Bear a thought for the small smartphone. We (well, I) complain that phones have gotten too big, and then we (well, I) find ourselves reaching for the iPhone 12 Pro Max instead of the iPhone 12 mini. Apple’s petite iteration was introduced only last year, but it’s possibly not long for this world.
On the Android side, it’s slim pickings, too. Sony’s Xperia compact phones seemed to be your only option, and that series hasn’t been treated to an update in a while. So here comes a new challenger, ASUS’ Zenfone 8, hoping to fulfill the promise of a powerful smartphone that fits into your jeans’ pocket.
Beside a small (for 2021) 5.9-inch screen, the new phone packs a 64-megapixel camera and a 4,000mAh battery. While the Zenfone 8 will eventually hit US shores, we don’t have an exact price. In Europe, the Zenfone 8 will start from €599 (about $725) — a suitably low price tag. But will people go for it?
— Mat Smith
And it’s not switching to Doge.
For about six weeks, you could pay Tesla for your new car using Bitcoin, but for the moment that’s over. Last night, Elon Musk announced the change on Twitter, posting a Tesla statement that the company is “concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.” Since the news broke, the price of Bitcoin dropped from about $54,000 to as low as $46,000.
It’s unclear why that concern bubbled up now when the energy use of Bitcoin mining was already widely known long before Tesla announced its plan, and before it invested $1.5 billion in the cryptocurrency. Without specifying a particular cryptocurrency, the company is looking at other options it says use less than one percent of Bitcoin's energy per transaction, likely by using proof of stake blockchain technology instead of proof of work. This would rule out Dogecoin, but it's unclear if this policy will impact SpaceX's crypto plans. Continue reading.
Another blow to Europe's efforts to recover tax revenue from US tech giants.
Amazon has won an EU appeal after being hit with a €250 million ($303 million) tax bill by the European Commission (EC) in 2017. From 2006 to 2014, Amazon paid a significant royalty to a Luxembourg company called Amazon Europe Holding Technologies SAS, reducing its taxable income. The commission accused it of inflating that royalty to reduce its operating profit. (Amazon has since changed its tax structure.)
Amazon argued the decision was full of "methodological errors" and the payments were legal according to international tax principles. Europe's second-highest court agreed, ruling that the setup didn't confer any advantage to Amazon over other companies and "the contested decision must be annulled in its entirety." The EC hasn’t commented on whether it’ll appeal this decision.
No gesture controls.
Push that PS5 into the trash can because the heady world of mathematics is headed to the Nintendo Switch. This $10 app, available at Nintendo’s eShop, offers full scientific calculator functionality that you probably already have on your smartphone.
The speaker may be designed for 360 Reality Audio, but it’s a solid all-around option.
By the time Sony’s first 360 Reality Audio speakers were available to the masses, it had been over two years since the company first introduced the platform. While there are third-party speakers compatible with this audio format, we’ve had to wait until now for Sony to launch its own. According to Billy Steele, with the SRS-RA5000, the company has a powerful and pricey unit that does a solid job with 360 Reality Audio while also upgrading regular content to sound more immersive.
The EO arrived just as Colonial Pipeline resumed operations.
Across the East Coast, drivers worried about a fuel shortage as a major oil pipeline shut down last week when its billing system fell victim to a ransomware attack. Colonial Pipeline announced it resumed operations on Wednesday evening, around the same time President Biden signed an executive order aimed at preventing future incidents like that, or the SolarWinds hack, or the recent Exchange server takeovers.
The steps it lays out are supposed to improve information sharing between agencies, set policies to protect federal networks and improve the response to breaches by creating a standardized "playbook" that the director of CISA will review. Another element includes directing NIST to create an Energy Star-like label for Internet of Things devices, except instead of telling you how much electricity your dishwasher uses, it would focus on security practices.