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Editor's Letter: Homecoming

Tim Stevens

In each issue of Distro, editor-in-chief Tim Stevens publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

Another week is over, dear readers, and it's been an eventful one for me. I spent a few days in Detroit, wrapping up some testing for the AOL Autos Technology of the Year award, to be given out at CES in just over a month. This means I got a little seat time in some spectacular autos like the Audi S7 and Chrysler 300C SRT8, sampling some amazing new infotainment and safety technologies - and some terrible ones, too. Which stood out? You'll have to wait for the CES awards ceremony to find out.

Otherwise, it was a reasonably quiet week in news, but some of the biggest stories came just as we're heading to press. Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, gave a little clarity to the mystery of the "Assembled in USA" iMacs. He confirmed this isn't just an anomaly, that Apple is planning on bringing assembly of one of its "existing Mac lines" to the States. Which line, exactly, remains to be seen, but the iMac would be a logical choice, since it's already being run in limited numbers in the US. The Mac Pro also makes sense, a low-volume machine that features (relatively) simple construction.

Cook also indicated that the Apple TV is no longer just a "hobby," as it has been classified in years past. Television in general has now become an "area of intense interest," which would be yet another pointer to the Cupertino company making a big, big push into the broader home entertainment space. Could we finally see the oft-predicted television made by Apple in 2013, or might the current little Apple TV device get a little more love? Stay tuned.

Netflix completed what can only be called an absolute coup on the content front.

Netflix, meanwhile, completed what can only be called an absolute coup on the content front. In a deal that must have required at least one comically large check, Netflix purchased exclusive rights to stream first-run Disney films, of both the animated and live-action varieties. The US-only deal begins in 2016, a future date by which time I envision all actors will have been replaced by animated doppelgängers anyhow. Starting this week many historic Disney films appeared for streaming, too, so if your kid's DVD copy of "Pocahontas" has been rolled across the living room floor one too many times, it can now be safely retired.

Also being retired is News Corporation's The Daily. The once iPad-only outlet launched with huge fanfare in early 2011 but sadly never developed the kind of following necessary to support the level of staffing Rupert Murdoch built it upon. That staff is now being split up, some moving over to work on the New York Post, others sadly to be let go. We genuinely hate to see an innovative property like this coming to a close and we hope that those cut free land back on their feet quickly.

In more sad news, Polymer Vision, the struggling maker of flexible e-ink displays and 2008's Readius (a GSM device with a fold-out display for reading PDFs and simple web surfing) appears to have come to the end of its rope. The company was limping along under the ownership of Wistron, but now has been more or less shuttered altogether, existing only in a name attached to a big stack of intellectual property.

Google released major updates to its Gmail apps on both Android and iOS. The Android version gets gesture support for zooming as well as swipes for deletes, plus the ability to attach videos. The iOS update, meanwhile, is more of a complete re-tooling with a new UI and lots of new functionality, including multiple-account support. Huzzah for that.

We got our first bit of chemical analysis back from Mars, courtesy of Curiosity, and you don't have to go by the handle "Heisenberg" to find it fascinating.

Finally, we got our first bit of chemical analysis back from Mars, courtesy of the Curiosity rover, and you don't have to go by the handle "Heisenberg" to find it fascinating. Our six-wheeled roving friend abroad scooped up some dirt, dumped it into the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and then carefully parsed the results, which included sulfur, chlorine and, most intriguingly, some carbon-based materials. Organic life on Mars? NASA wants more time to be sure that such materials aren't just stowaways that made the trip from Earth, leaving us wondering if NASA shouldn't have given this thing an extra bath before zipping it up and throwing it out of orbit.

Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.

This piece originally appeared in Distro #69.

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