ShinyShiny tech roundup: Amazon launches Billie Eilish Echo Studio
If you were in a tizzy about what to get the devoted Billie Eilish fan in your family for the holidays, Amazon might have just solved your problem — assuming you’re prepared to drop $230 on them. Announced today, the Billie Eilish Limited Edition Echo Studio is available for pre-order and features the melancholy-voiced singer pasted on the side of Amazon’s highest-end Echo speaker, the Studio. Basically, the album cover art from Eilish’s new album “Happier Than Ever” has been printed onto a new beige-hued fabric and wrapped around the Echo Studio. It creates a slightly eerie-looking product that supposedly someone, somewhere, will want to put in their home. This is Amazon’s first foray into celebrity skins; previous attempts to dress up its bulbous smart speakers have focused on pandas and tigers designed for children’s rooms. The Verge
Microsoft has announced a range of computers, laptops, and a dual-screen smartphone as part of its big Surface Windows 11 event. The unveiled devices include brand new computer types and updated models in existing lines, as well as new accessibility options. Each of the machines will be some of the first to ship with Windows 11. Surface Pro 8, Microsoft’s popular original two-in-one convertible tablet PC, has had a full redesign for its eighth generation. The Surface Pro 8 now has a larger, brighter and higher resolution 13in touchscreen that supports Dolby Vision HDR and a refresh rate up to 120Hz for a smoother experience – a rarity outside dedicated gaming PCs. The Pro 8 is twice as fast as the Pro 7 with the latest 11th generation Intel Core chips, up to 32GB of RAM and two USB4/Thunderbolt 4 ports. It also has a redesigned keyboard and Surface Slim Pen 2 stylus that contains a vibrating motor designed to give you the sensation of pen on paper as you write on the glass screen. The Surface Pro 8 starts at $1,099.99 in the US from 8 October and £999 in the UK from 28 October. Guardian
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Fortnite maker Epic Games Inc., said Wednesday it’s been told by Apple that the game will be “blacklisted from the Apple ecosystem” until the companies’ legal case is resolved and all appeals are exhausted, which could take as long as five years. Sweeney posted on Twitter that Epic has asked Apple to reinstate Fortnite and promised “that it will adhere to Apple’s guidelines whenever and wherever we release products on Apple’s platforms. Apple spent a year telling the world, the court, and the press they’d ‘welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.’ Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users,” Sweeney tweeted. AP News
A survey of 500 boys and girls looked at what the car of the future should look and feel like when they’re old enough to take their test. Showing maturity above their years, the most important feature on their dream car was comfortable seats, followed by high levels of safety and being environmentally friendly. Black and red were the most popular colours for the car – while electricity was far and away the ideal source of power, with diesel and petrol going out of the window. And six per cent said they want engineers to take cars to the next level and dodge traffic by making them fly. Tech Digest
A vertical farming system is being developed which researchers hope will address global food challenges by using hi-tech growing methods to produce large quantities of nutritious fresh crops all year round. The system grows vegetables, salads and fruit, stacked vertically and without the need for soil. It is being designed and engineered by scientists at Nottingham Trent University, in partnership with Henley Associates Ltd. Two vertical farming units are being created, one about the size of a shipping container and the other about half the size. They will act as an initial proof of concept, paving the way for more to be built for and used by retailers, caterers, local authorities and schools, experts say. Yahoo!