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And before we dive in, we wanted to give a shoutout to our sponsor for today’s newsletter, Roborock!
Roku and HBO Max have been in a standoff for the last seven months or so, excluding the HBO Max streaming platform from Roku devices, and generally annoying people.
Finally, it’s over, but it’s not quite exactly out of the blue given the timing:
- So, Roku and WarnerMedia have reached an agreement for the distribution of the HBO Max on the Roku platform and it’s 46M plus users in the US, starting today.
- The move seems to have come down to both the decision to push Warner Bros films direct to HBO Max, and the impending release of Wonder Woman 1984 on the platform, starring Gal Gadot, coming December 25.
- Neither company wanted to miss out and hurt their customers into the holidays, although I’ve read a lot of comments from people who already bought a Fire TV stick or some other low-cost streaming device just to access HBO Max.
- Anyway, both sides said they are pleased, despite the friction that’s been there for the past 203 or so days. It seems both companies were meeting daily, and business compromise is better than blowback.
- “Under the deal, Roku users who have already subscribed to HBO through Roku will have the existing HBO app on their devices automatically updated to become the HBO Max app, and they will be able to log in using their existing HBO credentials.”
- “It appears that going forward, Roku will no longer be able to sell HBO as a channel subscription in the Roku Channel store, a concession that both Amazon and Apple made in their agreements for HBO Max. Roku will sell subscriptions to HBO Max using Roku Pay, the payment service for its streaming devices.”
- Also: You can now also watch HBO Max on your PS5, if you’re lucky enough to have nabbed one, as of today
Apple and Google, too:
- Here’s yesterday’s surprise as well: Chromecast with Google TV will support Apple TV Plus “early next year”.
- That comes just after Apple Music came to Google smart speakers and displays. What’s going on, a great thaw in Big Tech?
- For a brief moment, it looked like the new Google Chromecast would be the first device under $100 that supported every major streaming service, along with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision.
- But then Roku announced the HBO Max deal, and already had Apple TV Plus, so the Roku Ultra holds that mantle until Chromecast gets Apple TV Plus within a month or so.
- Android phones are still left out, but Apple seems to finally have understood that Apple TV Plus needs a wider audience.
- And why not? It has a range of increasingly good content, which starts with Ted Lasso, and Mythic Quest, by the way, and there’s plenty of people who just want to watch whatever it is, without needing an Apple device.
- Google Stadia is on iOS, too, although that’s less of a peaceful deal and more of a web app workaround.
At least Apple is at war with Facebook, so the world feels slightly normal in some parts. More on that below.
🥇 2020 was the year of the mid-range smartphone (Android Authority).
📹 Report: WhatsApp is rolling out audio/video calls to desktop users (Android Authority).
👴 Future Android phones can get up to four years of security updates, as Google and Qualcomm work together to extend the life of Snapdragon phones (Android Authority).
💱 Texas leads accusations in a lawsuit against Google, accusing Google and Facebook of an illegal conspiracy. It’s a light overview of one of the most complex things on the web: ad exchanges, and a further lawsuit seems to be coming today, as well (Wired). Also, give it a little time: the 130 page lawsuit document (PDF) has some redactions but interesting information is being unearthed, including a Star Wars naming convention mystery that doesn’t matter at all. Except …what was it? (Twitter).
🍎 Apple vs Facebook in the new data privacy fight is playing out how you might expect. As Apple plans to release new features that make it harder to track users and increase privacy in iOS 14, Facebook took out full-page newspaper ads against the new privacy measures (iMore). Apple, of course, was ready for this: it rebuffed Facebook criticism, saying its coming iOS anti-tracking features are user-first: “Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not.” (9to5Mac). Facebook has a new ad today, too (The Verge). There’s some kind of irony here about one of the world’s great new-tech advertising platforms going back to old-world advertising to try and make a point about helping small business, but Facebook isn’t totally wrong either. At least one view is that while the fight we’re seeing here is real, the war is about platform lock-in and messaging, as Apple fights to protect iMessage (Twitter).
🔋 An electric RV is coming from Lordstown Motors (the ones with the pick-up truck motors in the wheels) and Camping World, headed by Marcus Lemonis (Engadget).
🚀 SpaceX launches a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office this morning, sometime during a three-hour launch window that opens at 9am EST, and it’s being streamed (SpaceX).
🛰 The bond between Starlink’s two biggest competitors just got tighter (Gizmodo).
📡 And don’t forget about Amazon’s ambitions here: Project Kuiper reveals antenna design that customers will use for its own internet-from-space constellation, with 3,236 satellites approved already (The Verge).
🌒 China’s Chang’e 5 capsule landed on Earth with the first new moon samples in 44 years: 4.4lbs/2kg of rocks! (Space).
😬 This is what a Zero-Star worthy car crash test looks like and my god (Jalopnik).
🤔 “Has anyone else noticed the huge decrease in result quality from Google?” I can’t confirm, but there’s a bit to think about in here (r/nostupidquestions)
Let’s finish today’s newsletter with a simple throwback to simpler times:
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor