Welcome to Tech Bytes! In this series, we bring the biggest news hitting the Tech and Gaming fields, getting them into an excellent, simple brief for you to quickly catch up on, so you’re up to speed over dinner and drinks.
The onslaught of tech and gaming news doesn’t stop in October, again seeing major names hit the headlines with their latest announcements — we even see two smartphone reveals this month! Check out the biggest news that has come out for October 2023 with our Tech Bytes round-up!
Google announces the new Pixel 8 series
The smartest smartphone is back this year with number 8, and Google is adding even more smart features into their latest line.
The Pixel 8 series again comprises two versions — a regular one with a 6.2-inch screen and a Pro variant at 6.7-inch — both having Google’s newest Tensor G3 processor. With the chip, the Pixel 8 is capable of all-new smart functions, such as Audio Magic Eraser, which helps to remove distracting background noise from videos. The Pro also exclusively has a temperature sensor built in, which you can play around with.
Specifically on the photography front, Google is introducing two new features in the Pixel 8s. Magic Editor is the culmination of all the features before it, allowing users to make major edits to a photo with the help of Generative AI! You can move a subject to a different part of the image, and the feature will fill in the blanks, or you could change the sky to a different colour. The other new feature is Best Take, which lets users take their pick of the best faces to use from a burst of image shots.
New Pixel Watch 2 arrives with new specs
Alongside the Pixel 8 series, Google was also on hand to reveal their latest Pixel Watch 2 smartwatch, fitted with new specs for improved performance.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon W5 processor is at the heart of the device, which helps enable up to 24 hours of battery life, even when using the always-on display. Plus, it charges faster; you’ll get 12 hours of use from just 30 minutes of charging.
It also features a new multi-path sensor, which includes a skin temperature sensor and continuous electrodermal activity sensor to help relay information on sleep and wellness, highlighted by the new stress detection feature.
The Pixel Watch 2 is now available for S$525, with several colour options to choose from, such as Silver/Bay, Silver/Porcelain, Gold/Hazel, and Black/Obsidian.
PlayStation 5 receives an updated Slim model
Just like its predecessors, the PlayStation 5 will be getting an updated Slim model — three years after the console launched worldwide.
In terms of looks, there isn’t much difference between this new version and the design that the original came with, though there are now two slits on each side of the console. Size is where much of the changes lie, with a reduction of more than 30% in volume and up to 24% in weight.
Like when it first launched, there is both a Disc and Digital version of the PS5 Slim, but now the Digital Edition has modular capabilities, letting users add in Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Drive (sold separately at US$79.99) later should they need it.
The new Slim models will be available later in November this year and will replace the current models of the PS5 going forward. The Disc version is slated to cost US$499.99, while the Digital Edition will be US$499.99.
Activision Blizzard acquisition by Microsoft is completed
The saga is over. After numerous twists and turns with opposition to the deal, Microsoft has finally won out and formally announced the acquisition of Activision Blizzard for US$68.7 billion this month.
That means that Activision’s slate of game studios like Infinity Ward and Treyarch now lie under Xbox’s first-party organisation. Crucially though, it also signals that Activision’s iconic game franchises— Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Diablo, among many others — are now owned by Xbox.
Given the delayed process, there won’t be any immediate changes following the acquisition, with Xbox chief and Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirming that Activision Blizzard games aren’t coming to Xbox Game Pass at least until 2024. The powerhouse Call of Duty series will also continue to be released on multiple platforms after Microsoft inked deals with both Nintendo and PlayStation.
Gamers should start to see the aftereffects of the purchase next year, such as the introduction of Activision Blizzard titles to Game Pass, as well as the possibility of exclusivity to Xbox and PC for the company’s other franchises.
Samsung returns with new “Fan Edition” FE slate of devices
Samsung’s “Fan Edition” series, which served as a mid-point between their budget and premium products, has come back to the fore after a year-long hiatus with new devices for their smartphone, tablet, and now wireless earbuds line.
Starting with the phones, the Galaxy S23 FE brings in several flagship features — including a pro-grade 50MP primary camera, IP68 resistance, and a vibrant AMOLED screen with a fast 120 Hz refresh rate. Likewise, the new Galaxy Tab S9 FE and Tab S9 FE+ bring over IP68 durability from the latest Tab S9 series, upgrading its refresh rate to 90Hz. Despite including these premium features, Samsung has scaled back on the processor (Galaxy S23 FE) and screen panel type (Galaxy Tab S9 FE) to maintain their competitive price.
The Galaxy Buds FE is a new addition to the FE line for this year, and for its remarkably low price, it offers Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) and Ambient Sound. Samsung also says that these wireless earbuds have the longest battery life within the Buds series, providing up to 6 hours of playback with earbuds with ANC on and a total of up to 21 hours with the case.
This marks October 2023’s edition of Tech Bytes, and we hope this round-up gives you insight into tech to be excited about. Check with us again in November 2023, as we bring you more byte-sized news every month!
Photos of Pixel devices by Russell Loh of the DANAMIC Team. Additional visuals courtesy of Sony PlayStation and Samsung Singapore.