Weekly Digest - 2021.02


CES 2021

Due to pandemic, the CES 2021 was different. First of all it was virtual. Second, it was smaller, much smaller. Not many products ware introduced, but couple of them were interesting:

Samsung Galaxy S21 family

Samsung announced the next version of the flagship phone. Here is the spec of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra:

  • 6.8-inch AMOLED 120Hz display (1440 x 3200 px),
  • Snapdragon 888,
  • 12 or 16GB of RAM,
  • 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB of Storage,
  • Triple back camera system: 108 MP (wide), 10 MP (telephoto), 12 MP (ultrawide),
  • 40 MP selfie camera,
  • 5000 mAh Battery,
  • Support for S pen,
  • Starting at $1199.

Return of the King?

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, next MacBook Pro might return to its glorious days. If rumors are true, the new MacBook Pro will get not only the ARM processor, but also new form factor, and new display. The TouchBar will be gone, and the MagSafe will return with additional ports. This is too good to be true.

Lucasfilm Games

Lucasfilm announced that all future Star Wars games will be released under the Lucasfilm Games brand. It looks like, EA lost their exclusivity right to Star Wars games. Bethesda is working on Indiana Jones game, and Ubisoft is making an open world Star Wars game. Despite the fact EA lost exclusivity rights, it's still working on the new Star Wars games, including sequel to the Jedi Fallen Order.

Wikipedia anniversary

Wikipedia turned 20. Yeah, It's hard to believe, but Wikipedia is helping us for two decades now. It definitely helped me when I was a student, so I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this awesome project.

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Cyberpunk 2077 released

CD Project Red, after 9 years of development, finally released the Cyberpunk 2077. First reviews are very positive. CDP Red once again delivered very solid game, although it is far from being perfect. The game is hunted by many little bugs. Bugs are not  unexpected as the game is huge, but they make the  experience less pleasant.  Overall it looks like Cyberpunk is solid game and it somehow met the expectations.

Starship launch

Space X has performed a test flight of the Starship. The launch was verifying following scenario:

  1. ✅ Launch Starship,
  2. ✅ Achieve altitude of 12.5 KM,
  3. ✅ Shutdown engines and rotate rocket on it's belly,
  4. ✅  Fall free,
  5. ✅ Turn on engines and rotate the rocket to the vertical position,
  6. ❌ Land on the ground.

The test  ran perfectly until the landing. The pressure in fuel cells was too low, which resulted in higher touch down speed than anticipated, which ultimately caused an explosion.

Despite the fact, that Starship is gone, the test was successful.

AirPods Max

Apple announce AirPods Max - the over-ear noise-canceling headphones. Here are selected features:

  • Active Noise Cancellation,
  • Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking,
  • Audio Sharing,
  • Digital Crown for controlling volume and playback,
  • Magnetic ear cups,
  • Apple H1 chip, in each ear cup, for fast connecting with Apple devices and device switching,
  • Sensors in each cup can detect whether they are placed on a user’s head and pause playback when removed,
  • Bluetooth 5 compatible,
  • 20h of battery life,
  • Come in five colors: space gray, silver, sky blue, green, and pink.

AirPods Max  will be available from December 15th for $549.

New ARM macs in 2021

According to latest rumors, Apple is working on new 32-core chip, that will be shipped with upcoming iMacs and 16-inch MacBook Pros. Looking at performance of the current M1 chip, it is something worth waiting for.

Apple Fitness+

Apple also announced that Fitness+ will launch on December 14th. The workout service will be available only in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US  for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

Disney plans

Disney have unveiled their plans for the foreseeable future.

Star Wars:

  • Star Wars: Andor (TV); 2022,
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi (TV); 2022,
  • Ahsoka (TV),
  • Rangers of the New Republic (TV),
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch (TV),
  • The Acolyte (TV),
  • Star Wars: Lando (TV),
  • Droid Story (TV),
  • Star Wars: Visions (TV),
  • Rogue Squadron (Movie); 12.2023,
  • Untitled Taika Waititi Film; 12.2025.

Marvel:

  • WandaVision (TV); 15.01.2021,
  • Falcon and the Winter Soldier (TV); 03.2020,
  • Loki (TV); 05.2021,
  • Hawkeye; 2021,
  • She-Hulk (TV),
  • Ironheart (TV),
  • What-if? (TV),
  • Moon Knight (TV),
  • Miss Marvel (TV),
  • Secret Invasion (TV),
  • Armor Wars (TV),
  • Black Panther 2 (Movie), 07.2022,
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (Movie),
  • Fantastic Four (Movie).

Image credits: Apple

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SpaceX Crew-1

For the second time, SpaceX and NASA launched the Crew Dragon capsule with people onboard. Following the successful Demo-2 mission, NASA gave SpaceX's Crew Dragon an operational status, and the Crew-1 mission is the first flight with such status. Crew of 4 astronauts launched on Sunday, and docked to the International Space Station the next day. According to NASA plans, astronauts will spend in space about 180 days.

Apple reduces AppStore tax to 15%

Apple announced, that from January 1st, the AppStore tax will be reduce from 30% to 15% to all developers that during a  year made under $1 million. If the developer exceeds the $1 million threshold then the 30% tax will be applied.

This is huge for the most of the developers. The change from 30% to 15% cut, by then increases developers revenue for about 20%.

ARM Macs delivers

Apple started shipping new ARM powered Macs and the first benchmarks started showing up. It looks like, all Apple claims about new hardware are true. New macs are not only the fastest, but also super efficient, which improves battery life. Now, the only thing that might stop a customer from choosing an ARM mac is a software compatibility. But even that should not be a big issue for the most users. And if a particular application is not ready yet, it should be very soon.


Image credits: NASA/SpaceX

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Macs with Apple Silicon

Apple held the One more thing event that focused on new Apple Silicon for Macs.

Apple introduced a brand new M1 chip, which combines couple of  chips and controllers under one single housing:

  • 5‑nanometer process,
  • 16 billion transistors,
  • 8-core CPU with 4 high‑performance cores and 4 high‑efficiency cores,
  • Integrated  8-core GPU,
  • Integrated 16-core neural engine built-in,
  • Integrated and shared memory including DRAM and cache.

According to Apple, new CPU is up to 3.5x faster on the same power usage. And the GPU is twice as fast. Looking at early benchmarks, those claims might be true.

The new chip would be nothing without new hardware that uses it, so Apple announced 3 new Mac:

Mac mini

  • Apple M1 chip (8-core CPU,  8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine),
  • 8 or 16GB of RAM,
  • 256GB, 512GB ,  1TB or 2TB of storage,
  • WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5,
  • Price starting at $699.

MacBook Air

  • 13.3-inch Retina Display (2560 x 1600px)
  • Apple M1 chip (8-core CPU, 7 or 8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine),
  • 8 or 16GB of RAM,
  • 256GB, 512GB ,  1TB or 2TB of storage,
  • 2 USB 4/Thunderbolt ports,
  • WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5,
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life,
  • Price starting at $999.

MacBook Pro 13

  • 13.3-inch Retina Display (2560 x 1600px)
  • Apple M1 chip (8-core CPU,  8-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine),
  • 8 or 16GB of RAM,
  • 256GB, 512GB ,  1TB or 2TB of storage,
  • 2 USB 4/Thunderbolt ports,
  • WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5,
  • Up to 20 hours of battery life,
  • Price starting at $1299.

macOS Big Sur released

Apple has also released the newest version of the mac operating system. I've been using it since Beta and it's rather stable, but the launch itself was far from perfect.

Xbox Series X launch

Microsoft has finally launched the next-gen console. The launch itself was rather smooth, but there were some vaping accidents 😅 Now, when the console is here, it's time for some next-gen games to be released.


Image credits: Apple

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November Apple Event

Apple announced their November event, which will focus on ARM based Macs. According to latest rumors, we should see a new MacBook Air as well as 13 and 16 inch MacBook Pros. Although ARM powered MacBook Air is no brainer, the release of the Pro models would be a bold move from Apple. It would mean that first generation of new processors is  (at least) as powerful as current generation of Intel ones.


Image credits: Łukasz Łada