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13 things you need to know in tech today

Here’s your daily tech digest, by way of the very-good-never-bad DGiT Daily newsletter, for Tuesday, April 16, 2019! Please do subscribe. 100,000 others might be wrong, but they’re more likely right?

1. Galaxy Fold hands-on insights, finally!

With just under two weeks until the Samsung Galaxy Fold is released on April 26th, tech media have finally managed to go hands-on with the device, and offer thoughts on all elements of the build, the design, and of course, the fold crease down the middle.

Samsung Galaxy Fold

There are reviews, videos, and more – and here’s what’s being said:

Engadget – Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: Satisfying despite the crease

Engadget’s Cherlynn Low was trying to get an idea if the design, build, and display would be up to scratch.

  • “I’m surprised at how finished the Fold felt. It’s sturdy, and it was actually really satisfying to snap the phone shut so the 7.3-inch screen folds onto itself.
  • “The more important questions I wanted to answer were whether that screen does indeed have a crease and how much it would bother me. Like I said before, yes there is a crease running down the middle of the unfolded display, but depending on what you’re looking at, it’s not obtrusive.”
  • “Because of its diminutive size, the outside screen was also harder to navigate — I kept pressing the wrong buttons when trying to switch lenses in the camera app. From my experience so far, I don’t feel like you’re meant to spend a lot of time using this smaller screen.”

The Verge – Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: more than a concept

Dieter Bohn from The Verge offered this handy TL;DR:

  • “It feels much more stable and polished than I expected going in, but there is still some work to be done on the software. Okay, here’s what you are really waiting for: you can see (and feel) the crease on the folding screen, but it’s really not that noticeable and perhaps worth the trade-off of having a big screen that you can fold up.”

Bohn also touched on a trend that’s making its way through most reviews – if you think of it as a tablet you can fold, it’s surprising how good that is.

  • “If you think of [the Galaxy Fold] as a small tablet that happens to fold, all of those foibles start to feel less like foibles. Instead, it’s like you have an iPad mini that can be packed down to become more pocketable.”
  • “It’s a totally working folding phone. Whatever cynicism you want to feel about its issues, you can’t be cynical when you open it up for the first time.”
  • But, on those software complaints: “There’s no getting around the blunt fact that Android apps are not as good on big screens as iPad apps.”

CNET – “Galaxy Fold: Using Samsung’s new foldable phone is a wild ride so far

CNET’s Jessica Dolcourt gave a really nice description of what it’s like to use the latest and greatest device for the first time:

  • “It’s been a wild few hours so far. There was the initial rush of opening the lit-up, mirrored box that Samsung had concealed the Fold in for an early morning briefing, then the thrill of picking it up — fully open — for the very first time, and some rough moments as I fumbled my way through a new navigation system when using three active windows at once.”

And while Dolcourt didn’t miss the negatives touched on by others including the crease, plastic interior screen offering insight into the three-app problem:

  • “The more apps you have open [on the Fold’s main screen], the smaller the font, so you may not really want to use all three at once all the time.”
  • “If [an] app doesn’t support app continuity, it still works, but you’ll need to resize the app for full-screen — you’ll see black bars on either side.”

Wired – “First look: Hands-on with Samsung’s Galaxy Fold”

Wired’s Lauren Goode described the hopes and dreams for Samsung and its Galaxy Fold in a single sentence: “As soon as folded and unfolded it, I wanted one, but I’m not quite sure why.”

Can Samsung provide the why, though? Goode says not for $1,980:

  • “I was able to play around with the Galaxy Fold again for a few hours, and I’m still certain I won’t buy this first-generation product.”

Among the insights:

  • “You can hold it in one hand, sure, but it feels like carrying a TV remote.”
  • “Unfolding the Galaxy Fold is the whoa-worthy part. This is when it transforms into a 7.3-inch mini tablet. When you unfold it, it makes a sound that’s not quite a click. It’s like hearing a door creak underwater or listening for an arthritic joint in your own body. It’s addictive.”
  • “Watching videos is one of the prime examples of what the Galaxy Fold might be good for. So is reading … Sure, our phones are great at that stuff too, especially the larger-screened ones. But as someone who spends a lot of time on trains and planes, I’m absolutely intrigued by the notion that a Galaxy Fold, or something like it, could eliminate the tradeoff that exists right now: This or that? Big or small?”

Other reviews:

  • Business Insider has less of a review and more a picture-book walkthrough of what it’s like to use the device
  • USA Today’s hands-on reminds us that a 5G model is coming, and that the Fold coming on April 26th is 4G LTE on T-Mobile and AT&T only.
  • And Gizmodo laments water resistance, an argument I wouldn’t say I completely understand. Anyone buying a Galaxy Fold to use it in the ocean might be disappointed, but expecting water resistance is a touch …over the top? For a first-generation device? Adding water resistance isn’t free!

PS. Notice anything? Yes, Android Authority didn’t get an initial hands-on. Why? We’re rattling the cage of Samsung to find out.

2. Samsung Galaxy Fold coming to AT&T in 11 days for $66 per month (Android Authority).

3. Google teases May 7 announcement, likely Pixel 3a and 3a XL (AA).

4. Microsoft to take on AirPods (and the coming AmazonPods) with Surface Buds (Thurrott).

5. “I have, honest to god, lost track of who is launching what service” (Gizmodo).

6. The job that will let you do whatever you want in a Swedish train station, forever (Atlas Obscura). You just have to turn the lights on.

7. The twilight of combustion comes for Germany’s empire of engines (Bloomberg Businessweek). Excellent read.

8. Speaking of, new registrations for electric vehicles doubled in the US last year. It’s coming, but growth isn’t actually all that fast, given the tiny percentage share (TechCrunch).

9. Here’s a couple of photos of a Waymo/Google self-driving truck (Twitter).

10. OpenAI bot beats the best Dota 2 champions, and now anyone can play against it (Ars Technica). Go on, have a go – Open AI does “look beatable”, explains Ars.

11. SpaceX lost the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket due to rough seas (The Verge).

12. The unlikely rise of the Pastel de Nata, or Portugese tart, and why it’s suddenly everywhere (Bloomberg). (They’re absolutely delicious, so maybe it’s not too unlikely as suggested?)

13. Here’s a tribute thread to the LCN Door Closer, a vastly more complicated device than you might expect (r/specializedtools – bonus YouTube explainer).

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