TECH

The cellphone cam stays on!

Sven Krumrey
Judd Heape, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, bravely smiled through the demo of the new "always on" camera feature of their new Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor. “Your phone’s front camera is always securely looking for your face, even if you don’t touch it or raise to wake it, ” he said. This (and more) is what's in store for you once the new processors make it into the flagships of various cellphone manufacturers. But why is the camera supposed to be always on and what about privacy? Or more generally put: Is convenience the one argument that trumps everything else? Am I just a little too oversensitive when I find this development rather alienating? more

TECH

How Microsoft intends to force us (again) to use Edge

Sven Krumrey
With unusually peskiness, Microsoft is currently trying to establish its Edge as the browser of choice in Windows 11. Unless you agree (which seems to be a minority), you'll now have to wrestle with checkboxes and frequent popups. Changing the default setting has been deliberately made harder for users. While Windows 10 had begging-like notifications to switch to the allegedly much faster and safer Edge, the thumb screws have been tightened in Windows 11. Naturally, you can still install alternative browsers and make minor adjustments, but Edge has now become the only choice in some scenarios! more

LIFE

What's YouTube Premium and is it any good?

Sven Krumrey
When it comes to viewership, YouTube still rules the roost in the streaming world, far ahead of Netflix or Spotify–and still free. I had a strange feeling when advertising segments were starting to pile up in their videos last year. Who wants to view a four-minute video when they first have to go through two minutes of ads? Was this a deliberate attempt to annoy their users? Unless you were using ad blockers, you were literally flooded–and it felt like an obvious attempt to drive users towards a paid offer. more

LIFE

"Have you heard? WhatsApp is offline!"

Sven Krumrey
It was supposed to be a totally normal evening. Alan Parson's soothing "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" was purring from my speakers, a steaming cup of tea plus some reading material were ready and I had plans to watch a detective show. But then, I heard an almost forgotten sound: an SMS notification. Nowadays, this form of communication is mostly used by the authorities or companies for account verification. Sent by a friend, it read "WhatsApp is gone, Facebook is gone, people are already asking what's next! It's total chaos! more

A review of Google Nest Mini: Is the smallest Nest worth it?

I'm generally not a fan of "smart speakers" like Amazon's Echo Dot, Apple's HomePod or Google's Nest Mini. I like the technology but I didn't own any of them for the longest time. I won't froth at the mouth about the alleged spying nature of these devices but I will say I dislike voice-based interfaces. I'd rather talk to people than machines, and type my commands into the latter when they require input. Recently though, I switched electricity providers and got two Google Nest Minis in my mailbox as a reward (they usually sell for about €50 a piece). Google is one the three major players in the market for virtual assistants, yet I never had the chance to review their Mini–until now. Let's get started! more