Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every day this week I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
Show Notes will be a bit lighter than usual this week, as I’m at SXSW with a bunch of Verge reporters and people from across Vox Media. SXSW itself seems a bit slower on tech side than usual, but the culture team keeps finding great stuff. Keep up with everything in our SXSX 2017 StoryStream here.
THE VERGECAST LIVE, PART TWO
- The main reason I’m at SXSW is to do two episodes of The Vergecast Live on the National Geographic Further stage with Dieter, Lauren Goode, Casey Newton, Chris Plante, and Megan Farokhmanesh. We taped our first episode on Sunday with Lauren and Casey, and today we taped another with Megan and Chris, who’ve been covering the culture side of SXSW. We also got to take some audience questions at the end, which is always dangerously thrilling. Check it out:
THROWING STUFF AT THE WALL
- Yesterday Intel announced the massive acquisition of Mobileye to elevate its self-driving car platforms, and today the company announced... a new virtual assistant built into a $1,600 Tag Heuer Android Wear smartwatch? As Dieter points out during the show, right now Intel is just trying everything, from drones to IoT devices to cars, in the hope that something sticks. But trying to compete in the assistant wars against actual consumer software companies like Apple and Google and Amazon just seems inevitably doomed.
- Chrome for iOS now has a... Read Later feature with an offline mode? This means basically every app on the iPhone save the calculator has an offline Read Later feature. Mozilla just went so deep on this it just bought Pocket! I love Pocket, but the real problem all of these apps are trying to solve — the lack of a consistent and focused reading experience on mobile — is much bigger than a bookmark button.
- If Google really wanted to get after this, it could bring back Google Reader, is what I’m saying.
- Visa released tap-to-pay... sunglasses? It’s a concept, and a sort-of considered one — the idea is to handle payments if you don’t have a wallet or phone on a beach — but it’s so silly. And how does it authenticate that the person paying is authorized to use the card? Smartwatches know if they’ve left your wrist after being auth’d by your phone, but to use this you have to take if off your face. Or maybe pay-with-your-face is the next big thing.
TV PARTY TONIGHT
- The TVs we saw at CES are starting to get real prices and release dates, and as usual, they’re starting insanely high. But this next generation of TVs is incredibly thin, and it feels like a subtle shift in how we think about the largest screens in our homes is starting to happen. Example: Samsung is actually going to ship its Yves Behar-designed Frame TV, which looks like a painting and actually displays artwork when it’s not being used as a TV. No details really, but this kind of living screen has long been a concept design, and it’s interesting that Samsung thinks it has the tech to pull it off now.
- Meanwhile, Sony’s first OLED TVs are arriving next month, starting at $5,000 for a 55-inch set. Sony’s design here is stunning, and the in-panel speakers and integrated subwoofer make for a very clean install, but it’s almost a lock that these OLED panels are sourced from LG, which hopefully sets up a little price war between the two.
- The Samsung Tab S3 will be $600, and another $130 for the keyboard, for a total of $730. That’s right in line with the iPad Pro, which totals out at $750 for the tablet and keyboard and another $99 for the Apple Pencil. But Apple’s pushing hard on iPad productivity, and I’m not at all clear on what Samsung’s done to make productivity on an Android tablet anything other than a fever dream.
- NYC has sued Verizon for failing to live up to its promises around delivering FiOS. Verizon securing tax benefits around fiber promises, weaseling out of it, and then getting smacked is a common theme; the same pattern happened in New Jersey earlier. But sure, there’s so much competition in internet access that these companies don’t need to be regulated at all. Right, Ajit?
- Finally, we gave the Gogoro electric scooter sharing startup a best of show award at CES 2015, and... it looks like the company is pulling it off! That’s always a nice surprise. Gogoro just announced an expansion of its scooter-sharing service in Berlin, and says it has a “very busy” year ahead. It’s a big idea that’s going to take time and a lot of infrastructure work, but I’d use the hell out of one in NYC. Just sayin’.