🌄 Good morning! I’m off to the mountains later this afternoon, so Nick Fernandez has your back tomorrow. I’ll catch you again on Monday. Also, I’ve held off on the iPhone 14 render/leak news until… well, something more substantial comes along…

Tough tablet to swallow

realme pad official tease

After all these years of OnePlus, Oppo/Realme, and Vivo, all brands under the ownership of BBK Electronics, there’s finally a tablet on the market from one of the brands.

Realme Pad:

  • Joining the Android tablet market is the Realme Pad, a 10.4-inch aluminum alloy slate that comes with a 2,000 × 1,200 display. 
  • It’s a modest entry: Realme isn’t gunning for any top-spec options here, with a MediaTek Helio G80 chip powering the device, as you might find in a budget smartphone like the sub-$200 Poco M2 or Realme 7.
  • The Realme Pad does feature a healthy 7,100mAh battery for an apparent 12 hours of video playback and 65 days of standby time. 
  • There’s 18W charging, as well as reverse charging to power up other devices.
  • And Dolby Atmos certification is on board for the four speakers, with a weight of 440 grams, which is about the same as the 9.7-inch iPad Air.
  • Pricing for a Wi-Fi model with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage starts at around $190, while the top-spec 4G LTE variant with 4GB RAM/64GB storage is around $245.
  • Both models launch in India next week, on September 16.

Does it matter?

  • The more options for low-cost tablets for people in developing countries like India, the better. Phones are great and all, but more screen real estate, without needing to invest in a laptop makes sense.
  • In the wider market, though, Android tablets are in a classic chicken/egg scenario.
  • Apple’s iPads are so good and have much more comprehensive tablet support from developers that Android tablets seem like a distant runner-up.
  • But without makers bringing more Android tablets to the market, there’s no incentive for Android app makers to do more with tablet functionality, given the relatively small percentage of users on a tablet versus a phone.
  • So with neither makers nor developers really going first, the ecosystem is a bit stuck.
  • That said, it is possible. Samsung made a big show of its efforts to get top app makers to support its Fold 3. 
  • I don’t know if Samsung offered technical support to achieve this, or perhaps financial or marketing or other incentives to those app makers, but something like that would make sense.
  • Android on tablets really hasn’t found great Google support either, unlike Chromebooks and ChromeOS. 
  • One last point: Areas of privacy, security, and ongoing software upkeep have been poor at best from Android tablet makers, which has led to the best Android tablets arguably actually being …Chromebooks.
  • The other option is going for a baked in Amazon experience with something like the Realme Pad equivalent, the Fire 10 HD. But then there are no Google services…


🔜Pixel 6 appears in flesh in Google’s ad, Instagram promo hints at launch date with clocks set for October 19 (Android Authority).

📅 Xiaomi commits to extended Android updates, which is great, buuuut there’s a catch: only for its new phones being launched this month, which isn’t good enough at all considering there are probably a few hundred million or so Xiaomi phones missing out on longer-term Android updates and security fixes (Android Authority).

🔎Android 12 beta 5 finally brings the promised full device search feature (Android Authority).

🐭 Razer rolls out ultra-sensitive Basilisk V3 mouse with four-way scrolling for wired gaming setups (Android Authority).

📸DJI OM 5 review: A smaller, more capable gimbal with a ballooning price tag (Android Authority).

🔋Whoop’s new fitness tracker is better thanks to a battery breakthrough involving a silca anode, which is intriguing (The Verge).

💼 Google Workspace opens up spaces for all users (TechCrunch).

🔓 WhatsApp “end-to-end encrypted” messages aren’t that private after all, if the receiver reports them to Facebook (Ars Technica).

❌ No free upgrades: PlayStation CEO nixes free cross-gen PS5 upgrades for good… and no one is quite sure why Sony needs the $10 fee it wants for this, and why Sony is keen to make the more seamless world of Xbox look so good? (Ars Technica). Anyway, PlayStation is holding an event today, too, at 4PM ET — you can watch on YouTube, Twitch and so on.

🎮 Also, the new PlayStation 5 with hardware revisions might actually be better than the older one once you dig deeper, per this German lab’s review (Igor’s Lab).

🛫 Wright tests its 2-megawatt electric engines for passenger planes (TechCrunch).

🦜Animals are ‘shape-shifting’ in response to climate change: “I don’t want the takeaway to be that, ‘Oh, animals are evolving in response to climate change, that means they’ll be fine,’ because that simply isn’t true” (CNET).

🔑 A single laser fired through a keyhole can expose everything inside a room (Gizmodo).

🌎 European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet delivers a knockout image of the Earth from the ISS cupola (CNET).

Throwback Thursday

Remember when Amazon launched its little Amazon Go store, back in 2017/18 or so? Then Amazon Go Grocery in 2020 in Seattle? 

Well, with around 30 stores (27 in the US, three in the UK) now active, Amazon’s cashierless tech is coming to Whole Foods stores:

  • Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology is coming to Whole Foods in the US.
  • It’ll start with two new stores in 2022, where people can skip the checkouts (and, you guessed it, just walk out) at one store in Sherman Oaks, California, and one in Washington DC.
  • That’s a relatively big deal because Whole Foods has all kinds of options beyond random stuff on the shelves, like self-serve fresh orange juice and salad bar stuff and so on. One of the features of the Amazon Go stores was less than 1,000 items. Larger grocery stores can have 50,000-80,000 items for vision systems to figure out.
  • Amazon didn’t mention if the system of overhead cameras, computer vision technology, machine learning, and smartphone geofencing that tracks shoppers and items throughout the store has changed at all.
  • But these are new stores, not retro-fitting of old stores. The design changes made to suit cameras will be interesting to look at.

How it works:

  • Shoppers will have the option to choose between self-checkout lines or the cashierless option, if they have an Amazon account, including (hovering, not touching) palm scanning via the Amazon One palm-scanning system.
  • As for humans losing jobs? Not so, says Amazon, and instead of having to deal with people at the checkout, employees will be able to “spend even more time interacting with customers and delivering a great shopping experience,” which may or may not be a good thing!
  • Final thought: Why does Amazon, which is all about scale, have only 30 cashierless stores after close to four years of operation?



Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.