Tech Bytes: May 2022

Welcome to Tech Bytes! In this series, we bring the biggest news hitting the Tech and Gaming fields, getting them into a simple brief for you to quickly catch up on, so you’re up to speed over that dinner and drinks.

This May is a Google-heavy month with announcements and reveals from the tech giant for multiple devices. See what they have shown, plus news from other parts of the tech and gaming world, in our Tech Bytes roundup!

Google’s New Pixel 6a are the New Entry-levels

Tech Bytes May 2022: Google Pixel Buds 6a

The ‘a’ series has been Google’s way of providing more affordable options for consumers, and it is set to see another addition in the form of the new Pixel 6a.

The Pixel 6a emulates its predecessor, the Pixel 6 series, and comes equipped with similar specs. It retains the same custom Google Tensor chip that is a key feature of the Pixel 6s and keeps with the design. Key features from the Pixel 6 line like Magic Eraser will also be available in the Pixel 6a.

What’s different is that you’ll receive a slightly smaller phone, with a reduced 6.1-inch 1080p OLED display. The screen is also only the standard 60Hz refresh rate compared to the 90Hz and 120Hz from the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. Cameras also get a slight downgrade to 12MP from the original line’s 50MP.

The phone is set to launch in the US on 28 July 2022 for US$449. Details on its availability in Singapore will come at a later date, but the local online Google Store lists it at a retail price of S$749.

The Pixel 7 Line Revealed

If the Pixel 6a isn’t your thing, you might want to wait a little longer for their upcoming Pixel 7 line, which they also announced at Google I/O 2022.

Like the Pixel 6 series, the company has opted to showcase the subsequent iterations of the Pixel phone months ahead of their proper reveal, expected to be around October. And just like before, there are only a few details known about it.

For one, the new Pixel 7 series will be using the company’s next-generation Tensor chip, so expect improvements to performance and new features to come along with it. The other morsel of information is that the regular and Pro versions will have a new design. While it still uses the same horizontal camera bump across the back, it is now fitted with a metallic look instead of the original’s black design. It also seemingly uses a single colour design compared to the Pixel 6’s two-toned finish. 

Expect more details about the Pixel 7s to be confirmed when the year’s second half arrives.

Google Brings Their Own Smartwatch With The New Pixel Watch 

Another device set to debut alongside the Pixel 7 series is Google’s Pixel Watch. 

It marks the company’s first foray into smartwatches, with the Pixel Watch touting Fitbit integration after Google acquired Fitbit back in early 2021. The smartwatch comes with a circular watch face design and integrates a side button and a rotating ‘crown’, all made with recycled stainless steel. The rubber wristband is also swappable should you want to customise your smartwatch.

In addition to Fitbit integration, which includes syncing data with your Fitbit account and using their health and fitness tracking algorithms, the Pixel Watch will also have the bells and whistles of Google’s apps like Google Maps, Wallet, Assistant and Home. Google also further confirmed that it would be running a version of Wear OS 3 that features a new UI for improved navigation and notifications.

Details are still scarce, but we should expect more information to come when they fully reveal the Pixel 7 later in the year. In the meantime, the Pixel Watch is another device for you to potentially add if you are already in the Google ecosystem.

Google Goes Pro On Audio With New Pixel Buds Pro

Tech Bytes May 2022: Google Pixel Buds Pro

Onto the side of audio, Google returns to its Pixel Buds wireless earbuds line with an improved ‘Pro’ version decked out with new features and improvements.

In terms of design, it follows closely to the original, albeit lacking the wingtips. Meanwhile, colour options for the earbuds come in black, blue, green, or red. Active noise cancellation is the big new addition to the Pro line, and it will be complemented by multipoint Bluetooth connectivity and IPX4 water resistance rating for use in exercise. And you can expect the Pixel Buds Pro to last 7 hours with ANC, or 11 hours when it is toggled off.

Features like Fast Pair and hands-free Google Assistant voice command make a return here, but it will also be joined by a new one called Volume EQ which optimises audio at any volume level to deliver a rich audio experience.

The Pixel Buds Pro is expected to launch in the US on 28 July. No dates for its release have been announced yet locally for Singapore, but expect to pay S$299 for it when it does eventually arrive. In the meantime, check out our review for last year’s Pixel Buds A-series to see if Google’s audio line packs a punch.

Google Teases New Tablet 

Tech Bytes May 2022: Google Tablet

Ending the list of big device announcements from Google I/0 2022 is the surprise reveal that the company is working on a new tablet device, one that we presumed will be called the Pixel Tablet.

With the tablet only planned to be released next year in 2023, information about the device is minimal. What we do know is that it will also be using a Tensor chip like the Pixel phone line and that it seemingly will have a rear camera for taking pictures. Google has also teased multitasking features that we could possibly see on that tablet with Android 13, showcasing tricks such as attaching photos directly to an email.

Google’s new tablet means another Android tablet option on the market, but we will have to wait and see if it can dethrone Apple’s crown.

Sony Details New PlayStation Plus Service As Launch Approaches

Tech Bytes May 2022: PS Plus

We reported recently on Sony’s revamp of their PlayStation Plus service, and now more details have been revealed as the new service begins its launch.

They’ve now detailed the list of games that players can expect should they opt into the new Extra and Premium tiers of PlayStation Plus. Players will be able to play hits from PlayStation’s first-party like Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima, God of War, the Uncharted series, and Bloodborne, among many others. There are games like Guardians of the Galaxy, Red Dead Redemption 2, Control, and Hollow Knight from the third-party lineup.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, the classic games lineup has the likes of Ape Escape, Syphon Filter, and Tekken 2. There are also remastered forms of these games in the Jak and Daxter collection, Bioshock Remastered, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning, alongside others. PS3 game streaming consists of titles like inFAMOUS and inFAMOUS 2, Demon’s Souls Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, but unfortunately Singapore will miss out on these due to the unavailability of cloud streaming.

And you don’t need to wait long to try it out — the service is launching very soon on 24 May. Sony also promises that the lineup of games will refresh so that gamers can experience a wide variety of game titles if they commit long-term.

HUAWEI Shows Off New 2022 Product Line

Tech Bytes May 2022: Huawei Mate X 2

Apple isn’t the only one with hardware news, with HUAWEI also joining the party by unveiling six new products that will be released in the coming months.

The first is their new flagship foldable smartphone, the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2. Weighing in at 255g and having just 5.4mm of thickness, the phone’s screen is folded outward rather than other foldables, whose bigger screens are folded in and hidden.  The screen itself is a 7.8-inch True-Chroma foldable display that helps deliver the big screen’s high-resolution content. Huawei also touts multitasking capabilities and a 66W fast charge which can get the phone to 90% in 30 minutes.

HUAWEI also had a couple of new smartwatches revealed as well. The HUAWEI WATCH GT3 Pro is the top of the line option boasting a 1.43-inch AMOLED watch display and built with premium materials like the sapphire glass lens and a ceramic back case. It comes with ECG analysis and arterial stiffness detection for health monitoring and a new sports model with a free-diving mode for use in diving of up to 30 metres depth. Meanwhile, the HUAWEI WATCH D is the first wrist-type smartwatch with blood pressure monitoring capabilities, and it also has ECG measurement alongside other health monitoring features.

For more fitness-centric devices, there’s the HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 and HUAWEI Band 7. The HUAWEI WATCH FIT 2 comes with a speaker and microphone for music listening or calls when users connect their phones to it via Bluetooth. There are also 97 workout modes built in to help with fitness training. Meanwhile, the HUAWEI Band 7 is their lightest fitness tracker yet, weighing just 16g. A new running measurement system is also implemented to evaluate a user’s running ability in real-time.

The last device HUAWEI showed was the HUAWEI S–TAG. This fitness tag can be carried around during workouts to monitor their running efficiency. There are 9-axis high-precision sensors built-in to track running posture based on the person’s foot and waist motion data, which can be used to guide runners into a more suitable posture for running. Basic cycling tracking is also supported, including tracking metrics like cadence, speed, and distance.

No release date and price has been announced for Singapore yet, but we’ll be able to learn more about these devices as the months roll along.

Sony Unveils New Flagship Wireless Headphones With The WH-1000XM5

Tech Bytes May 2022: WH-1000XM5

Despite the confusing name, Sony has garnered much praise with its WH-1000XM series of wireless headphones — much of it due to its sound and ANC performance. This year, we will see the next iteration of the headphones with the new WH-1000XM5.

The WH-1000XM5 sports a tweak to its design compared to its predecessor. There’s a new shape to the ear cups that makes them bigger and broader, and the headband now uses a smooth slider implementation for adjustment, which is a departure from previous iterations that had bands that clicked in. Because of this however, the headphones now do not fold and use a bigger carrying case.

Sony has improved upon the noise cancellation, having two processors in the WH-1000XM5 that control eight microphones to dramatically reduce noise in the mid-high range. Half of these microphones are also used for voice, which improves call quality. The headphones still retain their long 30-hour battery life and now feature a faster quick charge that gets users 3 hours of use with just 3 minutes of charging time.

The WH-1000XM5 is expected to be available in Singapore in mid-June and priced at S$569. There’s also a promotion that gets you an S$80 discount when you trade in your old WH-1000XM headphones.

This marks 2022 May’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this roundup gives you a little insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in June 2022, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!

Visuals courtesy of Google, Sony PlayStation, HUAWEI Singapore, and Sony Electronics Singapore.

Russell Matthew Loh

Watcher of films and player of games. Dabble with writing in between.

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