Tech Digest daily roundup: Pregnant man and multi-racial handshake emojis unveiled.


A pregnant man, a multiracial handshake and a face that cannot bear to watch are some of the emojis that will hit devices over the next year, according to a draft list published by the Unicode Consortium, which approves icons for use. The new emojis, illustrated by Emojipedia to celebrate World Emoji Day on Saturday, all but complete the consortium’s drive to offer masculine, feminine and gender-neutral versions of every available emoji, as well as a selection of skintones. Trans and non-binary pregnancies will now be represented in the emoji set, thanks to two new gender options for the “pregnant woman” emoji, while “person with crown” joins “prince” and “princess” for gender-neutral royalty. Guardian

Valve has revealed Steam Deck, its handheld PC shaped like a Nintendo Switch with a 7″ screen. The device will ship this December priced at £349/$399 with 64GB storage, with increased storage options available for £459/$529 (250GB SSD) and £569/$649 (512GB SSD). Steam Deck features two analogue sticks, two touchpads, analogue triggers, ABXY face buttons, four rear buttons, and gyro controls. It has a custom Zen 2 AMD processor, USB-C port and microSD slot for storage expansion. Valve says Steam Deck is specced “comparable to a gaming laptop with the ability to run the latest AAA games”. Valve is promoting the device alongside videos of it running games such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Control, and of course, your Steam library will be instantly accessible. Eurogamer

WhatsApp is introducing a feature that lets users send messages from a computer without needing to have their smartphone connected. The messaging platform already has an app for PC, but until now users have needed their phones on and connected to be able to send messages and make calls.  With this new feature, WhatsApp users will be able to send messages on PC (either Mac or Windows) even if their phone is disconnected or switched off. WhatsApp users will also be able to enjoy video and audio chats on WhatsApp for PC without their phone. Up to four other non-phone companion devices – like PCs and tablets – will be able to connect to WhatsApp independently of a smartphone, as part of the change. WhatsApp is testing the feature with ‘a small group of users’ as part of a beta test before ‘slowly rolling it out more broadly’, the firm said. Daily Mail

Xiaomi is now the second largest smartphone vendor based on worldwide shipments in the second quarter of 2021, according to a new report from Canalys. The Chinese company captured 17 percent of global market share, according to the research firm, just behind Samsung’s 19 percent but ahead of Apple’s 14 percent. BBK’s Oppo and Vivo rounded out the list of top five vendors at 10 percent apiece. All five companies grew their shipments year on year, but what’s notable is just how much Xiaomi has managed to increase its volume — it shipped 83 percent more phones than in Q2 2020, whereas Samsung grew shipments 15 percent and Apple by just one percent. The Verge

A new documentary about Anthony Bourdain has ignited a debate, after film-makers revealed they had used an AI simulation of the late chef’s voice. Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain was narrated using archive material supplemented by a synthetic voice reading short extracts of writing by Mr Bourdain, who died in 2018. Director Morgan Neville called it a modern storytelling technique. But some critics questioned whether it was ethical. Mr Neville said that the synthetic voice was created by feeding more than 10 hours of Mr Bourdain’s voice into a machine-learning system. “There were a few sentences that [Bourdain] wrote that he never spoke aloud,” he told Variety. So the computerised voice was used to bring his writing to life. BBC


Chris Price
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