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The Tech Weekender | Perseverance rover lands on Mars, first look at Android 12, Facebook takes aim at Australia, Office 2021 is here and more

In case you missed them, here are the biggest developments from the world of tech from the week ended February 20.

February 21, 2021 / 10:09 AM IST
Facebook News Feeds for Australian users went dark on February 18 after the social media giant blocked media content. The move came as a dramatic escalation of a dispute with the government overpaying for content. The move was criticised by lawmakers and news producers. Facebook and search giant Google Inc had both warned they could cancel services in Australia because of looming laws that will force them to pay local publishers for content. However, Alphabet Inc-owned Google has instead sealed preemptive deals with several outlets in recent days. The Australian law would require Facebook and Google to reach commercial agreements with news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms or be subjected to forced arbitration to agree on a price.
Facebook News Feeds for Australian users went dark on February 18 after the social media giant blocked media content. The move came as a dramatic escalation of a dispute with the government overpaying for content. The move was criticised by lawmakers and news producers. Facebook and search giant Google Inc had both warned they could cancel services in Australia because of looming laws that will force them to pay local publishers for content. However, Alphabet Inc-owned Google has instead sealed preemptive deals with several outlets in recent days. The Australian law would require Facebook and Google to reach commercial agreements with news outlets whose links drive traffic to their platforms or be subjected to forced arbitration to agree on a price.
NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 19, 2021. The landing marks the third visit to Mars in just over a week. Two spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates and China swung into orbit around Mars on successive days last week. All three missions lifted off in July to take advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars, journeying some 300 million miles in nearly seven months. Perseverance, the biggest, most advanced rover ever sent by NASA, became the ninth spacecraft since the 1970s to successfully land on Mars, every one of them from the U.S.
NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 19, 2021. The landing marks the third visit to Mars in just over a week. Two spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates and China swung into orbit around Mars on successive days last week. All three missions lifted off in July to take advantage of the close alignment of Earth and Mars, journeying some 300 million miles in nearly seven months. Perseverance, the biggest, most advanced rover ever sent by NASA, became the ninth spacecraft since the 1970s to successfully land on Mars, every one of them from the U.S.
While Android 11 is only available on a limited number of handsets, Google is already gearing up for the arrival of Android 12. The search giant released its first Developer Preview for Android 12. Despite being in its infancy, the Developer Preview of Android 12 reveals much about the next major update to Google's smartphone OS. Google is making several refinements to its existing Android features with Android 12. It is worth noting that Android 12 won't be available until Q3 or Q4 this year. If you want to try out the new changes, consider using a secondary device.
While Android 11 is only available on a limited number of handsets, Google is already gearing up for the arrival of Android 12. The search giant released its first Developer Preview for Android 12. Despite being in its infancy, the Developer Preview of Android 12 reveals much about the next major update to Google's smartphone OS. Google is making several refinements to its existing Android features with Android 12. It is worth noting that Android 12 won't be available until Q3 or Q4 this year. If you want to try out the new changes, consider using a secondary device.
Microsoft Office 2021 has officially been announced, with two new versions for commercial and consumer use. A consumer version of Office 2021 and Office LTSC for commercial customers will be available later this year for Windows and macOS. The new version of Office is designed for users that don't subscribe to the cloud-based Microsoft 365. One of the most apparent changes is the addition of Dark Mode. The new software is said to feature accessibility improvements and introduce features like Dynamic Arrays and XLOOKUP in Excel.
Microsoft Office 2021 has officially been announced, with two new versions for commercial and consumer use. A consumer version of Office 2021 and Office LTSC for commercial customers will be available later this year for Windows and macOS. The new version of Office is designed for users that don't subscribe to the cloud-based Microsoft 365. One of the most apparent changes is the addition of Dark Mode. The new software is said to feature accessibility improvements and introduce features like Dynamic Arrays and XLOOKUP in Excel.
Motorola launched several new budget smartphones this week. The Moto G30 and G10 debuted as budget smartphones with a Snapdragon 662 and Snapdragon 460 chipset, respectively. Additionally, Motorola launched the Moto E7 in India for a starting price of Rs 7,499. Samsung also launched a mid-range gaming-focused phone in India, in the form of the Galaxy F62. The phone packs a massive 7,000 mAh battery, a new 7nm Exynos 9825 chipset, a 64 MP quad-camera setup, and an AMOLED panel. Samsung's budget Galaxy A12 also showed up in India this week. The device arrived with a MediaTek chipset, sizable battery, and 48 MP quad-camera setup.
Motorola launched several new budget smartphones this week. The Moto G30 and G10 debuted as budget smartphones with a Snapdragon 662 and Snapdragon 460 chipset, respectively. Additionally, Motorola launched the Moto E7 in India for a starting price of Rs 7,499. Samsung also launched a mid-range gaming-focused phone in India, in the form of the Galaxy F62. The phone packs a massive 7,000 mAh battery, a new 7nm Exynos 9825 chipset, a 64 MP quad-camera setup, and an AMOLED panel. Samsung's budget Galaxy A12 also showed up in India this week. The device arrived with a MediaTek chipset, sizable battery, and 48 MP quad-camera setup.
Nintendo announced several new titles coming to the Switch at Nintendo Direct. The nearly hour-long event focused on several upcoming indie titles like Fall Guys, Outer Wilds, No More Heroes and Splatoon. The games announced during the event are scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2021. You can check out all of Nintendo's announcements here.
Nintendo announced several new titles coming to the Switch at Nintendo Direct. The nearly hour-long event focused on several upcoming indie titles like Fall Guys, Outer Wilds, No More Heroes and Splatoon. The games announced during the event are scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2021. You can check out all of Nintendo's announcements here.
Parler came back online after being pulled from Amazon's hosting service. Amazon cut off Parler's web-hosting service on January 10 for not complying with the e-retailer's terms and services. As per its relaunch announcement, the company said it is "built on sustainable, independent technology and not reliant on so-called 'Big Tech' for its operations." For now, Parler is using hosting services from SkySilk.
Parler came back online after being pulled from Amazon's hosting service. Amazon cut off Parler's web-hosting service on January 10 for not complying with the e-retailer's terms and services. As per its relaunch announcement, the company said it is "built on sustainable, independent technology and not reliant on so-called 'Big Tech' for its operations." For now, Parler is using hosting services from SkySilk.
Microsoft joined forces with German automotive giant Bosch to develop a vehicle software platform. The two companies aim to make the installation process of automotive over-the-air updates quick and seamless. The new software platform is expected to give drivers quicker access to new functions and digital services. Microsoft and Bosch's new software platform should be ready for prototype vehicles by the end of 2021.
Microsoft joined forces with German automotive giant Bosch to develop a vehicle software platform. The two companies aim to make the installation process of automotive over-the-air updates quick and seamless. The new software platform is expected to give drivers quicker access to new functions and digital services. Microsoft and Bosch's new software platform should be ready for prototype vehicles by the end of 2021.
Carlsen Martin

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