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.
A bit of a slow day in tech news, as Trump’s second cut at his immigration ban swallowed much of the news cycle. We’ll be covering that closely — as we’ve said repeatedly, immigration is very much an issue for the tech industry and community — but there was some other stuff going on today as well.
VERGECAST LIVE AT SXSW
- We’re doing The Vergecast live at SXSW on March 12th and 14th! Come hang out if you’re in Austin — details here.
GO FAST, TURN LEFT, DON’T WRECK YOUR CULTURE
- Two big pieces from our transportation section to bookmark and read. Andy Hawkins has been steadfastly reporting the endless string of Uber mishaps, and today he asked the obvious question: Can Uber be saved? Lots of quotes from investors and former employers, but my big takeaway is that the company has a talent retention and recruiting problem that spells doom over time. Who wants to work at Uber right now? There’s a lot of money out there for tech talent that understands cars and self-driving; Uber can’t survive if it can’t attract the best people.
- And over the weekend Sean O’Kane covered how Nascar is rebooting itself, with different race formats, far more data collection, and even a computer vision system that can detect when pit crews try to cheat by jumping out into pit lane early. It’s a super interesting story, and Sean also took some incredible photos of the Daytona 500.
- (All that Nascar tech is running on Surfaces and Microsoft cloud services, by the way. It’s a promotional deal, sure, but there’s something about having a traditional PC in that form factor that seems very smart for these kinds of applications.)
HP AND DELL, LEADERS IN DESKTOP PC DESIGN?
- Speaking of traditional PCs, Dan Seifert has been clogging up desks in our new office for weeks with all manner of neat-looking all-in-ones, and today he issued his proclamation: the desktop PC is finally cool. It’s a weird thing when Apple doesn’t seem to be pushing PC design forward at all compared to... HP and Dell? Here’s the video:
- It’s worth noting that the Dell, HP, and Microsoft Surface Studio all-in-ones are relatively underpowered, though. Paul Miller and I have been talking about a review series where Paul just reports back on whether a given default shipping configuration of various PCs can play Overwatch. Thoughts?
- We updated our Nintendo Switch review with a score and thoughts on the final software. Here’s Andrew Webster with a very low-key burn:
increasingly convinced that the switch launch lineup is actually great— andrew webster (@A_Webster) March 6, 2017
- The Switch’s Joy-Con controllers are Bluetooth, so you can pair them with Windows PCs, Macs, and Android phones — you need some keymapping software to make it all work though. Neat. But no iOS, even though it would be super cool if Nintendo extended its Super Mario Run deal by releasing classic games that could be played on iOS devices with a paired Joy-Con. Just a thought, please don’t @ me.
- More photos of the Galaxy S8 leaked out, and I am just utterly confused as to why the company put the fingerprint reader next to the camera lens. Reaching to unlock your phone and smudging your camera seems like an easily avoidable problem, no?
- Counterpoint: a lot of people tweeted at me that maybe Samsung is assuming you’ll unlock the phone with face detection or a retina scan, and this won’t be a problem at all. We’ll see.
- Lauren Goode covered the new Fitbit Alta, which has heart rate detection. Making it... basically a smaller Charge 2? As Lauren points out, Fitbit’s sales seem to be correlated to new product introductions, so the company has a major incentive to flood the market with Taco Bell-like remixes of the same few ingredients in various cases. And some sort of smartwatch is coming soon. We’ll see.
AJIT PAI UPDATE
- Not a peep from the FCC today, as far as I can tell; the immigration ban was the clear focus of government today. But FTC commissioner Terrell McSweeney wrote an op-ed for The Hill saying that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s move to halt the FCC’s privacy rules on internet providers is a big mistake, because the FTC can’t actually prevent ISPs from sharing your personal data. Complicated!
- As always, Pai is welcome on The Vergecast. SXSW, perhaps?
- Logan came out over the weekend, and as Chris Plante noted in our staff meeting today, the movie hits almost every base at The Verge. There are self-driving cars! References to patent law! Logan, uh, probably has an NFC chip in his finger? Sure. Anyhow, there’s tons to discuss, and Tasha Robinson, Kwame Opam, and Megan Farokhmanesh did a Logan post-watch conversation piece about it. (I love these.)
- Andrew Liptak interviewed Dan Panosian, who created the bespoke Wolverine comics featured in Logan. All together, he mocked up 10 covers for the film.
- The PlayStation Vue streaming TV service now lets you watch three channels at once, which the company says will be good for sports fans. With Sling, DirecTV, YouTube, and Sony all in the streaming-TV mix, I’m eager to see more competition and innovation around the actual TV viewing experience, even if this particular idea seems a little silly.
- All of these companies have basically the same channel bundles, give or take, so really all they can compete on is price and functionality. Which is always good for the people buying the stuff.
- Finally, the rare headline that says everything but also rewards you for looking at the photo: This self-driving van concept from Volkswagen looks like a pissed-off toaster.