A recap of Microsoft's big Surface Pro 8 event
Plus, more news from this week.
Wednesday was a big day for Microsoft. They hosted a virtual event where they unveiled a jam-packed lineup of new Surface hardware, all to coincide with the release of Windows 11 on October 5th.
There were some big announcements at the show. We got a redesigned Surface Pro 8, an all-new Surface Laptop Studio (a true successor to the Surface Book line, evidently), an upgraded Surface Duo 2, updated versions of the Surface Go 3 and Pro X, and more.
I have full coverage of some of the announcements up on the website now. If you’re pressed for time or just like reading these newsletters, here’s a quick recap of everything Microsoft announced.
Surface Pro 8
This was probably the biggest piece of news out of the show given how popular the Surface Pro line is. Finally, after seven years without a major design update, we got the redesigned Surface Pro 8. It looks a lot like the Surface Pro X, but it’s built entirely different with 11th-gen Intel processors, up to 1TB of storage, and up to 32GB of RAM. Microsoft includes a bigger 13-inch PixelSense Flow display with a variable 120Hz refresh rate, and there’s a new keyboard that comes with a Surface Slim Pen 2 (more on that later).
I have a full article on the Pro 8 here. It’s priced at $1,099.99.
Surface Laptop Studio
The Surface Laptop Studio, compared to the Pro 8, definitely has the more interesting hardware. Microsoft basically took the Surface Laptop, gave it the power of a Surface Book, and gave it the screen of a Surface Studio. The display can be pulled toward you over the keyboard and trackpad to make it easier to write, game, or watch a movie. It’s a good screen too, with a 14-inch PixelSense Flow panel.
Under the hood, there’s all sorts of good stuff like 11th-gen Intel chips, up to 32GB of RAM, and up to 2TB of removeable SSD storage. Microsoft also throws in Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti graphics.
No doubt about it, this is one of the crazier PCs the company has put out. I’ve got more details here, and it starts at $1,599.99.
Surface Duo 2
While we’re on the topic of crazy, how crazy do you think it would be to own a Surface Duo now that it has modern specs and updated software?
Microsoft seems to think it’s not crazy at all. The company’s new Surface Duo 2 is definitely making a case for being absolutely here and ready for you to buy. It’s got updated 6.8-inch 90Hz OLED displays, a Snapdragon 888, improved battery life, three rear cameras (three more than the previous model), and Android 11.
It still costs a lot of money at $1,599.99, but at least this generation doesn’t seem like a total flop, at least on paper.
Surface Go 3
The Surface Go 3 got one of the smallest updates during the keynote, with an upgrade in respect to the processors you can get. Instead of an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y or Core m3 like on the Go 2, the Go 3 can be configured with a Gold 6500Y or Core i3-10100Y. Either than that, nothing about the Go 3 is different compared to the Go 2. It’s still priced at $399.99 as well.
Surface Pro X
Speaking of minor updates, the Surface Pro X got a very tiny tweak: you can now buy it without LTE. It’s priced at $899.99 and offers the same ARM chip, display, design, ports, and overall functionality as the cellular-equipped Pro X. It does come with Windows 11 out of the box like every other Surface device mentioned, so that’s nice.
Surface Slim Pen 2
I’m highlighting the pen because Microsoft made a big deal about it onstage. The new Surface Slim Pen 2 has a tiny haptic engine in it that can kick out minor vibrations to simulate the feeling of writing on paper instead of glass. It also has a finer tip and offers better precision. Sold separately, the pen is priced at $129.99. It’s up for preorder now.
Surface Adaptive Kit
For people with disabilities, Microsoft has introduced the Surface Adaptive Kit. It’s a set of special stickers and other accessories that can be attached to your device to make it easier to identify ports, cables, and even open your laptop. It’ll be released later this year for a yet-to-be-disclosed price.
Ocean Plastic Mouse
Finally, there’s the Ocean Plastic Mouse. It’s a pretty basic mouse with one neat aspect: it’s made entirely of recycled plastic found in the ocean. It’s priced at $24.99.
1. Apple wants to end leaks
One of the bigger stories that came out this week (second only to all of Microsoft’s announcements) was a leaked memo from Apple CEO Tim Cook. Ironically enough, that memo involves leaks from within the company. Cook told employees he shares their frustration with leaks, including the ones that gave us a ton of details on the company’s iPhone 13 event. Cook went on to say “people who leak confidential information do not belong [at Apple].” In addition, the company is “doing everything in [its] power to identify those who leaked.”
I don’t know about you, but if I worked at Apple and leaked a bunch of stuff, I’d be a little nervous. The company has been combating leaks for years now, but their efforts haven’t seemed to have slowed the constant spread of classified information. Maybe Apple will figure it out moving forward - it at least seems like they will.
2. The EU is trying to force companies to ship their devices with USB-C ports, and all eyes are on Apple
The European Union has introduced plans that would essentially force all companies to ship their mobile devices with USB-C ports. It’s a move that the EU says would help cut down on e-waste and allow consumers to reuse old chargers when they get new phones.
Obviously, with an announcement like this, all eyes are on Apple. The iPhone hasn’t switched its charger port since 2012 when Apple introduced Lightning on the iPhone 5. However, Apple likely won’t have to give the iPhone USB-C if the EU’s plans go into effect (votes still need to be cast to make the changes a real thing, plus they wouldn’t start until 24 months afterward). The rules only apply to devices that used wired charging, so Apple could simply take the Lightning connector off the iPhone and rely on MagSafe moving forward.
It’s a fascinating debacle Apple is in, one that the company isn’t happy about. Apple has voiced its displeasure over these proposed rules, saying “mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it.” Of course, the EU’s plans could go out the window if not enough support is present, so Apple may have their way in the end. I’ll keep you posted as developments surface.
3. The original Surface Duo will get Android 11 by 2022
In the aftermath of the Surface Duo 2 announcement, Microsoft has confirmed that the original Surface Duo will get an update to Android 11 by the end of 2021. Right now, there isn’t a more precise timeframe other than “by the end of the year,” so you might be waiting until December 31st at 11:59 p.m. before the update arrives.
Notably, reports indicated the update was supposed to ship over the summer, but for some reason got delayed. Hey, at least it’s coming anyway. Maybe it’s a sign Microsoft will keep up with software updates on the Duo 2.
4. Instagram promises a fix for that annoying Stories audio problem on iOS 15
I’ve been having a problem for months now where audio in Stories on Instagram doesn’t always play. As it turns out, it’s a bug that involves iOS 15 and the iPhone’s ring switch where if it’s set to mute, it mutes the sound coming from a Story. That obviously shouldn’t happen, and Instagram has confirmed it’s working on a fix. I’m not sure exactly when it’ll roll out, but at least they’re aware it’s a problem.
5. Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro camera features allegedly leak
Mishaal Rahman at XDA-Developers has published a pretty huge article on what camera features to expect from the upcoming Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro based on leaked APKs. Apparently, there are all sorts of features to look out for like a “Magic eraser,” “Scene lock,” a “Front torch,” a wide-angle selfie camera, “Motion blur,” and more. Whether any or all of these features make it into the final product remains unclear, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless.
6. Google updates the Nest Hub with proper Spanish support
Google is making buying a Nest Hub or Nest Hub Max a much easier decision if you speak Spanish. The company has updated both devices with support for an all-Spanish UI and all-Spanish commands like “Hey Google, agrega huevos a mi lista de compras” (translated to “Hey Google, add eggs to my shopping list”). This update is rolling out now to all users in the US.
7. Clubhouse adds a “wave”
Clubhouse is rolling out a new feature that lets you “wave” at other users to get their attention and invite them to chat live. A new Wave button will be added to your list of friends to invite the folks you’d like to have a conversation with, and they can either accept or politely decline. It’s in an effort to encourage more casual use of the app, centered around brief encounters and short conversations.
The update is rolling out to both iOS and Android users.
8. Amazon put Billie Eilish’s face on an Echo Studio and, like, why?
Someone within Amazon’s massive organization thought it was a good idea to print Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever album cover on the fabric of an Echo Studio and mark it up $30 to $229. I’m not sure who that was, but I question that idea tremendously. If you’re crazy enough, you can actually buy it from Amazon’s website. It doesn’t have any technical upgrades, by the way, but you will get six months free of Amazon Music.
(Note: I was going to make a pun here based on one of Billie Eilish’s songs, but I literally don’t know any of her music.)
Just wanted to finish off this newsletter to let you know that my review of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is live! This was definitely a fun review to write since the Z Flip 3 is my very first foldable phone. I like it a lot, despite the camera and battery life underwhelming me. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to jump on the foldable bandwagon, the $999 Z Flip 3 is the phone to buy.