Tech giants Apple and Google both hosted big launch events this week.
Apple has unveiled new AirPods and HomePod speakers, as well as a discounted version of its streaming service. And Google has new phones to compete with Apple, Samsung, and Huawei.
Best laptops, best prices
RECOGNIZED Apple laptops are more powerful than most desktops, but cost at least Â£ 1,900.
The company has unveiled two new MacBook Pro laptops along with new versions of its own-designed computer chips, which it uses in place of those from Intel.
The new MacBook Pro line will be powered by Apple’s new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips. These are several times faster than the original M1, but consume a lot less power in the process, which is handy for laptops.
The chips will first be available in the newly announced MacBook Pro – which will be available in a 14.2-inch or 16.2-inch size, with an HDMI port and SD card slot reintroduced alongside the popular MagSafe magnetic charger which had disappeared in recent years.
The new display on the MacBook Pro also adds a now iconic Apple feature – with the visible camera notch on the iPhone added to the top of the screen.
On sale next week, the 14in MacBook Pro starts at Â£ 1,899, while the 16in starts at Â£ 2,399.
APPLE has cut the price of its music streaming service in half, as long as you only access it with your voice.
The new plan is Â£ 4.99 per month and comes with the standard offer of Â£ 9.99 and the family plan for up to six people at Â£ 14.99.
The voice plan still gives unlimited access to over 20 million songs, but users can only request songs or playlists using Apple’s Siri.
So if you want to hear Adele’s new single, Easy On You, you have to scream.
This can be done through an iPhone, iPad, or the company’s HomePod smart mini speakers.
The idea is to get more people to use Siri and reward them with a cheaper price.
The tradeoff is that it will be more difficult for users to create their own playlists.
But the other tradeoff, of course, is having to use Siri.
Voice assistants like Alexa and Google are mostly reliable, but Siri is known to be wrong.
New ways to listen
AIRPODS 3 now ship with Apple’s spatial audio – in fact, 3D audio – previously only on the more sophisticated and expensive Pro and Max models.
They’ve been redesigned with smaller tips and a more punchy sound, and are now sweat and water resistant.
The battery life is longer and five minutes of charge gives an hour of use. They cost Â£ 179, with entry-level Air Pods 2 now priced at Â£ 129.
Apple also unveiled three new colors – yellow, orange and blue to go with the original black and white – for its Â£ 99 HomePod mini speakers.
Can Google compete with the iPhone?
GOOGLE had another crack in a smartphone to compete with the iPhone – and at first glance, it looks like they’ve failed again.
The Â£ 599 Pixel 6 and Â£ 849 Pixel 6 Pro are cheaper than other high-end competitors.
The Pixel 6 comes with a 6.4-inch display, while the 6 Pro has a 6.7-inch display.
Both devices have a new 50-megapixel camera lens as part of a dual-camera system on the Pixel 6 and a triple-lens setup on the 6 Pro, and both devices include larger batteries, this which, according to Google, can mean up to 24-hour battery life on a single charge.
The phones have been completely redesigned on the outside, while housing the first processor designed by Google, Google Tensor.
They ship with the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, Android 12, and go on sale Thursday.
But industry expert Ben Wood, chief analyst at CCS Insight, believes Google will continue to struggle to keep heavyweight customers away from smartphones.
He said: âApple and Samsung have had decades to develop their brands, distribution and consumer loyalty. There are still a large number of consumers who are unaware that Google makes phones or that Android is a Google product.
“Google is going to have to spend a small fortune on marketing to make things happen if it is to be a major player in smartphones, just like Huawei has done in the past.”
The energy cap application
AT war with your other half for central heating? Think kids are on the PlayStation long after bedtime?
A new free app from Samsung called SmartThings Energy can help you track their usage, while helping you lower your bills.
It connects to a smart meter and can provide live updates of how much gas and electricity your household is using.
Plus, it ties into smart devices and gadgets like thermostats, your dishwasher and washing machine, even the refrigerator, allowing you to determine precise usage.
Smart plugs, which fit between the outlet and any electrical device, will also work with an upcoming update.
With our energy bills set to rise in the coming months, the idea is for families to learn more about their gas and electricity use and make small changes to reduce their consumption. This could reduce the thermostat by one degree.
Teg Dosanjh, Director of Connected Services at Samsung, said: âAt a time when people feel a lack of control over their power consumption, with very limited options to mitigate rising costs, we are happy to be able to lead the way. change.
The service can be used to switch devices to low power mode and let you know if they are working when no one is home.
It will also notify users when their energy consumption exceeds monthly targets.
In a partnership with uSwitch, he can suggest how to save money by switching to another provider. But for now, with soaring energy prices, bargains are very limited and experts advise households to stick with their current supplier so that they are protected by the price cap.
Let me enlighten you: LEDs will reduce carbon emissions
We’re told to move away from gas boilers – but switching to LED lights is a cheaper and easier way to go green, experts say.
There is money to be made, including Â£ 620million for electric vehicles and chargers and Â£ 140million to help green hydrogen projects get started.
A pot of Â£ 450million will provide households in England and Wales with grants of Â£ 5,000 to swap their gas boilers for low-carbon air-fired electric heat pumps.
Heat pumps still cost over Â£ 10,000.
But critics point out that much of the heating and building strategy’s plans target new construction – and miss “quick wins” like lighting in existing homes.
For example, more efficient lighting and other low-wattage devices can help you save Â£ 75 a year, after the cost of buying new LED bulbs to replace the old types.
Stephen Rouatt, UK boss of Signify, said: âWhile ambition is a step in the right direction, it is simply not enough and not designed for quick or big wins.
âThe government needs to encourage energy efficient retrofits. LED lighting is one of the fastest renovations that drastically reduces carbon emissions – it doesn’t require large capital investments and has a short payback time.
He said switching to smart low-carbon LED lighting can eliminate emissions equivalent to a coal-fired power station, 636,000 cars or 496,000 households for the UK.