Here's where you can preorder Google's Pixel 6A and Pixel Buds Pro – The Verge
Updated 4:13PM ET, July 21st: Added trade-in value info for older Google Pixel phones that the Google Store will offer at the time of purchase.
Google’s more affordable and palm-friendly spin on the Pixel 6, the $449 Pixel 6A, is now available to preorder, as are the new Pixel Buds Pro. Focusing on the phone first, your preorder will ensure that you’re among the first to get the Pixel 6A on or close to launch day, which is Thursday, July 28th. Google announced the release date all the way back at its I/O conference in May, and we’ve been waiting very patiently.
The same goes for the $199 Pixel Buds Pro (scroll down to see a $15 off deal), Google’s first wireless earbuds to include active noise cancellation and ship in multiple bright color options. Those are releasing the same day, and you can place a preorder right now.
We have a review of the Pixel 6A right here from Allison Johnson, and we’ll have a full review of the Pixel Buds Pro within the coming days. But whichever gadget you’re after, we’ve pulled together some buying links and promotions that you may want to know about.
Where to preorder the Pixel 6A
Compared to the 6.4-inch Pixel 6, the Pixel 6A’s 6.1-inch OLED screen is much better suited to people with smaller hands or who just prefer a smaller phone. It has some key traits in common with Google’s pricier flagship phones, most notably that it has the same Tensor processor. Also, its general design (which blends the Pixel 6 and the upcoming Pixel 7) and Android software experience are familiar.
Its camera hardware is one section that is taking a hit due to the lower price, though it should still deliver excellent photos compared to other phones in its price range. It features two rear cameras, one of which is a main 12.2-megapixel camera, while the other is a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens with a 114-degree field of view. It has an 8-megapixel selfie cam.
- The Pixel 6A with 128GB of storage will cost $449.99 unlocked at the Google Store, Best Buy, and Amazon. In terms of colors, it comes in sage green, chalk white, or charcoal black.
- If you own an older Pixel phone, you may want to consider purchasing through the Google Store. Google is offering up to $300 trade-in value on older Pixels, like the Pixel 3A, Pixel 4, and Pixel 4A. Preordering from Google also gets you a free pair of Pixel Buds A earbuds ($99 value).
- At Verizon: purchasing the Pixel 6A at Verizon costs $50 more overall, but you’ll get support for the carrier’s 5G ultra wideband support, if that sways you. Monthly payments start at $13.88 per month for 36 months.
Verizon is making the Pixel 6A free (in the sense that you’ll be paid back in promotion billing credits every month for 36 months, totaling $499.99 at the end) for people up to activate a new phone line on its 5G Start, 5G Do More, 5G Play, or 5G Get More Unlimited plans.
If you’re simply upgrading at Verizon and are on one of its 5G Unlimited plans, you’ll get a $100 discount on the total. (Mind you, that discount will be reimbursed to you in monthly chunks over a 36-month period.)
Where to preorder the Pixel Buds Pro
As previously mentioned, the Pixel Buds Pro feature active noise cancellation, which can silence your surroundings while listening to tunes. They will also arrive with multipoint connectivity, rendering the buds capable of automatically switching between your last two connected Bluetooth devices — ranging from laptops and TVs to Android and iOS phones. Support for spatial audio will debut later this year, Google says, which should make watching a movie or show on compatible Pixel phones feel more immersive.
Other notable features include IPX4 water resistance and the ability to issue hands-free voice commands thanks to Google Assistant support. Plus, the Pixel Buds Pro come with swappable ear tips for what should be a more custom — and therefore comfortable — fit. Google additionally claims the Pixel Buds Pro charge wirelessly and provide up to 11 hours of listening time (or seven hours if you’re using the active noise cancellation feature).
New film by Calgary's Tank Standing Buffalo streams on HBO | CTV News – CTV News Calgary
A Calgary animator’s newest cartoon started streaming Thursday night on HBO Max.
Tank Standing Buffalo’s MONSTR was one of eight animated shorts chosen from more than 1,200 submissions to be part of the HBO Max series Only You: An Animated Shorts Collection.
MONSTR deals with Standing Buffalo’s fight with inner demons while apprenticing with a northwest totem carver following the death of his wife Marsha.
“My partner Marsha died suddenly in my arms of a brain aneurysm,” Standing Buffalo said in a release. “One moment she was there, the next she was gone. Without her, I was lost.
“I left Calgary to walk the west coast until I couldn’t walk, and ended up on carver Phil Ashbee’s doorstep. He saw I was in trouble, and took me in. I began a tough year-and -a-half apprenticeship, learning from him and another carver. The teachings were harsh, but helped me to heal.
Tank Standing Buffalo’s next project MONSTR is part of an HBO Max program for animators
“MONSTR takes place during my time with Phil, and brings to life how I confronted the grief of Marsha’s passing. It is my story, one only I can tell.”
Standing Buffalo worked with co-writer Xstine Coo, producer Amanda Miller and composers Cara Adu-Darko and Brandon Smith on the film, which features music by Walter MacDonald White Bear.
The film features the voices of Corey Feldman and Tristan Risk.
It’s Standing Buffalo’s third animated short, following RKLSS (2020), which screened at TIFF, and SAVJ (2021), which is currently being screened at a variety of film festivals.
HBO flew Standing Buffalo to Los Angeles for the Hollywood premiere of MONSTR Tuesday night.
Scene from MONSTR by Tank Standing Buffalo
In his artist statement, Standing Buffalo said art has literally saved his life – and his emergence as a rising animation star was launched by a scholarship he received to attend a Calgary animation workshop.
“I came to love animation six years ago when I received a scholarship through Quickdraw Animation Society in Calgary,” he said. “I am a person who thrives on routine and discipline. I appreciate the meditative repetition required to create animation.
“Through making my first two autobiographical shorts with monster and fantasy elements, I’ve found telling my story through animation is a form of time travel; my art is healing the person who I was in the past.”
Databricks pushes open-source chatbot as cheaper ChatGPT alternative
March 24 (Reuters) – Databricks, a San Francisco-based startup last valued at $38 billion, on Friday released open-source code that it said companies could use to create their own chatbots along the lines of OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
The code is an AI model, an algorithm that is trained on sets of data and can then learn from new data to perform a variety of tasks.
Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi said the release was aimed at demonstrating a viable alternative to training a kind of AI model called a large language model with enormous resources and computing power.
A large language model underpins OpenAI’s viral chatbot ChatGPT. OpenAI, valued at $29 billion, trains its AI models with huge troves of data on a supercomputer from investor Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O). The computing costs are “eye-watering”, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has said.
OpenAI charges business for access to its models for their own applications and has projected $1 billion in sales by 2024.
Databricks’ effort comes with caveats. Ghodsi told Reuters that, while the open-source chatbot displayed impressive capabilities at such tasks as drafting blog posts, the company had not released formal benchmark tests to show that the bot matched ChatGPT’s performance.
Databricks sells cloud-based data mining and analytics software to businesses and said last year it had surpassed $1 billion in annualized revenue.
Databricks wants enterprises to train their own AI models using its software. Ghodsi said the company’s researchers had taken a two-year-old model that was freely available and trained it with a small amount of data for three hours on single computer that anyone with a credit card could rent.
“The future will be that everyone has their own model, and they can actually train it, and they can make it better,” Ghodsi said. “And that way, they also don’t have to give away their data to someone else.”
Databricks’ move comes at a time when startups are raising millions of dollars of venture capital investment to train their AI models and as big tech firms such as Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) and Meta Platforms (META.O) rush to shrink the size and cost of AI models while improving their accuracy.
“My belief is that in the end, you will make these models smaller, smaller and smaller, and they will be open-sourced,” Ghodsi said. “Everyone will have them.”
British regulator softens stance on Microsoft-Activision deal competition concerns
Shares of Activision Blizzard surged Friday, after the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority narrowed the scope of its investigation into Microsoft‘s takeover of the games publisher.
The development marks a partial win for Microsoft, as it pursues an expansion of its video game business. The Redmond, Washington-based technology giant has deepened its focus on gaming through blockbuster acquisitions, such as its purchase of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks.
In February, the CMA published provisional findings from its probe into the takeover, stating at the time that the transaction may result in higher prices, fewer choices and less innovation. Among its concerns, the regulator flagged that the deal would cause a substantial lessening of competition in the console gaming market.
Since then, the regulator has received a “significant amount” of feedback from various industry participants on the deal. With this new evidence, the CMA now says it no longer believes the transaction will hamper competition in console games.
“Having considered the additional evidence provided, we have now provisionally concluded that the merger will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in console gaming services because the cost to Microsoft of withholding Call of Duty from PlayStation would outweigh any gains from taking such action,” Martin Coleman, chair of the independent panel of experts conducting the CMA investigation, said in a statement Friday.
“Our provisional view that this deal raises concerns in the cloud gaming market is not affected by today’s announcement. Our investigation remains on course for completion by the end of April.”
Shares of Activision Blizzard surged more than 6% in U.S. premarket trading. Microsoft shares declined slightly amid a broad market slump.
‘Call of Duty’ distribution in focus
The CMA announcement comes after the U.S. technology giant has also won support from some companies that were against the deal, or sitting on the fence.
One of the major concerns from Microsoft’s competitors was that the transaction would block distribution access to Activision’s crown jewel franchise — “Call of Duty.” Last month, Microsoft said it signed a “binding 10-year legal agreement” to bring Call of Duty to Nintendo players on the same day as Microsoft’s Xbox, “with full feature and content parity.”
Additionally, Microsoft signed a deal with Nvidia to bring its Xbox games to Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. Microsoft said it would also bring the Activision games library to Nvidia’s service, if the acquisition closes. Nvidia was reportedly against Microsoft’s Activision takeover.
But Microsoft has yet to bring onside its biggest rival, Sony, which owns the PlayStation console. Microsoft President Brad Smith told CNBC last month that the company is offering Sony the same agreement as it did Nintendo — to make Call of Duty available on PlayStation at the same time as on Xbox, with the same features. Sony still opposes the deal.
“We appreciate the CMA’s rigorous and thorough evaluation of the evidence and welcome its updated provisional findings,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC via email.
“This deal will provide more players with more choice in how they play Call of Duty and their favorite games. We look forward to working with the CMA to resolve any outstanding concerns.”
An Activision spokesperson told CNBC that the CMA’s updated provisional findings “show an improved understanding of the console gaming market and demonstrate a commitment to supporting players and competition.”
“Sony’s campaign to protect its dominance by blocking our merger can’t overcome the facts, and Microsoft has already presented effective and enforceable remedies to address each of the CMA’s remaining concerns. We know this deal will benefit competition, innovation, and consumers in the UK.”
Microsoft is not completely off the hook.
The CMA says it still has reservations about the deal as it pertains to cloud gaming, where delivery of games content is handled from remote servers rather than from a device’s internal memory. Notably, cloud gaming is still in its infancy and not yet a mass-market technology.
In its provisional conclusions, the CMA suggested that Microsoft may need to divest part or all of Activision — or its CoD franchise alone — to resolve its concerns. The CMA did not provide an update as to whether it believes this remains a potential resolution.
The watchdog will make its final decision on April 26.
Microsoft also still faces uncertainty from regulators in the U.S. and European Union. Smith travelled to Brussels last month to meet with EU regulators. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust case against Microsoft attempting to block the Activision deal.
Some major companies retain reservations about the acquisition, which includes Google parent Alphabet, according to Bloomberg.
– CNBC’s Steve Kovach contributed to this report
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