This week on The Wrap, the year of tech wraps up with more tech than you might expect, covering new foldable phones, repairable laptops, and noise cancelling headphones. All that and more, and all in five.
Twas the week before Christmas, and you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, covering things that go “zap”.
And while the year is drawing to a close, it might feel like it’s all quite relaxed. It normally is, but this week, we’re seeing it all start to kick back in again. This is typically the time when we’re talking up gift ideas, but instead, tech announcements are being made, as the world keeps on going, pushing out stuff ahead of next year.
In fact, much of what we’re seeing is all about next year, whether it’s the assortment of new phones, wearables, or crazy computer ideas.
For instance, Dell has a project coming in Concept Luna, a laptop that aims to be both repairable and sustainable, using eco-friendly materials and parts that can be replaced. It’s something you don’t really see in our repair-un-friendly world, because these days, if your computer breaks, that’s typically it.
Luna aims to be something else, but it’s not yet known if it’ll even be a laptop Dell releases, as it is firmly in “concept” territory right now.
It’s not the only concept device Dell is playing with, as there’s also a webcam called “Pari” that may make work from home easier, allowing you to snap a magnetic web cam about the place anywhere, and have it work wirelessly. They’re just a sample of the gadgets Dell is working on for the new year, and they’re not alone.
Huawei has apparently used a magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, to announce its first foldable flip phone, at least ahead of its official announcement next week, while Oppo has talked up a foldable it will finally release. We’ve seen plenty of foldable research from Oppo in the past, but with only Samsung and Huawei playing in this space – and mostly Samsung, at that – Oppo is arriving more like a challenge, launching the Find N, a 5.49 inch phone that will unfold into a 7 inch tablet.
It’s a little like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but shorter, and made to fit more in the pocket, something we don’t always see from phones these days, because big is in.
The Oppo Find N won’t see release in Australia, at least initially. Right now, it’s a China-only release, much like Oppo’s other announcement, a smart glasses accessory called “Air Glass” that will provide an augmented reality take of your internet feed transposed over a pair of glasses, projecting it over one eye.
Now both of these could eventually come to Australia, or anywhere outside of China, but right now, they’re specific to that region, and more on the list of things to come.
Fortunately, there are things arriving this year, like right now, before the end of the year.
Optus, for instance, is testing a call transcription service on its network, allowing subscribers to have their calls automatically transcribed and provided in notes through the app. It’s something that the telco has been working on, alongside call language translators, but it’s something of a beta right now.
Adobe has also launched something to compete with Canva this week, an online graphic editor that reads like the Adobe interpretation of Canva, and a rebuild of its Spark online editing app.
Called Creative Cloud Express, it’s an online image editor that can talk to Adobe’s stock libraries and even the libraries subscribers to the cloud have, meaning more image editing tools for folks who mightn’t have the skills initially.
And speaking of skills, if you’ve been itching to learn coding, Apple has this week expanded the Swift Playgrounds code teaching app for iPad in a seriously cool way, by adding the ability to program iPhone and iPad apps directly on the iPad itself. You’ll even be able to preview the app and upload them to the app store, or sync them to the full-fledged Apple app development platform Xcode.
So that’s cool, as is the support for Apple Music on Google Nest speakers, something that’s a bit of a “finally” moment, and now makes it possible to get every major music service on either Amazon or Google speakers.
While we’re talking about stuff to listen to, we’re going to get stuck into one last pair of headphones for the year, because if you’re a fan of Bose or you’re thinking of jumping on a plane this year, it’s a big one, the QuietComfort 45.
These are Bose’s latest update to its long-running noise cancelling headphone range, but looking at them, you’d never even realise that. The last time the QuietComfort QC headphones came out was four years ago in the QC35 2, and this is the QC45. They offer a little more in the sound department, better Bluetooth, and still one of the comfiest earpad designs, and overall are quite good.
However they’re not game changing, and more just a bump in what was offered four years ago. Still good, but not the benchmark best-in-class feature set of Sony’s WH-1000XM4, last year’s big noise cancelling headphones that could adapt and change the cancellation mode based on where you are.
As it is, we think Sony and the Apple AirPods Max have the edge in terms of feature set and performance, leaving Bose in third place.
For $500, we think most people can do better, though will say the comfort is definitely up there, making this the main reason why you might stick with Bose’s option, but the competition is definitely tight this year for sure.
For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode appears every week on LiSTNR, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts. Otherwise, have a great week, and we’ll see you next time. Stay safe, stay sane and take care.