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CES 2022 Recap: Google's Android ecosystem upgrades, a folding PC, and a movie theater for your car
My final round-up of the biggest tech show of the year.
Today is the final day that CES 2022’s show floor will be open to visitors, which means one of the most out-of-control weeks for tech reporters is finally over. To all of my fellow journalists out there, sit back tonight and crack a cold one - you’ve earned it.
This year’s show was nothing short of insanity, with announcements coming left and right at incredible speeds and frequencies (as usual). The difference between CES 2022 and years past seems to be the significance of those announcements. While yes, some big news broke at previous shows, the headlines and stories 2022 generated felt more impactful and ground in reality, opposed to a future reality we may never strive to arrive at.
The Consumer Electronics Show has strayed far from the “consumer” side of things for some time now, with many exhibits focusing on extravagant distant-future displays that capture your attention and send journalists into a “will/could this ever happen?” frenzy. CES 2022 didn’t seem to feature a lot of that, with many announcements falling in the vein of “this is happening and here’s when.”
Granted, we still heard plenty of news from companies promoting ideas of what the far-off future could entail, from solar-powered electric vehicles to robots in the metaverse. It’s clear the innovative side of CES is alive and well, yet companies drew special emphasis on technologies that would be capable of bettering our every day lives within the next 12 months instead of the next 1,200.
For today’s newsletter, I wanted to go over a few stories I didn’t get to cover on Matridox, starting with Google’s announcement which strayed from the company’s traditional Assistant-focused pitch.
Google’s big Android ecosystem upgrade
In a blog post, Google unveiled 13 new upgrades for Android and accompanying software platforms that all focus on tying its own products and third-party devices and accessories more closely together. It’s all in an effort to better compete with the sheer simplicity of Apple’s ecosystem, where virtually anything with the Apple logo on it works like “magic.”
Google’s blog post details everything new, but features we can expect to arrive in 2022 include:
Fast Pair support for TVs, Chromebooks, and smart home devices through Matter as well as Windows PCs from HP, Acer, and Intel;
the ability to unlock your Android phone or Chromebook with a Wear OS 3 smartwatch;
car key support through UWB on a much wider range of Android devices;
multi-device support for Bluetooth headphones through a new technology built directly into Android;
spacial audio support with head tracking for Bluetooth headphones on Android devices;
and Nearby Share support for Windows.
It seems that Google is finally realizing the Android ecosystem at large isn't all that great. Sure, by owning an Android phone, you're granted compatibility with thousands of different third-party products and services, thereby giving you more choice over the tech you can use. But unlike Apple's ecosystem with the iPhone, none of those services or products are as tightly integrated as first-party solutions. Because of that, fragmentation has become an important factor for a lot of smartphone owners, specifically those who want something that just works. The iPhone has been that product for years, and it seems that Google's tired of it.
We've already seen the company take on the smartwatch market with a new Wear OS collaboration with Samsung. We've seen them dive head-first into the smart home category by getting the Assistant everywhere and simplifying the setup process for dozens of smart home accessories. Google's also improved it's own first-party hardware enough to the point that if you buy a Pixel phone over an iPhone, you no longer feel like you're missing out on features.
Today's announcements build off of Google's work to tying the vast Android ecosystem of devices more closely together to ensure compatibility, simplicity, and compatibility. There's no denying that the company seems pissed Apple is still dominant when it comes to providing an ecosystem, and the search giant wants to change that.
Razer’s next-gen face mask, now with a voice amplifier
Last year, I gave Razer’s Project Hazel mask a Best of CES 2021 award, and that was before it started shipping. Now, the company is back with an improved version of the Zephyr protective facial covering called the Zephyr Pro.
The big news with this year’s mask is its voice amplifier which works through twin speaker grilles to make your voice a bit louder while you’re wearing it. There doesn’t appear to be any EQ settings or filters you can put on your voice, but you’ll still definitely seem like you’re from the future if you use this thing.
The mask seems to offer the same amount of protection as the original Zephyr, and it’s said to come with the same battery life and weight despite the addition of the amplifier. And yes, it still comes with crazy RGB lights that will definitely make you look like you’re part of a dystopian society.
Razer says the Zephyr Pro will cost $149.99 on its own or $199.99 as a bundle with a ton of N95-grade filters.
Asus joins the foldable PC club
Asus joined the foldable PC club at CES with the introduction of its ZenBook 17 Fold OLED. It’s essentially a big 17.3-inch 4:3 OLED display that can be folded in half to a 12.5-inch 3:2 display to be used in a laptop-esque position. You can then place the company’s special Bluetooth keyboard on the lower portion of the screen to replicate a traditional laptop, or prop the flat display up and take advantage of all 17.3-inches.
It’s powered by Intel’s 12th-generation processors and comes with two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 75Whr battery with fast charging. There’s currently no word on how much it’ll cost, but Asus expects it to ship in the second quarter of 2022.
BMW wants to put a movie theater in your car
This one seems more like a concept than anything, but BMW seems to believe it’ll be able to ship it sooner than later.
The company unveiled a new 31-inch 32:9, 8000x2000 screen that it says can provide a movie theater-like experience for passengers in the back of your car. The screen comes powered by Amazon’s Fire TV OS and it supports content in 16:9, 21:9, and 32:9. Surround sound, touch controls on the rear doors, and an internet connection compliment the massive screen.
The idea is for the screen to descend somehow from the roof of your car which could imply the display either slides into your roof or is flexible enough to roll up like a projector screen. Either way, BMW said the model it demoed during CES is “quite similar” to what a production model will look like, indicating that the screen could start shipping in BMWs soon. It’s unclear how much it’ll cost, but expect to be a very pretty penny given the technicalities of such a setup.
CES 2022 coverage
I wrote a lot of news stories in regards to CES this year, so I figured I’d round them up so you can catch up in case you missed some.
CES 2022 Awards coming tomorrow!
Tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. ET, I’ll be sharing my Best of CES 2022 awards over on Matridox.com, so be sure to stay tuned to see some of the very best products and innovations featured at this year’s show.
Adios, fellow nerds.