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The Morning After: The battery-saving power of dark mode on iPhones

Mat Smith
Bureau Chief, UK
Engadget

Hey, good morning!

Welcome back! This week is reviews week, so you can expect verdicts on Microsoft's new Surface family, Google's new Pixel phones and Nest devices and a few more things. Over the weekend, we saw proof that dark mode could help your smartphone last longer, saw people willingly trapped on a plane for 19 hours and saw how the LA fire service is taking drones seriously.

The New York to Sydney trip studied the health effects on everyone aboard.
Qantas completes record 19-hour flight to test the limits of air travel

The Australian airline has completed the first non-stop commercial flight from New York City to Sydney as part of a project researching the effects of very long flights -- in this case, 19 hours and 16 minutes. The study measured pilots' brain waves, melatonin and overall alertness, while passengers helped gauge the effectiveness of anti-jetlag measures, like changes to cabin lighting and meals. Travelers even participated in exercises on board.

There are two more flights coming as part of Project Sunrise, Qantas' larger effort to study health on long-haul trips. A London to Sydney flight is due in November. However, there is one major obstacle that could prevent flights like this from becoming regular occurrences: headcount. Qantas had to put tight limits on numbers to save fuel, with just 49 passengers and crew flying aboard a Boeing 787-9, which typically holds 280. That will demand a premium.

At the end of a robotic test, the difference was considerable.
Dark mode can substantially save battery life on OLED iPhones

Dark mode is a key feature on iOS 13, but can it really extend your iPhone's battery life? If it's a newer model with an OLED screen, the answer seems to be a firm yes, according to tests done by PhoneBuff. They used robotic devices to perform identical tasks on two iPhone XS test devices, one in light and one in dark mode. That included watching a YouTube video, using Twitter, navigating with Google Maps and chatting on the Messages app.

At the end of the test, the light mode iPhone XS was dead, while the one running dark mode still had 30 percent battery life. The benefits come from the OLED screens found on devices like the iPhone X, XS and 11 Pro. When OLED pixels are shut off, they use zero power, while dark pixels on regular LCD phones emit some light. (This is also why OLED phones have better contrast ratios than LED models.)

A low-cost, high-quality entry into the world of sedan hybrids.
Honda's Accord Hybrid is a value-packed sedan

Honda has a reputation for well-engineered, long-lasting vehicles. So it should be no surprise that the 2020 Accord Hybrid is those things and more. Will it impress your car-nerd friends? Probably not. Will it impress your bank account and family? Yes, yes it will. According to Roberto Baldwin, our six-foot-and-the-rest editor, it's comfortable and roomy with an impressive amount of tech for the price. It also gets a combined rating of 48 miles per gallon. For people looking for a vehicle where passengers aren't crammed together but would rather not jump on the SUV bandwagon, the Accord Hybrid is something to look into. Plus, it's great for the tall people of the world.

It made virtually no progress until the robot arm pitched in.
NASA's InSight lander can finally dig a hole for its Mars heat probe

NASA's 'mole' lander was supposed be digging a hole so a probe could measure heat escaping from Mars' interior, but it hasn't made much progress since February -- it hadn't even finished burying itself. At last, it's making some headway. The arm had struggled against unusually rough soil, but the team found it could get the necessary friction by having InSight press its robotic arm against the probe.

It's still moving slowly. The mole has dug a mere three quarters of an inch since October 8th, but it could venture as deep as 16 feet. That, however, will take some time.

It believes drones could be vital for search and rescue and other fields.
Los Angeles Fire Department wants to double its drone fleet

The Los Angeles Fire Department's Battalion Chief Richard Field intends to double the drone fleet just five months after partnering with DJI. On top of the existing 11 drones, the new ones would provide help to "specialized resources," such as crews who deal with hazardous materials, urban search and rescue and swiftwater rescues. Existing units provide clearer viewpoints on blazes and help create maps for wildfires.

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