Facebook Gaming: A Twitch-copycat hits Android first, and more tech news today

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Monday, April 20. 4/20. That number is familiar for some reason… 

1. Facebook’s dedicated game streaming app now out, if you want

Last night, details emerged in a New York Times report that Facebook would launch a Twitch-copycat on Monday. And it happened as of about an hour ago, so you haven’t missed anything yet!

  • Facebook Gaming is a dedicated mobile app now launched widely on Android via the Google Play Store, and is expected to roll out on iOS soon – more on that later.
  • Here’s how the app greets you as open it for the first time:

  • Facebook Gaming joins Amazon’s Twitch, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer streaming services, and it’s been rushed out two months ahead of schedule to meet pandemic demands (or, perhaps, big tech’s need to do everything).
  • Facebook has already been making efforts in gaming for years, and not just Farmville, but with live streaming inside Facebook itself at facebook.com/gaming.
  • Now Facebook Gaming is its own app.

Why is Facebook Gaming an app?

  • Facebook believes a dedicated app offers a fast path to being able to stream quickly. That’s the main plug for amateur-streamers looking to get their game on while streaming for the first time without needing a dedicated setup.
  • “There are a lot of people who listen to music and say, ‘I can imagine myself being a musician,’â€� Vivek Sharma, Facebook’s vice president for gaming, told The New York Times. “People are watching streams and they’re like, ‘I want to be a streamer,’ and with ‘Go Live’ it’s literally just a few clicks and then live, you’re a streamer.â€�
  • For those who just like to watch gamers play, Facebook thinks an app is better than a Chrome window on your phone, PC or tablet: “We don’t want to be the background window in a Chrome tab while someone is doing their homework or doing something else,â€� said Sharma. “With mobile, if you have the app open and you’re using the app, it’s in the foreground. You can’t do anything else on your mobile phone, and that is extremely powerful.â€�
  • …which is true! But still not really a reason why I’d want to use it. Multi-tasking with Twitch, while you browse and meander through a day, is one of its best features.
  • Money: It’s ad-free, with Facebook aiming for users to donate purchased “starsâ€� to streamers. Facebook will take a cut of the purchase; we don’t know how much yet.
  • This may or may not surprise you, but you’ll need a Facebook account. That hasn’t always been the case with Facebook apps recently, but it is here.
  • Where it might work: I mean, I don’t know anyone who would rather stream on Facebook than Twitch, given the relative coolness of each platform. I installed the app but that’s about all I can say for how much I’ll be using it.
  • A big clue to who might, though, is where Facebook has been testing this app: Asia and Latin America, for 18-months already. And that’s where it could take off: lower-cost mobile devices offer the dominant way for people to get online. Facebook usage is high in these countries, and mobile gaming is the only way to play for many.

Why not Apple?

  • The app isn’t on iOS yet, although Facebook wants it to be.
  • There’s a strong implication something is going on behind the scenes between Apple and Facebook on this one.
  • The Times again: “Versions for iOS will be released once Apple approves them, Facebook said.â€�
  • “Approves” being the key word. Google gave it a greenlight… hmm.

2. Google looks like it will launch a Google Pay smart debit card, with leaked pics now out (Android Authority).



4. Flagships aren’t driving smartphone innovation anymore (Android Authority).


5. Apple leaks: New, cheaper AirPods could be ready to launch next month, while an anonymous-but-accurate long-view leaker has Apple insights for the future: iPad Air with under-the-screen Touch ID, ARM-based 12-Inch MacBook are coming, an Apple-designed game controller in 2021, and more (MacRumors).


6. Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have their first post-Facebook product: Rt.live, a tracker of whether the coronavirus is spreading or slowing in each US state (rt.live)


7. Australia will compel Facebook and Google to pay media companies for content, via mandatory code of conduct following lack of progress during voluntary code of conduct efforts (Mashable).


8. FBI sees cybercrime reports increase fourfold during COVID-19 outbreak (Engadget). On that note: “Please stop buying that foldable phone from Pablo Escobar’s brotherâ€� (PCMag).


9. What’s this Clubhouse app being talked about so much? a) It’s not the product management app also called Clubhouse b) No, I don’t have an invite (TechCrunch).


10. Here’s what you do with two-thirds of the world’s jets when they can’t fly: 16,000 jets need to be parked. (Funnily enough, $1,000 a day for airport parking is in the ballpark of what it costs for a car…) (Bloomberg).


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