce cost and environmental impact.
- Working with Stora Enso Oyj, a Finnish forestry company, it will use lignin to create the anodes for its batteries, entirely sourced from raw materials.
What is lignin?
Lignin is “a plant-derived polymer found in the cell walls of dry-land plants.”
- Trees are composed of 20-30% lignin.
- It’s one of the planet’s biggest renewable sources of carbon.
- Stora Enso is the largest kraft lignin producer in the world, making 50,000 tons a year at its Sunila site in Finland. The lignin is used to create the company’s anode material, Lignode.
How are lignin-based batteries made?
- During the production of cellulose fibers, lignin is separated from wood, before being refined into a lightweight carbon powder.
- This powder is then made into electrode sheets before being combined with other battery components.
- The resulting material can be used to replace graphite, usually required for lithium-ion batteries to function.
Are wood-based batteries the future?
Almost all our portable electronics, such as smartphones and tablets, use lithium-ion batteries.
- These days many EVs are also powered by lithium-ion batteries.
- With the world expected to see over 25 million EVs on the road by the end of 2022, it’s clear we need to look at alternatives to lithium-ion batteries.
- Because graphite is formed through a chemical reaction that takes place in unrenewable carbon compounds, it’s not a sustainable material.
- Tesla would have to mine over 1 million tonnes of graphite to meet production targets of 20 million EVs annually.
- Companies like Aptera have already looked at alternatives such as solar-powered vehicles.
- But could lignin-based batteries be the solution the world has been looking for?
Why are wooden batteries more sustainable?
There are a number of reasons why these wooden batteries are better for the planet:
- They’re sustainable: Materials will be sourced from sustainability-certified European forests.
- They’re scalable: Trees are a widely available natural resource, meaning these batteries could be produced commercially.
- They’re renewable: Most lithium-ion batteries are manufactured in China, but using natural resources would change all this.
- They charge faster: Stora Enso claims a lignode battery has the capacity for faster charging than fossil-fuel-powered batteries.
- They’re better at lower temperatures: Lithium-ion batteries are known to overheat, causing concerns about their use in EVs and larger vehicles. These wooden batteries are operational under cooler temperatures, making them a better choice for automotive use.
Northvolt began its first shipments to automakers in May, so we could see these batteries being used more widely in the coming months…
- July 28: Pixel 6a launch
- July 28: ASUS Zenfone 9 launch
- August 2: Motorola Razr and X30 Pro launch (China)
- August 3 @ 10 AM EDT: OnePlus 10T launch
- August 10: Samsung Unpacked (Galaxy Z Flip 4, Fold 4, Galaxy Watch 5 and Watch 5 Pro?)
- September 2-6: IFA Berlin
- September 10 @ 9 PM CEST: Ubisoft Forward showcase
- November 8: Skull and Bones release date on Xbox Series S/X, PS5, PC, Stadia, and Luna
- November 9: God of War: Ragnarok launches on PS4, PS5
Tech Tweet of the Week
Turns out, real cats are loving Stray, and there’s even a Twitter account dedicated to the trend:
— SaucySione (@sionesausau) July 20, 2022
Something extra: Why the Japanese calendar is full of unofficial food holidays — It’s all about wordplay (tasty, tasty wordplay).
Have a great week!
Paula Beaton, Copy Editor.