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Samsung S20 camera issues, the coronavirus gets serious for tech and the US, and more

Plus: cities need smarter bikes, not self-driving cars

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Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Hello to everybody, but especially to new subscribers — one of whom pointed out that I had a typo in my introductory email. Mortifying, but also fitting for my personal brand. You’re reading Processor, a newsletter about computers, but “computers” defined very broadly and with a wink. I’m Dieter Bohn, noted typoist and reviewer of Samsung phones since 2006’s Samsung Blackjack Windows Mobile smartphone.

Today’s newsletter is fairly short because in a few hours I’ll be publishing my review of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, a massive phone that is just as interesting and noteworthy as any iPhone, if not moreso. Samsung is doing so many new things with this phone that even if you’re not interested in Samsung or Android, it’s worth paying attention.

Actually, a better way to put it might be that Samsung is doing too many new things, because one of them isn’t going quite as well as it should, because Samsung has already pledged to improve Galaxy S20 camera.

In the phone reviewing game, we hear a lot of promises that future software updates will fix current camera issues. Nine times out of ten that update does very little to change the fundamentals, but there’s always a chance. Samsung does have a history of scrambling and successfully dealing with phone problems, after all.

Thanks for reading!

Coronavirus

Mike Pence, who enabled an HIV outbreak in Indiana, will lead US coronavirus response.

A Californian has contracted coronavirus from an unknown source.

GDC ‘moving forward as planned’ as developers pull out over coronavirus concerns.

Facebook confirms ban on misleading coronavirus ads.

Microsoft says Windows and Surface businesses will miss expectations due to coronavirus.

This CDC infographic lets you know if your facial hair won’t work with a mask.

Transportation

Everyone hates California’s self-driving car reports. If you see these self-driving car “disengagement” numbers on the local news or whatever, keep Andrew Hawkins’ reporting in mind:

“Comparing disengagement rates between companies is worse than meaningless: It creates perverse incentives,” said Bryant Walker Smith, associate professor at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law and an expert in self-driving cars. For instance, Smith says, if he were to register in California and never test, he’d look good. “If I wanted to look even better, I’d do a ton of easy freeway miles in California and do my real testing anywhere else,” he added.

System that limits e-bike speeds will be tested on Dutch roads. The headline belies the very high-tech, very intricate infrastructure being built here. This is a holistic approach to transportation policy, it goes from the city to businesses to the streetlights to the literal handlebars on the e-bikes.

Just briefly consider the vast differences in what’s happening in terms of transportation technology with the above two stories.

America is arguing about how to measure whether and when safety drivers have to take control of self-driving cars that cost [insert your best but definitely absurdly high price here]. It’s a problem that exists in large part because these vehicles have to navigate a road system that wasn’t built for them populated by human drivers who don’t really know how to react to them.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands the roads and bikes are talking to each other in a deep and collaborative way to enable a system where people can buy affordable, environmentally sustainable transportation that reduces traffic, is designed specifically to protect people in bike lanes, and increases people’s ability to feel connected to their cities and fellow citizens.

One of these approaches seems better to me.

Gadget announcements

LG’s new V60 ThinQ 5G shows steady evolution for a company in need of big change. Chris Welch spent some time with LG’s new phone, which has the thing where the case has a second screen inside it, but it seems a little awkward. In principle, there’s no reason this couldn’t be a heads-up competitor to the Galaxy S20. In practice, LG is going to have a tough time, at least here in the US. Samsung spends a lot of marketing dollars and LG tends to disappoint on camera quality.

The V60 ThinQ 5G has flagship specs in a somewhat uninspired design, but until Microsoft’s Surface Duo arrives this fall, there aren’t many phones that can give you this dual-screen trick. Foldables seem far more futuristic, but they’re also more fragile — and you can detach this second display whenever you want and stick to the traditional slab.

Fujifilm X-T4 announced with in-body image stabilization and flip-out screen. Chris Welch gets into all the camera details, but this caught my eye given all the other news today:

When you’ll be able to get your hands on the X-T4 is, unfortunately, a little complicated at the moment. Based on what was said at a recent media briefing, Fujifilm expects to take a significant hit from production delays and constrained supply tied to the coronavirus outbreak. The goal is to have the X-T4 out sometime in April, but unless you place a very early preorder, don’t be surprised if you run into a lengthy wait. Even the already-announced X100V might be hard to come by for a while.

Google is teaming up with Adidas and EA for a new Jacquard product. I’ll be curious to see whether Google offers new functions for whatever is coming.

More from The Verge

Meet Bob Chapek, Disney’s new CEO and the Tim Cook to Iger’s Steve Jobs. I told you to stick around for Julia Alexander’s reporting yesterday, and here it is. Well-sourced and full of insider insight:

“If he’s sticking around, it could just be that he’s the trainer,” the former Disney executive said. “The Sith apprentice and Sith Lord. He’ll be holding Chapek’s hand. He’s going to take a position to still be deeply entwined with the company. It’s still Bob’s show.”

Leaked video reveals new Surface Duo ‘peek’ feature. I genuinely can’t decide if this is genius or stupid. Technically, I suppose, it could be both.

Apple won’t let bad guys use iPhones in movies, says Knives Out director. Rian Johnson: “Every single filmmaker that has a bad guy in their movie that’s supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now.”