Quick takes on Quibi, and more tech news you need to know today
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 â€œquick bites,â€� 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 itâ€™s working in Australia too.
- *But we didnâ€™t get it to work in the UK yet, and Dutch colleagues havenâ€™t been able to download it either. So, maybe itâ€™s a planned rollout? Iâ€™ve asked Quibi to clarify.
- In any case, itâ€™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.
- (Iâ€™m seeing a single-tier 8,99 â‚¬/month for ad-free in Europe, which might make sense given advertising is likely to be North American focused for now.)
Positives: Quibiâ€™s unique proposition and the app itself
- The big thing is that Quibiâ€™s content is mobile-first. You can only watch on an iOS or Android device (although Chromebooks work in portrait mode only).
- Thereâ€™s also responsive video, which adapts to your viewing angle in portrait or landscape mode, which Quibi calls its â€˜Turnstyleâ€™ 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 didnâ€™t show that off. So it worked, but I didnâ€™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:
- Thereâ€™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 thereâ€™s only one single concurrent stream allowed.
- I was getting some streaming hiccups on the first official day but thatâ€™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. Itâ€™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 isnâ€™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.
- Itâ€™s fun, light-weight, and thatâ€™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 thatâ€™s a big part of why I donâ€™t get this at all. Itâ€™s too much.
- Survive with Sophie Turner starts slow but kept me watching.
- Thereâ€™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.
- Punkâ€™d is back with Chance the Rapper and maybe it shouldnâ€™t beâ€¦
Star power not always firing:
- Look, right now it seems like the whole thing is based heavily on celebrity and star power, and itâ€™s trying to appeal to a younger audience by being so snappy and loaded with pop culture.
- Youâ€™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 doesnâ€™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: â€˜We called that “The Commute.” They don’t let you do that no more.â€™
- I canâ€™t say if itâ€™ll get better or not, but at least thereâ€™s 90 days to decide if youâ€™re going to pay for the service thatâ€™ll see mixed reviews, mark my words.
- Again: Download for Android and iOS if youâ€™re interested.
2. Scoop reveals next-gen Samsung earbuds: beans. These are unusual!Â (Android Authority).
3. Skype rivals Zoom with new â€˜Meet Nowâ€™ feature for app-free video calls (Android Authority).
4. â€œCan we stop it with the comically big phones now?â€�Â (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. Appleâ€™s pushing to be competent in AR, hence the Lidar in the iPad Pro and strong rumors in iPhone 12 Pro (9to5Mac).
6. Tesla unveils coronavirus ventilator prototype that uses Model 3 parts. Deeply technical stuff on show and clever re-use of parts (CNET).
7. Microsoft Edge becomes the second most popular desktop web browser, tough news for non-Chrome-based browsers (Engadget).
8. Tips for how not to overpay for a Nintendo Switch if youâ€™re trying to buy one right now (r/nintendoswitch).
9. After arson attacks on cell phone towers, there are calls for social media platforms to act on 5G conspiracy theories (The Guardian).
10. â€œYou wake up, itâ€™s 2050, what do you google first?â€� (r/askreddit).
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