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October 7, 2017

Weekly Rewind: Translating headphones, tech flops, Tesla trucks, and more

by John_A

A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top tech stories, from what happened at Google’s October 4 event to how one chef is looking to get us off our phones  — it’s all here.

The Pixel 2 looks amazing. So why did Google bother with all the other nonsense?

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are well thought-out, feature-rich, and highly desirable sequels to the already excellent Pixel and Pixel XL. We predict they will be two of the best Android phones released this year and next, and we’re not exactly going out on a limb to say it. They formed the centerpiece of Google’s October 4 event, but were joined by quite a lot of other, far less interesting products. Imagine if they weren’t.

Read: The Pixel 2 looks amazing. So why did Google bother with all the other nonsense?

Here’s how one chef is encouraging diners to ditch their phones at the table

Restaurants can be quiet places these days. The sight of an entire table of diners gazing at their smartphones rather than their lovingly prepared food is a common one, and has led some restaurateurs to take matters into their own hands. The latest effort aimed at getting diners to engage with one another rather than with their handsets comes from award-winning chef Marco Canora. Based at Tuscan-American restaurant Hearth in Manhattan, Canora has placed special boxes on each table. On the box reads a note: “Open me!” while inside another one says, “We’d like to invite you to unplug during your meal here at Hearth. Feel free to use this box to put your phone away and connect with your fellow diners.”

Discussing the novel idea with dining guide Eater, Canora said, “If there’s one time in the 24 hours in your day that’s a time to engage with the person you’re with, it makes sense to me that it’s around the dinner table.”

Read: Here’s how one chef is encouraging diners to ditch their phones at the table

‘Titanic’ star Kate Winslet will reunite with James Cameron for ‘Avatar 2’

It’s been almost a decade since James Cameron’s Avatar hit theaters, but filming is currently underway on Avatar 2, the long-awaited sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide. The cast of the film is also filling out, with Academy Award winner Kate Winslet recently joining the project in a starring role.

Winslet will play a character named Ronal for the film, but little is known about her role other than the character’s name. However, the film will reunite Winslet with Cameron for the first time since the actress starred in 1997’s Titanic.

Read: ‘Titanic’ star Kate Winslet will reunite with James Cameron for ‘Avatar 2’

The Whitepod luxury eco-lodge is located in the heart of the Swiss Alps

The Swiss Alps have been a popular destination for active travelers for decades, offering opportunities to ski, hike, climb, and mountain bike their way across some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet. But, just because those adventurous souls might like to rough it during the day, doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy a bit of luxury in the evening. There are plenty of swanky mountain chalets and lodges available, but for a unique experience, consider a stay at Whitepod instead.

Located near Les Cerniers, Switzerland, Whitepod is a luxury eco-lodge that features a set of geodesic domes that have been custom-built to accommodate travelers. These unique suites are fully outfitted with a number of amenities designed to provide comfort and relaxation following a day of adventure in the mountains, while also fully immersing visitors in the culture and cuisine of the region.

Read: The Whitepod luxury eco-lodge is located in the heart of the Swiss Alps

Android Nougat jumps to more than 17 percent of active devices

According to the Android Developer Dashboard, Nougat devices now accounting for 17.8 percent of active Android devices together. Marshmallow is still the reigning king with an API level at 32 percent — with Lollipop still trailing close behind at 27.7 percent. Following the release of Oreo in August, the latest operating system is already on 0.2 percent of devices.

In contrast, Apple’s iOS 10, which was released in the middle of September, was installed on 89 percent of devices as of September 6.

Read: Android Nougat jumps to more than 17 percent of active devices

Tesla electric semitruck unveiling delayed until October

Earlier in 2017, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company’s much-discussed electric semitruck would be unveiled in September. The world will have to wait a little longer for the first official look at this electric big rig, but an image posted to Reddit could give us an early glimpse at the vehicle’s design.

As you would expect from the all-electric automaker, the semitruck looks aerodynamic, futuristic, and downright elegant. The truck appears significantly shorter than the official teaser photo at first glance, but keen-eyed Redditors theorized that the silver cap on the left could be the truck’s fairing and promptly photoshopped it on. Looks pretty close, doesn’t it? Tesla hasn’t officially commented on the photo thus far, so we may have to wait until the unveiling on October 26 for confirmation. For what it’s worth, Musk said on Twitter it will be “worth seeing this beast in person. It’s unreal.”

Read: Tesla electric semitruck unveiling delayed until October

 8 Infamous tech flops that were way ahead of their time

Not every tech product can be a winner in the marketplace, but some failures don’t deserve to be thought of as disasters. Whether it’s a good idea executed badly, a great product that was too expensive, or simply a futuristic idea which was way ahead of its time; here are eight tech flops which were later revisited more successfully.

Noble failures of tech, we salute you!

Read: 8 Infamous tech flops that were way ahead of their time

These goofy-looking earbuds are actually real-time in-ear translators

These earbuds aren’t meant for playing music or podcasts, but rather for communicating with people who speak a foreign language. Because not being a polyglot shouldn’t stop you from having a conversation with just about anyone in the world.

Rather than talking past one another in your respective languages, the WT2 claims to allow for real-time translation. That means that you can speak face-to-face with your fellow human, and immediately decipher his or her message without the need for a mediator. Promising natural, hands-free communication, the WT2 seeks to enable conversations in two different languages via two earphone translators and one app. Simply don one of the earphones, speak in your language, and your interlocutor will hear in theirs.

Read: These goofy-looking earbuds are actually real-time in-ear translators

Google Home Mini and Home Max shrinks and supersizes smart speaker offerings

If you’ve been keeping an eye out for leaks before today’s Google event, then chances are you know a lot about the new Google Home Mini, the puck-like Amazon Echo Dot equivalent, and Google Home Max, a Sonos-esque speaker. The two new additions to the Google Home lineup were formally unveiled at the event, confirming much about what we’d already heard.

Read: Google Home Mini and Home Max shrinks and supersizes smart speaker offerings




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