⚡ Welcome to The Weekly Authority, the Android Authority newsletter that breaks down the top Android and tech news from the week. The 190th edition here, with the OnePlus Ace launch date, the Vivo X Fold, and a space conspiracy theory…
🐣 Happy Easter to those who are celebrating this weekend! 👻 We’re marking the occasion by attending Grimmfest’s virtual horror festival on Saturday — I can’t wait.
Popular news this week
- Pixel 6 users could be one step closer to face unlock.
- Meanwhile, four Pixel 6a models landed at FCC, suggesting coming soon, and more release countries than Pixel 5a.
- And the Pixel 7’s camera may offer only limited improvements over the Pixel 6, may actually be identical to the Pixel 6 but rely on software and sensor upgrades for improvements.
- Unlimited Google Photos storage is back, with one big caveat: For T-Mobile customers only, regardless of whether they own a Pixel, for $15 per month (includes 2TB of cloud storage for Gmail and Drive plus unlimited photo and video storage.)
- And Google’s hounding scammers using its services: It’s suing a man who perpetrated “puppy fraud” targeting vulnerable US residents.
- Plus, Android 13 may provide better gaming performance.
- Also: Another tiny shred of evidence surfaces for the Pixel Watch.
- Finally this week: Google thinks summoning a poltergeist could be a good way to notify you — the Little Signals experiment will showcase six gadgets, each with their own way of notifying users, from blowing air to casting shadows. Spooky.
- The Vivo X Fold is the latest foldable, copying the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s design, with a water-drop hinge design, outer 6.53-inch FHD+ 120Hz OLED panel, inner 8.03-inch 120Hz LTPO OLED panel, two fingerprint sensors, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, an alert/mute slider, and more — but China only for now.
- It’s official: The Poco F4 GT will be coming later this month.
- Nubia Red Magic 7 Pro gets a US launch, $800 for some great specs including 6.8-inch 120Hz FHD+ OLED panel with 960Hz touch sampling rate, 5,000mAh battery, and 65W charging.
- And good news for BlackBerry fans: A new phone like the BlackBerry Key 2 is on the way — the Titan Slim by Unihertz will have a rectangular screen and slim form factor.
- Meanwhile, two new Motorolas break cover: A 144Hz mid-ranger and a 90Hz budget model.
- And WhatsApp announces a big feature drop: new communities feature, emoji reactions, the ability to share larger files, and more.
- Confused cops pulled over a driverless Cruise vehicle which then went on the lam.
- Seems Elon Musk isn’t joining Twitter’s board after all, though he offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share.
- And luxury retailer LVMH is accused of illegally collecting customers’ facial data.
- YouTube suffered major issues on Tuesday, including trouble with logging in, switching accounts, viewing the navigation bar, and more. Though the worst is now over, here’s what you can do if it’s still not working for you.
- And an ultra-rare First Edition of The Great Gatsby lists at $360,000.
- A proper Stranger Things 4 trailer is finally here.
- Speaking of trailers, one for apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Yakamoz S-245 just landed, looks claustrophobic, coming to Netflix April 20.
- And Craig Rosenberg’s Based on a True Story gets series order at Peacock, Jason Bateman to executive produce.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2 had the biggest video-game adaptation debut ever, bringing in $71 million at the domestic box office last weekend.
- And Netflix now lets you give two thumbs up for stuff you really like.
- Fifa’s launched its own streaming platform: Fifa Plus will stream up to 40,000 soccer/football live games annually, free, with ads, for now.
- Meanwhile, Collider has this awesome guide to lesser-known Studio Ghibli films.
- The Northman hits theaters April 22 — Mashable calls it “bold, brutal, and yet underwhelming” but we’ll be going to see for ourselves.
- Finally this week: For some unknown reason, Amazon is rebranding IMDb TV as “Freevee,” from April 27.
- Kingdom Hearts 4 was announced at Square Enix’s presentation as part of the series’ 20th-anniversary celebrations, plus Kingdom Hearts Missing Link for iOS and Android.
- Meanwhile, Cyberpunk 2077’s expansion’s coming in 2023.
- Microsoft’s reportedly developing an upgraded chip for the Xbox Series X to improve power efficiency and make it cheaper to manufacture.
- Nintendo Switch Sports is coming April 29: A follow-up to Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, with six mini-games including tennis, bowling, badminton, volleyball, soccer, and chambara sword dueling (though no baseball this time), with golf to be added later in the year.
- Prepare for 80s cartoon nostalgia with Mythforce, a high fantasy co-op dungeon crawler from indie studio Beamdog, with art style reminiscent of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Thundercats — the first episode, Bastion of the Beastlord, drops in early access April 20 on the Epic store.
- And China’s gaming industry is picking up again, ending the freeze in place since last July by approving 45 new titles.
- Meanwhile, Epic Games and Lego are partnering on a metaverse for kids: details are scarce but the venture promises to be family-friendly, with Lego and Sony investing $1 billion each into Epic.
- And you can become a fearsome space pirate with No Man’s Sky’s new Outlaws update.
- Also: Why the hell is Elden Ring so damn popular?
- The Meta Quest Gaming Showcase is next week (April 20) and we could see an announcement for an Oculus Quest 2 Pro, slated to drop in the second half of 2022, according to tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
- Finally, Blizzard set a time for next week’s World of Warcraft expansion reveal: Tuesday, April 19 at 9 AM PT/12 PM ET/6 PM CEST — leaks suggest it’ll be called Dragonflight.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
The Apollo 13 crew return safely to Earth.
Turns out, this was an important week in space history, with not one, not two, but three significant events, and a conspiracy theory.
First up, on April 12, 1961, 27-year-old Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, orbiting the earth aboard Soviet spacecraft Vostok 1. His flight lasted one hour and 48 minutes before re-entering the atmosphere. It would be his only flight, as he died in 1968 when a plane he was piloting crashed near Moscow.
Here’s what you (probably) didn’t know about the first man in space:
- Gagarin hadn’t always planned on becoming an astronaut — he’d trained as a steelworker.
- His words on takeoff: “Poyehali!” (Let’s go).
- The rocket was an R-7 or “Semyorka” adapted missile which carried the “Vostok” (meaning “East”) spacecraft.
- He may not actually have been the first man in space. Wait, what?
Rumors abounded that a cosmonaut had beaten Gagarin into space five days earlier, on April 7. The man in question was supposedly test pilot Vladimir Ilyushin. In fact, some claimed Ilyushin’s flight took place even earlier, on March 25.
- Supposedly, the flight hadn’t gone as planned, with Ilyushin badly injured and lying unconscious in a Moscow hospital — though the Soviet Union claimed he was being treated for injuries following a car accident.
- This was thought to have been the reason why Ilyushin’s status as “first man in space” was cast aside in favor of Gagarin’s successful mission.
- Many journalists believed the car accident was a cover story. Others believed Ilyushin was in a coma.
- Yet there was no evidence of the April 7 flight, with North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) not picking up on anything.
In 1999, “The Cosmonaut Cover-Up,” a documentary about the Ilyushin/Gagarin conspiracy claimed that Ilyushin had “failed to eject from his capsule, crashed in China, and, after being captured, was eventually handed back to the U.S.S.R. in 1962.” Apparently, he refused to talk about the event on camera.
And this was far from the first Russian cover-up:
- In 1980 the death of Valentin Bondarenko made worldwide news. According to The New York Times, he died in 1961 during a 15-day low-pressure endurance experiment after a fire broke out, and his image was later removed from training photos.
- In 1989, the world found out about a major launchpad incident that resulted in the deaths of 78 people in October 1960.
There are probably many more incidents we still don’t know about.
Space.com highlights some evidence that came to light surrounding the conspiracy:
Achille and Giovanni Judica-Cordiglio, two former amateur radio operators, claimed to have recorded audio from an orbiting capsule days before Gagarin’s flight. This had supposedly happened before, in May 1960, when they had overheard a broadcast of a manned spacecraft going off-course, in November that same year, picking up SOS Morse Code from a spacecraft in trouble as it left Earth’s orbit, and again in 1961, when they, disturbingly, reported hearing a broadcast of an astronaut supposedly suffocating to death.
These have never been proven to be genuine, sadly, but if they were, it may even mean that Ilyushin wasn’t the first man in space.
- Former Soviet senior engineer Mikhail Rudenko claimed cosmonauts had been sent to space in 1957, 1958, and 1959, and that “all three pilots died during the flights and their names were never officially published.” This story was published on pravda.ru on April 12, 2001, though the site’s known for its outlandish alien encounter headlines.
Ilyushin died in 2010 aged 82 and never confessed to having gone to space. Sadly, we may never know the truth.
Also this week in space history:
- April 13, 1970, was the “Houston, we’ve had a problem here” moment, when an oxygen tank aboard Apollo 13’s Service Module exploded. The resulting loss of electricity and oxygen forced the crew to abandon the Command Module for the Lunar Module, stranded for four days while NASA planned a rescue mission. All three astronauts safely returned to earth.
- April 12, 1981, exactly 20 years after Yuri Gagarin’s space flight, saw the launch of NASA’s first space shuttle mission STS-1, sending the Columbia on its maiden voyage. The launch had actually been set for two days earlier on April 10, but was delayed.
- April 19: World of Warcraft expansion reveal @ 6 PM CEST
- April 20: Meta Quest Gaming Showcase @ 10 AM PT
- April 21: OnePlus Ace launch (China) @ 7 AM ET
- April 22: The Northman opens in theaters
- April 28: OnePlus event (India, 7 PM IST)
- April 29: Nintendo Switch Sports released
- May 9-11: Qualcomm 5G Summit (San Diego)
- May 11-12: Google I/O 2022
- June 6-10: Apple WWDC 2022
Tech Tweet of the Week
Something extra: From The Hustle — We love Ralph “Pop” Miller, a pet transporter who shares the cutest pups (and his weekly wisdom) over on TikTok.