Welcome back to Wiretapped. This will be the last newsletter until Monday, and I’ve got five different stories that I wanna include in this issue. I’m gonna try to not spend too much time on them and give you the details that matter. That way, I can wrap this up quickly and you won’t have to spend your morning reading your daily briefing.
Ready? Here we go.
AT&T is launching its 5G mmWave network on Friday
AT&T has announced it’s launching its mmWave 5G network for all consumers to connect to tomorrow, March 6th. The devices that will be compatible with the network, right off the bat, are Samsung’s new Galaxy S20 Plus and S20 Ultra. For the foreseeable future, these will be the only phones capable of connecting to the network, only because almost every other 5G phone hitting AT&T can only connect to sub-6GHz spectrum.
According to AT&T, parts of 35 cities across the country will get the carrier’s mmWave technology. It’s important to note that mmWAve connectivity shouldn’t be a factor in your buying decision of either the S20 Plus, S20 Ultra, or any other 5G phone. That’s because mmWave is so limited in its availability and early in its lifespan that it’s not worth spending hundreds of dollars on a phone that can connect to it. Meanwhile, the real reason to buy a 5G phone now, sub-6GHz, is rolling out to 22 new markets, including Cincinnati, Denver, Columbus, and Albany. I have plenty of thoughts on the state of 5G phones which you can read here.
Apple is exiting SXSW thanks to the coronavirus
Another day, another company pulling out of a big event thanks to the coronavirus. This time, it’s Apple who (via Bloomberg) will be exiting SXSW in Austin, Texas. Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Studios, and more have also pulled out of the event. Despite all this, SXSW officials say the show will still go on, with staff taking extra precautionary measures. But for the record, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this show get canned.
Twitter’s gonna do Stories, to
Did you think the roll-out of Stories in virtually every social app was over? Think again! Twitter has announced a new limited roll-out of a feature it’s calling Fleets. Essentially, Fleets are tweets that are only visible for 24 hours, just like photos and videos uploaded to Snapchat or Instagram Stories. These Fleets will be visible via bubbles that sit atop your timeline. Visuals can be found here.
So yeah, Twitter’s gonna do Stories, too. Luckily, the public test of the feature is only available in Brazil right now, so there’s a chance the feature won’t roll out at all to everyone else. If it does, though, prepare for people to both be super excited and utterly annoyed at the same time. Y’know, just like how people are on Twitter anyway.
Google Assistant can now read pages on your phone
Google has begun rolling out a new feature to the Google Assistant on Android phones that lets you have the Assistant read aloud virtually any article you bring up. Just say, “Hey Google, read this page” and the Assistant will begin reading what’s on your display. This combats the challenge facing those who can’t see very well, are disabled, or need something read in another language. Plus, it looks like you get a great experience along the way with playback and speed controls.
Phones running Android 5.0 and above will be able to use the feature. It should be rolling out to everyone now.
Second-gen Google Pixel Buds get WPC certification
When products with Qi wireless charging are about to be released, they tend to pass through the Wireless Power Consortium for proper certification before they can be sold. This typically happens a few weeks to about a month or two beforehand. That’s good news for those waiting for Google to release its second-gen Pixel Buds as they’ve just passed through the WPC and have received their own certification.
It isn’t clear exactly when Google will release these buds, but we do know they’ll cost $179, hopefully sound better, and work specifically well with Google Pixel phones. They’ll also compete in an ever-growing market of truly wireless earbuds currently dominated by AirPods. Whenever these things get released, we’ll have a much clearer idea as to whether they stand a chance against competitors’ offerings.