Welcome back to The Morning After. Hope you had a great weekend and are ready for 2021 to be over and done with. (I know I am.)
Today, we’ve drawn together the latest tech news from the last few days and several end-of-year pieces on the biggest stories of the year. But first, Hyundai might be giving up on new combustion engines.
The company only just made and released its first electric car, but it's apparently ready to move fast, and leave the engines of old behind. Korea Economic Daily sources claim Hyundai shut down its research center's combustion engine design unit sometime this month. While there will still be some workers left to refine existing engines, the rest will move to EV-related work.
Electrification is "inevitable," new research chief Chung-kook Park reportedly said in an email, and the transition will help produce cars that "dominate the future market." Park is probably right. In Hyundai's native South Korea, combustion-only car sales will be banned by 2030.
The reveal is now scheduled for spring of 2022.
Final Fantasy fans were promised more information about the next installment of the role-playing series before the end of 2021. Sadly, that announcement and the game have been postponed. "When we last spoke, I promised I would have more information on Final Fantasy XVI sometime later in 2021," producer Naoki Yoshida wrote on Twitter. "However, I regret to inform you that I will be unable to keep that promise, as complications from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have delayed the game’s development by almost half a year."
Just don’t call it an apology.
The last year for the iPhone and Mac maker was marked with more than a little bit of course correction. Beyond moving forward with its M1 PC chips in more powerful setups, Apple nixed the problematic keyboards found on the last few generations of MacBooks and improved battery life across the entire range of iPhone 13 models.
The biggest change – and one we won’t quite see the significance of until next year – is product repairs. Apple will sell repair parts and instructions to customers who want to fix their iPhones themselves.
The Green Hill Zone kit is a nostalgia trip for Sega fans.
After nearly a year of work, Lego has revealed that its Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone set will be available online and in Lego stores on January 1st, 2022 for $70. The brick-based recreation of the game's first – and best-known – area includes minifigs for Sonic, Dr. Eggman (aka Dr. Robotnik), two critters and the Phantom Ruby. Sonic won't dart around loops, unfortunately, but there is a Technic lever to launch him (or any other characters) along with ring add-ons, of course.
The move happens as Apple AR headset rumors continue to swirl.
As rumors continue to build about its augmented reality headset, Apple has reportedly hired Meta's AR public relations head Andrea Schubert, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. In his weekly newsletter. "Meta, with Oculus, has been the market leader in headsets, so such a hire makes sense as Apple nears its launch," Gurman wrote.
Schubert has been Communications Director with Meta's Reality labs and comms lead for Oculus with Meta since March 2016.
Apple's potential AR headset is already the subject of all kinds of rumors. One recent one speculated that the headset might depend on another device like an iPhone or a Mac computer. Or it could be a standalone device with dual 8K displays that could cost up to $3,000. And a third rumor, this one from Gurman, indicated that it would play "high-quality VR games."
Add them to the list.
AMD and OnePlus have both withdrawn their physical presences at the technology event. While they didn't provide detailed explanations, the move was clearly in response to the rise of COVID-19's Omicron variant, like many other companies that have already withdrawn from CES.
AMD was already poised to launch its 2022 products through a livestream on January 4th. OnePlus said it would introduce the OnePlus 10 Pro in January and was rumored to unveil the phone at CES. For now, Samsung, Sony and LG are all still set to exhibit in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks. I’m taking bets.
Basically: They're really cool.
Jinx and Vi are the sisters at the heart of Riot Games’ hit Netflix series, Arcane, and they were picked for the spotlight out of a lineup of more than 150 League of Legends champions.
For Arcane creators Christian Linke and Alex Yee, the stars really couldn’t have been anyone else from League of Legends lore. “They kind of got our special treatment already because we just really liked them,” Linke told Engadget. “And so, when we had to think about like, which characters do we want to stick with for many years to come? I think it was pretty obvious.”
America's best-selling vehicle style is just as popular when electrified.
Steady advancements in power systems over the past few years — alongside skyrocketing demand for larger, electrified vehicles that cater to the US market — has led to a watershed moment in 2021: the emergence of EV pickups and SUVs. 2021 may have been the tipping point.