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Quick takes on Quibi, and more tech news you need to know today

Quibi's quick bites aren't going to be for everyone, and that's being generous. But there's something there, maybe?
April 6, 2020
quibi phone logo

Your good tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Monday, April 6.

1. Quibi is here, if you want it

Quibi is out just in time for the ongoing lockdown. The app name is short for “quick bites,” and it’s a mobile-only short video streaming service, available for both Android and iOS platforms (only) now*.

  • Quibi has now officially launched in the US and Canada and is available more widely too. I had no problems downloading it and tuning in here in Germany, and had confirmation it’s working in Australia too.
  • *But we didn’t get it to work in the UK yet, and Dutch colleagues haven’t been able to download it either. So, maybe it’s a planned rollout? I’ve asked Quibi to clarify.
  • In any case, it’s free for now, with a 90-day free trial if you sign up before April 30.
  • If you sign up today that runs through to July 5, 2020.
  • After that trial, plans start at $4.99/month, $7.99/month for ad-free.
  • (I’m seeing a single-tier 8,99 €/month for ad-free in Europe, which might make sense given advertising is likely to be North American focused for now.)

Positives: Quibi’s unique proposition and the app itself

  • The big thing is that Quibi’s content is mobile-first. You can only watch on an iOS or Android device (although Chromebooks work in portrait mode only).
  • There’s also responsive video, which adapts to your viewing angle in portrait or landscape mode, which Quibi calls its ‘Turnstyle’ technology.
  • In use, the responsive video technology adjusts without that hiccup you can see shifting orientation. It does add a slightly different perspective and titles and credits adjust as well.
  • Apparently Turnstyle will allow for more narrative elements as you switch positions but launch shows didn’t show that off. So it worked, but I didn’t need it.
  • Otherwise, elements like the clock on your phone and GPS location will change how some shows look or evolve. Again, none of that is here on day one.
  • Other neat tricks are the progress bar or a show running vertically down the right side of the screen as you watch in portrait mode (or left, for left-handers who choose that option).
  • It does offer offline downloads too for watching while on mobile data or patchy connections.

On the negative side:

  • There’s no profile setup yet, as Quibi is trying to be personal to each person.
  • That means if you share your login details, you might be frustrated as there’s only one single concurrent stream allowed.
  • I was getting some streaming hiccups on the first official day but that’s been the case for the likes of Disney Plus as well.

Is the content any good?

  • That depends. That really depends. Less than 10-minute episodes make everything so abrupt and rapid. It’s both compelling and difficult to really enjoy.
  • This morning I watched a few random things ranging from trashy to serious.
  • On the good side, Dishmantled isn’t bad if you want to watch crowd-sourced chefs try to recreate a meal shot at them from a cannon to win $5k. Yup. Episodes last about six minutes, hosted by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess.
  • It’s fun, light-weight, and that’s it. But I can imagine people watching this.
  • Other shows like Shape of Pasta take themselves very seriously but the episodes are almost too short to really create feeling. Apparently chef Evan Funke is famous, and that’s a big part of why I don’t get this at all. It’s too much.
  • Survive with Sophie Turner starts slow but kept me watching.
  • There’s I Promise, a LeBron James-focused documentary about his school in Akron which is like a LeBron commercial, but at least it is fundamentally good.
  • Punk’d is back with Chance the Rapper and maybe it shouldn’t be…

Star power not always firing:

  • Look, right now it seems like the whole thing is based heavily on celebrity and star power, and it’s trying to appeal to a younger audience by being so snappy and loaded with pop culture.
  • You’ll either get in because of this or find your unable to imagine why anyone would use it.
  • It sort of feels like what you might get if YouTube paid what Quibi invested ($1 billion!) in content, and stars, and every possible idea being greenlighted.
  • It both works and it doesn’t, and I find myself deciding within about 15 seconds if I want to watch something or not because of how lost cost it is to jump around.
  • Quibi feels like it was made for commuters catching a show. As Moe Szyslak might say: ‘We called that “The Commute.” They don’t let you do that no more.’
  • I can’t say if it’ll get better or not, but at least there’s 90 days to decide if you’re going to pay for the service that’ll see mixed reviews, mark my words.
  • Again: Download for Android and iOS if you’re interested.

2. Scoop reveals next-gen Samsung earbuds: beans. These are unusual! (Android Authority).

4. “Can we stop it with the comically big phones now?” (Android Authority).

5. Leaked image shows off apparent iPhone 12 Pro: triple-lens camera and Lidar scanner, from a reliable source (9to5Mac).

Also, Apple has apparently bought NextVR, a live event streaming AR/VR company which has worked with the NBA, Fox Sports, Wimbledon, for $100M. Apple’s pushing to be competent in AR, hence the Lidar in the iPad Pro and strong rumors in iPhone 12 Pro (9to5Mac).

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