Big Tech &
AirPods, the world’s most popular wireless headphones, are getting even better (2 minute read)
Apple has released its second generation of AirPods, featuring the new Apple-designed H1 chip, which is designed specifically for headphones. The H1 chip allows for 50% more talk time, more seamless switching between devices, and the ability to use 'Hey Siri' voice controls. A new Wireless Charging Case has also been introduced. Customers can purchase the new AirPods with the standard case for $159, or with the new Wireless Charging Case for $199. The Wireless Charging Case can be purchased separately for $79 and is compatible with first generation AirPods. A free engraving service is also available at checkout.
Oculus unveils the Rift S, a higher-resolution VR headset with built-in tracking (4 minute read)
Oculus, in a partnership with Lenovo, has revealed its new Rift S headset, which has higher resolution and built-in tracking, removing the need for external cameras. It will be priced exactly the same as the upcoming Oculus Quest headset, at $399, with the same Touch motion controllers and integrated audio system. Every existing and future Rift game with be compatible with the Rift S headset and cross-platform multiplayer compatibility is enabled between the different types of headsets. A new feature called Passthrough Plus will allow users to view the real world while still wearing the headset. The Rift S will be available in Spring.
Scientists reactivate cells from 28,000-year-old woolly mammoth (3 minute read)
A team of Japanese and Russian scientists have ‘reawakened’ cells from a 28,000-year-old wooly mammoth nicknamed 'Yuka’. Nucleus-like structures were taken from Yuka and implanted into mouse oocytes, and then these cells were observed using live-cell imaging techniques. Traces of biological activity were observed, and while the cells were not able to divide, scientists were able to induce the cells to undergo spindle assembly, an activity that proceeds cell division. While scientists are still very far away from cloning a woolly mammoth, the study marks a significant step in bringing mammoths back from the dead. There is an 11 second video available showing the cell activity.
China clones 'Sherlock Holmes' police dog to cut training times (1 minute read)
Scientists from China's Yunnan province have cloned a police dog in a programme they hope will cut the training time and costs for police dogs. Kunxun the police dog is now 3 months old and will undergo training in drug detection, crowd control, and searching for evidence. It will become a fully fledged police dog at 10 months, a process that usually takes five years and 500,000 yuan. China is not the first country to clone dogs for functionality, as South Korea has been cloning Labrador retrievers to sniff out drugs in their customs service since 2007.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Rules for Autocomplete (3 minute read)
While Autocomplete seems like it should be an easy problem to solve, many UIs get it wrong, and this is a list of rules that UIs often break. There are cases where these rules don't apply, for example, when a field requires filling a value from a fixed list, but generally, following these rules should result in at least a sane experience. A list of optional features is also provided that would make sense for certain types of autocompletion.
Awesome Uses (GitHub Repo)
This repository contains a list of /uses pages that detail apps and gear used by professional web developers, along with a short description of what each developer does. Web developers are encouraged to submit their own pages to contribute to the list.
Google Fined $1.7 Billion by E.U. for Unfair Advertising Rules (6 minute read)
The EU has fined Google 1.5 billion Euros for disproportionately displaying their ads over competitor's ads when companies used Google’s search bar on their websites. These ads undercut competitors and the EU claimed that the restrictive clauses in Google's contracts only existed to keep rivals out of the market. Google stopped the practice in 2016 but had been displaying the ads since 2006. This fine is just one of many that the EU has given to Google and other tech companies, and it highlights the need for governments to look deeper into regulations in the tech sector as the effectiveness of the fines is unclear.