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纽约时报双语:2020年技术设备红黑榜

2020年技术设备红黑榜
The Tech That Was Fixed in 2020 and the Tech That Still Needs Fixing
BRIAN X. CHEN
2020年12月29日
纽约时报双语:2020年技术设备红黑榜

To put it lightly, 2020 was rough. More than ever, we turned to our personal tech this year to help find respite, stay healthy and remain connected with the people we care about.

用好听点儿的话说,2020年过得艰难。今年,我们比以往任何时候都更多地求助于我们的个人技术设备来寻找喘息之机,保持健康,与我们关心的人保持联系。

Video chat apps, like Webex and Google Meet, became crucial work tools. After gyms shut down, virtual workout apps like Peloton transformed into must-have products. Electric bikes and scooters, once a source of frustration, found their moment when people sought alternatives to public transportation and ride hailing.

视频聊天应用,如Webex和谷歌Meet,成了至关重要的上班工具。健身房关门后,派乐腾(Peloton)等虚拟健身应用变成了必不可少的产品。在人们寻找公共交通工具和叫车服务的替代品时,曾经令人懊恼的电动自行车和小型摩托车一时受到欢迎。

Still, there was plenty of tech that let us down.

尽管如此,还是有很多技术令我们失望。

Some of Amazon’s gadgets, like its Ring surveillance cameras, proved more creepy than useful. Delivery apps with hidden markups continued to drive up the prices of takeout orders. A new type of smartphone with a foldable screen was a gimmick. And, at least for now, so was 5G, the next-generation cellular technology that doesn’t live up to its hype of delivering incredibly fast speeds.

亚马逊的一些小装置被证明离奇居多,而非有用,比如Ring监控摄像头。隐瞒加价的外卖应用继续推高着外卖订单的价格。一款有可折叠屏幕的新型智能手机不过是个噱头。而且,至少就目前而言,5G也不过是个噱头,下一代的蜂窝技术还没能提供宣传中那种令人难以置信的网速。

For the last few years, I’ve reviewed the tech that vastly improved and the tech that still needed fixing. Here were the highs and lows in 2020.

我在过去几年里曾回顾过一些极大改进了的和仍需改进的技术。以下是2020年的亮点和暗点。

Tech That Was Fixed

改进了的技术

Video Chat

视频聊天

“Can you hear me now?”

“你现在能听见我说话吗?”

Before the pandemic, plenty of us loathed taking meetings over video calls. Video and audio quality was often grainy and delayed, and plenty of people did not know to mute their microphones when they weren’t speaking.

在新冠病毒大流行之前,我们中的很多人讨厌通过视频电话开会。视频和音频的质量通常很差,而且有延迟,很多人不知道在他们不说话时将麦克风静音。

Then in the early stages of the pandemic, Zoom made headlines, for reasons good and bad. Hundreds of millions of us, desperate to stay in touch with friends and colleagues, signed up for the videoconferencing service to virtualize our office meetings, classrooms, happy hours and yoga sessions. But as Zoom surged in popularity, we noticed many cracks in security, which allowed trolls to “Zoombomb,” or gain unauthorized access, to people’s video sessions, among other flaws.

后来在大流行的早期,Zoom上了头条新闻,原因有好有坏。由于需要与朋友和同事保持联系,我们中有上亿人注册了视频会议服务帐号,我们的办公室会议、教室、快乐时光和瑜伽课都搬到了网上。但随着Zoom用户的飙升,我们也看到了许多安全漏洞,缺陷之一是让网上的恶意挑衅者可以投掷“Zoom炸弹”,或者叫未经授权参加视频会议。

There was a silver lining to Zoom’s failures: It created the need for stronger alternatives.

Zoom的失败也带来一点好处:它催生了对更安全的替代产品的需求。

Over the last year, many videoconferencing apps have significantly improved. Google made major upgrades to Meet, enabling video chats with hundreds of participants; Microsoft and Cisco are also overhauling their video chat products, Teams and Webex. Zoom, which is still under scrutiny, has fixed some of its security issues.

在过去的一年里,许多视频会议应用程序得到了显著的改进。谷歌对Meet进行了重大升级,允许数百名参加者参与视频聊天;微软(Microsoft)和思科(Cisco)也在对它们的视频聊天产品Teams和Webex进行改进。仍在接受仔细检查的Zoom也已解决了一些安全问题。

At this rate, many of us will probably continue using videoconferencing for many of our tasks even after life returns somewhat to normal.

照这样下去,即使生活恢复某种程度的正常,我们中的许多人可能仍会继续使用视频会议来完成我们的许多任务。

Fitness Tech

健身科技

While wearable gadgets like Fitbits and Apple Watch have been popular for years, many of their applications are still nascent. Counting footsteps gets tedious. Sleep tracking with wearables is inaccurate, and the data can add to your anxieties and keep you up at night. It’s also unclear whether the blood-oxygen-monitoring feature on the new Apple Watch will be useful.

尽管像Fitbits和Apple Watch这样的可穿戴设备已经流行多年,但它们的许多应用仍处于新生阶段。计步器越来越乏味。使用可穿戴设备记录睡眠是不准确的,并且数据可能会加剧你的焦虑,让你彻夜难眠。尚不清楚新款Apple Watch上的血氧监测功能是否有用。

But with our gyms shut down, we were forced to find ways to stay in shape at home.

但是随着健身房的关闭,我们被迫寻找在家中保持体形的方法。

Peloton, which is known for selling expensive exercise bicycles and treadmills, got mainstream attention. Its guided workout videos, which don’t require Peloton hardware, are so well produced that they are a strong substitute for a real-life trainer. Apple this month released a copycat: Fitness+, a subscription service that is exclusive to Apple Watch owners, with videos just as high quality as Peloton’s.

以出售昂贵的健身车和跑步机而闻名的派乐腾受到了广泛关注。它的健身跟练视频(无需派乐腾硬件)制作精良,甚至可以代替真实的教练。苹果公司本月发布了一个仿版:Fitness+,Apple Watch拥有者专享的订阅服务,其视频质量和派乐腾一样高。

This year marked a turning point for health tech: We are getting access to products that can actually make us healthier. That’s not gimmicky.

今年标志着健康科技的一个转折点:我们将获得真正能让我们变得更健康的产品。而不是噱头。

Electric Two-Wheelers

电动两轮车

Before 2020, electric scooters often provoked animosity. Tech companies like Bird flooded city streets with e-scooters that people could rent via apps. But cities weren’t prepared with regulations for the two-wheelers. As a result, many people rode and parked them illegally on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians and people with disabilities.

2020年之前,电动踏板车经常引发人们的不满。像Bird这样的科技公司生产的可以通过应用程序租用的电动踏板车涌现在城市街道。但是城市没有来得及为两轮车制定法规。结果,许多人骑完就把它非法停在人行道上,危及行人和残障人士的安全。

This year, things changed. In some states, like California and New York, regulations are now in place to make the scooters safe to ride. And after government officials discouraged commuters from taking public transportation to work earlier in the pandemic, electric bicycles and scooters found their moment. Many of us have discovered that electric two-wheelers are a joy to ride and friendly to the environment. Most important, they keep people out of cars.

今年,情况发生了变化。在某些州,例如加利福尼亚州和纽约州,现在制定了相关法规以确保踏板车的安全骑行。在大流行早期,政府官员劝阻通勤者不要乘坐公共交通上班,这时电动自行车和踏板车登上了舞台。我们中的许多人已经发现电动两轮车是一种骑行的乐趣,并且对环境友好。最重要的是,它们使人们远离汽车。

The only downside is that high-quality e-bikes have been in such high demand that you were lucky if you were able to find one in stock.

唯一的缺点是,这种高品质的电动自行车需求量很大,如果能找到现货就算是幸运了。

Tech That Needed Fixing

需要改进的技术

Creepy Amazon Gadgets

令人毛骨悚然的亚马逊电子设备

You would think that an artificially intelligent drone that flies around your house to record video is something out of an Orwellian sci-fi movie. But Amazon introduced it as a real product, which says a lot about its product philosophy. The tech isn’t necessarily bad at what it does, but it lacks empathy.

你可能觉得用一架在你家周围飞来飞去的人工智能无人机录制视频犹如奥威尔式科幻电影里的场景。但亚马逊将其作为一款真正的产品推出,这充分说明了它的产品理念。技术不一定差,但缺乏同理心。

The drone isn’t expected to be released until 2021, but we can see the creepy factor in some of Amazon’s gadgets this year. Most famously, Ring, the Amazon-owned company that makes surveillance cameras including internet-connected doorbells, came under fire for several scandals, including one that involved four employees who inappropriately watched customers’ videos.

预计该无人机要等到2021年才能发布,但是我们已经能看到今年亚马逊一些电子设备中的猥琐因素。最著名的是Ring(亚马逊公司旗下企业生产的监视摄像头,包括联网门铃)引发了数起丑闻,遭到抨击,其中一次涉及四名员工以不当手段观看客户的视频。

More recently, Amazon released Halo, its fitness-tracking bracelet, which took creepy to a new level. It has a tiny microphone that listens in on your conversations to tell you how your mood sounds to other people. (For me, the Halo reported that I was disgusted and irritated when I talked to my wife about what a bad idea the product was.) It also has an app that snaps photos of your half-naked body to measure your body fat, which I found to be a very negative motivational tool to get more fit.

最近,亚马逊发布了健身记录手环Halo,将猥琐提升到一个新的高度。它有一个微型麦克风,可以探听你的对话,便可以告诉你在向其他人传达什么样的心情。(当我向妻子谈论这个产品的理念有多么糟糕时,Halo报告说我感觉厌恶、恼火。)它还有一个应用程序,可以拍下你的半裸照以测量体脂,我发现这是一个非常负面的减肥激励工具。

Amazon has done better before. Its Kindle continues to be the most delightful product for reading digital books. Let’s hope its new gadgets are part of a temporary experiment, not a lasting trend.

亚马逊以前做得比现在好。它的Kindle仍然是最令人愉悦的电子书阅读器产品。希望它的新产品只是一个临时实验,而不会一直如此。

Delivery Apps

外卖应用

On the one hand, delivery apps like Uber Eats, DoorDash and Postmates are convenient to use, and we leaned on them heavily this year. On the other hand, many of the apps surprise us with hidden service charges.

一方面,优食(Uber Eats)、DoorDash和Postmates等外卖应用使用方便,我们今年非常依赖它们。另一方面,许多应用隐藏的服务费也让我们感到惊讶。

In an analysis this year, I discovered that most delivery apps tried to hide markups by cramming their service fees and tax into a single line item. The prices of many menu items were also inflated inside apps compared with the restaurant’s prices. In the most egregious example, I found that the price of ordering two Subway sandwiches from Uber Eats was $25.25, which was 91 percent higher than what you would pay at the restaurant.

在今年的一项分析中,我发现大多数外卖应用都试图将服务费和税款塞进单项产品来隐藏涨价行为。与餐厅的价格相比,应用里许多菜单产品的价格也被抬高。最令人震惊的例子是,我发现在优食上订购两个赛百味(Subway)三明治的价格是25.25美元,比在餐厅里支付的价格高出91%。

In the end, you are better off ordering takeout the old-fashioned way: picking up the phone and calling the restaurant directly.

最后,你最好还是用老式办法点外卖:拿起电话,直接打给餐厅。

Foldable Phones

可折叠手机

This year, phone makers like Samsung, Motorola and Huawei promoted so-called foldable smartphones that can be folded or unfolded to decrease or increase their screen size.

今年,三星(Samsung)、摩托罗拉(Motorola)和华为等手机制造商推出了所谓的可折叠手机,可以折叠或展开以缩小或扩大屏幕尺寸。

For that benefit, you get these trade-offs: The devices cost more than $1,300, the screen technology is fragile, and the hinges used for folding will eventually break. Over time, foldable phones also get tedious to use: Before you can use the phone, you have to unfold it and scan your fingerprint or face.

为了这一个好处,你得付出这些代价:这种设备的价格超过1300美元,屏幕技术并不靠谱,用于折叠的铰链最终会损坏。随着时间推移,使用可折叠手机也会变得乏味:在使用之前,你必须打开它来扫描指纹或面部。

Foldables are a reinvention of an old idea. They function like the clamshell phones from the 1990s and early aughts. But has anyone asked for clamshell cellphones to make a comeback? I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone.

可折叠是对古老想法的重新创造。它们的功能就像20世纪90年代和本世纪初的翻盖手机一样。但有人要求翻盖手机卷土重来吗?我很难想到会有这样的人。

5G

5G

Have you heard that 5G is superfast? Probably, because phone carriers have spent millions of dollars marketing the next-generation wireless technology.

你听说过5G速度超快吗?可能听说过,因为手机运营商花费了数百万美元来推销这种下一代无线技术。

Unfortunately, the reality of 5G is more complicated. The technology can be faster than its predecessor, 4G, but with lots of caveats.

不幸的是,5G的现实更为复杂。这项技术可能比它的前身4G更快,但有很多需要警惕的地方。

There are two main flavors of 5G: a version that is extremely fast — zippy enough to download a movie in a few seconds — and another that is only incrementally faster than 4G.

5G主要有两种版本:一种速度非常快——能在几秒之内下载一部电影,而另一种速度只比4G快一点。

For the last two years, phone carriers like AT&T and Verizon have boasted about ultrafast speeds. But they have been less transparent about the technical limitations. The fast version of 5G travels short distances and has trouble penetrating walls. So for the foreseeable future, we will get such a connection only in outdoor areas like parks, not inside our offices or homes.

过去两年来,AT&T和威瑞森(Verizon)等手机运营商一直在吹嘘自己拥有超快网速。但他们对技术限制的态度就不那么透明了。快速版的5G信号覆盖距离很短,而且穿墙困难。因此,在可预见的未来,我们将只能在公园等户外场所获得这种连接,而不是办公室或家中。

For now, the less-exciting flavor of 5G is the one we will get in most parts of the country, and it’s inconsistent. In my tests, 5G was two times as fast as 4G at best. More often, 5G was just as fast as 4G — and sometimes it was slower.

就目前而言,我们在美国大部分地区获得的将是不那么令人兴奋的5G,而且还不稳定。在我的测试中,5G的速度最多是4G的两倍。更常见的情况是,5G和4G一样快,有时还会慢一些。

New cellular technologies always take time to mature, but the carriers have overpromised what the technology will deliver today. Let’s hope it gets better in 2021.

新的蜂窝网络技术总是需要一段时间才能成熟,但运营商对这种技术在今天能提供的服务做出了过高的承诺。希望2021年能更好。

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