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 October 07 2016

Weekly Recap: Google Hardware, Intel-less Macs, Hopping Robot and High-Tech Credit Card

Google Pixel

Google unveiled the Pixel, its new Android phone built by HTC, whose design is reminiscent of the iPhone. The Pixel is available in two sizes: standard and XL. The standard Pixel has a 5-inch, 1920x1080 AMOLED display, while the Pixel XL has a 5.5-inch 2560×1440 AMOLED display. Its claimed autonomy is 7 hours with a 15-minute charge through a USB-C port. On the inside is the new Snapdragon 821 processor, along with 4GB of RAM and 32 or 128GB of storage. Though the Pixel is equipped with a good old-fashioned 3.5mm audio jack, it is unfortunately devoid of water resistance, unlike its Apple and Samsung competition (the iPhone 7, Galaxy S7 and Note 7 can all survive dunkings in pools or toilet bowls). The Pixel comes with an optional VR headset, the Daydream (priced at US$79). It will be available as of October 20th in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Canada, for US$649 to US$869, depending on the model.

Ars Technica, “Google’s Pixel and Pixel XL phones start at $649 and $769, pre-orders begin today.”

Ars Technica, “Daydream VR hands-on: Google’s ‘dumb’ VR headset is actually very clever.”


Google Home

This latest gadget is Google’s answer to Amazon’s Echo. Home can answer questions, broadcast music on its built-in speakers and Google Cast-compatible audio systems, and control Nest and Nest-compatible, Philips Hue and IFTTT smart home devices. The “My Day” feature gives you a briefing of the upcoming day, with reminders of events, weather and traffic information. Home comes in seven different colors to fit any decor. Available as of November 4th for US$129.

Mashable, “Google Home arrives in November and costs less than Amazon’s Echo.”


Intel-less Macs?

MacBook Pro.

Telltale lines of code found in macOS’s latest operating system suggest that Apple is set to launch a new generation of machines equipped with ARM processors. As you know, all Macs manufactured since 2005 have been running Intel chips; it would be quite the news if Apple switched to ARM chips, which have probably been developed by Apple in keeping with those running its iPhones and Ipads (SoC A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7). The macOS Sierra indicates support for the ARM Hurricane family of processors. ARM processors would mean lower costs, superior energy efficiency and better heat dissipation, three desirable advantages for portables. This would be another blow for Intel, which already missed the mobile bandwagon.

iDownloadBlog, “MacOS Sierra code suggests Apple could replace Intel in Macs with custom ARM chips.”


High-Tech Card

Dynamic cryptogram payment card.

A French digital payment security company invented a credit card with a digital display as a way of combating fraud. The card provides an extra layer of security by replacing the static printed three-digit security code on the back of the card with a mini screen which displays a random code that changes automatically every hour. It is powered by a thin lithium battery designed to last for three years. French banks Societe Generale and Groupe BPCE are preparing to roll the cards out to customers, following a pilot scheme last year. One drawback of the card is that customers will no longer be able to memorise their security code and will need to check the card every time they want to make an online purchase.

BBC News, “Credit card with fraud-busting display.”


Hopping Robot

Disney Research has built the first untethered one-legged hopping robot. Why? Who cares… Nice performance.

Circuit Breaker, “Disney’s new hopping robot is just super excited to meet you.”

Disney Research, “Untethered One-Legged Hopping in 3D Using Linear Elastic Actuator in Parallel (LEAP).”


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