Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every day this week I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
PLEASE TAKE ME TO ANOTHER PLANET
- There is another solar system full of Earth-type planets! “It’s the biggest group of Earth-sized planets found around a single star, and a whole bunch of them may have the right temperatures for liquid water,” says Verge space reporter Loren Grush. “So these seven planets just became the top candidates for searching for life outside our Solar System." Keep launching those rockets, Elon. Take me away from here.
- Especially because California is doomed. But you knew that already.
FIVE CONFUSING GEES AT MWC
- The 5G news keeps coming: Verizon just announced plans to test 5G in 11 cities this year. I am deeply confused about the 5G process thus far: there’s a damn logo, there are modem announcements, and there are tests, but there is zero talk of an underlying standard like LTE to make this all work. The last thing the world needs is cell standard fragmentation like we had with CDMA and GSM; it leads to more expensive devices, less ability to take phones between carriers, and higher prices.
- MWC is coming up next week, so we’re sure to find out more soon. But 5G is shaping up to make the 4G / LTE / 4G LTE confusion of a few years ago look incredibly clear in comparison.
- The big expectation from MWC other than the LG G6 is a new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 tablet, which will be the first major new Android tablet in a while. Some photos leaked today, because that’s what photos of Samsung products do. There’s a keyboard cover, which looks nice. But has Samsung or Google solved the problem of Android tablet apps being terrible? We’ll see.
I PROMISE THIS IS INTERESTING CHIP NEWS
- AMD announced its new Ryzen processor, which means it has something competitive with the top-end of Intel’s range after a long while. The name is terrible, the performance should be good. One out of two ain’t bad.
- Scoops! Dieter went on a long detour into nerdtown and discovered that Google has a new processor... trademark... thing called OP1, which is basically a certification program for ARM processors that run Chrome OS well. Rockchip makes the OP1 in the new Chromebook Plus, which runs better than any ARM-based Chromebook we’ve tested.
- Microsoft has announced Windows for ARM, and it realllllly feels like Apple will stick an ARM chip in a Mac sooner or later. (The tiny MacBook has an Intel processor less powerful than the A9X in the iPad Pro, it seems like a likely potential candidate.)
- Read this tweet:
Soon Intel will face:— Dieter Bohn (@backlon) February 22, 2017
- Ryzen on desktops
- ARM on laptops
- Not a factor on mobile
- Still trying to make IoT a thing
- I am a sucker for new SD cards, because I wrote so many posts about new SD cards when I first started gadget blogging. So: here are Sony’s newest SD cards, which are the fastest ever. Integrated storage in consumer devices is all well and good, but there’s something very powerful about making your entire workflow faster by swapping out one little card.
- Adi Robertson produced a clear timeline of Milo Yiannopoulos’ downfall this week. A reminder that should be printed above the post button on every message board and social platform: the First Amendment only prohibits government restrictions on speech, not private citizens or companies. Being a “free speech advocate” who complains about student groups and and social networks is just a nonsense excuse to be a jerk to people. And there is nothing in the Constitution that says you’re allowed to be a jerk to other people without consequences.
- New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai went on CNBC today and faced some actually tough questions, compared to the softballs he was given on Fox Business last week. He didn’t really say much, other than he wants to pursue a “light touch” to regulations, and then only when he sees a “market failure.” Which, of course, raises the question of whether Pai thinks things like Spectrum blatantly lying to New Yorkers about their internet speeds without a real competitor to check their shit is a market failure.
- I’d love to ask Pai these questions on The Vergecast, but he just doesn’t seem to be responding to our repeated inquiries through the FCC press office or the many, many tweets from our listeners asking him to show up. He did fav this tweet, though:
- If Pai can’t face a podcast that is 90 percent jokes about a fake vodka brand, how is he supposed to face down a telecom industry that has never shown any hesitation to screw its customers and lie about it?
- You should all read Kaitlyn Tiffany on... T.S. Eliot, Chance the Rapper, and Vine? Just read it, it’s incredible.
- This piece by Joanna Stern on how all voice assistants default to female voices is really smart and important. Read it and take Joanna’s suggestion: if you have an Apple device with Siri, go and flip the voice to a male one just to try it.
- You can watch Nintendo employees unbox a Switch. I want one.
- The Switch looks so interesting, but in classic Nintendo fashion, everything but “there are new Mario and Zelda games” seems to be a giant messy question mark. Today’s confusion: how do digital purchases work?
- Chris Grant at Polygon wrote a great piece about Nintendo not learning from its Wii U mistakes and getting its shit together with the Switch. I have no idea why “An Android tablet that can exclusively play Nintendo games” wasn’t the plan here, but it seems like “let’s foist another medium-bad interface on everyone” is a core goal at Nintendo.
- We’re experimenting with new, faster review styles because we think getting more real experiences with gadgets on the site is important — there’s a weird tendency to treat everything as commodified or monolithic but there’s still a lot of change and innovation going on. Paul Miller did this quick review of the Logitech G900 mouse to test one of these new formats; I really like it. Thoughts?