Last week in tech: Google’s Pixel 4, Fortnite’s apocalypse, and space pajamas
All the tech news that's fit to look at on your phone while you avoid your friends and coworkers.
Even if you’ve never played Fortnite, right now funny and interesting things are happening:. Last week, the game’s world literally exploded. The colorful map disappeared and would-be gamers were left to stare at a black hole instead of their beloved battlegrounds. Then, however, Fortnite 2 rose from the ashes. There’s a new map, new in-game features (like a boat you can drive!), and new skins for the characters. The game is still absurdly popular and players are still learning the layout, which means if you’ve never played, now is a great time to get in. Of course, this is also a fine time to write the game off forever and accept that this pop culture phenomenon is just not for you.
Even if you’re in the latter category, the influence Fortnite has had on pop culture is huge. Lady Gaga may not know what it is, but hundreds of millions of active players do. And the idea of large-scale in-game events that happen across multiple media channels will certainly stick around for a while to come.
Whether you were wrapped up in Fortnite drama this week or simply distracted by all the new Google news that happened, here’s a recap of the stuff you may have missed.
Listen to the latest episode of the Techathlon podcast
This week, Mark Zuckerberg gave a talk about free speech in which he defended Facebook’s place in the world. It was a carefully crafted talk, but it’s another in a long line of CEO speeches that sound ominous. In fact, it’s so common that we made a game about it. This week, we play “Joker or CEO?”, a game in which Rob presents the contestants with quotes and they have to determine whether it came from a tech exec or some iteration of the Joker. It’s harder than it sounds.
Google announced a bevy of new products including the Pixel 4 smartphone
At an event in New York City, Google rolled out its latest crop of new gadgets including the Pixel 4 smartphone, the new Pixel Buds headphones (which are coming in 2020), the new Nest Wifi, and a revamped Nest Mini speaker. You can get the lowdown on everything here, and learn more about the Pixel 4’s gesture-sensing radar chip here.
Watch the first all-female spacewalk
Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir conducted the first all-female spacewalk. The mission involved fixing equipment on the outside of the International Space Station. It will inspire you, but it also might make you feel guilty for taking a two-hour-long Friday lunch at Chili’s.
Disney+ did a lot of flexing about its streaming content
The video posted above is a three-hour collection of trailers for almost everything that will stream on the Google+ subscription service when it launches on November 12th. It is not a great way to spend three hours. The company also tweeted the list if you want a quicker way to peruse the titles.
A better Game Boy emerged
Analogue’s Pocket console promises to play classic handheld gaming cartridges on a slick screen with no choppy emulator problems. It also doubles as a digital music studio so you can finally make that Mario-based rock opera you’ve had clanging around in your head for a decade.
Volvo introduced its first fully electric car
The XC40 has been a popular choice for trying out self-driving car technology, but now the company has introduced a fully-electric version. It’s slated to hit the market in 2020.
Virgin Atlantic showed off its comfy-looking space suits
If you shell out $250,000 to take one of Virgin Atlantic’s trips to suborbital space, you’ll also get to keep your Under Armor “spacesuit.” It looks more like pajamas than the futuristic armor you may have pictured, but it includes Under Armour’s fanciest technology and wearing it will let you casually mention that you went to space when people ask about it.
Beats announced Solo Pro headphones with noise-cancelling
Active noise-canceling is becoming more common in headphones across the board. Now, Beats has added ANC to its Solo Pro headphones. Look for a full review soon.