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Beats announces $149.99 Studio Buds with active noise cancellation, support for Android and iOS

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In brief: Beats is kicking off the work week with the introduction of the Beats Studio Buds, a set of true wireless earbuds that were first leaked in May and go on sale later this month for under $150.

The Beats Studio Buds feature proprietary 8.2mm, dual-element diaphragm drivers with a central rigid piston and a flexible outer surround. Each 5.1g bud has a laser cut micro vent to relieve ear pressure and comes with three silicon ear tips for an ideal fit. They also carry an IPX4 rating against splashing water and sweat and offer one-touch pairing to Android and iOS devices.

Active noise cancellation comes standard, as does a mode called transparency that lets you better hear the world around you. Dual beam-forming microphones filter out background noise during voice calls for improved clarity.

Battery life is rated at up to eight hours per charge, which drops to five hours with ANC or transparency mode enabled. The included battery case can supply two full recharges, pushing the total combined listening time up to 24 hours (or 15 hours with the aforementioned modes in use). A five-minute recharge is capable of supplying up to one hour of playback.

References to the new Beats Studio Buds were found in iOS code last month.

The new Beats Studio Buds are available to pre-order from today in your choice of black, white or red color schemes priced at $149.99. Look for them to ship on June 25.

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Jetpack Compose for Android turns GA

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Jetpack Compose, Google’s native UI toolkit for Android mobile application development, has reached its official 1.0 production release status.

Leveraging a declarative approach, Jetpack Compose is intended to make it easier and faster to build native Android applications. As an app state changes, the UI automatically updates. The toolkit’s Kotlin APIs also help developers build apps with less code. Native access is offered to all existing Android code.

Other capabilities in the Jetpack Compose 1.0 release include:

  • Layout APIs to support different form factors, including tablets and foldables.
  • Interoperability with existing applications.
  • Integration with Jetpack libraries.
  • An implementation of Material Design components and theming, for building apps that reflect a brand.
  • Animation APIs for including animation in application user interfaces.
  • Lazy components to display lists of data with minimal boilerplate.

For the best experience using Jetpack Compose, which was formally launched July 28, Google advises developers to download the Android Studio Arctic Fox IDE. Instructions on getting started with Jetpack Compose can be found at developer.android.com.

In tandem with the Jetpack Compose 1.0 release, Google is unveiling Compose Preview. Available in Android Studio Arctic Fox, Compose Preview allows developers to see Composables in different states, in light and dark themes, and in different font scalings, without having to deploy the app to a device. A Deploy Preview capability lets developers test parts of a UI on a device without having to navigate through the app to the screen being worked on.

Google said more than 2,000 apps in the Google Play app store already use Jetpack Compose. The company noted that major themes it was working on for upcoming releases of Jetpack Compose include performance, large screen improvements, homescreen widgets, WearOS support, and Material You components.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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Tech Moves: Portland’s Act-On adds two new execs; Tanium adds public sector SVP; and more

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Gregg Ames, left, and Syed Ahmed, two recent hires at Act-On. (Act-On Photos)

—Act-On, a Portland, Ore.-based marketing automation platform, added Gregg Ames as chief commercial officer and Syed Ahmed as senior vice president of engineering.

Ames previously worked in sales at Marketo, Oracle and Turning.

Ahmed previously was CTO and vice president of engineering at Contiq.

Teddra Burgess. (Tanium Photo)

— Teddra Burgess has been added as Tanium’s senior vice president of the public sector. In the role, Burgess will support public sector organizations, implement IT management and cybersecurity at the Kirkland, Wash.-based cybersecurity and systems management company.

Burgess previously worked for Hewlett Packard, Micro Focus International, SAI Global, and ASG Technologies.

— Karen Brewer has become executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Fabric, an online commerce platform.

Brewer will manage the marketing organization. She most recently was a marketing advisor for the company. She previously was with Cisco, Ellucian and Adobe.

— Mel Sears was named president of HNTB’s Northwest division.

Sears will manage 400 employees for the division and oversee infrastructure programs for highways, rail and transit, and more.

Sears joined HNTB, an engineering and architecture firm earlier this year as a Western Region sales officer.

Jeremy Showalter. (Jeremy Showalter Photo)

— Jeremy Showalter, a Microsoft alum, and Andrew Cho have launched Weave Savings, a fintech focused on savings groups.

Showalter stepped down as CEO of Pique last month, following the acquisition of the AI startup’s intellectual property by Vietnamese payment app MoMo.

Cho, who will serve as Weave Savings’ CPO, was previously director for Tottini Discovery.


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Fresh Paint Or Patina Of Ages, That’s The Antique Question

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The world of antique furniture and the world of hackers rarely coincide, and perhaps the allure of the latest tech is greater for most of us than that of a Chipendale cabinet. But there are times when there are analagous situations in both worlds, so it’s worth taking a moment to consider something.

This late-17th-century dressing box would not be of such value or interest were a restoration to strip it of its patina. Daderot, CC0.
This late-17th-century dressing box would not be of such value or interest were a restoration to strip it of its patina. Daderot, CC0.

Antique furniture has survived for hundreds of years before being owned by today’s collectors. Along the way it picks up bumps and scrapes, wear, and even the occasional repair. Valuable pieces turn up all the time, having been discovered in dusty attics, cowsheds, basements, and all sorts of places where they may have been misused in ways that might horrify those who later pay big money for them. Thus there is a whole industry of craft workers in the field of furniture restoration whose speciality lies in turning the wreck of a piece of furniture into a valuable antique for the showroom.

The parallel in our community if you hadn’t already guessed, can be found in the world of retrocomputers. They are the antiques we prize, they come to us after being abused by kids and then left to languish in a box of junk somewhere. Their capacitors are leaking, their cases may be cracked or dirty, and they often possess the signature look of old ABS mouldings, their characteristic yellowing. This is caused by the gradual release of small quantities of bromine as the fire retardant contained within the plastic degrades under UV light, and causes considerable consternation among some retrocomputing enthusiasts. Considerable effort goes into mitigating it, with the favourite technique involving so-called Retr0bright recipes that use hydrogen peroxide to bleach away the colour.

Do We Lose Something In A Quest To Recreate Our Childhoods?

Is this any less a Macintosh because it shows its age? htomari, CC BY-SA 2.0.
Is this any less a Macintosh because it shows its age? htomari, CC BY-SA 2.0.

In the antique furniture world there are operators at all levels from the shysters pushing imitation furniture made last month in China to the specialist dealers in high-end genuine pieces. Antique restoration has strata to match, and at the quality end they do work to the highest possible standards.

Consider though, given a priceless antique that needs work, what is the objective? It would certainly be possible to return it to the same condition in which it left the cabinet maker’s workshop hundreds of years ago, but is that their aim? Instead they restore it to a very good condition but leave it with a patina of age. Shelves bow downwards slightly in the middle, there are slight marks under the polish, and the feet bear some of the scuffs they have picked up over the years. Over-restoration in which it looks too new just isn’t the thing, because then it ceases to look like the real thing that it is.

Spending a lot of time over the years around retrocomputers and retrocomputing enthusiasts, it’s interesting to make that comparison with antique furniture. Why do we not allow our antiques to wear with pride the patina acquired through the decades, and why do we prefer to pretend that it’s 1988 and they’ve just come out of the box? Is it because we’re really recreating our own childhoods (or perhaps those we wish we’d had) rather than appreciating the devices as relics in their own right?

With an increasing number of modern reproductions of classic cases and motherboards being produced, it seems to me that we’re blurring the line between the original and the reproduction just as an imitation furniture maker does to the genuine antique. Will we in time seek to differentiate our classic machines from the repro pretenders by the patina of age? Maybe it will be left to a future generation of retrocomputing collectors to make that jump.

Header: Mark Fosh, CC BY 2.0.

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