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 October 28 2016

Weekly Recap: Surface Book, Touch Bar, Xiaomi Mix, Vine’s death and driverless beer

Microsoft News

Microsoft recently unveiled several new hardware and software products. On the software side, besides the next Windows 10 update, dubbed “Creators Update”, we noted a new 3D-enabled version of Paint. On the hardware side, Microsoft announced a minor Surface Book update and future VR headsets using the Windows Holographic platform. But the really exciting thing was the Surface Studio, a new computer for the creative crowd. This latest member of the Surface family looks like an iMac but comes with a 28-inch touchscreen (4500 x 3000 pixels) for use as a giant tablet. The Surface Studio is clearly targeting professional designers, who generally patronize Apple. Available by pre-order for US$3,000 to US$4,200 depending on configuration.

The Verge, “The 8 biggest announcements from today’s Microsoft event.”

Ars Technica, “Ultra-thin, pixel-dense Surface Studio touchscreen PC will start at $2,999.”


Requiem for Function keys

As expected, Apple introduced its new MacBook Pro series. Two of the models have lost their Function keys (a constant in the IT world since the 1970s), replaced with a Touch Bar with contextual tools that change depending on the application you’re using. To the right of the bar is the Touch ID fingerprint reader, which allows you to unlock your computer or make on-line payments with one finger. The 13-inch model with old-fangled Function keys is available as of now (starting at CA$1,900). The 13 and 14 inch models with Touch Bar are available by pre-order and should be delivered in two to three weeks (starting at CA$2,300 and CA$2,550 respectively). All new models have an audio jack.

Circuit Breaker, “Here’s everything you can do with the new MacBook Touch Bar.”

Popular Science, “Check out Apple’s new Macbook. It’s badass.”


Xiaomi Mix

Chinese phone maker Xiaomi launched a new phone called Mix. Its 6.4-inch screen occupies a whopping 92% of the front surface with hardly any edge, contributing to its elegant design, the result of Xiaomi’s collaboration with Philippe Starck. The Mix is equipped with a Snapdragon 821 processor (the same as Google’s Pixel), 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, a 4,400mAh battery (compared to 2900mAh on the iPhone 7 Plus), a 16-megapixel camera, a fingerprint sensor, etc. The basic model will cost RMB3,499 (US$516) and the most powerful model, RMB3,999 (US$590). Available in China as of next month.

Engadget, “Xiaomi’s Mi MIX is all about its gorgeous edge-to-edge display.”


Twitter is killing Vine

Vine Logo.

Twitter announced plans on Thursday to kill off Vine, the short-form looping video app it acquired four years ago in an early effort to bring video to the social network. No reason was provided for shuttering Vine. However, the move was announced just hours after Twitter confirmed significant job cuts in a desperate bid to be profitable. Here’s what Vine founder Rus Yusupov has to say about its death, via Twitter appropriately enough: “Don’t sell your company.”

CNN Money, “Vine’s dead. Is Twitter next? .”

The Verge, “Why Vine died.”

Driverless truck delivers beers

As part of a small partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Otto, the self-driving trucking startup acquired by Uber, delivered 45,000 beers from a weigh station in Fort Collins, Colo. to Colorado Springs. It’s the first-ever delivery completed fully autonomously and is a sign that Uber is growing more serious about diversifying its revenue streams. Uber acquired Otto for close to $700 million in August, mere months after the company officially launched. Together, the newly merged company is creating a service called UberFreight that will match truck drivers and fleet managers with freight that needs to be shipped.

Recode, “Watch Uber’s robot truck deliver 45,000 cans of Budweiser.”


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