Your tech news digest, by way of theÂ DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Friday, 21 August 2020.
1. Flight Simulator is back!
And why not:
- Microsoft took two petabytes of satellite and photographic information from Bing Maps, and used AI to create a three-dimensional map of the entire Earth.
- Thereâ€™s 37,000 airports. If you try to fly over your house, it will be there, right where it should be.
- And itâ€™ll be the right weather: live weather is pulled directly from Bing, too.
- Detail is incredible: IGN says â€œfrom real-world experience the cockpit of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is perfectâ€�.
- Flying is challenging and requires more than just switching on the autopilot.
- Visually, the images Iâ€™ve seen are stunning.
- And itâ€™s free! Sort of! Itâ€™s on Xbox Game Pass, meaning you can play on PC, as part of the monthly subscription. (And, at some later stage, Xbox One and Series X as well)
- Itâ€™s also on Steam for those who prefer to just pay once, for â€Ž$60.
But reviews all came out this week and since then, now that real gamers have their hands on the flight stick, there are some very fun bugs and flaws.
The best is that a typo created a 212-story monolith in a quiet Melbourne suburb in Australia. Soaring like a Tower of Babel, the problem is a very computer problem.
- After some sleuthing, the titleâ€™s community found what had caused the tower to appear in Flight Simulator. When developer Asobo Studio built its detailed recreation of the globe, they pulled data from OpenStreetMap, a free map of the world to which anyone can contribute. About a year ago, a user named â€œnathanwright120â€� added a tag that said this one building in Melbourne had 212 floors instead of two.
- Based on their other contributions, it appears the edit was a simple typo, not them trying to mislead anyone.
- The error was later corrected by another OpenStreetMap contributor, but not before it made its way into Flight Simulator.
There is more fun to be found, too!
- Players discovered that Buckingham Palace, home of the Queen in London, has been turned into an office building.
- This bridge in Portland is a solid wall with trucks glued on somehow.
- Palm trees are a littleâ€¦ uhâ€¦ jagged.
- Irelandâ€™s beautiful Cliffs of Moher, falling into the ocean.
- Macchu Picchu has a big apartment building on top!
- Itâ€™s great because it shows us both the failings of community contributions, the limitations of AI generation, but how mostly, itâ€™s easily good enough.
- Also, how the AI uses data predicts and works, and what the developers fixed manually.
Not that this is bad. The sense Iâ€™m getting from this game is that itâ€™s basically stunning. And if youâ€™re into flying, my friend who used to simulate his Dadâ€™s commercial flights from Sri Lanka to Sydney in real-time, loves it too.
2. The Mobvoi TicWatch GTX is a $60 smartwatch with 10-day battery life: if you can do without Wear OS, the TicWatch GTX looks like it will have a lot going for it (Android Authority).
3. Near, far, wherever you are, Oppoâ€™s new zoom tech has you covered: Oppoâ€™s new hybrid zoom lens system allows for two different optical zoom levels using a single lens and sensor system (Android Authority).
4. Finally, finally: Android 11 phones will summon Android Auto wirelessly, no need to plug in (Android Authority).
5. Speed Test G: Google Pixel 4a vs Pixel 3a (Android Authority).
6. Sony WH-1000XM4 review from my colleagues at SoundGuys. The verdict? â€œGreat wasnâ€™t good enough for Sonyâ€�, with a 9/10 awarded (SoundGuys).
7. IFA 2020: What you need to know about Europeâ€™s big tech show (Android Authority).
8. Last-minute reprieve spare Uber and Lyft from California shut-down order. Another month of legal drama. Lyft services continued despite threats to end service at midnight (Ars Technica).
9. Apple reportedly â€œusing a simpler battery board designâ€� in the iPhone 12 to offset 5G cost. The report here really doesnâ€™t tell us enough to know exactly whatâ€™s going on (MacRumors).
10. In the US alone, switching to EVs would save lives and be worth billions (Ars Technica).
11. NASA is going to try to hunt down a tiny leak on the International Space Station this weekend: No danger to crew, but a tiny little leak is still a leak (The Verge).
12. â€˜This plane flies itself. We went for a rideâ€™ (Wired).
13. A nice thread of what not to buy from Wirecutter on Twitter, including antivirus: â€œOur experts spent months researching software, reading reports from independent testing labs, & consulting experts on safe computing to find that most people shouldnâ€™t pay for a traditional antivirus suite or use a free program.â€� You should use Windows Defender! (Twitter).
14. â€œWhat invention is so good that it actually canâ€™t be improved upon?â€� Couple of good suggestions: Cast iron skillet, violins, the basic sewing needleâ€¦ (r/askreddit).