‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ servers will be going down for maintenance on Tuesday, May 8, ahead of the new ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ mashup.
In what may be one of the most controversial studies of the year, researchers at Skidmore College—clearly triggered by a change in the American Psychological Association (APA) style book—sought to quantify the benefits of two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence. After conducting an eye-tracking experiment with 60 Skidmore students, Rebecca L. Johnson, Becky Bui, and Lindsay L. Schmitt found that two spaces at the end of a period slightly improved the processing of text during reading. The research was trumpeted by some press outlets as a vindication of two-spacers’ superiority.
For anyone who learned their keyboarding skills on a typewriter rather than a computer—and for the many who developed their keyboard muscle memory using software packages such as Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing—the double-space after the period is a deeply ingrained truth. While modern style, based on the fallacy that computer typography makes such double-spaces redundant and Paleolithic, has demanded the deprecation of the second tap of the space bar after a punctuation full-stop, many have openly resisted this heresy, believing that the extra space is a courtesy to the reader and enhances the legibility of the text.
Previous cognitive science research has been divided on the issue. Some research has suggested closer spacing of the beginning of a new sentence may allow a reader to capture more characters in their parafoveal vision—the area of the retina just outside the area of focus, or fovea—and thus start processing the information sooner (though experimental evidence of that was not very strong). Other prior research has inferred that an extra space prevents lateral interference in processing text, making it easier for the reader to identify the word in focus. But no prior research found by Johnson, Bui, and Schmitt actually measured reader performance with each typographic scheme.
Google has been rolling out news at a steady rate since last week, in what feels like a bit of a last-minute clearinghouse ahead of tomorrow. The company’s already taken the wraps off of news about Android TV, Google Home, Wear OS Assistant, you name it. If this were practically any other company, we’d be concerned that there’s nothing left to discuss.
But this is Google. The next few days are going to be jam-packed with developer news and a whole lot of information around the company’s consumer-facing offerings over the next year and beyond. Android, Assistant, Wear OS, search and the like are going to take center stage when the company kicks off the festivities tomorrow at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View.
You’d better believe we’ll be on-hand bringing you all of the relevant information as it breaks. In the meantime, here’s some of what you can expect from the big show.
The latest version of Google’s mobile operating system seems likely to take center stage here — be it Peppermint Patty, Pudding or Popsicle. The first developer preview of 9.0 dropped in March of this year, and I/O is likely to be the launching pad of the next big one. Given how much of Oreo’s changes happened behind the scenes, it stands to reason that we’re in for a more consumer-facing update for the OS this time out.
We’ve already seen a bit of those visual updates, including new notifications and some upgrades setting the stage for the nearly ubiquitous top notch. That, by most accounts, won’t be going away any time soon. “Material Design 2” is a buzzword that’s been floating around for a few months now to describe the first major overhaul to the OS’s aesthetic in about four years, bringing an overall flatter and more universal design language to Android.
We’ll also likely get some more insight into a gesture-based navigation that takes some cues from the iPhone X.
Assistant has been a linchpin in Google’s ecosystem play for a few years now, and its importance is only likely to grow. Announcements over the past couple of weeks have broadened the company’s Siri/Alexa competitor to even more categories, including Android TV and Wear OS, so probably don’t do an Assistant-related drinking game tomorrow, unless you’re gunning for alcohol poisoning.
It also seems fairly likely that we’ll see more devices on this front. A second version of Google Home seems overdue. That could well get an Echo-like update, bringing it up to speed with the rest of the line. And what of all of those Smart Displays the company talked up back at CES? Things have been pretty quiet on that front — perhaps a little too quiet.
Expect partnerships galore. The company showed off a Fandango Action just this week — and that’s likely to only be the tip of the iceberg.
Artificial intelligence has also been gaining plenty of steam on the Google campus. AI and ML have been the driving forces in key offerings like Translate, Lens and, of course, Assistant, which the company is looking to truly distinguish from the competition. The company’s TensorFlow machine learning engine is going to get a lot of attention.
Google also just recently took the wraps off the Lenovo-branded Daydream headset, setting the stage for some big VR talk at this week’s show. Of course, the company seems even more content to focus on augmented reality these days. The tech has been a focus recently on Pixel devices, as the company looks to distinguish ARCore from Apple’s ARKit. Now’s the time for the company to really double down on what’s becoming a more and more important piece of mobile tech.
This is a tough one. Google already revealed some Assistant features for the newly rebranded wearable operating system, perhaps in an attempt to build a little excitement around what, by most accounts, has been a pretty stagnant product category for the company. Wearables in general have been on a bit of a downward trajectory and Google specifically hasn’t done a lot to change that.
The company really needs to come in with guns blazing here and reassert itself in the category. Assistant integration will do a bit to help invigorate the company, but expect to see Google do a much better job laying out what the future of wearables will look like under the new rebrand.
Google I/O kicks off tomorrow. You can follow along here.
One of Apple’s biggest competitors in the laptop space is arguably Microsoft, with its line of portable, productivity-focused Surface Book machines. Microsoft in November released its newest product, the Surface Book 2, a 2-in-1 PC that has quite a few selling points to entice Apple customers.
In our latest YouTube video, we took a look at the 15-inch Surface Book 2 and compared it to the 2016 15-inch MacBook Pro across a number of categories including build quality and design, key features, and overall usage experience for someone in the Apple ecosystem.
Both the Surface Book 2 and Apple’s most recent MacBook Pro models are powerful machines with some of the latest technology in processor and graphics cards, so modern apps, games, and other software features run well on either device.
The Surface Book 2 and the MacBook Pro are both well-built with attractive, eye-catching designs, but there are some major differences here. While the MacBook Pro is a traditional laptop with a display and attached keyboard, the Surface Book 2 is a 2-in-1 with a touch display that can be converted into a tablet.
Because of its 2-in-1 design, the Surface Book 2 has an usual hinged design that lets the display be folded backwards or disconnected from the keyboard entirely for use in a tablet mode. The MacBook Pro, meanwhile, has no touch screen and it is a unibody machine.
Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 has a wealth of ports that are missing from the MacBook Pro, which only offers 4 USB-C ports. The Surface Book 2 has an SD card slot, a USB-C port, and two USB-A ports, something that Apple users unhappy with the MacBook Pro port situation will appreciate.
The Surface Book 2 may have a 3240 x 2160 touch screen display, but it has some faults compared to the MacBook Pro’s 2880 x 1800 display. It’s nowhere near as bright, and it’s also not quite as crisp. As for the trackpad, the MacBook Pro wins out because of its large trackpad equipped with haptic feedback and support for multiple gestures. Trackpad is one area where PC laptops often lag behind Apple, and the Surface Book 2 is no exception.
When it comes to the keyboard, the Surface Book 2 has a softer keyboard that’s not quite as clicky and solid as the keyboard of the MacBook Pro, but as we well know, the keyboard redesign on the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models has been receiving a lot of attention lately for reliability issues and its seemingly frequent failures, so the Surface Book 2 may have the edge here.
The aforementioned 2-in-1 tablet option for the Surface Book 2 is something Apple just can’t compete with. You can press a key on the Surface Book 2’s keyboard and pull the display right out of the keyboard to use it as a standalone touch-based tablet with the Surface Pen and the Surface Dial, both of which are ideal for creative tasks.
There are no input devices like a Surface Pen available for the MacBook Pro, and the main feature that it can boast over the Surface Book 2 is the Touch Bar, something that arguably does not get as much use as a 2-in-1 design.
The Surface Book 2 has a lot of perks that aren’t available on Apple’s MacBook Pro, but choosing to adopt the machine over an Apple device is still going to be difficult for those enmeshed in the Apple ecosystem. There’s a lot of integration between macOS and iOS, and features like Continuity, Handoff, and iCloud will be missed if you’re used to Apple devices. Certain software, like Final Cut Pro, is also limited to Apple’s machines.
So which one is better? As with a lot of devices that are similar in specs, it’s tough to say. It largely comes down to preference – do you want to use macOS or Windows? Most people in the Apple ecosystem likely won’t want to give up macOS/iOS perks for the Surface Book 2’s feature set, but those who don’t use a lot of crossover functionality won’t miss macOS as much.
If you’re not tied to a specific operating system and don’t mind mixing devices across different platforms, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 is absolutely worth considering as a powerful, capable machine that offers functionality you can’t get in a MacBook Pro.
Would you switch from an Apple machine to the Surface Book 2? Let us know in the comments.
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