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Google's Year in Search for 2019 baffles us again, and more

☔ Hello hello! Still ensconced in bushfire smoke here on the east of Australia, something that won’t change without significant rain. “Send 'er down, Hughie!,” as they say in these parts.

2019 in Search: We're a strange humanity

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: when Google reminds us of what we searched during the last 12 months, in convenient lists you can look at yourself, wherever you’re from.

  • Google, by the way, processes more than 40,000 search queries every second. Google knows things.
  • Some of those things are very fun. Local results reveal strange yearnings, and global results can be baffling for outsiders.

Starting with a look at the US we see:

  • ‘Disney Plus’ topping the most-searched rankings, which makes sense given the depth, breadth, and pricing on offer for the $7 a month service.
  • Celebrities and deaths feature throughout too, sadly sometimes together, along with scandals and such, the usual headline grabbers. Less fun.
  • ‘Avengers Endgame’ and ‘Game Of Thrones’ at #7 and #8 in the US list tells you nothing you didn’t already know about the biggest entertainment hits.
  • #9 being the iPhone 11 is remarkable considering the minor feature upgrades, but added value in a price drop plus better cameras and battery life - marking the first iPhone in the top 10 searches, although Google hasn’t been overly consistent in its fairly limited year-to-year data.

Globally:

  • #1 ‘India vs South Africa’ is probably baffling to anyone who doesn’t follow cricket, but a bunch of five-day Test matches between these two nations, one with a population of 1.34 billion that was happening to be winning by a huge margin can dominate search results.
  • (‘Cricket result’ also account for spots #4 and #10 - it’s a pretty good sport to follow intently, the list don’t lie!)
  • The iPhone 11 did better on the global search results than in the US, another remarkable result, while the Avengers and Game Of Thrones were global phenomena as well.

But now to the fun! Google always offers oddities and just look at the lists of search results for ‘what is…?’ And ‘where is…?’:

What is...?

  1. What is area 51
  2. What is a vsco girl
  3. What is momo
  4. What is a boomer
  5. What is quid pro quo
  6. What is camp fashion
  7. What is disney plus
  8. What is bird box about
  9. What is a mandalorian
  10. What is brexit
  • Bird Box was from December 2018, just in case you were thinking you were crazy, like I did.
  • You’re better off not knowing about momo, while I definitely searched vsco girl, and still don’t really know what’s going on there, but that’s what Google really is for I guess?

Where is...?

  1. Where is Sri Lanka
  2. Where is the Super Bowl this year
  3. Where is Area 51
  4. Where is 21 Savage from
  5. Where is the hurricane now
  6. Where is Xur
  7. Where is Clemson football team from
  8. Where is Gonzaga University located
  9. Where is Stranger Things filmed
  10. Where is Pebble Beach Golf Course
  • I wonder what combination of factors would help you know as many of these 10 at once, including the active location of a hurricane.
  • And, look there’s so much else going on here, but Area 51 making both the what and the where is probably because we were meant to get them aliens this year.
  • If you searched both, I assume the FBI is well aware.

Round Up:

📈 Pixel’s improved RAM management should appear on other Android phones in 2020 (Android Authority).

🔒 New Google Chrome security upgrades are out: Chrome will tell if your login has been stolen (Android Authority).

🕳 David Imel is in China with Oppo and showed off Oppo’s almost completely hidden under-display camera tech - see it peeking at the top-middle part of the screen (Twitter). No release date yet, no detail on how much picture quality is sacrificed.

🎧 OnePlus could release its own wireless earbuds, and yeah that makes sense (Android Authority).

🎧 Also: Apple AirPods Pro vs Huawei Freebuds 3: Get the pro or the clone? (Android Authority). For iPhone users the choice is obvious, but for others…

📺 You can now give the gift of Disney+ with a click, no mall trip required (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple’s new Mac Pro has pricing for models with up to 1.5TB of RAM (for about $25,000, just for the RAM), and weirdly, the most expensive Pro Display XDR requires a special, Apple-made cloth to clean it (The Verge).

🏓 Become excellent at Excel for under $25: go from data-entry to PivotTable Pro (Android Authority). (Honestly, being good at Excel is like magic but it takes some effort.)

🔬 Intel says it’ll reach 1.4nm manufacturing for chips by 2029 (Anandtech).

🎮 Sony held its last official State of Play broadcast for 2019, packed with game reveals, release dates and new looks at upcoming titles. Including, importantly, Untitled Goose Game (GameSpot).

👀 The Pirate Bay seems to be testing a streaming option again (The Verge).

🔧 Cover: Why the ‘Queen of Shitty Robots’ renounced her crown (Wired).

🚀 NASA unveils 'the most powerful rocket ever built' (Engadget).

🤔 “What was the dumbest thing you’ve ever been asked by a customer?” (r/askreddit). Wow there’s really a lot here:: “I used to work in IKEA in the section which sold wardrobes. Big behemoths of things. Normally around 6 foot long and 60kg in boxes. Customers would regularly ask me would it fit in their car. After being polite the first few times asking them about the size of their car and guessing, I then just started asking them what colour their car was. The amount of people who'd answer unphased was amazing.

Wednesday Weirdness 

Here’s something weird: flu season has started very early in the US:

CDC flu

  • 12 US states are reporting high levels of flu activity and 15 states reporting moderate activity, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (image above).
  • At the same time last year, two states reported high levels of flu activity and three states reported moderate activity.
  • Weirder: most infections right now are being caused by a strain of the virus known as influenza B: 158,740 samples tested in clinical laboratories, found 3.3% have been positive for influenza — 31.7% for influenza A and 68.3% for influenza B, reported Healio, a site for healthcare professionals.
  • Normally, flu season kicks off with influenza A strains and influenza B turns up at the end of flu season in Spring.
  • It’s not too late to get a flu shot: Quadrivalent flu vaccines protect against two strains of influenza A virus and two strains of influenza B.

Cheers, Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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