Try not to drop your phone
Replacement devices and their parts are soon going to be harder to come by
The big news these days is coronavirus, the family name that covers the latest version, Covid-19. The impacts on tech are fairly obvious -- a lot of stuff is made in China these days. Apple, for example, is heavily invested in Chinese manufacturing and it has closed stores because the supply chain has run dry. Replacement iPhones are in short supply, so if you've damaged your phone, expect a potentially long wait before a full replacement is available. This also applies to replacement parts. So don't drop your phone. Employee travel is also discouraged while the virus spreads across the globe. At the time of this writing, stores in China have reopened and will not close. As an aside, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a non-partisan think-tank, named Apple as one of 83 internationally known brands utilising the slave labour of Uighur Muslims.
- Staying on the topic of phonemakers, Huawei is releasing their new P40 range, and one question people are asking is: Will you be able to run Android Apps? No and yes, as the phone will not ship with the Google Play Store available. As previously mentioned, Google has advised against side-loading their apps. All you need is an app called Chat-Partner that will provide a "one-click solution". It supposedly provides a quick and easy installation process to get you fully Google-enabled. The German app starts with the splash screen reading "You device does not supporting Google related services. Fix it now with this tool", along with a friendly, blue Repair Now button. There is a video with step-by-step instructions that requires your Google password. The Google software pack is not licensed for the P40 and it may be switched off at some point in the future, as it did for the LZPlay Mate 30 workaround last year. Will it work for you? Perhaps. Will it be shut down sometime in the future? Probably. Will it be available when you read this? Unknown. You have been warned. Hardware-wise, as expected, the phone appears to remain in the top tier with the rest of the pack.
- Wireless earbuds have come a long way in the past two years. The early versions had connectivity problems; they were large and battery life was an issue. Charging was also an interesting exercise sometimes. Last year, Sony came out with some nice units, and this year so far Sennheiser has its new Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds out. They claim 7 hours playtime with an extra 21 hours from the charging case. Charging is via USB-C. Given the price, they should also support wireless charging but that may have been held back for version 3. Yes, they have active noise cancellation, but that does impact battery life. You can make calls, and the reported quality is very good. Sound quality is high, so you can enjoy those complex musical compositions. If you are willing to pay the equivalent of the current price of the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, then these could be a good option.
- It's been a while since I looked at portable hard drives. Western Digital's My Passport portable 5TB is now as slim as their older 1 and 2TB units but are a little heavier. I have one of the latter 2TB units and have been happy with it. The latest models are now USB 3.1 Gen 1 and they come with 256-bit AES encryption and built-in password protection. Data-transfer speeds are supported up to 5Gbits/sec. So, quite fast for sequential files. They are US$110 (3,600 baht) on Amazon. I also looked at the Seagate equivalent, but the ones I found did not have a latest USB option.
- For some time, Google has been claiming that the identifier it uses internally to track experimental features and variations in its Chrome browser contains no personally identifiable information. Arnaud Granal, a software developer, found that the X-client-data header in fact contains a unique identifier that can be used to track people across the web. Google claimed that the header included only info about Chrome itself. The description around this has been recently been updated in Google's Whitepaper on Chrome. To be realistic, Google has much better ways of tracking people than this, and they claim that in this case it is a simple language issue, and you can still really, really trust them.
- I don't play many games on my phone, but one has been Raid. I think it has been over six months now, and as a short summary I don't believe you can be competitive without paying money, and their team-strength rating system doesn't work, as my team strength of 100K is regularly crushed by those with a rating of 50-60K. I'm going to continue to play, and see if it is indeed possible to prevail without a huge funding investment. But I suspect this is just not possible.
James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years' standing. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.