Based on merit alone, Oppo took the title of winner of the week. However, it must be said that the main highlight over the last few days in the tech universe was not really about what we had as the best, but rather, what didn't work. Apple had to postpone its SharePlay function for iOS 15. Samsung decided to correct a serious flaw with its fan base: by removing ads from their stock apps. However, it was Google that, even though they got it right, they made a huge blunder this week that propelled them right to the very pinnacle of boo-boos, at least for now.
As usual, before we talk about our top picks, let's take a look at the most interesting things that happened in the tech universe over the last few days.
SharePlay in iOS 15 is no longer in beta
This week, Apple announced the removal of the SharePlay feature from the beta versions of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, tvOS 15, and macOS Monterey. The reason for doing so still remains unclear. However, we do know that the feature should not be part of the first official release of the new version of iOS.
SharePlay is one of the features that our team was unable to test out in iOS 15 for developers, as it never responded well to our attempts to use it. In theory, this feature was supposed to enable participants to enjoy media content like TV shows, movies, or music during a FaceTime call simultaneously. Remember? Looks like watch parties will have to take other forms...for now.
As fans of the new iOS 15 and the SharePlay function, we're rooting for Apple to overcome the limitations of this function and, of course, deliver this feature sometime in 2021 for their devices.
Samsung will remove advertising from its native apps
At first glance, the very fact that Samsung announced the removal of advertising from its native apps sounds like great news, right? However, they shouldn't be there in the first place. Imagine buying a Galaxy S21 Ultra for $1,200 and having to live with ads each time you launch Samsung Music or Samsung Pay, or every time you want to check the weather app? Not cool at all, Samsung!
The fact remains: Last year, Samsung decided to introduce such ads in some of the native system apps and OneUI, almost violating the relationship with fans of the brand. According to SamMobile, the decision to remove such intrusive ads was taken after a series of internal criticism and the vision of strengthening the Galaxy ecosystem.
Samsung isn't the only company to act this way, given that Xiaomi does the same, for example. However, a company that wants to maintain a loyal customer base shouldn't be monetizing its UI with third-party advertisements, don't you agree?
Tesla's AI-powered humanoid robot
In short: Tesla is developing a robot designed to perform dangerous and repetitive tasks (read: boring) for humans. The humanoid robot is called as the Tesla Bot.
Unfortunately, robotics is not one of topics that we cover daily here at NextPit, but it seems to be extremely relevant to me as a future story. Hence, I have decided to bring you some interesting information about the Tesla Bot this Sunday.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed during the "AI Day" event that we can look forward to a signature humanoid robot from the electric automaker. The presentation will begin from 2:05 in the video below, and Musk reports that the company's intention is to build a friendly robot, which will take over the most tedious and repetitive tasks performed by humans today, and of course, the most dangerous ones as well. Is this the beginning of the end of humans?
According to him, the Tesla Bot will be an artificial intelligence packaged in a physical form factor, not unlike the autopilot technology of the company's cars. This way, the humanoid would be able to respond to simple commands, such as "Please take that bolt and screw it to the car using that wrench."
The robot will have a human form, which is why it is described as a humanoid, and will be specially designed to move about without much pomp. In addition, the Tesla Bot will feature a screen at the height of what we would consider to be the machine's face, displaying useful information at a glance. On the automaker's AI website, we have the following description regarding this project:
Develop the next generation of automation, including a general purpose, bi-pedal, humanoid robot capable of performing tasks that are unsafe, repetitive or boring. We’re seeking mechanical, electrical, controls and software engineers to help us leverage our AI expertise beyond our vehicle fleet.
And don't think this is a project that will kick off in the distant future, as Musk mentioned that the company plans to have a prototype Tesla Bot ready by 2022. Are you prepared for such a launch?
Right, that's all for now as we continue to our picks for the winner and loser of the week!
Winner: Oppo and its continuous optical zoom lens for smartphones
In recent months, Oppo has stood proud and tall among Chinese smartphone manufacturers worldwide. In May, Counterpoint Research reported that the manufacturer had entered the list of the top 5 smartphone brands in Europe, and in June, the company announced a partnership with OnePlus. Not only that, Oppo also revealed one of NextPit's most lauded smartphones in 2021, the Oppo Find X3 Pro.
All of this could clearly make sure that the Oppo team rests on their laurels, but that's not quite what we're seeing. This week, during the special event related to Future Imaging technology, the manufacturer's engineering team announced a continuous optical zoom technology for smartphones where the lens parts will move in the 85-200mm equivalent zoom range.
But what does that mean for the consumer? Far sharper images even when zoomed in. With this announcement, Oppo has surpassed yet another Chinese manufacturer, Vivo, which last year unveiled a prototype true continuous optical zoom lens with a range of 120-195mm. The fact that Oppo can achieve a focal length starting at 85 mm makes the camera more versatile, as it makes it possible to zoom in portrait format.
Oppo has not yet revealed as to which smartphone will debut alongside the new feature, but one thing is for sure, Oppo clearly wants to pull ahead of the pack. Let this be a warning shot to other of the other manufacturers!
Loser: Google and its Pixel 5a exclusivity
Many people may see this choice as a weird one, especially if you think that the US and Japan are the only two countries that matter in the whole world. However, I am a bit fed up with the choices made by Google regarding the Pixel line. This week, the Internet search giant introduced (at long last) the Pixel 5a 5G. Among highlights of this smartphone include a larger battery capacity compared to its previous model and IP67 certification. Oh, and the fact that the device will be sold in an even smaller number of regions makes it less appealing to the masses.
After a series of rumors concerning the cancellation of the range, the Pixel 5a 5G finally saw the light of day last Tuesday (August 17). The smartphone is the most affordable versions of the 5th generation Pixel series and offers Google's latest camera experience in the mid-range segment, where it carries a MSRP of $449.
As reported by my colleague Stefan Möllenhoff, this is perhaps the most relevant mid-range smartphone of the year and almost no one will be able to have it, as it will be sold in the US and Japan only.
All right, so the Pixel smartphone has never been sold in many other countries even before this, but to narrow down its availability to just two countries? That doesn't make much sense at all, despite signs from Android fans worldwide showing that there is a reasonable amount of interest to adopt this as their primary smartphone. What about those who expected to see this smartphone released in Europe, as well as regions the Pixel 4a 5G were available? For Pixel fans in such locations, Google has certainly erred here, perhaps bordering on snobbishness when making such a decision.
The issue gets even more dramatic when you consider that the company is getting ready to make what is perhaps the biggest launch in the series in years: the already revealed Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Would you invest in a Pixel 6 knowing that Google, if it so chooses, could simply discontinue the series next year outside of the US and Japan?
This kind of attitude really makes me frustrated. In fact, it makes it easier for Apple to sell even more smartphones around the world, thus diminishing our choices. Fans of BlackBerry, HTC, Sony, LG, Huawei, and others know very well what I'm talking about!
And it is with a bitter taste in my mouth that I end this column on a Sunday! Do you agree with our choices this week? What did you find positive or negative in the week and would you like to share with the NextPit community? We really appreciate your opinion, so please write to us!