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The Weekly Authority: The speed of things, next Snapdragon next week, and more
Welcome back to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority series that recaps the top Android and tech news from the week and what it all means, plus one deeper dive each week into what’s happening and what matters. Tristan Rayner at the wheel, and I’m talking all about speed later on. But first…
The Deals section jumps to the top of this weekly because, well, we all know what season we’re in right now!
I’ve scrubbed up a shortlist of some of the best deals that I think you shouldn’t miss. Just about every deal on a useful gadget is in this Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal hub, too.
- Google Pixel 5 for $650 ($50 off) is good because it’s through Amazon where you’ll get better customer support than the Google Store (sorry not sorry).
OnePlus 8 for $599 ($100 off). OnePlus 8 vs Pixel 5 is a pretty close fight. Nice to have options that are both great deals.
- 25% off sitewide from OtterBox, which is great for cases but also screen protectors, power banks, and more (OtterBox).
- Dell XPS 13 Laptop for $649.99 ($200 off).
- Sony WH-1000XM4 for $278 ($72 off).
- 55-inch LG 4K OLED TV OLED55CXPUA for $1,400 ($300 off).
- Anker 7-in-1 USB-C Hub Adapter is now $30, $10 off (Amazon).
- Hulu Black Friday deal: Get 65% off a one-year subscription. It’s the ad-supported plan only but it’s still only two bucks a month for a year. Runs to November 30 (Hulu.com)
- Secretlab’s Omega gaming chair is on sale for $349 during Black Friday ($70 off). A solid chair but only if you’re under six feet tall (Amazon).
- Nab a Google Nest Hub for just $50, making it a terrific gift idea (Best Buy).
- And a resource: Udacity has courses for 75% off.
Oh, and in case you were curious, The Wirecutter noted that this Black Friday we’re seeing bigger discounts than usual on higher-end TVs, including the leading range of LG OLED TVs. Good chance to upgrade if you’re considering a PS5 or Xbox Series X/S!
A quieter week for tech news as many of us took some well-deserved time off to relax, eat, and grab some bargains. Let’s start with the weirdest happening:
- Microsoft could bring Android apps to Windows 10 in 2021 (Android Authority) with leaked information pointing at a new system called “Project Latte,” which may allow devs to port their Android apps to the Microsoft Store directly with little-to-no code updates. Most Android apps would still require some connection back to Google Play Services to make this really something, so the software backbone of this will need to be tight. This would improve app support on Windows enormously and mostly cut out the need to emulate games.
- A major Amazon AWS server outage struck the US and that meant people couldn’t use their Roombas or their doorbells (Gizmodo AU). Cory Doctorow’s book, Radicalized, had a little novella made out of it on exactly this topic called Unauthorized Bread (Ars Technica with the book excerpt). Worth a read for a chuckle/deep despair!
- Redmi Note 9 Pro and Redmi Note 9 were announced on Thanksgiving as Xiaomi’s budget 5G options grew a little bigger and with a new round window-type camera housing on the back. They’re pretty solid budget options but Xiaomi told us it has “nothing to share” regarding global availability right now. (Android Authority)
- Why is the PS5 outperforming the “world’s most powerful console”? Early game comparisons show the PS5 outperforming the Xbox Series X — it might be down to early optimization access and control for third-party developers (The Verge).
- And lastly, a guy made a script to help battle the Google Photos unlimited storage ending: “I made a Python script that helps you export all photos into one big chronological folder,” which will save oodles of time if you need to change. Mind you, all photos and video already uploaded are grandfathered in, so this is only if you’re burning the bridge. Discussion and more on r/android.
Leaks dropped around new Surface hardware, too:
- Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop 4 appear in leaked images after passing what was reported as the Korean certification process. Looks like no major design changes, but expect 11th-gen Intel CPUs, AMD options. Part of me feels these have stagnated a little, another part of me thinks that they’re still really solid options that are perfecting minor details (The Verge).
A slower week for reviews here at Android Authority, so catch up on some non-smartphone reviews as the season slows.
- Xbox Series S review: Good things come in small packages, but no optical drive and lack of 120FPS — by Ryan-Thomas Shaw.
- ViewSonic TD1655 review: These portable touchscreens/displays look better than ever for productivity on the go – By Eric Zeman.
- Atomi Smart Coffee Maker review: Hard pass — by Jimmy Westenberg.
- Raspberry Pi 400 review: The perfect starter computer for young tech learners for anything from languages to hardware gizmos like circuits, stepper motors, and so on — by Gary Sims.
Features and opinion
Judging by the Slack messages, the team was flat out keeping an eye on deals for our readers, but there was at least one good read:
- Is Xiaomi the new Huawei – Where Huawei’s downward slide is leaving a gap, Xiaomi appears to be picking up sales and customers — By Hadlee Simons.
Instant Authority: Why everything is faster
Bill Gates is still one of the richest people in the world, but Elon Musk rocketed past him (pun intended) this week to become the second wealthiest person on earth.
How did that happen? Well, 2020 is all about unprecedented velocity in our world. And Gates himself didn’t exactly crystal-ball these scenarios, but he did give us a memorable quote back in 1996 about how things change in a dual-speed way:
“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” — From Gates’ book, “The Road Ahead.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how disruption in technology is feeding itself in these unprecedented times.
Elon Musk’s rise to become the second richest person in the world is absolutely remarkable: Musk added $100 billion to his wealth over the past 11 months! That’s a casual $250 million per day. Since I wrote about Musk reaching $128 billion in wealth on Tuesday this week, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index indicates he’s added another $14 billion to hit $142 billion overall. Musk is now starting to close in on Jeff Bezos’ monumental wealth at $187 billion (his ex-wife is at ~$60 billion, by the way), as the world’s richest person.
Billionaires just aren’t made this fast this many times over, and the $100 billion-plus figure was first reached by Bill Gates ahead of the dot com crash.
Here’s where it gets a little wild, in 2020.
- After the 2008 Great Recession, the wealthiest people on the Forbes 400 list took three years to recover their losses.
- In the COVID-19 recession of 2020, most billionaires just got richer after the initial weeks of COVID-related stock market panic eased.
- Since March, American billionaires added $1 trillion to their wealth (NY Times).
- Again, that’s even with the 2020 stock market crash creating the fastest fall in the global stock market in history.
It may not be a surprise to understand that tech causes disruption to existing models, and successes can be faster than ever.
It may not be quite as well understood that once the established model is broken, the successes keep coming. Let’s look at streaming.
Disney Plus flew past 60 million subscribers back in August, reaching Disney’s five-year streaming goal within eight months of launch.
- Netflix reached 60 million subscribers in 2015, eight years after it transitioned into a streaming service in 2007.
- Netflix itself shifted from DVD rentals after witnessing the rapid rise of YouTube.
- All three are huge successes, but Disney Plus hit hyperspeed, hitching a ride off the back of its rivals.
- Still though, it’s down to execution: Apple TV Plus hasn’t had the same success, despite Apple’s generous free promotions with its products. Let’s say nothing of the disaster of Quibi.
So, some good news: the names we see building the platforms that look entrenched and too-big-to-challenge can be disrupted when it’s the best execution to date.
- TikTok has shown that despite the vast shadows of the likes of Instagram and Snapchat, creating a great app with best-in-class recommendation engine for user-generated content can lead to massive popularity.
- Mind you, sometimes it’s just the right idea. Among Us burst from the bounds of a low-key popular game released in 2018 to 2020’s success of 60 million users playing the game each day. It’s by no means the perfect game, but it cooked up the right mix of features and fun for Twitch streaming to help it blast off.
As we see three viable vaccines for COVID-19 emerge at the end of 2020, the race to a finish line has happened faster than most imagined. The New York Times showed back in April, in a well-sourced yet slightly pessimistic guide, that a realistic timeline would take years. Instead, we have three vaccine candidates with high efficacy by the end of 2020.
- It’s a sign that when humanity has the resources to overcome challenges, these changes can come faster than ever.
And here’s one last little show of speed in 2020, in the physical world where progression is usually slower. It’s a teaser ahead of the release of Speed Test G for PC/Mac, as opposed to Android and iPhone, from our own Gary Sims. Gary’s done some preliminary testing of Macs including the brand new M1 MacBook Air.
Because this data is ahead of Gary’s official release of data, I’m just going to give one glimpse.
- The benchmark shows the current MacBook Air M1 is at least 10% faster than a fully spec’d 16-inch MacBook Pro bought last year, which run an Intel i9 (i9-9980HK).
- Or, another way to put it: around $1,000 purchase outlay versus $3,000.
Not that this is the full story of the M1 Mac vs Intel MacBook Pro by any means. But the jump in both performance and power efficiency is one of the biggest in years. It may be slower than what we’re seeing in the digital-first wold, but big leaps are still possible even in hardware. Maybe Wirth’s Law won’t play out in the Arm-based world?
What does it all mean?
Tech’s disruption to our lives has a long way to run yet. Everything is faster because mobility and hardware are good enough to achieve much of what we want and need.
- The world’s three billion-plus smartphone users mostly use two major tech platforms, information is unlimited, and jetfuel for ideas with growth is more available than ever.
- When it works, it doesn’t take long to go from zero to billions.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon Tech Summit 2020: Expect the next Snapdragon flagship to be announced this week! Hearing some word that the expected 8xx chip won’t follow the previous naming regime but we’ll find out next week for sure.
Tech tweets of the week
- First prize: OnePlus 8T and an AA hoodie
- Second prize: Garmin Venu and an AA hoodie
- Third prize: Sony WH-1000XM4 and an AA t-shirt
That’s it, folks! We’ll have more top Android stories for you next week. To stay up to date on all things Android Authority in the meantime, be sure to subscribe to our newsletters at the link below.