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Apple reportedly planning thinner and lighter MacBook Air with MagSafe charging

Apple is said to be working on a new version of the MacBook Air with a brand new physical case design that’s both thinner and lighter than its current offering, which was updated with Apple’s M1 chip late last year, per a new Bloomberg report. The plan is to release it as early as late 2021 or 2022, according to the report’s sources, and it will also include MagSafe charging (which is also said to be returning on Apple’s next MacBook Pro models sometime in 2021).
MagSafe would offer power delivery and charging, while two USB 4 ports would provide …

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The far right’s favorite registrar is building ‘censorship-resistant’ servers

“The digital divide is now a matter of life and death for people who are unable to access essential healthcare information,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres in June 2020. Almost half the global population currently has no internet access, and many who do cannot freely access all information sources. 
Freedom House, which tracks internet restrictions worldwide, says the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating a dramatic decline in global internet freedom. It found that governments in at least 28 countries censored websites and social media posts in 2020 to suppress unfavorable health statistics, corruption allegations and other COVID-19-related content.
Now, U.S. company …

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Alphabet shuts down Loon internet balloon company

Google’s parent firm, Alphabet, is done exploring the idea of using a fleet of balloons to beam high-speed internet in remote parts of the world.
The firm said on Thursday evening that it was winding down Loon, a nine-year-old project and a two-and-a-half-year-old spin off firm, after failing to find a sustainable business model and partners for one of its most prominent moonshot projects.
The demise of Loon, which assumed spotlight after the project helped restore cell services knocked out by a hurricane in Puerto Rico, comes a year after the Android-maker ended Google Station, its other major connectivity …

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Stay gold, ‘Plaid for X’ startups

A failed acquisition usually triggers the same series of questions: What does this mean for early-stage startups in the sector? Will a chilling effect occur and hurt valuations? Will VCs stop funding this category? How will the exit environment look going forward?
This week gave that narrative a bullish twist. Visa and Plaid announced that they have reached a mutual agreement to no longer pursue a merger. The $5.3 billion deal had been under antitrust scrutiny from the DOJ, and eventually ended amid these regulatory challenges.
Fintech VCs and startups alike reacted to the fallen deal with aggressive optimism about Plaid’ …

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Startups look beyond lidar for autonomous vehicle perception

Last CES was a time of reckoning for lidar companies, many of which were cratering due to a lack of demand from a (still) non-existent autonomous vehicle industry. The few that excelled did so by specializing, and this year the trend has pushed beyond lidar, with new sensing and imaging methods pushing to both compete with and complement the laser-based tech.
Lidar pushed ahead of traditional cameras because it could do things they couldn’t — and now some companies are pushing to do the same with tech that’s a little less exotic.

A good example of addressing the problem …

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Extra Crunch roundup: Antitrust jitters, SPAC odyssey, white-hot IPOs, more

Some time ago, I gave up on the idea of finding a thread that connects each story in the weekly Extra Crunch roundup; there are no unified theories of technology news.
The stories that left the deepest impression were related to two news pegs that dominated the week — Visa and Plaid calling off their $5.3 billion acquisition agreement, and sizzling-hot IPOs for Affirm and Poshmark.
Watching Plaid and Visa sing “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” in harmony after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block their deal wasn’t shocking. But I was surprised to …

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The pandemic was top of mind in the tech of CES 2021

Of course COVID-19 was bound to be an unavoidable topic during the first-ever all-virtual CES. After all, the topic is at front of mind regardless of the topic these days. Close to a year into the pandemic, presenters still understandably feel obligated to address the always-present elephant in the room. Sometimes it was as simple as acknowledging the strangeness of moving from the Las Vegas Convention Center to a Microsoft-powered virtual venue. Other times it felt far more forced.
When it comes to the technology itself, there’s no doubt that the pandemic is going to have a profound effect …

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Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are a solid AirPods alternative

I suspect it will be a while before I get excited over wireless earbuds. It’s not for a lack of trying on the part of manufacturers. In fact, quite the contrary. The category actually matured quite quickly, compared to various other verticals in the consumer electronics space. The truth is, most major hardware makers have gotten pretty decent at making a pair of wireless buds — many for pretty cheap.
Samsung’s been in that category for a while now. I’ve liked the last several models I’ve tried from the company. The sound quality has been good, they’ …

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Daily Crunch: Samsung unveils Galaxy S21 line

Samsung lowers prices with its latest Galaxy S phones, Google completes its Fitbit acquisition and Beyond Meat is coming to Taco Bell. This is your Daily Crunch for January 14, 2021.
The big story: Samsung unveils Galaxy S21 line
Samsung’s new line of phones includes the S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra, priced at $799, $999 and $1,119 respectively, an across-the-board price cut of $200. Brian Heater writes that the Ultra, in particular, “has one very important trick up its sleeve” — namely compatibility with the S Pen.
All three phones are available for pre-order now and start shipping on January 29.
In addition, Samsung announced the Galaxy …

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Nobi’s smart lamp alerts caregivers when a fall is detected

As expected, this year’s (virtual) CES has brought with it a new flood of smart home gadgets. The technology has been a major presence over the last several CES events, and with a world stuck at home for the foreseeable future, a lot of this tech has become all the more appealing.
Nobi stands out from the pack, not so much because of any flashy features, but rather a kind of practicality it brings to the table. Created by a Belgian startup of the same name, the ceiling-mounted smart light features motion sensors and infrared detection.
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When …

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