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The Best True Wireless Earbuds – TechEye

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So, you want to buy a new pair of true wireless earbuds, but you’re not sure what to buy. There are brand name buds like the Bose SoundSport Free earbuds and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus. There are in-ear and over-ear designs. There are even wireless headphones that enclose your whole ear and offer more immersion. How do you find the best wireless earbuds, without it turning into a full-time job?

We’ve looked at dozens of earbuds over the years, and now we’re presenting the best wireless earbuds of 2020. Whether you want the best build quality or the best noise reduction, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a closer look at each of them!

Want to jump straight to the answer? The best true wireless earbuds for most people is the Sony WH-1000XM3.

The 9 Best True Wireless Earbud Reviews (2020)

1. Best True Wireless Earbuds Overall – Sony WF-1000XM3

If you look at any list of the best headphones on the market, you’ll probably see the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are the true wireless version of the original over-ear headphones. These true wireless earphones do honor to the original, providing excellent sound quality, noise cancellation, and long battery life. They give you 6 hours on a single charge, or 8 hours if you switch off active noise cancelling.

Part of the reason the WF-1000XM3 earbuds perform so well is that they use the exact same noise-cancelling circuitry as the original WH-1000XM3 headphones. This means you get crisp, clear treble frequencies and rich bass, even if you’re in a noisy environment like a plane terminal or a commuter train. If you need to have a quick conversation with someone outside your personal sound bubble, just long-press one of the volume controls. This will activate transparency mode, so you can hear the person you’re talking with.

We already touched on the Sony WF-1000XM3’s battery life, but we only talked about the earbuds themselves. The charging case stores enough juice for an additional three charges. This gives you a total of 32 hours, enough to listen all day through a full weekend. Even with active noise cancellation blocking out ambient sound, you still get 24 hours of playtime, which isn’t half bad.

To get the most out of your buds, you’ll want to download Sony’s app, which is available for free on iOS and Android. With the app, you can adjust the EQ, set a threshold for active noise cancelling, and tweak your voice assistant settings. You can also customize the function of the control buttons.

The only real downside of these earbuds is that they don’t come with any official IP rating. If you need your buds to be waterproof, you’re going to want to look at a different option. Regardless, all the other features are enough to make them our top pick.

Why they stand out: These true wireless earbuds offer great sound, along with active noise cancellation to keep out distractions, and plenty of battery life.

Who should buy them: An audiophile who loves a comfortable fit is going to feel right at home in the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds.

Sony WF-1000XM3a

With top tier sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort, the Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds are the complete package.


2. Best Affordable True Wireless Earbuds – Edifier TWS NB

Here’s the thing about true wireless earbuds: if you want active noise cancellation, you’re going to have to pay. And more often than not, this means settling for less in other areas. For this reason, most good quality affordable earbuds, like the Amazon Echo Buds, don’t come with ANC. At best, they offer a sub-par replacement, like Amazon’s in-house noise cancellation.

The Edifier TWS NB buds don’t just block out outside noises. They also bring a high-quality design to the table. The buds themselves look like something out of Star Trek, with a slick grey charging case that sits long and low on your nightstand. With ANC turned on, the battery life is a middling five hours. Turn it off, and you’ll get 11 hours. With the case fully charged, you get two additional recharges for a total of 33 hours of playback.

That said, the TWS NB buds still leave a few things to be desired. For one thing, they won’t integrate with voice assistants like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Siri. There are also no volume controls on the earbuds themselves, which is a bizarre oversight in today’s market. Still, considering the price point, Edifier has put out some solid buds.

Why they stand out: Not only do they offer good sound quality, they even provide active noise canceling at this price point.

Who should buy them: If you want a reasonably good pair of earbuds at a reasonable price, look no further.

Edifier TWS NB

Considering the low price, the Edifier TWS NB earbuds offer an unbeatable value.


3. Most Comfortable Fit – Jabra Elite 75t

The Jabra Elite 75t is an upgrade of Jabra’s earlier Elite 65t. And just like their predecessor, these earbuds offer one of the best fits you’ll find on the market. If this has been a problem for you in the past, you know just how important it can be.

Now, every pair of ears is different, and no one headset or set of earbuds is going to be ideal for everybody. For example, some people find the Jabra Elite Active 75t more comfortable than the base Elite 75t. That said, the vast majority of people who try these earbuds come away pleased with the design.

The main reason they fit so well is because of the slender, contoured design. The “stem” of the earbuds extend deep into your ear canal, providing excellent sound quality and noise isolation as long as you use a well-fitted pair of ear tips. Sound is good across the spectrum, but you’ll notice that the bass is a bit punchier than most wireless buds. Moreover, the shells of the buds have a low, smooth profile with no unnecessary protrusions. As a result, they’re not liable to irritate your ears while you’re wearing them.

The control buttons are easy to operate, and are surprisingly sensitive. Even if you’re wearing gloves, you shouldn’t have any issue getting them to recognize your inputs. Between clicks, double-clicks, and long presses, you can adjust the volume, change tracks, play and pause your music, answer or end calls, and even activate your voice assistant. If you need even more control, you can download the free Jabra Sound+ app to change phone call settings, create a custom EQ profile, and more.

The Jabra Elite 75t earbuds have a dust and water-resistance rating of IP55. This means that they can’t handle submersion, but sweat and rain are no problem. Jabra backs this up with a two-year warranty, which is better than what you’ll see from most earbud manufacturers. About the only thing you don’t get is active noise cancellation, but you can’t have everything.

The battery life is quite good, and they can provide 7.5 hours of playback without the need to use the charging case. Including the case, you get a total of 28 hours of battery life, and USB-C charging means you can top off the case battery in about 90 minutes.

Why they stand out: Good audio quality combined with superb comfort make the Jabra Elite 75t stand out.

Who should buy them: If you struggle with finding a comfortable pair of earbuds with a secure fit, these are a solid choice.

Jabra Elite 75t

Not only are the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds quite comfortable, but the sound is also very good!


4. Best Earbuds For iPhone Use – Apple AirPods Pro

When Apple first rolled out the original AirPods, they revolutionized the way people thought about true wireless earbuds. Previously, wireless buds had been little more than a curiosity. Suddenly, the iPhone 7 didn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack, and the AirPods were sleeker and more modern than the competition. If you wanted the latest and greatest, you wanted Apple AirPods.

But time has moved on, and the original design has come to look a bit dated. For example, almost all modern earbuds come with sweat and water-resistance. They also offer better sound than older buds. To address these concerns, Apple released the Apple AirPods Pro. They’ve also added active noise cancellation, and redesigned the earbud shells slightly to provide a more secure fit. Other improvements were made on the software side. For instance, an intelligent EQ will automatically adjust to the unique preferences of each user, and the noise-canceling technology was improved.

In the mean time, the new AirPods keep all the features that made the originals so popular. First and foremost among these is the H1 chip, which is specifically designed for Apple connectivity. You can seamlessly integrate with Siri, without messing around. You can also take advantage of the soft touch controls, as well as the accelerometers that automatically pause your music when you remove the buds.

Even more impressively, the battery life has not decreased. The Apple AirPods Pro support about 5 hours of playback per charge, and the wireless charging case brings that up to a total of 24 hours between power outlets. That’s right. The charging case supports Qi charging. You can top up your battery without even needing to plug in.

Why they stand out: The original AirPods were good. The AirPods Pro come with water resistance, improved sound quality, and active noise cancellation.

Who should buy them: If you liked the original AirPods, you’ll like these earbuds even more.

Apple AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro are a significant upgrade over the original AirPods, with improved sound quality, water resistance, and ergonomics.


5. Best Earbuds For Android – Google Pixel Buds 2

For several years, Samsung Galaxy buds have been universally considered the best wireless earbuds for Android devices. But with the release of the Google Pixel Buds 2, there’s a new champion in this weight class.

Google has marketed the Pixel Buds 2 as general-use earbuds, and that’s fair enough. After all, they perform very well with just about any audio source. But they’re specifically designed for Pixel and Android users. It’s obvious the moment you take them out of the charging case, when they automatically start running the Fast Pair on Android process.

With these buds, both sound quality and battery life are no issue. You’ll be getting your money’s worth. But you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you’re an Android user. Perhaps the most impressive feature is that they come pre-enabled with hot words for Google Assistant. As a result, you can control all your phone’s functions without touching a single button. You can even use Google Assistant to skip tracks, change to a specific track, and more. Frequent travelers will appreciate the ability to use Google Translate right out of the box. It’s fully integrated with the voice assistant, so it’s ready to use from day one.

In addition to dedicated Android features, Google redesigned the Pixel Buds 2 from the ground up, with significant improvements to comfort and ergonomics. They followed Apple’s lead, upgraded their flagship earbuds, and produced an impressive result.

Why they stand out: The second-generation Google Pixel Buds are an impressive improvement over the original, especially in terms of sound quality.

Who should buy them: If you already use an Android smartphone or tablet, these true wireless earbuds will pair seamlessly.

Google Pixel Buds 2

The Google Pixel Buds 2 come hot word-enabled for Google Assistant, allowing for truly hands-free phone use.


6. Best For Workouts – JLab Epic Air Sport

The first thing you’ll notice about the JLab Epic Air Sport earbuds is the over-ear design. The rubberized ear hooks provide a secure, comfortable fit that will almost never pop out by accident. Along with the ear hooks, you also get seven different sets of ear tips. Not only do you get two each in small, medium, and large, you also get a foam set in addition to the ordinary silicone. All of this makes these earbuds very comfortable to wear, even during intense activities.

When it comes to battery life, the JLab Epic Air Sport buds also perform very well. In fact, with a whopping 10 hours of battery life, these are some of the longest-lasting true wireless earbuds that money can buy. For even more playtime, you can use the charging case to recharge the buds five additional times. This provides an incredible 60 hours of juice before you need to plug in again. There’s even a USB port so you can use the case to charge your phone. It has a capacity of 2,600mAh, or enough for about an 80% charge on your iPhone.

Beyond that, these JLab buds allow you to select between three different EQ presets without the need for an app. You also get easy Bluetooth 5.0 pairing and comfortable soft touch controls. Finally, an IP66 rating means the Epic Air Sport buds can stand up to rain, dust, and other extreme environmental conditions.

Why they stand out: They offer a winning combination of long battery life and a sweatproof design.

Who should buy them: Anyone who’s looking for earbuds to wear while running, cycling, or weightlifting.

JLab Epic Air Sport

The over-ear fit and long-lasting batteries make the JLab Epic Air Sport ideal for workouts and excursions.


7. Best Wireless Earbud Sound Quality – Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

As you might guess from the name, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds are the second generation in their product line. The first generation Momentum buds offered almost studio-quality sound, but the battery life was severely lacking. The Momentum True Wireless 2 buds are much improved, with up to seven hours of audio on a single charge. The charging case has also been upgraded, and now provides an additional 21 hours of juice.

At the same time, the Momentum True Wireless 2 buds have actually been somewhat slimmed down. They’re 2mm smaller than the original, although the overall shape and style are the same. Similarly, the soft touch controls are still large and responsive. You can adjust the volume, change tracks, and bring up your voice assistant as easily as ever.

The audio quality and unique Sennheiser sound profile of the Momentum True Wireless 2 buds remains unchanged from the original version. That said, you’ll have a lot easier time hearing what you’re playing. These new and improved true wireless earbuds come complete with active noise cancellation.

Why they stand out: They’re the best-sounding buds on the market, bar none. Not only that, but the battery life is also pretty good.

Who should buy them: Audiophiles who want the best possible sound are going to love these true wireless earbuds.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Not only do the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds come with Sennheiser’s signature sound quality, they also feature active noise cancelling.


8. Best Earbuds For Bass Quality – Beats Powerbeats Pro

Let’s start out with the most important aspect of any true wireless earbuds: sound quality. In this regard, the Beats Powerbeats Pro are among the best that money can buy. This is particularly true for bass, which is rich and powerful, but also tight. Even if you crank it all the way up, it’s not going to rattle your drivers. Treble and mid tones are also clear, with a wide soundstage that provides a lot of separation between instruments.

In addition to this, the Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds’ batteries provide up to 9 hours of playback. With a few exceptions, this is some of the longest battery life you’ll see. If that’s not enough, the charging case offers an additional 15 hours of juice, for a total of 24. That said, the Bluetooth 5.0 connection is a tad weak. If your smartphone has trouble picking up devices, this may not be the right set of earbuds for you.

Finally, the Powerbeats Pro buds provide an excellent fit. Earhooks provide over-ear stability, while comfortable silicone tips provide a secure seal inside your ears. This makes them comfortable for long listening sessions. And for quick breaks, they even feature built-in sensors that will automatically pause your music when an earbud is removed.

Why they stand out: These earbuds are known for strong, punchy bass, but they also offer excellent battery life and water resistance.

Who should buy them: Beats Powerbeats Pro earbuds aren’t just for fans of bass; they’re also great for workouts, providing plenty of motivation.

Beats Powerbeats Pro

The Beats Powerbeats Pro true wireless earbuds not only push out some powerful bass, they also offer stellar battery life.


9. Most Stylish True Wireless Earbuds – Klipsch T5 True Wireless

Klipsch has a longstanding reputation for sound quality, and their true wireless earbuds continue to honor that tradition. Not only that, but the call quality is also quite good. The controls are easy to manage, with simple, soft touch operation that allows you to skip tracks, adjust the volume, and perform other operations with ease.

Battery life is no issue, with a full 8 hours of playtime per charge. The charging case provides an additional 24 hours, for a total of 32. Speaking of the charging case, the existing case isn’t just attractive. It’s also surprisingly comfortable to carry, with slightly rounded corners just like the Zippo lighter it evokes. And with a metal finish, it’s also surprisingly durable.

The fit is reasonably comfortable, with plenty of space between the shell itself and the silicone tip. And with IPX4 water-resistance, you’ve got a great workout companion. The T5 isn’t just a good looking set of earbuds, it’s the complete package.

Why they stand out: If you want some sharp-looking earbuds that also sound good, these are an excellent choice.

Who should buy them: These earbuds are a great choice for anyone who wants their earbuds to be as fashionable as they are utilitarian.

Klipsch T5 True Wireless

The Klipsch T5 True Wireless earbuds are dressed for success, with attractive gold Klipsch logos on the earbuds and a retro Zippo-style case.


True Wireless Earbud Buying Guide

If you’re a bit intimidated by the true wireless earbud market, you’re not alone. True wireless earbuds are a relatively new type of product, and even the experts can struggle to keep up. Here’s a quick primer on what you need to know.

Can you use wireless earbuds with a PC?

Yes, but only if the PC has Bluetooth enabled. Most PCs support Bluetooth by default, and you simply have to turn it on in your control panel. If your PC doesn’t have a Bluetooth card, there are plenty of reasonably-priced USB dongles that will perform the same function.

Can you use wireless earbuds on airplanes?

Yes. But just like any other electronics, they must be powered off during takeoff and landing.

Can you use wireless earbuds with game consoles?

With a little finagling, the PlayStation 4 will accept a wireless earbud connection. Unfortunately, the Xbox One will not.

Can you use wireless earbuds with a TV?

With certain Bluetooth-enabled smart TVs, yes. Otherwise, you need to use a USB dongle. If your TV doesn’t have a USB port, you’re out of luck.

Are wireless earbuds better than wired earbuds?

In terms of sound quality, generally not, although they’re getting close. They’re mostly popular because of easy portability and storage.

Do all wireless earbuds come with a charging case?

In most cases, yes. If not, keep in mind that you’ll get fewer hours of battery life before you have to plug in. In most cases, earbuds without a charging case are low quality to begin with, and not worth your investment.

Can you work out with wireless earbuds?

Absolutely! Make sure they have a water-resistance rating of IPX4 at minimum, which means they’re sweat-resistant. For rain, earbuds that are IPX5 water-resistant will keep you protected. If there’s a risk they might be fully submerged, or if you want to take them in the shower after your workout, IPX7 is ideal. You’ll also need a secure fit to ensure that your earbuds don’t fall out.

What is AptX Low Latency?

AptX Low Latency is an audio protocol for providing high-bitrate audio with near-zero lag. It’s not noticeable if you’re just missing to music, but it’s great at eliminating desynchronization for movies and videos.




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Is your smartphone ruining your memory? A special report on the rise of ‘digital amnesia’ | Memory

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Last week, I missed a real-life meeting because I hadn’t set a reminder on my smartphone, leaving someone I’d never met before alone in a café. But on the same day, I remembered the name of the actor who played Will Smith’s aunt in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in 1991 (Janet Hubert). Memory is weird, unpredictable and, neuroscientifically, not yet entirely understood. When memory lapses like mine happen (which they do, a lot), it feels both easy and logical to blame the technology we’ve so recently adopted. Does having more memory in our pockets mean there’s less in our heads? Am I losing my ability to remember things – from appointments to what I was about to do next – because I expect my phone to do it for me? Before smartphones, our heads would have held a cache of phone numbers and our memories would contain a cognitive map, built up over time, which would allow us to navigate – for smartphone users, that is no longer true.

Our brains and our smartphones form a complex web of interactions: the smartphonification of life has been rising since the mid 2000s, but was accelerated by the pandemic, as was internet use in general. Prolonged periods of stress, isolation and exhaustion – common themes since March 2020 – are well known for their impact on memory. Of those surveyed by memory researcher Catherine Loveday in 2021, 80% felt that their memories were worse than before the pandemic. We are – still – shattered, not just by Covid-19, but also by the miserable national and global news cycle. Many of us self-soothe with distractions like social media. Meanwhile, endless scrolling can, at times, create its own distress, and phone notifications and self interrupting to check for them, also seem to affect what, how and if we remember.

So what happens when we outsource part of our memory to an external device? Does it enable us to squeeze more and more out of life, because we aren’t as reliant on our fallible brains to cue things up for us? Are we so reliant on smartphones that they will ultimately change how our memories work (sometimes called digital amnesia)? Or do we just occasionally miss stuff when we don’t remember the reminders?

Neuroscientists are divided. Chris Bird is professor of cognitive neuroscience in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex and runs research by the Episodic Memory Group. “We have always offloaded things into external devices, like writing down notes, and that’s enabled us to have more complex lives,” he says. “I don’t have a problem with using external devices to augment our thought processes or memory processes. We’re doing it more, but that frees up time to concentrate, focus on and remember other things.” He thinks that the kind of things we use our phones to remember are, for most human brains, difficult to remember. “I take a photo of my parking ticket so I know when it runs out, because it’s an arbitrary thing to remember. Our brains aren’t evolved to remember highly specific, one-off things. Before we had devices, you would have to make a quite an effort to remember the time you needed to be back at your car.”

Professor Oliver Hardt, who studies the neurobiology of memory and forgetting at McGill University in Montreal, is much more cautious. “Once you stop using your memory it will get worse, which makes you use your devices even more,” he says. “We use them for everything. If you go to a website for a recipe, you press a button and it sends the ingredient list to your smartphone. It’s very convenient, but convenience has a price. It’s good for you to do certain things in your head.”

Hardt is not keen on our reliance on GPS. “We can predict that prolonged use of GPS likely will reduce grey matter density in the hippocampus. Reduced grey matter density in this brain area goes along with a variety of symptoms, such as increased risk for depression and other psychopathologies, but also certain forms of dementia. GPS-based navigational systems don’t require you to form a complex geographic map. Instead, they just tell you orientations, like ‘Turn left at next light.’ These are very simple behavioural responses (here: turn left) at a certain stimulus (here: traffic light). These kinds of spatial behaviours do not engage the hippocampus very much, unlike those spatial strategies that require the knowledge of a geographic map, in which you can locate any point, coming from any direction and which requires [cognitively] complex computations. When exploring the spatial capacities of people who have been using GPS for a very long time, they show impairments in spatial memory abilities that require the hippocampus. Map reading is hard and that’s why we give it away to devices so easily. But hard things are good for you, because they engage cognitive processes and brain structures that have other effects on your general cognitive functioning.”

Hardt doesn’t have data yet, but believes, “the cost of this might be an enormous increase in dementia. The less you use that mind of yours, the less you use the systems that are responsible for complicated things like episodic memories, or cognitive flexibility, the more likely it is to develop dementia. There are studies showing that, for example, it is really hard to get dementia when you are a university professor, and the reason is not that these people are smarter – it’s that until old age, they are habitually engaged in tasks that are very mentally demanding.” (Other scientists disagree – Daniel Schacter, a Harvard psychologist who wrote the seminal Seven Sins Of Memory: How The Mind Forgets and Remembers, thinks effects from things like GPS are “task specific”, only.)

While smartphones can obviously open up whole new vistas of knowledge, they can also drag us away from the present moment, like it’s a beautiful day, unexperienced because you’re head down, WhatsApping a meal or a conversation. When we’re not attending to an experience, we are less likely to recall it properly, and fewer recalled experiences could even limit our capacity to have new ideas and being creative. As the renowned neuroscientist and memory researcher Wendy Suzuki recently put it on the Huberman Lab neuroscience podcast, “If we can’t remember what we’ve done, the information we’ve learned and the events of our lives, it changes us… [The part of the brain which remembers] really defines our personal histories. It defines who we are.”

Catherine Price, science writer and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone, concurs. “What we pay attention to in the moment adds up to our life,” she says. “Our brains cannot multitask. We think we can. But any moment where multitasking seems successful, it’s because one of those tasks was not cognitively demanding, like you can fold laundry and listen to the radio. If you’re paying attention to your phone, you’re not paying attention to anything else. That might seem like a throwaway observation, but it’s actually deeply profound. Because you will only remember the things you pay attention to. If you’re not paying attention, you’re literally not going to have a memory of it to remember.”

The Cambridge neuroscientist Barbara Sahakian has evidence of this, too. “In an experiment in 2010, three different groups had to complete a reading task,” she says. “One group got instant messaging before it started, one got instant messaging during the task, and one got no instant messaging, and then there was a comprehension test. What they found was that the people getting instant messages couldn’t remember what they just read.”

Price is much more worried about what being perpetually distracted by our phones – termed “continual partial attention” by the tech expert Linda Stone – does to our memories than using their simpler functions. “I’m not getting distracted by my address book,” she says. And she doesn’t believe smartphones free us up to do more. “Let’s be real with ourselves: how many of us are using the time afforded us by our banking app to write poetry? We just passively consume crap on Instagram.” Price is from Philadelphia. “What would have happened if Benjamin Franklin had had Twitter? Would he have been on Twitter all the time? Would he have made his inventions and breakthroughs?

“I became really interested in whether the constant distractions caused by our devices might be impacting our ability to actually not just accumulate memories to begin with, but transfer them into long-term storage in a way that might impede our ability to think deep and interesting thoughts,” she says. “One of the things that impedes our brain’s ability to transfer memories from short- to long-term storage is distraction. If you get distracted in the middle of it” – by a notification, or by the overwhelming urge to pick up your phone – “you’re not actually going to have the physical changes take place that are required to store that memory.”

It’s impossible to know for sure, because no one measured our level of intellectual creativity before smartphones took off, but Price thinks smartphone over-use could be harming our ability to be insightful. “An insight is being able to connect two disparate things in your mind. But in order to have an insight and be creative, you have to have a lot of raw material in your brain, like you couldn’t cook a recipe if you didn’t have any ingredients: you can’t have an insight if you don’t have the material in your brain, which really is long term memories.” (Her theory was backed by the 92-year-old Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist and biochemist Eric Kandel, who has studied how distraction affects memory – Price bumped into him on a train and grilled him about her idea. “I’ve got a selfie of me with a giant grin and Eric looking a bit confused.”) Psychologist professor Larry Rosen, co-author (with neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley) of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World, also agrees: “Constant distractions make it difficult to encode information in memory.”

Smartphones are, of course, made to hijack our attention. “The apps that make money by taking our attention are designed to interrupt us,” says Price. “I think of notifications as interruptions because that’s what they’re doing.”

For Oliver Hardt, phones exploit our biology. “A human is a very vulnerable animal and the only reason we are not extinct is that we have a superior brain: to avoid predation and find food, we have had to be really good at being attentive to our environment. Our attention can shift rapidly around and when it does, everything else that was being attended to stops, which is why we can’t multitask. When we focus on something, it’s a survival mechanism: you’re in the savannah or the jungle and you hear a branch cracking, you give your total attention to that – which is useful, it causes a short stress reaction, a slight arousal, and activates the sympathetic nervous system. It optimises your cognitive abilities and sets the body up for fighting or flighting.” But it’s much less useful now. “Now, 30,000 years later, we’re here with that exact brain” and every phone notification we hear is a twig snapping in the forest, “simulating what was important to what we were: a frightened little animal.”

Smartphone use can even change the brain, according to the ongoing ABCD study which is tracking over 10,000 American children through to adulthood. “It started by examining 10-year-olds both with paper and pencil measures and an MRI, and one of their most interesting early results was that there was a relationship between tech use and cortical thinning,” says Larry Rosen, who studies social media, technology and the brain. “Young children who use more tech had a thinner cortex, which is supposed to happen at an older age.” Cortical thinning is a normal part of growing up and then ageing, and in much later life can be associated with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as migraines.

Obviously, the smartphone genie is out of the bottle and has run over the hills and far away. We need our smartphones to access offices, attend events, pay for travel and to function as tickets, passes and credit cards, as well as for emails, calls and messages. It’s very hard not to have one. If we’re worried about what they – or the apps on them – might be doing to our memories, what should we do?

Rosen discusses a number of tactics in his book. “My favourites are tech breaks,” he says, “where you start by doing whatever on your devices for one minute and then set an alarm for 15 minutes time. Silence your phone and place it upside down, but within your view as a stimulus to tell your brain that you will have another one-minute tech break after the 15-minute alarm. Continue until you adapt to 15 minutes focus time and then increase to 20. If you can get to 60 minutes of focus time with short tech breaks before and after, that’s a success.”

“If you think your memory and focus have got worse and you’re blaming things like your age, your job, or your kids, that might be true, but it’s also very likely due to the way you’re interacting with your devices,” says Price, who founded Screen/Life Balance to help people manage their phone use. As a science writer, she’s “very much into randomly controlled trials, but with phones, it’s actually more of a qualitative question about personally how it’s impacting you. And it’s really easy to do your own experiment and see if it makes a difference. It’s great to have scientific evidence. But we can also intuitively know: if you practice keeping your phone away more and you notice that you feel calmer and you’re remembering more, then you’ve answered your own question.”

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China rallies support for Kylin Linux in war on Windows • The Register

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China’s efforts to end its reliance on Microsoft Windows got a boost with the launch of the openKylin project.

The initiative aims to accelerate development of the country’s home-grown Kylin Linux distro by opening the project up to a broader community of developers, colleges, and universities to contribute code.

Launched in 2001, Kylin was based on a FreeBSD kernel and was intended for use in government and military offices, where Chinese authorities have repeatedly attempted to eliminate foreign operating systems.

In 2010, the operating system made the switch to the Linux kernel, and in 2014 an Ubuntu-based version of the OS was introduced after Canonical reached an agreement with Chinese authorities to develop the software.

The openKylin project appears to be the latest phase of that project, and is focused on version planning, platform development, and establishing a community charter. To date, the project has garnered support from nearly two dozen Chinese firms and institutions, including China’s Advanced Operating System Innovation Center.

These industry partners will contribute to several special interest groups to improve various aspects of the operating system over time. Examples include optimizations for the latest generation of Intel and AMD processors, where available; support for emerging RISC-V CPUs; development of an x86-to-RISC-V translation layer; and improvements to the Ubuntu Kylin User Interface (UKUI) window manager for tablet and convertible devices.

China’s love-hate relationship with Microsoft

China’s efforts to rid itself of Redmond are by no means new. As far back as 2000, Chinese authorities ordered government offices to remove Windows in favor of Red Flag Linux.

However, in the case of Red Flag Linux, those efforts ultimately went nowhere after the project failed to catch on. The org was ultimately dissolved, and the team terminated in 2014. Despite its collapse, the project appears to have been rebooted, with a release slated to launch later this year.

This is a story that would repeat on a regular cadence, fueled by periodic spats between Uncle Sam and software vendors.

It’s safe to say the Chinese government has something of a love-hate relationship with Redmond. In 2013, Chinese authorities urged Microsoft to extend support for Windows XP, on which the country still relied heavily.

However, a year later, the Chinese government banned Windows 8 in much of the public sector, just months after Microsoft ended support for Windows XP.

Today, Microsoft controls roughly 85 percent of the desktop operating system market as of June 2022, according to Statcounter.

Some of this can be attributed to the launch of Windows 10 China Government Edition in 2017, which was developed in collaboration with the China Electronics Technology Group.

It doesn’t appear those efforts bought Microsoft’s American partners much in terms of goodwill, with Chinese authorities directing government agencies to throw out all foreign-made personal computers this spring. ®

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EU-backed project to trial uncrewed flight ecosystem in Shannon

Voice Of EU

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The Shannon-based project aims to integrate the operations of uncrewed and conventional aircraft to modernise air traffic management in Europe.

A European consortium based in Shannon has received EU funding to develop a flight ecosystem for drones and help integrate uncrewed aircraft into our airspace.

Coordinated by Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI), this consortium will conduct a three-year engineering project to develop, deploy and optimise this type of system in Europe.

Describing itself as Ireland’s “first testbed for future mobility”, FMCI is a development centre based in the Shannon Free Zone focused on innovation in both ground and air mobility tech.

Illustration of an unmanned vehicle testing site, with drones visible. A landing and take off zone is highlighted, along with a mobile operations unit where a van is parked. A small building is labelled as the AAM operations centre.

Illustration of the Advanced Aerial Mobility Hub at FMCI. Image: FMCI

FMCI said the research project, known as EALU-AER, represents a “major vote of confidence” in Ireland’s local expertise, industry operators and the resourcing of air mobility development.

Other members of the consortium include Shannon Group, the Irish Aviation Authority, Collins Aerospace, Dublin-based Avtrain, and Deep Blue in Italy.

The consortium has received the three-year funding award to develop uncrewed aviation business opportunities in Ireland, as part of a collaborative research project that could help modernise air traffic management in Europe.

The consortium said the new funding will help build an end-to-end ecosystem that supports the safe operation of uncrewed flights. The goal is to help integrate the operations of both uncrewed and conventional aircraft.

“This will result in developing and building out the critical infrastructure to allow advanced air mobility proliferate across Europe,” FMCI CEO Russell Vickers said.

“It will secure access to airspace for large numbers of drones and eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] aircraft, resulting in safe, cost-effective and sustainable transport of freight and people in the future.”

The project’s work will be based at FMCI’s Advanced Aerial Mobility Research Test and Development Facilities in Shannon, but will include a network of Advanced Air Mobility routes across Ireland.

FMCI has already worked with Avtrain and Shannon Group to trial freight delivery services using beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drones.

“We are entering a new era of innovation where the success of the industry will depend on the integration of uncrewed aircraft into our airspace, rather than the segregation of airspace,” Avtrain CEO Julie Garland said.

Funding for the project came from the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking, which is partnership of private and public sector entities in the EU that aim to accelerate the delivery of the Digital European Sky through research and innovation.

It comes as people are increasingly looking at the potential of drones and uncrewed flight technology. A Dublin City Council initiative recently looked to show how local government can utilise drones in areas such as civil defence, emergency response, public safety and environmental monitoring.

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