Pixel 3A from Google; Google Rebrands ‘Home’ as Nest; Microsoft Tools to Secure Elections; Facebook & Instagram Don’t Ruin Kids’ Lives

Lots of announcements from Google from I/O, including the rollout of the Pixel 3A line of what some are calling ‘Junior Flagship’ phones. According to cnet.com, the major difference is price…the 3A starts at $399 for the 5.6 inch model and $479 for the 6 inch screen 3A XL. Concessions with the cheaper phones include a slower processor, they aren’t water resistant, they don’t have wireless charging, and have a less powerful front cam. The rear cam is the same as the hero phones, and so is the software! As a bonus, the 3A models bring back the beloved 3.5mm headphone jack! To top it off, they are available on T-Moble and Sprint, as well as US Cellular. Up to now, Google phones have been exclusively Verizon. Google says they are still negotiating with AT&T.

Microsoft has revealed a big initiative to make voting more secure and verifiable, and even allow for accurate, independent tracking long after ballots are cast. The AP says it’s software that will run on 90% of the voting machines in the US, and actually the rest of the world. The software is being developed with Galois out of Oregon, in conjunction with DARPA, the Pentagon’s advanced research agency that pretty well created the net years ago. The software is being called ‘ElectionGuard,’ and it will be available this summer. It will also be ready to pilot for next year’s general elections in the US. Two of the 3 leading vendors, Election Systems and Software and Hart International have expressed interest in partnering with Microsoft on the software, and the third…Dominion Voting Systems has said they want more info on it. The software allows for end to end encryption, and it can be used on any ballot marking device…even optical scanners reading hand marked ballots.

At one time, it was watching too much TV. After that, video games. Now it’s Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat and the rest that are ruining kids’ lives…allegedly. Zdnet.com reports on a new study from Oxford that surveyed 12,000 teens in the UK, and concluded that the effect of social media on their life satisfaction was tiny….in fact, it was only .25%! The survey also found that the amount of screen time mattered little…exactly as was found with TV viewing time for kids some 40 years ago. Exhale, parents….the kids are all right!

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