This week's Lowdown: Vodafone sets 5G launch date

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This week's Lowdown: Vodafone sets 5G launch date

Vodaphone 5G network get UK launch date

Vodafone is the very first UK carrier to commit to a launch date for the next-gen 5G mobile network. They announced the service will go live on the 3rd July, starting off in seven cities at first.

The seven UK cities that will initially get Vodafone’s 5G network are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. There are plans to add 12 more cities to the list by the end of the year though; Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton. And, Vodafone will also offer 5G roaming across Germany, Italy and Spain.

Other major carriers are also preparing for the arrival of 5G. EE have plans to launch a 5G network this summer and O2 have said theirs will be out by the end of the year. There are plans to release four devices and a home router on the network in the near future, and Vodafone says that prices for a 5G plan will work out at the same as 4G equivalents.

The first phone that will be available is the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, with the Huawei Mate 20 X (5G) and the Samsung S10 5G joining the list later this month. The fourth is Huawei’s 5G foldable phone, the Huawei Mate X, which will be out this summer.

While Verizon started the 5G party early in the United States for parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, coverage has been reported to be limited and it costs $10 more over 4G. Vodafone customers will get access to the new network at no extra charge, and with launches happening across the country, we’re excited to see the results.

How Android Q is preparing for 5G

android q logo

There’s lots of exciting additions and improvements being made to Android Q, but the operating system is also being fine-tuned to better accommodate the inevitable launch of 5G.

Speed is the aim of the game, and some are carriers claiming it will be able to handle up to 1Gb per second. That means lengthy HD movies will download in just seconds, and there’ll be no more waiting around while games and videos buffer.

Android Q allows developers to more accurately detect how much data they can send to your phone, and how long it takes. Then, devs can determine how responsive their app will be, and with all this information on connectivity, they can then make apps that are much offer a more immersive and seamless experience.

Developers are also able to detect whether a user is on a ‘metered’ connection – like if they can only download a certain amount of data. For example, when you send a photo over email, you’re asked if you want to send the original size or a smaller one – the app can make that decision for you instead.

Some of these decisions could help your battery last longer and also limit how much data you use, which could be a really handy feature if you’re always running out of juice.

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Google working on automatic car crash detection for the Pixel

Google Pixel

The new Android Q operating system has loads of rumours surrounding what’s to come, however Google are reportedly testing an automatic car crash detection for Pixel phones.

The new Google app is called ‘Safety Hub’, and strings within the app suggest that there’s a feature to detect if/when you are in a car crash.

It’s all speculation at the moment, and Google didn’t provide much information on it at its I/O event either, so it’s unclear at this point how the technology would actually work, or what happens when a crash is picked up.

It could be a great way to alert first responders or emergency contacts that something is wrong, but we’ll have to wait and see what it brings. One thing’s for certain though, Google will have to make sure false positives don’t happen too often.

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Smartwatches could soon be solar powered

Solar powered smart watches

With the need for greener energy growing, it’s welcome news that new technology could see more devices using solar power in place of being charged at the wall.

Turning solar energy into electricity takes soemthing called solar photovoltaic technology (directly converting light into electricity), and it’s becoming much more important. One company in Jerusalem, 3GSolar, is yet to announce any business relationships, but its photovoltaic cells have been used in other small-scale devices.

This type of technology could drastically reduce the need for conventional batteries, which means less of them end up in landfill. It would also remove the need for these devices to ever be recharged with an external power source, which could be a game-changer. Imagine never having to charge your smartwatch again!

There’s gold in them thar…pixels?

Gold Pixels

Your phone’s display is quite an impressive bit of tech, cramming millions of pixels into a relatively small screen space to give you some impressive scenes, whether you’re watching a film or just taking a photo.

But researchers at Cambridge University have now managed to create the smallest pixels in the world. They’re about a million times smaller than those found in your phone, so what we think looks stunning now could look quite retro sooner rather than later.

Each of these new pixels starts out as a miniscule grain of gold, measuring just a few nanometers wide, which is then coated in an ‘active polymer’ and placed onto a reflective surface. This helps to trap particles of light under each pixel, and when the polymer is exposed to electricity it changes chemically, which then changes the colour of the pixel.

It might sound complicated, but these pixels are quite easy and cheap to make - the gold can be coated by the vat load, and then sprayed onto just about any surface of any size. They’re also bright enough to be seen in sunlight, and what makes them even more interesting is they hold their colour until they’re instructed to switch.

So, imaging you’re looking at a photo on your phone. Once the photo is loaded, your phone sends constant instructions to ‘feed’ those pixels, which uses energy. With these new gold pixels, the photo would load on the screen and then stay that way, without using any power, until it’s told to change - which could potentially make them hugely energy efficient.

The team responsible says that the design can be scaled up for bigger, more conventional displays, and could even cover entire buildings for a fraction of what it would cost today. The research has been published in the Science Advances journal.

Seen anything interesting in the land of tech this week? Let us know in the comments!

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