Weekly Rewind: Battery breakthroughs, game-changing EVs, floating solar plants

Shanghai solar panels
A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top tech stories, from what we know about the new Meizu smartphone to how to fix your dishwasher — it’s all here.

Meizu Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus: Everything you need to know

1316353 autosave v1 meizu pro 7 music

Meizu has announced the Meizu Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus, its follow up to the Pro 6 and Pro 6 Plus. Fans should be ready for devices that don’t look like any Meizu phone that came before them. In fact, they don’t resemble many other phones at all. Meizu has put two screens on the Pro 7, but unlike LG’s approach with the V20, the main screen is joined by a secondary screen on the back. It doesn’t cover the whole surface of the rear panel though, and it is functionally reminiscent of Samsung’s early experiments with Edge screens, like the one found on the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus.

The secondary screen sits on the left-hand side of the rear panel. The size and resolution hasn’t been confirmed yet, but we do know it’s an AMOLED screen, so it should look great. It shows notifications, the music player, the time, weather information, and can act as a mirror for use with the rear cameras; selfies no longer have to be taken with the front cam.

The phone is set inside an attractive metal body, with a very cool brushed finish. Buyers can choose from matte and space black, gold, or silver.

Read: Meizu Pro 7 and Pro 7 Plus: Everything you need to know

Some 2012 and 2013 MacBook Pro users got new machines due to bad batteries

apple staingate macbook pro replacement program extended 2013

Issues with the supply of components most often work against the typical computer user, particularly when it involves an older machine. For a short time, however, some lucky Apple users with 2012 or 2013 MacBook Pros benefited from the company’s supply constraints by receiving a brand-new machine as a replacement. Those fortunate circumstances are now over, and it’s back to business as usual.

According to MacRumors, Apple had a brief problem getting its hands on the integrated battery assembly for mid-2012 and early-2013 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro models. This meant that anyone who visited an Apple Store looking to get a battery replaced was out of luck. In a testament to Apple’s focus on customer service, however, the company made things right in a big way for some customers.

Read: Some 2012 and 2013 MacBook Pro users got new machines due to bad batteries

Usher and James Corden sing, and do good deeds, in latest Carpool Karaoke

carpool karaoke usher

When Usher jumped into the passenger seat of James Corden’s car as the latest subject for the popular Carpool Karaoke segment, he probably didn’t realize he’d also get put to work. In this high-energy edition, the pair have plenty of fan interactions that make it a must-watch.

Airing on a recent The Late Late Show With James Corden, the 13-minute segment has already received more than a million views on YouTube. While Usher and Corden rock out to some of the singer’s best hits, from Yeah! to BurnCaught Up, I Don’t Mind, and OMG, it’s their hijinks outside of the car that offer the most entertainment.

Read: Usher and James Corden sing, and do good deeds, in latest Carpool Karaoke

Some of us rely heavily on dishwashers to do our dirty work, but when the machine breaks or malfunctions, our home can quickly turn into a scene from The Walking Dead. A typical dishwasher should last between seven and 12 years. However, about one in five dishwashers will break within three or four, according to statistics published in the Huffington Post.

If you’re lucky, you may be able to get your dishwasher repairs covered by a warranty. However, many warranties only offer limited coverage and still might come with an associated cost. Consumer Reports surveyed nearly 30,000 people in 2013 and found that when their products malfunctioned, only 15 percent were able to get repairs covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. Moreover, for those people whose warranty offered a repair or replacement, the customer was often still stuck shelling out around $150 for repairs — that’s on top of the cost for the extra warranty coverage.

Read: 5 common problems with your dishwasher and how to fix them

Your next phone could charge in milliseconds with Drexel’s battery breakthrough

mxene millisecond batteries rsz smartphone battery

Smartphones are modern society’s lifeblood. They keep us connected with our social circles and the services we depend on, like our banks, smart home hubs, and connected cars. There’s just one problem: they run on batteries. But if nanomaterials researchers at Drexel University have their way, we might never have to worry about sitting anxiously by a charger again.

The key is MXene, a two-dimensional material consisting of two parts: a hydrogel (a gel with a liquid water component) and an oxide metal. It’s structurally dense enough to shield radiation and filter water, as the research team at Drexel demonstrated in 2011. But it’s also highly conductive, making it a good candidate for battery membranes.

Read: Your next phone could charge in milliseconds with Drexel’s battery breakthrough

The end of life for Adobe’s Flash software nears, but don’t expect a swift death

adobe flash logo

On Tuesday, Adobe provided a roadmap for terminating its Flash software for good.  The death will not be swift and quick like it was on Android, as the company does not plan to cease updating and distributing Flash Player until the end of 2020. This will provide enough time for content creators to migrate their existing Flash-based content to newer, more secure platforms like HTML5.

“Several industries and businesses have been built around Flash technology — including gaming, education, and video — and we remain committed to supporting Flash through 2020, as customers and partners put their migration plans into place,” the company said.

Read: The end of life for Adobe’s Flash software nears, but don’t expect a swift death

Everything you can do with your Amazon Echo Show

 Amazon Echo Show Review Weather

Adding a screen to Amazon’s newest Alexa voice assistant means that the Echo Show can do some things the speaker alone can’t. Whether you want to watch TV, get a cooking tutorial, or see your calendar, the Amazon Echo Show can help out. Developers are racing to catch up on new capabilities rolling in after the device’s launch. Here are a few things you can now do with the Echo Show — just remember that you have to enable these skills in your app. We’ll keep you updated as the Show learns new tricks, but read on to learn more about what’s already available.

Read: Everything you can do with your Amazon Echo Show

Toyota may come out with a game-changing electric car for 2022

2014 Toyota Corolla S back logo

The twin issues of short ranges and long charging times are still a major obstacle for electric cars. But a solution to those problems may be on the way, according to a new report, and it will come from an unlikely source. Toyota plans to launch a “long-range” electric car that can recharge in just a few minutes in 2022, according to Reuters, which cites Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbum. Toyota has long promoted hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over cars powered by batteries. But if this reported electric car goes on sale, the carmaker could be catapulted to the head of the field.

The key to the car’s performance will be solid-state batteries. These batteries use a solid electrolyte, as opposed to the liquid used in the lithium-ion batteries that power all modern electric cars, not to mention your laptop and phone. Unlike the liquid electrolyte, the solid material isn’t flammable. Proponents of solid-state batteries also claim they will perform better than other chemistries, although the technology has not been commercialized yet.

Read: Toyota may come out with a game-changing electric car for 2022

LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ vacuums your floors and keeps quiet about it

lg hom bot turbo

As any homeowner knows, dust and dirt can collect fast. However, not everyone has time to vacuum as often as they would like to. Instead, many have turned toward robot vacuums to get the job done. With the latest LG Hom-Bot Turbo+, consumers are getting a robot vacuum that’s quieter and smarter than ever before.

All three models of LG‘s robot vacuum come with Wi-Fi connectivity, home security settings, and the quietest motors around. Owners can take control of their Home-Bot Turbo+ with their smartphone, or with voice command for the flagship gold model. Using the LG SmartThinQ app on either Android or iPhone, the Hom-Bot can be accessed from anywhere and use up to seven different cleaning modes.

Read: LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ vacuums your floors and keeps quiet about it

The world’s largest floating solar power plant just went online in China

china floating solar power plant
Sungrow Power Supply Co.

China has announced that the largest floating photovoltaic (PV) facility on earth has finally been completed and connected to the local power grid. Long reviled for its carbon emission record, this is the Chinese government’s latest achievement in its ongoing effort to lead the world in renewable energy adoption.

Located in the city of Huainan in the Anhui province, the 40-megawatt facility was created by PV inverter manufacturer Sungrow Power Supply Co. Ironically, the floating grid itself was constructed over a flooded former coal-mining region.

Read: The world’s largest floating solar power plant just went online in China

Android Army

From Apple’s charging mat to Google’s modular phone, these gadgets went MIA

Sometimes tech companies unveil a new gadget or tease a new product but never actually deliver. Plans get changed, things go wrong, and products are canceled. It’s time to look at some of the most exciting tech that never materialized.
Smart Home

Clean your home for cheap with these awesome Prime Day vacuum deals

Modern technology has made keeping a clean home a little bit easier, and now that tech is getting cheaper too. For Prime Day 2018, Amazon is slashing the prices of many of our favorite vacuums, some of which are of the robot variety.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Laptop screen extenders and self-healing tents

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Emerging Tech

Scientists gave gerbils a futuristic ear implant that lets them hear light

Researchers at Germany’s University Medical Center Göttingen have demonstrated a technique that involves using flashes of light to restore hearing in gerbils. Here's how the tech works.
Mobile

Tech Armor says its new screen protector improves iPhone performance. We tested it

Tech Armor has a new screen protector for the iPhone, the Enhance, that can redirect harmful radiation, while improving cell signal and battery life. Skeptical? So were we, so we put it to the test.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Extinction,’ ‘Christopher Robin,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. To simplify things, we round up the best of the best each week. On tap this week: A look at Extinction, a world-ending thriller from Netflix.
Cars

As tax credits expire, the cost of buying a Tesla increases

Without a hefty tax credit enticing new customers, it's possible Tesla may run into sales issues in the near future. Federal tax benefits for Tesla purchases are being phased out at the end of the year.
Computing

Your next virtual reality headset will require just one USB-C cable to connect

Microsoft, Oculus, AMD, Nvidia, and Valve are joining forces to create a new VirtualLink specification. The new tech is designed to replace the HDMI, USB, and power cables needed to connect a VR headset to a PC with a single USB-C cable.
Emerging Tech

A new digital picture frame is nearly indistinguishable from a real canvas

Digital picture frames are old news. But a new display has our attention, thanks to ambient light sensors and other smart tech that makes it indistinguishable from an actual framed work of art.
Wearables

Techy and trendy? That’s the new Emporio Armani Connected smartwatch

Emporio Armani is back with a new smartwatch, and it has the tech to match its trendy style. The 2018 EA Connected smartwatch has features to rival the Apple Watch, with a style that's reminiscent of Armani's traditional watches.
Mobile

Only Google should be mad about having to change Android

Google has been hit with a massive fine in a landmark antitrust case in Europe, and has been told to change the way it manages its Android operating system, or face a heavier financial hit.
Cars

Subaru appoints new president, plans new hybrid, SUV, and autonomous tech

Subaru has appointed a new president Tomomi Nakamura, who announced an ambitious plan to introduce a new hybrid model, a new "global SUV," a new design language, and a push toward more electrification and autonomous driving tech.
Music

The best new music this week: Childish Gambino, Ty Segall, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new songs. On tap this week: Childish Gambino, Tokyo Police Club, Madeline Kenney, Gold Star, The Lemon Twigs, and Ty Segall.
Product Review

Stop stringing cords and replacing batteries with Ring's Spotlight Cam Solar

We like outdoor wireless cameras but dread the low-battery warning that inevitably comes with them. We tested the Ring Spotlight Cam Solar to see if it was the answer to our dead-battery prayers.
Mobile

Corning’s Gorilla Glass 6 will help your phone survive up to 15 drops before it shatters

Corning has finally taken the wraps off of the long-awaited Gorilla Glass 6 -- a glass that will be used to protect the next generation of smartphones -- which allows your phone to survive up to 15 drops before it breaks.
Computing

Relive 1998 as live chat rooms roll out across Reddit in a limited beta

Reddit is slowly rolling out real-time chat rooms across a limited number of subreddits. Currently in beta, Reddit Chat went live in 2017 for a small group of around 7,000 users. Reddit is now expanding this service.
Mobile

These are the best video chat apps to help you stay in touch

Though still relatively new, video chat apps can help you connect with people from around the world. Here are our personal favorites to help you keep in touch regardless of smartphone OS.
Mobile

These might be the best photos shot with an iPhone in 2018

The iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) announced its official winners of its 11th annual global competition. Each one was selected from thousands of entries spanning over 140 countries around the world.
Mobile

Apple's third iOS 12 beta may help you save a lot of data

At this year's Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple unveiled its latest operating system, iOS 12. From app updates to group FaceTime, ARKit 2.0, and more, here are all the new features in iOS 12.
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.
Music

Spotify vs. Pandora: Which music streaming service is better for you?

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.