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The Morning After: Congress tries to grill Big Tech's CEOs

It was just as messy as past congress and tech interactions.

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Mat Smith
March 26th, 2021
In this article: themorningafter, gear, newsletter
The Morning After: Congress tries to grill Big Tech's CEOs

Yesterday's hearing with the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter was as messy as you might have predicted — and we'll get into that below. But I want to start today with voice assistants. Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and the rest know a lot. But they barely remember anything, which curtails exactly how much they can truly assist with your life beyond music controls, timers and reminding you exactly what shows you’ve seen Joel Kinnaman in. (Answer: Altered Carbon). A new feature spotted for Google Assistant on Android called Memory could transform it into the assistant we need, however.

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Getty

According to an early APK, you will be able to store items in Memory using a verbal command or use a home screen shortcut. You can file away books, contacts, events, music, notes, photos, places, playlists, recipes, reminders and more. It will also save contextual information, like screenshots, URLs and your location, when you store something away.

Voice assistants are everywhere, but major upgrades that could change how you use them (or even if you use them) are not a regular occurrence. Google’s idea is a clever one.

— Mat Smith

Congress questioned Big Tech CEOs for 5 hours without getting any good answers

Everyone wanted simple “yes” or “no” answers, though few were given.

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Reuters

A marathon hearing Wednesday with Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai was supposed to be about the platforms’ handling of misinformation and extremism. The issue has taken on a new significance during the coronavirus pandemic and in the wake of the January 6th riot at the US Capitol. Through five hours of questioning, Democrats and Republicans both expressed they’re ready to impose new rules on internet platforms, but they have very different ideas about what that might look like. Continue reading.

So you've bought an OLED TV — now what?

Time to calibrate.

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Engadget

It doesn't matter if you own one of LG's new CX TVs, Sony's Master Series or even an older or used OLED. Your screen will still look far better than the vast majority of LCD sets, with unmatched black levels and eye-popping contrast. But even if you've got one of the best screens around, there are always a few upgrades you can still make. Read on for advice from Devindra Hardawar about what you can add to get the most out of your high-end 4K TV. Continue reading.

Sigma's fp L is a tiny full-frame camera with a 61-megapixel sensor

It comes with an optional $700 viewfinder.

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Sigma

Sigma’s cameras have a die-hard following, and the design is often off-piste compared to increasingly homogenous cameras from the big players like Nikon, Canon and Sony. Its new full-frame camera is a great example. Despite its tiny frame, the Sigma fp L packs a 61-megapixel sensor, making it one of the highest-resolution full-frame cameras out there. Sigma promises a raft of improvements to its autofocus systems. The camera arrives in mid-April for $2,499. Continue reading.

The UK's Alan Turing £50 bank note is a love letter to coding

It's the country's most secure bank note to date.

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Bank of England

The UK has finally unveiled its Alan Turing bank note, and the durable polymer £50 bill completes the Bank of England's "most secure" set of notes to date. It includes anti-counterfeiting features appropriate for the legendary WWII codebreaker, including a metallic hologram. There are lots of easter eggs and nods to Turing’s life built into the note’s design: The mathematical formula you see comes from Turing's influential 1936 paper "On Computable Numbers," a foundational work for computer science. There’s also an image of the Automatic Computing Engine Pilot Machine (the trial model for a very early computer) and schematics for the British Bombe codebreaking machine. Continue reading.

Triumph’s first electric bike concept looks like this

The battery can charge to 80 percent in 20 minutes.

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Triumph

Historic British motorcycle maker Triumph has shared details of its TE-1 electric bike project, including the concept image you see here, and details on the prototype drivetrain that will one day power it. Triumph claims the TE-1's electric motor can output 107 horsepower continuously and peak at 174 horses while total range will be around 120 miles. The bike is intentionally designed to look like a traditional fossil-fuel guzzler in a bid to tempt buyers across to the world of e-motorcycles. The company plans to start testing the TE-1 prototype later this year. Continue reading.

Google's new alliance wants to get digital keys, mobile IDs working on Android

The Android Ready SE Alliance is made of Secure Element vendors.

Since 2018, all of Google's Pixel phones have included a Titan M chip. It's what's known as a Secure Element (SE). Separate from your phone's processor, it does things like store encryption keys and validates the operating system. And now Google sees the Titan M and other Secure Elements as key to bringing digital passports and identity cards to Android phones.

The company has formed the Android Ready SE Alliance, which aims at speeding this process up. Google will work with other Secure Element companies and phone makers to create a collection of open source and ready-to-use applets for SE chips. The group has already launched its first applet with StrongBox, a tool for storing cryptographic keys. Continue reading.

Master & Dynamic MW08 wireless earbuds review

Small changes make a huge difference.

The Morning After
Engadget

Many companies would’ve completely redesigned their true wireless earbuds by the time they introduced a fourth model. But not Master & Dynamic. With new materials and smaller size, the company simply continues to improve its earbud series. According to News Editor Billy Steele, when you combine the updated design with more robust active noise cancellation, ambient sound modes, stellar audio and extended battery life, it’s not hard to argue these are Master & Dynamic’s best earbuds yet. Continue reading.

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