Qualcomm Making Switch-Type Android Console; Watch OS 7.4-Mask Unlock Feature; Smart Airless Bike Tires; Slack Lets Users DM Outside Organization

Although chip manufacturers have a rather sketchy history of selling hardware straight to consumers, Qualcomm is going this route, teasing plans to build an Android—powered Nintendo Switch. According to 9to5google.com, Qualcomm will drop a Snapdragon chip into an Android-powered game console with detachable controllers and the ability to connect to TV sets. The chipmaker is shooting for a handheld that appears to be a ‘thicker, bulkier smartphone’. It will probably have a Snapdragon 888 and a 6000mAh battery, and will rock Quick Charge and 5G. Qualcomm says the gaming system will run Android 12 with a ‘customized launcher.’ They are shooting for a $300 price tag. No word on when the device might hit the market. 

The latest beta for WatchOS from Apple, 7.4, has a welcome feature should it make it into the final release. 9to5mac.com reports that it uses the Watch to replace Face ID and the passcode to unlock your iPhone when the user is wearing a mask as well as their Apple watch. The Watch has to be on your wrist and unlocked (and protected by a passcode.) As someone who has grown tired of repeatedly keying in the passcode on my phone when checking my shopping list, I say this will be a welcome feature! Of course, after the mask wearing eases with the COVID-19 pandemic easing, the feature will also be handy when an iPhone user is wearing a helmet or face covering for whatever other professional or cultural purpose. 

The private sector has been benefiting from NASA tech since the 60’s. Now, bike tires may be one of the latest to borrow from NASA for airless bike tires. Engadget.com says a startup called Smart is using the space agency’s airless shape memory alloy (SMA) tech that was created for lunar and Mars rovers in their ‘Metl’ bike tires. The tires are made up of interconnected springs that don’t require inflation. According to Smart, the ‘superelastic’ tires are built like titanium to withstand rugged terrain without going flat. A puncture free ride sounds pretty great, but so is saving landfills from millions of ruined rubber tires and tubes. Smart hopes to have the tires out next year. The tech could ultimately make its way into cars.

Slack has moved more towards being a full messaging platform, by adding the ability to direct message people outside your company. According to cnet.com, Slack Connect DMs are available now. The feature works by creating a new message and choosing ‘DM outside your company.’ You need their email address to use it. The initiator of the message needs to be a paid user (or your company is one), but you can message any user of Slack, including ones on the free plan. ** Note that as of this afternoon, Slack has disabled the ability to send a message along with an invite…to prevent harassment and spamming…something they probably should have considered BEFORE rolling out the feature!


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