Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Wednesday, 25 November 2020. It’s Thanksgiving Eve! Back Friday.

1. The future is your Smart TV playing Xbox games

Google Chromecast with Google TV for you tab

Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

Xbox chief Phil Spencer gave an interview with The Verge as part of an hour-long podcast. There’s a fair bit in there and The Verge helpfully has an edited transcript.

  • A few points! One is the first confirmation, I think, that Microsoft sells the console hardware at a loss. It’s no surprise; that’s been the case for most consoles over the past …forever? But it’s confirmed!
  • Spencer is disappointed that expected launch title Halo Infinite was delayed to 2021, not serving as a powerful reason to pick-up the Xbox Series X/S. But Microsoft couldn’t sell more, because of supply chain problems. And it’s the same for Sony, Nvidia, and AMD, all seemingly waiting for TSMC to produce more chips.
  • Quote: “From a business standpoint, I’m selling every console I can build. It’s hard for me to point out how I would be selling more consoles today. I wouldn’t be.”
  • Spencer says he “applauds” what Sony has done with the PlayStation 5 DualSense controller that is winning a lot of praise.
  • As game streaming grows, Spencer insists he doesn’t think the Xbox Series will be the last hardware Microsoft ships.
  • And there’s some mention of the fight with Apple over game streaming.

But on that point, and something I wanted to highlight more: Microsoft is already thinking of adding the Xbox console experience as an app for smart TVs. If the TV has the specs, why not?

  • When asked about the Xbox becoming a TV app, Spencer said: “I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months. I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that.”
  • “What we used to call a TV was a CRT that’s just throwing an image on the back of a piece of glass that I’m looking at. Now, as you said, a TV is really more of a game console stuffed behind a screen that has an app platform and a Bluetooth stack and a streaming capability. Is it really a TV anymore or is it just the form and function of the devices that we used to have around our TV, consolidated into the one big screen that I’m looking at?”
  • Now, xCloud is only currently available at 720p, which is a long way off being TV ready for anyone currently ahead of the curve using a 65-inch 4K HDR panel in their house.
  • The idea that a FireTV device or a Roku or an “Xbox stick” could stream xCloud, much in the way Google uses the Chromecast Ultra for Stadia would be attractive. There are complications: Stadia controllers connect directly to WiFi to try and nullify the input lag.
  • But given Microsoft will make more money by not taking a loss on the hardware, you can see this coming.
  • Spencer didn’t “hint” at this either, as the headlines are reading. He said it. It’s going to happen sooner or later.

2. Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip 2 may launch later than expected, Korean media pointing at an early Q2 2021 launch (Android Authority).


3. Here’s how 5G availability stacks up in major US cities (Android Authority).


4. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, the foldable Windows laptop/tablet device, is now shipping, after a long wait from the earliest previews. It’s still a $2,499 device, starting with 256GB of storage with no keyboard/stylus, but reviews should start dropping shortly. Our hands-on is here (Android Authority).


5. More Apple M1 Mac reviews are emerging, with more focus on app compatibility issues. Forbes is typically over the top here and there are some weird things like photos of screens rather than screenshots, but Patrick Moorhead is legit. So on balance this one is worth a read: the M1 Mac transition isn’t quite perfect for many apps. Which makes sense! There are pitfalls for non-native apps that are sluggish, crash, or won’t install. It’s fine if you’re already more or less only using Apple apps, but Slack, Chrome, Zoom performance may not quite be there yet and tools like Matlab may bug out. Keep an open mind and keep clear where the review becomes a bit too much like the comments section… (Forbes).


6. This handy site tells you if specific apps work on Apple Silicon yet (The Next Web).


7. Facebook is actively trying to get better. Facebook is also struggling to deal with the fact that removing objectionable content (“bad for the world” content, as identified by Facebook algorithms) from News Feeds lowered the number of times users open Facebook. (NY Times).


8. Google says it has got 400 games in the pipeline for Stadia, from 200 developers. Huh. (The Verge).


9. ‘I forget about the world:’ Afghan youth are playing PUBG Mobile to escape (NY Times).


10. SpaceX’s latest Starlink launch went off without a hitch! Launch, droneship landing, and satellite deployment clips (Twitter).


11. Also SpaceX Starlink engineers held a Reddit AMA — here are the highlights, including no plans for data caps, wider beta in January. One concern is the upper-temperature operating limit is a little low for summer in many places: “the dish is certified to operate from 30° below zero to 40° above zero on the Celsius scale (that’s 22°F below zero up to 104°F)” (Ars Technica).


12. One more rocket thing: Here’s how the Rocket Lab Electron stage separation & second stage ignition looked, as seen from the first stage. Incredible! (YouTube)


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